I had more questions than answers going in. I had no idea what BYOG stood for (Bring Your Own Girls? Grass? Gangrene?), and I had zero clue what to expect from the Nocturnal Kernalz.
After arriving and getting marked up for being underage, I discovered via the merch table that I was about to see “BackYard Organically Grown.” I then ventured out onto the back deck to wait for the show to start and saw a diverse age-group that included both college students and hip dads.
The Nocturnal Kernalz finally started… and scared me very badly with a line of notes that reminded me of a composition from the tenth grade. However, they quickly changed it up and pleasantly surprised me with a feel-good, funky beat that prompted a lot of drunk, uninhibited white-people grooving among the audience members. Singing only appeared in probably a third of the set, and while the instrumentals hardly ever ceased to amaze me, that line of notes reappeared to haunt the piece a few more times.
There were quite a few songs that made me feel like I should have been walking down a New York City street in fall in the opening of a sitcom from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Others featured sailing and romantic guitar melodies that would match up with the other instruments for some surprise but very satisfying chords. The show itself was very chill, and the band members matched the vibe. After their set, they very graciously consented to posing for a series of pictures, and I even got a hug. I can honestly say that I could have left after seeing just them perform and been happy.
Then there was BYOG. The first thing I noticed was that they each seemed to have their own style. There was the visually clean-cut pianist, the scruffy yet cool lead singer, the backwards-hat-wearing-hip-guy guitarist, the drummer who seemed like a drummer, and, my personal favorite, the bassist who had a fan fixed solely on him the entire show so that his long hair would blow back in the wind. Stages bathed in greens and blues helped to create the oddly smooth feel of the first set.
The best way to describe their sound is as belonging to the genre that is “gravelly-voiced singer belts out melodies over a folk-reminiscent rock backing.” There were also a few romantic guitar lines as in the Nocturnal Kernalz’s set, this time accentuated by two of the bandmates facing each other and playing with closed eyes and heads thrown back. Overall, it seemed as though they tended to try to sound grander and fuller instead of emphasizing a certain aspect, which made their music a little less clean than the opening act’s. However, I’m not under the impression that all music needs to be clean to be good, so the show – while a long one – was also one I would go to again (although, maybe at a different venue).
Written by Emma Grabowski
You can also catch Emma’s show, Happy Hour with Emma Whitney, on Friday’s at 6pm only on CisternYard Radio.