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UNCA concert rocks on despite bad weather

J Hanel, Alex Lozada and MIchael Freeman preparing for their set at UNC Asheville’s Highsmith Student Union.

Alex Massey
Arts & Features Staff Writer
[email protected]
Guitar riffs and pounding drums consumed Highsmith Student Union as students gathered in the Grotto to listen to local bands, Fortezza and the Eccentrics despite inclement weather.
Despite a change of location due to the rain, the move did not affect the energy of the bands, nor the crowd that came to see them. A small mosh pit broke out toward the end of Fortezza’s set, and was swiftly shut down by Caitlin Doherty of Asheville Campus Entertainment, explaining Highsmith has a policy against moshing.
 ACE scanned 86 OneCards in total. Doherty, the woman responsible for organizing the event, said the total attendance was actually closer to 100, as people brought in friends and family from off-campus.
According to Doherty, the solid 86 presents a sizeable amount for this kind of live event at UNCA. Open mic nights usually only bring in about 40 people, and some events see an even smaller turnout, she said.
The rest of the show carried on without incident. Nearly every head in the crowd maintained bobbing to the beat through the end of the show.
Fortezza’s live show is high energy, consisting of lots of hair and screaming guitars while the band tears through its set. Sonically, the band is like a mix of the Oh Sees and a little bit of the White Stripes, with heavy-hitting riffs and moments of shrill feedback to intercut Tristan Smith’s blistering guitar solos.
The grooves laid down by bassist Maddie Kendrick and drummer Matty Garau are nearly impossible not to vibe to. They hold down the presentation well in spite of some minor technical difficulties. 
“Something has to go wrong for it to be a real show,” Smith said. 
UNCA’s community cheered the band on when Kendrick’s bass came unplugged during the middle of the set. Kendrick, reaching down to pick up her cable, was met with cheers and applause on behalf of the audience.
Fortezza has become a bit of a local celebrity on campus. The UNCA community supports and accommodates the band, made evident by the turnout for their recent show, as well as EchoFest during the spring semester last year.
The Eccentrics, a five-piece band from Greensboro, took the stage after Fortezza. The show began with frontman Kyle Parsons proclaiming, “Welcome to the church of rock and roll.”
The whole band commands a lot of attention on stage, but this is especially true in Parsons, who writhes around the stage and interacts with his audience in a way that makes it hard not to get pulled into the show and his persona.
The sound of the Eccentrics is pulled in a different direction by each member. For Parsons, punk plays a big part in his musical diet, meanwhile, guitarist Joseph Flias is a Jack White fan. Further still, drummer Michael Freeman and bassist J Hanel remain rooted in classic rock.
The band played covers of The Beatles, The Black Keys and Rage Against the Machine songs during its 45 minute set. Meanwhile, the band’s original tracks are steeped in the blues and retain a very classic rock feel.
People seemed to be just as receptive and supportive of the Eccentrics as they were to Fortezza. Smith’s words ringing  true when Parsons’ microphone somehow became tangled up with guitar player Alex Lozada’s instrument cable. The crowd clapped and cheered as the two untangled themselves on stage. 
The band discussed the North Carolina music scene as a whole, talking about how it started out playing shows with rappers, but has since found Asheville and UNCA to be a great place to be a rock band. 
Parsons spoke highly of UNCA saying that the band is always welcomed warmly to the school.

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