Matoaka show kicks off concert season

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September 2, 2008

8:50 PM

Last Friday, five hundred people made their way out to the Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre to see crowd-pleasing Virginia Coalition kick off UCAB’s first concert of the year.

Similar to many students at The College of William and Mary, Virginia Coalition hails from the Washington suburbs, thus making these Alexandria natives a local indie favorite for many Northern Virginia residents.

Many in their loyal fan base cite the band’s versatility and live act as their main attributes.

“They just get so into their music,” Chase Hathaway ’10, who has now seen them live six times, said. “You can really tell they love what they’re doing.”

Loyal fans insist the band performs best live. “It’s actually better to see them live before you listen to the CDs,” Eleanor Shaw ’09 said. She has seen the band perform 10 times.

UCAB originally hoped to book a more nationally known act, but none were available. They turned to the less pricey Virginia Coalition in an attempt to appeal to as many students as possible.

“[The band is] energetic — fun,” UCAB member Sean O’Mealia said. “[They] knew how to get a party going.”

Opening act, Alexa Wilkinson, a singer-songwriter from New York City, began the show with melodic acoustic guitar-based numbers powered by personal lyrics. In between songs, she offered up anecdotes about her life on tour and explained the stories behind the lyrics, usually referring to long-distance relationships and fizzled romances.

Shaw quickly became a fan of Wilkinson’s fashion choices as much as her music. “Her tutu was pretty sweet but I liked her songs too,” she said.

Although unknown to most of the crowd, Wilkinson and her band charmed the audience. At the end of the set, a girl ran up to the stage to see if she could get a hug from the bassist.

As soon as Virginia Coalition began playing, the crowd got out of their seats and made their way to the edge of the stage, dancing and singing along to the folk-rock, piano tinged, “Home This Year.”
The band members connected with the audience by sharing that they had met and formed in high school. Later, they got the crowd going by giving a shout-out to the county of Alexandria.

Throughout the performance, the band displayed its range, from country-influenced dance numbers to slower ballads.

Much of the act’s energy came from the fans’ excitement. The crowd fed off Coalition’s liveliness, ultimately making the concert a symbiotic relationship of sorts.

The band was a pretty good choice for the first concert of the year.

Their vigor might not have translated quite so well in a college without a fan base, but catchy melodies and sing-along lyrics are universally appreciated. This makes them a fun first Friday evening back.

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