In previous years, SPEC has brought indie rock groups to campus for its annual Fall Concert, but this year they decided to switch things up with neo–soul singer and all–in–all classy dude, Mayer Hawthorne.
When Cheers Elephant, the local opening act, stepped onstage, audience members stayed cool and composed in their seats, waiting for the music to start as if waiting for a movie to play. This rigidness ended not even halfway through the psychedelic pop band’s first song, and the energy that pulsated from the now–standing crowd lasted the entire set, preparing the mood for Mayer Hawthorne.
Shortly afterward, a bright red suit, black bowtie and pair of thick–rimmed glasses bounced into view — the first signs that things were about to get funky. This wasn’t a concert, it was a show, Mayer Hawthorne made sure to note, and in this way he delivered. He was personal with the crowd, cracking jokes and weaving anecdotes into the soulful, sensual music. Hawthorne rocked both nerd–chic swagger and a musical pop/funk hybrid — maybe a doubtful combination at first, but one that ended up getting the entire crowd swaying to this unique Motown throwback. And not only were Hawthorne’s own songs catchy and tasteful — a rare blend in today’s pop music — but the brief homages he paid to Hall & Oates and Frank Sinatra were the cherry on top of this very classy cake.
Through phenomenal vocals and stage presence, Mayer Hawthorne provided the perfect atmosphere for a bunch of restless college kids searching for something fresh and fun in this year’s fall performance. The men were silently reconsidering their wardrobe choices, the ladies were swooning and Harrison Auditorium was alive with funk. Well done, SPEC.