Lydia’s Lounge may just be the best-kept secret on campus.
From nationally recognized stand-up comics and inspiring poets to surging bands eager to share their music with new audiences, the generous free entertainment offered to Bradley students (yep, no money needed for most of these shows) goes largely undiscussed and unappreciated.
Those who preferred one more round of Mario Kart over walking to Lydia’s Lounge missed out dearly this Friday when We The Living overcame a mostly quiet and catatonic audience to play an energetic set that highlighted its hard work and rare dedication to musicianship.
We The Living is comprised of frontman and lead singer/guitarist John Paul, drummer Benjamin and guitarist Matt.
In 2007, WTL completed work on its debut album, “Heights of the Heavens.” Almost immediately upon completion, WTL went on tour and had a strenuous goal of playing a show every day.
According to myspace.com/wetheliving, the band’s maniacal desire to deliver music to audiences enabled it to play 170 shows its first year.
Though the band gained acclaim from celebrities (Perez Hilton, for example), WTL has a rare authenticity in its music and more so its mission to spread “the idea that everyone needs a personal philosophy” in addition to providing engaging music with historical, personal and philosophical content.
It was apparent from the beginning that WTL was enthused to be at Bradley, which is impressive considering the assumed fatigue and frustration of the road.
John Paul took a moment to encourage the crowd to stand-up and “make this a rock show,” but to no avail. However, a select few in attendance did stand and even put their reputations on the line by dancing furiously through the set. WTL played select songs from its new album, “Depths of the Earth.”
The music was tight and beautifully arranged. Besides being easy to listen to, the songs are enviably well-written. The combination of the music, the accompanying lyrics and the smoke and lights created a mesmerizing experience to listen – and dance – to.
The set was full and fun from the first song to the last. The band members also looked like they genuinely love what they do, which is possibly the most admirable trait in a band or musician.
After giving the crowd an excellent set, John Paul invited anyone in attendance to meet the band in the back of Lydia’s Lounge and buy merchandise or just chat about anything – including Aristotle.
Needless to say, as I waited patiently for a chance to converse with the band, I dreamt the number of ways I could ask about Aristotle. Once I had my chance, I posed that John Paul summarize his views on the subject. He didn’t miss a beat and we discussed Plato versus Aristotle and subjective versus objective truth and reality.
From there, the conversation went a number of ways with all three members (including a rousing conversation about dietetics and healthy habits on tour) before coming back to the show they’d just played.
“I can tell that most of the audience haven’t heard us,” John Paul said. “I really like that people came out to listen. That’s different than other schools.”
John Paul, Matt and Benjamin were all gracious and thankful for the opportunity to play for an audience that barely gave them an emotional receipt for their investment in the crowd – another evident sign their focus isn’t on fame or self-gratification, but on the message and the music.
WTL gave its audience all the time in the world and were truly willing to discuss anything and everything. They even offer interactive merchandise. Matt has studied graphic design and offers the chance to purchase a white t-shirt, painted by him in front of you. This allows the buyer to give feedback as the t-shirt is created.
The interactivity and magnanimous disposition of WTL sets the band apart from its contemporaries and makes it easy to understand why its fan base is ever-growing.
WTL’s performance was a can’t-miss show that too many missed. The band left Lydia’s Lounge for the Beat Kitchen in Chicago, continuing its current tour.
Let’s hope WTL decides to make another visit to Peoria so Bradley students have a second chance to catch an emerging band with a smooth sound and the right outlook – too few and far between in today’s music landscape.