STROUDSBURG, PA—Every week it’s the same old song and dance. It’s Friday night, and I’m lookin’ for something to do. If I’m lucky, there’s a show at the theater down the block, and even then, it’s a gamble on whether or not the bands playing are worth my five or ten bucks. Let’s face it—we’re all really excited about local shows when we’re young, but by the time we’ve reached 20, our standards are higher because we’ve listened to enough crap to know that it’s crap. Well, let’s talk about not knowing what to expect, and gaining an enormous appreciation for a band I’ve never heard of.
I wander down Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA, to the Sherman Theater, where droves of cool kids are flooding the sidewalk space. Word on the street is that this band Edelweiss is going on in a few minutes, and they put on a pretty mean show. I get my ticket, secure my wristband, grab a beer and wait. The crowd is growing to a pretty impressive size as we listen to the house music while the band sets up.
Then, just like magic, the curtains are pulled open, and the crowd is cheering. With an eerie green glow permeating the stage air, the guitar walks in slowly, clumsily, and gently. With no warning at all, the pace picks up and it’s on. The energy is astounding. I’m an instant fan yet we’re hardly through the first song. I have a hard time placing their sound, but I know that it’s fresh and that I like it. There’s something very natural about it. I can picture these songs as a soundtrack to wandering through the woods—the keyboard paired with guitar strums sound like a rushing river. The quickness and energy has got me feeling almost lost. Yet there’s this comfort in the vocals, “Take it back, take it back, take it back…” Throughout the whole set, these guys are vibrating with pure energy. I’m sure it isn’t forced, because I feel myself tapping to the rhythm too. The lights go down. The crowd yells, “Encore!” They come back for one more, and at the end of it, I still want more.
I steal the guys aside to see what I can learn about this awesome new local sound. I’m wondering how old they are, and when they declare that they’re all still in high school, I’m a little bit shocked. They’re good. Let’s get one thing straight, though. They’re not just “good for high school kids,” they’re just good, period. Their sound is tighter and more natural than most of the adults I know who have practiced for decades. It’s as if magic occurs when all five are on stage together.
“The make-up that we have for the band now has been together for about two years,” says guitarist Niko Porlier. Assuming that the band must constantly be at work in the basement, I am surprised to find out that what I saw was pretty much just good synergy at work. With going to school, I imagine that the band must have trouble practicing frequently.
“Fortunately, we connect on a really good musical level. Although we only practice once a week, we are able to pull off a really good live show,” Porlier says.
I can’t imagine what it’s like for these guys to play in Stroudsburg. Their unexpected sound certainly floored me. I point out the fact that they are a unique piece of the local music scene, and I wonder how they grew to have such a fanbase. In the beginning, Stroudsburg didn’t know what to think of Edelweiss. “What are these distorted bar chords and why do these guys look like fags?” Niko jokes. “As we’ve gained a fanbase, kids also have begun to listen to what we listen to, bands like Bloc Party or Maps & Atlases… there’s just so much out there.”
I leave Main Street, utterly impressed. Curious, yet? Here’s what to expect in the near future: a music video, four brand new songs, and an East Coast tour. Edelweiss will tour for 10 days and return home to Stroudsburg, where they will play the Living Room on July 14 on Main Street, located right next to the Sherman Theater. I hope to see you there. For more information on the band, go to facebook.com/edelweissofficial.