NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The night was cold, the drinks were flowing, and the venue was packed. I decided to make the hike out to The Court Tavern in New Brunswick to see one of my favorite bands, Owel (formerly known as Old Nick). We were there to celebrate the release of their new album, Scales, which is available for purchase now. Personally, I’ve always had a crush on CD release parties, because even if you’ve seen the band a million times, they’re going to be at their absolute best on this night; trying to bring new light to their setlists, fresh merchandise is always available, and new bodies are always in the crowd. I had yet to attend this venue since its reopening, and it was better than I could have imagined. Upon walking in, I was greeted by three long merchandise tables, where I immediately purchased a tote bag and CD. Normally when I spend money before I even get to the bar, signs point to an eventful night. Hell, I even bumped into the lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon, who was enjoying a few casual brews and live music. Needless to say, all signs were pointing to an epic experience.
The night kicked off with two opening bands that could have easily headlined in Banquets and Gates. They both had a distinct sound, which immediately had the crowd moving. Many people in the audience stated it wasn’t their first time seeing these bands, which is naturally always a good sign. It surely is amazing how many groups you can discover upon exiting your comfort zone. This was just the perfect warm up to get us ready for the highlight of the evening, Owel. After a quick change of equipment, it was time for Owel to take the stage.
With dark light filling the performance area, the five members strolled out from the side wings and the crowd made it clear to anyone that may not have been paying attention, either in the bathroom or at the bar, that they were ready to perform. They kicked off the night right with strong tracks, and even answered to the fans shouting song requests. I could hear almost all of my friends yelling out “Darcy,” which is always a household favorite. In my opinion, crowd interaction is key; if I wanted a note for note copy of the records, I’d sit at home with my headphones on.
After singing a few songs, the band said hello to New Brunswick and introduced a few new tracks. They weaved their way flawlessly for a 60-minute plus set. Owel are one of those bands that stick out in its genre, whatever that genre may be. The blended their setlist with old and new tracks, and I found it amazing to see how many people in the crowd had already memorized the words to the new content. As I scoped out the venue, everyone had a smile on his or her faces. I think it’s safe to say that Owel may have left with a few more fans then they had at the start of the night.
I left with a pleasant taste in my mouth, for it’s always refreshing to see acts that do things different than most. I honestly could not compare their set to any other even if I wanted to, for originality is their major. I highly recommend Owel’s CD, along with their live set, to any music lover, period.
Everything about the night was picture-perfect. From the flawless lineup to good audience interaction, a lot was put into making this great concert. Each track is different, on their recordings and live set, and it’s a breath of fresh air. Their music is somewhat intoxicating, giving you that extra push to explore ambient genres and different styles of music that you may not hear too often on the radio.