Rodfest 7 rocks a celebration of life

A review of Rodfest at the Paradise Rock Club on January 31, 2009

, Contributing Writer

Inspired by Greg "Rodney" Moynahan’s love for music, RodFest began as a house party and birthday concert in 2003. Three years later the Stonehill student was tragically killed in a car accident at age 23, but his legacy continues through the dedication of his friends and family. RodFest 7 at the Paradise was not only a fundraiser for a scholarship his name at Stonehill College, but it was also a celebration of life and the music that meant so much to Greg.

RodFest once again sold out the Paradise which was a testament to not only the importance of the event but also the popularity of the featured bands. The show kicked off with quick ten minute acoustic sets from Sixteen on Center, Colin Toomey (with his brother Kyle), and Shay’s Rebellion which nicely set the stage for the full bands.

Cassavettes were the first to take the stage and had the audience engaged from the first notes. The upbeat tempo and strong vocals of Glenn Yoder and Mike McCullagh had people dancing and singing along throughout their thirty-five minute set. The set featured new song "Seek Cover" which began with an interesting bassline from Scott Jones and later featured some impressive dancing from the bass player. The Cassavettes kept their energy high and didn’t waste a lot of time between songs, which was a welcome change from the last time we saw them at the Paradise. They seemed to have an extra good time celebrating the birthday of the band that night and it made for a somewhat messy show but this time they turned things around and definitely brought their A-game to RodFest, transitioning seamlessly between songs and still managing to have fun. Closing out their set with songs like The Toadies’ "I Come From The Water" and "Shine A Light" featuring Eric Austin of Three Day Threshold joining Matt Snow on dueling drum sets showed that while they are often categorized as "alt-country", these guys can certainly rock.

Up next were Girls, Guns, and Glory, four year veterans of RodFest and former high school band mates of Greg Moynahan. It is impossible to categorize Girls, Guns, and Glory into one musical genre and their live shows don’t make it any easier. In their thirty-five minute set they fluctuated so much that it was easy to draw comparisons to Buddy Holly, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, and countless others. And yet they still manage to be groundbreaking, not just a reincarnation of music we’ve experienced before. Their set was a masterful balance between country twang and solid rock n’ roll featuring familiar hits like "Oh My" and "Suzie" that had the crowd dancing, as well as little played song "Root Cellar" and brand new "Temptation" from the Inverted Valentine album. One of the highlights of the night was a cover of Johnny Cash’s "Folsom Prison", which they played at their first RodFest, which showed off the musicianship of the band as the audience sang along.

Rogue Heroes took the stage shortly after Girls, Guns and Glory and unfortunately did not maintain the energy and excitement of the bands that started the night. Kicking off their set with an emotionless "Blitzkrieg Bop" left the audience somewhat dumbfounded and sent others for the bar. Lead singer Tom Jewett spent his time alternating between walking around stage like he had no idea why he was there and pulling together some excellent guitar playing, notably one solo played behind his head. I found myself spending more time trying to figure out what was going on in front of me then I did paying attention to the music. That said, musically this band more than makes up for what they lack vocally thanks entirely to the talent of drummer Kevin McDevitt, who by the way looks great in a red dress, and bassist Jon Clancy. One moment of inspiration for the entire band came during a well performed cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Honing in on their real talent the set ended with a five minute instrumental solo that brought the attention back to the stage, albeit a bit too late.

Closing out the night on a high note was Three Day Threshold, who brought their eclectic root-rock sound to the Paradise stage for the ninth time. Their set featured "Billy", a Charlie Daniels style song about a truck driving clown in which the audience supplied the "no shit" for the chorus. Up next was crowd pleaser "Chicken Shack (Baby’s Got My #)" which had a rock infused square-dancing feel. Following was "Uni" a song about a girl, love, and an unfortunate accident with a locomotive. Dedicating their next song to Greg, Kier Byrnes, Greg’s cousin, told the audience that they once dedicated this song to Rod when they played at Stonehill before launching into a version of "Drunken Sailor" that got the entire crowd into a frenzy. Keeping the energy up, "I Must Admit" came next before Kier requested a few volunteers from the audience take the stage with them. Once the volunteers were outfitted with cowbells and tambourines, Three Day Threshold and members of all the previous bands closed out RodFest with an excellent, extended cover of "All Right Now" and "Pub With No Beer." It was a fitting end to a great celebration.

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