Matt Bishop spent Tuesday afternoon as he usually does. He was cramped in a van for hours at a time with his friends, getting to stretch his legs only during oil changes and routine trips to gas stations.
During the oil change on Tuesday, he had one thing on his mind, and that was the show he’d be performing at Youngstown State University later that night. He wasn’t sure exactly where he was; he just knew he was in the general vicinity of Pittsburgh.
“It’s been going well. The last couple of weeks, we’ve played a lot of towns we hadn’t played before,” Bishop said.
Bishop is the lead singer for the orchestral rock band Hey Marseilles. The Seattle six-piece is taking a break from a tour where crowds knew their names and music, and are playing instead for audience members who probably haven’t heard of them.
“It’s a different market of listeners,” Bishop said. “Playing college crowds allows us to play for people who will hopefully maintain a relationship with the band.”
Hey Marseilles has played college shows before, but this was the band’s first visit YSU.
“We’re still a small band and unknown to a lot of people, so it’s always a good opportunity to play for a new crowd,” Bishop said.
As he’d hoped, The Hub in Kilcawley Center housed new fans on Tuesday.
YSU roommates Celeste Marshall and Claudia Gage hadn’t known of the band before seeing promotional material for the performance around campus. Gage looked up their music on Facebook and said she wanted to check out the live performance.
“I went online and started listening to their music, and I really liked them,” Gage said.
“I was like, ‘Claudia, who are these hipsters you’re listening to?’” Marshall said.
Gage and Marshall said they were attracted to their upbeat yet mellow sound.
They were not disappointed in the performance.
“I was really impressed with their musicianship,” Marshall said.
“Yeah, I liked the different instruments they used. It’s not the typical guitar, drums and bass,” Gage said.
Hey Marseilles had the bases covered to produce a variety of sounds on stage. They incorporate guitar, drums, bass, accordion, keyboard, electric cello, violin, trumpet, clarinet and auxiliary percussion. Having to balance the heavy sound of the drums with the light sound of the clarinet and other instrument mixes is one challenge the band has during sound check.
Bishop said they’ve gotten used to the process.
“We do have that challenge in our instrumentation,” Bishop said. “We’ve spent a decent amount of time to make it work. We’ve used a variety of setups, and it really depends on the sound systems. But we’ve got it figured out.”
Their routine worked well for them, as the balanced sound allowed for audience members to see the different instruments being incorporated and hear them as well.
For YSU junior Jocques Spragling, this was one of his favorite parts of the show.
“When there’s more people on stage, you have more to look at,” Spragling said. “I had never heard of them before. I wish I had, though.” Bishop said he and the band take pride in their sound.
“The process of creating takes a decent investment in song writing,” Bishop said. “When you hear our songs, it’s really our product.”
The band incorporates samples of jazz, waltz and lullaby-style music into their orchestral pop sound.
Violinist Jacob Anderson, cellist Sam Anderson, guitarist Nick Ward, keyboardist Philip Kobernik and drummer Colin Richey all waltz with their instruments on stage.
After the show, the band took time to sign autographs and talk to students who approached them.
Graduate student Heidi Summerlin talked to Bishop after the show, and said she thought they were great.
“It’s always good to hear someone you don’t know about,” Summerlin said. “I liked them a lot. They’re great.”
After meeting fans and packing up, it’s back to the van for Hey Marseilles. Their journey is taking them to Chicago to continue their tour. They said they are also looking forward to playing Lollapalooza in the summer and hope to return to the area soon.