The Square Room highlighted some of Knoxville's best local music at its third Square Room Showcase Wednesday night.
The first Wednesday of every month, Tyler Anthony of Cereus Bright and Knoxville Music Warehouse invites dedicated music fans to appreciate local music in an intimate setting. This month's show featured WestWend, Maplehurst, O Youth and Drop Dead Darlings.
Recruited for the show through Anthony and Knoxville Music Warehouse's Kent Oglesby, David Platillero, Maplehurst's guitarist, said he appreciated the opportunity for local bands across genres to experiment and show off for an enthusiastic audience.
"I love these kinds of shows because it's multiple bands; it's a lot of local talent," Platillero said, "and it's more like we're all sharing our own little piece of music together rather than one group showcasing which is cool."
Starting the show, WestWend, a husband and wife duo with a modern country and singer-songwriter sound, performed its own music along with a Jonathan Byrd cover. Then, Drop Dead Darlings took the stage with the group's whispery vocals and psychedelic mandolin jams. Michelle Porter, the group's mandolinist, thanked the audience, saying, "Thank you for listening to our noise. We much appreciate it."
Maplehurst then played their eclectic mix of pop, folk, jazz and R&B vocals. With constant instrument changes, each song reached across genres for an unexpected sound. To close the show, O Youth came out with an array of colored lights to accompany the band's relaxed part sound and to "wake you up on this Wednesday night" as vocalist Brad Fugate put it.
While foot stomping and songs mentioning fire connected all the bands, no single genre was detectable. From modern country to experimental folk to pop rock, each band brought its own surprising and eclectic sound to the Square Room.
"It was pretty different," Platillero said when describing the show. "But, I do think it was unanimous in that it was all local groups, and they all felt local. It had a nice progress, I feel like, from soft to bigger sounds.
"I don't know if there was necessarily a similar sound between all of them, but at least they're all local."
Porter was excited Drop Dead Darlings was able to expand past friends' houses and bars to play at the Square Room. The showcase was the band's third official gig which it was able to play through Oglesby's discovery of two of the group's songs on ReverbNation. After explaining the showcase, the band appreciatively accepted his invitation.
"This was nice to be out a bit and among people who appreciate music," Porter said.
Stephanie Moss, an undecided freshman, attended her first showcase Wednesday to support her friends in O Youth. Surprised by the talent of the acts, she said she enjoyed the show more than she expected to.
"I didn't expect there to be any really great bands, but they all were," Moss said. "I thought it was good, and I'm glad I came out. It was a lot of fun."
Providing the rare chance for local musicians to play for each other as well as an audience, the Square Room Showcase brings artists together to appreciate the sounds coming out of Knoxville's talent.
"Seeing the other bands that were playing was kind of like ... they were great," Porter said. "All of them were really good. It's just neat to see. I love music, and I love watching other people play music."
Porter added: "To be involved with anything with a bunch of musicians is always really cool."