The homecoming before the tour.
Cereus Bright, a local modern folk band, returned to The Square Room Saturday night along with Charlotte southern folk-rock band Time Sawyer.
Opening the night, Time Sawyer introduced Knoxville to its distinctively country lyrics with the band's version of folk mixed with subdued southern rock.
Brient Kittrell, freshman in accounting, heard of the show through a friend. While he had not listened to either band much before, he admitted he was as surprised with the quality of Time Sawyer's set as he was interested in seeing Cereus Bright for the first time.
"As far as Time Sawyer goes, I actually thought they were pretty good, but I wasn't expecting to," Kittrell said. "I looked up their stuff before coming, and I was listening to it and wasn't really feeling it. I debated not coming on time for them, but I actually decided I liked it because they sound a lot better live because of the beats. I mean, everybody does, but I think I liked them because of their beats."
In regards to Cereus Bright, Kittrell said he was expecting a dramatic twist on the modern folk genre where the band has found their calling.
Referring to what he had listened to previously, Kittrell was already a fan.
"I like how calm they are," Kittrell said. "They kind of start out calm, then they build up. And I like bands that have that kind of dramatic-ness where it starts out slows then builds up to a climax. I really like that.
"Also, I like how Knoxville-based they are. They play here a lot."
However, there was no such thing as a calm set for Cereus Bright Saturday. Instead, even intimate, emotional moments were filled with a passion for the music they were playing.
Starting with the hook of "Goldmine," girls erupted into yells, and boys immediately began to groove. The dapperly dressed band broke into wide grins, knowing they were home.
Tyler Anthony, Cereus Bright's vocalist, was ecstatic from the start. After the first few songs, he told the crowd, "This is really, really spectacular. . . Y'all are looking good. Y'all are feeling good," in response to the giant sing-a-long and dance party that rocked The Square Room.
Having met mandolinist Evan Ford in high school, Mary Julia Tunnell, senior in art education, heard of Cereus Bright around two years ago. While a fan of folk, Tunnell said she was interested in the distinct musical elements the band would present on stage.
"I really like folksy music, so I really like that aspect of them," Tunnell said. "But, I also think they have their very own unique voice though. They're like a folk band, but they're unique."
While the entire set captivated an audience, the biggest moment came towards the end of the show. Playing "Stella" was a call for an already dancing crowd to go even further. It was this song that led to an unending applause that left Anthony flustered and Ford in complete awe of the support from their hometown.
Luke Bowers, Cereus Bright's drummer, noted that specific song and the deafening applause that followed as his favorite moments of the night.
"I would probably say the song 'Stella.' That's a song that we've put a lot of work into, and we really like that one," Bowers said. "It's really good to hear everyone's support for that sound. People really enjoyed it."
Cereus Bright ended their set with "Cereus Bright," the song that explains the meaning behind the band's name. However, an enticed audience was not done. Instead, cries for an encore called the band back out for a cover of The Band's "The Weight," which let Bowers along with the string section to each lend their voices for a verse.
To Bowers, the night defined a clear support system within the Knoxville music scene to back Cereus Brights throughout its upcoming tour.
"I think since we're going on the road here pretty soon, it's good to see that Knoxville has a lot of support for us," Bowers said. "We had 300 sales for the tickets. It shows that we've got a good home base. It's kind of nice that before we go out and play a lot of crowds that don't know who we are, it's nice to look back at Knoxville and see that we have a home base."