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Cartel and Citizen Cope: Draw Large Crowds and Mixed Reactions

Patrick Griffin | Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The complementing styles of Cartel and Citizen Cope provoked contrasting opinions from a large crowd at the Stepan Center last Friday night. The concert, arranged by the Student Union Board, was a dual headlining show. Cartel promptly opened the show at 9 p.m. to a curiously small crowd for such a high profile concert. It was for this reason, perhaps, that the band initially seemed somewhat distracted. Will Pugh, Cartel’s lead singer and guitarist, had little to say as the band took the stage for the first time. Part of the responsibility of a performer is to connect with the audience, not just during the music, but also between songs. The band did this on but few occasions early in the night. Some felt at times that the band did not realize that there was an audience in front of them.”I came here as a huge Cartel fan, and was a little disappointed,” sophomore Mike Matheson said. “I love their recorded music, but something seemed like it was missing from their performance.”Fortunately, as more students trickled in, Cartel seemed to find their niche, delivering a solid musical performance. The band’s energy seemed to build as well, inciting mosh pits and crowd surfing that was quickly suppressed by security, to the chagrin of many students.Nevertheless, students sang along and pumped their fists to Cartel’s pop-punk songs. The band lineup included three guitars, a bassist and a very lively drummer.”I really like Cartel,” sophomore Robin Brown said. “They did a good job.”Cartel was able to include many singles from both of their albums: Chroma (2005) and Cartel (2007). “Say Anything (Else)”, “I Will Hide Myself Away” and “Honestly” were just a few of the many songs the quintet was able to fit into their hour long set. The band also performed a cover of Oasis’s “Wonderwall.” After a wait of nearly an hour, Citizen Cope finally took the stage, opening with his hit “Hurricane Waters.” Cope’s musical ambience encouraged plenty of dancing and head nodding. Cope was also able to perform many of his hits, including “Bullet and a Target” and “Penitentiary,” before closing the concert with “Son’s Gonna Rise” and “Sideways.”Cope’s mixture of blues, folk music and hip-hop made for a very unique show. His backing band featured dual pianos as well as a bass guitar and drums, which provided the smooth driving melody to Cope’s slack-jawed vocals.Many students, especially those who were unfamiliar with Citizen Cope, reveled in the performer’s genre defying style. “I didn’t know much about Citizen Cope at the beginning of the night, but now I’m definitely a fan,” Matheson said.Others were somewhat disappointed in Cope’s performance, “I didn’t think that Citizen Cope performed to their potential,” Brown said.All students, however, approved of the new seating format in the Stepan Center. Unlike previous shows at Stepan, Friday’s concert featuring general admission standing areas in front of the stage and seating on the sides. “I thought it was better that we didn’t have chairs. The performers were able to engage the audience and the crowd was able to get closer to the stage,” Brown said.Despite mixed reactions, the performances drew a large crowd and introduced students to a concert format that was received enthusiastically.