It wasn’t just your average coffee date at Starbucks on a rainy, gloomy Friday evening. Instead of sipping my evening latte to the faint sound of ‘coffee shop music,” I felt the comfort of my favorite coffee drink while being mesmerized by Walri’s distinct harmonized vocals and outstanding musical versatility.

At 10 p.m. on Friday, Starbucks was the ‘poppin'” place to be. The scene was filled with a lot of soul, and it took me back to the days of psychedelia, with musical influences ranging from ’60s rock legends such as The Allman Brothers and The Beatles to jazzy chords. In addition, a Brazilian complex harmonic style of Bassa Nova, or ‘cool jazz,” whirled through the air.

This musical style is one completely ‘unrelated” and unprecedented, coming from their prototype image as a band, with their lead singer and guitarist Amos Rosenstein, a 2006 graduate of the UR who majored in physics, possessing an image that can serve as a throwback to The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. Nonetheless, Walri never ceased to amaze and was able to entrance the audience with its refreshing, soulful and lively sound.
Walri hit the high point of the evening with its cover of The Band’s ‘The Weight.”

Rosenstein’s vocals were right-on, and Chris Coon’s keyboard improvisio was outstanding. The band then covered an obscure tune by Bob Dylan, almost as if in reminiscence of the Grateful Dead’s sets when they went on tour with Dylan in 1987.

The other members of the band are Dave Goebel ’08, Geoffrey Saunders ’09 and Patrick McLaughlin ’07, all former Eastman students. They call their distinct sound ‘love rock” and strive to steer clear of what’s considered clich in today’s music.

They accomplish this through musical craftsmanship and adapting covers, making them their own. They consider many bands and musicians to be influences, including Of Montreal, Pink Floyd, The Shins, Johnny Cash and David Bowie.

Walri, or, as Rosenstein likes to put it, the plural of Walrus, delves deep into psychedelia, garnering a large fan base at the UR. UR itself is home to a significant number of Dead Heads and Bisco fans, making it easy to see why they remained so popular in their hometown even after they graduated.

This proved to be a great ‘encore” performance at a slightly more public venue compared to their last show at UR that took place in Community Living Center last spring. They are seasoned performers and some of their past performances have included opening for Ben Lee at the 2006 Lilac Festival as well as opening for Reel Big Fish for UR’s Dandelion Day back in 2006.

They also won the 2007 UR Battle of the Bands competition. This past summer, they performed at Boulderfest, opening for Dr. Dog.

‘They have a great sound called “love rock,'” senior Lindsay Kryzak said. ‘It’s good rock to have in a cold climate. Walri had a great summer and they’re sounding better than ever. You’ll hear about them and our kids will hear about them. They’ll be like the Rolling Stones but with better teeth.”

Kryzak is right. Walri’s sound especially appeals to Rochester, but their music reaches across genres. Their development as a band is clearer during each gig, and it won’t be long before Starbucks is too small to hold their fans.

If you missed out on Walri’s amazing two-hour performance at Starbucks, do not worry, because the band plays extensively around the Rochester area, especially at Java’s and accompanying the Geva Comedy Improv Troupe. Upcoming performances include The Bug Jar this Friday at 8 p.m., Boulder Coffee on Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. and Water Street Music Hall on Oct. 19, also at 8 p.m.

To get more information on this talented band, visit www.myspace.com/walrimusic or send them an e-mail at walrimusic@gmail.com.

Paauw is a member of the class of 2011.



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