The Downstairs ‘bring down the House’ of Bricks

The Downstairs bring down the House of Bricks

by Matt Morain

This week finds music fans hot on the heels of the overly commercialized Grammys, suffocated by shallow pop hits and looking to breathe the air of original bands. Sometimes the best place to look for melodious solitude is no farther than your own local area.

Every locality has its own unique entertainment to offer any interested parties looking for original diversion. In the Simpson arena, we have a treasured commodity in The Downstairs, which has gotten a reasonable amount of coverage of late, and rightly so.

I attended the House of Bricks concert lineup featuring The Downstairs, FrankeNixon, and the Cardboard Canaries on Sunday, March 3. It might be because I know some of the band members personally that I put The Downstairs far and above the competition (to be fair, I didn’t see FrankeNixon, so I can’t judge them, but I will anyway), but they’ve earned my accolades, for what it’s worth.

With unique Kevin Arnold-charm and addictive Kurt Cobain-without-the-smack vocals, freshman Justin Kinkel-Schuster heads up a talented cast of able musicians. The band is musically led by 21-year old senior Craig Kaufman, whose attempts to bring back the guitar solo can be successfully seen on several of their original songs. 21-year olds Chris Hutchins and Tony Kerper round out the lineup on bass and drums, respectively.

The Downstairs came on after a high school-age group of alleged musicians calling themselves the Cardboard Canaries. They’re hard to describe, mainly because it’s painful to, but imagine ‘Hanson rides the short-bus to church.’ JV punk vocals, sloppy guitar playing, and haphazard stage presence made me want to stuff the Cardboard Canaries in an ultra-deep coal mine.

With an act like that to follow, it’s no wonder that The Downstairs easily and deftly left such a good impression on me. They presented a timely mix of covers and originals. Peppering amongst their remarkable originals, the likes of Radiohead’s “Creep”, a Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” that made me wonder if Rivers Cuomo knew that someone was going around impersonating him on stage, and as their finale, a riveting “Keep On Rockin’ in the Free World” cover of a Pearl Jam cover of a Neil Young original. If I were an ovulating woman at the concert, I would’ve left carrying The Downstairs’ child. It was a powerful performance.

Go out and discover as much of the local talent as you can find in your community. It’s worth it. If you do, give the artists feedback on their performance, be it “Hey that was a great set,” or “I’m pretty sure you were an accident.” They appreciate constructive criticism as it helps them hone their talents, no matter what venue they’re playing.