Major alternative rock band to serenade Simpson campus on Oct. 3


Secondhand Serenade, best known for the 2008 hit-single “Fall For You,” is set to play at Principal Black Box Theatre in the Kent Campus Center on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m., according to the Simpson College Activities Board.

Admission is free for Simpson students and $10 for the general public. Tickets are available at

Led by vocalist, pianist and guitarist John Vesely, the band has released four studio albums to date: “Awake” in 2007, “A Twist in My Story” in 2008, “Hear Me Now” in 2010 and “Undefeated” in 2014.

Vesely formed Secondhand Serenade in his hometown of Menlo Park in California. He began writing songs when he met his wife, Candice.

The band’s name derives from the songs John Vesely sang to his wife, “serenading her with a bass guitar,” and people would hear the songs “secondhand.”

The couple, however, split in 2008.

Possessing a breathy yet sturdy vocal delivery, the band’s alternative style is definitive of the late 2000s, reminiscent of the first homecoming dance or Friday night jam session.

A one-man band, Vesely uses the rawness of the acoustic guitar to his advantage.

“In some ways, a band is more powerful, but in other ways, there are things you can do with one voice and one acoustic guitar that you couldn’t do with an army of musicians behind you,” Vesely said in an interview.

According to the band’s website, Secondhand Serenade has toured the world and played on numerous television shows.

A track-by-track review of the band’s most recent album, “Undefeated”:

“Undefeated” — A trendy vibe that gears toward Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head Up,” the positivity is a contrast from a darker perspective in “A Twist in My Story.” It strays little from the pop/rock sound fans have come to love in the alternative genre. Lyrically, the message at first appears to be a cliché comeback, but further exploration reveals it’s a song of empowerment and inspiration, like many others at the turn of the decade.

“Heart Stops (by the Way)” feat. Veronica Ballestrini — The track delivers a fulsome heartache of a duet, supplemented by Ballestrini’s soft, accompanying harmonies. The rise and fall of the narrative develops rather quickly, giving the impression the relationship was as rushed as the track, with the overall time being just under three minutes.

“Shake It Off” — Vesely incorporates a singer/songwriter element, keeping consistent with the feel-good nature of the album’s overarching theme. It would be hard for one to solely listen for its verses, which are composed of fast-speaking storytelling. The motif, “Shake It Off,” is predictable, though it’s not as wildly addictive as the same titles written by Mariah Carey or Taylor Swift.

“La La Love” feat. Veronica Ballestrini — A former number one MySpace artist, Vesely returns to a homemade, acoustic sound, one that inspires young YouTube artists to pursue a career in music. The same feeling is attributed to “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat, a fellow MySpace artist. Again, Ballestrini does not overpower the duet, as is evident in the constraint of power in her voice.

“Right Kind of Crazy” — Stepping off the alternative rock train for three minutes, the track adds electronic instruments, syncing with a more up-to-date style, where autotune and voice enhancements dominate. It serves as adequate filler in an eight-hour car ride, giving a break to the album’s established, edgy sound.

“Let Me In” — Unlike other alternative bands, the band caters to a significant other, rather than focusing on writing post-breakup anthems. The line, “the best part of waking up is knowing you’re thinking of me,” is a sure-fire way to make it into someone’s mix-tape (if those still exist).

“I Don’t Wanna” — The first ballad of the album, it seems to appear late in the track list. Nonetheless, the track is arguably the most emotionally charged piece, hitting a sweet spot for anyone who enjoys reflective and nostalgic tunes.

“Fly By” — Vesely experiments more with vocals, though it’s not the highlight of his talents. Because of his limited vocal range, the song, in turn, is also capped in giving its full potential.

“Back To the Old Days” — A mandatory theme for songwriters, the track offers a comparison between then and now through its myriad references of generational differences. It falls short, however, due to its oversimplified lyrics and universal head-bopping one-liners.

“Come Back To Me” — The acoustic sound instills an image of bar-hopping and karaoke nights. One of the heavier-sounding tracks that pumps adrenaline, it is similar to older work the band produced prior to 2010.

“Price We Pay” — The hefty downbeat noticeably prepares the song for a subtle resolution with a garage-band style to its instrumentals. The standout appears in the bridge: “Loving you is such a curse, but of course, that’s just the price we pay. Leaving you is so much worse, so let’s save it for another day.”

“Nothing Left To Say” feat. Veronica Ballestrini — The song satisfies as the ending track by leaving the listener wanting more of the album, the mark of a good artist. A sense of appreciation remains past the end of the song. In truth, there is nothing left to say, except for, “Bravo.”

Overall rating: 4.0 stars out of 5.