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Concert Preview: The Restoration at New Brookland Tavern

Tonight’s show at the New Brookland tavern featuring The Restoration, The Lovely Few, and Efren may as well be a miniature niche-folk festival.

You might find yourself wondering, “what the hell is niche-folk?” Technically, it’s nothing – it’s just a term I coined to describe the lineup. It would probably be defined like this:

niche-folk (adj.)

  1. folk music that breaks normal folk stereotypes by infusing unique aspects of other genres/movements
  2. folk music that doesn’t immediately draw parallels to Bob Dylan/Neil Young/any other musician that brings up mental images of someone playing acoustic guitar and wearing a harmonica neck-holder

All of the bands playing Saturday can be categorized under a strictly folk banner, but they each bring original musical ideas to the table that place them within their own niche inside of folk music. There we go – niche-folk.

Efren, the evening’s opening act, is definitely the most pure-blooded folk outfit out of the three bands on the bill. The Crawford, Ga., based band is the brainchild of singer/songwriter Scott Low, whose mellow southern vocals and strummed guitar serve as the driving force for the majority of the group’s work. Efren finds its musical niche by infusing indie lo-fi and psychedelic guitar sounds into the existing folk framework, creating a sound that seems to wash over you in waves. This can be a good thing, a la Bon Iver where you become enveloped in the music, but can also get a bit repetitive. I’m interested in hearing the group live to see what kind of diversity they can bring to a full set.

Folk/indie/electro-pop. That’s the best way to describe Columbia natives The Lovely Few, placing them in a niche featuring such a wide range of influences that almost any listener would be able to connect with their music. Imagine if you threw a Postal Service CD, a Death Cab CD and a Bright Eyes CD at each other and they collided in mid-air and fused into one completely new disc. If you took that CD and played it, you would get The Lovely Few. Members Mike Mewborne and Taylor Bray are seasoned veterans of the Columbia music scene and will surely relish playing a hometown show at NBT, so look for a quality set from these guys.

Headliners The Restoration wear their niche on their sleeve – literally, they dress in garb correct to the south during the era immediately following the Civil War. The Lexington, S.C., group’s album Constance is a conceptual work that follows a group of characters from the beginning of the Civil War, through the turn of the Industrial Revolution and past World War I, showing a true dedication to the cause of songwriting within their own folk universe. The band’s live performance is one not to be missed, as they pull out all the stops instrumentally. Violins, organ and keyboard sounds, banjo, acoustic guitar, even electric bass plucked with a drum stick – all of these things mesh perfectly to create one of the most unique sounds I’ve ever heard live.

The New Brookland Tavern is located at 122 State Street in West Columbia. Tickets for tonight’s show are $7 for over 21 and $10 for under. The show is scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

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