MARCH 1, 2004

Village Idiot: Live music by this student band pleased Skibo diners
By Janet Park, The Tartan, March 1, 2004

If you haven't already, go check out Skibo Coffeehouse's weekly Wednesday night concerts at 8 pm. You won't be disappointed. With decent acoustics and a small stage accompanied by the well-worn, overstuffed navy couches, it's a good place to bring your laptop and program along with the unique talent, or to eat a late dinner with your buddies.

This week's performance showcased a four-piece band called Village Idiot, which crooned out soulful mellow tunes that went just right with a sip of Skibo's vanilla nut coffee. This acoustic group seemed to be made for a coffeehouse as they churned out "fan faves" and sing-alongs. Popular covers, such as Fleetwood mac's "Landslide" and Dido's "Here with Me," filled up their set list and kept the audience's keen interest.

With 14 songs in total, the concert went for a little over an hour, but people came in and out of the coffeehouse as they pleased. Most audience members crowded the back half of the room closest to the stage and stayed glued to their seats throughout the whole set.

The interplay of the two vocalists switched from low and high parts skillfully and showcased each singer's adept abilities. They seemed very comfortable playing with each other and the group's light-hearted nature made the venue feel easygoing and uplifting, despite all the sad, lonesome songs.

The lead singer, Joanna Lovering, senior BHA in drama, directing, and psychology, had a clear-pitched voice that drew the listener in. Her voice dripped with melancholy as each song was presented with a mournful sorrowful undertone that made the listener's heart wrench to even Sarah MacLachlan's "Ice Cream Song."

The other members of Village Idiot include lead guitarist Carsen Kline, a graduate student working for the ECE Department; percussionist Christopher Stratis, a grad student in the business school, and backup vocalist Jeannie Choi, a senior in English.

Other songs included pieces from the Indigo Girls, Third Day, the Beatles, Radiohead, the Eagles, and the Grateful Dead. Village Idiot is derived from the band Idiot Boyfriend. "It's half of Idiot Boyfriend," commented Lovering.

"It's the acoustic version of Idiot Boyfriend," added Choi. Village Idiot is actually Idiot Boyfriend sans the bassist.

Happy about their debut performance, Village Idiot plans to perform at least one more show. They are scheduled to play during the Spring Carnival Concert and again in Skibo Coffeehouse. Their influences include "top 40 rock hits from the '70s and '80s, classic rock, modern folk, and pop," listed Kline.

As the evening wound down, the set's last song surprisingly featured Choi playing a solo performance, guitar and all, with her rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." But the sow was not over --- Lovering jumped at the hint of an encore, and the band was on stage again to finish up with 10,000 Maniacs' "These are the Days." The audience enthusiastically clapped along with the bongos on this piece, reflecting the brightness that the Village Idiot excludes with their playing, a good compliment to the campus music scene.