M-shop opens with local bands for rocking show

Bill Cleary

The Maintenance Shop opened its fall concert season with a night of local music in celebration of the release of Saint Radar’s first album.

Steve Volcko, junior in marketing and Saint Radar’s lead guitarist, proposed the show to Steve Satterlee, program coordinator of the Memorial Union. Satterlee accepted, seeing it as an opportunity to attract students to the venue.

“Basically, what we like to do the first week is have a local show,” said Kay Mwanza, student director of the M-Shop and junior in community and regional planning. “It’s something cheap [that] students can go to when they don’t know anyone.”

The show


SNAFU opened the concert aggressively with their song “Shut Up and Play,” then calmed down with two piano-led tunes.

During the next song, “Where’d We Go Wrong?,” Anderson displayed his mastery of stage performance, learned through years of professional experience. He directed the crowd – inciting them to applaud at a break – without appearing to beg for attention.

When the applause did come, it was ample and sincere.

Their next song was an accident. Anderson jokingly played the opening notes to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” eliciting cheers from the crowd.

“You want us to play that song?” Anderson asked.

An overwhelmingly affirmative response led to the band playing a heavy, squawky rendition of the classic song that was nonetheless faithful.

Afterward, the band demonstrated what Anderson described as their eclectic mix of styles by performing three songs that featured dramatic changes in tempo and mood. During set-closer “Charlie,” an introspective beginning jumps into a fast, guitar-driven rocker, but the balladry remains.

“We try to link styles through pop and melodic things,” Anderson said.

The Lone Strangers

The Lone Strangers, described by lead vocalist Matt Heerema as “a rock band of Christians,” but not as a Christian rock band, played next.

Their style was very rhythmic, centered on repeating guitar parts and interplay between dual vocalists Heerema and Blair. On many of their tracks, they blend funk-infused instrumental parts with vocal sounds reminiscent of quirky pop-rockers They Might Be Giants.

The band’s songs focused mostly on the eternal subject of rock music – girls – but dealt with it unconventional ways. For instance, upbeat opener “I Want Her” culminates in the couplet “I think – I think that I need her/ She thinks – that she needs a restraining order.”

When they weren’t playing their banging funk, The Lone Strangers were plugging Saint Radar’s newest release to a crowd continuing to swell right up until the headliners took the stage.

Saint Radar

Introduced by Anderson, Saint Radar’s four members took the stage in formal attire, with frontman Ben Shin, junior in sociology, wearing a three-piece suit.

Things got off to a rough start when a dramatic countdown, following the theme of their new album, was disrupted by sound difficulties that took several minutes to fix.

Once the kinks were worked out, however, Saint Radar began their aggressive, punk-infused attack, jagged guitars nearly drowning out Shin’s brisk vocal delivery.

The band rattled out song after song with a feel very much like British pop-punk, syncopating their twin guitars with Matt Neisen’s bass.

Between – and during – songs, Saint Radar bantered with the crowd, pushing their core philosophy.

“We have kind of a punk ethos,” Shin said. “It’s about everyone feeling cool for 45 minutes.”

A devoted contingent of fans located front-and-center provided Shin a group to play off of for his many jokes and witticisms. Longtime fan Josh Hawkins, junior in horticulture, was pressed into service several times as a tambourine player, as well.

Besides playing their original songs, Saint Radar had a brief interlude with a few faux-accidental attempts at playing SNAFU and The Lone Strangers songs before, seemingly unknowingly, and playing a noisy cover of AC/DC’s “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”

Volcko gave the best stage presence, looking like a low-rent romance novel cover model in his half-unbuttoned shirt. During one ’60s-style song, he danced the “Monkey” at center stage, his spindly swagger stealing the show.

Before their final, Aerosmith-reminiscent song of the evening, Shin called both supporting bands to the stage. With Neisen playing the tune of Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” on keyboard, a Shin-led choir sang an ode to the audience, culminating in the line “Come and get some free beer” – an invitation to the band’s open after-party.

Slightly more than 100 people attended the show, which is high for a local night, Mwanza said.

How they met

The supporting acts were Des Moines-based SNAFU and Ames locals The Lone Strangers. Both bands have ties to Saint Radar.

Saint Radar’s members are longtime fans of SNAFU, and the two bands met at the 2006 Veishea Battle of the Bands. After a discussion of their difficulties with their attempts at self-recording, SNAFU frontman Andy Anderson offered to produce a record for Saint Radar in his personal studio – free of charge.

“I really love this band because people just watch them,” Anderson said. “They deserve success.”

Pat Blair, guitarist for The Lone Strangers, got to know Saint Radar while performing sound duties at Bali Satay House, 2424 Lincoln Way.

“I’ve gotten to watch them grow into quite the band,” Blair said.


Andy Anderson – lead vocals, guitar, piano

John Elwer – bass, vocals

Tom Murphy – drums

The Lone Strangers

Matt Heerema – vocals, guitar

Pat Blair – vocals, guitar

Dan Shea – bass

Scott Chidester – drums

Saint Radar

Ben Shin – lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Steve Volcko – lead guitar

Matt Neisen – bass

Cal Rebhuhn – drums