Matt Hartke, LAKE and Karl Blau provided a night full of catchy riffs and heartfelt songs at Outpost.
The show opened up with the mellow, heartfelt guitar playing of Matt Hartke. Hartke stated, “I’m not a huge talker onstage,” which worked well to his advantage as he played song after song, with the crowd swaying along with slower songs and tapping their feet to more upbeat ones.
Hartke’s songs got a great response from the crowd and prompted a range of emotions as during the song “Whenever I’m Around You,” a faster paced song, many people in the crowd could be seen clapping along, while during “Awakening Hearts,” a slower paced song, there were people crying along to the lyrics he sang.
After his performance, Hartke was told that he did a great job, to which his response was, “You never know when you’re up there alone in a quiet room of people.”
After a short break, LAKE took the stage, playing their first ever show in New Jersey. The crowd had a fantastic reaction to their mix of slower, synth-ridden songs to their heavily guitar-influenced songs. All four members of LAKE are extremely talented, as all four contributed vocally and played multiple instruments, which would become apparent once the band joined headliner Karl Blau for the majority of his set.
LAKE caught the attention of lead singer, Evan Stevens Hall from local band Pinegrove, with him saying they were one of his favorite bands. “I loved it! They’re a huge inspiration to me. I love how kinetic and positive they are,” stated Hall. “I’ve taken a huge que from them, and I’ve learned the capacity of positive music from them. Their music has explicitly helped me.”
“I don’t expect anyone to keep up with me; I cover a lot of ground,” Blau stated before he jumped into a new song on an unreleased project, performed completely a cappella.
After, Blau explained how he plays only a little bit of guitar, and that LAKE would be joining him on stage to help with the other instruments. When LAKE returned to the stage, they were all wearing brimmed hats, in coordination with singer Karl Blau.
While most songs were more upbeat, Blau also had a nice array of mellower songs as well, which made for a diverse show as he also introduced hints of country into his indie folk style. Blau also had a huge vocal range going from low baritone to tenor, which allowed him to create diversity through a contrast of sounds during each song.
Karl Blau was often very playful, talking with the crowd many times and not taking things too seriously, which led to a fun and intimate show. The crowd was dancing in their seats throughout the whole show, and many were singing along to every song. At one point, he suggested that they sing a new song for people’s birthdays instead of the traditional “Happy Birthday,” to which he began singing “King of the Road” by Roger Miller. To this, the crowd erupted in song and laughter as people sang along with Blau.
“I’m just throwing stuff out there,” Blau stated after the song finished. When Blau finished his set, the crowd erupted in applause and cheered until he came out for an encore.
“I liked him a lot. Iterations of county, especially in indie rock, is amazing to me and cool to see it in our home town,” said singer, Evan Hall.
“I’m so happy! It’s exciting to see bands that don’t usually play in New Jersey play in Montclair. They were great,” said Montclair High School student, Ben White.
To find out when the next Outpost in the Burbs show is, check out their website outpostintheburbs.org, and to hear more from any of the artists who performed you can go to facebook.com/matthartkemusic, laketheband.com or karlblau.com.