WUML’s Rock for Tots kicks off a generous holiday season

WUML brought dozens of people to Moloney Hall for the benefit concert. (Christopher Romano/Connector)

Kathryn Leeber
Connector Staff

Raising money for two local charities, the Rock for Tots event featured four bands from around the area in a relaxed evening of music.

The night showcased the talents of Daisy Bones, Oldsoul, Soft Cactus and Bay Faction. Ticket sales supported UTEC, an organization in Lowell that aims to help at-risk youth in various ways, and The Izzy Foundation, a nonprofit group that helps children with life-threatening illnesses. With the holidays getting closer, any donations received by these groups is surely appreciated.

After a bit of a delayed start, Daisy Bones opened the night with their unique and funky sound. The group had played at MEISA’s Rocktoberfest in October under a different name, but they were just as enjoyable tonight.

The band centers around their instruments and the lead singer has a distinctive style; he sings fast, but in a way that makes it difficult to understand at times. Especially with strong and unusual drumming, as well as the guitar work that stands out, his voice was lost at some points.

Nonetheless, Daisy Bones was a wonderful act to kick off the night. With their upbeat personalities and lighthearted sounds, the group was very energetic and had the whole crowd dancing.

Next to take the stage was Oldsoul, a group based in Lowell. The lead singer, Jess Hall, mentioned that she is a student at UMass Lowell and this is her last year. With amazing songs and great stage presence, the band undoubtedly makes the university proud.

Oldsoul was a bit more emotional than Daisy Bones, but still had an indie rock element, reminiscent of the first band. Also more instrumentally based, the band started their set with a long instrumental solo that was put together very nicely.

There are two vocalists who each play guitar and they are joined by a bassist and drummer. All of the instruments stand out in a positive way, in the sense that listeners can hear each one and the importance they each have in their songs.

The group played a song they had not yet recorded, but also mentioned that they are working on new material.

Slowing down the evening, Soft Cactus was next to perform. With a mellow, jazz-like sound, this band played much calmer songs as compared to the first two bands. Lead singer Melissa Mills had an incredibly powerful voice and was very personable on stage. Backed by soft, rhythmic drumming and smooth guitars with some effects, Mills sang many relaxed songs.

At times, some of the songs seemed to sound very similar, but they were still enjoyable and kept in line with the style of Soft Cactus. Some songs would start off with minimal instruments and sounded more acoustic, but then the drums would come in, the guitars would pick up and the song would progress to a heavier sound. This is an interesting way of structuring a song, but it worked incredibly well for this band.

Closing out the night was Bay Faction, a smaller group with just a singer/guitarist, bassist and drummer. The group was interactive and danced around the stage. The singer had a calmer voice that was juxtaposed with heavier instruments, which made for a unique sound. They picked up the pace following Soft Cactus with more of a rock and punk sound.

All of these excellent bands performed well and it made for an entertaining night. Even though the crowd was fairly small, everyone was dancing and enjoying the music. To support two great charities, the night was a success. Most of the bands mentioned they would be releasing new music soon, so be sure to check them out.

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