Stripped Down, Raw, Rock N’ Roll

Who says you need insanely loud amplifiers, massive drum sets, and a huge stage to rock? The four-piece rock band Wayland from Wayland, Michigan and Charlotte modern rockers Beyond the Fade certainly don’t.The two bands recently put on amazing performances at Quaker Steak & Lube in Concord NC, even while being stripped down to just acoustic guitars and small drum sets. You don’t get to see this side of very many rock ‘n’ roll bands often, so it was a nice treat for all the fans in attendance.


The night started off with Wayland taking the floor. With just acoustic guitars these guys can bring the house down with the upbeat, old school rock style-riffs and vocals. The band’s frontman, Mitch Arnold, also played the part of rhythm guitarist for the night, something he only does on one song during a plugged in set. Arnold’s vocal range is out of this world. He showcased his talent  in a breakdown section of the first song of the night, “Fire Down Below.” The rest of the band stopped playing and he belted out part of the chorus, holding onto each note as long as he could, impressing everyone in the room. Lead guitarist, Phillip Vilenski, couldn’t do his melodic solos the same as if he were plugged in, but he had no trouble highlighting his own talents and lighting up the fretboard.


Wayland’s drummer, Tyler Coburn, played a without some of his normal equipment, but still provided the steady, powerful beat fans expected to hear. Locked in with Coburn, the group’s bassist, Dean Pizzaz, kept the music grooving and low end in check for the night with his great playing. The band played a set as they typically would, moving their way through a combination of older songs and newer tracks, which some of the members of the crowd knew all the words to. Before starting an intense performance of their song, “On My Knees,” Arnold told a very touching story about a friend of the band in the United States military who mentioned how much he related to the song. Ending the night with “Welcome to My Head,” the guys got a big round of applause and hung out with their fans the rest of the night.


Up next was Beyond the Fade, the local talent of the night. Led by vocalist Neil Jackson, lead guitarist Brandon Strickland, drummer Jesse Lee, and rhythm guitarist Ben Davis–the guys were without bassist Johnny Rochester for the night. Kicking off the set as a three piece with Jackson on vocals and guitar, Strickland and Lee joined him for the song “Hate You.” Davis then came in to take over guitar duties from Jackson, leaving the singer to move about the room to further entertain the crowd. The guys played beloved hits included at most shows, including: “Sin City,” “Bitter,” “Freak,” and “Lose Control.” They also rocked out a newer song called “Wasted Time,” which is the band’s only ballad-type song.


The guys had a lot of friends, family, and fans in attendance. Jackson tried to get them all involved by speaking to everyone in between songs, as well as easing the mood by acting his usual, crazy self. The group finished off the set with the song “Angel” from Jackson’s former band Steel Standing, and one of his solo acoustic songs, “Field of Gray,” that the guys turned into an entire band performance. After the show the band caught up with the guys in Wayland to talk music, future shows, and compliment each other on their performances.


On a night armed with a few acoustic guitars and raw talent, the audience at Quaker Steak & Lube were given two rare and amazing acoustic performances. Wayland delivered their killer blend of Southern old school rock ‘n’ roll sound to the modern era of the rock world. Beyond the Fade brought down the house with the modern rock sound that has catapulted them to being one of the top bands on the local scene. I was honored to be part of this night full of great music, friends and food.


Wayland, Beyond the Fade, Quaker Steak & Lube, Concord NC, Shutter 16 Magazine, Kevin Robbins, Rock N’ Roll, Modern Rock, Acoustic Rock




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