>> It can be easy to forget the tight-knit and supportive environment that has been built in the Rochester area-- but it is events such as Best Life 2018 which remind us of the community’s ability to come forward and support a common goal over a full day of excellent music, enticing raffles, and a well-deserved slice of Schiano’s Pizza. Best Life 2018: A Concert to Benefit Young Adults and Teens Battling Cancer was organized by Charlie Coté who made frequent appearances throughout the night to announce raffle winners between sets and give heartwarming announcements to each band before they took the stage. Featuring a number of Rochester’s finest musicians from Anamon’s powerful garage-rock set to Mikaela Davis’ enchantingly dreamy harp-based tunes, Anthology was filled with a diverse group of adored musical acts which kept listeners entertained and eager to stay from the first to the final moment of the night. Each band performed a thirty to forty-five-minute set, which gave the audience a broad and exciting peek into the creativity that has been occurring throughout the Rochester area.
The event kicked off with Vacation Daze offering hazy tunes supported by the uplifting and high-energy stage presence of vocalist/keyboardist Ian Egling. Singing out feel-good psych pop lyrics and maintaining a look of unstoppable joy throughout the duration of the set, Vacation Daze provided the audience with a phenomenal level of positive energy. After a brief change, The Stedwells took the stage and illustrated the fierce organization and cleanliness to their sound by exemplifying the full command each member had over their respective instruments. Playing songs from their latest release ‘I’m Too Tall For My Time Machine,’ the alternative rock and roll trio gave a seamless performance which kept the crowd on their feet and eager to stick around to hear more.
The third musician to take the stage, Ben Morey, has been one of the most consistent and promising singer-songwriters in the Rochester area, and his full-band performance as Ben Morey and the Eyes complimented the exhilaratingly gorgeous lyricism present within his minimalistic folk songs. Playing simplistic yet captivating tunes such as “Negative Space” from his full-length album ‘With Birds,’ the five-piece band featuring vocals from Mikaela Davis filled the room with melancholy melodies for quiet contemplation. As raffle announcements were made and the stage was reset, Dangerbyrd entered the room with vocalist Alex Patrick donning a leather fringe poncho and a trusty brown hat that stayed true to the ‘cowboy’ aesthetic which was strangely ever-present at Anthology throughout the event. Performing rambunctious old-style rock and roll tunes mixed with elements of contemporary alternative artists such as The Black Keys, Dangerbyrd created a high-energy atmosphere which inspired the crowd to get up and dance. Closing their set with a message from guitarist Alex Coté, the musician reiterated his gratitude for the way that the Rochester music scene pulled together to help make this event possible, and played a song of tribute to his brother Charlie who passed away from cancer in 2005 at the age of eighteen.
As the event made its way into the evening, Anamon walked onto the stage and blew away the audience with the combination of Sam Snyder’s intensely energizing guitar riffs and Ana Monaco’s sweetly gritty garage-punk vocals. Drawing in members of the crowd who had been lingering towards the back of the room, spectators were urged to move towards the stage to take in each track that Anamon had to offer and soon filled up the floor with scores of excited and interested listeners. Continuing the fast-paced tone set by Anamon, the group of deservedly well-loved musicians The Demos hit the stage and gave an unforgettable performance. After playing the title track off of their latest EP ‘If You Only Knew,’ a comical spar broke out between vocalist Jay Milton and bassist Cal Saunders which highlighted the band’s fantastic sense of humor and ability to consistently bring forward an entertaining show for their audience. As fans sang along to classic tracks such as “Nervous” from the band’s 2011 full-length release ‘Lovely,’ Jay stopped between songs to announce a guest appearance from another favorite local musician-- Joywave’s Daniel Armbruster. Joining The Demos in the middle of their set, Daniel gave an eclectic and enrapturing vocal performance, standing stationary towards the front of the stage and captivating the audience with his smooth tonal delivery.
Striking eight o’clock, the psych-pop band Maybird descended onto the stage and mesmerized the crowd with a set of glimmering and hypnotic melodies which inspired listeners to twirl around the room in ecstasy with those who were closest to them. As the set progressed, multi-instrumentalist Kurt Johnson put down his guitar to sit down and play the pedal steel-- adding an additional layer of character to the band’s already established sound. Closing their performance with a fan-favorite single “Turning into Water,” vocalist Josh Netsky and lead guitarist Sam Snyder came together to create a methodical mix of atmospheric vocals and fiery guitar riffs. Closing off the night, Mikaela Davis greeted the audience by announcing that her band would be playing several new tracks throughout the evening. Switching between an elegant command of the keyboard and her signature use of the harp, Mikaela graced the stage with a number of tracks off of her latest release ‘Delivery,’ and provided a well-received ending for this incredibly successful event.
If you’re a musician in the Rochester area, organizer Charlie Coté urges you to reach out now to find a spot on the bill for Best Life 2019. This annual event supporting 13thirty Cancer Connect will soon become a Rochester tradition that you’ll be wishing you had supported from the start-- couldn’t make it out this year? Consider donating to 13thirty Cancer Connect to become a part of the phenomenal work that’s being done for young adults battling cancer in the community. If you’re interested in learning more about the inspiration behind Best Life 2018, keep an eye open for our interview with Charlie Coté and his son Alex coming out next week on our website, and as always-- use the strength of Rochester’s close-knit community to spread the word of their mission to make it an even more successful event next year. <<