Local bands rock the Donut Whole


There is no more reliable source of raw passion than a rock-show in a small room. Weaving my way into the Donut Whole’s main seating area with an Americano and chocolate glazed donut, I can already feel a huge amount of energy in the space.

Handshakes and laughter are freely exchanged over a makeshift merch table. Cliques of high school and undergraduate students camp out in colorful booths and sip evening coffees. From the stage comes the intermittent commentary of restless, just-tuned electric guitars. And behind the stage, on the dark green wall, hangs a huge painted tiger’s face whose wide eyes drink in the whole scene along with my own.

Out of nowhere comes the first fuzzy pop song from opener Honeyblush. Waves of distorted guitar wash over the space to the driving pulse of the kit. The aesthetic is striking — a frontwoman in all black flanked by a guitarist and bassist in matching buzz cuts and pastel-colored striped shirts. The band’s only male member and drummer holds down the back half of the stage.

Over the course of the set, Honeyblush pare back their sound from noisy shoegaze to catchy indie-rock. They shine brightest when their singer’s strikingly clear voice breaks through the mix and anchors the group with melodies reminiscent of Alvvays and Cults. With their strongest songs loaded at the back of the set, Honeyblush kicks the night into gear perfectly and leaves me pining for a recording to take home.

After a brief transition period, Junior Retreat lays claim to the stage and immediately sets the tone with an emo/post-hardcore sound. Their sound is surprisingly polished; beautiful guitar lines cut through the group’s rhythmic grooves and play counter to the bands powerful dual vocalists. Each song crescendos nimbly to shouted choruses that are awesome in their sonic and emotional peaks. Joyful headbanging in the crowd kicks up time and time again to keep pace.

Junior Retreat’s clean, defined performance balances the heaviness of their content perfectly and left me with the distinct impression that I was watching an act who could ascend to the heights of The Hotelier and Touché Amoré. With an EP coming later this year, they’re probably just about to start that climb.

By the time headliner Old News takes the stage, I’m gleefully overcaffeinated and hungry for more tunes. The entire show has been leading up to this moment, as Old News is using the performance to celebrate the release of their new EP “Castro.”

Old News hits the crowd with a blast of trumpet and catchy vocal melodies; I can hear people singing back to the stage several times over the course of the night.

The positive energy on stage has infected the whole crowd and in the wake of the last hums of guitar feedback, the crowd is just smiling and chatting in a daze. As I walk back to my car, I feel the pull to go write some songs of my own just so I can contribute to the music scene that welcomed me with open arms.