Thursday night at the WestCo cafe, Brooklyn-based folk-rock band Fletcher C. Johnson warmed the crowd with their blues-rock and made it feel like seeing a high school band play noisy folk tunes out of their garage on a summer night somewhere in suburban California. It’s no coincidence that Pitchfork crowns Fletcher’s music as a totally respectable revival of 1960s blues-rock scene, but with its own pop-rock spin. Fletcher is remarkable for their organic incorporation of danceable rock music with traditional folk and blues.
Wesleyan’s own Featherwood Bee set the scene for the first hour with their hard-rock jams. Bee, consisting of WesKids Ben Gottesman ’13 (bass), Adam Johnson ’14 (drums), Kelly Lee ’14 (guitar, vocals) and John Ryan ’14 (lead guitar, vocals), opened the show with rock n’ roll music. Their music features bass-heavy verses punctuated by loud, explosive choruses—as is customary in hard rock. In most songs, you can hear obvious Led Zeppelin influences; but in their more mellow tunes, there are traces of The Grateful Dead and their blues, jam-band style. This band is pretty active on the music scene here at Wes, so if you don’t see them play in the near future, check out their music here.
I’m grateful that Aural Wes and, specifically, Ethan Hill ’16 brought Fletcher C. Johnson to this campus, because after hearing them, I’m more hopeful that folk has not been abandoned by all modern musicians. The group’s unique, charming sound is more or less a product of the frontman’s vocals. His scrappy voice reminded me of a young Bob Dylan, and the band’s midwestern, twangy sound only strengthened this comparison—I almost find it hard to believe they’re from Brooklyn. Some would compare the singer to Kristian Mattson (a.k.a The Tallest Man on Earth), but Fletcher is certainly less meditative. They share a common delivery, but while Mattson is often melancholy, Fletcher leans more to the side of feel-good music. Check them out at this link, and see photos from the show below.