By Zach Palermo
Indie folk band Seryn’s free, two-hour set Nov. 30 at Barefoots Joe attracted about 100 students.
The quartet from Denton, Texas – whose members include Nathan Allen, Trenton Wheeler, Aaron Stoner and Chris Semmelbeck — was listed on NPR’s list of “Bands That Should be Bigger” in late November.
As is the case with most indie bands, Seryn’s musicians strain against categorization.
The band’s sound has its roots in the folk genre but also includes elements of worship and ballad styles, incorporating the typical guitar, drums and bass while also adding ukulele, violin (courtesy of guest musician Carlo Canlas) and a stand-alone floor tom, among many other instruments.
Those instruments aren’t always played traditionally, either.
During one song, Trenton Wheeler sang into his ukulele and later played it with his teeth.
Every member of the band sings, and some, such as Wheeler, played more than one instrument throughout the show.
The set included “We Will All Be Changed,” arguably its most popular song, which has been generating some buzz online.
The song typifies many of Seryn’s usual elements: shifting tempo and meter, strong vocal harmonies, acoustic picking, deeply meaningful lyrics and a generally different sound overall.
Seryn’s songs are intricate, with layers of instrumentation and a sense of intentionality. The band knows not only how to play the instruments but also how to reach people through them.
“I loved it,” said junior biblical studies major Stephen Charlton. “I loved every single moment of it.”
Charlton was not alone. Students jumped, clapped, cheered and danced. Energy was at a high, reflected and intensified by group members as well.
They were constantly in motion, whether playing, singing or dancing. The only time they even approached stillness was between songs — and not always even then.
In fact, by the end of the show, all four band members, along with guest musicians Carlo Canlas and Jenny Moscoso, were drenched with sweat. They were also all grinning from ear to ear.
“It was terrific,” said junior engineering major Beau Fant, who went to last year’s show and listened to the CD the band produced last year. “I totally loved it from the beginning to end. … That’s why I showed up this year. You can’t miss out on a band that has this much soul and just envelops the audience.”
Junior biology major Jacob Landfield gave Seryn good marks across the board.
“The music had a depth that made me want to keep listening,” Landfield said. “The band had a quality to feel the crowd and to relate with them really well.”
Carlo Canlas and Jenny Moscoso tour with Seryn and occasionally join them onstage as well. For the Barefoots show, the pair both opened for Seryn and played with the band, too. The band Robinson also opened for Seryn that night.
A Union graduate has also been helping the band out.
“Stephen Capps, who recently graduated from Union, is also touring with them right now, helping with their [merchandise],” said aid Barefoots Joe director Joy Moore.