Feb. 4 You, Me and Iowa rocked the lively crowd at UCI’s Anthill Pub and Grille. The indie rock band played a tight and exciting set consisting of beautifully crafted and expertly produced music. They sounded like a mix of Elefant, the Strokes and their own unique, hard-edged sound.
The band, which has been playing together for a year and a half, is comprised of UCI fourth-year philosophy major,Tony Benedetti on drums; musically flexible Bryan Boarini on keyboards, backing vocals and trumpet; passionate performer Ryan Julio on bass and backing vocals; flare-adding Tizoc Estrada on guitar; and engaging Andrew Carroll on guitar and lead vocals.
Carroll, Boarini and Julio are students at Loyola Marymount University while Estrada is at Cal Arts.
The newest member of the band is Ryan Olsen who, according to the band’s Web site www.YouMeandIowa.com, makes ‘sure that shows run smoothly, that the instruments are up to par and also lend[s] critical feedback during the writing process to ensure that the songs don’t suck.’
While the lyrics are mostly written by Carroll with a dash of Benedetti’s input, writing the music is a collaborative process for You Me and Iowa. ‘When we first started, Andrew was writing all the music and we added our parts,’ Estrada said. ‘But since we’ve all been together for a while, we’ve been coming to the band practice each with our own ideas, our own rifts and our own drum beats and we just add stuff.’
But when it comes to lyrics, the band avoids politics.
‘We have so many different political views that we try to steer clear of politics,’ Carroll said.
Their live show indicated much rehearsal had been done. The band’s professionalism was highlighted when the band would suddenly break in the middle of a song and then follow with an equally attention-grabbing burst of syncopated music. All band members were tight, working well together and feeding off each other’s instruments.
Another addictive element of this band’s catchy rock music was the smooth transitions between songs with Carroll’s impassioned singing leading the band to heart-pounding instrumental rock jams, which were slightly reminiscent of Supertramp. The effectiveness of these instrumental sections were apparent because the band was always conscious that they had an audience, and did not continue to play instrumental jams long into the night, as if playing in a studio or garage. Essentially, these breaks had purpose, melody and a cohesive link to the song from which they were generated.
I am as staid and stiff at concerts as they come. So the fact that You Me and Iowa had my heart pounding, my head bobbing and my foot tapping speaks to the refreshingly great live music played.
Unfortunately, the vocals were not as loud. Throughout the concert I could only guess at what was being sung by the lead singer. The notes came out fine and were in tune, but attempting to listen to the words he was saying and form a coherent sentence out of them in your head was futile. The band overpowered lead singer Carroll for most of the set in the same way a Ford Mustang visually overpowers the Pontiac GTO