By Gabe Kanengiser
The folk duo Nervous But Excited played an intimate concert at the Cat in the Cream as one stop on their CD release tour for their new album, You Are Here. The Cat is one of the best-suited venues for NBE, whose music is calm, comforting, and hugely popular amongst Oberlin students.
The Michigan duo, comprised of Kate Peterson and Sarah Cleaver, came fully equipped with a two-person back up band, delicately bringing tasteful folk melodies to life for the audience. At times, their songs could be considered more in the style of country music than folk.
Nervous But Excited’s blending of folk and country captivates the listener. Their lyrics, mannerisms, and the emotions were all clearly folk-inspired; however, their vocal intonation, banjo usage, chord choices, and melodies seemed to be a more country style. It wouldn’t have been surprising if Jay Farrar or some other alt-country musical envoy had stepped on stage to strum a few tunes or wail harmonies behind the duo.
NBE covered Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” and to be honest, improved the song greatly. Of course, its catchy melody might be “meaningful” to some, but their version transformed the song to be anthemic. The duo showed flashes of outstanding lyrics in their own songs–the refrain to one, “because it’s easy to love someone you don’t know,” was solemnly sung and echoed throughout the Cat.
What’s intriguing about Nervous But Excited and their music is that they are extremely accessible to the musically inclined–whether trained or untrained. Surprisingly, though, none of the individuals on stage showed outstanding musical technique or proficiency worthy of extreme praise. They all played just right. And in the folk/country genre, what more can you really ask for than proficient musicianship, illustrative harmonies, and heartfelt lyrics? The synthesis of these three traits make for comforting music that in a live setting, really hits home.
Even if you aren’t a fan of their style or their music, Nervous But Excited will give a great show in an intimate setting that is both sonically and lyrically driven. Be sure to see them next time they are in town.