At this year’s Rock N’ Roosevelt, Tessa Violet, Coast Modern, and The Driver Era pulled out all stops and gave a memorable performance.
Despite its proximity to finals week, Rock N’ Roosevelt drew in a surprisingly large and lively crowd. Listening to the chatter in the line, it was clear what drove most people to attend: the chance to see childhood familiar — face Ross Lynch in person. While the line seemed agonizingly long, the check-in process went by quite smoothly, and I even nabbed a Rock N’ Roosevelt themed card-holder to stick on my phone.
Once I entered Price Center Ballroom West, I was immediately drawn to the photo booth set up in the back corner. After my brief photo session with my friends, Tessa Violet, the concert’s first opener, stepped onto the stage and everyone in the ballroom quickly condensed around her. The energy of the room quickly changed. While Violet is often seen as more of a YouTuber, her performance at Rock N’ Roosevelt proved that she could rally a crowd effortlessly. Constantly interacting with the audience, Violet was the playful and exuberant opener this concert needed to revitalize everyone after a long wait in line. On stage, she wasted no time showcasing a tougher side to her image that her sweet and sultry studio voice fails to capture, especially with her performance of “Games” and her concluding song of the night, “Crush.”
During the intermission, the audience also got to see some familiar faces from previous Rock N’ Roosevelt concerts. Moontower, an electronica band, made their third appearance at Rock N’ Roosevelt. This time, instead of being an opener, they were tossing paper airplanes into the crowd that allowed several lucky attendees to grab some free merch before leaving the venue.
Coast Modern took the stage after the break and brought in a unique sound to the room. With songs like “Guru” in their repertoire, Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp lived up to their band’s name, bringing in a coastal, beachy atmosphere to the room. Coast Modern even incorporated a brief meditation session into their set, which was a first for me. This further added to their beach boy brand that they seemed to embody. With their feel-good personalities and interesting music style, Coast Modern shares much in common with what made Moontower surprisingly popular amongst UC San Diego students, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear if they came back to UCSD for another round in the future.
Finally, The Driver Era rounded off the concert as the final performers. Consisting of Ross Lynch from Disney Channel’s “Austin and Ally” and his brother Rocky Lynch, The Driver Era received a roaring welcome from the audience as they opened with their song “A Kiss.” With remarkable stage presence, the brother-musicians spent as much time performing their music as they did engaging with their fans and joking around about the UCSD stereotypes. Far from being a one-dimensional boy band, their performance showcased their musicianship in all styles, from the slow and mellow “San Francisco” and “Afterglow” to coarser bangers like “Preacher Man” and “Welcome to the End of Your Life.” Notably, they even managed to pull off a medley of “Sweet Home Alabama” by Skynyrd and “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock with just their guitars and voices. At the end of their set, the audience once again exploded with cheers, only instead, they were demanding for an encore. After some uncertainty, Ross and Rocky Lynch decided to oblige, performing “Feel You Now” as the closer to a wild night.
While UCSD’s school-sponsored concerts have a reputation for being rather bland, Rock N’ Roosevelt for 2020 was anything but that. All three performers brought forward different charms and musical focuses that created a musically varied and riveting concert experience. Furthermore, Moontower’s surprise appearance added a touch of nostalgia for older students who remember their first performance at UCSD. For those of you who are blowing off Rock N’ Roosevelt as a lame event, mark it on your calendar for next year. You might be surprised at how fun it is!
Date: March 3, 2020
Venue: UCSD Price Center Ballroom West
Photo by Howard Chang