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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

SALES and Karen Meat pop out Herrick

Photo by Hung Vuong.
Photo by Hung Vuong.
Photo by Hung Vuong.

By Halley Freger

Grinnell Concerts hosted two pop-influenced acts on Wednesday, Karen Meat and SALES. Des Moines’s Karen Meat opened with a set of their high-energy trash pop. As they took the stage they looked around them at the beautiful Herrick Chapel and joked, “Tonight the role of crusty punk club will be played by a beautiful cathedral.”

Karen Meat’s lyrics are amusing because they are intensely blatant and honest. They sing about pizza and love and getting too drunk. On their song “I Made You a Card,” guitarist, vocalist, and mastermind Arin Eatons sings, “I made you a card. Did you know I could draw with a beer in my hand? I spilled some on my pants.” The description of this small moment feels very real, and, like most of their songs, slightly sad, but mostly funny.

Karen Meat’s sound is a blend of catchy riffs and twinkling electronics. The electronic sound in their music is hard to pin down upon first listen, but it is actually created using an omnicord, an instrument created in the 80’s. Omnicord player, guitarist, and vocalist Brad Turk flawlessly incorporates this kitschy instrument into their bright musical style.

Although Karen Meat has only been around for a couple years, they are an Iowa band to watch out for. Next month, they are releasing “She’s Drunk Like The Rest Of Us,” a collaboration between Arin and producer Dana T. If you missed their set, the good news is you can watch it on their Facebook page, where they live streamed the concert. Isn’t living in 2016 great?

SALES followed Karen Meat with an intimate set of their minimalist guitar-based pop. Orlando band SALES is the project of longtime friends guitarist/vocalist Lauren Morgan and guitarist Jordan Shih. This tour they ditched their 404 drum machine sampler for their new drummer Joy Cyr, who added a distinct energy to their set. Grinnell was their last stop on this tour and we were lucky to catch them before they rest and head out on their West Coast tour.

Overall, the band has incredible chemistry. Morgan and Jordan play intricate guitar parts that intertwine and reinforce each other in a dreamy blend. Morgan’s distinctive voice is soothing and soulful. At times it rings in a wistful whisper and the next moment it’s deep and powerful.

SALES is known for combining their skillful guitar playing with electronic elements, such as the use of sampling. At one point during their set, Morgan sang using an auto-tune effect and commented on how that was probably the first time someone has used auto-tune in a church. She might be right.

Before playing their song “Trapped in a Club” they asked the audience if we have any clubs in Grinnell. Everyone chuckled, thinking about how funny that would be. What would a Grinnell club even look like? But the answer was clear—it looks like a group of students listening to music in a chapel on a Wednesday night. Grinnell Concerts is our crusty punk club.

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