There wasn’t a bad seat in the house at Phipps Fest, the Phipps Center for the Arts summer benefit concert, on Saturday, Sept. 17.
As the sun set, Hudsonites began to gather to see their homegrown pop stars, Yam Haus, at the Hudson bandshell at Lakefront Park.
Seth Blum, Zach Beinlich and Lars Pruitt, joined by Michigan-native Jake Felstow, began their music career as Hudson Raiders.
On Saturday, the band of best friends returned to their roots, the Hudson bandshell stage, surrounded by their biggest fans.
Despite the large audience, the boys’ performance felt like a small, intimate concert with friends and family. Well, that was, in large part, many of the audience members.
The bandmates' parents, high school friends, their parents' friends and other relatives made up much of the crowd.
Two artists opened Phipps Fest on Sept. 17 before Yam Haus took the stage. Hariz and The Cat…
“Like half the audience will be blood relatives,” Pruitt said half joking before the concert.
But that is exactly what made Phipps Fest so special.
Pruitt, lead vocalist, was especially interactive with the audience. The band improvised, they laughed together, they had conversations with audience members, they talked of Hudson and they looked as though they had just as much fun, if not more, than the rest of us (if that is possible).
Kids ran around the yard, dancing in their Yam Haus T-shirts. Volunteers passed out glow sticks. Pruitt admitted his guilty pleasure – singing the O’Reilly Auto Parts jingle with the crowd.
As the audience fed off the energy on stage and the band fed off the excitement in the lawn, the music kept coming.
Recently, Yam Haus sent a shock wave through its fanbase.
Their old music is no longer accessible on Spotify, as they have suspended it.
They’ll be the first to tell you it’s not gone. It’s on SoundCloud, available on CD and rumor has it there is a drive floating around for download, too.
This isn’t a publicity stunt or ploy, but rather a fresh start.
As the band hits their late 20s and early 30s, they’re moving away from a sound that they admiringly coined “teeny bopper.”
“I just think we are maturing a little bit, and I think our fans are coming along with us for that,” Beinlich said.
Recently, the band has been performing a few unreleased songs. At Phipps Fest, they performed six, two of which they had never done in concert before.
“I feel like we’re not the same band we were the last time that we were playing shows at the bandshell,” Pruitt said.
They’re three years older, some of them have become parents and as a group, they’ve grown into the sound they want to be known for.
As Yam Haus prepared to take the stage at 9:30 p.m., they hung out at the Phipps Center for the Arts – a place they are not unfamiliar with.
Knowing Hudson like the back of their hands, they affectionately talked of the local bars, restaurants, the people and most of all, the Phipps.
Yam Haus is used to doing it all, taking “the bull by the horns” to set up shows from start to finish.
At the Phipps, they were treated like royalty.
Executive Director Darby Lunceford and the staff at the Phipps put on a phenomenal festival that everyone from the audience, to the bands, to the volunteers enjoyed.
We will be talking about it until next year’s benefit concert.