By DJ Parkour
This was a special one for me, y’all. I’d already seen Hippo Campus twice so attending their show for the third time around at the Catalyst on November 20th felt like reuniting with old friends, even if they have no idea who I am. Their opening act, on the other hand, holds a special place in my heart for far more personal reasons.
Flashback three and a half years and you’ll find fetus Parker (Katie at the time) gearing up to attend a last-minute, $15 Mowgli’s concert without an inkling of a thought that this night may alter my relationship with music and concert going forever. Their opening act, The Greeting Committee, took the stage as an up-and-coming alternative rock band with worlds of potential.
Formed in Kansas City, Kansas in the summer of 2014, The Greeting Committee is composed of Addie Sartino, drummer Austin Fraser, guitarist Brandon Yangmi, and Pierce Turcotte on saxophone and guitar with tallboi Noah Spencer as the newest guitar-wielding edition to this electric quartet. After the release of their first EP, It’s Not All That Bad, the band experienced a catapult into the indie scene’s spotlight when one of its tracks – Hands Down – received love and praise from millions. The Greeting Committee soon launched into a whirlwind of tour dates for Kitten and Judah & the Lion (and The Mowgli’s, of course), as well as passion-fueled performances at both South by Southwest and Lollapalooza in 2016.
I walked into Santa Ana’s Observatory on June 11th of 2016, never having heard a track from The Mowgli’s opening act. The second she took the stage, Addie Sartino’s stage presence rocked the living room-sized venue that they call the Constellation Room. Loudly and proudly singing high-energy romantic indie tracks with female pronouns, I instantly knew this was my kind of music. At one point, she jumped offstage into the audience, crowd-surfing for a moment before she writhed with joy on the venue floor, eventually returning to the stage.
After their performance, Addie announced that they’d be hitting up the merchandise stand to greet (no pun intended) their fans. I immediately recruited all five of my friends and dragged them to the table outside, welcomed by all of their youthful and adrenaline-filled presences. Addie and I connected for a moment and little did I know, this moment would solidify a friendship that lasted so much longer than I could’ve imagined. My friends eventually returned inside to watch the rest of the show, Addie and I migrating to the floor of the outdoor smoking area to share our entire life stories with each other for the next two hours. Engulfed in conversations about music, art, passion, family, love, and pain, time absolutely flew by. Before either of us even realized it, we heard the concluding cheers of fans as the Mowgli’s making their initial exit, their hit single “I’m Good” eventually coming over the speakers as their final encore of the night.
We both looked at each other, immediately jumped onto our feet, and ran into the Constellation Room to catch at least one song. Dancing together with my friends, the venue flooded with flashing lights and booming instrumentals, we all lost ourselves in the sheer joy of that present moment. Addie and I continued our friendship, half of the country failing to keep us from maintaining contact and sharing milestones in our lives with each other. Two months passed by, she paid me a quick visit in my hometown of Irvine so I could show her the sights as she stopped in California to complete her new record at Capitol Records in Los Angeles. We tried to keep in touch, eventually getting too wrapped up in our lives to maintain communication.
Following the March 2017 release of their second EP, Meeting People is Easy, The Greeting Committee re-embarked on their concert circuit. (My personal favorite is “Someone Else,” y’all should give it a listen. Its format as a conversation between two people may be missed but it’s a unique approach to songwriting and lyrical execution that shouldn’t be slept on.) Opening for established alternative rock groups such as MisterWives, Saint Motel, and Andrew MacMahon in the Wilderness, this giant-hearted band from a mid-Western town continued to solidify its position as a noteworthy act to watch out for.
Fast forward to Autumn of 2019 when Hippocampus returned to the stage in Santa Cruz, bringing The Greeting Committee along as their opening act. Addie took the stage in a powder-blue power suit, surrounded by her bandmates (including Noah, their newest addition). Together, they electrified the stage with old and new hits combined. When one of their most popular hits, Hands Down, began to play over the loudspeakers, The Greeting Committee was met with a tsunami of cheers, the audience singing along to every word. At one point, Addie (purposefully) collapsed on the stage and laid there for a few minutes, a characteristic move that reflects her show-stopping, charismatic stage presence. Further along, she asked the entire crowd to remain silent for a moment and stay that way while they sang an entire song. Despite the venue being filled with hundreds of people, no one spoke a single word for those five minutes, unifying us in silent solidarity of unmatched emotional significance.
As per usual, Addie managed to stage dive again, as she does at almost every single show. Every moment onstage was so full of life, youth, and passion that The Greeting Committee can pridefully maintain as their reputation as performers. Hippocampus took stage quickly after, continuing the high energy, indie-rock atmosphere that permeated the venue.
An interview between Addie and I will be available on the blog soon after this. Make sure to give it a listen!