Katie Pfotzer | Echo
"I'm excited," freshman Grace Meharg said. "I have a feeling this is going to be a spicy concert."
And from the opening number to the surprise encore, it was.
The concert consisted of tracks sampled from The New Respects' debut album, "Before the Sun Goes Down."
The band is made up of members Jasmine Mullen and her cousins, Lexi, Zandy and Darius Fitzgerald. They describe their sound is a funky pop soul with some rock elements. Their sound shares some similarities to acts in the alternative scene like HAIM, Alice Merton and The Bleachers, with some throwback vibes to musicians like Otis Redding and Cheap Trick.
The band demonstrated their range and ability through the groovy beats of "What You Really Want" and the soulful introspection of "What Makes the World Go Round."
They also delighted the crowd with an off-book encore performance of a song from the unreleased archives of The New Respects.
"It was really cool talking to (the band) afterward," senior Jazmin Tuscani said. "They said that was one of the first times that (they) had a crowd to be this responsive and attentive to what they were trying to sing to them. I just liked how there were no phones out and everybody was just singing and they were slowly enraptured by the songs and what they were singing and the words."
Audience members such as Meharg also reported high engagement because of the excellence of the performance.
The band has experience performing with Mullen's mother, Christian singer Nicole C. Mullen. They draw on these experiences in their own stage show, performing as seasoned professionals despite their young age.
Shortly before the performance, the band hosted a Q&A.
"What impressed me most was that the family always came first," freshman Annelise Gonzalez said. "If there was ever a point when the band was getting in the way of family they would immediately drop the band."
Gonzalez performed that night as one half of the opening act for the band alongside her sister, senior Abby Gonzalez.
Annelise Gonzalez was not only impressed by what she heard in the Q&A, but also in her conversations with the band when it was all over.
"After the concert, the guitar player came up to me and said, 'I want you to know that you're an amazing guitarist and very talented,' which was super special for me because I just saw them on stage and they are amazing," Gonzalez said. "Then she said, 'Also I want to let you know that no matter what platform you're on, whether it's even at church or doing whatever, it is important for people to see women of color on instruments.' I guess that's something I don't want everyone to take for granted. I don't want to shy away from (performing) just because I don't feel like it because I think there's a lot that I can bring to the table. I can bring confidence to people (being) a girl on a guitar and also a person of color on the guitar, I think I could break some barriers."
Other audience members felt likewise encouraged.
Meharg expressed her eagerness for Taylor to bring similar acts to campus.
"In addition to their musical talent, they also brought diverse representation to the stage which is always refreshing and encouraging," Meharg said. "Finally, they were such a down to earth and personable group that made an effort to connect with students. Their attitudes and personalities made the concert experience so much richer and personal."