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Porch Collective at the Cow

January 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm
By Claire Weinberg '12

Once in a blue moon, Carleton students venture off campus for their weekend entertainment. When they do, their destination is often the Contented Cow, a pub on Division Street. This weekend, crowds of students were drawn to the Cow to listen to Porch Collective, the campus bluegrass band, and Forty Shades of Green, a St. Paul-based Irish quartet.

Visitors could tell that the atmosphere of the Cow would usually be pleasantly cozy and homelike, with its low wooden tables, mismatched chairs, bizarre wall decor and donated books for guests to read (for example: The Victorian Schoolhouse). However, there were so many people there that the ambiance was more chaotic than cozy. The audience far exceeded the actual capacity of the room, so that at any given point, a good number of people would be standing or sitting on the floor. This created an interesting kind of forced camaraderie, as any empty chairs would be filled by whoever was standing close by, leading to tables of people who'd never met before. I met a lot of new people as the population of our table renewed itself throughout the night.

The bands themselves did not disappoint. Forty Shades played a solid Celtic set, including several songs that the audience knew well enough to sing along to. "Crooked Jack" was a standout; it was followed, amusingly, by a song with the exact same melody. These things happen with folk music. Porch Collective took their sweet time setting up, letting the audience's anticipation build, then delivered with their usual mix of classic bluegrass, folk, and bluegrass covers of mainstream songs (Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice", Usher's "Love In This Club", Elton John's "Tiny Dancer"). There was a good deal of dancing, some of which was just enthusiastic bouncing and head-bobbing, some of which was very impressive West and East Coast swing (made more impressive by the fact that there was barely any space to dance in). In all, it was a very pleasant night, full of new people, fresh surroundings and good music.