Big city talent in the Little Apple

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Those who
weren’t at Aggie Central Station Saturday night missed out on a fantastic night
of music. They may have to wait a while for talent like this to circle back.
Jessica Paige, Mathien and Vi Tran Band all took the stage and proved that
Manhattan has plenty of shows to catch if you look in the right
place.

The night began with Paige, who has a powerful and equally beautiful pop voice that most people only dream of. The young and talented singer needs very little help on stage as her voice commands the room and is merely complimented by her band. Don’t be fooled by her petite figure. She is a powerhouse vocalist to be reckoned with.

“She has a keen understanding of her overall sound, which grants her the insight to pay close attention to important nuances in her compositions,” said Tony Scalora, musician. “The first couple times I sat down with her to rehearse I was utterly impressed, and also kind of intimidated at how clear cut she envisioned her songs, which are all amazing by the way.”

After the soulful songstress that is Paige, Vi Tran Band took over and made K-State pride swell. Vi Tran, the lead vocalist and guitarist, is a 2003 alumnae of K-State, (coming back to attain a Masters in 2005), and one hell of a musician. Aside from Vi Tran, the band consists of Katie Gilchrist, vocals and percussion; Sean Hogge, guitar; Jerod Rivers, drums and vocals; and Ben Byard, bass and vocals.

The band just released their debut record, “American Heroine,” which is a must-have for those attracted to symphonic rock, melodic chamber pop, folk and Americana. Vi Tran Band has a way of fusing all of the best parts of these genres together with a killer style on and off the stage. Their stage show is an ode to how entrancing their music is. The band is reminiscent of other greats such as the Decemberists, with the thoughtful lyrics and soul of Death Cab for Cutie.

Then came the Chicago based band, Mathien. Front man Chris Mathien, lead vocals and guitar, is equal parts charming and brilliant. He was accompanied by Peter Wilkins, keyboard and vocals; Erik Kaldahl, bass and vocals; and Omar Jahwar, drums. Mathien came to Kansas for the first time this past weekend and brought down the house. The artist is known for keeping his new, original sound and always giving fans something to look forward to with each new release. They put on a stunning show fully equipped with 1990s alternative influences, odes to early hip-hop and sharp, clever lyrics brought to life by a lead as quirky and eclectic as Freddie Mercury.

With their latest record, “Darling Television,” it’s only a matter of time before the band gets launched into mainstream fame. Mathien said he makes sure to keep his relationship with his fans personal and has his own philosophy about keeping it real.

“Every chance I get, I try and let people know how much I appreciate them,” Mathien said. “Also, I really try not to put me or my music on a pedestal, and yeah, you’re on a stage and there’s lights on you stuff like that. But at the end of the day, you’re a human being, and so is everybody that’s listening to you.”

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