Write Minded, Vana Liya, MantainUs, Audic Empire wow at The Aggie Theatre



By Katie Otter

Local alternative band Write Minded headlined a talent-packed, reggae-filled show at The Aggie Theatre on Sunday night.
Before the local boys took the stage, the small and intimate crowd was warmed up by three openers: Vana Liya, from New York City, MountainUs, also from Fort Collins, and Audic Empire, from Austin, Texas. The group of bands is finishing up a tour across the Western United States.
Liya kicked the night off with her warm, acoustic ukulele set. She played mostly original songs but also threw in a couple of covers, including one from Sublime. She plays the ukulele beautifully and has a full, warm voice that accompanies it very well. The crowd was still fairly small at this point, which added to Vana Liya’s performance in a very positive way. Her presence was energetic and bubbly, and it was apparent that she was passionate about the music she was playing.

“Write Minded created an awesome cohesive environment for some great musical collaboration on stage,” said concert-goer Tim Bates.

After Liya’s set, reggae rock revival band MountainUs took to the stage with their six-piece band including drummer Kris Huber, trumpet player Matthew Becker, keyboardist Luke Axon, bassist Noah Sugarman, lead guitarist/vocalist McGill Lee Jackson and a visiting bongo player. Their Instagram biography says that they are newly formed, but one would probably wouldn’t guess that, as the band’s chemistry was very in-tune as each musician vibed off each other, which made for amazing stage presence and energy.
Next up was Audic Empire, another reggae-rock group. The Sublime inspiration was definitely there, but Audic Empire has undeniably put in their own zest and originality into their music. Their five-piece band featured guitarists Ronnie Bowen and Travis Brown, bassist James Tobias, drummer Jess Leonard, and keyboardist Carver Ripley. The band kept the good vibes and high energy going. Brown tore up the stage with his many solos, with a Sublime lick or two thrown in there. Ripley showed off his goofy side a few times by playing with nunchucks on stage and kooky dancing.
Headliner Write Minded took the stage after three excellent opening performances. The local band features vocalists Sam Mouton and Jesse Neth, bassist Jarod Ford, guitarist Forrester Tamkun, drummer Jordan Pasquin and keyboardist Wilson Slaughter. As someone who has never seen Write Minded before, I was impressed with their mix of genres such as rock, hip hop and reggae.
The band has an electric chemistry and it is obvious that they love playing together. Ford did not stay in one place and used the entirety of the stage to his benefit. Towards the end of Write Minded’s set, they brought out members of Audic Empire to join them on stage and then it really felt like a party. The musicians were sharing instruments with each other and sounded great together.
“Write Minded created an awesome cohesive environment for some great musical collaboration on stage,” said concert-goer Tim Bates. It was easy to tell that these bands enjoyed touring together and have formed bonds and friendships, and that translated into their stage presence and music.