As I stood in the back of the packed venue I could feel the anticipation of the audience. Most of spectators did not know there was an opening act, and that they were about to be blown away. I myself was also unaware. Jared & The Mill was one of the best surprises I’ve had all year.
By pure circumstance the first person I met in the Constellation Room was Travis Alexander, the manager of Jared & The Mill. We started talking about music, our jobs and a bit of existentialism. I was promptly introduced to Jared Kolesar, the lead singer of the band, then within a few minutes the concert began. As they walked onto the stage, instruments in hand, the crowd seemed confused at the absence of the main act. However it did not take long for people to become captivated by the absolutely vivacious performance.
For Jared & The Mill this was the finale to over a month of touring with Barry Gibb, one of the founding members of the iconic 70’s band, the Bee Gees. Barry had been looking for an opening act for his tour and, even though musically the two groups have little in common, Gibb was hooked once he heard their sound. The tour had been an incredible journey for them; they went from TD Garden in Boston to The Constellation Room in Santa Ana. Two nights before I met them, they had performed at the Hollywood Bowl (providing some of their parents serious consolation that music wasn’t such a risky career path after all). Hailing from Tempe, Arizona, Jared & The Mill have been playing together for three years and their Southwestern origin can definitely be heard in their tunes and lyrics. Many of the band members had been involved in music long before meeting up – drummer Josh Morin majored in percussion performance and guitarist Larry Gast III studied jazz performance in college. As for Jared, he had been in a business program before he experienced a life-altering realization that he would be happier creating music. Rounded out by Michael Carter (banjo, mandolin and harmonica), Chuck “Bassman” Morriss (electric and upright bass), and Gabe Hall-Rodrigues (accordion and piano), each member of Jared & The Mill has an obvious love for music and this passion shines through when they perform as a group. Each player stands behind a microphone to help create their beautiful harmonies.
In spite of the sound guy’s negligence, they played brilliant concert. I couldn’t help but to give all of them huge hugs and praise. A lot of their songs have a folksy feel, but their sound is constantly evolving and by the end of their performance they had shifted into a more indie rock vibe. After the main act finished we went to In & Out (there is no better place on the West Coast for an interview at 1AM). We talked about their visit to this year’s SXSW, poignant because their friend Mason Endres had been involved in the drunk driving incident outside of Mohawk that left three festival-goers dead. Mason survived but didn’t make it to the band’s shows, so without hesitation the whole ensemble visited Mason in the hospital and sang her favorite tunes. The authenticity and joy they radiate is a key part of Jared & The Mill’s brilliance.
A few picks for their musical dream collaboration included the Fleet Foxes, Brian Wilson and Andrew Bird. They fantasize about performing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and have a long-term goal of being the first band to perform in outer space. They have been working on reshaping their sound, which for them is a constant activity.
With beautiful lyrics, nearly perfect harmony, intense stage presence, and endearing personalities, the boys enchanted the audience. Their incredible talent and ability to “instill a sense of family” in the crowd make it hard not to be swept away by their sincerity and ease. Meeting Jared & The Mill made my weekend and I can’t wait until the next time our paths cross.