Hit Folk Band Brings the Local Community Together Through Music
Milky Chance, a German folk band, thrilled an excited crowd during its September 28th concert at ArtsQuest’s Musikfest Cafe venue. The concert was part of Yuengling’s Summer Concert Series. The opener of the concert, South African singer/songwriter Jeremy Loops, stunned the audience with “Down South,” a song from his 2015 album Trading Change. The lyrics of the song focus on the idea of leaving one’s home behind and engaging in new beginnings. Additionally, Loops’ cover of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” perfectly embodied his unique vibe of alternative harmonies and beachy melodies. Loops’ high energy performance exhilarated the crowd.
Following Loops’ set, Clemens Rehbein, the lead singer of Milky Chance, began with a vivacious rendition of “Clouds,” a song on its newest album, Blossom. By starting with an upbeat love song, the band inspired the crowd to reflect upon the power of love. When Rehbein sang, “It’s nothing ever out there but some gathering clouds,” the crowd shouted back at him the following line, “I just wanna take care of you my love.” The song’s focus on caring for those you love brought the crowd together, providing a place for individuals to escape their own clouds. The colorful flashing lights of the stage complemented the enlivening melody of the song, creating the perfect ambiance to share a carefree evening.
As the show continued, the energy began to build. Rehbein’s “Flashed Junk Mind,” from Milky Chance’s 2014 album Sadnecessary, beautifully captured the experience of attending a concert underneath the shadow of the steel stacks. The opening lyric, “When we were young souls/ On the junk-yard,” combines elements of nostalgia and adventure. The junk-yard represents an unconventional space in which the narrator engages in discovery. Typically, people attend concerts at venues such as sports stadiums or concert halls, created for the specific purpose of experiencing music. Although the steel stacks were not built for this purpose, they have taken on this new role. They are South Bethlehem’s most prominent artifact: what remains of Bethlehem Steel’s iconic legacy. SteelStacks as a revitalized venue for experiencing art is similar to the beauty discovered in the junk-yard of “Flashed Junk Mind.” Alternative spaces like SteelStacks and ArtsQuest bring world-renowned artists and the local community together through music. Even though Milky Chance’s lyrics about finding meaning in the relics left behind in a junkyard was not inspired by Bethlehem Steel, they fit perfectly with the backdrop of the steel stacks. The lyrics encouraged the community to find new ways to think about the city from the relics left by past generations.
Stunning harmonica solos and dream-like harmonies intensified the energy of the crowd. Rehbein even had concertgoers chime in during “Cocoon,” adding a collaborative element to the performance. The atmosphere of the Blossom tour was nothing short of electrifying. It seemed as if Rehbein never stopped to take a breath, only pausing momentarily to express his gratitude for the exhilarated crowd.
Leaving its Mark on South Bethlehem
When it came time to end the performance, the crowd shouted for an encore. Milky Chance had not yet played its hit song, “Stolen Dance” and the crowd was not going to leave without hearing it. When the song’s opening chords began, the room reverberated with energy. The song contrasts the sadness of missing a past lover with the happiness of “dancing on.” When Rehbein belted, “I want you by my side so that I never feel alone again,” the crowd connected to this deep yearning. However, whatever pain is felt in the song, Rehbein masked with the chorus, which states, “Dancing on, do the boogie all night long.” Even the concertgoers who did not know Milky Chance’s songs before attending the concert recognized this song from the radio. However, it quickly became apparent that the radio does not do the song justice. One is meant to listen to “Stolen Dance” in a club-like atmosphere, surrounded by strangers with a common love for music.
The last song of the night, “Sweet Sun” left the audience longing to relive the concert. The opener, Jeremy Loops, joined Milky Chance on the stage to create a collaborative rendition of the song. By telling the story of a couple who has long separated, the song’s lyrics capture the intensity of memories. “Sweet Sun” combines feelings of nostalgia with upbeat sounds to demonstrate that the act of remembrance can produce joy. The strategic choice to close with this song sent a message to the crowd that they must cherish their own memories, including the memory of the concert. Milky Chance left its mark on South Bethlehem in just one night.
*Feature photo credits: Ally Kornberger*