Rock Showcase Preview: Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast is one of four bands playing in the Rock Showcase Saturday night at Belmont’s Curb Event Center.

The members of Ivory Coast are seniors Patrick Sewalk, lead vocals and guitar; Ryan McCoy, bass; Logan Todd, drums and guitarist Josiah Walrond, who graduated this spring.

It’s easy to tell Ivory Coast is a group of close friends with an easygoing dynamic. They reminisce on shifty houses they’ve lived in in Nashville, ones with wet carpets and broken heating systems, make comparisons of Lana Del Rey to Dave Matthews and joke about ditching their typical instruments onstage at showcase for “hillbilly instruments” such as the jug, the washboard and a giant rubber band.

While Ivory Coast is a light-hearted chat, the member’s seriousness towards performing and progressing their sound is apparent as they discuss showcase and their band’s sonic development.

The atmospheric, psych-folk rock band has been playing together since spring of 2013.

“We’ve been together the longest of all the bands playing showcase,” says McCoy.

The band is a group of “unashamedly” committed Fleet Foxes fans, said Sewalk. The layers of harmonies, guitars and vast instrumental arrangements present in Ivory Coast’s own music point straight to the Foxes. Other influences include Grizzly Bear, Tame Impala and Father John Misty, the solo project of Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman.

Bands who stay together, grow together. Ivory Coast’s sound has evolved since the band’s formation.

“Josiah and I started out playing acoustic guitar and whispery folk music,” said Sewalk. “But our music has taken a big turn.”

Whispery folk music and acoustic guitars are not typically what you find at Rock Showcase, and they are not what you will find in the band’s recent music. They have developed their music from a quieter, bare-boned sound into a more rock-driven sound big enough to fill the Curb Event Center.

The recording and release of the band’s first EP, “Passages,” is what lead them to their new sound.

“We have released one EP, and that was big for us. It helped us put a lot of our energy out and into one direction which freed up some creative space for us to move in a new direction,” said Walrond.

The band is looking forward to playing for the audience at the showcase.

“It’s exciting to reach a different demographic of the Belmont community,” said Walrond. “I feel like we have a fanbase that started out as a group of our friends, and most of them were from Belmont. But there are a lot of people who go to this school that we’ve never played a show for so we’re excited to share our music.”

The hope of any Belmont act playing showcase is to use this coveted platform to create an impression that will make audience members more than just spectators.

“The goal is that we have a good show and to turn those people into people who listen to our music,” said Todd.

Many bands never get to a point where all members are at the same place in terms of creativity and vision. Right now this is not a problem for Ivory Coast. The band is ready to take the sound they’ve created and play it for audiences at Belmont and beyond.

“Right now we are all on the same page creatively and musically, and I am proud of us for finding that,” said Walrond.

You can see Ivory Coast on Saturday at the Curb Event Center at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

This article was written by Jackie Zeisloft. Photo by Sam Frawley.

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