Oberlin Band Blankat to Open for Laura Stevenson

Indie folk-rock artist Laura Stevenson will appear at the ’Sco tonight at 10 p.m., featuring Blankat, Oberlin’s very own shoegaze group.

Stevenson has been perfecting her craft since 2006, when she released Laura Stevenson: A Record. The album showcases a poignant voice, dynamic percussion, and distorted rhythmic guitars — all of which Stevenson has worked to develop as her signature style. Some of her influences include The Lemonheads, Liz Phair, and The Replacements.

Not one to stray away from genre exploration, some of Stevenson’s early tracks, like “Baby Bones,” feature harmonizing vocals led by a fingerpicked guitar, segueing into eclectic compositions featuring brass and strings sections.

Stevenson’s lyricism provides insight into her life.

“Everything is autobiographical,” she wrote in an email to the Review. “Things happen in life; people die, people are born, your life shifts, the world is exploding. It’s just still about everything in my own scope but that’s always growing and changing. … It’s interesting to look back and listen to older songs and see where I was at and what I was going through.”

Her 2015 album, Cocksure, was a huge step in Stevenson’s musical progress. She rented a former brothel in New York’s Hudson Valley and turned its attic into a studio to demo 11 songs with her band, all of which are featured in Cocksure. 

The album’s instrumentation was recorded live, without the use of click tracks and comping, which captured the session’s vibrant and raw energy.

Stevenson described the tone of Cocksure in a 2015 interview with Allston Pudding.

“I try not to be so melodramatic because life is just so much happiness and sadness juxtaposed,” she said. “I feel like it helps me embrace what the song is about more so than if it were to be set to sad music because it would just be too much. The contrast makes it more fun and easier to deal with. Life’s going to be hard, but at the end of the day, it’s going to beautiful and fun.”

Stevenson has worked on numerous musical projects alongside her solo albums. She recently had an energetic metal track featured on Cartoon Network’s “Craig of the Creek,” and lent her voice to “Angel in the Snow” for a 2017 collection of Elliott Smith covers. Her appearance in the 2014 album I Saved Latin! A Tribute to Wes Anderson was another notable project.

In the last two years, Stevenson and her band have had a heavy touring schedule.

“I try to get as much rest as I can, and I try to get a little time alone or just time to be quiet and think,” she said. “That’s the only way to really maintain your sanity when you’re around people all the time.”

Oberlin’s Blankat is a perfect opener for Stevenson. The group focuses on shoegaze rock, a style that blurs the lines between different instruments and vocals. The eclectic quintet of College seniors Sara Calderon, Henry Korpi, and Abby Lee, and College juniors PJ McCormick and Reuben Gifford has played local house shows and been featured on WOBC’s Live from Studio B Program. Their sound has evolved from Soundcloud demos to live tracks on Bandcamp. Their authenticity has remained the same through their time together as a group, showcasing reverb-heavy guitar and spacey, harmonized vocals.

“We’re so excited to be opening for Laura Stevenson,” Lee wrote in an email to the Review. “I think it’s every Oberlin band’s dream to play the ’Sco, where we’ve seen so many shows and bands we love over the years — to be up there ourselves is really cool.”

The group was formed by Lee and Calderon in their first year, through a shared interest in the shoegaze genre. Gifford, Korpi, and McCormick joined as enthusiasm built over time.

“Because we were all excited about being in this band, we just happened to become amazing friends,” Lee said.

College sophomore Rob Stott commented on their sound: “Listening to them reminds me of a dream I’ve woken up from — whether that be happy or sad, I’m always wanting to go back in for more.”

Blankat plans to release an EP and to play more shows in the area in November. Their eclectic rock sound should be an excellent complement to Stevenson this Friday.