Fifteen minutes before Atlanta-based Microwave were set to open for Sorority Noise and You Blew It! at Cat’s Cradle’s Back Room on Monday night, the atmosphere in the compact venue, boasting a crowd of no more than fifty at the moment, felt strikingly casual.
Groups of fresh-faced fans huddled together, quietly talking with anxious anticipation about which band they were most excited to see, what song each band would play first and – even more importantly – what they would close with. Members of Sorority Noise and You Blew It! sat at a table on the patio and chatted nonchalantly. You Blew It! singer and guitarist Tanner Jones stood at the bar sipping a beer next to some of the younger patrons’ slightly nervous parents.
Cat’s Cradle’s alternate concert space is nothing if not comfortable — a small stage looks out over a room that holds the audience, all three bands’ merchandise tables and the bar, which sits under a balcony seating area. The intimate space is a perfect fit for bands like You Blew It!, Sorority Noise and Microwave; the lack of a physical barrier between the artists and the crowd befits the personal, heart-on-the-sleeve nature of the music played by these bands and their contemporaries.
“I wanted to talk about an inside joke, but I thought that would be boring. Nobody wants to hear that,” mused Sorority Noise singer and guitarist Cam Boucher before launching into “Dirty Ickes.” Seemingly going with his gut, Boucher remarked, “Charlie smoked a cig in the van. This song is called, ‘Your Graduation,’” a nod to fellow emo-revivalists Modern Baseball. Just as much community as concert, where everyone is in on the joke, chuckles from the audience turned to a singalong as soon as Boucher strummed the song’s opening chords.
Boucher and Sorority Noise took the stage after opening act Microwave warmed up the crowd. The Georgia quartet played six songs of their Southern-infused mix of hardcore, emo and punk from their latest release, “Stovall,” closing with the album’s title track. When asked by Microwave’s guitarist and singer Nathan Hardy how many people had heard of his band, the audience offered about a dozen hands; but by the time Hardy cooed, “A few more steps and we'd have made it to your bed / But sometimes a few more steps is hard to do” and Microwave left the stage, they could be certain that the audience knew who they were.