I do not know if Excons’ inaugural end-of-school performance this Thursday at Quest Brewing Company was intended to be a celebration of the end of the school year or if it simply worked out that way by coincidence. What I do know is that seemingly every parent I knew from my neighborhood was there and might have been happier about the close of the school year than their children were. I also know that Excons broke from character as an indie rock band that never performed anything but original material and worked in possibly the most amazing and unexpected version of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” that I will ever bear witness to.
So, here we are at least five years later and finishing the second strangest school year I have ever experienced as a parent – 2019-20 will not be unseated that easily – and the tradition of Excons performing at Quest the Thursday after the year ends goes proudly on.
Preview the Music
About the Band
For those late to the party, Excons are an assembly of North Main dads each with their own passion and talents for music. The neighborhood and a likely alignment of stars brought them together for what started as an opportunity to play music with friends and evolved into one of the Upstate’s most interesting indie rock bands. Playing together since 2014, Excons have released two studio albums, 2016’s New Life and 2019’s Upstate Music Awards nominated Sea Shanties. Both albums are incredible releases that are regular parts of my listening rotation to this day. Seriously, if you can listen to the New Life track “Jimmy” one time and NOT sing along with every single word of it every time after that, you should probably get your vitals checked.
Excons’ John Byce reminds me that this is the band’s first show since the pandemic and that this show is “kind of like starting over” but jokes “this time we can play two sets without repeating songs!” Kidding aside, the implication here is that the band has added a bunch of new material which should present itself in the form of their third album by fall or winter of this year. He also notes that the new material blends some of the heavier themes of Sea Shanties while revisiting the “playfulness” of New Life meaning that I am now looking forward to a best-of-both-worlds scenario between two incredible but very different albums.
Byce also notes that as they return to the local music scene after such a long layoff, it is especially significant that they are doing so at Quest. “Don (Richardson, Quest’s owner) was one of the first promoters to take a chance on Excons,” he says as it is clear the appreciation for those early opportunities is not going anywhere anytime soon. It is that loyalty and mutual admiration that makes relationships like this flourish which is why the annual School’s Out Party will always belong to Excons.
Unlike pre-COVID times, all Quest concerts are now ticketed events just to ensure safe and responsible capacities and social distancing. Tickets are available at Eventbrite and are only $10 per person as long as they last. Kinds under 18 are free, of course, and there is no reason not to bring them… School is out, of course.