Shively, The Rutabega take over Sufficient

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A crowd had already formed by the time Seth Shively stepped onstage at Sufficient Grounds’ live music night on Friday. Shively was backed by roommate and fellow musician Jacob Grabill, who both wowed the audience at Bethel’s Battle of the Bands last month, taking second. The two performed four original songs written and composed by Shively, who aims to go into music professionally. He describes his music as “definitely alternative, not-straight-up-traditional rock.” Shively got interested in music his senior year of high school when friends invited him to their band. “As homework, I was kind of required to listen to music,” Shively said. Since then, it’s surpassed homework and become a passion. The Bethel senior often spends hours listening to music and breaking it down, evaluating the artists’ choices. He is influenced by artists like The Antlers, Sufjan Stevens, The Mountain Goats, and Copeland, with most of his lyrics drawing from personal experience. “I like cool melodies, cool song structures and groove,” he said. Though he’s performed publicly in the past, Shively only just started playing live shows more regularly at the start of Christmas break. More things are to come from the Iowa native, who mysteriously emphasized that “Interstate Traffic is taking a detour on the S.S. Lillypad. Potentially.” The night continued with a non-Bethel act following Shively and Grabill. Music blasted through the room as Joshua Hensley sang with a refreshing authenticity and a rare vulnerability. The veteran singer/guitarist began performing as The Rutabega in 2002 and teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Garth Mason in 2011. The band got its name from Hensley’s father often referring to him as “Josh the Squash,” which then morphed into other vegetable nicknames. The two have been playing shows across the Midwest and released an EP titled “Bull Carp” in April 2012. Reminiscent of Death Cab For Cutie, Hensley and Mason call themselves “Carp Rock,” an inside joke stemming from Mason’s tendency to misspell the word ‘crap’ a lot when typing. “It really doesn’t mean anything,” Hensley said. The two work well as a team, taking The Rutabega from its original one-person status to a two-person band. “I trust Garth in his taste. I know if I bring a song to him, he’s gonna add good stuff,” Hensley said. “I trust what he does with the song.” The respect is mutual. “These songs, for him, are unbelievably personal,” Mason said. “Some of the songs are really personal events in his life. For me, I cannot imagine exposing myself that much, the way he does.” It’s clear the musical duo loves what they do and are quite at ease on stage, cracking jokes with each other between songs and taking requests from the audience. Their last song ended with Hensley slowly lying down across Mason’s drum set and trading glasses with him, emphasizing their comfortable goofiness. “We’ve seen each other at our most vulnerable,” Hensley said. “We also don’t take ourselves so seriously that we can’t goof around.” The Rutabega will be releasing a new record this spring, adding to its plethora of music that can be found online. Check out their website http://therutabega.com. This next Friday will be an open worship night at Sufficient Grounds starting at 7 p.m.
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