It’s always a tough crowd at the Schine Underground. Students tend to stand steadfast as they watch the evening’s entertainment, perhaps due to their sober-minded hesitance to let loose in front of their peers. But pockets of fans in attendance Wednesday night quickly succumbed to the charm of the indie rock five-piece, Real Estate.
Opening for the New Jersey-based rockers Wednesday night was Syracuse University senior Sarah Aument and her band Half Sister. Trying to lighten the atmosphere, Aument mused that she “meant to think of some jokes about the schools here” before the show. But with all kidding aside, her recently-finalized quartet has had a lot on its plate lately. Between ongoing efforts to write new material, as well as recent recordings for the Subcat Sessions and Loud & Clear, the band members have been keeping themselves busy.
Half Sister kicked off the set with some familiar favorites from their latest album, Vertical Lines, before introducing fans to more recent efforts, which “may or may not make it onto the new album,” Aument said. With these new songs, Aument adopted a much more grandiose sound than ever before. Swapping her trademark acoustic twang for electric pep, she still maintained her soulful folk pop attitude, which was captured perfectly despite Schine Underground’s notoriously poor acoustics.
With the crowd warmed up, Real Estate picked up ten steps beyond where Half Sister left off. Button-ups and loafers aplenty, the band looked better suited to host a quaint lawn party than a collegiate indie rock show -- a sentiment emphasized by their low-key stage presence.
The band’s mellow nature had little effect on the audience. Two songs deep, the glue on the floor was already starting to melt as fans shimmied around to “Younger Than Yesterday.” For a group considered relaxed and improvisational – a structural jam band – Real Estate’s performance was impressively on point. During groove-oriented songs like “Green Aisles,” guitarist Martin Courtney kept his eyes fixated on bassist Alex Bleeker’s finger work, determined not to miss a beat. The longer the set went on, the more evident the members’ meticulous delivery became. “We all know exactly what we’re doing at every second on stage,” said Courtney. “It’s like a language that we all learned.”
Their care for their craft did not go unnoticed. Although it seemingly took the crowd until the outro of the finale, “All The Same,” to really start moving around, they made plenty of noise at the end of Real Estate’s set to show their appreciation. Despite the typical lack of fan engagement, Real Estate got things moving at University Union’s final concert before Block Party.