A lively series of local bands played at Cornerstone in Berkeley on Wednesday. The lineup, which featured MintJulep, More Fatter and Westpark, was a celebration of the Bay Area music scene located right off campus.
MintJulep, a jazzy indie-R&B group that formed out of a UC Berkeley jazz club in 2016, took over the stage first as its members lined the front with its biggest hits, such as “In Tandem.” The band members held a steady positive stage presence throughout the show and were all smiles as they danced with each other during instrumental breaks.
The group also did a spicy cover of Anderson .Paak’s “Come Down,” which perfectly blended the original tone of the song with MintJulep’s own personal laid-back style. MintJulep especially highlighted the song’s horns section, which sparkled in sync with the smooth vocals of vocalist Maya Morales.
In a funky turn, the members of More Fatter took the stage in suave Elton John-esque jackets, adding more than a dash of personality to the already-bouncing tunes. In a display of frenzied versatility, the group’s originality came out in the genre-bending performance.
More Fatter provided abounding energy and covered hits from multiple decades, notably Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” and Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets.” Brothers Theo and Mark Fedronic provided mesmerizing and wide-ranging solo vocals, the latter brother jumping between playing the trombone and keyboard.
The song “Silly Goose” was a highlight of the band’s original songs, sending good vibes into the swaying crowd. Many of the songs performed made the band sound comparable to a new generation’s Earth, Wind & Fire, bringing a “funk ‘n’ roll” energy to the venue.
The moshing only began as Westpark started its comparatively rowdier set, setting the mood with the statement: “Fuck dead week. Fuck finals. Fuck you.” While this was said in jest, angst came out of the crowd as the group began to play “Coffee & Weed.” A slow groove mixed with an indie-rock core, the feel-good beat contrasted with sentiments of just trying to get through the week. Many people in the audience could likely relate to the words, “I go to UC Berkeley / shit is pretty dope / Sometimes I get stressed / so I smoke.”
Westpark, as the band said onstage, is named after the elementary school that both singer Shiva Verma and drummer Enad Abunimeh attended back in the day. This may not be where the band started, but it’s where the friendship started between the two. While some of Westpark’s members are from Southern California, some of the musicians are students in the Berkeley area, justifying the group’s hopping on to this local lineup.
Two drum sets at the back of the stage added to the pace of the performance, proving especially useful for the band’s upbeat mashup of Aminé’s “Spice Girl” and “Caroline.” The crowd was more than receptive to each move the band made, with members often trading instruments and stepping in to sing on different songs.
During one song, Abunimeh took the mic, shooting out speeding lyrics as Westpark took a break from covers to play an original song. Finishing with an explosive cover of Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead,” the drums blasted at full force. The bass quickly matched this upbeat energy, abruptly flowing into a cover of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”
In a sea of local support, the crowd at Cornerstone came together to enjoy some of the best of recent additions to Berkeley’s music scene. From start to finish, MintJulep, More Fatter and Westpark definitely proved themselves to be rising artists worth checking out.