Rants and Chants at This Year’s Stay True Paltz!

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Photo by Connor Syrewicz

“This is Stay True Paltz!? No one tells me anything,” said folk-punk musician Paul Baribeau. After playing a set at Main Street’s Elting Library on Saturday, Sept. 11, Baribeau reflected on his past times in New Paltz and how it’s such a “weird, little place.” Yet he was surprised with the mention of Stay True Paltz! Unlike the traditional show held outside, like last year at Hasbrouck Park with a day’s full of bands, this year was in a small room in the library with a short set of five acts.

“I haven’t played a library before, but I always wanted to. But there are a lot of lights,” said Baribeau.

It was a strange sight – plaid-wearing, bushy-bearded kids sitting Indian style, almost ready for reading time in a room wall papered with by elementary school dioramas of Henry Hudson (who looked a lot like Baribeau now that I think about it) and other historical figures. Regardless, it was a pretty packed place for a “Do-It-Yourself” sort of show on a Saturday night. A yellow bin passed back and forth across the room for donations for the band, mainly for their gas money, which was filled with $10’s and $5’s by the end of the night.

“I think having the show in the library is nice because it keeps a small crowd and stays intimate with the audience,” said third-year visual art major Lumi Jewell.

Ben Morrie [?] started the show with his dark brown acoustic guitar, whose A string broke within 30 seconds of the first song.

“How will this song even work now? I am panicking,” he said to the audience. “It’s such an important string!”

Luckily, he was handed a guitar by another musician and continued his set with some very cute anti-folk/ pop tunes in a Colin Meloy-esque voice. He finished his set mentioning his childhood fears of libraries being haunted. But, the most significant thing to say about his set is that the room, filled mostly with females, became very humid once once he began playing.

With a blue guitar and rainbow plaid, Liv Carroll [?] jumped on next with some cute tunes. A native of Hudson, NY, Carroll’s set consisted of sometimes whimsical often times immature songs, one about baby-making by cracking eggs and baking cakes. Her songs were interesting but, possibly intentionally, meaningless. What was, surprisingly, the best of part of her set was the subtle but skilled guitar work. Both Carol and Morrie were deceptively good guitar players who just happen to play punk music.

New Paltz’s own second-year Dean Engle grabbed his ukulele next for his Minor Constellations set, a band name he said he regrets making at 17. The crowd loved Engle, most of them singing along to his short, witty songs like “Ten Chances” and “Tattoos are Dangerous.” With very catchy and cute lyrics, Engle’s own quirkiness worked very well toward his stage presence.

After Engle’s short set, Baribeau’s backing band began setting up. Called Busman’s Holiday, the band consists of two brothers. One brother sat with a snare drum, a high hat and a bass made out of a suitcase while the other stood tall, holding an acoustic guitar. With a sound mixing Fleet Foxes, CSNY and Keane, the two immediately silenced the crowds with their heartbreaking harmonies and beautiful folk ballads. They played a few upbeat songs that were catchy enough to get a few people dancing (the only time during the show).  The small drum set added a needed dimension of complexity to their sound, as the rhythm was important to what made their music engaging. During their final song both brothers began walking through the crowd, eventually singing together from opposite sides of the room. It had an amazing effect that could be seen on the faces of every folk-loving kid in the room. It didn’t hurt that their stage banter was intimate, comforting, and had people laughing almost immediately.

“I loved it,” said third-year International business major Sabrina Aidkes. “They were exciting and I danced involuntarily.”

When Baribeau finally went to play, the entire crowd stood up and surrounded him like one giant hipster hug. He stood on an amp and with a thick brown beard, centered the crowd like Jesus. Ironically enough, this mere fact would hurt him later in the set.

He started off with some well-known songs like “Strawberry” and “Christmas Lights,” yet in the middle of a song, a cell phone went off and Baribeau stopped playing. He glared at the cell phone holder and began to get angry.

“I had to drive here from Bloomington, just turn off your phones. I didn’t hang out in Yanni’s all day,” he said (but later laughingly admitted that he didn’t actually do the driving). The room began to get a little awkward, but Baribeau began playing again.

During a number of songs, Baribeau had to stop playing when he forgot the lyrics. The few mistakes that Baribeau made during his set were filled with the fans knowing his songs better than he did. When a cell phone went off again, he continued his banter.

“We played in (SUNY) Purchase last night,” Baribeau said that after they played, a “bro-dawg” band performed, telling the girls to take their shirts off. When they did, Baribeau remembered why he didn’t want to be a part of that scene anymore. He then told the audience not to do what anyone tells them to do. Too much irony in that statement alone. “It’s just a reminder that the world is painfully disgusting.”

The entirety of Baribeau’s set continued this way. He’d play a song, or half of a song, and then begin to breakdown. He said that he was in the middle of a psychological breakdown which he mentioned happens at least five times during a tour.

The strangest moment of the whole show was when Baribeau began to, rather randomly chastise Christianity. He was harsh but later said, “I am sorry for all of the weird and horrible things I say.”

“Even though I am a Christian, I wasn’t offended by what he said about Christianity, but I was disappointed. It’s music and it’s life, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I respect that,” said fourth-year Jared Young, who was part of audience during Baribeau’s rant. “I felt stereotyped… But I wasn’t bitter; I still went back home and listened to his music, especially that ‘Wild Eyes’ song.”

Baribeau ended his set with “Last Time” where he stopped in the middle of the song and said, “I’m done.”
Later, while fans hugged and smiled at Baribeau by the merchandise table, he said he was in a “distracted kinda of mood.” He said his Christian rant is a “weird debate I’ve been trying to work out. But the punk side of me says screw everybody.”
“It was a weird night but I always wanna come back here,” said Baribeau. “But what’s with all the motorcycles?”
He was a nice guy to talk to, no doubt, but like Barbibeau said, “I should’ve just not even gone there. I just get really mad but then I write love songs.”

The fourth Stay True Paltz! (?) was strange and somehow satisfying. The crowd still enjoyed themselves, regardless of a bit of awkward ranting and preaching on Baribeau’s part, but the solid sets could make up for anything he said. Hopefully, the Stay True Paltz tradition will continue and more performers can spread their love around New Paltz.