It's not often that up-and-coming New York indie rock bands have a connection to Charlottesville. Arcy Drive, however, gives the city a claim to fame through their debut album cover — a polaroid of the four friends plopped on the side of the road after their vintage green van broke down in Charlottesville before their show last summer.
Arcy Drive made it back to Virginia last Sunday— rocking The Southern Cafe & Music Hall — the latest stop on their nationwide tour, The Stattic Tour Part 2. Through their youthful spirit and undeniable talent, vocalist and guitarist Nick Mateyunas, lead guitarist Austin Jones, drummer Brooke Tuozzo and bassist Patrick Helrigel captured the audience’s heart and attention from start to finish.
Starting as four friends from Long Island who jammed for fun in a ratty old shed on a street named Arcy Drive, the band’s biggest goal was to play their local dive bar, Gunther’s. Now garnering 3 million likes on TikTok and 150,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, it's safe to say they’ve exceeded their own expectations.
This success began when the band released live videos of five tracks off their debut album, “Attic Sessions,” one year prior to the album’s official release, giving fans an inside view of the attic where these originals were created and recorded. While this was an unconventional decision, the group was eager to share the “raw” passion of their live performance, which they view as the defining quality of their sound.
After Sunday night’s show, the audience would be quick to agree. As the band walked onto the stage barefoot, beers in hand, baggy t-shirts hanging, smiles growing and hair as shaggy as ever, the crowd had to do a double take to ensure they were looking at The Southern’s stage and not that cramped attic on Arcy Drive.
Opening with “Smoke & Fire,” the electricity of this group was immediately palpable and had the tightly packed basement buzzing with energy. Roughly following the order of the album, they continued with “Orange” and “Seaside,” building momentum with every song. Then they mixed in a few slower, unreleased singles—“Swimming” and “Recipe”—which revealed a softer side of these usually rowdy performers.
During this first half of the show, Mateyunas established himself as a natural born frontman. The genuine emotion expressed through the rasp in his shouting voice gave it a unique power even stronger than in the studio recordings. In between songs he wasn’t afraid to interact with the audience, sharing the origin story of some songs, like the random hitchhiker who inspired “Colorado Kyle” and the vulnerable emotions behind “River.”
By the middle of the show, the crowd was officially hooked and the band gave them what they clearly wanted — their hit single “Roll My Stone.” Tuozzo only smashed the drum set a handful of times before the crowd was shouting with excitement. Audience members scream-sang each word alongside Mateyunas, who, by this point, was wildly jumping around the stage, flipping his hair to the beat.
After a shorter than expected runtime, the band ended the show with their latest single “Wicked Styley” released this month. Possibly their best performance of the night, and definitely their most electric, “Wicked Styley” fully embodies the energy Arcy Drive was seemingly hoping to capture when coining their sound “attic rock.” It was unapologetically scratchy, defiantly noisy and full of unruly derivatives of classic rock motifs.
Unable to help himself, Mateyunas jumped up during the guitar solo, planning to swing from a rope on the ceiling, but instead fell into the crowd, taking some drywall with him. After brushing it off with a laugh and a smile, he resumed his place at center stage and belted out the final chorus. This unbridled childlike joy and carefree, chaotic energy perfectly personified the song blasting around him.
Showing Charlottesville the true meaning of attic rock, Arcy Drive gave a dynamic performance during which their insane musical talent was only surpassed by their tangible enthusiasm and vivacious spirit. After hinting about a new EP dropping soon, fans have a lot to look forward to as Arcy Drive hits their stride.