The Mavathon hosted their Kick-Off Concert Friday, which included a stellar opening act from the indie rock-influenced band, High School Liars.
They kicked off the night with a cover of Journey’s “Lights,” a personal favorite of the band’s guitarist, sophomore Alex Picciuro.
“My dad introduced me to Journey and I grew up listening to their live music sets,” said Picciuro. “Journey may not be the biggest band, but no one shares the undying love for them like I do.”
The Racine Wisconsin native Picciuro is a self-taught guitarist and the newest member of High School Liars. Playing guitar is more of a hobby for Picciuro, but his endless love for music is what keeps him going.
“I think the best part about playing guitar is that it takes me to a place where nothing else really matters,” said Picciuro.
Picciuro, keyboardist Ryan Schmidt and guitarist Sam Vestal make up High School Liars. The trio is a part of Phi Kappa Psi at Minnesota State, but has grown a lot closer musically in the months before the show.
“We have been good friends for about a year now, and as soon as we started practicing, we just clicked,” Picciuro said.
Schmidt started writing music years prior to Friday’s show, including High School Liars’ single “Elementary Kurtis” which dropped on streaming services in June 2021. Reflecting on his contributions to their song, Schmidt noted that it came easier than most other songs he produces.
“(Elementary Kurtis) was one of the few times where I didn’t have that creative block, it just all kind of flowed,” said Schmidt. “I was able to sit down and produce it in like twenty minutes.”
Although a polished keyboardist and producer, Schmidt has many other gifts. In high school, he played saxophone in both concert and jazz band, and even showed off his vocal ability on their performance of “Elementary Kurtis.” Digesting many different styles of music has proven to be very influential in Schmidt’s musical ability.
“As my musical tastes changed, I really started to enjoy being able to visualize the music I was playing and writing,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt and Vestal, the band’s first members, attribute the name ‘High School Liars’ to the 1983 Saturday Night Live skit “High School Liars Club.”
“We wanted to create a new, old-sounding music that differed from the bands we were in in high school,” said Vestal. “So when we saw that name, we kept it, and have rolled with it ever since.”
Vestal is also the group’s lead vocalist, bringing the energy that one might see from a professional band. The music industry major has dreams of playing music in his own band for people that share the same love.
Performing is nothing new to Vestal, as he has been gigging for six of his eight years as a guitarist.
“When you are up there in front of everyone, the best thing about being in a band is that you know these guys want to be up there just as much as you do,” said Vestal.
The High School Liars are currently working on their first album, which does not yet have a release date, but the band hopes to release their first collection of songs in the near future.
Header photo: MSU’s own “High School Liars” performed at the Mavathon Kick-Off Concert Friday, Nov. 11, in the CSU Ballroom. (Hayden Lee/The Reporter)
Write to Hayden Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org