Punch Brothers perform to packed, enthusiastic Schaefer Center


Photo by Rachel Krauza | The Appalachian

Lovey Cooper

New York City-based string quintet the Punch Brothers brought their brand of progressive bluegrass to a shouting, clapping and hollering crowd Wednesday night for their second appearance as a band at Appalachian.

“Hello Boone, you haven’t changed a day,” mandolinist and frontman Chris Thile said on stage.

He added that he came back to Appalachian for the audience, but also for the town’s “strangely filled burritos and very good espresso.”

The show drew in 1,344 attendees to the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts, said Randy Kelly, Appalachian Popular Programming Society program adviser, and 526 of which were Appalachian students. The show was also the first hosted by APPS in the newly Schaefer Center.

“I’m psyched to play on a college campus, it makes me feel like I’m in college too,” opening act and singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan said on stage.

This is her second full tour with the Punch Brothers.

The band played a mix of hits off their previous records interspersed with instrumental bluegrass and classical interludes and jam sessions, during which each member took a solo. The band also played a few songs off of their new record, which is currently in the works, including the world premiere of the song “Julep,” and a duet between Thile and O’Donovan written for their side project collaboration.

“I thought it was fantastic,” Grant Smith, sophomore music industry studies major, said. “It was everything I hoped it could be, it was absolutely fantastic.”

Smith has been following Thile’s music since he was 10 years old. He said he wants to see more shows like this, especially when they draw in such large crowds.

“They’re great recorded, but when they’re live you get to see them in their element,” freshman Alex Prestrud said.

Both acts hung around after the show for a meet and greet with students, following a nearly two-hour set.

“I am always amazed by the top tier of musicians we get to enjoy,” Kelly said. “The audience, myself, APPS and the band had a great evening.”

Story: Lovey Cooper, Senior A&E Reporter
Photos Rachel Krauza, Senior Photographer