Once in a while, every now and then, there will be a band you could like wholeheartedly, in a non casual-listener kind of way. A band that you could recite every line of their songs to relate to any situation, a band you could recognize every intro of their songs being played on the radio. Copeland is that kind of band, with fans that relate to them in more than just plain, casual-listener type. Copeland weave their musical strings into the heart of their listeners with a harmony of idyllic alternative pop tunes over a lukewarm soundscape, complemented with layers of sometimes rustic, sometimes despondent lyrics.
From since the first time they announced the goodwill breakup of the band in October 2009, their most devoted fans from Indonesia just couldn’t help but beg the most for their number one band to add Indonesia to their farewell tour. And all hearts stopped beating for a second when the good news came: Copeland will play their best to their Indonesian fans on May 8, 2010, brought to the fans by Nada Promotama. It was probably the best upcoming gig news I’ve ever heard.
Hailing from Lakeland, Florida, Copeland are Aaron Marsh on vocal, guitar, mellotron, and pretty much everything that makes Copeland what they are, brothers Bryan and Stephen Laurenson on guitars, and Jonathan Bucklew on drums. Throughout their career they have released 4 studio albums with the first one being Beneath Medicine Tree on 2003 — a slow, laid back rock debut album that gives the original taste of Copeland with hit singles like “Coffee” and “Brightest”. Their 2005 sophomore effort, In Motion, is even a more rock oriented works that leave the radio-friendly aftertaste as heard in the single “Pin Your Wings”, as well as some trademark Copeland slow ballads like “Choose The One Who Loves You More”. Albeit being the album that pretty much captured the ears of new fans around the airwaves, their true masterpiece came in their third studio album released in 2006, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Here, Copeland harnessed their potential to craft wonderfully eerie alternative pop tracks, exploring the wide variety of instruments to spark the fragile, yet beautiful loneliness in the hearts of the listeners. With songs like “I’m a Sucker for a Kind Word” and “Love Affair”, Copeland continued to become the top notch in producing all-killer-no-filler albums. As they released their (surprisingly) last album in 2008, You Are My Sunshine, Copeland had gloriously paved their way as the band that have touched the soul of thousands of their fans. The album is still instrument-rich, but the whole package of their sound have eventually matured, filling the atmosphere with sunnyday-on-a-grassfield feel on it. Dare I say this album tops the Copeland experience as a band, completing their varying previous works with an album only bands with high airtime could produce. “Good Morning Fire Eater”, “On the Safest Ledge” and the likes build up a solid album track through track.
When the sacred concert day finally came and thousands of the most devoted Copeland fans swirled down the sink at The Venue Eldorado, Bandung, everywhere there were faces with the utmost anticipation of seeing their favorite band, unlike most concerts held in Indonesia where a big part of the people attending only know 3-4 songs and there just for the sake of being hip. This is a show where people traveled from Yogyakarta, Jakarta or Surabaya just to see a band playing for the first and last time in their lifetime. People quickly rush to the frontmost of the stage seconds after the gate was opened at around 7.40 and the show was supposed to start at 8, too bad the band didn’t get on stage after one and a quarter hour of tiresome waiting. Seriously, waiting for something you highly anticipate that turns up late painfully tires your body and soul. Nothing any of us could do but to stand there and sing to the recorded songs flowing through the huge-ass speakers…
Then they went on stage behind the curtain at around 9.20 and everybody can’t help but got excited. Still behind the curtain, Copeland started off the night with the lengthy intro of “Priceless”, and the curtain was dropped revealing the four members plus an additional touring bassist amidst the stage fireworks. The crowd began to sing along with Aaron “I remember when I’d run to you / through field of white flowers…” and there, the blasting speakers etched nostalgia to the minds of the audience as the show was happening.
They didn’t talk much as Aaron only said a word or two before jamming into their next song, “Take Care”. A good choice to elevate the mood of the crowd with a rock tune, they continued the euphoria with the gloom-inducing “Careful Now”. Singing along the lines of “I threw everything out that doesn’t make sense / to find a thousand more things that don’t make sense” it’s hard to find anything more sensible than Aaron Marsh chanting the magical lyrics inches from you. The next one, a fan favorite, “I’m a Sucker for a Kind Word” was also delivered admirably with the charm of that is Aaron Marsh, telling us the overwhelming impact of the absence of our lovers: “On the softness of her laugh, I could almost make my bed / but the racket of her absence draw in the sirens blaring, ringing in my head…”
Aaron then hit the idling keyboard for the next few songs, and those Copeland songs armored with piano tunes are easily the most sentimental a fan can ever ask for. The mellowed down atmosphere was created with Aaron playing a minimalistic intro of “The Grey Man”, and his singing “And when you finally think it’s gone / you’ve gotta run right back to her arms” reminded us how we always keep running back to our old love (that could be Copeland in this case). “Chin Up”, another single off You Are My Sunshine was played right next, followed by the only single off Eat, Sleep, Repeat that is “Control Freak”. Note that Aaron’s vocal on live performances noticeably isn’t as powerful as is heard on the albums, probably due to his playing various instruments while providing vocals throughout the weary shows. Up next was the song that first brought Copeland into fame in Indonesia, “Coffee”. “We do the best we can in a small town / act like kids in love when the sun goes down…” it was forever a nice little song about love, so simple everybody couldn’t love it enough. “Sleep” with its catchy yet simple piano tune was next, followed by “On the Safest Ledge” where Aaron provided his own vocal at the part where Rae Cassidy Klagstad fill in, and both were equally haunting: “Could you be happy now / with the wind in your hair / and your eyes open wide / and your feet going nowhere?” The last two songs featuring the piano were “The Day I Lost My Voice” which is my all-time favorite, and the ever so haunting song about losing love, “Eat, Sleep, Repeat”.
Copeland went for some of the more rocking tunes right after, with the radio hit “Pin Your Wings” that popularized them to casual Indonesian listeners back in 2005, and the opening track off In Motion, “No One Really Wins”, a song depicting self-contradictions we face on daily basis: “In the endless fight of grace and pride / I don’t wanna win this time”. Two songs off Beneath Medicine Tree, the emotional “When Paula Sparks” and the heartfelt we-miss-you song “California” were up next. It was surprising to find them performing a considerable amount of songs from their debut album, as at the time Beneath Medicine Tree was out they were relatively only known for the track “Coffee”. But then, their Indonesian fans do honestly love their discography — quite a number of the audience were seen enthusiastically singing along with Aaron on tracks from BMT, or virtually any track from any of their albums. Guitarist Stephen Laurenson was quite the admiration of the night, with some girls comparing him to the likes of John Mayer. Even Aaron himself said on stage that “This is probably the biggest headlining show we’ve ever played”. After the two songs Copeland got off the stage in a seemingly end-of-the-show scene to have a quick rest, much to the encore demand from the crowd.
A minute or two later, amidst the we-want-more chants from the audience, Aaron Marsh went back up stage armed with an acoustic guitar playing the acoustic rendition of “Love Affair” in a nearly sacred atmosphere. The lines he sang flew right through the hearts of the mellowed-down fans, “Just let me run where I want to run / just let me love who I want…” and the keyboard was his next target for the minimalistic yet lovable song, “Brightest”. The whole venue couldn’t help but sing “…and she said that I was the brightest little firefly in her jar.” He then mentioned that the band were going to play “a couple more songs” (quite literally) and the whole band then readied themselves to hit the high notes off the powerful “Testing the Strong Ones”. When the mood was still high, the next and last song “You Have My Attention” is played, and along the emotional Aaron shouting “You have my attention… ohhh!” there the show was ended with a galore of confetti and fireworks, and they took off from the stage with Jon Bucklew shouting “Mojang Bandung geulis!”
It was a show you could only see once in a lifetime. They’ve been Copeland.