Bryan Beilke

Little did I know that the band Sherwood’s giant tour bus parked outside Downtown Brewing Co. was a sign of giant things to come.

So apparently I’ve been living in a hole on Bishop Peak the last few years because until last week, I never knew about one of San Luis Obispo’s most popular bands. As I stood in line Friday with hundreds of seemingly high school-aged kids, one thing became clear: Tonight’s show was a big deal for Sherwood and their fans.

With a busy nationwide tour schedule, and plans to tour Japan and the U.K. later this year, Sherwood hasn’t had much time to play in their hometown. This was the night San Luis Obispo’s very own indie-rock darlings would give back to the fans who helped launch their career in the first place. The fans needed it, the band needed it, and they both owed it to each other.

Forming in 2002 while its members attended Cal Poly, Sherwood released a few independent records before becoming the first band to release an album through MySpace Records. As you can imagine, the label has helped propel them into indie-rock stardom, with nearly 1 million friends and more than 12 million plays on their MySpace page alone.

Obviously the show was beyond sold out. Never had I seen Downtown Brew packed to this capacity. By the time Sherwood finally took the stage, the crowd had been considerably wound up by the opening bands’ ample performances.

After a very warm welcome from fans, Sherwood started in with their catchy blend of upbeat melodic rock. Think of the vocal harmonics and feel-good-vibe of The Beach Boys meets the poppy-punkness of The Get Up Kids, and you’ll get an idea of Sherwood’s sound.

The first few tracks were highly danceable, and that’s exactly what the crowd had in mind. An impressive, if not blinding, light show accompanied the band’s performance. Close to the stage, fans were hopping like rabbits while clapping and singing along. Occasionally a crowd surge would send everyone to one side and then reverberate back to the other.

This continued until the band took a brief intermission to call upon “Moses,” a booming pre-recorded voice from the heavens, to advertise how fans could receive free text updates from the band.

Afterward, the band resumed by playing a few slower, softer songs. Dancing and jumping were replaced by singing and swaying amid a shower of bubbles blown onto the crowd by band members. The mellow vibe was a welcome break from the ruckus that came before and after, when the band picked up again with a potent collection of jams, including a fast-paced The Get Up Kids cover song.

After performing their last song and thanking fans, the band exited the stage. In typical live show fashion, the crowd called for “one more song!” The band happily returned and delivered its most powerful and epic song of the night, which ended with a burst of resonance and feedback that shook the walls and left eardrums ringing for hours.

All in all, it was a highly impressive performance. But beyond the performance, this show was really about two things: Sherwood returning to its roots, and fans showing them that they’re welcome home anytime. Both objectives were achieved tenfold. The genuine connection between the band and the crowd was inspirational and felt by everyone present. Upon leaving, I couldn’t help but think, “If Sherwood can make it big, maybe I can, too.”

So would I see Sherwood play again? I sure would.

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