A popular Charleston band defies genre to make catchy, eclectic music.
Talking to christopher vincent, front man of the Charleston gypsy-rock band Qiet, is a little like talking to Detective Rustin Cohle, Matthew McConaughey’s character from the first season of True Detective. He’s well-read, whip smart, and more than a little nihilistic. Near the end of our interview, he suggested a headline for this article: “Why Qiet Will Fail.”
His pessimism doesn’t make much sense, at first. Qiet is one of the most popular bands in Charleston. It’s even started to gain international fans as far away as Russia and Brazil. Qiet fans donated $7,000 to help fund their new album, Kiss of the Universe. The group released this much-anticipated project in February 2016 at a concert with national folk duo The Sea The Sea. Looking at the band’s upward trajectory, the word “failure” does not come to mind.
But Vincent says he has good reason to be cynical. He feels the cards are stacked against him, and his band. “I like Qiet. I love Qiet. Qiet has something a lot of bands don’t have, and that’s vision. But that’s why it will fail.”
It only takes a quick listen to Kiss of the Universe to understand what he means. The album—recorded at producer Eddie Ashworth’s rural home near Athens, Ohio—sounds like a very eclectic radio station. There’s a funk song, ukulele-tinged folk, touches of vaudeville, and songs that sound like a gypsy jazz band crashed a New Orleans second-line parade. “It’s like a composition notebook filled with ideas,” Vincent says. For that reason, it’s impossible to fit Qiet into one specific genre—which makes this music difficult to market, and leads Vincent to believe Qiet will never be able to find a large audience.
But it could be he’s wrong. It could be Vincent is just too close to see what joins his band’s seemingly disparate work. The influences behind each song might be vastly different, but the tracks are all really, really good. And for a generation of music fans raised with a world of songs at its fingertips, Qiet’s eccentricity is hardly a handicap. The band’s inability to be pigeonholed will not be the downfall of Vincent and company. It’s why Qiet will succeed.
QIET’s (Drum roll please) PLAYLIST
1: “War of Eight”
This Middle East-inspired instrumental track builds to a frenetic crescendo, which gives way to a driving percussion breakdown. Put this song on, turn it up, and don’t be surprised to find yourself dancing.
2: “Dionysian Dreams”
Drawing from the sounds of the Big Band and Western Swing traditions, this swinging song features front man Christopher Vincent singing in a voice that careens from gentle crooning to soulful wails. The tune also serves as a great showcase for the band’s horn section, with players taking turns on jazzy solos.
3: “Mayfly Man”
With its persistent distorted bass line and gritty vocals, this is the closest Qiet comes to a straightforward hard rock song. Except here, horns and violin take the place of the usual lead guitar.
4: “Daddy’s Too Old”
This is Qiet in “jam band” mode. The song begins with reggae guitar and horns over heavy rock drums. Vincent’s vocals groove along to the beat, occasionally switching into an impressive falsetto. A Hammond B-3 electric organ enters the mix as the song builds to its crescendo, evoking the blues-rock bands that preceded today’s music festival scene.