The lights are down low. The crowd waits in anticipation. The room is lively with chatter and the low hums of a guitar can be heard over the loudspeakers before the show begins.
While she once made music solo, Robbie St. Jean, lead vocalist of Pure Halcyon, now has the opportunity of creating something special with her closest friends.
Since July 2020, the group has been writing and creating music together in order to perform their masterpieces for an audience.
These individuals came together from separate music backgrounds and accidentally created a band through their friendships. “Halcyon” means better times in the past and represents feelings of nostalgia. It is also a bird, which you can find on the cover of the band’s extended play.
The alternative rock band consists of four other members, with St. Jean at the helm: drummer Keegan Cass, bassist Callan Nus and lead guitarist Gunnar Stenseth. Western Washington University fourth-year Sam Kristofferson was the last to join, finalizing the group with his additional rhythmic guitar sounds.
Coming together during the pandemic allowed the band to find a groove in prioritizing creating content. This helped the quick success of their first few shows, with their first show together held in their own garage.
“We were literally playing in this garage with the door open, in front of the neighborhood. People were sitting on the roofs of their houses, leaning out windows,” St. Jean said. “We caught traction pretty quick.”
In March 2022, Pure Halcyon played at The Shakedown, a live music bar in downtown Bellingham. Being new to the local music scene, the band took advantage of their show by posting clips of the performance on their Instagram and sending the footage to different venue contacts and friends to get the word out.
“The big thing is networking and the band has been great [with] that,” Kristofferson said.
Within no time at all, the band played at The Blue Room for the first time in July 2022 and were immediately asked to come back. They have been consistently doing shows at various venues ever since.
Pure Halcyon spoke on their love of performing outside of just making music, due to both the liveliness of crowds and collaborating with other bands.
“What makes the community aspect in Bellingham really cool is that everyone asks each other to play shows,” Kristofferson said. “A lot of these bands we play with, we don’t know them until the day of the show.”
All members heavily voiced their favoritism for performing at The Blue Room, the venue they have played at most frequently. The Blue Room’s co-founder and artistic director, Martijn Wall, is usually in charge of booking the band and setting up any event that will host them.
“The positivity and talent that drips off of Pure Halcyon is very contagious,” he said in an email. “We always expect and receive big crowds whenever they play our venue.”
St. Jean has been singing for as long as she could talk, so she can’t imagine doing anything other than this. She said getting to do it with her best friends is an even bigger bonus.
“I always thought it was cheesy when celebrities or bands would be like, ‘I love you guys so much. I’m so thankful that I get to do what I do…’ I get it now,” she said.
Western first-year and Pure Halcyon fan Parker Hopkins has been following the band’s live performances for about two months now and enjoys their music.
“The lead singer, Robbie, has such an amazing stage presence. I love watching her perform. She got me [to sing] along to songs I barely knew, it was a complete blast,” he said.
Although location is a factor, the band members said that the energy the crowd brings is what makes a show. St. Jean recalled one of her favorite memories connected to an audience during a show at the Karate Church.
“Seeing people singing our lyrics, being able to provide that space for them where they can just let go and have fun? It’s everything,” she said.
One part of preparing for shows that the band takes particular pride in is their setlists. They typically organize around “the big three,” which includes their original songs “Last Goodbye” and “Don’t You Dare” as well as a cover of “Barracuda” by Heart.
The band agreed that the best song to perform live would be “Don’t You Dare,” saying the crowd responds well to that song no matter where they are playing.
“Curating setlists is something we do as a band and I’ve heard that other bands don’t do that,” Kristofferson said. “But the setlist and the art of playing a show are so important to us.”
The band recorded and released an EP album in 2021 called “Short Story Long” that can be accessed on all streaming platforms as well as physical CDs, which fans can purchase at shows along with other merchandise.
While the band only has one EP released, they are excited about the possibility of recording one or two more EPs this summer, as well as being available for more performances where they can promote their new music.
“The reason why I love music is you have the ability to share it with others, and when you show someone a cool song, that’s a fun feeling when they like it too,” Kristofferson said.
Even though they are friends, all the members of the band testified to struggling with communication in a close-knit group setting like this.
“We like to ‘halcify’ things. It does sometimes become a struggle when we all like a song we’re working on, but all want it to go in different directions,” Nus said.
Stenseth mentioned how he thought the band was fairly good at recovering and finding that optimal compromise between owning an idea and learning to let it go for the sake of the band and turning it into a collective idea.
The band said they love what they do and plan to continue establishing their sound around Bellingham.
“There are lots of local bands in this area, but I don’t think many of them have the energy Pure Halcyon does,” said Hopkins.
Following their performance at The Blue Room, the band will be making their Wild Buffalo debut on May 18, which they won by placing second in Western’s Sounds of the Underground. The performance at the music and dance club is a 21+ event.
The band can be contacted for bookings at the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deven Meddaugh (she/her) is a sophomore and is a campus life reporter for The Front this quarter. She is an RA in the Edens-Higginson community and in her free time you can catch her hanging out with friends and family, playing Just Dance, re-watching her favorite movies/TV shows or writing.