by Hannah Skewes

A newly formed band calling themselves Wiles, taking the name from lead vocalist and guitarist Ben Wiles, gave a great debut performance downtown at Soul Kitchen Friday night, Jan. 23.

The band is comprised mostly of University of South Alabama students or alumni with Ben Wiles on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Martin Statkewicz on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Joshua “Hosway” Evens on bass guitar, and Evan Jackson on drums.

The first song they played was called “Notion” and had a repeating chorus of “Don’t knock it, don’t knock it,” and I couldn’t give a better piece of advice when it comes to this band. Their style might be considered alternative rock. The mix of the acoustic and electric guitars had a nice, strong flow with the bass sliding under the melody and the drums providing the beats without overpowering the other instruments, wound tight together. The music was really solid and easy to listen to. It got my foot tapping without smacking me in the face with a flurry of beats. It almost had a jazzy feel to it.

The lead vocalist had a really nice tenor voice, it wove with the music and Statkewicz’s harmonies really well.

They mixed it up with a few originals and played a cover or two, like Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” I’m not the biggest fan of the song, but I like the way Wiles put their own twist on the style. They played it well.

The music was mostly upbeat, although the lyrics weren’t always without a serious tone to them. They remind me of a mixture of Los Lonely Boys and a band called “Fools and Horses” out of Virginia. What’s really impressive is that this was their first performance. I’m excited to see where they go from here. They’ve got the stuff for greatness.

All I can say is, “don’t knock it.” These guys gave a truly memorable performance.