The Unlikely Candidates: a likely fun time for Luther students

For the first time in over a year, Luther College Student Activities Council hosted a live, in-person concert, featuring indie-rock band The Unlikely Candidates. The concert took place Friday night at 7:30 on the Preus Library lawn and was attended by students and members of the larger community. 


This concert was a part of their recent cross-country tour, spanning 14 states and ten concerts. For a band that played over 200 shows in 2019, the pandemic caused a performance standstill in their jam-packed tour life. As avid performers, The Unlikely Candidates expressed how excited they are to be back on the road sharing their music again. 


We just have a good time, really,” the band said in an Instagram DM. “Forget about everything and sink into the moment surrounded by a bunch of other people having the same experience. If some of the songs and lyrics affect people that’s all the better, but we aim to entertain most of all.”


The Unlikely Candidates performed for an hour and half, and played songs of their own in addition to covers. Their most popular tracks made an appearance, with “Novocaine” and “Oh My Dear Lord” both having over 20 million Spotify plays. Their cover songs ranged from The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” to “The Bucket” by the rock group Kings of Leon.


Their musical diversity made them a fitting choice for Luther College. The decision to welcome The Unlikely Candidates was directed by SAC President Ga-Young Kim (‘22). With the uncertainty of COVID-19 regulations, Kim planned to have the concert outside and wanted to find a band that would step up to the plate outdoors. 


“We thought having a smaller band would be the best route,” Kim (‘22) said. “We saw some video performances of them and we thought they would be great. Luther students try to listen to all different kinds of music, and indie-rock is always a good pick because it’s always a variety.”


The Unlikely Candidates are from Fort Worth, Texas, and scored a #1 Alternative hit and 20 million YouTube views with their single, “Novocaine.” With Kyle Morris as the lead vocalist, Brenton Carney and Cole Male as the guitarists, Kevin Goddard as the percussionist, and Jared Hornbeek on the bass, the band has been together since 2008. The band has yet to put out a studio album, but has opened for the likes of Cage the Elephant and Fall Out Boy while headlining tours of their own.


Luther College student and The Unlikely Candidates fan Hannah Clarkin (‘23) expressed her excitement for the event.


“It’s fun to be at a live event at Luther,” Clarkin said. “I went to the Quinn XCII concert here in 2019, which I loved. But I really liked how this concert was outside; it gave people more room to dance to the music and just vibe.”


The rest of the crowd seemed to “vibe” along with Clarkin, even earning some high praise from The Unlikely Candidates themselves.


We had a great time,” the band said. “Definitely one of the best crowds we have had on the tour. Y’all matched our energy and then some.”