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Tommy and the High Pilots take flight

Cyndi Revolinsky, Entertainment Writer/Commentary
May 1, 2013
Filed under Entertainment

Tommy and the High Pilots soared onto the UW-Green Bay campus April 22 to share their music, personalities and brightly colored skinny jeans with the audience. The Phoenix Club of the University Union served as a landing pad for the Santa Barbara, Calif. based band.

Tiny cardboard airplanes sat atop each table, and many more hung from the ceiling. The concert kicked off with “Round N Round,” a track from one of their previous albums “Everynight.” Some audience members began bobbing their heads and tapping their feet to the melody.

The guys started out easy, warming up alongside the crowd and mirroring their energy. By the end of the track, the stage was electrified as each member lost himself in the performance.

“They had a great stage presence,” said Kyle Hendrickson, sophomore music education major. “I really liked the show. The singer really impressed me.”

On the set list was a mix of songs from their previous albums, as well as tracks from their upcoming album, “Only Human.” The High Pilots also threw in a few covers such as Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” and Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).”

After each song, Tommy Cantillon, lead singer and guitarist, encouraged the timid audience to get up and show off their moves. Sensing their reluctance, he jumped off stage and made his way around the room, stopping to serenade a few lucky ladies and show off some moves of his own. Soon, almost every person in the crowd shimmied onto the dance floor.

“My friend made me dance, but I had a really good time,” said Danielle Washington, junior Spanish and communication major.

Although many audience members had never heard of Tommy and the High Pilots, by the time the show ended, many attendees purchased a CD or a t-shirt. After their one-hour performance, the High Pilots turned the unsuspecting crowd into serious Pilots fans.

“This was the first time I’ve ever heard of them,” Washington said. “They’re very talented and unique. I would definitely see them if they ever came back to campus.”

Tommy and the High Pilots consist of four members. Alongside Tommy is younger brother Michael Cantillon, who demands attention on the keyboard. On bass guitar is Steve Libby, showing off his skills as well as his beard. Matt Palermo rocked out on the drums at the Phoenix Club even though he had a sprained wrist from a basketball injury the day before.

The band formed in 2008 and has been touring consistently ever since.

“Nothing can ever replace playing face-to-face with human beings,” Tommy said. “You can’t create that type of energy or get across your band’s point through headphones or a stereo system.”

While touring can be stressful, the High Pilots stay united in their musical mission. The High Pilots are currently promoting “Only Human,” which debuts May 28. offers fans a chance to pre order the album and get up-to-date information on its progress. There are multiple packages available including a signed copy of the CD, a phone call or movie night with the guys and the opportunity to save or shave Libby’s beard.

“Steve’s beard is kind of a staple at our shows,” Tommy said. “One of our quirkier ideas for our Pledge Music Campaign was to shave off Steve’s beard and send it out in pieces to the first few to pledge on it. Surprisingly, more people were writing in to ‘Save the Beard,’ so we started that campaign, too.”

Tour dates, merchandise and other high-flying Pilots information can be found on