The fun and festivities of the Yellowjacket Weekend carnival included not only face-painting, carnival rides, and ice cream (I wouldn’t have recommended pairing the last two) but also a variety of musical talent on campus. This student showcase, put on through UR Events, included many genres spanning from smooth jazz to metal. Sophomore and Roc Thursdays Chair Dan Waldman ‘17 describes the effort as “[his] idea to change it from a battle [of the bands] to just a big showcase.” The result was very entertaining, and yet the music was crafted with genuine quality.
The creation of the showcase actually inspired the formation of the band “Gabe and the Babes”, whose set included a variety of ‘90s hits that were intended, according to senior and lead singer Julian Nin, to be “crowd pleasers that everyone would know.” However, the group was definitely not confined to a single decade, as it also included the ‘60s and ‘70s hits “Be My Baby” and “The Weight”. Each song was enhanced through the solid guitar work of sophomore Jeff Howard and senior Shane Saxton, and Nin proved his own versatility through not only decent vocals but also smooth saxophone breaks and accents with castanets.
Although I was not the biggest fan of metal as a genre, I have to commend Parallax for convincing me otherwise. The guitar, supplied by sophomores Reid Zuckerman and Mihir Kochhar, worked as an electric force binding each song together, and each guitarist put a good deal of physicality into their performance, making it as entertaining to watch as to listen to. The drummer, sophomore Will Keefer, provided a solid backbone amid the roar of guitars. Equally commendable were the vocal skills of sophomore Yang Yang, whose classical training proved to be fantastic when applied to metal.
The event also included the singer-songwriter talents of juniors Thomas Varner and Luke Metzler, who showcased a wealth of originals with only an acoustic guitar and compelling lyrics. Metzler, who calls his genre “quirky pop”, provided a light, contented sound that was not only relaxing but also rich inunderlying themes that drew listeners in. These ranged from financial hardship in “A Billion (Dollars)” to individuality in “Crazy”, where “If they call you crazy, well, you must be doing something right.” He describes his inspiration as being “from a spark of emotion” that eventually transformed into a song.
On the other hand, Varner views music as a integral to the way he processes his life. “I can condense all of my experiences into music, and then they have these intangible representations which I have access to with my guitar,” he explained. “It brings order, and damn, is it fun.” His set, primarily composed of originals, produced a sea of acoustic sound that was decorated with colorful lyrics. Although he originally intended to perform with his band, Scope and Figure, he delivered a great solo performance.
Thankfully, this showcase of talent is not confined to this annual event. Students can still have the opportunity to see these artists and other talented performers in Coffee House performances every Friday night in Starbucks. For those who are curious about the student bands as well as seeing local musicians, Roc Thursdays are held every month in Drama House – mark your calendars for October 23.
Kibler is a member of
the class of 2017.