Williams band Ray Brower inaugurates new lineup at Log; unreceptive, reticent crowd stains event

Last Saturday night, Ray Brower, an all-Williams band, played their first concert of the year, from about 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Log. The band comprises Phil Groth ’00 on bass, Jeff Lisciandrello ’00 on vocals, Miles Baltrusaitis ’00 on rhythm guitar and back-up vocals, Luke Sundquist ’01 on lead guitar and back-up vocals and Jeff Roizen ’00 on drums.

Groth, Lisciandrello, and Baltrusaitis began playing together two years ago; Sundquist joined the band last spring and Roizen joined just this September. They were the opening act for last year’s Musicfest and also played one row house party last spring, but this was their first show with Roizen.

The band plays “jam rock,” according to Groth. Their set list includes covers of such bands as Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, The Police, Tom Petty, Phish, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Their music selections are all familiar and danceable, and should be just what the typical student crowd is looking for in a small concert.

The band started their first set with apparent nervousness, and were slow to get into their groove. The audience sat back in the shadows, without making any attempt to ease the band’s anxiety. They spent the hour solemnly staring at the band, presumably enjoying themselves, since the room slowly filled and few people left, but all the while refusing to show any evidence of enjoyment.

At the end of the first set, Lisciandrello virtually begged the audience to dance, citing the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm as a direct cause of the band’s nerves. The audience responded with a few token dancers, while most rudely ignored the request. Williams students often complain that no good bands come to campus, but after this shameful display of apathy at the Log, one would have to wonder why any band would want to perform for a Williams crowd.

The second set started with the band’s rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse.” While the audience obviously enjoyed the familiarity of the song, their modicum of enthusiasm was quashed by the slow beat. A few songs into the second set, fewer than a dozen people were dancing, and the rest had returned to the safety of the shadows.

The band’s performance improved steadily throughout the evening, as their own enjoyment of the music became more apparent. Their playing was solid and enjoyable, but not phenomenal. The vocals would have benefited from a bit more spirit, but problems with the microphone detracted from that aspect of the performance as well. Given more energetic audience involvement, they could put on a much more lively show.

The audience finally began to show some life late in the evening after the lights had been turned out and adequate quantities of beer had been consumed. After a few songs managed to provoke some dancing, however, most crowd members took their enthusiasm elsewhere. The band chose to end the show nearly an hour early, when the majority of the audience left a few minutes past midnight.

Ray Brower doesn’t have a date planned for their next show, but they are looking to schedule more this year. Hopefully those who went to this show will bring considerably more interest and energy to the next. They are a talented outfit who would benefit from a well-received performance at a receptive venue.

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