On Friday evening, Homage, an up-and-coming student band, took to Greylock Hall for its first official concert. It was a pleasure to see so many students in attendance, and it was obvious that the musicians were both prepared and excited to let their friends and fans see exactly what they have been working on. The set style was intimate, with the crowd situated mere feet away from the performers. Homage played for about an hour straight, tapping into a variety of musical genres, ranging from jazz to R&B and even covers of pop songs.
For those not yet in the know, Homage is a group of student musicians who perform a variety of songs, varying from covers to original pieces. Sevonna Brown ’15 and Tirhakah Love ’15 shared the microphone on the lead vocals; Love also doubled as a spoken word performer and shared an intimate piece that he wrote accompanied by music. Both of the vocal artists vibed well with the audience – there were people dancing, rapping along or simply swaying from side to side along the brick wall. The band members, Danny Schwartz ’13 (keyboard), Phillip Parnell ’13 (guitar), Kevin Lawkins ’13 (bass), Charlie Sellars ’13 (drums), Paul Adeleke ’15 (violin), Andy Quinn ’13 (tenor saxophone), Noah Wentzel ’13 (trumpet) and Hartley Greenwald ’16 (trombone), provided an exceptional display of skill. Each was well-rehearsed and remarkably talented; in addition, their ability to improvise on the spot was impressive. Midway through the performance Adeleke’s bow was visibly arching under the pressure of his grip.
I asked the talented keyboardist Schwartz a few questions about Homage. He explained that “playing with Homage is a great time for a few reasons. First of all, the level of musicianship of everyone in the band is very high. We only rehearse for an hour a week, but we are able to put together songs quickly because everyone can sightread and has good musical instincts.” When asked about Homage’s diverse song styles, he admitted that, “I usually play jazz, so it’s fun to play songs with more of a pop vibe.” This variety certainly came across in their tracklist: In addition to an original song written by Schwartz, Homage performed “Backseat Freestyle” by the up-and-coming Compton rap sensation Kendrick Lamar, Marvin Gaye’s sensual classic “Let’s Get it On” and Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky,” among others.
Some wonder how an unlikely band like this got together; according to its founders, Homage began to crystallize as a few of the members played together last year for Speakfree and at the Ruby Lounge event hosted by the Black Student Union earlier this fall. They had fun and enjoyed playing together, so they figured it would be a good idea to put together a band. He also commented that “a cappella is a pretty dominant force on campus. It’s nice to do something outside of that world.”
The musicians of Homage look forward to playing a few more shows around campus this year, especially considering many of their members are seniors who will not likely be able to perform together past May. In the future, I would like to hear more of the jazzy/fusion side of Homage. There seems to be a lot of potential in the interactions between such talented musicians; if Homage only practices for one hour a week, I can’t imagine what their show would be like if they put more time into it. Regardless of whether Homage continues with the Classes of 2014 and 2015, it is great that we have a group like this around for the remainder of the year.