Coffeehouse showcases student performers

Zachary McKenzie ’14 performed at Friday’s coffeehouse, hosted by the AAA in Dodd living room. Susmita Paul/Staff Photographer.
Zachary McKenzie ’14 performed at Friday’s coffeehouse, hosted by the AAA in Dodd living room. Susmita Paul/Staff Photographer.

The College’s All Acoustic Alliance (AAA) hosted its first coffeehouse of the year last Friday evening in the Dodd House living room. Nearly 100 audience members attended the consistently popular showcase of student performances of both covers and original songs. 14 acts performed at the unofficially titled “Music Lives” event. Solo artists predominated, with some collaborations and one new band.

Students packed Dodd’s living room, arriving early to snag limited seating on luxurious couches, chairs and barstools. As the night progressed, four rows of students sat on the large rug in front of the stage and many more remained standing. Because Dodd seems to be exceeding capacity, Pedro Roque ’14 announced that AAA will explore alternative venues for future coffeehouses, mentioning Goodrich and The Log. AAA will also host more visiting artists this year.

The evening began with two love songs. Chetan Singhal ’15 opened with a traditional song called “Gulabi Ankhen” (“Rosy Eyes”) in Hindi. Joe Kinney ’14 next covered All Time Low’s “Remembering Sunday” on guitar. Kinney’s easygoing voice matched the recognizable ’90s style of the song.

Lucy Davis ’16 was one of the most stunning performers of the night. She performed the first original song of the night, penned last year. Davis’ lovely, alto voice fits perfectly with her indie folk style. Davis’ pitch was perfect, her tone smooth and her lyrics complex and striking.

The first group of the night, Hillsong, performed after Davis. Ana Solares ’17 sang vocals, Scott Daniel ’17 performed jazz violin, Roque played guitar and Jeff Jeon ’17 premiered on the cajun drum. The quartet performed Hillsong’s “Where Feet May Fail,” a song that particularly spoke to Solares and her resolve to keep her faith “no matter what.” Solares rich alto voice was an unexpectedly mature sound. “Where Feet May Fail,” features a strong beat that reflects the confidence and resolve of Solares’ lyrics. The song’s high energy and volume were appreciated by the crowd. “Where Feet May Fail” also presented one of the fullest sounds of the night with its multiple instruments, and Roque even added beat-boxing to further add to the song’s varied tempos.

After the crowd favorite ‘Where Feet May Fail,” Solares left Daniel, Roque and Jeon to perform an acoustic version of “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The group’s variations, especially Jeon’s percussion, freshened the well-known anthem.

Next, Steven Yannacone ’17 performed an original keyboard composition without vocals. Yannacone’s performance stood out from others for its classic style. In a minor key, slow and featuring a good range of notes, the rich and pensive composition’s churning triplets were most evocative. Jonathon Burne ’17 provided an earnest guitar cover of Mumford and Son’s “White Blank Page,” and Eli Goldstein ’16 replicated Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” impeccably on keys.

Despite wearing a cowboy hat, Zachary McKenzie ’14 informed the audience that he would not sing a country song, claiming, “I just don’t have enough twang.” McKenzie proceeded to perform an unexpectedly sincere original song titled “Heartache Don’t Last Forever,” a quiet reflection on healing a broken heart.

Alex Marshall ’15 was the first solo artist to perform multiple songs. Her voice was well suited to her cover of James Vincent McMorrow’s “We Don’t Eat” on keys. Starting lightly, Marshall’s voice grew to a persistent strength. Marshall was charming and effectively varied volumes to maximize her lyrics’ effects. Likely incidentally, a slight echo could be heard through the event’s sound system and occasionally acted as a subtle backup vocal for Marshall, adding further depth to her song. Marshall’s talent was most evident when she began to improvise some of the song’s melody. Marshall also performed “Assassins and Their Gowns,” written by Marshall the day before she returned to the College this fall. The song was reminiscent of Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple, with pop and jazz influences. The song was interesting and varied, with provocative lyrics like “She’s running through your hands now, take it or leave it.” Marshall concluded her set with a tribute to a childhood friend who recently passed away, performing Coldplay’s “Fix You” simply and sincerely.

The witty Frankie Simms ’14 also performed three songs, describing the first as “kind of an existential drama about the dating scene at Williams, called ‘Every Girl I’ve Known.” “Every Girl I’ve Known” was particularly impressive for its well-timed phrasing. The song effectively balances a serious topic with clever lyrics and a cheerful, subtly ironic melody. Simms’ second song, written before he traveled to South Africa, was upbeat and avoided all melodrama, but was less complex than “Every Girl I’ve Known.” Simms concluded his set with “Last Thursday Night,” describing it “like a prequel to last Friday night.” Of Simms’ indie-folk set, the song had the greatest country influence – fast paced with fast and humorous lyrics.

Paul de Konkoly Thege ’14 introduced his cover of Sara Bareilles’ “Many The Miles” stating, “This has been a rough week, so I’m playing songs that make me feel good.” His very low, bass voice worked surprisingly well for the song. When the song came to the brink of over-repetition, de Konkoly Thege reenergized the crowd with an invitation to sing along that was enthusiastically obliged. De Konkoly Thege then covered Radiohead, reassuring the crowd, “It’s not ‘Creep,’ so don’t worry.” “Separator,” was an effectively close imitation of Radiohead’s difficult-to-reproduce style.

Jack Bequeaith ’16 and Emmanuel Ocampo ’16 debuted their band The Wannabes with “Mission Park,” written by Bequeaith. The band’s stripped down sound is reminiscent of Nirvana, especially with its dissonance and Bequeaith’s acerbic voice.

Brice Green ’15 and Simms, who would like to be referred to as “Brainky” according to Simms, closed the show at just after 9 p.m. with a fantastic duet of the American classic “Tonight you Belong to Me.”