Last Saturday, the Williams Student Musicians Association (WSMA) hosted its second music festival of the school year, a follow-up to the performances held in Greylock earlier this semester.
The air was buzzing with excitement, as this particular event had two rounds of performers: an earlier coffeehouse-style performance in front of Paresky and a lineup of bands performing in Goodrich later in the evening.
The performances in front of Paresky began at 6:30 p.m., with coffeehouse regulars and newcomers alike taking the stage to perform acoustically. The audience, sprawled on blankets on Paresky lawn, was serenaded by a variety of performers, ranging from solo, acoustic-guitar wielding singer-songwriters to unplugged iterations of campus bands.
While the audience was out on Paresky lawn and the acoustic portion of the event was taking place, Real Foods was taking care of any hunger needs the audience had. They put a smile on every patron’s face by providing free fresh, local grilled cheese. Festival attendee John Sciales ’18 described the grilled cheese as “melt-in-your-mouth good” and even went as far to say it was “some of the best grilled cheese I’ve ever eaten.”
After the outdoor portion of the event had concluded, the bands headed over to Goodrich to make their final sound-check preparations and get everything ready. At a little after 9 p.m., garage-punk duo The Bread Helmets, consisting of Brian Trelegan ’17 and Nile Livingston ’15, took the stage to deliver their energetic brand of rock. They played such classics as “Barbara Ann,” “Wild Thing” and “I’m Waiting for My Man.” At the conclusion of their performance, the crowd was energetic and ready to get the night kicking.
The next group was freshman band TKNK, consisting of Phoebe Mattana ’18, Charlie Jersey ’18 and Gary Chen ’18. They blistered through an energetic 30-minute set, playing both covers and originals. The musicians were joined onstage by yours truly, Conor Newton ’18, for their opener, a cover of the Cold War Kids’ “All of This Could Be Yours.” They were also joined by Brice Green ’15 for a rendition of Vampire Weekend’s “Unbelievers,” a song that drew cheers and smiles from the audience.
Up next was Robonixon, consisting of myself along with Daniel Mueller ’18 and Kieren Scannell ’17. Our band ripped through a nine-song set which included covers of classic rock songs such as “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Bad Moon Rising,” as well as covers of more modern songs and a couple of original tunes. For the closer, a cover of Titus Andronicus’ “… And Ever,” we were joined by saxophonist Jack Ferguson ’18 onstage as he and I played a call-and-answer-style solo.
Following Robonixon was Gentleman Art Thieves, a well-established campus band consisting of Green, Justin Smilan ’18, Gabe Morosky ’17 and Max Sopher ’17. They opened their set with a cover of The Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” and their half-hour set included other favorites such as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” They also mixed some originals into their set, drawing a unanimously positive reaction from the enthusiastic audience.
Up last was visiting band Anonymous Animal, a synth-pop jam duo that lent its interesting blend of synthesizers and electronic beats to the night, mixing sounds and styles and providing great energy in their hour long set.
After the show, my bandmate Mueller approached me with a host of praises about the festival, acknowledging the blossoming band culture on campus as well as the incredible amount of work that Green put into setting the event up.
“I think the music festival was a great opportunity for student bands to perform the material they’ve been working on in a more formal setting,” Mueller said. “It’s nice that the student music scene seems to be gathering momentum. Hopefully the trend will continue, even though [Green] won’t be here. He’s done a lot of great work to promote student music.”