Fixing a hole in the floor to construct a suitable stage, filling out paperwork for insurance of up to $1,000,000 and trekking across campus in search of speakers — rather than being unreasonable measures, these tasks are almost perfunctory when putting on a concert at Yale.
Searching for live music between each May’s Spring Fling, students have the pleasure of seeing Badfish for the third time at Toad’s or wandering through Old Campus in search of a shaggy-haired guitar player. But Yale students have recently begun to increase the number of organized shows on campus with such events as last November’s Girl Talk concert and The Bridge’s open mic nights.
The latest effort to bring musicians to campus is this Saturday’s concert at the Sigma Phi Epsilon house, located at 31 High St. The performers are both signed and unsigned fledgling artists from the New York and Los Angeles areas — Rumspringa, Savoir Adore, Chief and solo artist Darren Weiss — brought together by Cantora Records and invited to Yale by Theo Spielberg ’10, who said the set promises a diverse mixture of philosophies and sounds.
“Yes, we have Toad’s and one or two preschool bands, but I feel we really need a place where people can hear new, engaging music,” Spielberg said. “Toad’s does its best to get bands that are basically already on the radar. My goal is to get bands that are not or are about to be on the radar. To fill a void.”
The members of Rumspringa, Itaru de la Vega and Joey Stevens, look to fill that void. Named for the Amish rite of passage when adolescents leave the community to explore, Rumspringa’s descriptions of their goals and music often turn philosophical.
“We’re just trying to fill in certain blank spots that the music scene today offers, kind of as a personal mission,” Stevens said. “We consider ourselves to be on our own version of [the rite of] Rumspringa; searching for an alternative mean, mainly through transcendental rock ‘n’ roll moments.”
In addition to Rumspringa’s combination of blues and late ’60s psychedelia, the concert collects the “fantasy rock” of Savoir Adore and the less playful yowls of Darren Weiss, the drummer of punk band Wires on Fire. Weiss, who will perform solo on Saturday, moans lines like “I’ve seen half-hearted bitches dressed up just like angels” over aggressively strummed acoustic guitar. Rounding out the line-up is Chief, a more traditional rock group both in terms of instruments and aural aesthetic that shares a common love of Neil Young. Described by bassist Mike Moonves as a step beyond “New York City surf rock,” Chief conveys the image of “an awesome campfire,” guitarist Evan Koga said.
This contrast between the bands is what Nick Panama, who runs Cantora Records, thinks will make for a versatile evening of music. For Panama, colleges campuses are a hub of musical talent and interest, and it’s necessary to find good music and spread it.
“Campuses are academic and motivating,” Panama said. “To have that environment promotes creativity, and that’s where I think we see a lot of really ill bands.”
Mike Moonves of Chief agrees that colleges are a hotbed of enthusiasm for music.
“I recently went to a show at Wesleyan that was completely packed,” Moonves said. “There was great electricity in the air and it made me really excited to play.”
No matter how successful the show turns out to be, there’s always the issue of planning, which, more often than not, proves to be difficult. Concerts often lack publicity, and bringing in outside acts can be a logistical nightmare, organizers of several past concerts at Yale said.
Patrick Dewechter ’09, who hosts The Bridge, a coffeehouse-style bi-monthly show in the Saybrook 12-pack, last year, feels the absence of on-campus shows is more due to the challenges of organization and publicity, rather then a lack of interesting musicians.
“It takes a significant amount of work to find a venue and then have the correct equipment — but even more so, to get enough people interested to come out so you’re playing in front of somebody,” he said. “Few people expect there to be a band from Yale that’s going to rock out.”
Mona Elsayed ’08, who produced the Girl Talk show for Volume Magazine, attributes the unfulfilled demand for live music at Yale to a lack of appreciation for the work involved in event production.
“It’s a huge time commitment for what may seem to many as very little payoff,” she said.
Spielberg, too, is slightly concerned about turnout for Saturday’s concert since the concert is being held at a fraternity. To ensure that there is enough room for those interested in the music, he drafted free pre-sale tickets available this past week.
“It will hopefully even out the crowd,” said Spielberg. “It’s a party but also a venue for people who are interested in the bands and listening to their music.”
And considering Evan Kolga of Chief rates his band’s live act an “11 out of 10,” all in attendance are in for a treat.