It would be wrong of me to say that O Presidente plays music from another time. That’s simply missing the point. While the band, comprised of Andrew Zingg ’13, Nathaniel Draper ’12, Tobias Butler ’13, and Thomas Yopes (UC Berkeley ’13), writes music with very particular and sometimes peculiar influences, they’re not really reaching back into the past to steal sounds. Rather, their debut album Clube De Futebol collapses the past 60 years of music history into 10 succinct songs and adds their own, very 21st century sense of humor right on top.
A quick taste of that humor: According to lead singer Zingg, the band formed around a failed student group that he and guitarist Draper attempted to start during his freshman year. Clube de Futebol, originally, was the proposal for “this club that would get SBC funds to pay for a TV and the Fox Soccer channel so we could get together with our friends and watch soccer. The Portuguese spelling was an homage to Brazil’s beautiful way of playing the game. Needless to say, SBC never agreed to give us any money. But the name stuck.” The band name, O Presidente, was a product of the same failed Clube—it was Draper’s official title, in Portuguese of course.
That’s not the last bit of Brazillian influence you’ll hear on this record. On the 50s throwback “Take My Baby,” the group sings its final verse in—you guessed it—Portuguese. You’ve got to give these guys credit for continuity. That song is notable for its American inspiration as well. Beginning with a classic slide into an upbeat surf-guitar riff, “Take My Baby” is a concise tune with easy-to-place roots.
All right, Admissions Office, you can stop trying to recruit people. Your job is done. Christopher Owens has us covered.
As you well remember, former-member-of-the-band-Girls-and-current-solo-artist Christopher Owens romanced a full-capacity audience at Memorial Chapel last Thursday, playing the entirety of his solo debut/mini-rock opera Lysandre as well as a handful of cover songs. The concert itself was extremely enjoyable, including the opening set by Mara Connor (Wes/Vassar ’13), though nobody could be quite certain what Owens himself thought about the concert, or the audience or atmosphere or mood or time of day— his sub-hour-long performance was incredibly short on stage banter, by which I mean he said “thank you” and nothing else.
Which was fine. His Cali-beach-rock sound and golden-haired-god image work well with a strong-but-silent attitude. The music spoke enough for the both of them.
If doubts existed about the ability of a rock opera to translate from the recording studio to the resonating acoustics of Wesleyan’s own Memorial Chapel, let them be dispelled. Christopher Owens, formerly of the indie-beach-punk duo Girls, brought along a posse of eight other musicians to perform the entirety of his recent solo album, Lysandre, to a full and surprisingly attentive crowd.
Mara Connor (Wes/Vassar ’13) opened the show with an enjoyable acoustic set, bringing Henry Hall ’14 to add electric guitar and some rock flair for a few songs. After Connor ended with a cover of one of Owens’ own tunes, the golden-haired Adonis himself came onstage to sing about, well, girls.
Lysandre, of course, is really only a rock opera in form, not length. Owens and company plowed through the album in little over a half hour. Although the 11 album tracks differentiate themselves well enough along the California pop-rock spectrum, the simple but versatile “Lysandre’s Theme” reprises throughout in the keyboard, sax, flute, and guitar parts. Album highlights “New York City” and “Here We Go Again” were the most energetic and successful performances, while the awkward am-I-a-bad-songwriter tune “Love Is In The Ear of the Listener” was the only down moment in the set.
Before Iceage, Christopher Owens will be starting off one of the best concert double-headers since My Brightest Diamond and Bear Hands:
Christopher Owens, former lead songwriter of Girls and part time model, will perform his new solo album, Lysandre, with an 8-piece band in the Memorial Chapel. The new material will sound somewhat familiar to fans of Girls, and appeal particularly to those who favored Owens’ hushed ballads of love lost. You can listen to Lysandre here.
The show takes place today, Thursday, January 24th, from 8:30-10pm (with doors at 8). Our first show of the new year is an early one, and notably, will not overlap with Iceage’s performance at Eclectic later that night. You can have your cake and mosh/crowd-surf on it too!
Opening for Owens is Mara Connor (Wes/Vassar ’13), playing pretty acoustic guitar jams.
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Date: Thursday, January 24
Time: Doors at 8, Music from 8:30-10pm
Place: Memorial Chapel