Tag Archives: wesleyan music scene

Aural Wes First Meeting of 2015

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PSA from Chris Gortmaker ’17:

Aural Wes’ first meeting of 2015 will be this Wednesday at 9:15 PM in
Usdan 114. If you’re passionate about Wesleyan’s music scene or feel
like you might be (you probably will be soon enough), then you should
come and see what Aural Wes is all about! Experience in music
journalism is by no means necessary.

We’re looking for writers, editors, web designers, photographers,
videographers, and social media hype-machines. With Aural Wes, you’ll
be on the beat of music happenings at Wes. From hanging out with
touring groups that come through campus to covering the vibrant
student music community, there are a ton of opportunities for awesome
journalism waiting for you.

If you can’t make the meeting on Wednesday and still want to get
involved, don’t hesitate to email teamauralwes[at]gmail[dot]com and we’ll
chat.

Date: Wednesday, January 28th
Time: 9:15-11:15 PM
Place: Usdan 114

“______ Fall Back”: On Concert Culture, Moshing and (Un)Safe Spaces

Almost three years ago exactly, I showed up to my first Eclectic concert, as a wide-eyed, naive pre-frosh, a total stranger to the “college music scene.” There was loud, thrashy music coming from the ballroom, where a small crowd was gathered. While dancing wildly around with all these strange older cool college kids, I thought to myself, “Wow! I am actually doing this. I am a skinny, lanky dude moshing! And it feels great! And I should totally come here and do this more!” And the rest was, as they say, history.

Concert Committee Winter Booking Information

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From Chelsie Green ’14:

If you’ve booked a concert at least once before, feel free to start contacting acts and agents over the break to start filling up next semester’s calendar. Look from the last weekend in January to the first weekend in May for weekend dates that the act is available. Some dates in this period are already filled, so try to propose with a couple of dates you have in mind, if possible. Please mind Spring Break, which blocks out 3/7-3/24. Only a percentage of our budget will be available and we’re functioning on a “first come, first serve” basis, just as we do during the semester. Please email ctgreen[at]wesaswilliams[at]wesehill[at]wesjrosenbloom[at]wes, and gdsunshine[at]wes with your proposal. It should include information about the act(s), potential venues and dates, and anything else you can throw at us.

For Wannabe Bookers: Feel free to ask me any questions via email about booking, and look for a booking information session within the first few weeks of the semester! Concert Committee will meet again on 1/26 at 1pm, in Usdan 104D, so you will be able to propose then.

Gender & Music at Wesleyan: Personal Storytime

The first in a series on the on-campus intersections of gender, race, and music performance 

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If I could conduct a survey about gender and music performance, it would go something like this:

  1. How old were you when you began playing music?
  2. What instrument(s) did you start playing at a young age?
  3. What instruments did you pick up as you got older?
  4. When was the last time you performed in public?

My questionable pollster skills notwithstanding, I would guess that the results would look something like this: started playing piano/trombone/oboe at age 6/7/8, picked up guitar/bass/synth at age 15, etc. According to my hypothesis, a gender divide wouldn’t start to show until Question 2–for the lucky ones who got an early start in musical education, our instrument choices would probably follow a gendered pattern: with a few exceptions, boys generally chose saxophones and baritone horns while girls chose flutes and oboes. By the time everyone quit band in high school, many boys got their hands on guitars and drum kits and began performing at school functions and family parties. And the girls learned guitar in their rooms, and never played in public again, unless under the influence of alcohol. The end?

Book Shows @Wes w/ RPMU

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From Hannah Baker ’14 and Eric Lopez ’15:

Want to book and/or help out with concerts on campus? JOIN RPMU a.k.a. The Artists Formerly Known As Radical Performance Machine + Underdog!

Danny Brown, How To Dress Well,  Sweater Beats, Prince Rama, Sinkane, Delicate Steve and many more rocked Wes in the last year alone. RPM & UNDERDOG were the booking groups that made those and most of the other shows you saw around campus last year happen…RPMU is the booking group that is going to make sure that shows like that keep happening on campus. The two groups have decided to come together to streamline the booking process and help students interested in the live music scene at Wes get involved. We’d like to invite anyone and everyone interested in concert booking, music journalism, graphic design, or concert videography/photography/audio recording etc. etc. to come join the team!

If you have ever been interested in bringing your favorite artist to play at Wesleyan or would like to get involved in concert design and promotion on campus, WE ARE HERE TO HELP WITH THAT! Freshman are more than welcome to join!

Guest Post: Yes, It Is a Problem That There Is Not a Single Woman in the Spring Fling Lineup

Bernstein ’13, a senior and former member of Spring Fling Committee, reflects on male domination in the Wesleyan music scene—and how it can be changed.

Riot grrrl supergroup Wild Flag performs at Eclectic in October 2011. Photo by Rachel Pincus ’13.

Ally Bernstein ’13 offers a critical view on the 2013 Spring Fling lineup, weighing in on an argument that appeared in the comments section of Thursday night’s announcement post:

As I struggle to match words to my experience, I recall the last time someone wrote an article critical of the gender imbalance in the Wesleyan music scene. Avery Trufelman ’13 wrote a Wespeak in 2010 in response to our general feelings of malaise as well as an upsetting incident of sexual assault at a Titus Andronicus concert. And while she wrote it during the beginning of our sophomore year, as a senior, I wonder how much has changed. At the recent, excellent Potty Mouth concert in the WestCo Café, an overwhelmingly male audience turned out to watch four punk ladies from Northampton churn out sweetly melodic lo-fi tunes. Spring Fling Committee is 72% male. The Spring Fling lineup is 100% male. The majority of campus bands are still male.

Since the Potty Mouth show, I’ve tried to figure out why. Why don’t more female Wesleyan students attend shows, and why don’t more female Wesleyan students play shows? Why are women not engaged by what Wesleyan has to offer? In 2012 I visited a friend living in Olympia, Washington, birthplace of riot grrrl and home base of Kathleen Hanna, who spoke at Wesleyan in 2010. I attended a show at my friend’s house, and every single band out of the four that played had at least one non-male member. Many had more. Not only did these ladies kill it, but the atmosphere in the crowded living room was electric. Men and women and non-binary folks were all feeding off the positive energy of dedicated people making good music. During that trip, I sat in on some band practices where people of all genders were collaborating and sharing and just figuring things out. The attitude was infectious.

Get Rooks Or Die Trying: Campus Funk Act Plots Mini-Tour

The Rooks, everyone’s favorite on-campus intergalactic funk sensation, are going on tour! Sort of. The post-Mad Wow outfit is embarking on a mini-tour of sorts through the northeast this week (they might snag more exclusive concert footage at these shows), and frontman Garth Taylor ’12 has the details. (As always, The Rooks include Garth Taylor ’12, Nate Mondschein ’12, Spencer Hattendorf ’12, Graham Richman ’11, Louis Russo ’11, and Gabe Gordon ’11.)

NEW YORK CITAAAAY:

  • Date: Thursday, January 12, 2012
  • Place: Sullivan Hall, New York, NY.
  • Time: 8 PM
  • Tickets? Tickets $10 at the door or can be reserved online.
  • Facebook link: !!!!!

The Rooks, The Rooks, The Rooks Is On Fire

The Rooks, the fantastic and fantastical Wesleyan funk outfit featured previously on this blog, finally made its live-audience debut this past Weekend—opening for the legendary Josh Smith & The Concert G’s (with whom the band shares a few members), no less. Wesleying has obtained a few high-quality film clips from this show. If your Wednesday night needs a gluten-free funk injection, look no further.

As always, The Rooks’ lineup includes Garth Taylor ’12, Nate Mondschein ’12, Spencer Hattendorf ’12, Graham Richman ’11, Louis Russo ’11, and Gabe Gordon ’11. Taylor adds that the bands will be participating in the Hartford Battle of the Bands on Saturday, December 17th, at the Webster Theater. “We have tickets for $8 that people can get in advance,” Taylor adds, “and tickets at the door are $10. Doors open at 4 PM.” (If you’re in Bermuda on the 17th, you can probably just catch these cats on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. If anyone wants to make them a Last.fm band page, I’m sure they’ll repay you in cupcakes and sprinkles.)

Anyway. Saturday’s show. Photographic content and moving picture media. Past the jump.

Aural Wes on the Decline of the Wes Music Scene

Aural Wes, Wesleyan’s unofficial but well-pedigreed music blog,  has a very pointed editorial by senior contributor “O)))”, a.k.a. Max Lavine ’10, who is pissed about Public Safety’s enforcement of the Code of Non-Academic Conduct in shutting down a show last weekend, and generally disappointed in a perceived decline in both the administration’s attitude and students’ enthusiasm towards student-organized music events on campus lately.

Last weekend, WESU’s 70th Anniversary show in WestCo Cafe was shut down by Public Safety after only one act played out of three scheduled punk/hardcore bands, for reasons unspecified by the author. Apparently people present thought this was a major overreaction to the offense, and the author is upset that the bands’ and student organizers’ time and energy in putting the show together were wasted.

bottle up and goThe editorial finds this incident symptomatic of an administration increasingly hostile towards the independent music scene at Wes:

[…] the point I want to make here is greater. I’ve been organizing shows regularly on this campus for a good while now and it has become increasingly clear to me that Wesleyan has rapidly made itself into an environment that is extremely inhospitable to any sort of independent music scene. The bureaucratic requirements for booking shows are as myriad as they are constantly shifting and dysfunctional; most of the time when bookers have succeeded in jumping through each flaming hoop provided by the multiple organizations (who don’t really communicate with each other) necessary to deal with in booking, something tends to go awry anyway. When you’re dealing with bands whose primary income is not their music (e.g. 99% of working musicians), its terrible for them and embarassing for us when they get paid late or don’t get to play their set because someone was in a meeting, anonymous noise complaints get called in, or PSafe decides to arbitrarily exercise their power to end a perfectly well-mannered show.

I don’t want to make this out to simply be some kind of administrative conspiracy though. It is pretty obvious at this point that, relative to my freshman year, the administration has sought to regulate and normalize ever greater swathes of campus and has tended to turn autonomous student community like that found at student-run concerts into a liability to be controlled instead of something to be fostered and celebrated. And surprise, surprise the number of concerts that go on here has STEEPLY declined since my freshman year. But that’s only half the story.

That’s nothing new – people have feeling this for awhile now (most vocally so in recent memory when Eclectic was banned from hosting shows last semester), and complaints  about the administration homogenizing Wes have been around forever.

This author also blames this year’s WestCo residents for being apathetic/lame, and implicitly wonders whether the WestCo we (at least, current upperclassmen and recent alumni) have always known is on its way out:

Village Voice Discovers the Wesleyan Music Scene

wes-music-sceneThe Wesleyan Music Scene is gaining exposure in the American mainstream media – British periodicals NME and the Guardian have been watching this trend since last year, and the Village Voice has now picked up on it with an article examining how Wes came to be the “epicenter of surrealist Brooklyn pop”.

In contrast to the breathless hype of last year’s NME feature, this one is grounded and pretty accurate in describing the loosely associated group of Wes-to-Brooklyn artists we’ve come to blog and love over the past few years.

The Village Voice interviewed key members like Simon O’Connor of Amazing Baby, Ben Goldwasser of MGMT, Tal Rozen of Boy Crisis, and associate/film director Ray Tintori, who discuss their relationships to Wesleyan, Eclectic, and each other:

[Wesleyan’s] never been known as a particularly “cool” place until now. And if it seems wrong for a tiny, nerdy Connecticut college to be the focus of so much hype, well, blame the British. The music press over there is obsessed with Brooklyn bands, and MGMT’s collegiate circle is obviously irresistible[…] Boy Crisis’s U.K. publicist advertises them as having attended “Connecticut’s prestigious Wesleyan Art College,” a blatant attempt to make it sound somehow fashionable.

That sort of thing drives O’Connor nuts. “It’s not a fucking art college,” he says flatly. “I made the mistake of telling an NME writer that Will (Berman) had left our band to join MGMT, and that was it. We were labeled a Wesleyan band.” O’Connor is currently the only member of his band who attended the school, and he doesn’t think the experience was anything special. “Yeah, we played in bands together,” he says, “but we were music majors. That’s just what you do.” O’Connor and VanWyngarden had a band called Irma Vep that once opened for the Rapture at the Eclectic Society, another institution O’Connor is quick to denounce: “It was exactly like that movie PCU,” he says. “A nerd society, basically.”

MGMT’s Ben Goldwasser was a member of Eclectic, and though he admits he thought of the club as lousy with “hipster assholes” at first, he warmed up to the idea when his friends joined. “I liked being involved in running a performance venue,” he says. “We had the best room on campus for bands to play.” As for Wesleyan overall, Goldwasser disagrees with O’Connor about the experience. “There was definitely something about it,” he says. “There was the usual college drinking/party atmosphere, but people also took initiative to put on creative events. There were bands playing really cool shows on campus”—MGMT among them.

Conversely, Boy Crisis didn’t perform much while at school, and Das Racist and Amazing Baby formed post-college in New York, but the core Wesleyan crowd stayed friends, which won them all extra attention once MGMT blew up. “In some cases, we’ve tried to get their names out there and make people aware of them,” says Goldwasser. “But once we started getting attention, people just automatically started looking at bands we were friends with and bands that came from Wesleyan.”

Also mentioned are Max Goldblatt, the choreographer for many of Tintori’s videos, current student/DJ/producer Leif, Das Racist, and Francis and the Lights.

Like that other Wes entertainment syndicate, the current crop of Wes-related artists is dubbed the “Wesleyan mafia”:

It’s like a ladder,” [Tintori] says. “When somebody moves up a rung, they reach a hand down to the next guy.” It’s the kind of career mechanism a lot of people would love to latch on to, and Goldblatt suspects they’re already trying. “There must be tons of kids in neon Wayfarers writing wild, psychedelic essays to get into Wesleyan now,” he says. The frightening thing is, he’s probably right.

Looking at you, class of 2013!

Read the whole article:

Village Voice: The Wesleyan Mafia: MGMT, Boy Crisis, Amazing Baby