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Basin and Ne-Hi come to Gardner

Ne-Hi performed last Saturday, Jan. 31 in Gardner lounge. Photo by John Brady
Ne-Hi performed last Saturday, Jan. 31 in Gardner lounge. Photo by John Brady
Ne-Hi performed last Saturday, Jan. 31 in Gardner lounge. Photo by John Brady

Mosh pits in Gardner. For some, they’re a thing to be avoided. For others, they are something to dive into full force, head moshing and elbows up. For a select few, they are instances of bloody noses, crushed eyewear and black eyes. Last Saturday, Jan. 31 was the first concert of the semester that conjured a mosh pit, thanks to SGA [Concerts] bringing Basin and Ne-Hi to Grinnell.

As anyone who has been to Harris, Tithead or Block Party can attest, Grinnellians can get pretty rowdy when the timing is right. Saturday evening was such a time. As the snow fell down in full force outside, coating the campus with more than ten inches of precipitation, the crowd inside Gardner went just as hard. While the weather outside was frightful, Main’s sweaty, humid basement was delightful.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and one does not simply walk into Gardner fist-flying and head-banging. Given that the two bands describe themselves on Bandcamp as “shoegaze,” “groovy” and the ever-present (but what does it actually mean?) “indie,” this should have been a chill night. The apogee mosh-pit of the night was a buildup of warm, melodious music and the delight that the first heavy snowfall of the season brings.

The first band, Basin, hails from Iowa and bantered with the audience about being from and performing in the Midwest. As such, their jokes were polite and non-aggressive, and their music followed in the same vein, as shoegaze bands tend to. It featured understudied music and slow, emotive lyrics. This was music to stare out of the window to. Or to do what a core group of Grinnellians dedicated to the genre appropriately did that night: gaze at their shoes.

Overall, the room was not packed, but considering it was a Friday night, the attendance was plenty. Basin led the crowd into a gentle relaxation. Weekend nights can often be plagued by a desire to “do something,” but the music Basin provided was a panacea for anxiety or stress.

The second act of the night, Ne-Hi, hails from the Midwest metropolis of Chicago. The band showed off their chops in Gardner, bringing in sunny indie music that seemed oddly out of place, but shone all the more, given the frigid temperatures gracing our little Jewel of the Prairie.

Ne-Hi excelled in the art of indie-beach music. For anyone familiar with Best Coast, who graced Grinnell in 2010, Ne-Hi set a similar atmosphere with music ranging from relaxing to angsty, usually featuring clingy hi-hats and carefree guitar riffs that made the band so much fun to listen to.

Their collective chorus singing sounded exactly what one would expect a group of shaggy 20-somethings to sound like: starry-eyed and wailing. One highlight came from the band’s song, “Turncoat,” which could be read as either a re-imagining of the American Revolution or an expression of heartbreak.

“And the beautiful faces. The wrong born children—lost, far. I’ve come to sell you traitors, the running ships awash.”

Somewhere in this mass, a rowdy group of no doubt inebriated Grinnellians started a mosh pit to songs that were admittedly not the band’s most upbeat but made for a thriving thrash environment nonetheless. A shove here, a playful push there, and next thing you know it was a free-for-all in the middle of the floor. With summery indie music and freezing weather outside, the mosh pit extended its wingspan, swirling about nearly the entire crowd with body parts and faces flying about like snowflakes in a snow globe. Ne-Hi thanked the crowd, and Grinnellians cheered, going on to later have a huge snowball fight outside of Gardner.

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