The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Trio of bands bring Valentine’s cheer

Photo by John Brady
Gloom Balloon left the stage and mingled with the audience last Saturday, Feb. 14 in Gardner Lounge. Photo by John Brady
Gloom Balloon left the stage and mingled with the audience last Saturday, Feb. 14 in Gardner Lounge. Photo by John Brady

Last Saturday, Feb. 14, SGA [Concerts] brought a triple threat to Gardner in the form of Christopher the Conquered, Gloom Balloon and Woo Park. The trio of bands brought an energy to Gardner that warmed up Grinnellians on a chilly Valentine’s Day and drew a significant audience, despite competing with other romantic festivities for the student body’s attention.

Christopher the Conquered, the stage name adopted by artist Christopher Ford, began the night with a set of soulful numbers. The multi-talented Ford brought his skills as a vocalist and pianist to the stage. Despite the downbeat nature of his songs, Ford carried an intense energy into his work that made his lyrics resonate.

“And we’re all as good as lost / For an unknown prize we reach / But it seems to me, he who says least, oh has most to teach / So how ’bout we shut our goddamn mouths/ No one needs to hear me preach,” Ford sang.

“I really enjoyed the concert. It felt like he was really interacting with the audience, which is always really great. Sometimes bands don’t do that and then it always feels kind of weird,” said T.J. Pearson ’16. “You could tell that he was really enjoying himself onstage, which is really important.”

Gloom Balloon established an intimate mood when the band’s two members ventured offstage and into the crowd, playing close to students and creating a clear physical presence. The duo’s eclectic sound defied generic conventions but conjured an intense atmosphere and encouraged student involvement in the performance.

“He made us make whale sounds,” said Androniki Mitrou ’17.

Woo Park ended the night with a series of dreamy psychedelic songs that kept the crowd dancing but nonetheless captured the ambivalence many students feel towards romantic institutions.

“This song is for anyone who’s ever had their heart broken, if you can relate,” said vocalist Emily Nichols.

“In the back of your mind it crawls / Sucking all of your life through tiny straws,” Nichols sang.

Nichols’ smooth vocals would have been as at home in a jazz club as they were onstage at Gardner, but an eclectic mix of percussion kept the beat danceable.

But the group also raised the crowd’s energy with a cover of the classic Nelly song “It’s Getting Hot in Here,” in which Nichols coaxed the crowd to shout the lyrics along with her, divvying up the audience into male and female sections to sing the chorus. But for some students, the band’s eclectic sound was a little too offbeat.

“It felt like Portlandia to me and I couldn’t deal with it,” said Julia Broeker ’17.

Ultimately, the three bands spanned a wide range of tones, expressing every conceivable emotion a student might feel on Valentine’s Day.

Photo by John Brady
Photo by John Brady
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *