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The Scarlet & Black

Showvember: entertainment and English muffins

Deniz Sahin ’20 smiles while singing onstage at Showvember. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

Every November, Grinnellians gather in Gardner Lounge for Showvember, a festival of Grinnell student bands. Last Friday, Nov. 10, several bands took the stage for this important Grinnellian event.
According to Josie Sloyan ’18, who played rhythm guitar in Alien Girls, Showvember went smoothly and was full of talent.
“I’ve been in a couple of them before and I think this time was maybe a little less nerve-wracking and it was really kind of nostalgic. And I was full of pride. I got kinda sappy seeing some of the underclassmen doing stuff that was really impressive, you know, and technically skilled,” she said.
Sloyan discussed the importance of Showvember as a space for students to perform.
“I think as somebody who doesn’t do performance, like theater or any of that stuff, as somebody who genuinely likes being behind the scenes, it’s a pretty validating experience to be able to be competent onstage and know that you’re doing something that other people are enjoying. I think that’s a really important experience, especially for women and nonbinary individuals and marginalized groups in general to be able to comfortably inhabit a stage,” she said.
Sloyan’s band, Alien Girls, recently released an album on Bandcamp called “Without Further Delay” and used the opportunity to perform some of their new material.
This year, many students tried to use their time on the Showvember stage to its fullest potential. One example was when punk rock performance art outfit Butt Machine Bois took the stage and ended up tossing sex toys into the audience while feeding them English muffins.
“I thought of it as more of a suite than anything,” said Maxwell Fenton ’19, who played Autoharp for the Bois. “It was sort of centric around the notion of beef. We started almost trying to fool the audience — because we have contempt for the audience in a way — into thinking that we were something that we’re not. We started out with this sort of quiet, emo-esque music, like very twangy, but then we very quickly got into this very very aggressive punk-sounding music. We called it slow beef, followed by fast beef, followed by nasty beef. Nasty beef was the point where we went into the audience and tossed sex toys in and fed people English muffins. So it was as much performance art as anything else.”
Fenton believes that Showvember is an important time to unify students who might not otherwise come together to celebrate student music.
“I think that organized music on campus and Showvember in particular is a great way to show that there’s a lot of very, very creative people on campus, especially in the music world. In general, organized music is a way to really transcend things like majors or friend groups to sort of come together and do something interesting and sort of show yourself to the world and express an interest.”
Many students were thankful for how well Freesound ran Showvember this year. Jasper Cole-Kink ’19, who played drums at Showvember, discussed how Showvember has improved during their time at Grinnell.
“It’s more organized now than it used to be. I remember last year sound check was horribly inefficient. My first year it didn’t even happen until December. It’s much more smooth now. … Last year I think we were two hours behind by nine o’clock but we were relatively on time this year.”
Cole-Kink was the drummer for a plethora of musical acts over the course of the night, including Just 3 Girls Looking to Have Fun, Harley and the Uncredited Backup Band and their primary band, R&B group TGIF. They see Showvember as an important opportunity for many students who would not otherwise be able to put together a band and play music for others.
“There are a lot of people who don’t really get an opportunity to perform their stuff live. Also people who can’t really commit to having a full time band can just get together for this show and have a fun time,” they said.
Whether as a viewer or a performer, those who attend Showvember recognize it as one of the most important nights for the Grinnell student music scene. It is an opportunity to play new music, meet new people, sing about beef, hear a new song and appreciate the Grinnell community. Friday, Nov. 10 will go down in Grinnell history as an entertaining and English-muffin-filled night in Gardner Lounge.

—Editor’s note: Maxwell Fenton ’19 is the opinions editor of The S&B.

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