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The Scarlet & Black

A look at the spring concerts lineup


By George Kosinski

Following Japanese band Chai’s concert in Gardner on Thursday, Jan. 23, Grinnell College students and community members can look forward to six more Gardner concerts during the Spring 2020 term.

The first of these will feature Boston-based artist Oompa. Accompanied by a band with members playing the drums, saxophone and guitar, Oompa describes herself as both a rapper and a poet. Her story as an artist exemplifies this designation — she wrote rap verses in middle school, and then rediscovered rapping as a form of artistic expression after learning to love spoken word poetry in high school. She has faced numerous hardships on her way to becoming a successful musician, even homelessness for a time, however now she has found a path as a talented artist who inspires those around her. Oompa raps about her wealth of life experience, engaging the crowd at live performances and urging viewers to sing lyrics along with her. She performs in Gardner this coming Friday, Jan. 31.

Eight days after Oompa’s concert, the artist Tasha will come to Grinnell. Tasha Viets-Vanlear is a twenty-four-year-old Chicagoan singer, backed by guitar and drums in live performances. Her sound is mellow and moving, as it aims to find peace and calm amid the chaos in the world around her. Speaking about her 2017 single “Lullaby,” one of her most popular songs, in an interview with Vice, Tasha said, “It’s always a really hard time in the world for Black people right now because there’s always something but that time in particular, I was feeling a little hopeless and depleted. This song was what I needed to tell myself that it was going be okay and that it’s okay to rest.” Tasha performs on Saturday, Feb. 8.

A departure from the relatively chill Oompa and Tasha, 100 gecs is next in the Grinnell Spring 2020 concert lineup. The St. Louis born duo of Dylan Bundy and Lauren Les make experimental music that is in various places labeled electronic, rock, pop and hip hop, though it transcends and blends all of these individual categories. The group’s sound features fast-paced electronic dance beats and heavily autotuned vocals, and their live shows are characterized by costumes, props and bright light displays. Simultaneously dubbed “an anarchic assault on the ears,” and “pure chaos, shifting between brilliance and comedy in a mere moment” in a 2019 Complex article, 100 gecs’ performance on Saturday, Feb. 29 will surely be a memorable one. 

Over a month after 100 gecs’ set, Chicago rapper Malci is next in line to perform in Gardner. He has a relatively mellow sound, working instrumental and jazz elements into the music over which he raps. Malci performs on Friday, April 3.

After Malci comes Mannequin Pussy. Led by guitarist and vocalist Marisa Dabice, along with drummer turned guitarist Athanasios Paul, drummer Drew Alder, and bassist Collins Regisford, Mannequin Pussy brings a harder, punk-rock edge to Gardener. The group’s concerts match the intensity of their music, characterized by powerful guitar and mosh pits. Dabice credits her intensity, which melts in the band’s songs and live shows, to her teenage bout with cancer. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she said, “I was going through experiences none of my peers could relate to. I used to be very goofy and strange and it really sobered me up. Growing up in the Connecticut suburbs, it’s an environment where there is a set way to live your life. Then once that happened, I just felt like, ‘Just, just burn down all this shit.” Mannequin Pussy will burn shit down in Gardner on Thursday, April 23.

Following Mannequin Pussy, Half Gringa will perform in Grinnell’s final Spring 2020 concert. Led by Izzy Olive, a multitalented Chicagoan singer, songwriter and musician, Half Gringa also features Andrew Fonseca, Ivan Pyzow and Sean Saville. The band has a soft, folky sound, with lyrics that explore Olive’s experience living in the Midwest while being half Venezuelan, which also led to the band’s name. Half Gringa plays on Friday, May 1.

The six bands who will perform each bring their own unique qualities; together, they form a diverse lineup both in terms of personal experience and musical content.

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