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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Students band together: Start year strong with Gardner concert

Brisa Zielina
Spin the Clouds, from left: Collin Thomas-Green `26, Oliver Wolfe `25, Evan Hein `26 and Elizabeth Clarkson `25.

Grinnell’s student-run music-making organization, and student leaders wasted no time in staging a triumphant concert on the first weekend. Dubbed “Oliver’s Bday Bash,” the event held on Aug. 25 showcased three dynamic student bands rocking out in Gardner Lounge.

Oliver Wolfe `25, a member of the Freesound student music organization, celebrated his birthday five days before the concert, but the festivities did not stop then. 

Although the College’s semester only officially started the day before the concert, Wolfe still managed to transform what was going to be a simple party into an all-campus event. A trio of student bands, which included 3 Guys; Maya, Ben, and Frannie; and Spin the Clouds, certainly brought the heat. Throughout their performances, the crowd filled the room despite a heatwave and a lack of air conditioning in Gardner Lounge. 

“What I personally really wanted to do, partially by hosting this event, is to be a role model in a way or just really show that we have a music scene,” said Wolfe. “I thought if we could do this first weekend, we can really say to first-years who are brand new, like, ‘Hey, we at Grinnell care about music and arts and want to do this.’”

Post-COVID, campus culture may have felt lacking for some members of the community. However, with bands already coming together to perform their own sets, students keeping their community spaces flourishing and crowds supporting on-campus concerts, the music scene in Grinnell already seems alive and well. 

3 Guys opened with the first set of the night. They had a folk-soul sound with vocals by Theo Richter `24 and Grant Anguiano `24 and drums provided by Phukao Prommolmard `24.5. Richter also played the acoustic guitar while Anguiano played the electric. Prommolmard said that while his bandmate Richter is rooted in songwriting and the more poetic, folk aspect, Anguiano provides a soulful character in his playing and his voice.

3 Guys were the only band that consisted entirely of students who joined Grinnell during the 2020 pandemic year away from campus. Prommolmard said that the music scene at Grinnell has since grown, though. “Events like these play super important roles in getting students together. Getting people to know other musicians on campus is great because, as a musician, I feel like music, as a form of expression, is a way to communicate with one another,” said Prommolmard.

The second group that performed was Maya, Ben, and Frannie, who combined covers and an original song for a set with vocals by each member of the band –– Maya Llewellyn `25, Ben Curran `25 and Frannie Crego `25. Llewellyn plays the keyboard, Curran, the drums, and Crego, the electric guitar.

Crego said that the band jokes that they do not have that much overlap in music tastes. “We, I think, have a fairly eclectic mix of what we enjoy, but also who we are as musicians,” said Curran. “We’re not tied down to any one particular type of music, so our ability to, you know, communicate with each other when we play and when we sing with each other, listen to each other, that’s the very important part.”

Llewellyn said that starting the semester off strongly with student concerts was important to them, and seeing many first-year students in the crowd gave them hope for the music scene at the College. “This wasn’t here when we got here two years ago,” they said. Crego added, “I talked to a few first-years who I know from other classes or music ensembles or things with the music department, and they get to see that there’s such a vibrant student scene outside of that where you really have all the flexibility to play whatever you want and show it to everyone.”

The indie-rock outfit Spin the Clouds –– made up of the birthday honoree, Wolfe, Elizabeth Clarkson `25, Evan Hein `26, and Collin Thomas-Green `26 ––  played the final set of the evening.Wolfe and Clarkson both provided the vocals and played lead guitar and bass guitar, respectively, while Hein supplied the drums and Thomas-Green, the keyboard. Hein and Thomas-Greenalso played guitar.

Clarkson said that she was surprised and pleased to see people constantly coming into the crowd. “I think it’s important, especiallyafter COVID, to allow the students to have autonomy to put on events,” she said, excited about the prospects for the rest of the year. “It also just helps the culture a lot too. It helps people feel a lot more together.”

“I feel like I see some –– or at least a few –– people that I usually don’t see at other things, like at parties. I feel like this is probably a more inviting space,” said Thomas-Green. Hein added that on-campus events, “are really important for the safety of the student bodies,” in comparison to off-campus events. 

Prommolmard also works with Nic Grofsorean `24 and Wolfe as managers of Freesound, the organization that hosted and ran the event. The bands who played the “Bday Bash” reached out to Freesound for the equipment, and the managers helped to both set up and take down the stage with Hayden Suarez-Davis `25 of the College’s Concerts Committee. Suarez-Davis also mixed the event’s sound.

Editor’s Note: Both Wolfe and Hein are members of the S&B staff. They had no involvement in the writing or editing of this article.

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About the Contributors
Krista Spies
Krista Spies, Arts Editor
Krista Spies is a fourth-year English and Spanish major from St. Louis, MO. She loves writing about the arts almost as much as getting tattooed, and she hopes to turn going to concerts into a full-time job.
Brisa Zielina
Brisa Zielina, Staff Photographer
Brisa Zielina is a first year and an aspiring Theater major with a concentration in American Studies from Los Angeles, California. She loves singing and acting and uses the word “slay” way too often. When she’s not slaying the day, she’s probably in rehearsal or studying on the third floor of the HSSC. If you see her around campus, say howdy, she’s always happy to make new friends!
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    Ed PeacoOct 8, 2023 at 11:52 am

    S&B, please ask the band to make an audio clip so we can hear a little of your work.