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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Newcomers take Battle of the Bands

<erennial powers Duck Bus and conCarne out of the picture, last Friday’s Battle of the Bands marked a new era in the Carleton music scene—or at least brought some new faces to the Grand’s stage.

Of the eight bands who battled it out at the downtown venue, only three existed more than three weeks ago.

Second place finisher Menagerie, who will perform first at Spring Concert May 16, was founded two and a half weeks before the competition.

“None of the established bands on campus were here, so I called up Will Tynan ‘11 and said, ‘Let’s form a band,’” Menagerie and former Duck Bus bassist Andy Rooks ’10 said. Tynan called Daniel Curme ’10 and David Tullis ’12, and things clicked the first time the four got together to play.

“It was really cool, a surprising and great experience,” Rooks said. “I’ve played with some good musicians and some bad musicians, and those guys are a real treat.”

The band, whose style Rooks described as “a little bit of funk in the background, Hendrix-esque guitar solos, a little bit of Southern rock, and kind of jam bandy,” took its name from the wide variety of musical influences of its members.

“It’s a cool word, which is why I like it,” Rooks said, “but also, that’s the band. What Dan [Curme] likes to say is we are a menagerie.”

After writing two original songs and an interpretive cover of Dr. Dre’s “Explosive” in two weeks, the band took the stage Friday night with more confidence than might be expected, especially since none of its members consider themselves vocalists.

Asked if he was nervous to play in front of Carleton students for the first time, Tullis said, “Surprisingly no. Everybody worked well together. It wasn’t like things were going to go wrong… I think those guys had a pretty good reputation by themselves. People knew they were good.”

The band’s second place finish ensures one more performance at Spring Concert, but members say they hope to become a permanent Carleton band. “I guess I’m really lucky to suddenly have an in to the circle of musicians,” Tullis said.

That circle of musicians, which at Carleton generally consists of artists who perform variations of rock and folk songs, is being shaken up by another Battle of the Bands debut group. Northfield High started in fun, but two weeks ago, Kyle Kramer ’11 and Jacob Kring ’11 decided to make a serious attempt at forming a hip-hop group.

“Hip-hop culture and music has become increasingly important to me,” Kramer said. “As someone who also values the use of written of word, it was good for me.”

The idea sprang from a rap Kramer wrote as a joke. He showed it to Kring, who made a beat to match, and the song ended up being performed as part of their Friday night show.

“I have no actual musical talent, so it’s not like I was going to start playing guitar,” Kramer said. “[Hip-hop music] is something we enjoy, and I think it’s something that is very underrepresented at Carleton. If there was somebody here doing it better, that would be great, but we just wanted it to be represented.”

Northfield High didn’t place in the competition—possibly because in the words of one judge, “I don’t know what makes a good rap group”—, but it is releasing a mix tape later this term and hopes to book a time slot at The Cave to continue its two-week venture in the world of performing hip-hop music.

“I would say it was headed toward this beforehand,” Kramer said, “but Battle of the Bands made us do something.” This, in turn, has made Carleton’s music scene a little more diverse.

The competition’s winner, a post-punk rock group from the Cities area called Send Messages, likes to think it has done the same.

New to Carleton students in the sense that only one of its four members (Adam Hallbeck ’10) goes to Carleton, the band has actually been together since its high school days in Anoka, MN and has done shows on the Minnesota-Wisconsin circuit for four years. They made an appearance at Battle of the Bands Hallbeck’s freshman year and played “at 8:00 in front of ten people.” The Cave and the Lion’s Paws at St. Olaf followed when Hallbeck was a sophomore.

After splitting up for a year, the group reunited for only one practice before Friday’s performance. Their previous experience, according to Hallbeck, helped them pick up right where they had left off.

When the Battle of the Bands winners were announced as “The kids who don’t go to Carleton,” “We all just erupted with shear joy,” Hallbeck said. “We didn’t know how the Carleton community would react to our band. It was really awesome to know that people were receptive to it.”

Earning a spot alongside three—and possibly four—national acts, Send Messages will play after Menagerie at Spring Concert. “We’re really excited because it’s probably the biggest show we’ll play,” Hallbeck said, commenting on the professional sound system and the large audience the event draws.

Needless to say, Spring Concert will be a different affair without its staple campus bands. Judging by the fresh crop of groups that sprung up at Battle of the Bands, though, we may have a few more Duck Buses in the making.

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