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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Student Band Union and musicians seek student engagement

<ss of the class of 2017, an “extremely musical group,” according to Carleton’s Student Band Union (SBU) President Russell Star-Lack ’20, Carleton’s music scene seems to be in disarray. No clear successor to the Karate Squids or Elephant Run — two of the most prominent bands on campus for the past few years — has emerged yet.

Coincidentally, the SBU has started to take more of an active role in band formation.

“We started this directory of musicians on campus,” said Star-Lack. “Anyone can find the link on our website. You go put down your name, your email, your gear — the instrument you play, genres you like, whatever. We have like 80 people on there right now.”

The SBU is hoping to spur collaboration among musicians, to “just have a little more of a social role, and basically make it easier for people if they want to form a band.”

Jacob Rockey ’19, Sound Engineer at The Cave and a musician himself, recognizes the need for this kind of catalytic programming this year.

“When there’s no bands, it’s kind of hard to be the first [group] to do that” he said. “If you have a band form… you can inspire another band to form, and that kind of snowballs.”

Kickstarting musical collaboration is part of the motivation behind Jamfest, which took place last Friday. Traditionally one of the first student band events each year, Jamfest brings together musicians of various genres, skill levels, and instruments, and spits out random music groups just weeks before the show. The result?

“It was cool,” said Star-Lack. “We got some really good musicians, I had a lot of fun … just being there.” Jamfest is where Star-Lack met the bassist in his current band.

Yet despite their redoubled efforts, it’s possible the SBU won’t be able to overcome the main constraint: time.

“Carleton’s really busy,” said Rockey. “People literally don’t have time to make real bands.”

Rockey gave Hot Cousin, which is no longer active, as an example of a joke band which “almost became a real band.”

“We got really close,” said Rockey.

Rockey sees “joke bands” as a way for interested musicians to bypass the time constraints that come with being a full time student.

“I think when people form joke bands, it’s them playing off the fact that they just want to [form a band] and don’t really care what other people think,” he said. “I mean, it’s still a band.”

Aman Panda ’18, previously a member of Elephant Run, emphasized the importance of getting past this time barrier.

“If you play music at Carleton, people will listen and people like it,” he said. “It’s just a matter of doing it in the first place, which is tough.”

Even tougher this year is finding a place to perform. With the recent closure of the Reub, Elephant Run’s preferred venue, Panda is worried about finding a new location.

“We don’t have any space like it,” he said. “It was a pretty crazy environment. I mean, packing in like 100-200 people, even more, in such a cramped space. You know, playing extremely loud music, and alcohol–that sort of vibe.

“We have the new breweries in town, but they’re sort of a different vibe, calmer, more mellow, more acoustic…. I don’t think the Reub can be replicated.”

Scott Bown ’18, a member alongside Panda of the new band Flower Couch, agreed. “There’s an authenticity to [the Reub],” said Bown. “The Cave is too sterilized — like it’s a college event, it’s not just a band event.”

Panda lamented the loss of the Reub. “There’s nothing like that anymore. I guess Porch House is the closest thing to a similar vibe, but obviously you can’t get as many people.”

Flower Couch will be playing at Porch House later this term.

The SBU is actively attempting to address the loss of such a unique venue by approaching other businesses downtown. Even as the issue remains unresolved, Carleton’s musicians continue to play.
“There’s still a lot of music here,” said Panda, “it’s just that people don’t know [about it].”

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