Campus Bands Preview

Connor Guy

When ASWC brings major bands and artists to campus each semester, they are oases in a desert of musical entertainment, serenading us or sparking a wild night of dancing. In recent years, we’ve heard the likes of the Blue Scholars, Girl Talk, Guster and Flogging Molly. But what about the rest of the time? What about the vast majority of Friday and Saturday nights, when our college can’t afford to fly in famous performers? Fortunately for us, the well-rounded Whitman student body fosters homegrown musical talent, resulting in a wide variety of student-organized bands. Today, we bring you a short glimpse of what seven of them have planned for the semester.

Combo Pack

Combo Pack
The members of Combo Pack

This group of fun-loving sophomores met last year when they were all (except one) living in the Lyman Tower, and got its start at open mic nights. “We’re all pretty much best friends,” said sophomore Chrissy Delicata, the group’s rapper. Working with instruments like Ukulele and Accordion, they cover songs from the pop and rap genres, ranging from T-Pain’s “Buy You A Drank” to Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Through The Phone.” “Our accordion player, Hannah [Joseph], just bought her accordion on eBay last year, so she’s totally self-taught,” said Delicata. “And Annie [Truscott], our violinist, is classically trained, so she’s just incredibly talented.” For that reason, Truscott will most likely lead the artistic thrust as the band prepares to pursue its goal of composing original songs this year.

Red Light Blue Light

The members of Redlight Bluelight
The members of Redlight Bluelight

This year, Whitman’s premier rock/bluesy/soul/reggae band is aiming for the stars, or, to be more precise, Walla Walla’s fine music venues. After finding success at various house parties last year and opening for Grand Old Party during their appearance at Whitman, the group is now setting its sights on the Walla Walla scene. “It’s been mostly campus gigs for us so far, but this year, we’re trying to play some bars in town; just for playing a few hours, you can make like 100 bucks a person,” said rhythm guitarist senior Dan Oschrin. The band, led by the guitar duo of Oschrin and junior Charlie Procknow, is looking forward to spreading their guitar-oriented music and collaborating with new members such as drummer sophomore Matt Logan, who spent the summer competing with his drum corps group, and saxophonist junior Ian Coleman, who’s been involved with the band in the past.

Peeled Tangerines

You may remember these guys from last year’s Phi-sponsored Battle of the Bands, when they made it to the “final two” to compete against Danger Mermaid, a band that was then composed of all seniors. “It was just really nice to get that kind of recognition,” said sophomore Julian Helmer, the drummer. “We respected them so much, so it was great to share the stage with them.” In the past, they’ve mostly done covers of bands like The Black Keys, to great success. This year, they aim to keep on truckin’ with original compositions by vocalist/guitarist sophomore Aaron Zalman, which he describes as “alternative soul.”

The Breezes

Members of The Breezes
Members of The Breezes

“Our genre?” asked junior Evan Fuller, the band’s lead singer. “Well, it’s kind of hard to put it into one word. Generically, I guess you could call it indie rock, but we really try to bring in an almost orchestral aspect, especially with our violinist, Annie Truscott [also of Combo Pack].” The band started out as a discourse of musical ideas flowing between Fuller and junior Joe Wheeler, and then grew from there as they added in new elements, such as Truscott’s violin playing. “We found a really cool, new sound when we decided to add a female vocalist, Laurel Sarfan,” said Fuller. This year, the band will continue this kind of artistic growth, looking for new ways to develop its style and sound.

Dabbles in Bloom

With a serious focus on vocals, the Dabbles coalesced around sophomore duo Adriel Borshanky and Rimmy Doowa, who met when they both joined Schwa last year, and then started writing and singing original compositions on their own. After recruiting Jan-start Aaron Zalman, who Borshanky met at lunch, and his then-roommate sophomore Sam Epstein, they embarked on an epic journey to bandhood, playing simple gigs like coffeehouse and informal outdoor shows. But behind their front of humble informality, there’s some serious artistic direction; Doowa’s multi-faceted vocal talent seems to be a defining point for the band. “She’s from Thailand, so she grew up singing Indian classical rock,” said Borshanky: an aspect of her ability that’s led the band to some interesting places, stylistically. “This year, we’re trying to go back to what she knows best, so that it’s not her adapting to the kind of music people might expect us to play, but it’s us adapting to learn a style of music she knows really well.”
White Vowels

We should really be using the singular here (i.e. White Vowel), because after firing his entire staff of 25 guitar-wielding rockers, enigmatic front man Peter Richards has made the “Vowels” a solo act. “I really wanted to do the same thing on a bigger scale, but they weren’t into it, so I fired them,” said Richards. Shaped by musical influences such as Prince and the Hives, Richards says that his electronic music is unique for its energy.
Orange Fight

Famous for collectively holding four Ph.D.s in a five-piece band, the all-faculty band Orange Fight has been compared to the likes of Pink Floyd and Tom Petty. They’ve played an impressive list of venues and shows since their artistic birth last year. In the early days, they played as an interlude while the judges made their decision at the battle of the bands, between plays at the instant play festival, and at coffeehouse. The band came together when vocalist and rhythm guitarist Neal Christopherson, who had been recording songs in his basement, decided to try a live show, and enrolled in a battle of the bands in downtown Walla Walla during that summer. Their biggest challenge by far is perhaps the responsibility that their Ph.D.s and adult jobs carry; “everyone in the band works at Whitman and has a full time job,” said Christopherson. “So it gets really hard to say ‘hey, let’s go out on tour,’ when you have five people’s families and jobs to worry about.”