Recently invited bands missed the mark


Our concerts have sucked for the past year and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  Dolson and We Shot the Moon?  Really?  Who’s heard of these bands?  A quick search of their names on NPR’s website yields no results.  None of their albums have placed on the Billboard 200 or earned any significant awards.   This year, our concert series opened up with Thick as Thieves–a semi-glorified cover band that makes its rounds on the middle-tier liberal arts circuit.  What critical acclaim has Thick As Thieves had recently?  Only four websites relating to the band are found on the first page of results after googling their name.

Why not bring more recognizable bands to campus instead of the run-of-the-mill cover band?  GAP brought the national act HelloGoodbye to campus last year and had a great turnout.  Critically acclaimed bands such as The Antlers, Surfer Blood, Turbo Fruits, Tobacco and DJ Rupture have graced our college in recent years at low costs thanks to GFC and WARC.  Many people will argue that these bands are for hipsters and that they lack a fan base on campus, but that is anything but the case.  Major publications like the New York Times, NPR, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Spin have covered these bands.  Surely some people on campus read these publications and, even if someone doesn’t agree with their opinions, it would be difficult to dismiss their significance to musical culture.  Comparison schools, like Wooster, Kenyon and Oberlin have brought in more acts along these lines over the last few years.  Last year, Ty Segall, Shabazz Palaces, Cloud Nothings, Danny Brown and Yacht all played at Kenyon, all in the spring semester alone.  Danny Brown’s 2011 hit mixtape, XXX, met critical acclaim and placed him on the 2012 XXL Magazine Freshmen issue’s cover.  We Shot the Moon, Thick as Thieves and Dolson have had little critical attention or acclaim, yet we settle on bringing them to campus.

We go to a liberal arts college not to receive a vanilla education but rather to challenge our boundaries and broaden our cultural horizons.  Music plays an important role in that process. If we want to feel like we go to a top-notch school, we need to start inviting culturally relevant bands to campus.

In addition to Kenyon’s spring lineup, good options could include Hunx and His Punx, Lotus Flower, Ariel Pink, Julia Holter, Atlas Sound and Thee Oh Sees, which all hold significant places in contemporary underground music.    We Shot the Moon, Thick as Thieves, Dolson and many of the other bands that have played at Allegheny over the past few years have proven to be culturally dissatisfying to a number of students, as evidenced by the number of empty seats at the Thick as Thieves concert.

How can the college expect to have a nice turnout to concerts when they fail to bring talented, interesting or relevant bands?  We go to Allegheny College to learn about and be exposed to new ideas, people and art, and unfortunately, the majority of the musical acts brought here over the past few have been lacking in those areas.  Great, accessible, and inexpensive music acts exist and it’s time that we bring them to campus.