Monday, February 4, 2013

Something For Funsies--A Student Showcase

Age doesn’t always translate to wisdom, prowess, or ability, and Saturday night’s Student Showcase, co-hosted by Naked Music Magazine, followed that ponderance strictly.

Start off with this modern addagge: a PA system, does not a venue make. Held in Kalamazoo College’s Hicks Banquet Hall, someone decided that stuffing five or so speakers in the back of the long, narrow room in front of a half-foot stage for oral presentation made for great acoustics.

I’ve visited stuffy bars in my time, but at least I could hear most of the bands over the chit-chat of bar flies.

That venomously declared, the bands themselves were less poisonous--though of the five acts, most audience-members tributed their attention to the taco bar and the button-making table.

Crammed on to the miniscule stage, a rocking-brass group opened the night to some 100 K -students, pulling off one of the more complex sets of the night. It was refreshing to see something different than the  one-man, singer-songwriter  or 4 piece garage rock performances that typically adorn open-mic-like events.

So hey, why not follow it up with a one-man, singer-songwriter thing.. .David Daily crooned his way through covers of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and other 60’s sweet-things that  swooned some away from the snacks and crafts. Disappointing, however, was Daily’s aversion to crossing lines that caused intrigue. He was followed by a 5-piece rock set that “had a really Minnesota feel,” according to one other showgoer, but didn’t distinguish itself by doing much more than sit down occasionally to let their female vocalist sing with their lead guitar player.

Thankfully, Andres Villafone and buddy Ken, played a duo-acoustic set that provided needed respite. The played a set  of backgrounded, Spanish-inspired guitar ramblings and other twitching twiddles that kept many quiet with eyes glazed at the stage. Void of vocals, the two demonstrated talent without the apparently needed leap from someone-elses work. Basically it was pleasant to not hear a cover.

Kingmedian (4-piece rock) closed. Declaring, which I say instead of ‘covering’ because their vocals followed an a-tonal trend, Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times,” “Weezer’s “El Scorcho” and other covers. While it was getting late into the 2-hour show, numbers dwindled and jaws remained clenched until the band navigated safely into their space-fuzz original songs “Hey Brother” and “Wear Another Skin.”

Otherwise I agreed when host and band-member Colin Smith pleaded for someone to get lead singer Camden “off the mic.”


  1. Hey Zac!
    While writing this review, did you have any awkward moments? I would imagine that it is hard to review peers and a personal event (a Naked event) considering your previous ties to the magazine.

    I was thinking about reviewing the showcase as well, but I thought better of it because of my close relations to some band members.

    How did you overcome this feeling? Or did you find it difficult in the first place?

    happy day,

  2. Honestly, I became a little mixed over what events I wanted to cover, and the showcase was a last resort. I probably wouldn't have covered it for any other reason than for the purposes of this class--it being a conflict of interest for Colin's presence in Arts Journalism and my former involvement of the magazine.

    That being said, the awkward moments were when Colin and Camden came up to me during the show asking if I was reviewing the show. And the day after they asked if the got a thumbs-up, more or less.

    That being said, I tried to overcome these feelings with copius amounts of liquor. In all seriousness, though, I tried to pose it as if I were going to open-mic at a bar, and what I'd expect to hear there. Though, if I said threw aside all bias, I'd be lying.

    I also framed the idea in my head, "would I want to go to this again, and would I recommend going to anyone I knew?" The answer, predominantly was no. I let that influence my article, straying away from a mixed review in favor of the overwhelming negative aspects. I felt they were stronger, honestly.

    Afterwards, I was able to tell the bands what I liked about their performances (days later), which was nice--if a bit irrelevant. I had heard from a mutual friend that some of the band-members were expecting a bad review due to my demeanor at the show, and that was interesting to hear as well. If the choice was presented again, however, I'd probably not make the one to review this show.

  3. "And the day after they asked if the got a thumbs-up, more or less." That was just Camden.

    When you said "Otherwise I agreed when host and band-member Colin Smith pleaded for someone to get lead singer Camden 'off the mic,' " were you saying you weren't a fan of his jokes (understandably so, zing!) or his singing? Because while I was there I was able to understand what you were saying, I think the way you phrased some sentences would confuse readers.

    Maybe we should vote Camden off the island?