Student Showcase Rocks Classes Back into Session


Courtesy of Maria Krasnova

(From left) College sophomores Michael Stenovec, Liam Casey, Reed McCoy, Ziya Smallens and Ivan Krasnov of Nuns prepare for their set at the ‘Sco. The band provided an energetic performance to an enthusiastic and growing crowd.

Yonah London

Oberlin is known for its expansive student music scene, and if the Student Band Showcase last week is any indication, it’s only getting bigger. This past Friday, Jan. 31, the ‘Sco was filled with far more talent than the typical Wednesday evening DJs, as nearly a dozen talented musicians rocked the place. Students gathered in the ‘Sco for the first post-Winter Term performance of the new semester, filling the space not only with reunited friends but a showcase of Oberlin student talent new and old.

Student bands buzzed with excitement upon returning to campus, making plans for future shows, releases and tours. The showcase featured newly-formed group Pink Robot, as well as more established acts Peaks and Nuns. While the venue wasn’t very crowded as the show kicked off, the audience grew with each break between sets.

Opener Pink Robot’s audience was small but enthusiastic — especially considering the group’s minimal pre-show preparation. Although the band formed less than a week before the showcase, the untrained ear never would have guessed that the musicians had just started playing together. The band, all College sophomores, consists of frontman and bassist Kevin Sloan, drummer Stephen Barry and guitarists Ben Lebovic and Alex Frank. The band played rock music that called to mind contemporary bands like the Strokes, Wilco and Big Star, and carried with it dreamy shoegaze influences. The rookies only played five songs, but Sloan’s stereotypically indie lyrics and beautiful vocals — he also writes his own folk-inspired music and sings in a capella group the Obertones — complemented the band’s catchy, somewhat poppy melodies and captured the attention of the crowd.

Performing next was Peaks, featuring College seniors Peter Hartmann, Rachel Ishikawa and Tom Kearney, double-degree fourth-year Nate Mendelsohn, and Duncan Standish OC ‘13. They performed two previously released songs from their album Young Frisk, as well as four others. Despite a hand injury due to an accident with boiling water just before the show with boiling water, guitarist Hartmann gave a stellar performance. The band’s eerie, haunting vibes were compounded by vocals from Ishikawa and Hartmann that ranged from mellow to loud and intense. While Peaks had a calmer sound than the other groups they shared the stage with at the ‘Sco, the audience’s energy remained positive, boosted by the performers’ evidently strong rapport. The band has recorded with TIMARA major and Conservatory senior Charles Glanders, who also mixed the showcase with College junior Nick Plett. The pair blended the bands’ varied sounds perfectly for an acoustic effect at the ‘Sco reminiscent of a professional rock concert.

The showcase’s headliner, Nuns, has recently cultivated a strong campus presence. The group featured lead singer and College sophomore Liam Casey, guitarists Ivan Krasnov, College sophomore, and College junior Michael Stenovec, bassist and College sophomore Ziya Smallens and drummer and College junior Reed McCoy.  Opening song “This Bed is Wet and it is not My Fault” was familiar to those who attended the band’s campus performances last semester.

The vocals supplied the brunt of the energy in the group. Casey’s harsh voice and angsty lyrics merged with Smallens and Krasnov’s strong backup to generate a truly stellar sound. The synchronous vocals, together with fast beats and pleasing melodies, propelled Nuns’ show forward and invigorated their crowd.

Nuns’ upbeat post-punk music has a history of attracting a rowdier crowd with plenty of moshers. Although there wasn’t too much pushing and shoving in the audience at this performance, the group’s catchy riffs still got the attendees jumping and bobbing their heads.

By the end of the night, the ‘Sco still wasn’t at its typical Wednesday evening capacity, but attendees left energized and the bands left optimistic for their future endeavors. Based on the talent evident at this show, Oberlin also has a reason to be optimistic — the music of the new semester promises to challenge and excite.