Storage Showspace Hosts Student Rockers


Photo by Juliette Greene, Staff photographer

Julia Julian singer and guitarist Max Ripps (left) and bassist Cena Loffredo, both College first-years, interact with the audience between songs. Two other bands, Shya and Woof, joined Julia Julian for a night full of unorthodox indie rock by Oberlin student musicians at Storage Saturday.

Danny Evans, Arts Editor

The last few years have seen a resurgence of a style of rock music characterized by unorthodox musical elements seldom found in the highly danceable, melody-oriented indie rock of the ’00s and early ’10s. Critics and fans have hailed this resurgence as an opportunity for rock music to reclaim its former position in mainstream music charts.

Three rock outfits comprised entirely of Oberlin students — Julia Julian, Woof and Shya — played music of this sort at the Storage showspace Friday. These bands demonstrated that in 2016, rock groups can feature unconventional songwriting sensibilities while still entertaining audiences seeped in a poppier era of indie rock.

Julia Julian, composed entirely of College first-years, played the first set of the night. When the band took the stage, Storage — an art gallery that moonlights as a performance space for student musicians and visiting artists — was just beginning to fill up, but was packed by the end of the performance. Evocative projections on the walls, provided by College first-year Caspian Alavi-Flint, added to the show’s atmosphere. The band kept attendees dancing with its unique mixture of alternate time signatures and strong chord progressions.

Max Ripps, the band’s singer and guitarist, impressed with jangling guitar lines and vocals reminiscent of ’80s new wave. Reuben Gifford spiced the songs up with smart synth lines that often took a background role but intermittently gained prominence, such as in the final section of the excellent “Skurf.” Meanwhile, drummer Joanna Quinn and bassist Cena Loffredo held the music together remarkably well, never skipping a step, despite irregular song structures and off-kilter rhythms. Overall, Julia Julian served as an example of how successful clever songwriting paired with a tight rhythmic section can be.

After Julia Julian’s set came a performance by the always-enthralling Woof, a band that features College juniors Siobhan Furnary on vocals, Isaac Pearl on bass, Jamie Finucane on keyboards and Dan Howard on drums. Furnary’s vocals fluctuated between subtle melodies and louder, more cathartic sections on standout tracks like “I don’t party anymore because men scare me.” Her lyrics were consistently powerful, too; at one point in the same song, she nearly whispered, “The games you claimed you never play / At night, I never felt the same.”

Woof’s instrumentalists did an excellent job of backing Furnary with repeated melodies as well as patient builds in volume and intensity. Pearl, Finucane and Howard, the latter two of whom perform together in a number of other bands, demonstrated a great deal of musical chemistry. During moments like the set’s closing improvised groove, their tightness as a unit took center stage. Woof ’s performance had audience members dancing and singing along throughout — perhaps even more so than either of the other sets.

The last set of the night belonged to Shya, the solo recording project of College junior Nate Sher that has recently doubled as a fully functional live band. Like Julia Julian and Woof, Shya showed just how enjoyable indie rock can be. Sher complimented his and College sophomore Ben Guterl’s intricate guitar passages on vocals, offering catchy melody after catchy melody. Bassist Adira Baum, another College junior, also provided harmonies on several songs.

College junior Dan Lynch managed to mimic the drum parts from Shya’s recorded output, all of which are programmed electronically, quite well. His drumming aided the band’s onstage vitality, which was palpable throughout the show. In particular parts of the set, Shya’s energy was especially noteworthy. “Kind of Blue,” from Shya’s self-titled October 2015 EP, was one of the most memorable tracks of the performance. “I can’t even feel good when I try to / I always just feel kind of blue,” Sher repeats above the song’s poignant chord progression. With songs as solid as “Kind of Blue,” those lyrics are bound to be stuck in audience members’ heads for weeks to come.