Arts, On Campus, Music

In The Zone: BC Band Free Alley Performs In Alumni

The premiere of the “SuperFan Zone” at Saturday’s football game brought with it a new venue for student musicians. The area just inside Gate A of Alumni Stadium will be sectioned off at certain home games for Gold Pass holders, offering t-shirt giveaways, free food, and live music for those willing to get to the game a couple hours early. BC folk band Free Alley was the first to appear at the new pre-game event, performing a 90-minute set with over a dozen covers and original songs, closing triumphantly (as all sets should) with a cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.”

Connecticut-native Alex Navarro, CSOM ’15, is the smokey voice behind Free Alley. His low, gravelley vocals added an almost Southern color to the show. That said, the band was quite versatile with its sound, performing selections ranging from Outcast’s “Roses” to Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.” Navarro vocals were well supported by the other members of Free Alley—Danny Mercurio, drums and A&S ’15, Arman Mohammad, keys and A&S ’15, and Lisa Bai, violin and CSOM ’16, as well as guest guitarist Steve Cerrato from Mohammad’s other band.

While Free Alley has been around for over a year, the folk rockers were brought back onto the radar here at BC in the spring semester as a featured act in the school’s Battle of the Bands competition. Eliminated from that contest in the first round, the act has since evolved a fair deal, expanding from what was then a heavily folk-based repertoire into new fields like hip-hop.

Saturday’s performance was high-energy and heavily electric—a push away from the acoustic sound characterizing Free Alley. Navarro has been originating a fair deal of new content for the band in the past few weeks and heavily leveraging Free Alley’s material via social media. The Alumni Stadium performance gave a good sampling of the band’s range, but understandably, considering the audience, did not venture far into this fresh material.

As for the venue of the SuperFan Zone, it was refreshing to see BC musicians put into a context that might help them break out of the relatively closed scene of singer-songwriter events on campus.

One trouble with most of the opportunities out there for University bands is that it’s tough to reach an audience that’s not just there to listen to music. While nearby Boston neighborhoods like Allston have a reputation for hosting concerts at house parties, BC’s music scene is relatively incubated, with most performances limited to coffeehouse-style functions. Creating venues where students organically congregate opens up new possibilities for BC musicians. (All right, I will admit “organic” might be a strong word to describe the ambience of the SuperFan Zone—especially consideringthe fact that hundreds of dollars in merchandise was given away at the time of the performance—but still, the event did bring in a very large, new audience.)

Free Alley’s show on Saturday marks what could be the beginning of a strong tradition of giving exposure to BC artists on game day, helping the University’s band scene finally break out of the coffeehouse.

Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Editor

September 14, 2014