Arts, Music, On Campus

‘Rock the Rat’ Melds Eclectic, Versatile Genre

Sounds of powerful guitar solos, jazzy bass lines, and voices of various Boston College students filled the Rat for Music Guild’s “Rock the Rat” concert on Friday. The event featured six student acts that each put an individual spin on the rock genre focus of the night.

The band Phew kicked off the night with an electric cover of Coldplay’s “Violet Hill.” The frontman, Dan Pflueger, MCAS ’20, delivered a rousing guitar solo during the song that repeats “If you love me / Won’t you let me know?” Phew seemed to struggle to get into a groove at certain points during the brief set, however, and a lack of synchrony was most obvious during the band’s third song. Despite earlier moments of uncertainty, the five-man band closed its set with a dramatic jumping guitar finish.

Next to take the small stage in the center of the Rat were The Extras. The band opened with an impressive instrumental jam session that teased the guitar chords from Nirvana’s legendary grunge rock hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The song did not introduce the raucous Kurt Cobain vocals, however, and instead the band turned to calmer lyrics and low vocals. The Extras maintained a reserved presence throughout the set and allowed their formidable musical talents to speak for themselves. The drummer of the band wore a Catfish and the Bottleman band tee that perhaps alluded to some of the band’s influences, as The Extras’ long, winding guitar solos nearly replicated the sound of the U.K.-based band.

Unit One, the only band performing with a female artist, Rachel Moon, MCAS ’19, brought a distinct groove to the stage. Its brief set was characterized by a more prominent bass sound that created groovy tunes. Further, the female guitarist and lyricist maintained a liveliness that encouraged the crowd to dance, sing, and clap along. About halfway through the set, the band called upon a fellow Music Guild member to provide backup vocals, creating an organic, easy-going attitude for the set. During Unit One’s final song, the enthusiastic guitarist jumped around in the invigorated crowd.

While bands were setting up in between sets, the Music Guild played jams from an eclectic mix of artists, including Tame Impala, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and Kendrick Lamar. Handwritten signs warning “No Sitting” were posted throughout the dining hall-turned-music venue to encourage the crowd to dance along to the student acts. The crowd grew throughout the night, with patrons drifting in and out of the lofty room, but was at its largest for the set of reigning Battle of the Bands champion Little Saturday.

Little Saturday cranked out jazzy jams for its energized set, and differentiated itself from other acts of the night by adding a saxophone to its lineup. While the band opened with a jazz instrumental, other members of Music Guild joined Little Saturday to sing backup vocals for its second song of the night, which got a shaky start due to technical difficulties with the microphones. A building saxophone solo, played by Isaiah Rawlinson, MCAS ’18, encouraged the crowd to clap along to the fun beat.

Throughout the set, one of the guitarists and bass player, Andrew Hammond, MCAS ’18, traded instruments to showcase the breadth of their musical skills. Little Saturday also introduced a new song titled “Please Don’t Go,” a piece with sultry, begging lyrics. The band’s last song was especially memorable due to an intense guitar and four-clap drum beat, as well as energized saxophone and guitar solos— the latter during which the lead guitarist, Peter Toronto, MCAS ’20, jumped off stage and allowed the screaming chords to invade the dancing crowd. Little Saturday recieved cheers demanding an encore, but the band politely declined out of respect for the time of following acts.

The band Amanda Bloomfield followed Little Saturday and included the bassist and guitarist from the preceding act. Like Little Saturday, the band went for a jazz sound, but traded a saxophone for a keyboard. The drummer, Alex Eichler, MCAS ’20, brought a distinguished intensity to the stage throughout the set, and Amanda Bloomfield was also showered with demands for an encore. The band also declined.

The final act of the night was rapper Phenom V from Hyde Park, Mass. The hip-hop performer fused rap lyrics with traditional rock music instruments played by the band Extreme Sounds to create a fresh break from the studio-made beats that often occupy the hip-hop genre. Dressed in an eccentric red puffer jacket, the energetic rapper jumped around the stage while spitting lyrics into the mic.

Phenom V, Emmanuel Laguerre, WCAS ’18, rapped about his experiences in lyrics such as “Use my education to get out the bottom” and “Molly, percocet, I know if I ever touch that shit my momma be upset,” an allusion to Future’s “Mask Off.” Phenom V was accompanied by his younger sister Xenia and fellow Boston SoundCloud rapper J Cinatra for the performance of songs “Free” and “I Don’t Touch the Bag,” respectively. With hair almost as big as the personality he brought to the stage, Phenom V closed out Rock the Rat with unmatched vitality and authenticity.

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks

November 19, 2017