Arts & Culture

Student band Off-White rocks Wriston

Group enlivens Orientation with set of original songs and alternative covers

By
Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2014

On Tuesday evening, Wriston Quadrangle rung with more than just the sounds of fraternity brothers playing cornhole and returning students picnicking over Sharpe Refectory take-out. Riffs drifted out from a makeshift stage as Off-White, a student rock band, played for the crowd attending the campus welcome celebration sponsored by the Orientation Welcoming Committee.

The concert, only one part of an event that also included an inflatable obstacle course and photo booth, was intended to “hype up Convocation” and bring together students of all years in an environment where they could have fun before classes set in, said Andy Donahue, coordinator for student events and orientation.

Pausing on their walks to or from the Ratty to sit and listen, students around the quad responded positively to Off-White, with Steven D’Ascanio ’17 referring to the band as “outrageously good.”

The band, made up of four juniors, describes its style as “eclectic” — an accurate assessment, as during its performance, the band’s sound included various alternative, blues and jazz influences.

The group played a mix of original songs and covers, including the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” and 30 Seconds to Mars’ “The Kill” — a high point of the set during which the band delivered a particularly well-balanced, dynamic performance with captivating crescendos and decrescendos.

For the entirety of the concert, Morayo Akande’s ’16 smooth and mellow lead vocals captured her wide range. Though sometimes very dynamic, at other times her voice could have benefited from more frequent rises and falls in sound level.

The band’s cover of My Chemical Romance’s “So Long and Good Night,” in which lead guitarist Patrick LaChance ’16 joined Akande for a duet, also stood out. LaChance’s voice, much earthier than Akande’s and not unlike a lower version of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst’s, provided contrast to Akande’s voice. While this made for some cool harmonies, LaChance’s voice sometimes overpowered Akande’s.

LaChance was an accurate and creative guitarist who played some impressive solos and garnered audience participation by allowing a first-year to perform a guest solo during “Hotel California.”

LaChance’s guitar skills meshed nicely with those of drummer John Ericson ’16, who played on the djembe drum. But while the two had a great balance in sound, they occasionally fell out of sync with each other.

Ericson’s performance was a crucial aspect of the band’s sound. The mellowness of the drums pulled the rest of the voices together, allowing listeners to hear the individual layers produced by each musician.

Bassist Adam Savat ’16 played impressively. Though amateur bands often perform with too much bass, which can make it difficult to enjoy the full performance, Savat played at a well-chosen decibel. His smooth bass lines did not drown out the sounds of other instruments and, like Ericson’s drumming, helped glue the various elements together.

One of the band’s stand-out original numbers was “Interlude (Let’s Go to Hollywood).” The lyrics, written by Akande, were especially attention-grabbing, with lines like: “Give me your soul, says the man on the corner / Pay me a dime, says the girl in the mud / Stay in your place or you’ll disrupt the order / of kings, cavaliers, jesters, jokers, your blood.”

Students got a peek into the song-writing process behind the band’s lyrics and music during the song “Darkness,” which was almost entirely improvisation.

Though the band had to push through some technical problems throughout the concert, Akande took them in stride, quipping that “the static in the guitar amp is an artistic choice.”

Andres Chang ’17 appreciated these casual engagements with the audience, saying that  Akande’s “banter game (was) on point.”

Off-White has been an emerging presence in the student music scene since its inception last semester.

One Comment

  1. Maria Concerto says:

    Comments on sound the sound system do not necessarily reflect on the band. Much of the review was a critique on technical variables. Thank goodness the bass player was fully audible; after seeing many college bands, I would say that bass players get turned down way too much. Turn it up, Adam.

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