Oberlin Bands Seek to Revive Campus Music Scene – The Oberlin Review

According to McKeon, things would have been completely different for Boxed Whine if they hadn’t had their first year writing original songs and experimenting with their set.

“If COVID had hit in 2019 instead of 2020, it is very likely that we could not have positioned ourselves far enough to be where we are now,” McKeon wrote. “We had prepared a lot of ground in that first year of play that allowed us to continue to share and work on things throughout the pandemic. “

Jane Hobson, fourth-year university solo artist and lead singer of Oberlin’s group Jane Hobson and the Hobgoblins, agreed. While he was away from campus, all of the students from his favorite campus groups graduated and the younger groups fell apart, leaving only a few groups to revitalize the scene.

“I just feel like I see the same three or four bands rotating,” Hobson said. “There are jazz bands here and there, [and] people from the Conservatory, but I don’t necessarily know these groups as well. Most of the time, I feel like my band, Boxed Whine and Hotspur Johnny, all the time. I just feel like it got smaller.

When Zanes first arrived in Oberlin, it was this sense of camaraderie with the band that defined his participation in the music scene; he was amazed at how welcoming the older students were.

“There were juniors and seniors who were interested in us and wanted to see us learn,” Zanes said. “It made all the difference because if we had just hung out with freshmen our experience would have been drastically different. It was the older people who passed on everything they knew that made the difference. These interactions were defined by a kind of openness; there was no snobbery at all.

As a freshman, McKeon remembers seeing and interacting with upper class students in groups. Although he has noticed a marked contrast this year from previous years, he says Oberlin’s musical culture is not fundamentally different from what it used to be.

“It’s so weird because I feel like the general attitude about music, both playing it and seeing it, hasn’t really changed – just our access and time spent. on it, ”McKeon wrote. “I hope some of the younger students are now also able to find a solid foundation for creating and playing music here with others as I would like things to go back to what they were before COVID by the time I graduate in June. “

Hobson believes that upper-class students still have an inherent advantage because they have homes in which to rehearse and perform, larger networks of student musicians, and an experience of playing and hosting on campus. As she reflects on how to invigorate the house show scene, she says it’s very important to make taking part in the scene less intimidating.

“I think there has always been a certain level of bullying,” Hobson said. “This has always been Oberlin’s music scene. We all have these amazing musicians at the Conservatory, but it also feels like every college student has some level of musical skill. Especially as a girl it can be intimidating. It’s a pretty male dominated music scene and I’ve always been nervous about joining it because I don’t play jazz. So you keep asking yourself, “Where am I in there? “”

McKeon also remembers feeling dread and anxiety about finding a space for himself among all the other talented musicians on campus.

“I was very careful before I got involved in music here because of the existence of the Conservatory and I didn’t know what kind of music scene existed here outside of it,” McKeon wrote. “On my accepted student day, I went to the Spring 2018 Coverband Showcase, and seeing the myriad of non-Conservatory students put on such a large set of performances really had a huge impact on pushing me out of. this overly cautious impostor. syndrome-y state of mind. I think the existence of this scene makes it much easier for students to sense that their desired musical exploits are not just wishful thinking or not necessarily recognized.

Especially as the gap between upper and lower class groups widens, Hobson and McKeon recognize the need to reinvent Oberlin’s musical tradition. Tim Husemoller, fourth year of the College and bassist of Boxed Whine, emphasizes the importance of preserving the college music scene.

“This tradition brings people together from across campus and provides a very good outlet for artists and members of the public to appreciate the creative projects that people are working on,” said Husemoller. “It’s about having fun. We will definitely be offering more house shows this year and would strongly encourage new students to form groups and perform! People with houses would probably be happy to welcome you and we would love to know what you have. Everyone benefits when students are able to play with new groups of people and hear new performers. It helps us all improve and feel inspired.


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Corina C. Butler

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