By Julian De Ocampo ’13
By day, John Graham Plaza seems innocuous enough; students mill around between classes, portions of the math and science department sip drinks and exchange words and the masses stream towards Michael’s for a bite to eat.
But come Friday night, the plaza can mutate into a proving ground for the would-be rock stars of the Brophy community, with lights, cameras, and a boatload of instruments hauled onto a portable stage.
Friday Night Lights, which follows many home football games, has quickly grown a reputation amongst Brophy musicians as one of the biggest opportunities to perform and woo over the student body with musical prowess.
The musical entertainment is orchestrated by Lane McShane ’82 and The Muscian’s Exchange, the premier club for Brophy musicians.
For aspiring acts like Brophy’s own You Wouldn’t Believe and Treefingers, Aug. 26 was more than just the beginning of the football season – it was the yearly kickoff of Brophy’s music scene.
You Wouldn’t Believe, which consists of singer/guitarist Alex Gross ’13, singer/bassist Pratap Jayaram ’13, guitarist Greg Goulder ’13 and drummer Anchal Jain ’13, opened the night with a cover of The Strokes’ “Reptilia,” and continued to pound out rendition after rendition of alternative rock staples.
The crowd was sparse when the band took the stage, but quickly grew in size as students streamed in from the football game after Brophy’s victory over Mountain Ridge High School.
Singers Jayaram and Gross traded off vocal duties throughout the night, working their way through rousing versions of Silversun Pickups’ “Panic Switch” and Muse’s “Time Is Running Out.”
The crowd consisted mostly of friends of the band, as well as a number of hyped-up Xavierites who let out enthusiastic shouts between every song and bobbed their heads in approval during the band’s cover of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.”
The seemingly indefatigable band finished their set unaffected by the humid heat that kept some students at bay from the stage.
They closed with a cover of The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” with Goulder hiking his foot up on an amp away from the audience to play the song’s more intricate guitar parts.
Meanwhile, Gross removed the microphone from its stand for the first time that night and moved around the stage, much to the approval of the audience.
As the band left the stage, the audience applauded appreciatively, and Musicans’ Exchange members quickly sprung into action taking down equipment.
“We were excited to be playing on stage for the first time since Battle of the Bands last year,” drummer Jain said. “The show went really well and I think we set a new bar for us as a band.”
Jain and the rest of the band stuck around afterwards, leaving the audience hungry for more live music and the stage ready for Treefingers.
Treefingers, composed of singer/keyboardist/guitarist Quinn McGovern ’12, guitarist Nick Kush ’13, bassist Mitch Hosier ’11, drummer James Tanner ’13 and guitarist Grant Parsons ’12, took the stage, drawing a significantly sized crowd into the Plaza with their brand of eclectic melancholy-tinged rock.
The band’s set was initially marred with sound problems; McGovern’s voice, bearing a quaint, lackadaisical charm on record, was often drowned out by tumultuous guitar rumbles, feedback and fluctuating volumes.
“Our goal is to take the music we play at practice and replicate it for people to hear, but learning to manage our sound is what is going to help us with that,” Kush said.
The technical difficulties persisted for the first few songs, but the band rapidly saw an increase in quality as the sound issues were sorted out.
Brad Keller ’12 made a surprise guest appearance on the song “The Breakers,” where his screamed vocals added a startling dimension to the bands normally breathy aesthetic.
Treefingers then launched into a cover of Radiohead’s classic anthem “Creep,” a song which inspired a massive crowd sing-a-long and quickly eased worries over the band’s earlier technical issues.
The band, which describes itself as being heavily influenced by Radiohead, deftly played through originals like “Peter’s Song” before finishing their set with “17” to an appreciative audience.
Aside from their Friday Night Lights performance, Treefingers have played popular venues like the Rhythm Room and the Clubhouse, with plans to play the Rhythm Room again Sept. 30.
Kush said the band has plans to enter the studio to record and release an official EP in addition to the current demos posted on their Facebook and ReverbNation pages.
As Treefingers left the stage, the process of dismantling the set began and the Plaza would soon return to normalcy – at least until after the next home football game.