By Roan Enright ‘13 & Julian De Ocampo ‘13
THE BRONCO BEAT
The amps begin to buzz, the feedback begins to rise and the crowd begins scream as the guitarist hits his first note.
These sights and sounds are familiar for members of the Musician’s Exchange, a Brophy club moderated by Mr. Lane McShane ’82, that aims to promote student musicianship and performance.
The typical Musician’s Exchange production features an eclectic assortment of music aficionados: indie rock fans, pop-punk prodigies and the occasional metal head.
The music is diverse and the students’ tastes varied, but the one thing that unites them is the fact that they even have a defined musical taste. These are students who are bonded together by their common love of songcraft; the type who enjoy music enough to want to be playing it in front of a crowd of their peers.
The bands continue to undertake their weekly march to the second floor of Brophy Hall to meet in Mr. McShane’s room week after week on Mondays, ready to precisely craft the next great Brophy showing.
From humble beginnings to booming institution
Musician’s Exchange was conceived as the brainchild of alumni Dan Parker, a student musician who Mr. McShane said had a “near-encyclopedic” knowledge of Brophy student musicians and bands.
“Dan knew everyone on campus who was in a band,” Mr. McShane said. “He was always getting asked questions like ‘Do you know someone who plays this?’ or ‘Who plays that?’”
It was then that Parker, armed with the performing experiencing of opening for such noteworthy acts as Motley Crue and NSYNC, had the idea to start a gathering and organizing Brophy musicians into their own garage bands. He called it the Musician’s Exchange.
Things began simple—a list of names on a paper with talk of putting together a live show floating around campus.
“Dan said that we should go ahead and start a Battle of the Bands, but I said no because I thought it was going to be too much chaos to have a concert on campus,” Mr. McShane said.
The Battle was turned into a fundraiser and proceeds generated would go to support a charity aimed at aiding those with cystic fibrosis.
Mr. McShane changed his mind after hearing Parker’s proposal, and the battle was on.
“Once we did it for charity I was motivated—and all of the band of the battle of the band shows essentially well and for charity,” Mr. McShane said.
Since then the Musician’s Exchange has blossomed over its 12-year lifespan, growing to play numerous Brophy events including Friday Night Lights, Homecoming and the fabled Battle of the Bands.
The Battle of the Bands continues to be the club’s flagship event, drawing several bands together each year to perform and be voted on by their peers. The winner is named the year’s champion and usually given a prize in addition to the prestige.
Throughout the years, the club has slowly been growing in numbers and in magnitude—this year the band reported playing a handful of shows such as the Fine Arts Extravaganza.
Mr. McShane said that the introduction of the Blackboard system helped revitalize the club by allowing students searching for bands to communicate.
“If someone is looking for a bass player, they can send me an email saying they need a bass player and I’ll send a message to the club saying what that band needs,” Mr. McShane said.
But largely, Mr. McShane said the club throughout the years has always remained true to its purpose — to unite Brophy musicians and grant them opportunities.
“I always feel like one of these years that we will fade away—but it doesn’t,” Mr. McShane said. “We have a lot of talented people. The club will go on.”
Battle of the Bands goes digital
Battle of the Bands has always been an event shifting forms each year. It’s been held in the Plaza, the second floor of the gym and one year in the middle of the football field.
But this year the Musician’s Exchange transported the competition to a whole new realm: cyberspace.
Due to scheduling conflicts the club found an innovative way of hosting the Battle of the Bands and they resolved the calendar conflict by presenting it completely online.
The bands had to record themselves playing a series of three or four “live performances” on video.
Then after they finished their performance, they posted it on YouTube for Brophy students to view and vote for on a Google Doc spreadsheet.
“There’s nothing like playing in front of a live audience, but I hope that these videos will be enough to promote the event so in coming years we can bring it back to life,” said Jarred Grady ’15, a member of the band The Kards.
Looking to the future with big plans
This year’s Battle of the Bands was just a prelude of what’s to come—Mr. McShane said next year’s Battle of the Bands is going to be much, much bigger than past years.
In fact, it’s so big that it can’t be contained in Brophy — it’s spreading across the Valley.
Mr. McShane said the club plans to expand the Battle of the Bands to include bands from Catholic high schools in the area. Each school would send two to three representatives who would then duke it out to be named king of the Valley’s Catholic schools.
The idea was pitched by Scheduling Director Mr. Tony Oldani, who will oversee student activities next year and is looking to take Brophy musicianship to a much larger audience than previously possible within the context of the club.
“Next year is going to be big—we’re going to do a lot of stuff,” Grady said.
That means bigger and better shows for the burgeoning club, according to the club’s members.
And more shows mean more opportunities for the community of musicians that have already established themselves as the school’s premier rockers.