“I wanna go home/Let me go home” was the chorus to “Sloop John B” — a single from the Beach Boys’ classic album Pet Sounds. The sentiment is probably shared nowadays among students who just want to finish school and hit the beach. And with WMRE’s Spring Band Party happening this weekend, that appetite for the lazy days of summer will be whetted even more.
This Saturday, WMRE will hold its Spring Band Party, an annual concert full of performances from artists who all have been labeled as “summery” or “chilled.” Brooklyn surf rockers Beach Fossils will headline the event, with electronic acts Sun Airway and Elite Gymnastics performing as openers.
Continuing with the radio station’s tradition of bringing rising artists to campus, WMRE Special Events Chair and College senior Chelsea Douglas explains that these bands were picked for the buzz surrounding them both on and off the web in an interview with the Wheel.
“Beach Fossils had an album that came out in 2011 that was on a lot of top album lists and Sun Airway has been heavily featured on the concert circuit lately. Elite Gymnastics is also super up and coming and has gotten a lot of really good reviews on blogs like Pitchfork and Gorilla vs. Bear,” Douglas said.
Incoming WMRE General Manager and College sophomore Adam Valeiras also explains that these bands were picked for being in a similar stage in terms of their discography.
“Each of these bands has released one full-length album and all of them are about to release a sophomore album this year,” Valeiras said.
SBP headliners Beach Fossils first made waves with their 2010 full-length debut Beach Fossils and their 2011 EP What A Pleasure. With song titles like “Vacation” and “Lazy Day,” summery themes are pretty easy to pick out even if you’re only half-heartedly listening to the band’s simple lyrics. What makes Beach Fossils distinctive, then, is not necessarily the lyrical depth of its songs, but a characteristic combination of jangling guitar riffs, bouncy bass lines and simple drum rhythms. In past years, comparisons have been made between Beach Fossils and surf rockers like Best Coast and The Drums. They have also drawn comparisons to dreamier-sounding bands like Craft Spells and Wild Nothing in their recent releases.
Sun Airway, a Philadelphia-based electronic duo consisting of Jon Barthmus and Patrick Marceill, achieves similarly dreamy effects with its music, but through different means. The duo’s 2011 full-length debut Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier conveys a sense of tropical dreaminess with its glistening keys, Caribbean percussion and various hazy synth sounds. The impressive vocals of front man Jon Barthmus — whose crooning voice has soften been compared to that of The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas — may make Sun Airway a more accessible act than SBP headliners Beach Fossils.
Neither Sun Airway nor Beach Fossils can claim the title of most eclectic act though, as that title goes to Elite Gymnastics, a Minneapolis-based electronic duo consisting of James Brooks and John Clancy.
Never mind the fact that the duo is based in a city with no electronic scene to speak of, the fact that the two are avid fans of K-pop, cats, and Lil B is a story in its own right. The duo’s 2011 debut “RUIN” reflects some of this quirkiness, sprinkling in everything from heavy, ’90s-sounding drum and bass lines, to piano samples from the “Final Fantasy” video game franchise. The combination of these instrumentals from different cultures and decades strangely works to produce a chilled, semi-Balearic sound.
Elite Gymnastics follows in the footsteps of past acts to visit campus like Washed Out in terms of being subtly influenced by hip hop and rap. Ghostface Killah was the last rapper to perform at a WMRE-organized event back in 2008.
This raises the question: could a rapper headline the next WMRE event? If Valeiras has his way, that might become a reality over the next year.
“I think I’m a bigger fan of rap than past general managers, so I would be interested in bringing a rap show to campus,” Valeiras said.
So, whether the soundtrack to your summer involves languid guitar riffs or hazy, pulsating beats, there should be something for everybody to enjoy at this year’s Spring Band Party.
WMRE’s Spring Band Party is scheduled to take place this Saturday, April 28 at the Cox Hall Ballroom. Doors will open at 7 p.m.
— Contact Alex Nathanson.