What’s up folks? It’s a beautiful day in Saratoga Springs and I’m gonna tell you all about a few rad musical happenings on campus. First up is Beatlemore Skidmania, which happened last weekend. Beatlemania is probably one of the most popular events of the year; my first two years here we had it in Filene, the semi-crappy old music building, but since 2010 it’s been in the gorgeously lit, higher-capacity Zankel Music Center. This year was a doozy: nineteen musical acts playing over two hours worth of intense, energetic Beatles tunes. All Beatlemore photos were plundered from Facebook.
This guy's version of "A Day in the Life" was insane.
This year the theme was “Beatles And Beyond” so anything from “Love Me Do” all the way to Wings and the Plastic Ono Band was fair game for the musicians. Of the many talented acts onstage, I had a few favorites. The Bandersnatchers, Skidmore’s only all-male a capella group, did a pleasant barbershop quartet-style rendition of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
The Skidmore Sonneteers, singing John Lennon's "Real Love."
A few of my neighbors from last year pulled a crazy jazz version of “Blue Jay Way,” complete with saxophone harmonizer and a didgeridoo. (Yes, a didgeridoo. That’s what happens when you go abroad to Australia.) A trio of first-year students played “Can’t Buy Me Love” with a reggae twist, and two lovely ladies, MaryLeigh Roohan and Carolyn Bottelier, performed “Eight Days A Week” with only a guitar and vocal harmonies and still had the audience hanging on their every note.
Carolyn and MaryLeigh, absolutely killing it.
The concert concluded with a sing-a-long “All You Need Is Love” and everyone went off humming Beatles tunes and babbling away about which band they liked the most. Another successful Beatlemore Skidmania and — eek! — the last one for me as a Skid student. Talk about bittersweet.
Then last night Zankel and SEC hosted Bradford Cox, the leader of Deerhunter, who did a solo show as Atlas Sound. Atlas Sound is sort of the bedroom, laptop composer, introverted, introspective, ideally-heard-on-headphones version of Deerhunter (who came to Skidmore back in 2009). A slew of bespectacled, plaid-clad Skid kids wriggled in their seats, waiting for the 7-foot-tall maestro to come onstage. First up, though, were openers Laura Stevenson and the Cans. I caught the tail end of their set and was very intrigued by Stevenson, who had impressive vocal cords.
Then came Cox, who filled the auditorium with ragged, mumbled vocals, layers and layers of looped sounds, weird bleeps and bloops, and guitar that sounded like violins and harpsichords and also sometimes just like a normal guitar.
His live versions of “Mona Lisa” and “Walkabout” almost trumped the studio versions. Of course, Atlas Sound music is mostly beatless and atmospheric, so it definitely had a sopoforic effect on the audience. One of my friends said the girl sitting in front of her was in a deep slumber halfway through the show. I myself closed my eyes a few times. But calling the Atlas Sound show “boring” is not quite right; it was relaxing to the point of hypnotizing, and sometimes, especially after the week before Thanksgiving, a relaxing show is exactly what you need.
I’m not sure if I’m breaking thousands of copyright laws by posting this, but here’s a sampler of the evening: it’s Cox opening his show by playing “Recent Bedroom.” Enjoy!