This past weekend, I was lucky enough to create my own "Battle of the Springfests 2000." Among other colleges in the area, both Harvard and the trade school down the river (better known as MIT) brought bands to entertain their students, although our own Springfest was the only one that "just happened" to fall on pre-frosh weekend.
MIT's musical display took place on Friday night, when Reel Big Fish opened up for headliners They Might Be Giants in one of MIT's athletic buildings. Reel Big Fish, however, seemed to steal the show, as fans moshed and crowd surfed to their typically energetic songs like "Sell Out," "Somebody Hates Me" and their popular cover of A-Ha's "Take On Me." While Reel Big Fish seemed to appeal to a wider audience through their energy alone, TMBG, a much more quirky, eclectic band, were not so lucky. However, MIT is a rather quirky school in its own right and many loyal fans stayed till the end of the concert at 12:20a.m.
In contrast to MIT's two-band ticket (which by the way cost $5 for MIT students and $12 for everyone else), Harvard's Springfest featured one major act-swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy-which followed about four hours and five bands worth of Harvard talent. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of just about every band, which included Fink Fank Funk, S. Ocean, Nano, Jeff Heck, 98% and Mika Pauley, each offering a unique music style to balance the deluge of swing that was to come.
Any favorites? Honestly the crowd seemed focused more on learning how to juggle or attacking the free barbeque tables until Nano stepped up on stage. Their opening rendition of the familiar "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" with a slightly catchier beat won the attention of the crowd. As the band drew in an audience, lead singer and songwriter Nathaniel Whitman '02 (affectionately known as Nano) picked up on the crowd's energy and proved that this band has stage presence. With Pete Kennedy '03 on drums, guitarist Joe Linhart '03, Jon Wallace (a Tufts first-year) on bass and the multitalented Robbie Lee '03 switching between the saxophone, flute and keyboard, Nano played out a short sampler of covers like Sublime's "Santeria" as well as original songs such as "Ivy" and "I Think I Like You More Than You Like Me." During "Brooklyn to Columbia," undoubtedly the band's most popular song as well as the catchiest part of their repertoire, established fans belted out the words.
By 4:30p.m., fans were antsy to hear Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Although their hit "You and Me and the Bottle Make Three Tonight" stood out, the band's whole set seemed to sound the same. On the other hand, that did give the crowd ample opportunity to get down their swing moves without having to adjust to a new beat. BBVD's show was entertaining, as Scotty Morris and his crew paraded around the stage in their energizing performance. By the end, I was definitely glad to have experienced their concert, but not raring to hear another solid swing set any time in the near future.
So, MIT or Harvard-who knows how to entertain best? I preferred Harvard's free, all-day fest to MIT's one-shot deal, although I obviously can't be completely impartial. Perhaps the bottom line was this: whether you're a Harvard or an MIT student, there were two solid concerts in Cambridge over the weekend.