At the Advocate

February 12

Featuring The Mode Mode,JenR8R and Putney Swope

It's a shame to realize that relatively few student bands exist on campus compared to the yawn-inspiring plethora of a capella groups and orchestras. For every 500 chartreuse posters proclaiming another bee-bop doo-wop smile-and-tear fest, there may be at most one piece of paper trumpeting the latest experimentalist musical incarnation or student rock group. In general, Harvard students are content performing and interpreting compositions from oldies pop icons and classical composers, and fellow students are happy to shell out financial support to perpetuate this comfortable culture. But the number of students interested in creating music for collegiate ears amounts to a scarce few, and it is usually the same small group of people providing the impetus for numerous endeavors.


When these performers get to play out, people listen, if not for genuine interest then at least for the excitement of the rare opportunity. The dearth of such groups is so stark that any musical contrast, whether derivative punk or boundary-pushing synth noise, bestows a welcome color to the campus landscape. At Harvard, to be a musical pioneer doesn't require a genre-defining newness, just the will and perseverance to write an original song.

One of the largest challenges for these underrepresented musicians is finding a place to play. Over the past few years, houses and other scattered campus buildings have sacrificed their space, usually and thankfully fee-free, for these performers whose presence endears the campus music scene with credibility. Last Friday, The Advocate offered up the necessary space and time for a trio of rock groups, giving students an earshot of what lurks beneath the status quo of Sanders Theatre fare.

Through the guitary new-wave of The Mode Mode, the industrial synth rock of JenR8R and the emotional noise of Putney Swope, these bands displayed a visceral investment in their music that only original musicians can truly claim. The performance may not have been the best or most exciting one to hit the campus in while, but it represented the accumulation of creative input, rehearsal time and organizational efforts needed to produce such a successful show. In that sense, the event was an amazing feat.

The Advocate was a surprisingly appropriate space for the concert, with the building bearing witness to a different kind of hot air and high culture for the night. The rising temperatures were inescapable in the crowded second floor room as the garrulous, energized concertgoers and electrified bands filled the evening with intoxicating ambience. And the closed windows didn't help much. As far as student culture is concerned, the confluence of the artsy upper tier and bohemian dredges made the room feel conspicuously distant from the normal Harvard middle ground. Although there were a few stragglers, they were quickly consumed or expelled.