In the dimly lit basement of Harvard’s WHRB radio station, the band sidebody delivered a tantalizing benefit performance to raise money for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC). Dressed in uniforms fit for a classroom, sidebody members Martha Schnee, Hava Horowitz, Lena Warnke, and Cara Giaimo called attention to the ongoing battle over justice for Harvard students who have experienced sexual harassment. During the concert the band announced their commitment to helping their community seek justice for survivors, and songs from their set included themes of male cowardice, rebirth, and chaotic creativity.
The theme of “This American Sidebody” dominated the concert in four acts, beginning with Act One: Before Life. The low, lonesome strum of Warnke on guitar introduced the song “instinct” from sidebody’s album of the same name. As the song picked up in tempo, lead vocalist Horowitz danced facing away from the crowd , juxtaposing sultry, seductive dancing with an air of sensual rage. Throughout the concert, the band’s performance ebbed and flowed with — with whispers immediately followed by screams sounding in call and response fashion — which amplified their overarching theme of retaliation against abuse. It was more than a concert — the members commanded attention and the entire room was enthralled in their every move.
After finishing “instinct,” the band members hummed in unison. Schnee paced around the crowd, inviting members of the crowd to join in on their vocal harmony to begin their performance of “blood.” The band solely focused on their voices for an a capella performance and excluded the sounds of strings and drums. This did not, however, stop lead vocalist Horowitz from using her body as an instrument throughout the show. In “atonement” and “ up/down,” Horowitz fell limp with each decrescendo, at times crouching to the floor in a fetal position to create a cocoon-like cover out of her black zip up hoodie. The band finished one of their songs lying on the floor, appearing to have “died” before rising in reincarnation.
During Act Two: The Afterlife, guitarist Giaimo reminded the crowd of the opportunity to donate to BARCC and reach out to relevant campus groups including Our Harvard Can Do Better and the Harvard Graduate Student’s Union: Feminist Working Group. Giaimo affirmed sidebody’s commitment to “end sexual violence in our community, especially here at Harvard.” After commenting that they were about to do something “a little bit funky,” the band asked the night's guest vocalist, Amulya Mandava, to join them to sing a few songs. Then, the band members encouraged the crowd to stand up during their cover of Donovan’s 1966 hit, “Season of the Witch.”
The final sets of the concert, Act Three: The Life and Act Four: The End, were characterized by thrilling chemistry between the members of sidebody. Giaimo and Warnke traded their bass and guitar and Schnee pressed her drumsticks to the strings of their instruments to create chaotic, dissonant sounds. Schnee moved to the front of the stage for their last song. “Our last song is a shout-out to cowards near and far,” Schnee said. Another slow strum marked the intro to, “coward,” with the entire band screaming the lyrics, “I’m so tired!” in unison.
Following the last scream, Schnee whispered once more, “I’m so tired” as the room filled with silence. The band looked at each other, smiling with satisfaction at their now finished performance. Schnee thanked the crowd before saying with a smirk, “Our class is finished here.”