Tucked away behind Bliss House is a cold, smelly, junk- infested garage. This is where Jaguar Ride can be found on a sunny Sunday afternoon playing in a space no larger than a double in Dascomb.
Surrounded by mattresses to deaden the sound of their music, this two-guitar, one-bass, keys and drums outfit has been together for a scant three-and-a-half-weeks. Like many band members at Oberlin they found they all had similar tastes in music and decided to form a band.
Oberlin, known around the world for its Conservatory of Music, is the home to countless bands that play something very loosely described as "rock and roll." Found at parties, the 'Sco and on the radio, the opportunities for exposure are numerous. "Anyone can have an audience here," exults sophomore Justin Simon of Theta Rho Girls Club. "You could start a band tonight hitting yourself over the head with a spatula and I could give you a show on the weekend at Harkness."
While this may be the case Simon and many other bands lament the fact that there are few genuine showcases for musical talent. "Someone tries to do something new or interesting and where else can you really play but a party," junior Dan Selzer of Jaguar Ride explains. "There's two people sitting there with a puzzled look on their face, two people into it and a 150 people waiting for beer and being like, `Can you turn that down please!'"
Nonetheless, bands get together to practice and try to carve out their own little niche in the Oberlin music scene. Eoin Russell and his metal band Faggotor are trying to do just that. He explains that "It's more interesting than going to quarter beers and seeing people you've seen for four years and asking them how their classes are going." This very lack of exciting things to do at Oberlin may be what compels a lot of people to form bands.
And do they form them! The guy sitting next to you in physics class probably has a band with that guy with the funny clothes drinking coffee in Stevenson. That doesn't mean that they're any good of course. There's a lot of comparison - even with bands that are no longer here. Corrie Nicole Smith (Ashley Dinan) of the emerging band Corrie says people "hold you up against Liz Phair and Seam." Her bandmate Corrie Stuart Masterson (Neal Wilson) throws in the names Souseloaf and Karaoke Hustler with the ghosts that hover over Oberlin bands.
Nonetheless, bands keep popping up and disappearing as the process of natural selection occurs. Few people are really thinking in the long term. Signing a contract with a label is the farthest thing from their minds, they're just out to have a good time.
This is precisely what Dan Selzer is trying to incite. "Every single person on campus who loves music should form their own band as soon as possible. Even the Conservatory students who live in North. Especially them."
Guitars! (clockwise from above): Jaguar Ride rocks out in the garage of Bliss. Oliver Sharpe and Josh Leeman on guitars and Nate Knaebel on bass. The basement of Tank provides the rehersal space for Corrie. Here Ashley Dinan, Stefie Gold, and Neal wilson try to work out a song. Eoin Russell puts on his best rock and roll face for a recent show in Crack House. Neal Wilson strums his guitar.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 18; March 15, 1996
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