Bands Invade Campus During Big Music Weekend

By Middlebury Campus

Author: Daniel Roda

Due to efforts from WRMC 91.1, the Center for Campus Activities and Leadership, social and special interest houses and several other factors, the campus has experienced a revival of live music of all sorts, proving that the Middlebury social scene can in fact foster a community in which bands like the ones described below and the people who come to see them share a mutual feeling of love and togetherness. Because I can only be in one place at one time, I only report on a small slice of the scene, but these are a few examples of the acts that have recently visited Middlebury:

Torrez Stuns Audience at WRMC Concert Series

Torrez made the trip all the way from Portsmouth, N.H., to Forest Basement Lounge last Friday, March 7, at the second show of the WRMC Spring Concert Series.
The band’s music was mellow yet insistent and powerful. It played a slow, deliberate style of rock in which all instruments and even the vocals were communally balanced. As people began to pour slowly but surely into the lounge, Torrez, led by front-woman Kim Torres, filled their ears with haunting melodies that reminded one of the necessity of death in life. She sang the kind of songs that, when heard in the middle of the night, inspire an honest need to understand reality and to make sense out of the complexity of joy, pain, loss and gain.
The guitarist, Syd, bluntly but politely refused to let me label them an “emo” band, saying that he “finds it strange to hear that word thrown around so often.” Yet I will go as far to say that Torrez is a progressive, emotional group with minimal instrumentation — there was plenty of guitar ambience, saturated with reverb and tremolo.
Syd also played the lap steel, the result being an “airy mixture.” According to former bassist of The Royal We Raime Masket-Roth ’04, “[Kim Torres’] voice soars above the rich guitar melodies (not to mention the rich Midd-kids) like a cherub in flight.”

The Highway Freaker Demolishes the Mill

Last Saturday, The Mill was lucky enough to host The Highway Freaker, a rockin’ jam band with yet another female vocalist who blasted the cramped dungeon with lots of good vibes. These guys basically came out of the blue: no one had really heard of them. They had just caught [a] Phish [show](for those of you reading this aloud, that’s “Phish” of jam band fame) up in Burlington, and they needed a place to crash before heading back up to their hometown of Montreal, so they played at the Mill for free! Don’t tell them we all know, because they were so good!
With a guitarist who was so tall, and a ceiling so low, it was somewhat amazing to see him play so well, arousing the crowd into a frenzy of good times and shouting. The vocalist, curse me for forgetting her name, made plenty of visits out into the crowd to let her boys “jam” and to chat it up with Middlebury College hippies and other zombies who frequent the Mill. These guys were fun, unpretentious, crowd-loving, inspired, and they weren’t afraid to hang out on the roof with us after the show on one of the warmest nights we have had in a while. They even played a “late-night” set for the nocturnal folks who were there. This set lasted until about 3 or 4 a.m. Talk about getting your money’s worth! Everyone had such a groovy time that The Mill intends to host The Highway Freaker again, so be on the lookout!

Penelope Pleases Crowd

For those who remember Penelope’s first show in Coltrane Lounge, the choice between five music acts simultaneously going on Saturday night, was not as hard as it might have been.
When they are not doing Russian cold fusion or techno, the source and effect of Penelope’s music is emotion — a flourish of love and celebration, and heroic romanticism that seeks to know and understand what is at the center of existence. Penelope’s spirit dwells everywhere from the land of Doctor Seuss to the world of cannabis.
Because of the band’s reluctance to my labeling it an “emo” band, I will try to describe what I saw people doing at the show: they were dancing and wriggling — Brooker was so packed with people loving the music that it was hard to move. The noise product was created by a drum set played by wiz-kid Ryan Abernathey ’04, a bass guitar played by the subtle Andy Lynch ’03, a variety of musical toys played by Matthew Longo ‘04.5, keyboards played by Andy Rimoin ’05, guitar and vocals from Allen Wilcox ‘04.5 and, of course, lead vocals by frontman Andrew Bishop ’05.The members of Penelope believe that creating art and fostering a music scene here at Middlebury College is their way of accessing the “life force.” This is a supernatural bliss that Penelope will hopefully pursue for years to come, despite Lynch’s imminent graduation.
Penelope is a very loveable and original band — its vibes are really quite good. Plus they are all for confronting the conventions and conformity that make our society so dangerous. “Kill your TV and smash clocks with rocks,” commands Wilcox. As one might infer, Penelope is a band that is making waves.
The band members do not agree on everything. However, one finds casual littering unethical, another defines it simply as throwing more trash on top of what’s already there.
But they won’t let their minor differences come between them. Penelope is united for peace and acceptance.
Keep your eyes peeled for its next show, and keep talking, because the hype is effective.