On Sunday, Lowlapalooza comes to Columbia, bringing with it the talent of student bands and musical camaraderie. Bwog’s Noel Gutierrez-Morfin sat in on a rehearsal with Mickey McDonald and Chateau Rouge while Alexandra Svokos visited Jeffers Win. Come meet the acts.
Mickey McDonald (10:25 to 10:45 am)
The really great thing about Mickey McDonald is that his act comes with a get-rich-quick scheme as a perk. It’s simple: get his autograph now and sell it when he’s famous, folks, because this guy’s got more talent than Meryl Streep’s got Oscar nods. Accompanied by Julian Kang, Touro College ’16, Phil Chung, a fifth year in GSAS, Sarah Cohn, BC ’15, and Lukas Matern, CC ’14, Mickey McDonald has prepared a set that will soothe the soul. Mickey draws a big inspiration from Phillip Glass, Cake, the Beatles, and most importantly, Andrew Bird, given their classical instrumentation yet indie style.
At times, Mickey’s music is almost cinematic. If Hollywood needed to score a scene where a character flies above a mountain range or end-of-summer island, they would probably call Mickey. Mickey offers some choice melodies and vocals that have the power to cheer anyone up. The focus shown by Julian, Phil, Sarah, and Lukas is absolutely electric, which is ironic considering how relaxing their musicality is. And if there’s one thing these incredible string musicians have, it’s musicality; the lines sound complex but are played effortlessly. Mickey’s ability isn’t only in performing, but also in arranging, composing, and even instructing. It was a true privilege to get to sit in on his rehearsal and see the incredible amount of progress he and his band made in the short time I was there. So, Columbia—I know he performs relatively early, and you’re probably thinking about sleeping away your post-Saturday hangover, but now would be the time to stock up on some water, take an aspirin, and set your alarm clocks, because you definitely do not want to miss this incredible musician.
Chateau Rouge (12:30 to 12:55 pm)
During a study abroad in Paris and with a little bit of serendipity, Natalie Weiner, Dominique Star, and Nick Bloom, all CC ’13, met and found out that they all had musical backgrounds. Together, they began playing open-mics around Paris, and soon came up with the name Chateau Rouge, a metro-stop in “hood Paris.” However, Chateau Rouge’s music takes a totally different route, taking a lot more influence from indie-folk than Parisian jams. Influenced by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Johnny Flynn, Fiona Apple, and Regina Spektor, Chateau Rouge takes folk to brand new levels of heart and soul.
If you’re looking for an eclectic setlist, Chateau Rouge is your show, covering everyone from Edward Sharpe to Frank Ocean. By the way, you really need to be there for the Frank Ocean cover. Dominique’s voice is strong and triumphant, and with the help of bassist Natalie and guitarist Nick, the cover becomes an ode to heartache and max chillaxin’. They’re pretty much what MTV Unplugged aims to be in an attempt to rebound from having Katy Perry perform, which was tragic. However, Chateau Rouge is anything but tragic. Instead, their moving guitar lines, powerful bass, and jaw-dropping vocals are a true testament to some good ol’ Americana livin’ and are uplifting as you can get. And honestly, you’re not going to find a more adorable trio out there.
Jeffers Win (4:05 to 4:45 pm)
Jeffers Win has that sound which tons of indie bands try to make but can never quite achieve. Made up of Stephan Adamów on drums and backup vocals, Cam Johnson on lead guitar, Erika Thompson on ukulele, guitars, and vocals, Henry Murphy on keyboards and sampler, and PJ Sauertaig on ukulele, keyboards, and vocals, all CC ’15, the band has been together since January of last year. Last year, they mostly did more acoustic music, working heavily with the ukulele. As their band has grown, though, they have explored the electronic side of music. And it’s a good thing, too, because Henry adds haunting sounds to their already beautifully complex melodies. Like Beirut, Merriweather-era Animal Collective, Explosions in the Sky, and Fleet Foxes combined into one, the band has carefully composed these layered songs that shows their true musical mastery and understanding of how to work as one, rather than highlight an individual.
PJ, who was influenced by Vampire Weekend to come to Columbia in the first place, wrote a majority of the music and lyrics and leads with charismatic charm. Stephan on drums clearly knows what he’s doing; rather than just hitting out a solid beat and some fills, he switches it up depending on the mood and uses various techniques. Cam plays wonderful solos on his reverb-filled guitar and has molded himself into the band smoothly—he only joined recently. Listening to Jeffers Win is like that feeling at a concert when they’re closing one song and moving into another, when you’re looking up at the soft blue lights roaming over the crowd; you’re not sure if you’re drunk on alcohol or music, and you’re urging yourself to “remember this, remember this.” They are, quite simply, not to be missed.