On Saturday night, Barnard’s WBAR Radio took over Lehman Lawn to host its inaugural Fall Kickoff Concert, nicknamed “WBacchanal.” Paris Parker-Loan reports on how Clement Gelly, Mannequin Pussy and Clean Girls filled the Barnard air with alt/punk vibes.
WBAR, the independent freeform college radio station run by Barnard and Columbia students, kicked off its 21st school year of broadcasting on Saturday with the Fall Kickoff Concert “WBacchanal” – its first Lehman Lawn show since 2007, and the first WBAR event of the 2014-2015 season.
CC sophomore and WBAR DJ Clement Gelly opened the show with a set of sample-heavy ambient hip hop tracks from his seven-song EP Salvatore’s Paradise, released in April. Gelly was added to the bill after WBAR reached out to its DJs and Facebook followers to solicit a student act to play the show.
Expertly produced, his music samples everything from electronic beats and laugh tracks to classical piano pieces and a folky guitar cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel #2”. It’s an eclectic mix, but Gelly stitches the samples together to create dynamic progressions within the songs. He moved from track to track seamlessly, performing a nonstop set that suited the intimate setting and allowed the audience to relax on the lawn and appreciate his craft.
Check Gelly out on Bandcamp here for a pay-what-you-will digital download of Salvatore’s Paradise, which includes the instantly-catchy set highlight “One Last Day.”
After vibe-ing out to Gelly’s laid back set, concert-goers got on their feet to head-bang along to headliners Clean Girls, a three-piece punk outfit from Virginia. Bandmates Stephanie Monohan (bass, vocals), Stephen Reader (drums, vocals) and Chris Tracy (guitar, vocals) started playing the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia punk circuit in 2008, and continued on and off during their undergraduate years at the College of William & Mary. “There’s good shit down there,” says Reader. “Bands down there are more like us, more aggressive.” Nonetheless, Clean Girls relocated to Brooklyn in 2012 to bring their brand of post-hardcore noise rock to the NYC scene.
All three members shared vocals throughout the set, showcasing the group’s breadth of talent. Most tracks paired intense, raw screaming with recklessly noisy instrumentation that the crowd readily moshed to. Even if you’re not into screaming, Clean Girls’ more mellowed-out instrumental songs are definitely worth a listen – check out “Never Wobble in Boots” from the Last House EP.
You can stream and download all of Clean Girls’ released music on a pay-what-you-will basis on their Bandcamp page. They will also be playing the Lower East Side’s Cake Shop on October 14th.
By the time second headliners Mannequin Pussy took the stage, the crowd had significantly increased in size as the sheer volume of the performances drew in curious passersby off the street. The large audience and darkness as the sun set made for an exciting close to the show.
Mannequin Pussy, a Philadelphia three-piece consisting of Marisa Dabice, Thanasi Paul and Kaleen Reading, recently wrapped up a U.S. summer tour in support of their debut full-length album Gypsy Pervert. The tracks on the LP vacillate between punk (“Sneaky Nips”), dreamy pop (“Someone Like You”) and contemplative shoe-gaze (“Meatslave 2”), and the WBacchanal setlist also included a scream cover of “Do You Love Me” by The Contours. Mannequin Pussy’s songs are unified by honest, confessional lyrics and the pure emotion that front-woman Dabice’s voice conveys.
WBAR General Manager Madeline Steinberg highlighted the importance of the strong female presence in the WBacchanal lineup. “We were really happy to have booked two female-fronted punk bands for this show, since promoting women in music and in punk is important to us, especially being based at a women’s college,” she says.
Gypsy Pervert is available online for $7. Mannequin Pussy’s next city gig will be at Brooklyn’s Cameo Gallery on October 21st.
After the success of this year’s event, WBAR hopes to continue hosting fall kickoff concerts in the future. “It’s really important to bring this sort of independent culture to our campus, which can often seem somewhat removed from the larger cultural life of NYC,” says Promotional Director Beth Tolmach.
“Bringing punk to campus is part of WBAR’s history, and we always try to keep that alive!” adds Steinberg.
WBacchanal stayed true to the DIY punk ethic by selling tons of rad homemade merch, including brand new LP pressings and hand-bleached tees from Mannequin Pussy, cassettes from Clean Girls, and tees, stickers, totes and zines from WBAR.
If you missed out on the cool bands and merch at this year’s fall kickoff, WBAR will be hosting its next event on October 18th in Barnard’s Altschul Atrium, with more details to be announced closer to the show date. Until then, the radio station’s 24/7 streaming begins this Tuesday morning at 12 am.
WBAR should sell this signed as merch via Shutterstock