MAD Band rocks the Castle
Loud. That is how I would describe my Friday night at Chum’s. This, however, is not a negative attribute. Loud is usually exciting, invigorating, awakening. The concert that I attended was all of these. The MAD Band hosted a jam session with the Bentley Pep Band, and to say the café roared would be an understatement. It’s a good thing the Castle doesn’t have residents anymore, because students were blasting music through their speakers, valves, drums and bells.
Bentley had the honor of starting the show. They had an explosive opening with Chicago’s song “25 by 6 to 4.” Then they jumped into some classic pep band favorites like “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Tequila,” the Pokemon theme song and the Kirby theme song. Without a doubt, I can honestly say that the Bentley group had the greatest tambourine player of all time. His stage presence alone was a gift. The way he moved his body, the love of the rhythm. The way he attacked the cowbell during “Seven Nation Army” was a clear homage to Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” He was a percussion machine — apart from Brandeis’ David Adams ’22, who did double duty and was nice enough to lend his drumming skills to the group.
As great as the tambourine man was, Brandeis blew Bentley out of the water. To be fair, their repertoire was not what you would usually find in a pep band player’s music folder. They played full versions of Lucky Chopssongs, Michael Jackson’s “I Want You Back” and “Stand By Me.” Brandeis’ pep band was twice the size of Bentley’s band. There were sections for impressive solos by alto saxophonist Aaron Finkel ’19, trombonist Evan Sayer ’20, and tenor saxophonist Matthew Kowalyk ’18.
Bentley’s best were their baritone saxophonist, flutist and trombonist — who doubled as a conductor. Everyone on the MAD Band was feeling the music. MAD Band read the room and knew what needed to be done: a saxophone solo battle. Never did I think I’d see Student Union Vice President Finkel seductively lean on a couch and play an impressive solo. Kowalyk’s was blunter, but nonetheless reciprocative, in this bombastic and audacious back-and-forth.
I’d say the only loose cannon in the MAD Band was the trumpet section. Yet weak feels like the wrong word, because I could hardly feel my eardrum after the quartet ended songs with long high notes. Not to say they played poorly, but they wouldn’t know what mezzo forte was if it was blasted in their ears.
I can’t end this article without mentioning my denunciation of their performance of “We Are Number One.” Meme status aside, I just simply wasn’t expecting it. The song was played well, but did I need to hear it on full blast in a small room at 9 p.m. on a Friday night as I was entering a state of norovirus? Perhaps not. But did Steven Tarr ’19 direct the MAD Band to successful evening full of good times and good music? Yes.