On Friday, the College Union Board featured an eclectic trio of acts during its first student band night of the semester, rocking the Rathskeller with acoustic performances from two veteran Rat acts and the debut of an aggressive electronica group sure to shake you out of your shoes.
The acoustic duo of Jeff Rupert, junior computer science major and , and James Huynh, junior history major, covered songs by Ben Folds Five, John Mayer and Barenaked Ladies, a crowd favorite. The two have been playing together for quite some time, despite their busy schedules (James appeared in the middle of the set because of class) and active roles in campus life.
The duo had a very casual performance, with Huynh on lead vocals and guitar and Rupert on keyboard and guitar.
Huynh walked on stage in the middle of the set and said, “Hey Jeff, I’m back from class now,” before performing the Blues as “a transitional.”
They ended their performance with “Daughters,” by John Mayer, with the audience singing along.
Spot On hit the stage next, performing a blend of original songs and improv. Ron Seidel, the newest addition to the band, sported an electric drum set, while Leo Mahaga, junior criminology major, and Matt Brinn, sophomore history major, wielded their guitars. Spot On is not your average band, playing songs like “Phoning Home” without vocals or a bass.
“Someone once asked, ‘What kind of band has two guitars and no bass?’ and I said, ‘This one,'” joked Mahaga. He added later, “We just work.”
The crowd appreciated the band’s solid stage presence.
“Wow, he’s amazing,” Nick Pastorello, junior mechanical engineering major said, as Mahaga shredded his guitar toward the end of the group’s set.
What’s next for the group that prefers to make up songs on the spot?
“We’re playing at the 449 Room in Trenton on the 13th and at the Small World Caf? in Princeton on the 20th,” Brinn said.
The coffee shop atmosphere of Spot On’s performance soon gave way to raw angst as Tasting Grace hit the stage. The female-headed pop/punk/electronica group was introduced by a pair of dancers, giving them a big name feel. The band played with a noticeably high energy more commonly seen on stages of grander proportions.
“We’re more used to playing on bigger stages. I jump around. I’m all over the place,” lead singer Jenna Milano said.
The band’s performance and image was very professional, with the members wearing black and pink ties in the beginning of the set to match Milano’s black and pink outfit. She wanted to combine her passions of dance and fashion with her love for music during the band’s performance.
Performing songs such as “Ever After” and “Misunderstood,” the musicians’ dedication and love for music shined through in their performance: bassist Willy Toledo could be seen licking his bass during the set, and guitarist Drew Ambrose seemed entranced by the music.
Andrew Oliva, senior marketing major, is the only student from the College in the group. Despite the fact that he only recently joined Tasting Grace, Oliva’s sound meshes with the band so well it seems like he has been there from the very beginning.
“I think we perform so well together because we’re all on the same level. We’re very dedicated to our music,” he said.
Oliva is no stranger to Rat shows. The drummer performed alongside the popular progressive hard-rock outfit Head Traffic last year.
“We all just mold together, and we are Tasting Grace,” Milano said.
The band, which lists Linkin Park and Evanescence among its influences will be playing more shows at colleges, in the coming months to promote its self-titled debut album to a younger age demographic.