Satire and theatrics pushed the Sept. 12 College Union Board (CUB) Rathskeller concert out of the rock realm and into absurdity.
A student band, Arrogant Rat, had its performance cut short by Jessica Claar, assistant director for Student Activities, after she and co-CUBRat chairman Mike Lawrence took offense to the band’s performance.
According to Claar and Lawrence, Ron Seidel, drummer for Arrogant Rat, started directing improvised lyrical barbs at CUB when his performance was interrupted.
According to Seidel, sophomore interactive multimedia major, his band’s performance was intended to be a joke CUB, Claar and members of the audience didn’t seem to get.
“It was satire,” Seidel said of his band, consisting of Steve Gadda, sophomore economics major on guitar, Alex Cap, sophomore music performance major on keyboard and Dan Silano, sophomore computer science major on guitar.
Seidel considers himself a serious musician currently in the mastering stage of two upcoming EPs. He said he formed Arrogant Rat, a band of friends, as a tribute to Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock, who is known for his scathing satire and sarcasm in his lyrics and vocal delivery.
“This was a complete publicity stunt,” Seidel said. “I’m trying to get attention to the music I’m making right now and I feel like a good way of doing that is creating controversy.”
Claar said that as of press time Monday night, Seidel has not made an attempt to clarify the nature of his performance with CUB or the office of Student Activities. She added that until he does, Seidel’s actions will be interpreted as hostile.
Lawrence said he understood Seidel’s “schtick,” but took issue with Seidel’s alleged disrespect of CUB.
The show was supposed to feature Arrogant Rat and a second student band, The Plot Thickens. The latter failed to arrive on time, citing a scheduling conflict within the lineup.
According to Lawrence, tensions began to smolder between him and Seidel when Arrogant Rat arrived for load-in 50 minutes late. Lawrence said during this time, Seidel was preoccupied with obtaining free food and beer instead of setting up for the show.
He said CUB is not contractually obligated to provide either.
The band was late because it couldn’t acquire transportation, according to Lawrence. Last Friday’s deluge made carrying gear to the Rat impossible.
The Plot Thickens eventually showed up during Arrogant Rat’s set and attempted to apologize to Lawrence for the cancellation.
This and conversation among the crowd caught Seidel’s attention.
In keeping with his character as “an arrogant rat,” he “called out the crowd.”
“Everyone that’s talking while we play is being extremely rude,” he said, directing his comment at Lawrence, who informed Seidel that he was “talking to the guys who couldn’t play,” The Plot Thickens.
Seizing the microphone, Seidel said, “We’re going to start playing our own shows from now on. They don’t like us here.”
At this point, Seidel allegedly began directing lyrical barbs at CUB, according to Claar. Seidel made up a song on keyboard that portrayed CUB negatively, she said.
Lawrence agreed the lyrics were offensive to CUB members, but could not recall the exact lyrical content.
“The band was being very hostile on stage, making inappropriate comments and they had just sang a song about how they hated CUB and that they were going to book their own shows from now on,” Claar said.
At this point in the show, Claar was called away from the Matt Nathonson concert in Kendall Hall by Lawrence, who asked Claar to handle the situation.
Claar arrived and informed the band it had breached its contract, Seidel could no longer play at the Rat in any future bands and Arrogant Rat would not be paid for its performance.
“I apologize if I hurt the people there’s feelings,” Seidel said. “We have no bad intentions in inflicting pain to anyone from CUB or anything like that.”
Seidel explained that he was offended by the disruption of Arrogant Rat’s performance. “It hurt my feelings, so I decided to call them out on being disrespectful,” he said. “At that moment in time, I was heated.”
Both Claar and Lawrence said the other members of Arrogant Rat were compliant and willingly removed their gear from the Rat stage.
Seidel remained on the stage while his bandmates removed his gear.
Seidel said the band made its satirical aims apparent in its performance. During the show, he said the band was made up of “the best musicians at (the College).”
He also asked the crowd, “Who can write the best song? I’m pretty sure we can.”
Claar said the event has prompted a re-evaluation of CUBRat policies. In the future, she said, bands will be required to submit rosters in advance.
She added that more specific regulations about bands’ behavior will also be created.
Joseph Hannan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.