College students put down the books and picked up instruments at the Rathskeller on Friday, Oct. 4, as the bands Semiotics, Valgaian Trio and Keepin’ the Family showcased their talent for Student Band Night.
Semiotics, an alternative-emotions duo, was the first band to perform.
Senior journalism and media studies double major Nick Rapon from Rutgers, played the electric guitar and sang six original compositions, as well as a cover of Joyce Manor’s song “Constant Headache.”
“The basis of our music is emotion,” Rapon said. “I get inspiration for lyrics from very negative places: family issues, school, work, ex-girlfriends. The music is more real that way.”
One of their songs, “Astral Energy,” even discussed religion. The slow opening coupled with the fast-paced chorus truly took the audience on a journey. Rapon and drummer Alex Manoski themselves have been best friends for 12 years.
“The first time I picked up a guitar, (Manoksi) was there,” Rapon said. “We have had some really great times.”
While the two have been longtime friends, they have only been bandmates on and off for two or three years.
“This is more of a fun thing than something serious,” Rapon said.
Despite playing solely for recreation, Semiotics have appeared at various venues in both Philadelphia and the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J.
“We do a lot of garage-base shows,” Rapon said.
Bass player Jibran Miser, a Rutgers student, was absent from Semiotics during their performance.
The progressive band Valgaian Trio took to the stage next. This purely instrumental set of an electric guitar, bass and drums played for 30 minutes and introduced the audience to music that was a harmonious and simultaneous blend of several genres.
“The progressive music we like to play doesn’t call for lyrics or vocals,” bassist Lucas Gisonti said. “We like to think that the music speaks for itself.”
The warped sounds of their music coupled with the infectious rhythm carried throughout, raised multiple rounds of applause from the audience — even though the music did not stop.
The band has only been playing together for four months, but they are already making a name for themselves. According to Gistonti, Valgaian Trio will be playing at Crossroads, N.J. at the Battle of the Bands on Sunday, Oct. 13.
Gistonti said he was very happy with the performance and he was happy that he could share the experience with his two best friends and bandmates: drummer Anthony Assante, junior biology major at Ramapo, and guitarist Vincent Assante, junior violin major at Montclair.
The folk-rock band Keepin’ the Family closed the night, entertaining the audience with an unusual collaboration of instruments ranging from an electric guitar and drums to a banjo and a trumpet.
The crowd pleaser of the night was trumpet player George Maher. Maher and his trumpet played echoed lyrics of the songs while keeping tempo alongside the drums, thoroughly impressing the audience.
“The trumpet was great,” sophomore history major Rob Handerhan said. Handerhan’s surrounding friends all nodded in agreement while cheering for both Maher and Cafaro.
Maher said that his parents first introduced him to jazz music when he was young, and his love for the genre grew and evolved.
“I like infusing jazz music with different sounds and elements,” Maher said.
Other members of the band included Mike Winnicki on drums, Riley Bryne on bass and Russell Gottlieb on both the banjo and guitar.
The band has been together for two years, and they are eager to branch out and perform in other states, according Cafaro.
“We would like to play in more venues in New Jersey, but also some in Pennsylvania and New York as well,” Cafaro said.