I had a mate visiting from Sydney over the weekend, and when he asked me what the plan was for Saturday night, he did a bit of a double take when I told him we’d be going to a punk show in which everyone would strip down to hir underwear. Now, I’ll admit even I had a few reservations. The whole premise of the show put this image in my mind of trudging through the snow, only to have to deal with the tedium of taking off all my layers, then being greeted by a sweaty, claustrophobically packed room; after all, over 250 people had said on Facebook that they would be attending. Fortunately, the night did not at all fit my low expectations.
We arrived just in time to catch the final song by Murdertones, a duo comprised of the brothers Angus and Luke MacDonald (’16 and ’17, respectively) playing punk covers of Beatles songs. Sure enough, there wasn’t a single shirt or pair of pants visible within the entire crowd. Honestly, it was incredible how comfortable the crowd actually seemed to be with the lack of clothing. People were still dancing and moshing just like you’d expect from any punk show.
“I felt like it ended up just being an incredibly safe environment for people to feel comfortable in their own skin,” Angus MacDonald later told me.
Up next came the all-girls group Faceplant, consisting of Amy Mattox ’17 and Blaise Bayno-Krebs ’16 on vocals, Ann Surber ’16 on guitar, Isadora Spillman-Schappell ’17 on drums, Molly Hastings ’17 on keyboard, Sophie Chabon ’17 on bass, and Ella Weisser ’17 as the tambourine player/hypewoman. As soon as they walked onstage, it became apparent that the group was willing to go all out for the show’s theme; some members even opted for strategically placed tape in lieu of actual underwear. They had an unrelentingly frantic and energetic sound that had the whole audience going into a frenzy for their entire bit. This was when one of the best features of Earth House became obvious. In spite of the intense rumble that broke out, the room never felt stuffy or grossly humid. With all the cold air coming in from outside, combined with the lack of clothing in the room, everything actually remained pleasantly cool, making it an overall more enjoyable place to get rowdy and physical.
When Faceplant wrapped up, the final act of the night came onto the stage: Sodomized By Angels, the all-senior band consisting of Tennessee Mowrey ’14 on bass, Sam Levin ’14 on guitar, and Jordan Gaynes ’14 on drums. The group had one of the most playful attitudes of the night, performing incredibly funny songs, most of which have titles probably not suitable for printing in this publication. One highlight of the sheer insanity of the group’s set was when a guest member of the band, George Gore ’14, sporting a black gown, goggles, and a bear beanie, came on to sing a song by the name of “Painal Catillion,” which, as Mowrey later assured me, is actually a cover of a Beatles song.
As it turns out, the idea for the show’s scantily clad theme actually originated from Sodomized By Angels themselves, who have a record of playing in their underwear in every one of their shows so far.
“Tennessee asked us if we would want to play a show in our underwear with the other silly punk bands that we were familiar with, and we were like, ‘Why wouldn’t we want to take off our clothes in front of other people?’” Gaynes said.
“I think [stripping to your underwear] was almost a sign of commitment and dedication,” Levin continued.
One of the most surprising aspects of the night was how comfortable everything was, despite the potentially intimidating nature of the theme. Part of this comfort simply came down to the resonating tone of the night’s music. Every band that played managed to retain an incredibly playful mood, even when their music got fairly hardcore and angry. There was an overpowering sense that every band playing that night was just having a blast doing so. This was reinforced when, as a final act, all three groups came together to sing their rendition of “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Trick.
“[It was] very impromptu; we put it together right before the show, and it was supposed to be a big jumping funfest, which it was,” Mowrey said. “It was a very nice capstone to the show.”
Ultimately, the most important part was just how comfortable the audience became; as an onlooker, you almost forgot that you and everyone else around you were in nothing but your tighty whities. I have to admit that I was actually having so much fun, diving into the mosh pit and even attempting to crowd surf at one point, I almost forgot about the foreign friend I’d just dragged into a room of semi-naked strangers. Fortunately, he seemed mostly unfazed. Granted, what he was seeing was probably a glimpse into pure, unfiltered, Wesleyan weirdness, but any trepidation that this might have brought was outweighed by how much fun everyone was having. All in all, the night was a chance for Wesleyan to release its angrier punk side while showing a little skin, a better combination than I ever though possible.