There is a “Calvin & Hobbes” strip where Calvin sits in a sandbox and Hobbes approaches asking, “Do you have an idea for your project yet?” Calvin looks up with an expression only a disgruntled six-year-old can possess and says, “No. I’m waiting for inspiration. You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.” “What mood is that?” Hobbes asks, to which Calvin responds, “Last-minute panic.”
Mix excitement, adrenaline, and perhaps a touch of last minute panic, and you’ve got the 48 Hour Band Project, a derivative of the 48 Hour Magazine. It celebrated its inaugural performance on Sunday, Feb. 23rd at Eclectic.
This project consisted of 20 students who volunteered to be randomly paired into bands that would perform both a cover and original song in a final show. The catch: they only had two days.
Cloie Logan ’17, a vocalist in participating group Gender Equality, described the process.
“I was invited to the Facebook group a few months ago and filled out a short survey,” Logan said. “They just sent out a preliminary email last Sunday about the whole thing. We got our bands Friday at noon.”
Participants were allotted four hours of practice time in studio spaces, though they were free to practice outside if they had the appropriate equipment.
Despite the compact timeline, Logan noted that it wasn’t particularly stressful, but rather quite fun.
“You just have to muscle down and do it,” Logan said.
And so they did, and quite successfully.
The culminating concert opened with Two Moms, a high-energy quartet that began the night with enthusiastic vocals and many laughs. Wools Fool followed them with a Bob Dylan cover that was both soulful and playful. The bands introduced a diversity of musical genres and artistic approaches to the designated theme: maps. Some groups focused on the lyrics while others preferred to do the talking with their instruments alone.
Riordan Abrams ’17, an attendee, came to the performance because three of his friends were participants.
“I liked all of the bands,” Abrams said. “I really liked the ‘I’d Map That’ band. That was really funny.”
He was referring to a comical, if not mildly offensive, original by the group Arschkartograph that “mapped out” the female body. Interpretations of the theme varied by band, with some following this wacky route and others pursuing a more nostalgic path.
The audience was rather modest in number at the beginning, but as the show progressed the room became populated, hot, and sticky: the ideal conditions for any jam. The nature of the project invited technical difficulties, about which the performers joked and the audience laughed—nothing says support more than a laughing crowd. Except perhaps dancing and singing along, all of which were present Sunday afternoon.
Ben Zucker ’15, the drummer of participating group 1 Direction (superior to their namesake, I promise), described the process as collaborative.
“We all did it together,” Zucker said. “There were no assigned duties or anything. That would have done away with the spontaneity.”
The spontaneity also came in the incredibly short time frame. Ford Fellow and developer of the project Piers Gelly ’13 found the crunch essential for the project’s creative spirit.
“I think that, unless you have a show to work for, often it’s hard to motivate yourself,” Gelly said. “If you don’t have the end in mind, your thinking is different. You make bolder choices.”
Logan, who had never played in a band before, saw it as a chance to experiment.
“I had a lot of fun,” Logan said. “It was my first time in a band. I didn’t ever imagine that it would be with three strangers.”
Zucker shared the excitement for the spontaneity of the project. For him it was a chance to let go.
“Normally in any kind of situation I feel like I want to control a lot of the process, but here everyone is really laid back,” Zucker said. “It was just a chance for a really no frills, no stress approach. It was mostly just play.”
Logan also described it as being fun and lighthearted.
“You have to know that it’s definitely not going to be perfect,” Logan said. “Everybody’s going to make mistakes, and that sort of takes a bit of the anxiety away.”
Gelly eloquently channeled Calvin from “Calvin and Hobbes,” noting the importance of time constraints in order to birth forced creativity.
“It gives you a little bit of a fertile panic,” Gelly said. “You don’t know how it’s going to work, so you just go for it.”
So, for those students who shirked on homework this weekend to dance and sing in an impromptu performance, I applaud you. You have a weekend of crazy memories to remember and a wild performance as proof. For audience members and performers alike, there really wasn’t a better way to fight the Sunday blues.