Three great bands, a room as sweaty as a sauna, and a line out the door. Last Friday night, Art House hosted a concert showcasing the diverse talents of the bands Lo-Qi, Mom, and Chef. Full of some new sounds converging with University classics, the environment was charged with an energy that came from being in a crowd full of people who genuinely cared about the music being played and the people playing the music. On Friday, I sat down with all three groups before their performances and talked to them about Art House, their moms, and of course, their music.
Jack Graylin ’17 and Jonah Toussaint ’17 make up the band Lo-Qi, a more recent addition to the University music scene.
“We would not have had the training, we would not have had the ambition, we would not have had the artistic drive, if we did not put ourselves to the test,” Toussaint said of participating in late-night impromptu rap cyphers at X-House and elsewhere on campus.
Art House was this duo’s first nighttime concert, as Graylin explained, “We’ve done shows before where we free-styled, but we hadn’t made it to the level of written shows until The Mash, and now this. So it’s a whole new experience for us.”
Lo-Qi went through a setback last year when they attempted to make a music video for their song “Nadderall,” and are now easing back into the scene again. Toussaint explained that after he and Graylin put in months of work to make this song about abusing Adderall, and then months after contacting a friend in New York and working towards making a music video, the plans fell through and the friend backed out. “It really hit us spiritually…we had the wind knocked right out of us. And so I guess we’re trying to pick up our breathing again now.”
Art House was the pick-up that these two needed. Their show started off the night, and they set the energy high from the get-go. Their charisma and vigor on stage was contagious, and the crowd soaked up every verse of their songs. Starting off the show with some free-styling, the duo prompted the crowd to start chanting, “This ain’t even the set yet,” and from that moment on, the energy was palpable. Completely in sync with each other throughout their performance, Lo-Qi set a high standard for the night.
The defining characteristic of the concert was the sheer strength and continuity of the bands’ energy from the moment Lo-Qi took the stage to the moment Chef played their last note. Running with Lo-Qi’s energy, Mom took the stage next and switched up the musical style, while the crowd turned into a sweating, jumping, singing mass of bodies.
Talking to Mom earlier that day, I was introduced to the sarcastic, biting, intelligent humor that these three gentlemen possess, which highlights how well the three of them work together. Consisting of Jonah Wolfson ’17 on the drums, Ben Klausner ’18 singing and playing guitar, and Sam Friedman ’18 on bass, the trio came together last spring. Wolfson previously played in University bands Don Froot and Rui Barbosa, while Klausner and Friedman began playing together and discovered their “natural musical communication.” Wolfson later joined the pair to complete Mom.
When describing the type of music they are producing, Friedman described their sound as “a funky brand of post-pubescent mystery rock.” A friend of theirs chimed in at that point, simply stating, “When you guys play, it just seems like the kind of music you love to listen to.” Their performance at Art House drove this point home. Friedman, Klausner, and Wolfson seemed overwhelmingly happy on stage, playing the type of music to which it is impossible not to dance.
Talking about the birth of the band, and the name, all three told me wonderful bits about their mothers and how much influence these women have on their music.
“Sarah is a beautiful woman,” said Friedman. “She is the light of my life, and she is always there for me and teaches me everything I ever need to know.”
“Andrea is the most important person in my life, and all people are compared to her,” Klausner said with a laugh. “She has taught me a lot and is both a friend and a mom, and was an amazing personal chauffeur for the first 15 years of my life.”
“Michelle is very small, and she’s very wonderful,” Wolfson said. “Growing up, she did a great job of walking that fine line between homie and don’t-want-to-mess-with-her. She’s also a musician. She sings in a choir and is a music teacher, teaching very young children the basics. She’s a legend.”
Three sons, three wonderful moms, and one great band named Mom.
The finale of the night was the well-known and well-respected Chef. As a 10-person band, the power they exude with their presence and sound is massive. On vocals are Mimi Goldstein ’17, Annie Flom ’17, and Lydia Elmer ’17. Isaac Butler-Brown ’17 plays guitar and sings. Henry Kinder ’17 is on the drums. Willie Molski ’17 plays the saxophone. Max Luton ’17 plays the saxophone and synthesizer. Anthony Dean ’17 plays the bass and synth. Miles McLeod ’17 raps and does synth, and Adam Rochelle ’17 plays the keyboard. Coming together as Chef in the fall of 2013, this vivacious crew started playing together through mutual connections, and then after a concert at 200 Church with Sky Bars, the band emerged as a University fan-favorite.
“It was a turning point for us,” Elmer said. “We got that show through two different connections. One was a California connection—people who knew each other from home. But also because Annie, Mimi and I had just recently been added, by chance, into New Group together.”
The three girls were the only three freshmen girls who were accepted into the a capella group that year, and it was through that experience that the three of them discovered how well they sing together.
Sitting with a group of 10 people full of different opinions, I asked them if they had one overarching definition of their music; they all answered “No.”
The music Chef plays is full of so many various influences, styles, and genres, that to restrict it to one genre would be impossible. Throwing out some ideas, Luton yelled out, “hip-hop, jazz, funk rock fusion,” while Molski offered, “neo-soul,” and finally Butler-Brown defined it as simply “music that sounds hip to us.” Kinder stated, “the way I see the music we play is, if it makes you dance, we play it,” and that statement proved its validity when the floor of Art House began to shake and bounce with the number of dancing bodies jumping up and down later that night.
“We all have very different and personal music tastes, so each of us brings in a very interesting take on different styles and genres and whatever we would want to incorporate into one song,” Elmer said.
This spontaneous, creative energy during the interview translated to Chef’s set on Friday night. They brought the excitement in the room to an almost unbearable fervor. Sweating, dancing, singing, and having a blast, all 10 members gave the performance their all. By their last song, both the band and the crowd were exhausted and blissfully joyful. Three bands, three different music styles—identical in their passion, energy, and ability to put on an amazing show.