c/o WESU

c/o WESU

Middletown’s community and college radio station, WESU 88.1 FM, will be presenting a live concert of artists June McDoom and Bloomsday with student band GERT, including Ben Gertner ’24, Jane Lillard ’25, and Rory Dolan ’23, as the opener. The performance will take place in WestCo Cafe on Saturday, Feb. 25, with doors opening at 9 p.m. GERT will play at 9:30 p.m., June McDoom will perform at 10:15 p.m., and Bloomsday will play at 11:15 p.m.

WESU Public Relations Director Sarah Bank ’23 explained that everyone on WESU’s staff is constantly listening to new music and up-and-coming artists, and that the majority of WESU radio shows are required to play five new releases per week. WESU places a large importance on highlighting genres and types of music that people might otherwise not hear, so bringing these rising artists to the University aligns perfectly with the radio station’s values.

“Everyone on the staff—Wesleyan students and community volunteers—are all paying attention for cool new stuff that’s out there, ’cause we wanna play it, and we wanna expose people to new stuff,” Banks said.

WESU Music Directors—Sam Rapkiewicz ’24 and Clara Martin ’24—reached out to June McDoom about performing live at the University after listening to and loving her eponymous debut EP. 

“When the June McDoom EP was released, I was blown away,” Rapkiewicz wrote in an email to The Argus. “My co-music director, Clara Martin, listened to it as well, and felt the same way…. I just thought June McDoom was really great and so did all of the other board members…. [W]e figured, who wouldn’t like her? It’s this great, atmospheric, hazy folk that is super palatable but also really unique and well-produced.”

As part of their job as music directors, Rapkiewicz and Martin frequently review and chart new songs and albums that are sent to them from music promoters; this was how they came across Bloomsday.

“Bloomsday reached out to us, and they were super excited about coming [to Wesleyan],” Bank said. “It was really awesome to see a band aware of our station that really wanted to put on a show at Wesleyan…. They have a cool acoustic vibe going on…. I think [their music is] all pretty light and airy but…some of the songs have this kinda sad quality too, without being overwhelmingly depressing.”

Bank explained that after she listened to both artists, it was clear that June McDoom and Bloomsday complemented each other and would work well together in a cohesive concert.

“After we went to listen to Bloomsday’s music, we thought it would be super cohesive with the June McDoom show,” Bank said. “They both have this mellow, chill acoustic sound and vibe. And they’re similar enough that they go together well on a show, but also different and enough that [they] have their own sound, and it wouldn’t be too repetitive of a show either.”

Notably, this concert is one of few that have brought outside artists to the University after the COVID-19 pandemic. WESU is excited to have this opportunity to bring people together through live music after going so long with limits on social gatherings, especially performances. Bank also pointed to the longstanding tradition of live music at Wesleyan, and how she is glad to be reviving it with WESU.

“Wesleyan has such a longstanding culture…of having live music from students or artists that we bring in,” Bank said. “I’ve seen some really cool people ’cause I was a freshman before COVID, and I think that’s something I’ve been missing, something that a large part of the school has never experienced in the first place…. We’re really trying to reignite this tradition of live music.” 

Rapkiewicz added that in bringing back live music, especially from outside artists, WESU aims to stay true to its goal of highlighting music that is less talked about by prioritizing budding musicians.

“It’s awesome that Spring Fling will happen this year, but I think we should also prioritize getting smaller underground bands to come and play at Wes on a more regular basis rather than just throwing all the funds at this one day of the year where only the big guys are given any thought,” Rapkiewicz wrote. “College campuses have been the sites of a lot of underground music movements, and I feel like we have to honor that tradition by promoting up-and-coming artists and supporting underground scenes and genres.”

Additionally, WESU President Kate Harvey ’23 pointed to how this concert plays a role informing the legacy of the radio station and its impact on campus.

“WESU used to play a much bigger part in putting on live music events on campus, especially in the 90s, but haven’t as much in recent years,” Harvey wrote in an email to The Argus. “Particularly with covid, it’s been hard to host any large music events on campus. We’re excited to be getting back into that scene and would love to see that continue. I love WESU so much and also want to get our name out there more to students on campus, and to let them know that we’re here and would love to have them train to host a radio show with us.”

After this concert, WESU intends to continue bringing new artists to the University. Bank teased that there might be a second concert hosted by WESU as soon as later this semester.

“We’re coming up on this concert on Saturday, and people are already throwing out ideas about the next one,” Bank said. “This is just so exciting for us…. [It’s] something we’ve really been wanting to do, and now that it’s getting going again, we wanna keep it going.”

Kat Struhar can be reached at kstruhar@wesleyan.edu

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