St. Olaf College has a world-renowned music program that spans over one hundred years. School-funded choirs, music classes and orchestras are merely the tip of the iceberg, however. Smaller bands are abundant on campus, from alternative rock to a cappella groups, there is something offered for all music tastes. Here is just a small sampling of notable bands and groups to watch for this year:
Agnes A Cappella
Lest you assume differently, ladies are well-represented on the campus music scene. Agnes is a female a cappella group on campus that focuses on a large array of music. Particular genres vary year-to-year based on individual talent in the group. This year, the group’s repertoire ranges from Broadway numbers to country and folk tunes. In the past, they have even sang upbeat pop covers from artists like Macklemore. These eleven girls focus on showcasing individual talent through their songs and generally highlight female artists.
Air is Air
The exciting, unpredictable and always entertaining band Air is Air features Micah Stoddard ’16 on bass, Adrian Calderon ’16 on keyboard, Colin Loynachan ’16 on drums and lead vocalist Zack Harris ’16. Air is Air meshes old school rock ‘n’ roll with punk and reggae for a very distinct sound. Their stage presence, however, is what truly separates them from other bands on the Hill. The band’s energy generates an upbeat atmosphere that fuels the energy in the audience. “Every time we play we just want it to feel like a big party,” Harris said. Look for Air is Air on campus this fall and keep your eyes peeled for the group’s exciting guest band member – a stuffed gorilla named “the Air Master.”
When Ellingson Hall roommates Ryan Peterson ’14 and Noah Carlson ’14 realized they were both accomplished bassists, they decided to form a band. Peterson took up guitar, and they joined forces with fellow Ellingson Hall residents Brian Plante ’14 guitar and TomHenry David ’14 drums. Now in their senior year, the musicians continue to play their rock-blues combo music, influenced by Pink Floyd. They are looking forward to a last year as a band on the Hill. “We’re planning on writing more percussive-intensive music,” Peterson said. “We plan on playing a lot more shows this year. We have a foundation of songs we love to play, including the classic: ‘Stack that Pizza.'”
The Helpless Commanders
A new group on campus focusing on rock ‘n’ roll, the Helpless Commanders focus on high-energy and moving music. The group members Calderon, John Kronlokken ’16, Loynachan, Bobby Sabota ’16 and Christian Wheeler ’16 – who is also releasing a solo album soon are getting set to release their first EP this fall, which will be accessible via the group’s Facebook page or through individual group members.
Krossmen A Cappella
In a school of so many talented singers, it is not surprising that several a cappella groups have made their way onto this list. Nathaniel Hendrix ’16, Aaron Kohrs ’16, Duncan Tuomi ’16 and Harrison Hintzsche ’16 make up the St. Olaf-grown Krossmen A Cappella. According to Hendrix, Krossmen began as “just some dudes that love to sing,” and blossomed overnight into an on-campus sensation. The group’s repertoire includes gospel, barbershop, alternative rock, pop and jazz. This range of music appeals to a wide variety of listeners and creates great contrast during performances.
A hybrid group focusing on rock, funk and fusion-style music, Megatherium Club brings a little bit of everything back to campus this fall. Bass player Sam Benson ’15, guitarist Elliott Tadanier ’15 and drummer Jay Carlson ’15 founded the band before even arriving to campus, utilizing the Class of 2015 Facebook page. Eventually, the group added Ben Lipson ’15 on saxophone, Shane Allen ’14 on the keyboard and invited Ben Marolf ’15 to sing lead vocals. The group plans on recording their first album over fall break.
With every new school year, campus bands come and go, but their legacy is carried with each new class. Be it the energetic alternative rock of Air is Air, the funk of Brass Camel or an a cappella group with unique singers, St. Olaf offers student-grown music for all tastes. Keep your ears open this school year for these bands and many more to be playing in the Pause, on the steps of Boe or in one of the many musical venues in downtown Northfield.
Graphic credit: ALLI LIVINGSTON/MANITOU MESSENGER