Heavy Release: Students Turn Out Another Banner Album
It's not every day that nine Berklee bands get signed to a record label. It's every fall semester. And it's every spring semester when music fans get to hear how they sound. The Berklee Performance Center was packed February 4 for the ninth-annual Heavy Rotation Records CD release party. The compilation, Dorm Sessions 6, features two tracks each from the nine unique Berklee bands that performed at the event. The Heavy Rotations team handed out swag bags to everyone in attendance, complete with a copy of the compilation; a special edition of Berklee's student newspaper, The Groove; and other goodies, such as T-shirts, breath mints, and guitar picks emblazoned with the HRR logo. Tickets were also handed out for the February 17 show at the new House of Blues by Fenway Park, cohosted by Heavy Rotation and Live Nation and featuring rollicking performances by Sex!, KID:NAP:KIN, and Re-Up.
Between sets, while musicians moved around the stage, DJ Isom Innis filled the room with beats and samples that had everyone moving.
Here's a rundown of the bands that rocked the BPC:
The first band of the evening featured a string section and piano-driven melodic rock with some lovely movements throughout both tunes led by pianist/vocalist Claudio Olachea.
Recent alumna Rebecca Muir belted out some sultry neo soul, backed by a horn section and a rocking bluesy rhythm section of veteran musicians. Muir and her band also played at the after-party held at Cafe 939.
Nini & Ben
This rootsy duo brought out some tasty blues with their first number, "Down to the Road," featuring Tommy Bohlen on pedal steel, Derek McWilliams on bass, Johnny Duke on slide guitar, and Jake Cohen holding down the groove on drums, as well as singing beautiful harmonies.
The only band to play one long, epic song instead of two, Supervolcano had the stage presence of seasoned prog rockers with a sound and energy like early Mars Volta. High energy, enigmatic stage presence, and guitar loops made the multi-layered song a memorable one.
An attentive hush fell over the crowd during the heartfelt and engaging performance from Reich, with Alexandra Spalding picking and bowing her cello, and singing sweet harmonies with Reich. Tommy Bohlen returned to the stage to add his signature pedal steel textures to the Paper Planes' front man.
White Shoe Brown Shoe
Decked out in 1970s garb, White Shoe Brown Shoe brought a classic vibe to catchy rock tunes. The falsetto chorus on the band's second song, "Off to the Races," had everyone singing along.
The band with the name that everyone loves to say packed a punch. Singer Andy Burri had the swagger of James Brown meets Andrew WK, wearing neon sunglasses and a bandanna around his neck. During "Chevy Nova," he made a lap around the orchestra seats with a wireless microphone and rolled back onto the stage like a pro.
Sporting a black leather jacket, Shea Rose owned the stage on her first number, headbanging a majestic afro to her double electric guitar attack with Sonya Perricone and Dave Scher. After sneaking in a surprise duet with Charlie Rockwell, Rose accompanied herself on acoustic guitar for her third number and had some backup singers come out of the crowd onto the stage.
Closing the show with some funked-out hip-hop, Re-Up featured turntables and a horn section. The rhymes of MC Cliff "Spliff" Kuhn-Lloyd over the scratching of Keith "Keef D" Dickerhofe got everyone on their feet, moving and swaying to a powerful closing act.