by Wyatt Camery
photo by Natan Oster
[originally published November 2021]
WOBC’s Coverband Showcase is one of the most highly anticipated student-run, student-featured events of the semester. I think I speak for a lot of folks when I say that this semester’s showcase was even more exciting than usual, mainly because it marked the first one back in the ‘Sco in two years. The line ran long like it was Halloween Splitchers and I bet plenty of people couldn’t even get in because of the occupancy cap. Fortunately, this Grape staff member got to see the whole show, so sit back for about 600 words (sheesh!) recapping the event which took place on December 4.
The band that kicked it all off was Leve Stacy, a classic cover band spoonerism of Steve Lacy, the indie-guitarist/songwriter who is known for his work with The Internet, featuring a hodgepodge of college and conservatory students. What a beautiful union it was! They faithfully laid down Lacy’s grooves and sultry vocals on “Some,” “Ryd,” and “Dark Red.” A great way to heat up the crowd.
They were followed by a Talking Heads cover band, which was a welcome surprise (although Boned Wett in the Backparts would’ve been epic, especially considering the artistry featured in their name alone). The frontman did a really solid David Byrne impression, and clearly had fun with it. They even featured a student as the lamp from Stop Making Sense. I respect their choice to play “Girlfriend is Better” over a bigger hit such as “Once in a Lifetime” or “Psycho Killer.” They psycho-killed the set which also included “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” and “Burning Down the House.”
The Pixies cover band, Dr. Doolittle, brought a whole different kind of energy that had many of my peers moshing violently in the center of the ‘Sco. Again, I appreciated how much fun they had with the music and how hard they rocked out. X Æ A-XII, the Grimes cover band, were definitely winners with their name, and although I’m no Grimes expert they were awesome and had great energy. Jiz Hair, the Liz Phair coverband, who went with a cheeky spoonerism, offered a great tribute to one of Oberlin’s most famous alumni. Phair, who graduated in 1990, was a great choice to cover and I really dug their rendition of “Fuck and Run” from her seminal album Exile in Guyville, released in 1993.
The Hiatus Kaiyote, Hiatus Coverotes, stacked with Con students, were super groovy and introduced me to a band I’ve been meaning to listen to for a while, another great perk of the Coverband Showcase. The synthesizer work in particular was outstanding. Similarly, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, considering almost everyone at the ‘Sco was singing along, but the Paramore cover band, Paraless, also got me to actually listen to their music. They also brought a rock ‘n’ roll energy that was super fun to experience from my vantage point, just on the edge of any moshing or scrumming that may have occurred on the dance floor during their set.
MDMA, the closing band, which is ever the honor, covered MGMT and although many people had left or were leaving the ‘Sco at this point, and I’ll be honest, my energy was pretty low, I thought they were fantastic. The choice to play one of MGMT’s more recent hits, “Me and Michael, over something like “Time to Pretend” was, like the Talking Heads, a bold decision, but one that paid off — at least for me, since I knew the song. Plus, they nailed the synth parts, too.
This is such a terrific event — it’s so fun and impressive to see your peers turn into their favorite musicians after dark — and I’m glad the tradition made its way back to its home. Next time, hopefully there won’t be any masks. Even with masks and no drinks, the thrill carried me through. My only gripe with this year’s Coverband Showcase was the clear nepotism involved in the selection process, but what are we to expect at Oberlin? Most importantly, the Coverband Showcase is such a unifying event, not only because of the various genres represented, but because this event brought 3rd and 4th years to the ‘Sco, a venue that I’ve heard is dominated by 1st and 2nd years, particularly at Splitchers.