On Thursday, March 1, several student bands had the opportunity to perform on the VCS stage as a result of a cancellation on behalf of the originally scheduled performer. Suffice it to say, they did not disappoint. Each group brought with them a certain type of energy and enthusiasm that is often absent from professional performers. This infectious vibe that radiated off of the performers was present in audience members as well. As music filled the space, both bands’ and observers’ faces were lit with amusement as their feet began to move with the music, creating an atmosphere of collective happiness and community.

The Crosstones started off the night with their tight harmonies and superb balance. The group sang, “Fix You” and “Elastic Heart,” and each song had an astounding soloist that was supported by the smooth voices of the group. Not only did the Crosstones nail their melodic composition, but their implementation of dynamics added a dramatic flair to their near-perfect performance. Though technically impeccable, the Crosstones’ visible passion for their music brought their performance to the next level.

In addition to established groups, first-year students shared their musical talents with VCS attendees. Nicole Recto ’21 and Will Crate ’21 conveyed a sort of quiet determination with their expressive rendition of James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go.” Their smooth voices and developed harmonies made for a pleasing sound in all ranges. Crate also lent his vocals and guitar to a performance with Billy Lahart ’21. The dynamic duo used their musical talents to bring good-natured humor to the evening in their interpretation of “Send me on my Way” from the movie Ice Age. Not only did Lahart and Crate deliver a lively performance, but also their interactions with the audience made the experience fun. Aggressive guitar playing and singing resulted in a boisterous style all their own, but with some rock influences. The pair’s willingness to employ humor and clear excitement made for an amazing experiential performance.

If passion is what makes a band successful, Alisa Amador ’18 brought this and more to her incredible performance of original music. With Ian Clarkson ’18, Owen Schmidt ’21, and Matt Marcus ’18 as her support, her band delivered instrumentals that highlighted the creativity and devotion that laced each song. Amador has a clearly established tone that shone through in each of her songs. Reminiscent of 1920s jazz, her soulful voice and driving rhythms enable Amador to captivate a room.

After the performance, I had the opportunity to speak with Amador about her music. Born into a musical family, Amador started performing as a backup singer with her family as soon as she could walk, and later learned the guitar at age 10. She began composing her own music at age 15, “when sh** hit the fan” and she witnessed a loved one going through a deep depression. According to Amador, music brings people together with “a power that goes beyond words. It is so rare for people to just be together.” Drawing inspiration from jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, in addition to various Latino artists, Amador noted that she prefers to play in intimate settings because “you can see everyone’s faces and hear their reactions.” On performing for peers, she stated: “I get the most nervous before shows at VCS, but they are my favorite because everyone is listening, and the soundman is brilliant; he makes us sound so good.”

Similarly, members of The Remedy Patrick Nelson ’18 and Matt Marcus ’18 emphasized their enjoyment for playing in an intimate setting for peers. “Crowd reactions give us so much energy,” Nelson stated, “It’s really cyclical. They’re putting it in and we’re putting it out. Here we play and people are so respectful.” Members of The Remedy met on the first day of their freshman orientation and have been playing together for four years; the band’s name is even borrowed from the title of the book the class of 2018 read as incoming first-years. The group displays an incredible dynamic between members, and their zealous performance energized the crowd despite being the final act. On performing at VCS as opposed to bar settings, Nelson noted that the band “can play whatever [they] want,” opting for coffeehouse style music instead of exclusively “sing-alongs and energetic music” played at bars. The band added intensity and gusto to songs like “Ophelia” and “I Will Wait” that had the crowd energized and enthralled.

In the absence of the scheduled artists, student musicians stepped up to the challenge and built an incredible evening, amounting to one of the best VCS concerts of the year.

Billy Lahart ’21 and Will Crate ’21 fill the Benjamin E. Mays Center with music.