My First Rock/Pop Concert
The CrossOver Concert that began at 1 P.M. on November 25 was a one-hour concert held in Lang Recital Hall, featuring The Hunter Popular Music Combos, a music performance class headed by director D.D. Jackson and guest director Nick Didkovsky. There were 4 groups altogether, and they performed a variety of music genres in their repertoire, with rock/pop being their main theme. Within each group, there was the main singer, bass guitarist, electric guitarists, drummer, and pianist, and each instrument (except the drums) was plugged to an amplifier or put under a microphone to increase their sound. The conga, cello, and violin were also used in some performances. In terms of clothing, the members dressed in black informal attire, and the darkness of the clothes almost resembled the pitch-blackness of the audience seats within the tiny auditorium. However, on stage, lights from the ceiling shone down on the members and on the dark brown planks of the stage, illuminating them in a warm bath of light. The contrast in lighting between the audience seats and the stage made the stage and its performers the main focus to the audience. I saw the performance with some musicians from the concert itself, while others were interested bystanders who wanted to hear some music. This made the concert all the more personal and comforting, because it showed how everyone was united and drawn to the music in different ways.
Most of the songs were rock/pop songs produced by well-known artists, such as Sia, The Black Keys, and Fall Out Boy, but the group members also composed their own songs. These songs were then organized into specific themes by the directors, and separated by each group. Since the guest director, Didkovsky, was a former rock guitarist and leader of the progressive rock band Doctor Nerve, the first group that he directed experimented with many styles of rock, such as hard rock and soft rock, as observed by their singing styles and creative guitar runs. Director Jackson, a jazz pianist/composer, arranged the rock music to fit certain genres, and so for the second group, he infused rock with the jazz tunes of the piano and the altered melodic and rythmic phrasing of the singer. The third group played rock with latin themes, as seen with the use of the conga and violin. The fourth group also mixed rock with jazz, along with pop, and so there was the jazz pianist, the synthesizer and rock instruments. Even despite these various styles, some group members collaborated with other groups in the concert. In some cases, members performed two roles, such as playing the guitar and singing at the same time.
This concert basically showcased the members' musical talents, because it displayed the ability of the directors and the members to reproduce rock/pop songs into different styles, and the vast number of contributions that all the members put into these performances. However, based on the lyrics, all these songs dealt about relationships and dating, as are typical of most songs nowadays. The first two groups sing about the pain and struggle of relationships, while the third group contains an upbeat song called “The Game of Love” that talks about how love forms, and there is “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” that deals with the physical aspects of love. The fourth group contains songs like “Valerie” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” that deals with loneliness in relationships.
The key aesthetic moment was the cello that was featured in the third group when they were performing “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs.” The cello introduced the song in a calm and soothing manner, until the singer and the rest of the rock instruments banged out with full force. This dynamic contrast was significant, because one can gain a first-hand experience knowing the difference between modern and classical instruments. It was interesting seeing the uniqueness of each work. Although the songs were covers to popular songs, they would include different styles or add improvisations to the music. Laura Belthrop ,especially, had a very unique jazz voice blending in with the rock-themed songs, since her voice was sultry and clear. However, sometimes the voices of the main singers was drowned out by the instruments. Since all the background instrumentals were powerful instruments, the singer’s microphone should have been louder. Overall, however, this concert was a great experience, especially for classical musicians who didn’t know much about rock music!