Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Unapologetically a Music Lover

Ethan Bradley
January 9, 2019

In high school, I loved going to concerts alone at the small venues around St. Louis. I would convince my parents to let me stay out late on a school night to go see an indie band that had popped up on my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist as they traveled through the Midwest. In St. Louis, cost of admission is typically very low, and these shows were always really lively. Often, you end the show with your arms around people you just met chanting the chorus of the headliner’s most popular song. The community of people that forms around these small bands is one that I really enjoy spending time with. Music has an awesome way of bringing people together.

Heading into my senior year of high school, this became something I was looking for when I was choosing colleges to apply to. Along with good academics, I wanted to go to a college with a vibrant music scene on campus. On my overnight trip to Kenyon, I wandered into our student concert space, the Horn Gallery, to check out the upcoming shows. Along with student groups I hadn’t heard of, there were a few groups that had been to campus that year that I had heard of before and would have loved to see. I ended up talking to several students that I met around campus that day and discovered a community on Kenyon’s campus that closely resembled the one I had found back at home going to random indie shows. People are unapologetically into angsty indie rock music, old-school folk, trippy lo-fi and all sorts of other small corners of the music world. It didn’t seem like I would be going to shows by myself anymore if I decided to come to Kenyon. 

There are quite a few bands that started at Kenyon and are now picking up steam in the music industry. Along with Walk the Moon, I love to listen to Pinegrove, named after a stand of trees in Kenyon’s environmental center, and Remember Sports, whose first album cover was photographed in the North Campus Apartments. People love to watch these bands achieve success and support the ones that are up and coming on our campus. You will always hear them represented on WKCO, the campus radio station.

I’ve ended up organizing several shows for friends’ bands to play over my time at Kenyon. My freshman year roommate produces his own hip hop, and we had people over throughout our first year to record bits and pieces on various instruments for the album he was putting together. Since that has come out, I’ve organized a few concerts benefiting nonprofits in Ohio where he and other student groups could play. It ends up being an awesome fundraiser because people love to show up and support their friends.

During my first tour of Kenyon, my tour guide joked that if you poll five students walking down Middle Path, at least two of them will be in a band. I had been the bass player in one group in high school, but we never actually got to play a show. The idea of finding people to play music with sounded really exciting. Sure enough, my friend Maddy started a Irish square dance band last year, and was in need of a bass player. No one in the band had ever listened to Irish square dance music besides Maddy, and we didn’t necessarily do the genre much justice. Our friends on the cross-country team came to the shows we played, with settings ranging from cramped apartments to the math department’s yearly music show.

At first, we sounded pretty rough, but we eventually figured out that a heavy metal drum beat combined with folksy violin melodies makes for some really danceable reels. Our biggest show was a benefit concert for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at the Horn. People came, danced, and donated money for a really great cause. It was a great example of how Kenyon’s music scene makes college really fun. Even though our drummer went abroad for the year, so we’re currently on hiatus, this was a night I’ll remember for a long time.