No-Chella Provides A Cheap Alternative to Coachella

Students and musicians came together on April 14 for the free 5C music festival, No-Chella.  Developed in response to the popular albeit expensive Coachella festival, which started last weekend., and presented by PEC Live Arts, No-Chella seeks to challenge the corporate sponsorship model for popular music festivals like Coachella, organizer Amaru Tejeda PO ’13 said.

In addition to providing a free alternative, No-Chella aimed to counter the exclusivity of Coachella by featuring student and professional musicians and showcasing a range of
musical styles. 

“We were hoping to provide an eclectic
variety of music, ranging from old-timey folk to experimental drone. In terms
of a vibe, we just wanted people to have a good time, enjoy the music and
remember that you don’t need to, nor should you have to, spend $300 to have a
great live music experience,” said Tejeda, who organized the first No-Chella in 2010.

The festival began with the spacey rock music of Paislienne, the stage name
of Maurissa Dorn PO ’14. Dorn opened to an enthusiastic audience that came out to support No-Chella despite the cold, foggy weather.

Next up was Scottish band Phat Trophies,
sponsored by KSPC. The punk-inspired male-female duo consisted of keyboard, drums and vocals. The combination of high-pitch keyboard and fast drumming almost resembled video game music. The band wore masks throughout the set, highlighting their eccentric stage presence. Despite the unique flair of the duo’s style, sound problems made it difficult to hear their lyrics, leaving Phat Trophies struggling to connect with their audience. However, the group still managed to make an impact.

“I really liked Phat Trophies. It was nice to go to a music festival
on campus and discover new bands that I would not otherwise listen to,” Lauren Prince SC ’14 said.

Garage-surf-rock band Sea Lions was one of No-Chella’s highlights. The group consists of five musicians: a tambourine player
and vocalist, two guitarists (one of whom was also a vocalist), a drummer and one
bassist. Sea Lions had strong onstage energy, attributed to their visibly tight connection as a band, which got the audience up and dancing. The music had slow and
definite guitar sequences, and the old-fashioned vibe made for an approachable sound and performance. Despite a few mistakes on stage during new songs, Sea Lions gracefully recovered and played a great set overall.

“I’ve been listening to the Sea Lions album basically non-stop since it
came into KSPC, so it was exciting to get to see some of those songs performed
live,” Tejeda said.

Ana Caravelle was the next performer. Sponsored by Scripps
Live Arts, Caravelle plays harp with her partner, a mandolinist. This strings duo meshed seamlessly to produce gorgeous folk music. Caravelle’s music and delicate voice created a serene sound that added a mellow vibe to No-Chella.

“I thought she played beautifully. Her voice was
gorgeous… I wanted her to come because she is a young lo-fi, DIY
harpist, which is perhaps the raddest thing you could be and strikes me as a
pretty rare niche,” said KSPC Live Music Director and Scripps Live Arts Co-Leader Lilly Estenson SC ’12.

Kitchen Hips, the stage name of Aerienne Russell PO ’12,  followed Ana Caravelle. Though slightly more upbeat than Caravelle, Kitchen Hips had a similiar soft, melodic sound. She played banjo and the kazoo and sang, drawing a large, engaged crowd.

been a staple of the Claremont College music scene since my first year here,
and I’m gonna miss her big time,” Tejeda said.  

Zamutto was
one of the more
established bands at No-Chella. The group is comprised of members of the legendary
band The Books, including Paul de Jong and Nick Zamutto, and three other
musicians. The group features drums, guitar, bass and keyboard. Their sound
was melodic, but the music was technical
and very neatly played, demonstrating the musicians’ experience and
dedication. Although the songs were mellow, Zamutto’s repertoire had the
audience dancing and swaying.

The last band, Oneohtrix
Point Never, is the alias of the talented Daniel Lopatin, an electronic, Brooklyn-based musician known for his ambient music. His music, which is primarily
composed on vintage synthesizers, had a natural sound, like objects falling on
the ground accompanied by loud, unidentified drones. Though Lopatin’s music had an amazingly raw and organic sound that differed from most electronic music, it was strange choice to conclude No-Chella. His performance lacked personality and a connection with the audience.

Overall, organizers were pleased with No-Chella’s turnout.

“The crowd
was great,” Tejeda said. “People seemed to really enjoy what was happening. We expected that
certain times of day might draw larger crowds, so it wasn’t much of a surprise
that the size of the crowd fluctuated throughout the event.”

No-Chella also featured student band Me Lacey Flowers (Will Mullaney PO ’12 and Michael Stock-Matthews PO ’12), which recently performed at KSPC’s Rhino Records 5C series. Additionally, Brooklyn-based DJs Awesome Tapes from Africa performed, showcasing underexposed African music ranging from the ’60s to contemporary.

Overall, No-Chella provided Claremont students with good, cheap fun
and opened them up to new musical artists both within the student body and beyond.

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