Kohoutek Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

“Kohoutek Is Real Life; It’s Not a Hologram.” With
a theme like that, it’s certainly not clear what attendees should expect from the music festival this
year. Will we see an electric cellist
playing from a tree on the mounds, a weathered garage rock band reprimanding
the crowd, giant papier-maché dinosaur-like objects like we have in the past?  

Although it is never easy to predict what the festival has in store, one thing is certain. This weekend, we will see something—something worth seeing. This week, the 5Cs and surrounding
communities prepare themselves for two days of intensity, excitement, and fun
(all for the price of $0) in the form of one of the most revered Pitzer College traditions, the Kohoutek Music & Arts Festival.

Kohoutek
is an annual two-day music and arts festival held at Pitzer every spring. The event began in 1974 after Russian astronomer
Lubos Kohoutek’s prediction earlier that year that an eponymous comet would collide with the earth and bring the end of the world. At the time, students felt that they might as
well face the end with a big celebration, so Kouhoutek was born. The comet, happily, never came, and we are preparing for yet another Kohoutek 40 years
later. 

Jack Higgins PZ ’14, Kohoutek’s treasurer and events
coordinator whom we can thank for the cryptic description, talked about the
months of planning necessary for the festival. The group initially met the first week of the school year, and have since booked more than 20 bands and raised more than $13,000. 

“We had to go to the
Claremont town hall and get a land use permit,” he said. “We need to talk to the cops, fundraise from other schools, and a lot of
small things.”

The supplemental
fundraising has allowed Higgins and the rest of the planners to bring in more big-name bands to the festival than they have been able to in the past. 

“The thing about the headliners this year is that there’s not just two; there’s multiple,” Higgins said. 

One such group is Orgone, an eight-person funk and soul band from Los Angeles that is headlining the festival on Saturday night. The group won a Grammy as the backup band for Cee
Lo Green and has toured nationwide with the likes of Snoop
Dogg and Alicia Keys.  

Beyond event headliners, a wide range of music types are being featured at the festival. The
California Honeydrops are a blend of bluesy, jazz style sounds; Whisky Shivers brings bluegrass from Austin, Texas; Lapalux is a disc jockey hailing from London; and Kiev is comparable to Radiohead. 

These groups are accompanied by four up-and-coming 5C student groups, chosen to play at Kohoutek from the
Battle of the Bands competition held at the Grove House earlier this school year. Higgins belongs to one such group, Jack and the Jesus Juices. 

“I just wanted it to be called Jack and the
Juices, but the band said it had to be Jesus juices or they wouldn’t perform,”
he said. 

He classifies the genre of the
group as “folk-rock, mostly, folk-punk kind of thing,” but bandmates Shaban
Ayala-Torres PZ ’14 and David Gunnison-Weiseman PZ ’14 appeared to disagree.  

“Oh, ‘shitgaze’—it’s like shoegaze but more shitty, not like shitty in a
bad way, but more as a quality of the sound,” Gunnison-Weiseman said. 

“That doesn’t sound good,” Ayala-Torres
responded.  

As it turns out, they were
just poking fun—the band has nothing to do with shoegaze or shit. They agreed with Higgins that it is in fact
folk-punk (“funk,” they called it), but with pop-punk elements. 

“But it’s not your 27-year-old cousin’s pop-punk,” Gunnison-Weiseman said. “It will be a set-your-goals kind of experience.”

“You’re
going to, like, sway,” Ayala-Torres said. 

Jack and the Jesus Juices will
play Saturday at 1:30 p.m. 

In addition, Tanktop Matt and Funktet will be making an
appearance. They have been a mainstay at
Grooves at the Grove this semester, playing fusion covers of jazz, funk, and
rock standards. The Funktet in its
current incarnation has been together since the middle of the fall
semester.  

Drummer Nicky Phelps PZ ’15 could not be specific with what we are to expect from the band—it’s a secret, he said. 

“Generally some stuff we played before, a couple new things,” Phelps said. “Everything’s groovy. It’s gonna be danceable. It’s gonna be a good time.” 

The Funktet will perform at 6:15 p.m. Friday night.

Beyonde, who have soared to Internet stardom after the
release of their music video “Brawless,” will also be performing. The funk band consists of three women and and a backing rhythm section. Although it has ended up that most of what they play is Beyoncé covers, according to band
member Vivian Ponte-Fritz PZ ’15, “It’s not about Beyoncé—it’s about lady
power.” 

After the three principal
members returned to Pitzer from study abroad this semester, they got serious with the Beyonde project. 

“We all kind of agreed when we got back that
the band really needs to happen this year,” Ponte-Fritz said. “It was like, ‘We’re juniors; we’re upperclassmen.'”

In covering Beyoncé, the
group feels that it walks a fine line. 

“We’re very aware of the
fact that we are three white girls playing black music and Beyoncé’s
music,” Ponte-Fritz said. “We’re very conscious that this is
always an homage to Beyoncé. We
completely give her credit for all the popularity and power she has as a black
woman, but we also see that as a reference to Etta James and Tina Turner and
all these women who came before Beyoncé who were also very empowered, powerful,
popular, successful black women. We just
want to make sure that we reference them and give them all the credit and all
the respect they deserve.”  

Beyonde will
be playing at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Upperclassmen will appreciate the final student band playing
at Kohoutek. The group, over 5 years old now, is a revamp of the
classic rock band Storey and the Tellers, which was founded by Pitzer students. Storey Sheinberg PZ ’12, singer, songwriter, and
lead guitarist, from whom the band derives its name and the only
remaining founding member, has kept the band going strong by landing gigs around
LA while she studies to become a music teacher.  

The current lineup has been together since
November 2013. The band plays classic
rock covers and classic rock-inspired songs. 

“Expect some loud, crunchy,
take-your-face-off rock ‘n’ roll—think Bruce Springsteen or Led Zeppelin—mixed
with some softer tunes with more of a pop flair,” drummer Kip White PZ ’14 said. “I won’t give away the set list we have
planned, but we’re going to open and close with a bang, and give the audience some
time to breathe in between.”  

Storey and
the Tellers will be playing at 4:40 p.m. on Friday.

Come out and see for yourself if Kohoutek is
in fact real life, or just a hologram, this weekend at the Pitzer mounds beginning today, April 25 at 3 p.m. 

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