As annual debates over tutorial and social superiority resurface between Stanford and Cal college students amid the thrill of the Large Sport, the tradition surrounding scholar bands and musicians on the two universities suggests the Bay’s infamous collegiate rivals have extra in widespread than meets the attention — or the ear, for that matter.
Whereas the Bay Space’s high universities entice their justifiable share of pc science whizzes and electrical engineers, Stanford and Berkeley additionally boast an equally vibrant neighborhood of musicians, together with many which are classically educated.
Stanford bed room pop artist EASHA (Easha Nandyala ’24) is thought for her discography of “manufactured melancholy.” She discovered her voice whereas coaching in traditional Indian repertoire and now has a social media following of 57,000 on Instagram. Equally, lead singer and founding father of Berkeley’s various indie group The Pansies, Bella Sonen ’27, educated in classical opera and cello earlier than turning her skills over to the cathartic influences of boygenius and Adrianne Lenker.
Based on Sidd Wali ’25, saxophonist for Stanford’s “dad rock of each era” band, Normal Consumption, the convenience with which college students transition from classical repertoire to pop is a testomony to the technical prowess plentiful on The Farm.
“When you will have so many gifted musicians who know the right way to play so properly, it’s straightforward to modify them right into a pop setting,” Wali stated. “I feel that’s why we’re seeing so many individuals pop up — there’s a lot expertise right here that wasn’t utilized earlier than.”
Ty Hosein ’26, lead singer of Stanford’s jazz pop and neo soul group Six of Spades, feels that scholar talents have gone under-utilized as an unlucky aspect impact of Stanford’s post-pandemic insurance policies, which implicitly discouraged the formation of bands within the transition again on campus.
“It was onerous to get gigs getting back from the pandemic, so individuals have been taking part in free of charge,” Hosein stated. “It’s nice they received to play, however cultivating a tradition of taking part in free of charge — for publicity — isn’t what you need as an artist.”
Creating scholar bands may be robust in a barren musical neighborhood. At Stanford, some bands established their preliminary presences exterior of scholar social scenes.
When Normal Consumption was began in 2022, “there wasn’t a lot of a band ecosystem,” Wali stated. “There weren’t many events to play at, so it didn’t make sense. We have been taking part in a whole lot of gigs free of charge.”
Regardless of early setbacks, curiosity within the student-run music neighborhood appears to be selecting up pace as college students have the prospect to attend extra scholar band performances. Such was the case with Six of Spades’s headline present at this 12 months’s Admit Weekend, Spade Rade. Based on Six of Spades drummer Sid Yu ’26, the occasion impressed a gaggle of present frosh jazz musicians to type their very own band. Seeing new sparks ignite in underclassmen brings achievement to a number of the early post-pandemic pioneers.
“A whole lot of new bands are popping up,” Wali stated. “Now there’s a powerful band ecosystem, which is what we wished. We have been a part of the unique wave. It’s cool to see it paying off.”
Throughout the Bay, Berkeley’s band tradition stays comparatively small and informal, which could be a power, in line with Jillian Flynn. Flynn is the lead singer of The Scorching Teas, Cal’s one-stop store for Mariah Carey hits and neo-nineties bliss.
“There are only a few bands on campus, and most of them find yourself taking part in for Greek life. We have now a whole lot of DJs right here; dwell music isn’t as massive compared,” Flynn stated. “I feel it’s cool that there are solely a few bands. We get to carry out with one another. There are much more alternatives to be known as upon for exhibits.”
Miles Griffin ’27, guitarist for The Pansies, stated they benefit from the intimate, “laid again” music tradition on campus.
Whereas the extremely curated environments of Stanford and Berkeley supply distinctive sources for rising, like-minded artists, additionally they pose distinctive challenges for these with long-term musical aspirations. Forming a band inside a extremely musically proficient scholar physique is simply the tip of the iceberg of hurdles; for one, Nandyala feels that rising grind tradition and world-class lecturers search to “discourage the inventive mindset.”
“Individuals are so busy right here. It’s onerous to ingrain the extent of ardour you will have [for music] onto others once they have downside units they care about,” Nandyala stated. “There’s one thing about being in a band that goes far the place you want that factor of getting nothing to lose — that factor of ridiculousness — which isn’t actually on campus proper now.”
For Wali, the impermanent nature of Stanford’s band tradition reinforces his appreciation for the artform.
“Pursuing music at Stanford is realizing the entire time that it isn’t end-all-be-all,” Wali stated. Normal Consumption has all the time been momentary. The truth that it’s going to finish sooner or later makes me take pleasure in each efficiency and rehearsal we’ve got — it retains me current.”
Jacob Isrow, drummer for Berkeley’s The Scorching Teas, as a substitute views his dedication to music in the long run, whether or not that be within the type of an official band or via different means.
“Music shouldn’t be the form of factor you hand over. It modifications varieties,” Isrow stated. “Individuals will discover alternative ways to maintain it of their lives, however I feel I converse for everybody [in the band] after I say it’s a non-negotiable.”
Whatever the longevity of their pursuits, Stanford and Berkeley bands expressed frustration with the rehearsal services and useful resource allocation at their universities. Based on Six of Spades keyboardist Kai Charp ’26, pianos which are accessible throughout campus are out of tune. This contains the tiny upright piano he and his 5 bandmates use to rehearse in one in all Braun Music Heart’s compact, three-person follow rooms.
Not solely are rehearsal devices minimally maintained; rehearsal areas are additionally onerous to return throughout, since scholar bands can’t register to make use of them, in line with Charp. His trombonist bandmate Andrew Zhang ’26 added that there are two rooms allotted for formally registered scholar music teams.
The Scorching Teas and different scholar bands at Berkeley don’t obtain monetary compensation from the college, as they don’t seem to be “university-affiliated” organizations. Apply rooms are additionally usually too small to accommodate the sizes of the bands, in line with Griffin.
“We’ve purchased all of our personal tools,” Flynn stated. “The varsity has follow rooms that college students pay to hire. We don’t use these rooms.”
Stanford and the College of California, Berkeley didn’t present remark.
Regardless of the obstacles they face in buying satisfactory rehearsal services and help, Stanford and Berkeley bands keep the colourful, usually eccentric tradition that surrounds their presence on campus.
The bands implement distinctive traditions to announce their presence and put together for performances on their respective campuses. Miscellaneous taking part in playing cards flashing a six of spades are scattered all through Stanford’s campus. The Scorching Teas pat their bassist, Francesca Estrada, on the top for good luck previous to Row performances.
Based on the musicians, scholar bands play an integral function in strengthening the broader campus neighborhood. For Wali, watching dwell instrumentalists “creates a more in-depth neighborhood than listening to a DJ set” as a result of it’s a extra “tangible” and intimate expertise.
“On the finish of the day, unbridled by the biases of being musicians, it’s about scholar life and college students with the ability to take pleasure in dwell music,” stated Six of Spades guitarist Jules Jackson ’26. “That requires funding, house for dwell music to occur, house for dwell music to be rehearsed. It’s attainable with the precise sources. You’ll be able to’t neglect it.”
Andrew Zhang ’26 writes for The Day by day.