Student band The Raisins will tell you that regardless of what happens during a performance, “you just got to embrace it”—especially if that means over 50 people storm the stage and Campus Safety turns off your amps.
And, in the midst of all that, you keep playing.
The Raisins, who performed in Armstrong Hall Saturday night, went on stage to an anticipatory, and rowdy , student audience around 10:30 p.m. The six-piece band, which has become a campus favorite due to regular house party appearances and a performance at last year’s Llamapalooza, set the tone for the night with a cover of an Allman Brother’s tune as their opener, “Whipping Post.”
Several songs deep into the performance, students began to trickle onto the stage for a quick dance move before being promptly run off when confronted by Campus Safety officers.
However, as a particularly excitable jam began to reach its peak, the trickle of students on stage turned into a flood; within a minute, half the audience was on stage dancing.
“I kept looking up there [at the soundbooth], and the tech was making a ‘cut-off’ motion,” sophomore keyboardist Rajah Brose said. “I got that cold feeling when you know you’re not making any sound. That’s when I got shut off. I couldn’t fix it, so I just started dancing with the crowd.”
According to The Pathfinder, CC’s student rulebook, student bands are “bound to the behavioral regulations of the school,” and Campus Safety retains the right to shut down an event in response to the performers’ conduct.
The Raisins were not told prior to the event, due to the fact that there was “no apparent concern about the behavior” of the crowd, that there would be a circumstance in which the performance would be shut down.
“It’s rare to have conduct issues of this sort at CC events,” Assistant Director of Campus Safety Nick Calkins said. “If there are issues with unauthorized persons attempting to access the stage, crowd surfing, or related activities, they are usually limited to a very few people who are responsive to the direction of the staff.”
Despite Campus Safety’s direction — which was made audible through the public address system — for the band to cease, The Raisins continued to perform, building off the energy from the crowd.
“This is why we call it rock and roll,” junior Raisins guitarist Ben Brown said.
Immediately following the band’s decision to keep playing, all power to the stage was cut off.
Coincidentally, the power cutoff occurred at the same time freshman drummer Gabe Sashihara began a pre-arranged drum solo. Sashihara improvised an extended solo, much to the pleasure of the on-stage crowd, while the other members of the band, visibly flustered, debated whether to keep playing.
“It was a good time, but it was disorienting because I couldn’t see my bandmates,” Sashihara said. “It just got out of hand.”
In response, junior guitarists Ben Brown and Daniel Sponseller ran to the power strips that supported their amps and flipped the switches back on.
“We had actually experienced that before at house parties—stuff gets unplugged,” Brown said. “We ran around to plug stuff back in. It’s sort of an athletic event.”
With the re-amplified instruments, made clear by the booming of junior Eli Sashihara’s bass amp, The Raisins continued the show and urged everyone offstage; the audience quickly obeyed. Due to keyboardist Bose’s and junior saxophonist Carson McLeod’s reliance on the PA system, now shutdown, they were rendered inaudible.
Despite this setback, McLeod proceeded to play saxophone acoustically, leaning into the audience as Bose continued to dance.
“The band continued to play,” Calkins said. “At that point, the band was directed to stop playing, and people were asked to leave the venue.”
The Raisins finished the song, and then thanked the audience.
“We always strive to learn from situations and adjust our plans accordingly so there could be some changes for future events,” Calkins said. “Any changes would be directed toward keeping an event enjoyable and entertaining but adding measures to improve security. It could be something as simple as outlining expectations in advance.”
The Raisins have not received any disciplinary action as a result of their performance.
“When you’re playing distorted electric guitars and the school’s all there, of course it’s going to be a different experience,” Brown said. “It’s a theatrical experience, and that’s what people come for, to be a part of it.”
Though The Raisins attribute the majority of their success to rehearsals, Sponseller suggested that the improvisation needed when playing for an audience, especially in this instance, is something that can’t be practiced.
“When you’re performing, you’ve got this new entity, and you saw it happen tonight,” Sponseller said after the show. “That’s not going to happen in rehearsal. You can’t be ready for that.”
Jack Sweeney, Managing Editor