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College welcomes Crumb: indie, intimate, immersive

November 17, 2017

Ann Basu
SOOTHING GROOVES: The up-and-coming Tufts-bred band Crumb played in Quinby last Saturday night. The group distances itself from labels, combining elements of jazz, psychedelic rock, funk and pop to create a unique sound.

Memorably eccentric and effortlessly endearing, the Tufts-bred band Crumb was an instant hit at Quinby House last Saturday night. The performance, featuring songs from the quartet’s latest EP “Locket,” wrapped up the final installment of WBOR’s fall concert series.

The band—composed of recent college graduates Brian Aronow (synth/keyboard/saxophone), Jonathan Gilad (drums), Lila Ramani (singer/guitarist) and Jesse Brotter (bass)—made its stage debut exactly one year ago last Saturday. Reminiscing about their journey, members reflected on how the group came into being in an organic manner, starting off simply as college friends sharing a mutual love for music.

Ann Basu

“We were just friends, and [we were] playing and living together in different little musical projects and stuff, and [Crumb] has just been like the past year,” said Brotter.

Much like the soothing, aquatic grooves of its music, the band’s personality is simultaneously intimate and enigmatic. With influences from ’60s and ’70s music, Crumb channels a synthesizing style that combines elements of jazz, psychedelic rock, funk and pop. The band distances itself from labels and takes pride in its originality.

“It’s cheesy, but it is hard to describe your own music because obviously you don’t go through the world … closing yourself off with, ‘Listen, you’re just this or that,’” said Brotter.

IndieCurrent, an independent music blog, poetically describes Crumb as “a band of dreamers,” able to dissect and transform seemingly mundane experiences. Perhaps the group’s creative success is indebted to the members’ close dynamic, both professionally and socially. Ideas and inspirations constantly bounce back and forth.

“It’s really not anything said or put words to. We’re always showing each other stuff and collaborating on ideas … We are all very different types of musicians, and we all bring something to the table, [which] balances one another out with different strengths and weaknesses,” said one band member, who the reporter could not identify due to the loud venue.

“I think it is nice that we are all really good friends, and we were friends before we were a band,” added Ramani. “I can’t imagine being in a band that has more people.”

Close collaboration becomes particularly valuable to members of the up-and-coming group—they all recently graduated from Tufts—as they navigate the music business.

“I think we’re doing a pretty good job managing it ourselves, and not trying to expand too quickly,” said Crumb. “We’ve all learned a shit ton of stuff.”

Crumb’s independent status aligns with WBOR’s new initiative to bring diverse perspectives to campus. Danny Banks ’19, concert director of WBOR, explained how it chose to dedicate its resources differently this year.

“One of the cool things about WBOR is that it’s kind of our job to find underexposed acts, who also happen to be cheaper,” he said. “What we’re trying to do this year is have three shows a semester [instead of one] to constantly expose people to new music. Hopefully they like it.”

Banks was introduced to Crumb by Enrique Mendia ’20, co-station manager of WBOR, who discovers indie bands through Bandcamp—an online music store and promotion platform mainly serving independent artists—among other means, and has been a longtime fan of Crumb himself.

“I think it was a huge success. I think Bowdoin doesn’t really get the chance to listen to this type of music that often, and a lot of people seemed to be having a good time. That’s all we want,” said Mendia.

Crumb’s presence was particularly inspiring to Bowdoin’s music community, being so close in age and similar in experience to the College’s own student groups. Sophomore Adam Cohen, whose band World Peach opened for Crumb, responded with enthusiasm.

“It was an honor to open for them because they are ridiculously amazing,” Cohen said. “[I like] the way they melt together all these genres, like rock and jazz and funk—they do a great job that way.”

Crumb gave aspiring musicians like Cohen simple yet profound advice.

“Just do it. Keep playing, and keep listening to your heart.”

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