While pandemic restrictions at the College have limited the number of in-person gatherings on campus, Bowdoin’s tradition of live student bands has continued performing into the fall semester. Last Friday, student-run band Mistaken for Strangers performed for the first time in front of a live audience at MacMillan House and plans to continue performing on campus.
Despite playing a full set for a crowd last weekend, the six musicians that comprise Mistaken for Strangers—keyboardist Loftin Propst ’24, bassist Shea Sewall ’24, guitarist Alex Kozic ’24, guitarist Colter Adams ’24, singer Peyton Semjen ’24 and drummer Alex Washburn ’25— have only been rehearsing together in person for about a month.
According to Propst, nearly all of the band’s members met during their first semester last fall, although Sewall explained that it wasn’t until the end of last semester that Kozic joined the band.
“[Kozic] came to the Brunswick Inn, where I was staying with Loftin and Peyton, and he said something about wanting to form a band,” Sewall said.
The six-musician group started making plans over the summer, but it wasn’t until they returned to Brunswick in August that they were all able to rehearse for the first time.
Despite the quick turnaround from initial rehearsals to performing for crowds, Probst felt the performance was well received by the Bowdoin community.
“It was incredible,” Propst said. “It was really cool to be able to feel the energy of so many people being so excited at once again, because I feel like that’s been such a rarity since COVID hit.”
Even though the event took place outdoors, Propst said that attendee safety was a priority for the band.
“It’s hard to just spontaneously have a concert because you have to go through different processes that you normally wouldn’t have to factor in,” Probst said.
Sewall agreed that the pandemic has made group gatherings more difficult to plan over the past 18 months, but felt that he had gotten used to taking safety precautions.
“It makes [setting up performances] kind of a pain, but that’s true for so many things now that I almost don’t notice it anymore,” Sewall said.
Following their first performance, the Mistaken for Strangers group is already starting to make more ambitious plans for the future, according to Propst.
“Everyone in the band is really good at their instrument, and I think that it’ll be fun to explore everybody’s capabilities and to play more difficult stuff,” Propst said.
Although Propst said that the performance at MacMillan last week mainly consisted of popular sing-along classics that the crowd could recognize, the group has discussed adding original material to their repertoire in the future as well.
“There’s always stuff being messed with when we’re all playing together as a band,” Propst said. “We don’t have any finalized originals but that’s definitely a plan for the future.”
Mistaken for Strangers is only the latest in a long line of student-run bands at Bowdoin, and Propst said that this tradition of musicality is one of his favorite parts of being in a band at Bowdoin.
“I feel like every other person I meet wants to be able to play music together, or has at least played music growing up,” Propst said. “It’s such a musical campus, and it’s so cool to be able to appreciate that with so many different people.”
Peyton Semjen is a member of the Bowdoin Orient.