Last Saturday, student band The Sapiens headlined a concert in the WBOR studio in the basement of Dudley Coe. It was the first time student groups had performed in the space since 2016.
The show opened with a set of all original songs by Thando Khumalo ’23. She joined the setlist the day of the performance, asking The Sapiens’ vocalist Lily Randall ’23 that morning over text if she could open for the band.
“[The show] was amazing,” Khumalo said. “I only played new songs that nobody has ever heard besides me. I was pretty hyped, but a little nervous.”
Mason Daugherty ’25, WBOR management member and the brains behind the event, was inspired by NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk’ performance series as well as Harry Rube ’16 and Sam Kyzivat ’18’s ‘Live on WBOR’ show from 2016. That show had seven performances, none of which had an in-person, live audience. Live on WBOR’s musicians played in the booth, where Daugherty originally planned to put The Sapiens.
“[The performance shifted out of the booth because] the Sapiens physically couldn’t fit in that space,” Daugherty said. “I mean, with the amount of people and equipment, it just would have been a little too cramped for comfort. So, we used the record vault and the mixing room.”
To Daugherty, the physical space of WBOR seemed like a perfect fit for the concert.
“It is a space that exists for the worship of music,” Daugherty said. “You have walls filled and lined with thousands of CDs and records and graffiti from DJs spanning the past nearly 25 years. It is a temple of arts and culture.”
On top of the event’s novelty, Daugherty felt that the concert was executed well.
“The event was a massive success, far greater than anybody could have anticipated for a trial run,” Daugherty said. “The main reason we [hosted] this was to make sure the setup would prove feasible for future performances. There were some technical difficulties with microphone levels. Now that we’ve gone through with this, we know what to fix for [the] next performance to make it sound stellar. I took an electronic music class last semester, which gave me the general knowledge needed to undertake the mixing, setting up and integrating of our current broadcast infrastructure.”
As for future events on-air, WBOR is open to everything.
“We have such a plethora of talent on campus,” Daugherty said. “And on a campus where you can’t use [college] funds to compensate student bands, the least you can do is give them a platform to share and distribute their music online and on-air right outside of the community, which is exactly what we’re doing.”
It was Daugherty who approached The Sapiens with the idea, explained pianist Caleb Friedman-Spring ’25.
“This started last spring, when there was leftover WBOR budget,” Friedman-Spring said. “[WBOR] was talking to us about what gear to buy that would enable live performances in that space. We got mics, speakers, a mixer and cords. [Everything] that we needed to make it happen. On our end, we just had to learn the songs.”
Although the technical marvel of the show was the purpose for the show’s inception, Friedman-Spring felt that the concert went well for the in-person crowd, too.
“I particularly loved the extra showmanship elements, like, Ben [Israel ’25] and Benny [Adler ’25]’s dancing, various clapping and wardrobe changes. Honestly, we kind of forgot [that we were being recorded],” Friedman-Spring said. “From our perspective, it was more intimate, because the space is smaller. It was also definitely [more] meaningful, because [WBOR] is a special place to a lot of us.”
One spectator, Kaitlin Weiss ’25, found the physical space to be crucial to the magic of the concert.
“It was incredible,” Weiss said. “I think that [the space] made me appreciate the actual music that they were playing more. You’re surrounded by all of these really beautiful records and you get to look around and see all this history of music around you. It was just an experience that was different from the other times I’ve heard [The Sapiens] play.”
Vaughn Vial, Lily Randall and Benny Adler are members of the Bowdoin Orient.