While Bowdoin students may recognize Alex Washburn ’25 as the drummer of campus band Lily in the Weeds, over winter break he swapped college house shows for California campuses as he toured Southern California with his musically-inclined home friends. What began for Washburn and his friends as a distraction from Covid-19 lockdowns grew into the Palo Alto-based group Good Fast Cheap. The group performed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on January 12 and at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) on January 13.
Washburn was quick to express what makes the band special.
“I’d say [our band] is a very collaborative thing and not very individualistic. [We have] people playing with us just for one concert. On that note, [the band] is super improvisational,” Washburn said. “People can really express themselves, and I think that’s what makes it so interesting.”
The improvisational and expressive traits of Good Fast Cheap are apparent in its musical choices, playing everything from Tedeschi Trucks Band covers to Bruno Mars tunes—all while having two drummers play at the same time.
“Being able to do a drum solo together … was really fun. I think [having two drummers] gave the band a way fuller sound because we [also] have around five horn players and two to three guitars,” Washburn said.
UCLA sophomore and audience member Louie Reichmuth was impressed with many of the band’s musicians, including Washburn and his fellow percussionist.
“The lead vocalist was very impressive. Her voice was really good. Also, the bassist was shredding,” Reicmuth said. “The two people playing the drums [and] complementing each other was really impressive.”
The tour allowed for the members of Good Fast Cheap to meet and connect with many other musicians. The band Swade served as an opening act for the UCLA show.
“In both locations, we played with four or five people who we had never played with before from [UCLA] itself, which was super fun. It was just such a cool way to meet new people,” Washburn said.
The band did have its fair share of complications along the way, from the severe storms in California to the police shutting down the UCLA show early.
“Fifteen minutes into the gig, the police showed up, which was a bit of a bummer, but they let us play for another 45 minutes,” Washburn said.
The show went on, leading many passersby and neighbors to stop in their tracks and investigate the scene further.
“Tons of people were showing up. I saw people listening from the other side of the street in their apartments, and [they started] opening windows to listen,” Reichmuth said.
Washburn is grateful for the experience, citing the audiences he encountered as particularly valuable.
“It’s rare that I get to play at a school [other than Bowdoin], and there were people from completely different walks of life and people who walked by randomly and wanted to come check us out,” Washburn said.
Despite scheduling conflicts and long distances, Washburn and Good Fast Cheap managed to put their stamp on SoCal. Bowdoin music fans will be glad to hear Washburn playing back on campus this semester.