Rock returns to Dartmouth with Friday night series

by Christine Huggins | 1/29/04 6:00am

Last spring, Don Stewart '06 and Mat Brown '05 saw two socially dead entities of Dartmouth life -- live rock music and Fuel -- and got the idea to revive them in one fell swoop. Now, that initial thought has turned into a reality as Fuel is hosting a weekly showcase for campus rock bands in the previously frequently vacant Fuel.

Stewart and Brown recently sat down with The Dartmouth to talk about their joint venture.

The Dartmouth: What sparked the idea for this?

Mat Brown: Well, last spring there was a battle of the bands that was hosted in Fuel. We realized that Fuel felt like a rock club and that it should be a rock club. So, we talked it up and then made it happen. Between brainstorming, figuring out the specifics and getting the approval of the student activities chair, Linda Kennedy, we made Friday Night Rock a reality.

The D: This leads me to the next question. Why Fuel of all places?

Don Stewart: Well, once you get rid of all the lame dance lighting, the space itself is cool. Plus when it's filled with lots of people, it feels like a rock club.

The D: What bands have played already, and who is going to play?

MB: Well, two weekends ago, we had our first Friday Night Rock with Reaction Speaks. This weekend, Fashion! Fashion! is playing. Most of the bands we booked through our network of musician friends, but we also blitzed out to the campus, and we're always looking for new acts.

The D: So, what kind of music do the bands have to play for Friday Night Rock?

DS: Well, we're pretty discriminating. At least half of the music a band plays has to be original. Friday Night Rock is pretty much for bands that play on the campus but aren't really cover bands or jam bands. I remember when I was a freshman I had no frat connections, and, even if I had had connections, my band couldn't play their own music, because it wasn't "dance" music. We just didn't have any place to play. This is one of the reasons I think Friday Night Rock is important, because it opens up an opportunity for bands to play and for people to hear original music.

The D: So, how was the first show?

MB: It went really well. There were about 100 people there, and the capacity for Fuel is 125, so it was comfortably crowded. It was student staffed and organized and there was free food and drinks. Reaction Speaks had an awesome show. They are a serious band. This past weekend they went to New York City to do some recording. It was just cool to have some serious musicians on the stage.

The D: Where do you hope this could go?

DS: Well, for the short term we're just happy to create a venue for bands to perform. We were excited when the Canoe Club was coming because they were going to support live music--but live music there means solo acoustic acts, and we already have that with Lone Pine. Friday Night Rock is something new, something that was needed.

MB: For the long term, we just want to build a concrete scene. If we have talent here, then we can attract talent. There are lots of cool regional acts and the local acts in Manchester. We also have friends who would love to come here and play. By having a scene, we can bring in new bands and new sounds.

This way, Friday Night Rock becomes more than just a couple of bands performing. It becomes an atmosphere; it becomes a scene.