Chicago-based band the Shades to perform Saturday night

by Sophia Siu | 2/24/16 6:01pm

The Shades will perform on campus on February 27, at the Brews & Bands event.

The Shades will be performing in Brews & Bands on Saturday, Feb. 27, for its first college show of the year. This concert will kick off a tour that includes six more shows in colleges across New England through the beginning of April.

Prior to the Shades’ formation in 2012, brothers and band members Phil and Mark Jacobson had met Andrew DeMuro at the University of Miami in 2008. Mark Jacobson and DeMuro lived on the same freshman floor and bonded over a mutal fondness for singing in their dorm rooms, DeMuro said. According to the band’s biography, DeMuro also sang with Mark’s older brother, Phil Jacobson, in the university’s top jazz vocal ensemble.

The Jacobson brothers returned to their hometown, Chicago, after graduation, and DeMuro soon joined them after being placed there by Teach For America.

While performing in bars in Chicago, DeMuro would occasionally invite the Jacobson brothers to sing with him, and it did not take long before the Jacobsons and DeMuro decided to come together and form the Shades.

As a band that performs at venues ranging from bars to summer festivals, the Shades play a mix of covers and original pieces, Mark Jacobson said.

“If we’re playing in a bar we tend to play a lot of pop covers and songs people know,” he said. “I like to tell people that we play everything from Beatles to Bieber, but we like to perform in more intimate venues with stripped down acoustic sets, and we’ll throw in more folk-type tunes in those.”

DeMuro pointed out that the band does not like to put limits or labels on its music, noting that their original music is inspired by an eclectic range of music and artists.

Mark Jacobson said, “It’s the same as with covers. Whatever we’re feeling at the time bleeds into what we try to write.”

Phil Jacobson cited Crosby, Stills & Nash, James Bay, and Brandi Carlile as recent influences on the band’s music, as the band members spend time listening to their music last summer not just at home but in their cars and on their phones.

Daniel Shanker ’16, a member of student band Half the City which will be opening for the Shades on Saturday, said that the Shades have a compelling acoustic and harmony-driven sound.

“I also like that you can tell that they’re having fun with what they do,” Shanker said.

The band members pride themselves on their unique use of a three-part harmony and their ability to incorporate the three-part harmony into songs from a wide range of genres.

“What’s interesting about us is that we all sing, and usually we all sing at the same time in a three-part harmony, so any tune where we can fit something like that in and put our spin on it, we do. That’s anything from folk music to rock music to R&B to Motown,” DeMuro explained.

The Shades’ use of the three-part harmony allows them to bring a fresh sound to songs from older generations and appeal to a wide range of audiences.

“When it comes down to playing acoustic, we have a little bit of freedom, but we also are pretty exposed all the time. I think that’s what catches people’s attention,” Phil Jacobson said. “When we’re playing with two guitars and three voices, it’s just very exposed and we’re putting it all out there.”

The use of three-part harmony has been a fixture in the Shades’ performances since the formation of the band.

“I would say that’s what started us out. We’d just be sitting around listening to a song or playing a song, and we’d all just innately jump in with harmony and just knew where to go. Just by listening with our ears, and that’s what drew us together into forming our group,” Mark Jacobson said.

The band is currently in the midst of recording new songs for its debut album, which the trio plan on releasing later this year.

“We’re going a little bit of a different route as far as recording this album — different than a lot of artists do, with the fact that we did some of it here in Chicago, and we have friends from around the country who have been adding in different parts,” Phil Jacobson said.

Although the album will contain only six tracks, Phil Jacobson said that they still want it to take the listeners on a journey.

“We really want it to be an experience from beginning to end. Even though it’s so short, we’re trying to create a bit of a journey through the album from song to song,” Phil Jacobson said.

The Shades have played at a number of venues in Chicago including the House of Blues, Mayne Stage, Uncommon Ground and Cubby Bear, as well as a street festivals during the summers. The band currently has a residency at Elbo Room, a live music venue and lounge in Chicago, where they play the last Friday of every month.

Despite the attention and energy required in recording its upcoming album, the Shades consider the college tour to be a valuable tool in developing its fan base.

“Continuing to grow and build a fan base is an ongoing goal that we’re working on,” Phil Jacobson said.

The Shades will be performing in One Wheelock at 10 p.m. as part of the Brews & Bands series.