Student Spotlight: TDX band The Dandelions hopes to expand their repertoire and fan base
Following their first official performance this summer, fans of the group anticipate an energetic series of shows this year.
The Dandelions playing at Chi Heorot on Sept. 18th, their first performance of fall term.
Connected by their fraternity and an appreciation for classic rock, Theta Delta Chi’s resident band, The Dandelions, celebrates the catharsis of musicality with their performances. Named after a friend’s infamous dandelion wine, the band comprises Keeks George ‘22 on guitar and vocals, guitarist Peter Chabot ‘22, Cam Guage ‘22 on saxophone and vocals, Nate Koidahl ‘22 on drums and percussion, Connor Morris ‘22 on piano and vocals and bassist TJ Bryan ‘23.
The Dandelions trace their roots back to the fall of 2019, when the band members first started coming together for impromptu jam sessions. Meeting twice a week to practice and performing over the summer, The Dandelions worked to find their sound, performing covers from The Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Grateful Dead. More recently, The Dandelions have also begun writing their own music.
Each of the band’s members has a distinctive background in music. Morris and Guage were classically trained, while Koidahl has experience drumming in a rock and roll style. George and Chabot are both self-taught, inspired by The Grateful Dead and other classic rock groups. The members find playing with The Dandelions to be a new creative experience.
“When I played music growing up, I played classical saxophone and a lot of scripted music,” said Guage. “For the first time here, I’m coming up with different ways to play songs and looking to draw from what the other people around me want to play, rather than just reading sheet music.”
The group’s favorite, and first official, performance took place at Whaleback Mountain on June 1st.
“Everything worked so well,” said Chabot. “It was the first time [since the pandemic started] that we were in a COVID-safe place where people could dance and have fun without any repercussions.”
While The Dandelions had played in small settings before, at Whaleback, they had the opportunity to perform live in front of a crowd.
“You don’t really realize how much fun you’re even having until you bring others in and see them excited and dancing,” said Guage. “It’s a whole other level of confirmation that what we’re doing is working.”
With eased COVID-19 restrictions, The Dandelions look forward to a series of performances in front of live audiences. However, the members said they also appreciate the freedom in playing recreationally for a small number or even just themselves.
“It’s actually really fun to play for just ourselves as well, no matter how many people come,” said George. “I remember the last time we were playing, people started leaving and we were deciding whether or not to play more songs or just leave [too] and we just ended up playing for another hour.”
The Dandelions aim to honor iconic rock classics like “Caravan” by Van Morrison and “Miss You” by The Rolling Stones. According to the band members, they hope to grow their set list with other crowd-pleasers, ranging genres as they expand on their previous focus on Grateful Dead covers.
Fans of The Dandelions are looking forward to upcoming performances.
“I couldn’t be more excited to hear the returning members bring the juice in what I hope will be one of many performances this year,” said Sam Hesler ‘22. “Peter Chabot even promised me a guitar solo which, if all goes well, may end up in a crowd surf.”
The Dandelions, who plan to perform often in the next few terms, have begun the process of creating a brand for themselves based around the image of the yellow dandelion: Fans of the band can be identified around campus by their bright yellow shirts.
“One of my favorite Grateful Dead lyrics is ‘sky was yellow and the sun was blue,’” said George. “So that fits well with the yellow t-shirt.”
Selling dandelion-yellow merchandise, performing smooth sounds at various social events on campus and frequently promoting their music on social media, The Dandelions want to craft a unique identity as a humorous band with an easygoing temperament.
To help focus on the creation of music and elevate the band’s image, fellow TDX member Charlie Little ‘22 has taken on the role of band manager.
“We try as hard as possible to make [the band] not have to deal with social [media], the media or other pressures that could impede the music,” said Little.
Aiming to transform The Dandelions into a permanent campus fixture, band members hope that their fraternity’s incoming classes will pick up instruments and replace the five graduating members.
“Last year we graduated two Dandelions and this year we will be graduating five,” said Guage. “We’re hoping to find some people to put on instruments this year — I’d like to keep it alive.”
The other members agree that the continued success of the band will depend not only on expanding their fan base but also on passing the baton to the next generation.
“Hopefully we can pass it on to underclassmen after we graduate,” said George.
Despite becoming more structured in recent years, The Dandelions seek to maintain their relaxed style, hoping to create a carefree environment for their performances, surrounded by cornhole and spikeball. The band has put some consideration into recording performances, but past attempts have been unsuccessful.
“That moment of playing the music isn’t going to be changed, whether it’s recorded or not,” said Guage. “While it is cool to have it to share with other people, in the end that’s just not as important as the current moment of it all.”