Student Spotlight: six juniors form alternative band ‘Microsoft Paint Shark’
The group uses a variety of instruments to develop a versatile and eclectic sound that crosses genres.
Piper Stacey '23, Luc Cote '23, Jake Zikan '23, George Stain '23, Tanner Rubeli '23 and Jonah Weinbaum '23 perform at FestNR this summer.
Debuting during the summer of 2021, the six member band Microsoft Paint Shark aims to share their own take on music through the use of a diverse set of instruments in a variety of genres.
Microsoft Paint Shark includes acoustic guitarist and vocalist Jake Zikan ’23, keyboard player Tanner Rubeli ’23, accordionist Piper Stacey ’23, bass guitarist George Stain ’23, electric guitarist Jonah Weinbaum ’23 and drummer Luc Cote ’23.
Rubeli and Zikan began Microsoft Paint Shark last fall as a duo, playing in their off-campus house basement. While just a hobby at first, they decided over the summer to expand the band and start performing publicly.
“I received an offer to perform at [a] Friday Night Rock event this [summer],” Zikan said. “I called George, Tanner and then the rest of our members, and boom, we became a band.”
According to Stain, Microsoft Paint Shark’s origins can be traced back to the bandmates’ shared involvement in the Dartmouth Outing Club.
“[We were] basically just, like, a group of friends — who did different things through the Dartmouth Outing Club, who all loved music [and who] decided to come together and form a band,” Stain said.
Microsoft Paint Shark combines the sounds of a wide spectrum of instruments, from acoustic guitar to an accordion, and performs songs from all types of genres. The group chooses their music based on each member’s strong suits and interests.
“We don’t have a defined genre, but if we had to say it in one word, alternative,” said Zikan. “We love it all: pop, rock, pop rock, alternative.”
For Mia Giallorenzi ’23, a fan who has attended both the band’s practices and their two on-campus performances, this versatility is something that she is drawn to.
“It’s always fun when they play pop stuff, but they also do a bunch of classic rock, which I love because it means that there’s something for everyone,” Giallorenzi said.
Giallorenzi added that she thinks the band is particularly well-fit for outdoor performances, pointing to a successful performance in August at FestNR, an outdoor concert at the Bema amphitheater on Aug. 7.
“It was super fun to have them playing with all of the other student bands and have all of the student bands cheering each other on,” said Giallorenzi. “I know they were nervous about FestNR because it was their first show, but they were amazing.”
Will Dowling ’23, who is a close friend to all the band members as well as a fan, praised Microsoft Paint Shark’s audience engagement.
“I really like that their music is more chill than some of the other on campus bands, but they still keep the audience engaged,” Dowling said.
Microsoft Paint Shark has not experienced any hiatus, like some other campus bands have, as the group was formed following the decline of COVID-19 cases and the revival of on-campus activities.
According to Stain, the group’s largest obstacle has been coordinating bandmates’ schedules during a busy fall term. Despite this challenge, Stain said that performing has simultaneously been a thrill and helped to alleviate the stresses of everyday academic life.
In the future, the band hopes to continue in-person performances and widen their audience, taking advantage of opportunities such as Friday Night Rock, according to Zikan.
“We do this for fun, and we enjoy having performances,” said Rubeli. “We want to keep going, keep playing and keep learning more stuff.”