For the second year in a row, A&O Productions teamed up with Dance Marathon for a spring benefit concert on Sunday. This year's concert, which featured Anamanaguchi and Dr. Dog, drew about 450 people and raised over $550 for DM’s 2013 beneficiary. A&O sold posters for $2 at the door and the free concert had a suggested $5 donation.
The concert was also plagued by inclement weather for the second consecutive year. In 2011, when there was no spring but rather a long Snowpocalypse-plagued winter that eventually decided to turn to summer, a cloudy day chilled the fingers of Best Coast singer Bethany Consentino, whose sunny pop sing-alongs were far removed from the California home that inspired them. This year thunderstorm warnings relocated the concert entirely, moving it inside from the Norris East Lawn to the Louis Room.
“Such is Evanston,” said Communication senior Elsa Stahura, one of the co-publicity chairs of A&O Productions. “It’s part of the Northwestern experience for the weather to get in your way. When I first heard it was moving inside I was disappointed, but then I walked in and saw the stage Production created. Both Dr. Dog and Anamanaguchi did an incredible job in the Louis Room. It would’ve been a completely different concert if it was outside, but it was still incredible.”
Over 450 people showed up to the Louis Room for the concert, which Weinberg junior and DM Executive Co-Chair Matt Larsen said was due to the effort DM put in at promoting the event.
“We enhanced the promotion this year,” Larsen said. “We painted the rock on Thursday and played music by both Dr. Dog and Anamanaguchi to grab the attention of bypassers. I think that’s why so many people still showed up even though the concert was inside.”
Any thoughts that the concert would be ruined by its relocation were dashed by the mini mosh pit during Anamanaguchi’s set of genre-defying jams. Anamanaguchi, albeit a traditional four-piece rock band, spiced up their music with 8-bit samples that made the listener feel like they’re playing an '80s video game (“it sounds like Akira and shit,” lead singer Peter Berkman said during the set). The band augmented this aesthetic with a stage presence that included a bass with multicolored strings, a screen that flashed cartoon images and pictures of pizza and an energetic drummer who spent most of the set shirtless.
They were followed shortly by Dr. Dog, who, despite the chillness of their indie folk tunes, managed to be even more frenetic than their opener. A set that included cuts from both their latest release, Be the Void, and earlier favorites like “Shadow People” drove the crowd to a lot of headbanging.
Bassist Toby Leaman often pulled his blue ski hat over his eyes and snarled as he danced and played and singer and guitarist Scott McMicken adhered to the Neil Young vibe approximated by his long hair, high singing voice and plaid shirt. Still, McMicken showed a different side of himself during the band’s encore, when he juggled oranges during an extended jam sesh and called on the crowd to match him in a “who can sing higher” singing contest. Aside from Communication junior Jesse Swedlund jumping on stage to peel one of McMicken’s oranges in one go, the audience was not too receptive. The band concluded with their classic rendition of Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart It Races,” which again brought the crowd up to hand-clapping, singalong levels of energy.
Both Dr. Dog and Anamanaguchi will be returning to Chicago in August for Lollapalooza, which Stahura said was part of the draw.
“Dr. Dog is a huge name right now, and the fact that both of them are playing at Lolla was a huge draw for us,” she said. “The Concerts committee did a great job of surveying the student body and finding this huge Dr. Dog following. With benefit concerts we try to bring in smaller bands with niche followings, but that are still so good that anyone can enjoy themselves.”