The pillar symbolized everything.
The following declaration may not seem like a revelation to students who have been at Northwestern for a few years, but here it is anyway: Shanley Pavilion is a weird place. If you haven’t been there before, imagining that a small, cozy indie rock venue fell from the sky and landed on an idiosyncratic patch of grass behind Kellogg should paint the picture pretty well. It looks a little out of place among the towering university buildings and expansive parking lots that surround it, but Shanley ended up being the perfect place for Saturday’s triple whammy concert of NU student bands and Chicago-based group Radar Eyes. WNUR Rock Show Director Dan Sloan said Shanley just has “it,” a great indie rock vibe.
“It was never really a question,” Sloan said about the venue choice. “This was the perfect venue for a rock show, we thought. It’s kinda small and dingy, and it feels sort of rock n’ roll.”
Shanley does indeed have an unpolished vibe to it, symbolized by the pillar. That is, the pillar right in front of the stage that ended up blocking at least one of the people playing music no matter where you stood in the crowd. As in, one of the people playing music as part of whysowhite, The Earth is a Man, and Radar Eyes, the three bands brought to Shanley Saturday night by a joint effort of WNUR and Niteskool.
Sloan said the motives behind Saturday’s show included publicizing WNUR, Northwestern's student-run radio station, and reaching out to the NU student body.
“I think we might have a reputation for self-conscious difficulty,” Sloan said. “Like, ‘ah, it’s just noise’ or whatever. I think it’s a reputation that is more reputation than how we actually are. So I guess the goal is to make students aware of us, because I think a lot of people would dig what we play.”
Radar Eyes, the Saturday’s main act, is a Chicago-based band that just released their eponymous debut album. Originally they were booked to do a live set for WNUR’s Airplay show, but Sloan said they decided to expand that event into a concert. Then the idea was raised to have student bands as openers, which got Niteskool involved.
Niteskool President Mori Einsidler said whysowhite and The Earth is a Man were chosen as openers after Niteskool members reviewed student submissions and chose the two they thought to be the best fit.
The eclectic evolution of the event itself was embodied by the music performed. Whysowhite, a band composed mostly of NU alums who performed at Dillo Day last year, seemed to change genres with every song, moving from funk to R&B to a cover of the “All That” theme song (complete with rap verses), and everything in between. The Earth is a Man followed: if their music was light, it would be a beautiful shapeshifting masses, like one of the aliens from the second Zenon movie. And Radar Eyes brought a head-banging energy to their songs, some of which were reminiscent of Ramones covers.
The crowd shifted along with the music. Students who came to hear whysowhite and The Earth is a Man left after their sets finished, and there was definitely an influx of people solely interested in hearing Radar Eyes, resulting in a gradual shift from a sea of A&O sweaters and PWild hats to an audience sprinkled with bearded adults.
“I think there were different crowds for the bands,” Einsidler said. “Overall, though, we were thrilled with how it turned out. The fact that these college bands were able to draw such a crowd made us excited about doing more events in the future.”