Just before April break, students were treated to a fantastic concert at Chum’s. The lights were dim, the couches were pushed to the back of the room, chatter filled the air and the band—a five-piece calling themselves The Fantasy Echoes—was placed on center stage. Sponsored by SEA (Students for Environmental Action), The Fantasy Echoes performed music they had compiled for their first, self-titled EP in a performance that lasted about an hour.
All but one of the band members are currently enrolled at Brandeis: Austin Koenigstein ’17 plays guitar and is one of the band’s vocalists, Antoine Malfroy-Camine ’17 plays bass, Ryan Gebhardt ’17 performs both vocals and guitar, Elan Wong ’15 plays keys, and Dan Schreiber ’14 is on drums. They didn’t have to go to great lengths to find each other. Malfroy-Camine and Koenigstein happened to be roommates their first year and would periodically jam out together in their free time. Koenigstein knew Gebhardt through a mutual acquaintance, and the band met its future pianist and percussionist through VoiceMale, an all-male a cappella group at Brandeis.
Although The Fantasy Echoes have cultivated their own sound, the band has noticeable influences, including Cage the Elephant. When asked about their development as a band, “The sense of direction and overall seriousness we had last year pales in comparison to what we have now,” Koenigstein said. “I like to think each of us has something special that we can supply to the sound as a whole, but many of our ideas and abilities are still kind of like jigsaw pieces needing to be put together with care.”
The self-titled EP contains diverse song titles like “Those Eyes,” “Battle Cry” and “Chorus of Mimes.” When it comes to music composition, it is always interesting to hear from the band members themselves how they put the music together, where they derive their inspiration and what the finished product—the album—really means to them. According to Koenigstein, creating the album was very natural, and it shouldn’t necessarily be dissected and analyzed; it is far better to just enjoy the finished product for what it is and remark on the journey it took to get it there.
As a whole, the band was fantastic. Each member, be they the pianist, guitarist or vocalist, really seemed invested in their individual performance. The excitement and enthusiasm did not ebb for even a moment during the concert, and the event, overall, was instrumental in showcasing Brandeis’ varied talent. As an audience member I noticed how the performers appeared to wield their instruments like extra appendages; their bodies melted into their instruments, which revealed the musician’s comfort level performing in their own domain.
“Ryan and I split writing and singing duties on this EP, so I would say that, at least for this EP, themes do vary. But I like that. Ryan’s songs (and this is only my perspective) seem to be more concerned with the operating of an intimate relationship, while mine might be a bit more interested in my own operating and how I perceive and express things outside of myself,” Koenigstein said. His apt explanation speaks more to the message of the EP, though I also noted how the songs place their listeners on a boat and cast them away.
Looking to the future, the band knows that the only way they can go is up: “I would resent myself if I put any boundaries on what I think we can and will accomplish … We have come a long way since we began playing together, so I am optimistic about where it can be headed if we put in the right amount of effort. Sound-wise, who knows what will happen? … I have a lot of faith in this band, and these guys are not afraid to step out of their comfort zones.”