On Sunday, Sept. 6, Chum’s had its first event of the semester, marking the reopening of one of the safest, most comfortable places on campus. Last semester, Chum’s was closed without notice after a couple of students smoked inside, setting off the fire alarm. The staff members, unaware of what was occurring, did not evacuate everyone inside the building, which was considered a violation of safety practices.
BAM/CO (Brandeis Association for Music/Concert Organizing) hosted its first show of the year at Chum’s featuring California’s ZEBU! and local rock band Guerilla Toss. ZEBU! opened up the audience to the punk-rock atmosphere, with amplified guitar riffs and theatrical performances by band members Ted Lee and Steve D’Agostino. After the guitar warm-ups, Lee came down into the intimate and energetic audience and started stepping onto the ground, full of “dust, pieces of dust” collecting in his hands (he pointed his palms up to the spotlight) and stared at everyone in the audience, slowly walking toward everyone.
He then prompted a stuffed giraffe to start singing along: “He’s a little shy,” Lee suggested. The next performance-like song they played was one of their “acid rock songs” and the experimental sounds, loud voices and guitar and drums solos definitely made you feel as if you were experiencing a trance-like state, an effect that mimics being on drugs.
Once Guerilla Toss came on stage, everyone started eagerly jumping into each other in a friendly mosh-pit, creating a small circle full of new friends and experiences, head banging and sweating under the bright lights and vibrations of the music.
The band sold merchandise at the end, and I couldn’t help but admire Guerilla Toss’s trippy album cover. Illustrated on the front is the abstract shape of a face, full of other faces inside of each other, with neon colors that seem to pop out onto the walls. Surely influenced by Picasso’s style of his composition Guernica, all the faces seem to shape together into an intricate pattern of interconnectedness.
Their songs include “Smack the Brick,” “TV Spell,” “Cookie,” “ A Pig Who Feeds” and “367 Equalizer.” The band’s music is categorized as a sort of “mosh-funk, wave noise,” full of deep, psychedelic trances. According to Guerilla Toss, enjoying their music means, “you can get rowdy or you can just tune in and drop out.” Most of the experimental sounds avoid traditional musical conventions with their dark dance music that makes your head go fuzzy with sensational stimulation and ears ringing for days after.
ZEBU!, formed in 2003 at Hampshire College, is also another band that contains an innovative style of music that engages the audience: From using props ranging from throw blankets, furry animal headgear, bongos, banjos, feathers and “hipster-style” beards, this band is confident in claiming “Your Band is Nothing” (a title of one of their songs from their album “Hookers in Sweatpants.”) Their playlist “Chill Wave” also contains quirky, eccentric, beachy and creative song titles: “ Sugar Shells,” “Surfin Myrtle,” “ Snorkeling!” and “Blood on the Beach,” just to name of few.
Last semester, students made tremendous effort to protest the unfair ways in which Chum staff members were fired, as they lost their jobs without warning, the whole staff was blamed for the careless actions of only two staff members, and the staff was let go without any explanation or prior warning.
With this semester’s reopening, Chum’s looks more hopeful in terms of events. What Chum’s represents is this sort of eccentric, innovative style of vibes, music and interesting energy from the crowd and musicians. More clubs should start hosting events in Chum’s to get people acquainted with the underground, cozy area, not just limited to musicians and a cappella performances, but Chum’s needs to preserve the open-mic nights that were so successful from last semester and created a close space for everyone to fully express themselves.
Additionally, the food at Chum’s is unique concoctions that you will find nowhere else on campus. Whether you want breakfast for dinner or a filling snack, Chum’s has everything a student could ever want late at night when nothing else is open: eggs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, hummus and pita chips and big mugs filled with fair-trade coffee and tea.