WMUA’s Fall Concert rocks Amherst with Massachusetts bands

Complete with The Drake’s disco ball and dancing!


Boston Band Ski Club opens their set with a long, instrumental rock song. Photo by Emilee Klein

In the light of the shimmering disco ball at The Drake, shred guitar, groovy synth and emotion-packed performances electrified the audience at WMUA’s annual fall concert on Nov. 12. 

The show featured two bands with beginnings at UMass: WMUA’s Battle of the Band’s winner Bubble Scary and indie-pop group Sasha and the Valentines, as well as Boston post-punk band Ski Club to expand the music selection beyond Amherst’s town lines.

“Usually our fall shows are smaller than our spring, so I wanted it to be more local and appreciative of local music throughout Massachusetts, not just the Pioneer Valley,” WMUA events coordinator Isabel Durning said.

The show opened with familiar tunes from Bubble Scary, who mixes soft indie melodies with rock-n-roll intensity. The band set the tone of the night with music that meshed both styles of the other two bands: the deep indie tone vocals of Phoebe Bridgers and Faye Webster with alternative accompaniment similar to The Killers or Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Bubble Scary opens the concert with many of the same songs featured in their Battle of the Bands performance. Photo by Emilee Klein

“The lead [singer] was amazing!” audience member Elena Greco said about Bubble Scary. “She was just so emotional in her performance, something about the emotion in her face just made me really feel the music.”

After Bubble Scary, Ski Club, painted in red light, began jamming to a high-energy instrumental song accented by guitar shredding, funky bass and dancing around the stage. Each song that followed leaned into different elements of post-punk: some emphasized relaxed funk and jazz while others included screaming or jump choreography.

The Ski Club band members interacted with the audience throughout their set more than the other acts. Lead singer and guitarist Abigail Zachko introduced bassist Evan Cieplik’s grandmother, who watched from the sidelines, before Cieplik got up to the microphone to shout out his “Mima”. Zachko asked the audience’s opinion of Cieplik’s dress, which was from her wardrobe, and apologized to the audience for playing a red guitar sitting on stage after a string on her own snapped. 

In the final act, Sasha and the Valentines altered the tone of high-energy rock and jazz to dreamlike indie bathed in a purple light. The audience bopped along to the originals from their album “So You Think You Found Love?” Sasha and the Valentines’ sound blended 80s pop rock like The Cranberries and Modern English with immersive indie such as Beach House.

The members of Sasha and the Valentines are UMass alumni. According to a KUTX artist feature, the bandmates played in separate groups before reuniting in Austin, Texas to form Sasha and the Valentines. Durning said the band reached

Sasha and the Valentines plays songs from their new album to close the show. Photo by Emilee Klein

out to WMUA to perform at their alma mater. 

Durning added the band requested UMass-specific hospitality “They wanted to go to Frank because they wanted to reminisce,” she said. “They’re staying on-campus; they’re at the UMass Hotel.”

Both WMUA staff and students in the audience enjoyed the off-campus venue of the show. While The Drake’s location in downtown Amherst gets students out of UMass grounds, it also opens up WMUA’s events to a wider community.

“It’s great because we can attract some more community members as well; when it’s on campus it can feel a little isolated, but this way we can attract people and welcome people from all different areas of Amherst,” WMUA general manager Kate Horgan said. “It’s exciting I think also for people who are on campus all the time to have an off-campus venue to come and appreciate live artists.”

Email Emilee Klein at [email protected]

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