The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

Amherst’s Newest Addition to the Vibrant Music Scene: South Pleasant Revival

A look into the formation of one of Amherst’s newest student-run bands.
Gabby Burdick
From left to right: Phillip Adams, Brendan Mullaney, Grace Kerlin, Henry Eustis, Flynn Duffy

It’s a Saturday night, and the crisp November air is thick with clouds of campfire and cigarette smoke—anticipation courses through the packed crowd of over 150 college students trying to keep warm in some woodsy backyard. The stage is all hand-made from slabs of plywood covered with old, thrifted rugs. It’s crowded with students in their worn-out denim and leather jackets. Chaotic chatter suddenly comes to a halt as the first chord of “Hotel California” rings out, and the show begins. 


From Dinosaur Jr. to Pixies, the densely populated college town of Amherst, Massachusetts is an unexpected breeding ground for aspiring musicians and performers. South Pleasant Revival (SPR) is a newer addition to the student music scene that attracts ongoing crowds of 20-something-year-olds with their high-energy performances, evident on-stage chemistry, and appreciation for classic rock.  


The band consists of five University of Massachusetts Amherst students who double as talented musicians: a lead singer, a lead guitarist, a rhythm guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer. 


Most of the members of SPR were practically strangers before the group got together in early 2023. Henry Eustis, SPR’s lead guitarist, originally had the idea to form a band in his sophomore year of college when he met Grace Kerlin, the now lead singer of SPR.  


“I always knew she [Kerlin] was a very good singer, and I always really kind of intended on playing with her in some capacity or another. But it’s tough to find, you know, got to find a drummer, got to find a bassist, all those things like that,” Eustis said. 


Kerlin has been writing and producing her own music since 2019, but she’s been singing almost all her life. 


“If you ask my mother, she’ll tell you that I started singing at like 18 months old,” Kerlin said. “They could not get me to be quiet.”

Cass Salot

SPR is the first band Kerlin has ever practiced and performed with, but according to drummer Flynn Duffy, you’d never be able to tell. 


“She has an amazing voice, she has an amazing look,” Duffy said. “She knows how to rock out and carries us very well in a live setting. You know, we’ve only had two shows, but the way she speaks, it’s like we’ve been around the world.”   


Eustis met Duffy when he saw him playing drums by an outdoor basketball court on campus. 


“Just alone, in the middle of the day, just playing drums,” Eustis said. “I’m like, alright, that takes balls. I’m gonna go talk to him and see what this kid’s about.”

Gabby Burdick

A few months later, Eustis sent Duffy a text suggesting they play together. Duffy claims he almost didn’t respond, as he’d forgotten whose number it was. 


“I texted back and was like, okay, maybe I’ll sit in and check it out, maybe I’ll do a trial run,” Duffy said. “And then the first day I came to practice, it was like, no, alright, this is the band now.” 


With his tall blonde mohawk and studded leather jackets, Flynn Duffy appears to be a crowd favorite. 


“He’s a great drummer, but his stage presence is incredible. I watched some of the videos of that and he just, he goes crazy,” Bassist Brendan Mullaney said.


“The way that Flynn carries himself on stage, I get so many compliments like, ‘Flynn is awesome.’ He just rocks out and is vibing,” Kerlin said. 

Cass Salot

Phillip Adams, the bands rhythm guitarist, was also recruited by Eustis on one random, unexpected school day last year.  


Adams was sitting outside of his geography class when Eustis approached him. 


“He walks by and he’s like ‘Yo, Philip, I’m starting a band soon. Do you want to join?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, of course I want to join,’” Adams said. 

Gabby Burdick

Adams started playing when he was six years old and his mom gifted him an acoustic guitar. At about 13, he got his first electric guitar and has been into playing rock music ever since. 


He never expected to be able to play in front of a big group of people, other than friends and family. While most of his bandmates describe him as shy, Adams says performing on the guitar feels second nature to him. 


“If I have a presentation in my class or something, that’s scary, I don’t like that,” Adams said. “But I’ve been playing guitar for a long time so, when I get in front of people, I don’t know, that’s a lot better for me because I’m more confident.”


“I’ve never been in a band with a rhythm guitar, so Philip is bringing it,” Duffy said. “He has his own style, and I can tell he really likes Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen, which I really admire.” 

Cass Salot

Finally, the band needed a bassist, and Eustis quickly recruited one of his mutual friends, Brendan Mullaney. 


“He’s just a great kid and just a total bassist. I mean, tall, you know, just looks like a bassist, acts like a bassist. It’s perfect,” Eustis said.


“Brendan is just hilarious, tall, you know, he’s got everything a bassist needs; he’s got the, he’s got the goof, he holds it down, he’s got the stank face, he’s got a really deep voice, he sings sometimes, so, he’s super dope,” Duffy said. 


Although Mullaney’s band members say he looks and plays like a professional, seasoned bassist, he is completely self-taught. 


“I started playing guitar in high school,” Mullaney said. “And then, yeah, I’ve just started playing bass recently. Two years ago, picked up a bass and now we’re playing in a band.”

Cass Salot

The band members all credit Eustis for bringing them together, they praise his leadership and impressive guitar skills. 


“Henry is probably one of the most talented guitar players I’ve met, our age,” Kerlin said. “He’s really good at music theory, he just picks up anything, like I don’t know how he does that.”


Eustis started playing guitar when he was nine years old, with musical influences like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Mayer. It wasn’t until his mom brought up the idea that Eustsis decided to form a band. 


“My mom always has been like, start a band in college, like ‘you have all this, you know, talent or whatever, like, do something with it.’ And this is what we’re doing,” Eustis said. 

Cass Salot

SPR performed live together for the first time in September of 2023 on a warm, sunny Saturday during UMass Amherst’s annual parent’s weekend. 


“That first time performing in front of people, just seeing reactions that I didn’t really expect,” Kerlin said. “It made me feel good, it made us wanna keep doing it, keep playing and finding more venues.”


“I mean, it was, it was the best day ever,” adds Eustis, “I mean, perfect weather, the cops didn’t come, you know, as good as it gets.” 


SPR has been performing together for around one semester now, and while half of the band is studying abroad currently, they’re all looking forward to reuniting in the fall. 


“We want to get a little more experience under our belt, a few more shows, and then, you know, a Grammy would be nice,” Eustis said. “Yeah. Then we’ll be good. So always striving to be a little bit better. Shoot for the stars.”

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Gabby Burdick, News Editor
“I do not walk away in the face of adversity and never have.” - Stevie Nicks [email protected]