Ten Degree Chill
The Next Big ThingBy Jeremy Baskin
On Saturday, as a West Campus barbeque near Kresge ran out of food within minutes of its starting time, leaving only a smattering of people and Nantucket Nectars samples, other Spring Weekend barbeques proved to be exciting parties throughout the day.
Bexley’s Beast Roast focused on a simple enough theme of good food and good music. The food, on top of the usual burgers, hot dogs, and fries, included such delights as grilled portabello mushrooms, kielbasa, marinated tofu, and chicken. Different bands were featured throughout the afternoon, ranging from hard rock to funk.
Ten Degree Chill, a funk band made up of brothers from Theta Delta Chi, came on at 5, just as the sun started to leave the Bexley courtyard. It didn’t take too long before things heated up, as the band’s first song, “Get Up,” got some people up and dancing, or at least shaking their bodies.
The songs that followed displayed the attractive quality of this band -- their multi-dimensional nature. Eric Gunther G, an outstandingly original and able keyboard player in his own right, is also a vocalist and “beatbox” for the group, meaning that he uses his voice to make percussive sounds, including those of a scratching record and yelps, like a modern-day scat singer. Turn your head away for a moment, and when you turn back, you’ll be amazed that one person is making all those sounds.
And Gunther is just a small part of the group. Tenor saxophonist and flutist Chris Rakowski ’02 and trombonist Dan Halperin ’04, both members of the Festival Jazz Ensemble, proved to be excellent as the horn section, playing with a good ensemble. The fluctuating outdoor temperature attempted to wreak havoc with their intonation, but these players managed quite well nonetheless.
“Shmoke” and “Spanish Fly” gave Rakowski a chance to show off his lyrical side, as both numbers featured mellow saxophone and flute solos, respectively. Halperin’s swinging trombone followed suit in both songs. Both of the wind players, when their solos were in fast, upbeat songs, helped to create a festive atmosphere, as some people in the crowd got up and gyrated along with the music. Senior Justin Raade’s guitar solos were good too, as he used the right kind of effects for bringing out the funky nature of the pieces.
Rego Sen ’03, a vocalist and keyboard player, did his best to get the crowd involved, even cracking a joke late in the show, noting that there was still some “sitting down” being perpetrated, and that Bexley would lose its rush points if everyone didn’t get up and dance. Sen and Gunther took turns playing on an authentic Fender Rhodes piano that the group recently acquired. The Rhodes’ sound was genuine when it was present, but it would have been nice for the keyboard to be featured a bit more.
Bassist Mike Fabio ’04 and drummer Adam Nazro from Berklee College of Music provided excellent support. A funk band, no matter how good its vocalists, horn section, and keyboard players are, cannot surpass mediocrity without a solid bassist and drummer. Right from the first note of “Get Up,” through the melodious bass solo at the beginning of “Spanish Fly,” one could tell that this group is worth listening to.
A little more than half of the songs played were originals. In terms of quality of composition and performance, there wasn’t an obvious dichotomy between songs that were covers and those that were originals; this is yet another sign of a good group.
After one encore, the band claimed the concert was over, but they embarked on a 15-minute jam, allowing everyone a couple more turns to solo. They encouraged audience participation, and someone came up to the stage to rap, and another audience member came up to strut his stuff on the tenor saxophone.
Then Sen said for maybe the second or third time, “Ok, now it’s a wrap.” But it’s only a wrap for now, because this band, which has already opened for Naughty By Nature and won the 2000 MIT Battle of the Bands, could be this campus’s next big thing. For updates, check out the Ten Degree Chill’s website, <http://tendegreechill.mit.edu>.