Ben’s Bands surprises with good food, good music, good atmosphere

by Livia Meneghin

It was a dark winter night. I woke up from my nap, prepping my body for the long hours to come. I’m not your typical “out on a Saturday night” kind of girl, but I had work to do.

I had received a new top from a friend that day, so I decided to plan my outfit around that. It was a charcoal gray tank, the longer, trendy kind I could feel comfortable not wearing pants with. By no pants, I mean Under Armor spandex leggings. Because let’s be real, it was probably 25 degrees outside, and I had to walk all the way to the Underground.

I spent five full minutes (I wish I was joking) deciding whether I should wear my black and floral Beyoncé snapback, or a pink five-panel Stussy hat. I had brushed my hair and let it hang long over my collarbones. Back and forth, I placed each hat on my head and looked in the mirror to see which one looked more hip.

This was what Ben’s Bands did to an introvert on a Saturday. Tired and yearning to find myself snuggled up in bed with hot chocolate and a Disney movie, I was instead going to a concert and wanted to put my best self out there.

The event was the first of a three-part series held in Ben’s Underground and co-sponsored by WFNM, the F&M campus radio station; the CEC; and the Arts House. As a radio show host (tune in Fridays at 1pm to listen to YapYapRadio!) I signed up for the Ben’s Bands committee to get firsthand access to local and upcoming artists. And just in case I met any of the guest artists, I wanted to look like I had been organizing and reporting for concerts as long as I’ve been able to walk.

The opening act was Plainview, a quintet of musicians and friends from Drexel University in Philadelphia. Unable to hone into a genre, they are described on their Facebook Page, “Plainview, the Band,” as “Alt pop/folk punk (or whatever you want to call it is fine with us).”

The headliner was Flamingosis, also known as F&M alum Aaron Velasquez. A quick trip to his SoundCloud will immediately give any listener a sense of his 70’s inspired vibe and experimental EDM beats. I spoke to Aaron briefly before his mic check, and he talked to me about how good it felt returning to his alma mater. “I couldn’t make it back for Homecoming, so it’s nice to be here. I’m excited.”

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I, along with many upperclassmen, remember Aaron most for his beatboxing skills with the a cappella group, the Poor Richards. I knew he was already establishing himself as a real life electronic music producer, and months before I downloaded his first and self-titled album. I didn’t want Aaron to think I wasn’t aware of his work after graduating from F&M, and asked him if he’d mostly be playing from Flamingosis. He responded in his typical, chill manner saying, “Yeah. I mean, I’ll be playing a little of everything.” He knew how dope the night was going to be, and my swagged-out outfit was giving me the confidence to start getting more and more excited myself.

The event was a huge success, and over 100 students enjoyed sick beats, dancing, mozzarella sticks, and milkshakes. I also acted as a photographer that night, trying to capture the smell of the chicken tenders, the bounce of the beats against the exposed pipes, and the smiles of the WFNM staff seeing everyone having a good time. Music blasted, slightly hurting my ears (in the best way) until after 1AM. Plainview handed out cool free stickers and then went upstairs to the dining hall to sit around, chat, get some fresh air, and eat some of that good food from the Ben’s bar. I also got a chance to speak to Aaron again. He loved the atmosphere, and told me he never experienced a crowd like us before.

That night walking home, the entire walkway was covered in black ice. I walked slowly on the snow, hugging myself to keep warm. The “Swagrid” tank top served better on the dance floor than outside, even under my winter coat.

The next event in the series will be February 20, featuring Medusa’s Disco, the Stonewall vessels and Mike Pays Heat. See you there!

Senior Livia Meneghin is a contributing writer. Her email is lmenegh@fandm.edu. Photos by Meneghin.

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