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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

‘All vibes, no genre’: The music of Fall Fest

The festival displayed the talent and energy inherent to Tufts bands.

Ayo Oloyede, lead vocalist of Free Money, singing in the crowd with an audience member.

Ayo Oloyede, lead vocalist of Free Money, is pictured singing in the crowd with an audience member.

After initially being canceled due to rain, Fall Fest, the annual TUSC-organized fall event, enjoyed a successful run on Sept. 30. In addition to food trucks and inflatable games, the annual Tufts tradition showcased live music from three Tufts bands and DJ MC Yusuf. 

The Daily spoke with junior Thomas Grant, TUSC concert coordinator, as well as student bands Free Money (formerly Systemic Flow), Sunnydaze and JAM about everything music at Fall Fest. 

Free Money, who announced their name change from Systemic Flow in conversation with the Daily, opened the music section of the festival. The group played informal jam sessions last winter until drummer Caleb Brenner, a junior, pushed the group to be more regimented. While now more structured than a jam session, improvisation still plays a large part in the band’s jazz, R&B and gospel-informed sound.

“It’s kind of a testament … to the improvisational spirit of Free Money that we are billed as Systemic Flow but are now Free Money. We’re free form,” junior bassist Jack Wish said.

"[With improv] we’ll just have something absolutely nasty that we’ve never played before until that moment. It can be so much fun,” junior vocalist Ayo Oloyede added. 

True to form, the band often vamped during their set while Oloyede had audience members decide which instruments would be featured on the next verses.

For Tufts musicians aspiring to be in a band, Free Money had a few words of advice.

“Just do it. It can start off so informal, but at some point you have to perform live. You have to take it out of Granoff … Once you perform in front of people one time, you’re a band,” Oloyede said.

Sunnydaze, a band which senior saxophonist and singer Justin Kamal described as “all vibes, no genre,” followed Free Money’s set. The band members met through their participation in Public Harmony and performed their first show at the PERIOD Red Dress Gala on Nov. 3, 2022. 

At Fall Fest, Sunnydaze enjoyed a particularly enthusiastic crowd that matched the band’s vibes.

“We had a really good time. Good audience, very energetic. Really good energy to feed off of as a performer,” lead vocalist Clara Scheutz, a senior, said. “It’s always just fun to get big groups of people together and have a good time.”

Camaraderie within the band is a key to maintaining their good vibes.

“None of this would be possible if we didn’t like each other,” multi-instrumentalist and senior Jake Blum said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, we’re able to spend six odd hours a week together, practicing or just chatting all the time and organizing everything, because we enjoy talking to each other. We enjoy spending time together.”

JAM, a group inspired by British rock artists with a hint of country twang, closed Fall Fest. The group started in the fall of last year because three friends from Tufts Wilderness Orientation wanted to jam. Wanting a fuller sound, they brought in a guitarist and bassist, and JAM was born. 

“We’re like a really ragtag group of musicians. A lot of us aren’t formally trained,” lead vocalist Millie Girardi, a junior, said.

While initially foreign to gigging, after following advice from Girardi’s jazz professor, JAM grew into a cohesive band that now plays at local bars and on-campus events.

“[This semester] we have a more standardized practice schedule and we’re gigging more. Our sound is becoming more cohesive. We’re making our own covers of things, instead of just playing what the original artist has done, which I’ve really enjoyed,” Girardi said.

Whether the gig ends up being good or bad, JAM just keeps on jamming.

“My favorite memory was when we played Bochella [in spring 2023]. For some reason, the scheduling got all mixed up and the event was ending when we were playing. So no one was there,” Girardi said. “It was horrible, but it was also kind of fun to just screw around and have a good time and play and be with your friends and jam.”

Thomas Grant, who organized the music for Fall Fest alongside senior Gus Tringale, spoke on how Fall Fest is only the beginning of live music on campus this year. Thanks to a recent AV training session that enabled TUSC members to run sound during shows, there are a number of high-quality music events to come this semester, with the professional band Couch performing on the roof of Tisch Library just next week.

“We’re going to [have students run shows] for when a few members of Couch [are coming] on Oct. 19,” Grant said. “And then stay tuned, an announcement is coming soon about a very special show we’ll be doing in November with some of the a cappella groups.”