By Vanessa Langdon
For Your Niskayuna
Niskayuna High School’s Live Expression club hosted its annual Band Aid concert April 1, featuring seven student musician acts ranging from hard rock to acoustic.
The musicians played a mix of originals and covers to the packed, and tricked out, cafeteria. There was only a sparse collection of chairs in the room, leaving plenty of space for the crowd of students to gather around the stage and catwalk.
This year’s Band Aid proceeds were donated to the Live Expression Relay for Life team; the school’s Relay for Life club sold baked goods to the crowd.
The show began with an acoustic performance from sisters Cassie and Isabelle McDonald, an acoustic duo. The mellow beginning to the evening prompted the audience to snap along. The duo are Band Aid veterans, having performed at the concert in previous years, the acoustic theme continued as Emily Petralia took to the stage. Petralia performed covers with her guitar and a ukulele because you can’t be sad listening to or playing a ukulele, she said.
After Petralia, the concert had a change of pace, as Band Aid first timers Slaughter took to the stage. The band, clad in face paint, had the crowd screaming along with them and even played an encore.
“I think it went pretty well,” band member Eric Flaspohler said of Slaughter’s performance.
The face paint — inspired by Slayer — allows the newly formed band to get in character, according to tenth-grader Ben Gould, another member of Slaughter.
“It’s like you’re a superhero,” he said.
For Flaspohler, the signature look is another thing that sets them apart from other bands.
“A band can play a great song but if they’re just standing there … you get remembered by being memorable,” Flaspohler said.
Following Slaughter’s metal performance was a set solely of Bruce Springsteen covers played by Antwon, also known as Anthony Tangredi.
Following Antwon was well-known Live Expression band Maya and the Aztecs — which the audience bowed down to. The group played numerous covers showcasing their unique jazz sound and played the first song of the night featuring Live Expression club adviser Peter Warren. Their set led some audience members to slow dance to the jazz style music while their encore featured their keyboard player taking lead vocals and throwing his shirt into the crowd from the catwalk.
The penultimate performance was Kendall Brake with a set of original songs — ranging from one written the week prior to the first song she ever wrote, at just 13 years old.
“For me it’s kind of scary but kind of cool because I’ve been in Live Expression three years and have never done it,” she said of the allowing herself the opportunity to play songs she’d written.
For Brake’s set the entire audience sat down on the ground, taking the feel of the concert from a high-energy event to a coffee house.
Warren returned to the stage for a duet with Brake after she’d finished her set of covers and the pair received a standing ovation.
The last performance of the night was 404 — a band that knew how to make an entrance. What appeared like a bit of sound checking was actually members of the group slowing being added to the stage as each one added their instrumentation to the cacophony. Finally, as lead singer Ethan Schalekamp took to the stage, the band began a rousing set that included the audience chanting their name.
The band stepped up their Band Aid performance this year by bringing in a small horn section: two trombone players. The group also brought up Brake and Warren for a powerful rendition of “Feeling Good” featuring Brake, Warren and Schalekamp on vocals.
At this year’s Band Aid, 404 had something special to celebrate: they had just recorded their first album of five songs over spring break, their set of strong covers closed with a song written well before any of the high schoolers were born: Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
“This is sort of what I live for,” said Warren. “What I live for is to watch the kids enjoy themselves and express themselves.”
By Vanessa Langdon