By Sam Seymour
Many students at Colorado College play in bands or enjoy jamming with friends. However, this year has proved tough for student musicians trying to find places to play music. Due to multiple factors, finding a place to rehearse has been much more difficult for musicians than in years past, and some students are blaming the school for not giving them enough of a platform.
“The student music scene at CC used to be really great,” Ben Thomas ’21 said. “I think this year has been difficult because there haven’t been a lot of places willing to host student bands and there’s no longer a space for students to practice.”
One critical reason for the lack of music space is the destruction of B-Side due to the construction of the new hockey arena. B-Side is a creative space for students to play music, to do art, and to serve as a safe space for any student. The old B-Side building, once located on Tejon, played host to many events and concerts. It also had a drum kit, something exciting for not only drummers, but bands and friends who loved playing loud and were looking for a space to rock out.
“I used to practice at B-Side with all of the bands I was involved in,” Thomas said. “It’s been difficult trying to get other projects started because of the lack of a proper music space. There’s nowhere to practice.”
Will Bates ’22 enjoys B-Side because of its inclusive mission and its message to serve as a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community, along with women and other minority groups.
“I didn’t realize the importance of having actual queer spaces that I repeatedly return to until I had it,” Bates said. “It’s just a place I can feel fully comfortable about my sexuality and gender and where I can have conversations about it.”
Praising the strength of the music program, Bates says the school has done a good job improving it and adding resources to it, such as the recording studio in Packard. However, Bates believes that the school has failed to help smaller groups and communities such as B-Side and the design studio, another space for students to create art and express their creativity, which was located next to Wooglin’s Deli but is being torn down for the new arena.
“I think the school should be more evenly considerate across fields,” Bates said. Thomas echoed the sentiment, saying, “I think the music department is actively trying to improve itself, but CC supplies zero support to student-organized bands.”
Originally, B-Side was set to move to the basement in McGregor Hall, though this is reportedly only a temporary solution until a permanent home can be found. But the construction was delayed until after the start of the second semester this year, leaving some musicians struggling to find rehearsal space in the meantime.
Another cause for concern is that because McGregor is a residence hall, loud music can only be played at the new B-Side location until a certain hour. Some student musicians feel this is another restriction. As not much information has been communicated about the current construction, people have questions about the new space and how it will compare to the old location.
Bates shared his belief that the change in location would hurt B-Side’s popularity, saying, “It really sucks. I think no one except for the hardcore kids will come. I think it’ll be just a less accessible space in general.”
Initially, Bates was excited about talks that B-side will be moving into a larger, permanent space for the spring semester. Now, with the construction delays putting an end to those potential plans, Bates hopes that B-Side will, at least, find its own space.
Thomas is also worried about the future of both B-Side and the student music scene in general. He suggested that if the school cares about the musical talents and passion of its students, they should do more to help.
“Just provide B-Side with a legitimate practice space. [The school has] the money,” Thomas said. “We’ve been told that we’re getting a new practice space in the basement of McGregor, but it was supposed to be done by the start of this semester. If the amount they care is any indication, then it’s probably not going to be a proper practice space.”
Without B-Side, there are limited places for bands to practice, especially groups that have a drummer. During the construction in McGregor Hall, B-Side partially used space in the Innovation Center, even installing a drum kit there. However, there were also time constraints at that location due to other people working there.
The school pushes the practice room in the Mathias Hall basement as a viable place for students to rehearse. However, both the quality and the scenery of the room are called into question by students.
“We’ve been told that the Mathias practice space is good enough, but there’s no mixer, speakers or microphones,” Thomas said. “It’s a windowless dungeon that lacks basic equipment.”
The lack of drum sets on campus is a big problem for student bands, especially for drummers like Thomas. In Packard Hall, there are only two drum sets. One is in the recording studio, to which only some students have access after completing studio training. The other drum set in Packard is located in the percussion room, along with many other percussion instruments for different ensembles. However, while the room is a good spot for a band to rehearse, it is off limits to everyone except drum students who are given Gold Card access to the room. This means that no other instrument is allowed to be used in the room. And while Packard Hall promotes its practice rooms, some consider them underwhelming and cramped, as they only have a piano and can’t fit more than a couple people.
Another issue that CC student musicians have is a lack of opportunities to perform. The main complaints regard the lack of off-campus gigs compared to years past, rumored to be because of parties being shut down, and consequently, more performances being shut down.
The current senior class wrote a grade-wide letter to the school about the party issue, but other than that, it’s unclear what can be done to fix the problem.
“In terms of playing off-campus, there’s really no improvements that can be made,” Thomas said. “It’s been difficult finding off-campus shows this year, but I don’t think that’s within anyone’s control.”