For lovers of groove and funk, a new student band is here to get you dancing. At 9:00 p.m. on Friday, October 25, DaFunq? will be having their second official performance at Vassar, live in the Villard Room and hosted by ViCE Student Music.
The group promises a feel-good, soulful concert that will be impossible not to dance along to. DaFunq?’s singer, keyboardist and band organizer Steve Xie ’15 describes DaFunq?’s signature sound as high-energy and funky.
The group is Vassar’s own rhythm and blues band that has a repertoire that spans decades.
“We play songs from as far back as the ’60s all the way till yesterday, and we perform our own renditions of these songs,” said Xie. But the band is not bound to the world of covers and plans to expand their playlist. “Soon enough, you’ll hear some originals from us,” Xie divulged.
DaFunq? was born last semester when Xie and Jon Walker ’15 decided to host an event entitled “A Night of Soul” at Ferry House where Vassar students could listen and dance to Motown, R&B and soul classics.
After the show, the two came together and concluded that they should form a band to continue playing similar concerts.
Today, DaFunq?’s repertoire includes everything from well-known classics to lesser known pieces.
Including Walker, who is currently taking the semester off, and Xie, DaFunq? is made up of eight band members. Many of the members are new to the band this semester.
Xie, a self-proclaimed R&B and soul lover, leads the band in performance as the organizer, keyboardist and singer.
“I enjoy producing music, as well as performing live,” said Xie. The band organizer is also able to perform with the Vastards, one of Vassar’s co-ed a capella groups, along with fellow DaFunq? members Evan Schlaich ’14 and Emily Wexler ’14.
Max Baumbach ’15, an English major, is the band’s bassist and also happens to be a self-professed hip-hop aficionado. Baumbach produces his own hip-hop tracks and raps. In addition to this musical repertoire, Baumbach frequently reads and writes about the greater hip-hop culture.
While DaFunq? is not a hip-hop band, Baumbach’s talents certainly do not going to waste. “[Baumbach] has perfect pitch… a fantastic feel for music, and can play the shit out of a bass guitar,” stated Xie. “He knows so much about music—it’s crazy.”
Sam Fritschel ’15, a math major, is DaFunq?’s drummer. Fritschel will be performing with DaFunq? for the first time this Friday. While Fritschel may be DaFunq?’s drummer, he also plays the guitar and has his own band called Vishnu Basement.
“[Vishnu Basement] is an absolutely killer progressive rock band that nobody at Vassar should ever miss out on,” stated Xie.
Vishnu Basement, who performed in the Mug last semester as part of the programming planned by ViCE Jazz, is currently recording an album. Apart from DaFunq? and Vishnu Basement, Fritschel works as a member of a jazz combo.
Evan Schlaich ’14 serves as the band’s percussionist. “[Schlaich] has got a great feel for rhythm”, added Xie. He does everything from playing the bongos to beatboxing and drumming for DaFunq?. Schlaich is currently also a member of the Vastards.
A drama major, Schlaich is currently working on writing a musical, which he hopes will be produced and performed sometime during the spring 2014 semester.
Brendan Blendell ’15 is a music major and the guitarist of DaFunq?. Blendell, having joined the band this semester, will be making his debut performance with DaFunq? on October 25. Blendell has also used his musical talent in his capacity as a member of a jazz combo.
“Brendan is a virtuoso that has an immense amount of knowledge about music, from classical to rock, to R&B/soul. A very dedicated musician, Brendan picks up stuff really quickly and is a very technical guitar player,” Xie revealed.
John Winton ’16 is the band’s saxophonist and, like Blendell, also joined DaFunq? this semester. Apart from his involvement in jazz and other music groups, Winton plays tight head prop on Vassar’s rugby team. “He can probably be known as the toughest guy in our band,” Xie observed.
Working alongside Xie, much of DaFunq’s vocals can be attributed to fellow singer Emily Wexler ’14 . “She’s got one of the most powerful and at the same time crafted voices in this school,” said Xie. Wexler is a drama major and a member of the Vastards. When not singing lead, Wexler is in charge of the back up vocals for DaFunq?.
“Expect to dance. Dance, dance. Not Fall out Boy style; actually dance,” said ViCE’s Sam Plotkin ’15, who organized the event. “I’ve played before with, I think, everyone in DaFunq?, and they’re all great musicians. I would imagine that there will be plenty of recognizable funk and soul classics that will be plenty of fun.”
“[The Villard Room] has a huge dance floor, but it can still feel for the audience like you’re getting up close and personal with the band,” Plotkin explained.
And, because of its central location, Plotkin said that people are sure to hear the loud music and come dance.
Plotkin also extended his apologies to those residents of Main who prefer to study on Friday nights, as he believed that this may prove impossible when DaFunq? is performing.