Kelvin Nunez '24 found a new way to express himself when he performed his music at a recent Band Club concert. Read how he discovered that performing  is  a “lightning in the bottle” experience.

Applause rumbled as the Tolles Pavilion shook. My vision readjusted past the blazing bright lights as I scanned the crowd. Joyful eyes and smiles. Raised arms and cheers. I don’t remember breathing in those moments, but I remember what I felt. I was in a state of pure wonderment as I fixed the microphone back to the stand.

I couldn’t believe I had just performed my music in front of other people! MY music. I rapped, danced, yelled, and laughed. I shared the stories of my West Philadelphia life, and people empowered me for it. I felt like I belonged.

I performed along with 12 other acts that night for a noble cause — Jam for Pancan, a fundraising concert for National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month hosted by Hamilton College’s Band Club.

Packed crowds and groovy music are the norm for Band Club, the premier network for musicians on campus. The organization founded in 2019 by Linds Cadwell ’20 now has 76 members as more students join weekly. There are over 10 bands that range from pop to jazz to folk and even punk, metal, and rap.

“We provide a space for bands to grow and flourish on campus by providing equipment, scheduling rehearsals, and concerts,” said club president Reese Dan ’23.

The club facilitates jam sessions and the formation of new bands through a group chat. It also makes practicing for shows accessible and allows students access to professional-grade instruments and equipment, giving members the spotlight to win over new followers.

“After I joined the Band Club group chat, I just sent out a message saying I wanted to join a band,” said guitarist Ryan Swanson ’24. “Right away I got two DM’s [direct messages] from two different bands, and I got to start practicing with them right away!” Immediately, Swanson was accepted into the community and found people to share his gift with.

Reserving the Tolles Pavilion for a performance or a practice is easy through the club’s e-board. Dan’s mentality — “Ask us and we’ll schedule it” — was tried and true as I reached out three times in preparation for Jam for Pancan and was always accommodated. Other student musicians felt the same.

The band Eva the Diva share notes together but also share a true friendship. The group comprises Swanson along with singer/guitarist Eva Millay Evans ’25, bassist Trevor Wilkes ’25, and drummer Ryan Hayes ’24.

“It felt so wonderful to have my friends up on stage,” Evans said. The band plays Evans’ original music and does so with spirit. Evans shared how the band’s confidence in her has been heartwarming and motivational: “We were rehearsing, and I was like wow, you know, thanks for doing this, and they were like thanks for having us. Thanks for inviting us onto your stage, and they’re your songs and you tell us what to do.”

For some, joining a band is easy. Others create bands to rival the peaks witnessed by other bands. But for everyone, the club allows them to create and express themselves.

Through its support of student musicians, the Band Club has allowed many on campus to project their voices. Zach Renolva ’23 is glad to have a voice. He plays in three bands as either a bassist or drummer.

“It is through music performance that I’ve been able to express parts of myself that would have otherwise been internalized forever,” Renolva said. He understands how powerful music can be, and the “lightning in the bottle” performing in college is.

Looking toward the future, the musicians hope to keep having fun as long as they can.

“I’m aware this honeymoon period will not last. I’m a literature major, and I don’t really see myself having a career in music,” Renolva added. “Music will always be a hobby to me and that’s okay, but when I graduate college I wonder how much of that will stick. … So for now, I’m just enjoying it while it lasts.”

What else can you do on campus?

Students can choose from more than 1,500 events that take place on campus each year.

Hayes carries a similar sentiment: “I try not to think about end goals, and instead, I know who I am and what I enjoy — I enjoy playing live and creating moments that I’ll never forget, I enjoy creating my own music, and I enjoy inspiring others.”

Even if our performances and musical careers may be momentary, you will find us center stage when the lights come on, playing our hearts out. There are few things I would trade for my experience performing at Jam for Pancan as that 15-minute set has become a foundational memory. Overall, Band Club has been an amazing experience for me and others to express ourselves while finding a system of support. I look forward to performing more and strengthening my ties in a community that accepts and encourages my creativity.

Wilkes best explained this exact mindset when he told me, “I see my performing of music … as a way for me to both explore genres and find new, fun challenges, as well as a way for me to be connected to others through the goal of performance!”

With Band Club, it’s easy to feel like you and your voice belong.

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