Rocking with the Modifiers

In today’s pop-driven world, a pure yet successful garage band is a rare thing. However, judging from the response to the performance of the modifierS at Phillips Academy, this genre has nothing to fear about losing its connection with the high school demographic. If you were ever looking for straight-forward, guitar-driven indie rock-and-roll, you would find it at a modifierS concert. If, however, this genre appealed to you and you were not in the Underwood Room on December 6th, then you missed out. The band consists of three Boston natives who, after their debut in the early 90’s, have gathered a global following that includes fans from as far as the West Coast and even Australia. Chris Perry, the group’s vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter, formed the trio. Perry brought together himself, Jason DeGeorge, the group’s drummer, and Michael DeGeorge, the bassist. Initially, they served as frequent openers for the band The Lyres, but the modifierS’ fan-base soon surged, pushing the band to greater heights. In 1995 they played in West Virginia at Lollapalooza, and recently they won the Entertainment Weekly-, Fender-, and Hyundai-sponsored Boston Regional Battle of the Bands Competition. In 1998, they released their first CD, “Show and Tell,” while signed under the Cool Basement Records label. Consisting of 11 unique tracks, the songs, as commented by the Boston Globe, are considered to showcase both “toxic and medicinal qualities of Rock and Roll.” By 2002, the band switched to a new label, Intelligent Records, and released their second CD, “Secret Frequencies.” Known for their no-frills direct music, the modifierS songs are punkish with a pop to them; they certainly had a number of Phillips students engrossed in their performance – dancing, jumping, singing, and humming – here on campus last month. Audience members of the modifierS performance owe a good deal of gratitude to Craig Thorn, Instructor in English and faculty advisor for the school’s radio station WPAA and his son Alex Thorn ’04, who is also on the WPAA board, for it was they and the radio station who pulled the show together. As a preface to their performance, Charles Beaman ’03, WPAA co-head, and Craig Thorn interviewed the band and played some of their songs on air the night before the concert. The admission price was three dollars per person; a small price to pay for good music and free pizza. At around eight o’clock, Phillips’ very own on campus group, The Stowe House Band, opened for the modifierS. One of their songs was an abridged version of their legendary Grasshopper rendition of “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan, a Dave Matthews Band version. One of the highlights of the evening was when Stowe House guitarist, Rashid Galadanci ’03 performed with the modifierS. Galadanci definitely held his own, if not more, playing solos and perfectly matching the “glam-rock” guitar skills of Michael DeGeorge. The modifierS played songs from both CD’s and lived up to their reputation of lyrics that are “motivated by both dignity and despair” from their years of transition from an unemployed, rural lifestyle to a band in high-demand that plays in all types of locales. As Brian Westbye, writer for The Noise, said: “Lyrically, the landscape covers a pastiche of longing, regret, and inner maintenance with lines like ‘Take the time to swallow your pride, chase it with a beer’ from ‘Favorite Waitress,’ and ‘I still wish I was the version you were keeping’ from ‘Rough Draft.’” “Favorite Waitress” was a big hit in Underwood Room and brought audience members on their feet dancing. Pedro, a Northeast Performer summarizes the band’s genre poignantly when he comments, “[The modifierS’] music is as reckless and aggressive as indie-rock gets, but their hooky song writing is also reminiscent of Soul Asylum, Nirvana and Hendrix. The power-trio set up is simple but effective, giving the recording the feel of a good live show, a great sounding project.” So if you missed out on their performance in December at Phillips, you can be sure to find the modifierS playing somewhere near you; the only issue will be getting tickets before the show is sold out.