As audience members cheered for an encore, the Beagles, a student music group, launched into a spontaneous rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” a piece they had never performed before. The improvisational performance concluded the Beagles’ first concert in Susie’s last Saturday.
The Beagles were founded earlier this year by Ian Frankel ’15. The group consists of Frankel on guitar and banjo, Will Reid ’15 on bass guitar, Terrence Xiao ’16 on drums and percussion, Seho Young ’15 on piano and keyboard, Charles Stacy ’16 on violin and saxophone, Elizabeth Latham ’16 on vocals and Nico Robertson ’15 on guitar.
The Beagles play a variety of music instead of restricting themselves to a single genre. Because of their status as a club, as opposed to a band, anyone can join, creating a certain freedom unique to the group.
“I think one of the best parts about [being a] performance club is that there’s no specific style of music that we play — whether you’re a jazz pianist, a rock guitarist or an opera singer, we can always find a way to fit your flavor into the ensemble. While other bands might have targeted audiences or a distinct genre, the diversity of performance clubs means that we always find a way to do whatever we want,” said Xiao in an email to The Phillipian.
The Beagles sang a variety of rock and alternative songs, including “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. The group’s unconventional rendition of the song included a violin part by Stacy. Latham sang an abridged version of the lyrics to allow for instrumental solos, as well as a crowd sing-along.
“‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ was my favorite song, because no one in the audience was afraid to belt the lyrics, and there were a few audience members dancing, too,” said Sabrina Appleby ’17, an audience member.
The Beagles continued the night with “Hotel California” by the Eagles. The song began with an intro on the guitar by Frankel and light beats on the drums by Xiao. With Stacy on the violin, each member was actively playing throughout the song, which also included several solos.
“The first song we ever learned together as a group was ‘Hotel California’… We needed a name, so [Robertson] just added a ‘b’ [to the Eagles],” said Frankel. “But we all thought [the name Beagles] could mean different things. Some people thought it was a Beatles parody. It can mean or symbolize whatever people want it to, really.”
Towards the end of the performance, the Beagles shifted genres to play a famous disco song, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, which served as an upbeat piece to motivate students through the last two weeks of the term. The song started simply, with only vocals and piano. Later, the rest of the instruments layered into the song.
“[‘I Will Survive’] showcased almost every band member with solo parts, and the lead singer did a great job managing the intense vocals of the song,” said Max Huang ’17, an audience member. “It was a pretty fitting song as described by Ian Frankel for our busy and challenging lives here at Andover.”
Robertson said, “My favorite part of being in the Beagles is the musical talent that we have in the group… I think that’s the best situation you could be in: if everyone is better than you, then you learn from them all the time. Every single practice or jam that we had leading up to our performance, I’ve learned something, I got better.”