Studio Picnic is the name of Evan Berger ‘18 's new band. Berger is an aspiring musician at Sarah Lawrence, originally from Cleveland. He has teamed up with Anthony Vang ‘18, who hails from Memphis, Tenn. "It's a project that we discussed for a while before coming here, over Facebook,” said Vang. “We shared music, we talked about things we wanted and now that we're here we're hoping to get it started.”
Berger and Vang often play for Berger’s roommates in Hill House. They have started performing at different areas on campus, such as the Yoko Ono sculpture on South Lawn and Open Mic Night at The Black Squirrel.
Their songs are primarily marketed through social media: SoundCloud, Facebook and Twitter. Soon, they will distribute freshly printed business cards. Their music has been favorable among close listeners, who hope to see them perform professionally in the future. "It's kind of like a John Mayer, Jack Johnson kind of thing,” said Berger’s roommate Chris Duffy ‘18. “It's very feel-good. There's a little bit of longing in it. Like longing for better times. Longing for the stress to go away.”
Albert Riley ‘18, another roommate of Berger’s, remarked, "I think the production of their music, Evan's music engineering skills...he's really good at that. The only thing he needs to work on is his voice. I think he can definitely be successful at making the music.”
Berger started playing music when he was about 10 years old and is a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, drums, bass, piano, trumpet and the “bull roar,” which is an aborigine instrument. Vang is also a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, piano, mandolin and harmonica, though he usually chooses vocals and guitar.
"We each bring in our own elements,” said Vang. “On bass Evan likes to have a more complicated groovy feel, yet while playing guitar he likes to keep it simple, almost resembling a kind of mellow rock pop. And I come from a sort of jazz and prog-metal type background, so I try to bring in those elements.”
"Evan's great and we get along really well,” added Vang about his bandmate. “Really we just need some more people we can get along well with who can make music with us."
Studio Picnic is in the market for a permanent drummer. Since their time at SLC, Berger and Vang have been able to pick up other musicians to play with them. Libai Jordan ‘18 is a violinist and singer who occasionally plays with them, adding his own sound to the mix.
Jordan explained, "We've been jamming in Evan's room. On the South Lawn we actually jammed for a couple hours on top of Yoko. Some people stopped by and were like 'hey, that's cool.'"
As a singer, Jordan has expressed interest in doing the vocals for Studio Picnic: “That might be happening. [Berger] might repost songs on his SoundCloud instead with my voice.”
"I've listened to them about three times a week," notes Hannah Ford ‘18, who has occasionally stopped by Berger’s room to hear them perform.
Prior to SLC, Berger played at The Red Lion, a restaurant and bar in downtown Manhattan, on Mondays. As he is under 21, his performances were limited to the restaurant section of The Red Lion.
Berger noted that he is seeking more opportunities to play for an audience, while also reflecting on why he plays music: “I play music because it's a coping mechanism for me. It's my way to dissolve my triggers from forming again. As a child I was...scared of the world, scared of speaking, scared of thinking wrong...but music was my voice. And I didn't find that voice until I was around 10 or 13.”
Berger thought of the name Studio Picnic when he was at a studio in Nashville, Tenn. called Cyber Production Studios. "We couldn't go out because we were in the middle of nowhere," he explained. “So the studio musicians went out and brought back Subway sandwiches to the studio, so it was literally a ‘Studio Picnic.’"
"Hopefully we'll be able to open for some larger acts and play a few shows for the surrounding community," said Vang. Both Berger and Vang agreed that the South Lawn performances and Open Mic Night were just the beginning.
"You'll definitely be hearing a lot more Studio Picnic in the coming semester," said Berger.
Check out Studio Picnic at https://soundcloud.com/studio-picnic.
by Joseph McFarland '16