Musicians display talents at JDStival
December 19, 2000
by by Ezra Galston and Michael Gildener-Leapman
Senior Aaron finbloom (top) performs with SOHCATOA during the JDStival. Finbloom, along with seniors Alex Davidov and Alex Feder, formed the band this year at the senior Shabbaton. Junior Alex Mazer, vocalist, and Ari Jacobovitz, bassist (far right), help spread the punk rock message of the Max Levine Ensemble during its encore performance. The band, created by senior Max Levine, followed the tradition of numerous rock bands by playing its final song shirtless.
Through dense smoke and flashing light, an image appears clad in only a tapered jacket, suspenders and black pants. Four other figures are silhouetted on a white screen as Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” tears through the smoke.
This moment is not occurring at RFK Stadium or the MCI Center, but instead in the auditorium of the Lerner campus. The event is the JDStival, a senior fund-raiser in which JDS bands had the chance to demonstrate their musical creativity to .
Four bands, SOHCAHTOA, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), The Max Levine Ensemble and the XYZ Affair played the predominantly punk rock event.
Math teacher Joshua Himmelsbach brought diversity to the occasion with a more mellow set of his own.
Many of the students who performed have been playing music since early ages. Senior Jonathan Lippman, the lead singer of OCD, began playing the piano at age six as a way to “channel musical creativity.”
Similarly, Alex Davidov, a member of both SOHCAHTOA and OCD, became interested in music very early in his childhood.
“My dad had played guitar in a rock band in Russia, so I had always wanted to,” Davidov said. “I remember picking up a guitar when I was five years old and wanting to play. When I was in eighth grade, I started to play guitar and my parents supported me.”
Although many students play and practice music individually, only recently have they been able to find classmates with similar musical tastes to play with.
According to Alex Feder, JDStival coordinator and a member of three bands, the small size of the school’s student body has impeded students organizing groups to play music together.
Getting swept away in the emotion of the performance, junior David Combs, lead singer of Max Levine Ensemble jumps into the waiting JDStival crowd.
“It’s pretty tough at JDS because at a public school where there are 500 kids in a grade, there are more musically talented kids than at a school where there are 75 kids in a grade,” Feder said. “It’s been tough, but recently a lot of musical talent has developed in our [senior] grade.”
In most cases, bands at JDS, like OCD, have recently formed out of informal “jam sessions” among a group of friends.
“I proposed that we establish a band with myself as lead singer, Geoff Gould (’00) as drummer, Alex Feder as guitarist, [senior] Zack Ende as the other guitarist and Ari Fink (’00) at bass,” Lippman said.
“This was a joke until last November, when we realized that Coffee House was nearing and that we wanted to perform. We felt ourselves more than capable of doing it, and we became very enthusiastic about it.”
Like OCD, SOHCAHTOA originated as a group of students jamming together.
“Aaron Finbloom, Alex Feder and I had always wanted to do something together. On the senior shabbaton, we brought our guitars and played together and realized we wanted to start a band,” said Davidov, SOHCAHTOA’s third member.
Although most of the bands at JDS practice informally and primarily play at school events like the JDStival, members of SOHCAHTOA have larger plans for their group.
“I think Aaron wants to make it a little more serious,” said Feder. “He’s been writing songs, and actually, if we don’t go on the Israel trip, we might rent an RV and go on a two week countrywide tour.”
In contrast to OCD and SOHCAHTOA, the Max Levine Ensemble was formed with the goal of creating a punk-rock music scene at JDS, according to self-termed “frontman extraordinaire” Max Levine.
“Punk rock is an alternative culture. Its message is to think for yourself and be caring for others,” said Levine. “Words can not express the feelings evoked by punk rock,” he said.
Like the Max Levine Ensemble, the punk-oriented XYZ Affair also uses its music to send a message.
According to Feder, the XYZ Affair founder, “The XYZ Affair is a joke, pop, punk band because the way I see it, the whole point of the punk movement is to rebel against society.
“I figured it would be funny if we put together a band that rebelled against the only society we really know, the JDS community. So basically, just for fun we rebel against everything.”
Feder believes that the purpose of the JDStival, and of performing music in general, is to provide an enjoyable time for all involved, especially for the band members, who get to experience the exhilaration of a live performance.
“To be honest with you, playing live in front of people, playing loud and having a really good time is a dream,” Feder said.
“But just playing in front of people and putting all of my energy into the show is actually really good for relieving stress, and it’s a shame I don’t get to do it more often.”