By Gabriele Esposito-Wilcock

There isn’t a better feeling then getting to jam out with your friends to your favorite local bands and dance around. The vibe for the Mandala, Fuck Christmas, and Mild Monk show was high energy and tons of fun. The basement was so packed from the beginning of the show that you had to maneuver around people and push through to get to the back or the front.

Mild Monk kicked off the show with loud and experimental alternative rock. They made use of distortion from the amplifiers and several guitar pedals to push their sound and give it an otherworldly vibe. Mild Monk broke the boundaries of their recordings and opened up their songs to be even more expansive and thrilling for a live show. If I hadn’t been told, I would’ve had no idea that this was their first show as a full band; they killed it. Front man Henry Stein and founder of Mild Monk matched the energy of his songs with his wild stage presence. At one point his glasses even fell off, but he kept playing because the music was all that mattered in the moment. His compromised vision took a backseat to the joys of rocking out. Lead guitarist Cole Crawford rocked in style with a shoe string as a guitar strap. He grooved out and brought a dreamy energy to the performance. Bass player Mitch Britton played with ease and laid down some serious solid bass. Drummer Trevor Guglielmino brought a serious vibe to the band’s performance as he provided a powerful foundation for the songs. The band had good chemistry with each other and you could often see Trevor and Cole looking to each other or Mitch captivated by Henry.

All of the bands playing that night had a strong bond with each other. Each band had intersecting members. Trevor Guglielmino played drums for Mild Monk and guitar for the band Fuck Christmas. Matt Rosano and Sean Connelly of Mandala played bass and drums respectively for Fuck Christmas. Fuck Christmas played after Mild Monk and brought a different energy to the show, but a good one nonetheless. They played a set entirely made up of covers including tracks by WAVVES and the Foo Fighters. They didn’t hold back and all of their pent up aggression was let out into their performance. The crowd jumped and sang along with them. It was like being in high school again except this time with amazing local bands and cool friends who won’t leave your side. It wouldn’t have been a Mandala show without camaraderie and gratitude. It was clear that all of the members of the bands had warm friendly connections with each other and were happy to be playing the same show together. Sean Connelly, drummer of Fuck Christmas and Mandala, made sure to thank all of the bands and the owners of the house as well as give some shout outs to friends, photographers, and special birthday boys.  

Mandala went on next and played a stellar show as usual. They played a really good set list. Along with some of the songs I have regularly heard them play, they busted out some funky new tunes that will be on the upcoming album, and brought back a song they hadn’t played in a little over a year. They played Valley People which brought a somber tone to their set with beautiful guitar sounds and sad vocals. Music truly does bring together people. They played the song for a guy who said he attended UConn and that Valley People was his favorite song. Mandala honored his love for the song and played it with him in mind. Just by watching Mandala you can tell that they’re in it for the music. The band has a connection to each other that is shown in the music and their performance. They play tightly together which isn’t a surprise because it can be seen that their close friends. They truly look like friends who are bonded together. Lead singer Morgan Fasanelli not only has exceptional vocals but a connection to the music that almost seems painful and cathartic as she sings. It was amazing to see her share the mic so intimately with rhythm guitar player and backing vocalist Abe Azab.

Their bond as musicians and friends is apparent when they sing together so intensely. Mandala is a band that has fun when they are playing music; they talk in between songs, Morgan occasionally took a seat on the amp and watched her band mates, and Abe and Matt played facing each other in a duel of sorts. Sean pulled his shirt off because he was over-heated from playing the drums and played a few songs with a t-shirt over his head. This only made him more interesting to watch as he didn’t falter in the beats he laid down even with a t-shirt almost completely covering his face. Lead guitarist Chris Desiderio came in and killed it with amazing riffs and sweet guitar solos. Like Morgan when he wasn’t killing it he watched his bandmates in awe.  

Photographs from the show: