Blue Robot

Mr Hand Played Saloon Saturday Night Again

Posted by Ryan Chase on 09/07 at 09:05 AM

As students new and old settled into their apartment (or dormitory) that will be their home away from home for the next eight months or so, the dawn of new classes, new over-priced books, new roommates and new experiences impatiently awaited them.  At least one thing could be counted to stay – Mr. Hand, Saturday nights at the Saloon.

Mr. Hand, presumably inspired by the crotchety, old teacher from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (a State College favorite) draws its stature and reputation from fast-paced, high-energy performances, largely consisting of covers. There is nothing wrong with that.  Yet while cover bands - especially good cover bands -  are always fun, State College is smothered with them. How many decent, original bands does State College possess? Very, verrrry few. No secret there, of course.  State College, rather State College bars are routinely lampooned for hiring cheap, reliable cover bands as opposed to taking a shot at an original one. It’s understandable. If the original band does not appeal to the general audience visiting a bar, this could adversely affect business.  A cover band, though, plays a variety of things, making it more accessible and appealing to patrons.

However, understanding does not quell the nausea and night terrors the incessant repetition of Sublime and Oasis songs provoke. Mr. Hand is a decent, vivacious (would someone call a band vivacious?) cover band, but even the good ones eventually lose their appeal. No one is going to want their poster to hang on their bedroom wall because they almost, if you really listen close enough, sound exactly like Nirvana or Green Day.

I enjoyed myself Saturday night. It was sufficient, with the energy and inspired performances put forth by everyone involved. Even Glenn Beck and his tainted world view could not contaminate it.  They played loud and they played hard from beginning to end. No lull, no slow starts or sloppy endings – good, catchy music from a good cover band.

But I heard it all before.

Old is good, familiar, and comforting. After a while, even if it occurs slowly - even as slowly as a glacier - the good, the familiar, the comforting labels splinter and break apart like a rocking chair overcome by the great pressure of an over-sized man. Ideally, it would be wonderful to keep them around (in some cases maybe we can) at least for a little longer, but it’s the new things, the new people, the new places, the new MUSIC that makes life exciting; that awaken those nerves in the middle of your stomach.

A week ago, I wanted my previous apartment back, the one I had lived in for two years.  It’s the one where my friends lived nearby and stopped by incessantly; the one I nearly set on fire when I microwaved popcorn for too long. I did not want a stuffy, cramped loft or two roommates I did not know. I was nervous. Now I’m excited. I’m moved in, I bought my books (reluctantly), I know where my classes are and have been to all of them.  And through two people I did not know and a place I had not - until two months ago -  known existed, I have encountered things, people, places, and music I had not imagined previously.

This is the promise each new school year brings, with new classes, with new roommates, with graduation gaining more ground on you by the day. State College should do the same. I love Mr. Hand. I love Mia Mafia. I love all these cover bands that populate State College bars every Thursday through Saturday night, but…

…I want to hear something new.

{name} Author: Ryan Chase
Bio: Ryan Chase is a senior at Pennsylvania State University, majoring in English and Sociology. In his free time, he enjoys writing, reading, woodcarving, and playing the guitar. Outside of most rap and opera, he listens to every type of music, but he prefers classic rock and jazz. His favorite artists are Robert Johnson, Heatmiser, and Minor Davis & the Fuzzy Slippers.


Posted by Tyler Spooner
07/07 at 01:26 PM

I can’t agree more my man! I have put my foot down when it comes to booking shows strictly as a cover band. I play sets that are 80-90% originals and won’t play if required to do otherwise. I wish there were more people with your opinion!

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