By Lilyanna D’Amato
Every year around the last week of May, over seven hundred starry eyed, nervous graduates leave Oberlin College for the big bad world. Unfortunately, this past graduation, they took some amazing student bands along with them. Julia and Julian, The Booyah Kids, Blankat, and myriad other Oberlin-famous groups left campus to pursue adulthood, leaving a void in the concert scene and rising student musicians floundering for consistent venues. But naturally, new bands have stepped in to fill the gap, hoping to sustain a quintessential Oberlin institution: the house show. Boxed Whine, a four-piece indie-pop project, is among those leading the charge.
Founded by Oberlin second years Jeanne Hill, Eamon McKeon, and Tim Husemoller, the group first performed as a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band at the 2019 Coverband Showcase. Following the addition of drummer Ben Jordan later in the spring, the band began arranging and expanding Hill’s original guitar and vocal tracks, adding McKeon on guitar, Husemoller on bass, and Jordan on drums. After a few months of intense rehearsal and songwriting, the band’s first performance as “Boxed Whine,” a nod to “Franzia Boxed Wine” — a favorite of dorm room parties everywhere — took place at the 2019 GearFest Showcase.
While Hill does most of the writing, he said that the songs “always change during our creative process. When you work in isolation, everything comes out of one head, one set of influences.” McKeon added, “What’s really cool about writing with a band is the collaboration — nothing sounds derivative, it’s all its own unique thing. There’s never a direct line from influence to product because it’s coming from all of us.” Husemoller agreed, citing the group’s stylistically varied rock tastes and performance styles, “Jeanne and Eamon are both into newer rock, while Ben and I are 60s/70s rock guys. We like that sloppier sound while they like things polished. Ben also plays in the Brazilian Ensemble so we bring all kinds of styles to the table and we like what we get!”
Boxed Whine has played the Sco a few times (where Hill works for Concert Sound), the Cat in the Cream once, and numerous house shows, but they’ve noticed a dip in house shows this past year. McKeon explained that “there was a really big scene last year but there’s just a shortage of bands right now. And because there aren’t as many bands there aren’t as many people who are willing to host shows.” They aren’t worried, though. “The house shows will come back,” Hill says, “That’s how it goes. New bands will take the reins, new people will get houses, and it’ll be right back to normal.”
A jazzy take on indie pop-rock, Boxed Whine is proving to be an amazing addition to Oberlin music. Talented and dedicated, the band is working alongside other campus acts like Horsegirl, Walldogs, Snakey Boys, Fleens, and Wo Nelly to preserve one of the College’s most vital traditions.