Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Artist Profile: The Q-Tip Bandits

A look into the up-and-coming Boston based band
Portteia Xaraiya
Daily Collegian (2023)

This past Friday, September 22, The Q-Tip Bandits capped off a night of music with a performance fit for a festival stage, supported earlier in the evening with performances by local bands The Upstairs District and The Baxbys.

As the crowd piled into the Drake, Amherst’s premiere arts venue in the heart of downtown, an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation quickly built.

The house music faded, and The Upstairs District took the stage ripping through their set of original music. Soon after, The Baxbys took the stage. In similar fashion, the band crushed their set, playing popular originals such as “Sorry For My Heart” and “The Driving Song.”

It wasn’t long before The Q-Tip Bandits took the stage.

The Q-Tip Bandits are an Indie Pop-Rock group out of Boston, consisting of Leo Son on guitar and vocals, Claire Davis on bass and vocals, Dakota Maykrantz on drums, Hoyt Parquet on trombone, and Maclin Tucker on trumpet and keys. Since meeting at Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 2018, they continue to hit music milestones.

This year alone they have crossed two staple Boston gigs off their bucket list, earning a spot at Boston Calling and a headlining show on September 15 at the Paradise Rock Club. In December, they’ll be supporting Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at the House of Blues. Leo Son is from Brookline and grew up attending shows at these venues.

“I dreamed of playing [the Paradise Rock Club] as a kid,” Son said. “That room was special.”

What makes a performance by The Q-Tip Bandits so engaging, especially their night at the Drake, is their ability to bring an undeniable and contagious energy to each venue. Throughout the entire set, there wasn’t a moment where one of the band members wasn’t dancing with one another or jumping around the stage.

Portteia Xaraiya / Daily Collegian (2023)

“When we play a show, we want it to be lively and inviting,” Son said. “A space where people can feel like they can look silly because we just look silly.”

“The crux of a show is that bare minimum of collaboration and sharing of experience with each other and the audience,” Parquet said. “I think why I love this band so much is that we elevate past that bare minimum. When we have fun with each other, it enables the audience to have fun.”

What rounds each song out so well is Son’s lyrical ability, with nostalgic songwriting backed by the talented work of each band member.

“I think we always try to consider how we can serve the song rather than us as individual musicians,” Son said.

For an hour straight, The Q-Tip Bandits performed an action-packed set.

With a steady drum intro and referee whistle, Maykrantz rang open the set with “Chasing Cars,” the first track off their 2022 debut album, “Melancholy Flowers.” Second was an unreleased new song “Asking 4 a Friend” with harmonizing vocals from both Son and Davis. Other unreleased songs titled “July” and “Olivia” were played as well. “July” included a guitar solo from Son backing Davis’ vocals. It was followed by a smooth transition into the horn melody from Capital Cities 2013 hit “Safe and Sound.”

Davis joins Son on vocals for most songs and takes the lead on songs such as “Wrong Address,” “Better Place,” “Lifeline,” and “Happy,” which were played throughout the set, respectively. A standout part of the band is Son and Davis’ dynamic and chemistry on stage, along with a non-stop lively presence from Tucker and Parquet on horns. Everyone’s ability to play off each other’s performance and match energy so perfectly is an essential part of the show and their music.

Their latest single “Tip-Toe” was played third and transitioned into a short cover of Modest Mouse’s “Float On.” Led by an upbeat and bouncy guitar intro, “Tip-Toe” is one of their best tracks yet and is completed by its fast-paced vocal and horn melodies, perfectly timed drum brakes and classic bass licks and breakdowns.

In the latter part of the set, they performed their own cover of “Kids” by MGMT followed by originals “Happy” and “Daisy.” “Happy” is a slow-paced song written and sung by Davis. She explained how the song had been written during a big transition in her life and how important having a sense of self-worth can be, noting how the relationship you’ll always be able to have is the one you have with yourself.

Son also compared the meaning of “Happy” to when the band was getting ready to leave for Los Angeles and how it was easy to feel nervous about it. To help relieve any potential and present stress from the band and crowd, Son urged the audience to join him in screaming loud. Everyone delivered with a roaring scream that lasted about 20 seconds.

To finish the night, they formed a huddle around the drum kit to begin “Willow,” the song that initially grew their popularity and put them on the map. This was arguably the crowd’s most anticipated song, and it delivered. In this huddle before Son begins the guitar intro, the band finds themselves able to completely connect with one another for a moment.

“I don’t see their faces for much of the show,” Maykrantz said. “So for me when they come in and they crowd around, it’s definitely like, okay right, we’re playing a show…it’s that reset of ‘okay, cool.’”

“There’s a show happening between us, and there’s a show that happens between us and the audience,” Davis said. “That moment of turning on the drums and being like ‘hey.’ I think it’s one of those moments you need. You can’t connect to the audience without connecting with each other.”

Regardless of the show or venue, the one thing they always have is each other and the shared experiences they’ve made over the past five years.

“Let’s just go out there and have fun like we always do,” Son said. “When we all face the drums, it’s like ‘yeah, we’re here.’ This is still just the five of us doing this thing. It’s a nice grounding moment.”

After the show members of the band stuck around, talking with fans until the venue emptied out.

“I feel lucky saying that I found a group of kind people that are not only great musicians and great collaborators,” Son said. “When we go out into the world, we try to be welcoming and loving people and that goes a long way.”

The Q-Tip Bandits are preparing to record their second album and embark on their Fall 2023 Northeast tour. They can be found everywhere @theqtipbandits.

Peter Tuohy can be reached at [email protected].

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    Rachel TuohySep 26, 2023 at 2:26 pm

    Great read! Job well done.