Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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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

The Baxbys return to Amherst

The Amherst band will support Native Sun and Dead Tooth at The Drake on Feb. 23
Image courtesy of @PORTTEIA.

After a string of shows up and down the East Coast, The Baxbys are returning to Amherst. The psychedelic-pop band is returning to their western Massachusetts roots on a bill supporting the bands Native Sun and Dead Tooth on Friday, Feb. 23 at The Drake.

Upon graduation from their respective universities, The Baxbys – composed of Alex Nordland, 23, James Miller, 22, Spencer Rosenfeld, 22 and Chris Sciucco, 22 – have defied the odds of many bands that formed in college. Though only two of The Baxbys attended the University of Massachusetts, and another is enrolled in college elsewhere, the group’s kinship has proven deeper than any distance or passage of time could strain.

“Three of us actually live in Amherst now, and Spencer [Rosenfeld] still goes to Northeastern. It honestly has worked out really well, even easier than when we were still in school,” Miller said. “Two of us work nine-to-five jobs, we don’t have homework now to worry about. We come together to play and write songs together whenever we can.”

“Hopefully in the next year we’re all going to be living together. We’re coming together one at a time,” Rosenfeld said.

Following an ongoing run of shows in New York City and Boston at venues such as Arlene’s Grocery and Rockwood Music Hall, The Baxbys have laid the groundwork for a music career that reaches far beyond the artistically rich but otherwise geographically limited Amherst music scene.

“There were so many shows that we played in New York that felt good,” Miller said. “There were a couple that we had a pretty big turnout for, too. It just felt awesome to see some growth in a new place, especially that being New York. A lot of new faces and familiar friends came out, and [laughs] always some French people who loved us at every show.”

Outside the traction they have gained, seemingly even into European waters, The Baxbys still find themselves attracted to the community where it all began. Three years since their inception, the group initially made a name for themselves in the now-fading Amherst “basement show” scene, drawing in routine crowds of hundreds on weekends.

“I love Amherst, I love playing here. Those house shows we played here were some of the most fun things we’ve done,” Rosenfeld said.

“We’re trying to move away from the basement thing. It was so fun while it lasted. But with Amherst, regardless of where specifically we play, it is always going to be the place we started with our fan base, if you want to call it that,” Miller said. “I think we still have some people here that listen to us, most of our friends don’t live in Amherst anymore, though. We’re excited.”

In my own first few years as a UMass student, some of my initial notions of the Amherst music community was in relation to The Baxbys; their energetic shows and distinctive branded stickers atop students’ laptops being the talk of campus. 

The excitement in which The Baxbys stirred amongst those invested in the greater Amherst music scene is one that helped paved the way for the onslaught of bands that have emerged alongside, and after the group.

“I think it’s just the nature of the Pioneer Valley,” Rosenfeld said. “It just feels like a very creative space, especially being in a community of other college-aged kids.”

“I mean, that’s where we all met – in college. People are excited to mingle and join forces in different ways. I think we are a product of that. But maybe it is amorous too, we have all of these former legends that hailed from Amherst. I’m sure everyone knows who I am talking about, like J. Mascis,” Sciucco said.

With their experiences in Amherst — and now New York — the mark they left is paying dividends for The Baxbys.

“Just playing one show, I find that always leads to just some other little opportunity, another step for us. One venue leads to another venue somehow, and then you just meet a lot of great people and friends. We haven’t really been seeking anything out, just going with the flow right now and that seems to be working,” Rosenfeld said.

After being contacted by the booking agent of New York City based punk-rock group Native Sun, another gig came The Baxbys’ way, this time bringing them back to The Drake – a sort of homecoming to kickoff a new year set for heightened success.

The Baxbys are in the midst of recording their third release, following their EPs “Side By Side” and “Meet The Baxbys.” Though there is no official release date for their new music, the compilation is set to deviate from the new-wave indie psychedelia of their past works.

“We are working with some new people on [the record]. I’d say it’s definitely going to be a bit different from the last two,” Miller said. “But hopefully we retain some of our familiar sound.”

“We all agree that this is our favorite, we try to be better each time we release something new. We can’t wait for people to hear it,” Rosenfeld said.

During their 45-minute set at the Drake this week, The Baxbys are expected to play sneak peaks of their upcoming release and even newer unreleased tracks; a special ode to the place that started it all.

“Once we release more music, we’ll take it from there and keep seeing what happens. We are just having a lot of fun right now and are going to keep playing shows in the Northeast region. This is very cool for us,” Miller said.

“The biggest thing I am thankful for is that the four of us want to keep pushing this as much as possible. These shows at places like The Sinclair that are coming up and the new music — we are very excited,” Sciucco said.

Regardless of what the future holds for the group, it is clear the synergy they cultivate has the capability to transcend their impact on Amherst, to even greater heights. 

For updates regarding upcoming shows and new music releases, follow The Baxbys on Instagram. Tickets for their Feb. 23 show are on sale via The Drake’s website. Admission is $15 in advance, and $20 at the door.

Shanti Furtado can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ShantiFurtado.

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