I would love to say that Tenleytown’s module of D.C.’s annual Art All Night show surpassed my expectations, but honestly, I didn’t have any expectations going into it. The show, which showcased both visual and performing arts throughout D.C. on Saturday, Sept. 24, had been on my radar last year, but I didn’t attend because it overlapped with GDS’ homecoming. But this year, I spent the first part of my night, before the dance, watching performances at a pop-up stage in the GDS lower/middle school driveway.
The evening began with a performance from an all-freshman band of GDS students, aptly named Good Evening Band. The musicians were just setting up when I arrived, ready to be the first in a long line of performers. They began playing as the sun was going down behind them, setting the scene for a calm ambiance, but the vibe shifted once their lead singer, freshman Aron Moldabek-Machado, began to sing.
Moldabek-Machado showed a great ability to express emotion with his voice without overshadowing the other members of the band. The balance of the drums and vocals on their cover of The Backseat Lovers’ “Maple Syrup” worked incredibly well, and in between their renditions of popular songs that relied heavily on Moldabek-Machado’s singing, the band played jams, as described by its set list, that didn’t feature vocals and highlighted the electric and bass guitars.
The band had only formed a week and a half before Art All Night, wasn’t formed through GDS jazz classes like many student bands are and included one member who is new to GDS. All of that is to say, the members of Good Evening Band showed a remarkable ability to connect in a short period of time. When one of the band members told me after the show that they had picked some of the songs that morning, I was surprised—it seemed like they had been rehearsing for weeks.
GDS’ in-house substitute coordinator Nima Majzoubi, the next performer, charmed an adoring crowd of mostly middle school fans with his original songs. His vocal range was impressive, and his choruses were catchy. Throughout his performance, he slipped in GDS-related references, which I found slightly corny but the audience loved. Plus, it seemed like every person in the crowd knew the words to his songs. There were people with posters, even, and although I heard one member of the crowd comment during the show that “the vibes are incredibly weird,” I thought the fandom really showed how much he and his music had made an impression on his middle school advisees and students, to the point that they would come out to see him perform on a Saturday night.
Majzoubi was a tough act to follow, but the solo and duet performers who did were up to the challenge. Sophomore Lexi Berzok (a Bit writer), like Majzoubi, demonstrated passion and impressive vocal range throughout her performance of “When We Were Young” by Adele. Senior Jacob Getlan’s acoustic guitar and senior Mila Noshirvani’s soft voice had a calming effect on the crowd after the first three energizing performances but still captivated the audience, which included many of their friends. My favorite performance of the night was freshman Sarah Sakr’s rendition of “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars, which fit well after Noshirvani and Getlan’s performance and kept the mood low-key. The solo and duet performances closed out with a duet of junior Joshua Reynolds and junior Katherine Davies, whose deep and high voices, respectively, contrasted to create a pretty and unique sound, different from anything I had heard all night.
The final performance I watched, but not the final performance of the night, was by The Soggy Closet Collective, a senior jazz band created through GDS’ jazz classes. The seniors were clearly the most seasoned performers—they even mentioned that one of their songs was a throwback to “a while ago,” which emphasized the longevity of the group, especially in comparison with Good Evening Band.
Being the largest group, with eight members, Soggy Closet featured many more instruments, including the first brass instruments of the night. It was much more jazzy than Good Evening Band, perhaps because of the influence of jazz class. All of the different instruments—guitars, keys, drums, a trombone, a saxophone, a xylophone and even a glockenspiel—combined to make a sound that had the crowd nodding their heads and tapping their feet. For me, transitioning from the jazz that Soggy Closet played to the loud, upbeat pop at homecoming was a weird experience, but it was fun to see the seniors having a good time in both places.
My only complaints about the night were caused by a few technical difficulties and poor scheduling. The technical issues (volume problems with the amps) were resolved relatively quickly, but scheduling was a problem through the night. The evening’s organizers timed the performances in a way that didn’t allow GDS high schoolers, who made up most of the performers and crowd that I saw, to attend the last few performances—freshman pianist John Morsberger, the GDS Spoken Word Slam Team and [high school jazz teacher] Brad Linde and Friends— without missing homecoming. And most, including me, chose to go to homecoming. Without that conflict, later performances might have had more of a crowd and people would have been able to experience more cool music.
Technical issues aside, the real heart of the night was the support the crowd members around me gave their fellow students and even one of their teachers. Music connects people, and Art All Night was a great example of that. When I think back on that night, I’ll remember seniors waving their phone flashlights, ninth graders swaying with their arms around each other, middle schoolers belting out their teacher’s lyrics and even little kids engaged and excited—all dancing along to the music.