On Saturday, Binghamton Underground Music Presents (BUMP) hosted its second virtual concert of the semester, this time bringing out a pair of rock acts — the Chicago indie-pop group Beach Bunny and the Brooklyn-based artist Oceanator, who opened the show. The concert was livestreamed over YouTube to any audience members who had previously RSVP’d to the event. Despite the distance between them and the performers, audience members used the chat feature to cheer on the bands for the duration of the hourlong show.
Oceanator, whose debut album “Things I Never Said” was released last year just before the pandemic began, started off the show with a short set of several grunge-influenced songs, ranging from heavy in tone to more lighthearted, almost poppy songs such as “Walk With You.”
“Normally we would have done a big tour around that but obviously that wasn’t possible,” Oceanator wrote in an email. “So, we had to find other ways to share and celebrate it, and we ended up doing a bunch of livestreams, which was fun and a new challenge.”
Oceanator brought a dynamic mix of many genres to the table in her music, especially punk and grunge rock, a range that was on full display during the show.
“I grew up with Green Day and Rancid and a lot of ’90s alternative rock radio, but then also a ton of soul and folk and funk that my parents would play,” Oceanator said.
After Oceanator wrapped up her set, the concert’s switch to the jingling guitar-pop of Beach Bunny was almost jarring. The four-piece band, led by singer Lili Trifilio, streamed a performance from a separate location than their openers, and despite the less-than-ideal situations, delivered almost studio-quality songs for the stream.
Beach Bunny and their pretty indie-pop performance was a perfect example of the endearing awkwardness the unique setting brought, smiling and laughing among themselves and toward the ever-present camera. Mixing established hits like “Prom Queen” and “Sports” with newer tracks from this year’s EP “Blame Game,” Beach Bunny performed over an hour’s worth of material with charisma and never-wavering quality.
Like Oceanator, Beach Bunny also released their debut album “Honeymoon” in 2020, right before the pandemic. While they, like all of the music industry, were rendered unable to tour because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve been shifting their focus to streamed performances such as this one, and also have been fortunate enough that one of their songs on the album, “Cloud 9,” went viral on the app TikTok. Breaks like those, while not ideal, have kept Beach Bunny and their album relevant despite the lack of tour opportunities. Sean McManus, BUMP chair and a junior majoring in Japanese studies, said the concert represented people’s resilience throughout the pandemic.
“I think it’s so important to keep the spirit of live music alive through this so that the importance of it isn’t lost when we come out of the other side of [COVID-19],” McManus said. “We all need some sort of elation in these tough times and for those of us who loved going to concerts more than anything for now we need to attend shows online … [to] keep the feeling of in-person live music alive.”
It’s certainly been hard for organizations like BUMP to continue organizing concerts in the midst of everything happening in the University, but McManus urged students to put themselves out there and, until things get back to normal, give these types of events a shot.
“It’s hard to get people interested in online shows for artists they may not already be familiar with because the energy of a live concert is so different than online,” McManus said. “Even though you may not be familiar with the artist … there’s such a different and fun energy just dancing around with friends and maybe coming to appreciate a band you’ve never heard of before.”