Muhlenberg College Sponsors Horsegirl

The members of Horsegirl performing on stage. Nora Cheng is on the left, Gigi Reece is in the middle, and Penelope Lowenstein is on the right. (Photo credit via Riley Sardhina)

Riley Sardinha

Chicago indie rock band, Horsegirl, stole the spotlight this past Friday night at Muhlenberg College.
As a high-end, private liberal arts college, Muhlenberg’s WMUH radio station has either hosted or sponsored a number of music shows in the area, featuring a variety of artists both popular and independent.
I attended the show with a few of the other council members of ESU’s WESS radio station, and took a tour of WMUH’s studio.
They believed having close connections with other entertainment organizations allowed for a livelier community for music fans, which was certainly something WESS could learn from.
In the Muhlenberg College Event Space was a relatively simple stage set-up with merchandise tables set up on one side of the room. There were tables for Horsegirl and opening act, Brother J.T., as well as a number of Muhlenberg student organizations.
Horsegirl is made up of three college-age artists; Nora Cheng, Penelope Lowenstein, and Gigi Reece. Cheng and Lowenstein take turns fronting on vocals and guitar while Reece plays the drums.
Although they’re Chicago natives, the band currently has residency in New York City as part of the Matador Records recording label.
They’re debut album, “Versions of Modern Performance”, came out this past June, while a B-sides compilation, “Rough Trade Super-Disc”, was released last month.
Even though they just appeared on the map in the past six months, Horsegirl already has a dedicated fanbase. The crowd was rather diverse, made up of college students, potential faculty members, and visitors from out of town (like us).
Their playing style garners comparisons to eighties noise rock band, Sonic Youth, along with other early grunge artists.
Local legends, Brother J.T., also fit into this subgenre. After frequenting small-scale Allentown shows for a few decades, they’ve acquired their own cult following of listeners. They’re sound comes more to life on stage than in studio recordings.
Horsegirl went on not too long after. There were elements of noise rock in the band’s use of guitar distortion, but everything else about Horsegirl’s sound allowed them to be easily accessible to new listeners.
Cheng and Lowenstein have singing styles that don’t overwhelm the music they play, only amplifying the hypnotic guitar riffs they orchestrate for songs like “World of Pots and Pans” and “Anti-glory”.
Reece also had her soloist moments through various drumming passages, keeping peoples’ attention for powerful song intros.
Although the set was relatively short, Lowenstein brightened the mood through some light-hearted stage banter, complimenting the university’s food options and talking about the influence Nick Drake had on one of the songs they played.
After the show, the council members and I got to meet the members to sign merchandise and compliment their performances.
We left with their autographs decorating a vinyl record, a poster, and a pink cowboy hat.
This just goes to show how great things can come out of the integration between musical artists and a passionate community, which is always great to see coming out of the local scene.

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