The Barnard Quad hosted indie music, rap, and a crowd of students relaxing on blankets, sitting on steps, and occasionally dancing for the 25th annual WBAR-B-Q on Saturday.
The concert, organized by Barnard radio, saw acts Crosslegged, pinkcaravan!, Weaves, and Palehound perform directly on the Quad. Choosing to play on the same level as the audience instead of on an elevated platform, the bands created a casual, laid-back atmosphere for the sunny afternoon show. This informal quality, however, did nothing to undercut the quality of the day’s performances.
Crosslegged—the moniker of Brooklyn artist Keba Robinson—was the first act to perform, delivering her own take on the singer-songwriter genre with songs bearing folk inflections, indie pop, and traces of R&B. Two of the songs’ attempts at a dance-oriented sound punctuated by a drum machine didn’t quite work with the number of students sitting down on blankets at the beginning of the event, most of whom were talking or doing work as they enjoyed the music. Still, Crosslegged delivered an understated yet overall moving set, anchored by a fragile vocal that spoke to the emotional vulnerability of Robinson’s lyrics.
After a brief intermission with DJ Namesake playing remixes of “September,” “Anita,” and “Cha Cha,” St. Louis rapper pinkcaravan! took the stage. Her songs often dealt with heavy issues like mental health, drugs, and relationships—yet all were counterbalanced in words and delivery that evoked childlike innocence and hope. These qualities worked well with the warm spring afternoon’s crowd, but much like in the case of Crosslegged, the set ran into problems when it tried to raise the energy level. In particular, pinkcaravan!’s attempt at getting the crowd to join in for a call-and-response verse left her standing awkwardly before a largely silent crowd—albeit for only a moment in what was otherwise a fun, appropriately upbeat selection.
Weaves came on next, enjoying both a full, four-piece band and a fuller crowd. The Canadian indie pop group began with a bigger sound than the previous acts, mixing the loud, aggressive sound of its guitars and drums with the dreamy, melancholy vocal delivery of frontwoman Jasmyn Burke. It followed this with a set that showed a distinct range––sometimes displaying signs of blues rock and indie rock’s classic loud-soft-loud template, alongside slow-burners which gradually built in energy. This energy culminated in the band’s final song, in which Burke spent the latter half singing the mantra “walk away” with an intensity that grew with each repetition.
The afternoon’s headliner, Palehound, followed this performance, walking directly onto the stage from the crowd, where it’d been enjoying the previous act’s music. While Palehound had a similar instrumental setup to Weaves, its opening songs used noticeably more distortion for its guitars, causing somewhat of a clash with the Barnard Quad’s unaccommodating acoustics. However, the music mellowed out as the set progressed, and with it, the conflict between the performers and their setting. By the time the band came around to some of its biggest hits, including “Cinnamon” and “If You Met Her,” it’d entered a steady groove of smooth, soft songs, with energy coming more from the sporadic intensity of the vocal bubbling to the surface than the aggressive noise of the instruments—a dynamic better suited for the open-air environment.
Overall, WBAR-B-Q stayed true to its name. More relaxed than fellow spring concert Bacchanal, it offered students a place to pause and enjoy music, weather, and food for a few hours while calmly de-stressing from the busy month of April at Columbia.