The Brilliant Bands of Isla Vista

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Anais Tournier

Walking around Isla Vista on a Friday night, the streets are thriving with people, parties, and, of course, music. On any given weekend, there are a plethora of live music performances going on, ranging from small garage debuts to two-hundred-people house shows.

This is not surprising, considering live music has always been an integral part of I.V. culture. Successful bands like Iration and Rebelution had their start in I.V., some while obtaining their undergraduate degrees from UCSB. Jack Johnson started his musical career in I.V. playing rhythm guitar for a band called Soil. Years later, he still writes songs about the Isla Vista community and comes back to UCSB to perform.

But what about  Isla Vista makes it such a perfect place to create and perform music? Idle Riot, an upcoming rock band, says that it’s the people of Isla Vista and their energy that encourages them to keep on rockin’.

Inspired by grunge and hard rock, the band formed in the fall quarter of 2017, hoping to showcase their talents. After their first show last Saturday, the band was shocked by the size of the crowd.

“Since it was our first show, we weren’t expecting a ton of people, especially considering how cold it’s been getting. We were just expecting our friends to show up but we got a lot of support from people we didn’t know. People were moshing and getting crazy, and it was great seeing everyone having fun. Our first show was a big success and we are excited to take our music even further.”

The Mallards is a band that knows I.V. crowds better than most others. Formed in January of 2017, this alternative rock band, inspired by hints of punk and metal, has nothing but love for its fans, which they have named “the Flock.”

Matt Swiacki, the lead guitarist, commented in an interview with The Bottom Line that it is because of the I.V. crowds that they are able to give such great performances.

“We feed off the crowd’s energy, and in I.V., the fans are very super energetic,” said Swiacki. This liveliness is instantly apparent at any one of the Mallards’ show. Their house show at the “Pond” is packed, and mosh pits are always expected.

However, Will Ramsay, a close friend and collaborator with the band, said that the shows have not always been like that.

“I’ve really gotten to see the band grow. At first they only had a few people at the shows; now, the whole courtyard is filled.”

Ray Muhlenkamp, the bassist, also agreed that, at first, people were not very responsive to the band.

“In the beginning, we had shows where only twenty people showed up,” with the majority of the crowd being friends of the band members.

But Ray notices that once the Mallards started playing more gigs and more people heard their unique sound, the I.V. crowd became more supportive and invested in the group.

The band now performs between four-to-six times a quarter and have played for events such as the Togapalooza and the Reel Loud Launch party.

“Last year, there were so many great bands, like the Six Sevens and Napoleon,” said Matt. But since “[these bands] left, it really left a void in the I.V. community.”

This void motivated the Mallards to have a multitude of high energy shows to keep the I.V. music scene going while new bands, such as Idle Riot, made their debut in the music community.

When asked what the most surreal part of this whole experience was, the band agreed that it was the recognition and admiration of the community.

Muhlenkamp recalled a moment when he heard his friend’s neighbor rave about one of their shows.

“It feels good to have people we don’t even know talk us like that … we really wouldn’t be where we are now without the support of I.V.”

If you are interested in learning more about Idle Riot or The Mallards and their shows, contact them on facebook @IdleRiot and @TheMallardsOffical.