Turtle Underground: campus music scene works on comeback

By Jess Ward
Lifestyle & Politics Editor

Before North Campus was sold to the University of Vermont last year, Turtle Underground shows were held in the basement of Purtill Hall. They were packed wall-to-wall with students, ready to listen to good music by their peers. Now, the shows take place in Eddie’s Lounge, and there seems to be a problem.
“No one wants to get down in Eddie’s Lounge,” said Alex Bigelow ’19, co-president of Turtle Underground. “I wish that wasn’t the case. We set up this nice ambience and the shows we have in there are awesome. We’ve had some really good shows, and nobody came to them.”
Turtle Underground is a student-run club on campus, encouraging students to take the stage, learn new instruments, and collaborate with other musicians in the community. They put together small concerts for on-campus bands, as well as open mic nights for students who want to try new things in a fun, no-pressure setting.
The problem, Bigelow said, may stem from the fact that Turtle Underground had a reputation as a music venue as opposed to a music community. With this in mind, members of the club are trying to rebrand and revive Turtle Underground’s name so more people get involved.
“We want to expand, and I think we have to start with the underclassmen. We’re going to have to pass the torch off at some point,” said Chris Spodick ’19, singer for the band Sead, who frequents Turtle Underground meetings and performances.
To make that expansion, representitives for the club have been going to SA meetings, making posters and displaying them around campus, as well as giving their club attention on the air at WWPV, where DJs announce club meeting times and performances.
“Last year, first-years had no idea what Turtle Underground was because nothing was going on. Now they’re sophomores and are involved on campus. The current first-years still don’t know what it is because there’s no hype behind it anymore,” added Bailey King ’18, co-president for the club.
“We have a lot of new ideas floating around too. Maybe we could get international students to prepare authentic food to bring to our shows. We did that last year and it was awesome” said Spodick. “We want to do outdoor events once it gets warm too. But that’s the thing- this rebrand means we have to shake it up, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
“People don’t know it, but we have practice times on Mondays and Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to midnight. People can come in, jam, be as loud as they want, and there’s really no skill level required to be there,” said Bigelow.
“We have all the equipment- drums, mics, amps, anything anyone could need,” Spodick added.
The members of Turtle Underground stress that bands affiliated with the club have gone off to play gigs out in the community, emphasising the importance of gaining experience in a performative field. Sead will headline a show at Nectar’s on March 22, while Seven Leaves, another band familiar with the Turtle Underground stage, will play Radio Bean on April 19.
“I’ve always seen Turtle Underground as a starting point,” Spodick said. “This would have been completely inconceivable and it’s all thanks to Turtle [Undergorund].”
“When I first got to SMC, I wasn’t exacltly sure if I liked it yet or not. But then I went to a Turtle [Underground] show, and it was full of positive vibes. That’s when I knew I was in the right place. I want to bring that feeling back” said Bailey.
With new advertising tactics and show ideas underway, the members of Turtle Underground hope to see some new faces both attending meetings and events.