As the opening riff to “Detroit Rock City,” originally by Kiss, filled the Cavern Club at the Hard Rock Cafe, it was impossible not to get up and move your feet.
The Common, Suffolk University’s house band, performed Wednesday night for the first time since 2019 to a crowd of adoring students and family members downtown.
The Common is made up of six Suffolk students: seniors Robbie Silva (bass), Alexa Majka (vocals) and Nick Shepard (drums), sophomores Kathryn Kilbride (keyboard) and Tyler Eld (guitar) and freshman Charlotte Weldon (guitar and trumpet).
The Hard Rock Cafe provided a free fries and salsa buffet, sliders and flatbread pizza for audience members to enjoy during the show.
The Common’s set featured a perfect mix of high-energy anthems like Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” and classics like “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Majka’s powerful voice carried each song with ease, and the band’s joy as they performed was palpable because of the passion they injected into each song.
Josh Ziemann, staff music director at The Common, attributed the energy to the lack of opportunities for students to perform live due to the pandemic. The Common was unable to perform its annual Hard Rock show in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country a month prior.
This fall was also the first time The Common could hold auditions and practices since 2020.
Due to the nature of the university, where students constantly come and go, The Common is never the same band twice. It can be both exciting and intimidating as there is always a possibility that there may not be enough members for a full group.
“At the start of every year there’s a moment when you think, ‘I don’t know if this is going to happen,'” Ziemann said.
Fortunately, The Common is a group of dedicated musicians, practicing diligently every Sunday since the fall to perfect their set. Ziemann praised them for their incredible efforts.
“It’s a lot of repertoire to learn, it’s a bit crazy on top of all the homework and work. I’m super impressed with everything they’ve achieved,” Ziemann said.
Their hard work paid off, as the audience cheered and sang throughout The Common’s set.
The group was perfectly in tune with each other and each song showcased the talents of the members. Silva’s jazzy bass and Kilbride’s keyboard were the perfect complements to Majka’s smoky rendition of Mark Ronson’s “Valerie,” sung by the late Amy Winehouse.
Weldon swapped his guitar for a brass trumpet to play Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” with the bright tone and confidence of a seasoned player. Shepard’s drum solo in Blue Öyster Cult’s “Godzilla” was so impressive that he split one of his drumsticks in half.
To end their set, Majka joked that they “couldn’t find a high energy song to end” and started singing “Earth Angel”, a doo-wop song by The Penguins. Before she could reach the chorus, however, Eld’s screeching guitar interrupted her and the band began playing Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” to close the show.
The crowd went wild, demanding an encore as the band left the stage.
Majka said the crowd reaction made the performance even better than she expected.
“I had so much fun. It was such a fun experience,” Majka said.
With half of its members graduating this spring, The Common is looking for new bandmates to join next year. They encourage all interested students to audition in the fall, regardless of musical ability.
“Don’t let fear hold you back,” Majka said.
The next performance of the Common will take place at Spring Festival at the Royal on Friday at 6 p.m.
Follow The Common on Instagram for updates on future performances and auditions.
Follow Leo on Twitter @leowoods108.