I first heard Varsity in the Summer of 2016. It was a July night, and I was with a few friends, sitting on a peak somewhere in Long Island, going through a backpack half-filled with Budweisers. After shuffling through a playlist of music, my friend eventually landed on the song “C. 2002.” The song’s foggy, glimmering audio aesthetic somehow managed to serve as a representation for where myself and many of us were at that point in our lives. The music spoke themes of simplistic journeys in finding who you are, nostalgia and various relationships.
It’s moments like that that have come to define Varsity, at least for me. They make the perfect music to cruise down the highway with your friends at eleven o’clock at night to, when you’re on your way to your friend’s backyard to go night-swimming.
Varsity describe themselves as “too cute for the punks, too raw for the bubble-gummers.” Maybe that’s what makes Varsity’s music so interesting. Varsity’s music comes through with this shimmer and shine, yet a rough, jagged edge and undercoat that separates it from other bands in the Bandcamp-o-sphere.
Whether it’s coming from Stef Smith’s soft vocals and ear-sticking keyboards, or from Pat Stanton and Dylan Weschler’s glitzy guitars, you feel this damaged yet glowing sense of youthful charisma burning through their instruments, as well as through their subtle yet energetic stage presence.
The band spared none of that energy during their appearance at Union Pool in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on an abnormally cloudy Cinco De Mayo this past Saturday. Hosted by AdHoc, the music zine/concert curator, the band overtook the drenched-in-red concert venue and provided what may be one of the best AdHoc events in recent memory.
The band’s skills as performers is highlighted through the fact that their performance sounded almost as clean and put together as a produced recording, while at the same time was able to maintain a certain grimy charm that made it feel alive as they performed songs such as “A Friend Named Paul,” “Isolation” and “Must Be You.”
As they exited the stage following their last song, the crowd went wild, hungry for more and radiating a force field of PBR-infused infatuation. The band seemed to feel this, as they swiftly returned to the stage and performed an encore.
I look at Varsity with a sense of nostalgic charm and manic pixie spirit. They keep the glamorous emo-shoegaze pop flavor of the late eighties alive with their modern souls.
It can only make one excited to see where this will take them down the line.