It was the eclectic instruments that first caught my attention when watching the student band Low Class Carnival Act. Banjos, recycling bins, a powerful singer and unexpected cover songs are all things that characterize this music group comprised of five first-year students.
It’s a band that will turn a recycling bin into a percussion instrument when lacking a mobile drum set, cover T-Pain song with a ukulele or sing a rock song as a ballad just for fun.
The composition of the group itself, in a way, reflects its music style.
Brittany Tuten is a a first-year mathematics student who sings for Low Class Carnival Act.
“We’re all friends who like making music, but we all have our own individual personalities and lives,” Tuten said.
Yet, the group does share a common thread aside from music — all attended South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. The school had a music program, which is where the members met. Having played together since junior year of high school, it’s quite the stroke of luck that all five ended up at USC for college.
Dennis Parea is a first-year computer science student who loosely defines his role in the band as one who plays guitar, banjo and ukulele.
Parea personally finds it fun to cover artists like T-Pain in a unique manner, but ultimately prefers alternative music, because it allows for unconventional instrument incorporation while staying true to the genre itself.
“We can still incorporate different instruments such as a banjo or mandolin into a song and still have that feel of alternative music,” Parea said.
Tuten also gravitates towards music that doesn’t fall into mainstream categories, especially artists like the Front Bottoms and Keira Knightly.
The band has known each other for several years, and any conflict that arises mostly stems from deciding what songs to play. There are times when a certain song seems like a good one to cover in theory, but then it simply doesn’t work out.
“If I had to describe our trial and error process, it’s like, we just take a song, and we throw it at the wall, and see if it sticks,” Parea said.
As of right now, Low Class Carnival Act performs cover songs, but both Parea and Tuten see songwriting and establishing a more solid sound as things they aim to do in the future.
For most of high school, the band was a side hobby in which some members found a creative outlet, but they are now also trying to expand the scope of their performances. They practice twice a week and try to perform somewhat regularly to stay in the rhythm of things.
But at its core, Low Class Carnival act is a collection of friends whose instrumental talents extend beyond the boundaries of a typical student band, and they enjoy experimenting with that.
“I happen to be blessed with great friends who have great talent, being able to play on different things, and be really flexible with each other about what we want to play and our decision making,” Parea said.
Tuten echoed this same appreciation for having met her bandmates nearly four years ago and starting something they have all stuck with.
“This is the only band I’ve ever been apart of, and I’m very grateful to have met them,” she said.