Life in a post-pandemic world is something that everyone is still coming to terms with. The world can seem unrecognizable in certain areas — including college life.
Five students at The University of Texas at Austin are using that noticeable shift to make music.
West 22nd is the work of students Logan Madsen, Gabe Acevedo, Jeremy Ancheta, Nakul Nagaraj and Douglas Blatt. Making folk-rock music, the group takes great inspiration from contemporary indie icons like the Backseat Lovers, Briston Maroney, Big Thief, Tyler Childers, Twin Peaks, and The Moss. Their lyricism combines Bob Dylan’s narrative storytelling abilities and The Beatles’ catchy writing.
“We take all of these inspirations, old and new, to try and craft a style that feels familiar yet refreshing and is emblematic of Austin’s cultural melting pot in Central USA,” the band shared in an interview with Glasse Factory. “At the end of the day, we are a rock band and prioritize making analog music live and in the moment.”
After only forming last year, the group is gearing up to release their first EP. The self-titled work is set to release on Aug. 18.
West 22nd formed one by one throughout 2022. Lead singer Masden and guitarist Ancheta were the first to begin jamming together. After seeing rhythm vocalist Acevedo performing, Ancheta invited him to join the group. The three bonded over living in the same freshman dorm building — as college students do.
To complete their band, the trio put up flyers for auditions for a bassist and a drummer. Nagaraj was the first and only bassist they auditioned. The group played with a few drummers before finally completing the West 22nd known today with Blatt.
Fully formed, the band gave itself a name: West 22nd, based on the street they lived on the year prior.
“We started making music together because we all had a shared love for rock music and felt that we had something to say about the world around us in this new post-pandemic age,” the band shared.
At the beginning of their career, the group mostly performed on campus to their fellow Longhorns. They realized all college students — while living different lives, studying different things and having different personalities — are all connected through the post-pandemic struggles the band is addressing.
“College in the post-covid world has changed a good bit. Many classes are online and students are spending more time on their phones and on Tik ok than getting sleep or spending time with their friends in real life,” they said. “We are victims too of this new enhanced internet age, but have found music to be the escape from that, which is why we care so much about our live shows.”
The band quickly expanded their performance past campus and into the live music capital of the world. Since then, they have performed at such iconic spots as Hole in the Wall and Mohawk. Their dedication to live performance has led them to garner 3.2 thousand followers on Instagram and 1.7 thousand on TikTok.
While the campus is mostly empty for the summer, the five artists will be staying in Austin to continue their momentum.
“Sharing an energy from the stage to the crowd is therapeutic to us,” they said. “We feel that we’re building memories with our community both in college, Austin and around the country.”
West 22nd is on the rise. And with their dedication to the craft, they are a group to watch.
“We want to keep working on our craft and clock in our 10,000 hours.”