From the Stage

NONEWFRIENDS.’s outdoor concert heard throughout the neighborhood

Meghan Hendricks | Assistant Photo Editor

NONEWFRIENDS. formed in fall 2018 after the members met and performed at a house show together.

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More than 200 people filled the backyard of a Sumner Avenue house on Saturday night. As the sun set in the sky, Syracuse University students mingled and laughed, enjoying the warm fall night. Then the sound of Jackson Siporin’s saxophone pierced through the crowd, signifying the start of NONEWFRIENDS.’s set. The band’s energy was infectious, and the audience got louder too, dancing and singing along.

The outdoor house show opened with performances by musicians Sedona and a kid named rufus. Once NONEWFRIENDS. took the stage, lead singer Liz Stuart encouraged the crowd to sing along to the band’s hits: “The Hook,” “Already Gone,” her personal favorite, “Not Your Girl.” The band got the audience dancing to covers of “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry and “Ghost Town” by Kanye West, which Stuart sang with Sedona.

NONEWFRIENDS. played two unreleased songs, during which the lead singer hyped up the crowd, saying, “We hope it makes you jam too.”

After almost ending the show with their hit “Personal,” the audience shouted for more, and NONEWFRIENDS. delivered an encore of “Best Friend” by Rex Orange County.

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Audience members said they loved the music and the ambiance of the setting. The outdoor stage was set at the back wall of the house, and the wall and ground were decorated with string lights and house plants. During a few of the songs, the crowd held up their flashlights, making the whole backyard glow. Graduate student Daniel Wilde said he thought having the concert outside was a “genius idea.”

Sophomore Ava Lahijani agreed. “I felt euphoric, and I felt like I was in the clouds,” she said. “Then I looked around me, and I realized I wasn’t in the clouds because I was surrounded by Syracuse students.”

NONEWFRIENDS. features Stuart as lead singer, Peter Groppe on guitar, Siporin on saxophone, Jack Harrington on bass and Scott Greenblatt on piano. The band members are seniors except for Greenblatt, who is a graduate student. They have had multiple drummers through the years, and Chris Cummings — a friend of Greenblatt’s from high school — played percussion at the Saturday night show.

The band formed in fall 2018, in Stuart’s freshman year at SU. She met Groppe, Siporin and Harrington in her first few days of freshman year, and the three guys had met Greenblatt, then a sophomore, through SU’s jazz band. Stuart said the group officially began when Groppe and Siporin asked her to perform with them at a house show.

“We had no expectation of it turning into literally anything more than just a fun night,” she said.

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But three years later, the five musicians are still friends and still making music.

Stuart came up with the band’s name in an SU dining hall and laughed when she explained that at the time they were one another’s only friends. She remembered how they announced the name at their first house show, and when the audience chanted NONEWFRIENDS., they knew the name felt right.

“It all snowballed from there,” she said.

Greenblatt said NONEWFRIENDS. was cultivated by the house show scene at SU and said that those house shows are what instilled confidence in the band. He said the band aims to cultivate a “vibe” and community in which the audience wants to be friends with them.

Stuart said the group’s strong friendship translates into their music and that they are extremely committed to working as a team. They collaborate on writing all of their songs, and between writing, producing, editing, logistics and marketing, everyone has their own role.

Performers and audience members at the NONEWFRIENDS. house show

The band has several performances planned and hopes to eventually tour.
Meghan Hendricks | Assistant Photo Editor

When creating a song, Greenblatt said it isn’t really finished until everyone puts their own personal spin on it.

“At this point it feels like we’re a family,” said Stuart. “When you’re writing music together, that puts you in a very emotional place … You have to be honest and vulnerable.”

When COVID-19 squandered the band’s performance opportunities, they used the year to record music and get closer as a group. Not only did they write, record and release new music, but they also created TikToks and videos that helped them expand their reach on social media.

While NONEWFRIENDS. describes its music as indie-pop, Greenblatt said that each member influences each song, and Stuart commented on the jazz background that many of them have.

“If you get to know everybody in the group, you can really hear how all of our influences are apparent,” said Greenblatt. “There are jazz influences, there’s funk, there’s rock … Everybody brings their own style to the table.”

NONEWFRIENDS. performed at Pianos in New York City this summer, and the band plans to perform at more house shows soon. They will be opening for Melt, a popular indie-soul group, at Funk ‘n Waffles in downtown Syracuse on Oct. 21. They also plan to release a new song soon, Stuart said.

Both Greenblatt and Stuart hope to eventually go on tour, and the band wants to keep making music together for as long as it can.

Stuart said the group currently has a strong foundation and footing. She said this year is important for them to keep pushing before they all graduate, but the band generally agrees that they want to continue playing together after college.

“My goal is just to keep making music with people that I love,” she said. “As cheesy as that sounds, it’s the best feeling in the world.”







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