If you were to walk into Stern dining the night of Nov. 10 at 9:08 pm, it would not be the sleepy atmosphere you might be expecting. Yes, there was a smattering of students working at various tables, and the doors to the cafeteria were locked. But the atmosphere was heavily influenced by the constant drums and bass guitar notes wafting from the far corner. Beyond burrito bowl specials, the dining hall also has a music practice room, which is often inhabited by a band of Stanford juniors called Bitch Cup.
This night in particular, they had a very important rehearsal. It was the eve of their biggest show yet: a performance at The Arbor, Stanford’s student-run weekend bar located behind Tresidder Memorial Union.
Bitch Cup is composed of Lucian de Nevers ’24 on guitar; Richard Viso ’24 on guitar and lead vocals; Alison Cabanday ’24 on drums; Arabella Walley ’24 on lead vocals and Diana Baszucki ‘24 on bass. The band formed last year and has performed a handful of times, providing live music for pre-planned events. However, last Friday night was their most official performance thus far. Persistent emails to The Arbor and a quick sign-up landed the band with a prime showtime gig; they picked the 11/11 date because it was an “auspicious number.”
At their final practice pre-show, excitement and nerves were high. It was unclear what the turnout would be. No one ends up at Tresidder coincidentally on a Friday night: Everyone there would be coming for them.
“Every soul in [my dorm] and their mom is going. And my mom is coming,” said Baszucki.
The practice room floor was a tangle of cables, bottles and their corresponding abandoned caps littered the piano top and discussions over setlist order are prevalent. De Nevers and Viso led the practice, adjusting amps and foot pedals. They were more serious, more focused on rock and roll, while Walley and Baszucki kept the vibes light.
“Uh oh,” Baszucki said. “Blister forming on my finger as we speak.”
“That’s good,” said de Nevers.
“I’m concerned,” Baszucki said one song later, examining her hand again. “What if it explodes?”
Viso smiled, shrugged. “Play through it.”
Cabanday, behind her large drum set, peeped in with notes here and there. She’s the one that brought the band together, after all: she met Viso freshman year when they were Marriage Pact matches, and, wanting to reconnect with the drums she hadn’t played since middle school, suggested they start a band. Later, she met de Nevers and proposed the same thing. It wasn’t until de Nevers and Viso were randomly paired as sophomore year roommates that things started coming together. While skating one day, Baszucki overheard Cabanday trying to convince someone to learn bass and took the invitation for herself. Baszucki knew the band needed a female vocalist and that’s where Walley came in. Hence, Bitch Cup was born.
The Friday night lineup was stacked: Michael Locasico at 8 p.m., Claire’s in Town at 8:30, Bitch Cup at 9. Locasico was calm and sweet, alone with his acoustic guitar. At the start of Claire’s in Town’s set, each band member was seated and slowly began swaying in place, but by their finale of Bille Ellish’s Happier than Ever, the crowd was dancing. Industrial caged lights lit the artists, the makeshift stage under the staircase. Bitch Cup’s crowd was a mix of friends of the band, lovers of live music and those just looking to start their Friday night on the right foot. Despite the cold, there were around 80 listeners, sipping and bobbing and dancing, clouds of breath floating above.
The setlist starts with one of a handful of originals, penned by de Nevers, Viso and Baszucki. De Nevers’s guitar moves from parallel to perpendicular to his body, his white Air Force shoes tapping tapping tapping the whole time. The crowd begs Lucian, strip! And he peels off one sweatshirt and then the one underneath a song later.
They’re casual and talk to the crowd in between sets. It feels personal, like a band practice that we stumbled into, and they’re just happy to have us. We age like summer wine / as we fall like grapes from the vine, Viso croons in his original “Sleepy Morning.” Viso is cool, comfortable on stage, alluding to what the rest of the night will entail for his patrons. Walley follows up with sweetness: She wears lavender gloves, thanks the guests for coming, the friends for showing up again and again. She spins around the stage, her blond bob spraying around her face like the beads on a flapper’s dress. During “Heartbreaker,” she gets down on her knees and leans back, playing the part of the rockstar perfectly. Then she stands and smiles bashfully at the crowd, thanking them for the moment. You’re rooting for her and she deserves it — her voice is beautiful, her energy infectious.
The set ends with Cabanday raising her eyebrows, nodding, and then jumping into the final song: The Strokes’ “Someday,” and the crowd goes wild, dancing with abandon. Baszucki holds up her finger to de Nevers — maybe the blister popped? But it doesn’t matter: The concert-goers are smiling despite the cold, the stage is littered with abandoned cans and the show ends on a high. Lucy Nemerov ’24, member of Stanford Concert Network and a friend of the band, came to the show because of the positive energy that always surrounds the performances. “The response from the student body has been amazing,” she said. “Everybody needs more Bitch Cup.”