Backstage with Rock the Bluff performers

By Clare Duffy | April 16, 2014 10:26pm

I truly felt as though I was living a “teenage dream” as Tyler Ward belted a pop-rock version of the Katy Perry classic, complete with awkward high school students inappropriately bumping and grinding on each other in a clump surrounding the stage.

Despite the questionable audience dancing, the performances by Alex G, Tyler Ward and Andy Grammer at Rock The Bluff 2014 this past Saturday evening were mostly well received by UP students and pre-frosh, as evidenced by the enthusiastic singing along to Grammer’s hits like “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine by Me”. All three artists sang a mixture of original music and covers of pop hits with their own twist, giving the audience a chance to bob and sing along.

While the students got especially excited about Grammer’s few well-known hits, even hoisting one another on their shoulders to get the full concert experience, the mood in the Chiles Center was otherwise fairly tame. The main gym was well-lit by surrounding outside lights, encouraging some students to mill about, rather than being fully devoted to what was happening on-stage. However, Grammer and Ward made sure to engage their attentive audience, teaching them the words to new songs or just asking them to clap along to the beat.

Both Grammer and opener Ward profusely thanked both their bandmates and the audience for being there, and Alex G shouted an emotionally-charged “I love you, Portland!” several times throughout her performance. Grammer also showcased his bass and guitar players, giving them extended solos that were perhaps the most impressive part of the entire show.

The Beacon and Campus Program Board were invited by Alex and Ward into their green room before the show, which was decorated with desserts for Alex’s birthday that night (she likes cheesecake). The pair, along with their bandmates, teased each other and played on one another’s obvious excitement for the night’s event.

After the show, The Beacon caught up with Grammer for a rapid three-minute interview. Grammer’s enthusiasm was infectious as he took selfies with several passionate groupies before answering our questions.

Watch our backstage interviews:

Beacon: What is your music guilty pleasure? What’s on your iPod that you’re embarrassed about?

Grammer: It’s not actually on my iPod because I’m too embarrassed about it. I don’t want anyone to find it ... Am I really going to say this? Ok, I really like this song, I don’t know why, I’ve told my band and they’ve all made fun of me and I’ve told my wife and she made fun of me but there’s something about the new J-Lo song that I kind of like. Have you heard it? It’s called “I Luh Ya Papi”... there’s something about it that’s vibe-y. And now I’m embarrassed.

Ward: Now, I’m a huge fan of... it’s so lame... but I like Justin Bieber. And I’m a huge fan of country music.

Alex: Ok, this is from a long time ago, like four years ago, I downloaded this Hannah Montana song... (sings and plays the air guitar) “He’s got something special, he’s got something special...”

Beacon: What’s the first album you ever bought?

Grammer: Miss Education, Lauren Hill.

Ward: The first album I ever received was an Eagles album.

Alex: Way back in the day ... do you guys remember S Club 7?

Beacon: What are you listening to right now? Other than Justin Bieber...

Ward: (laughs) I’m not really listening to him right now, I just like a few of his songs. Country music is my thing. I’m really, really, really vibing on that new pop country stuff, it all sounds the same but I like the sound.

Alex: I like some T. Swift. Lately I’ve been getting into Sara Bareilles.

Beacon: Any funny college memories?

Ward: This is on the spot, huh? Well, I was at a university (performing)  about three years ago and I went to the bathroom and they were like, ‘you have these bathrooms,’ even though it was the girls’ bathroom and I was like, ‘cool’. So I went in there, it was our green room. So, I went to the stall and was, you know, doing my business, and all of the sudden they opened them up to the public and so a few girls walked in. One girl sat down to the left of me and one girl sat down to the right of me, and you hear them doing their thing. I was trying to be so quiet; it was so nerve-wracking. So I was just like, ‘well, I’ve got to man up and get out of here,’ So I opened the stall and just left.

Alex: I played a spoon in the “Beauty and the Beast” musical. The other role I got in high school was a hand puppet that I stuck out a hole and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m not going to get anywhere with this music thing.’

Beacon: Favorite thing about Portland?

Grammer: Voodoo Doughnuts.

Ward: I just love how it’s so green! And the bridges, I’ve noticed the bridges. It’s very cool.

Alex: Voodoo Doughnuts.

Beacon: Peanut butter or Nutella?

Grammer: Nutella. Both are good though.

Ward: Peanut butter. Fasho’.

Alex: Nutella.