When a group of seven Lehigh students thought up the idea to form the band Phase Two in 2008, they would have never thought seven years later they’d be packing over 200 people into South Bethlehem’s FunHouse to hear them play.
The night before the Lehigh-Lafayette football game, Nov. 18, Phase Two will once again rock FunHouse for their second performance, raising money for the Movember foundation.
The band has four hours worth of material and have prepared around 60 songs. Mainly performing cover songs, spectators can expect to hear just about anything from Green Day, to The Chainsmokers, to Oasis.
“As long as drunk alums can sing to it, we’re going to play it,” drummer Andrew Daniels, ’10, said.
The group united under the roof of a house on Summit Street, with the majority of them knowing one another because they were in the same fraternity. One day, while at home, Sam Kestenbaum, ’09, walked into the room next door where Jason Ackerman, ’09, lived after hearing him riff some Bruce Springsteen on his guitar, Kestenbaum said.
After discovering their mutual love for similar music and Kestenbaum’s ability to “sort of” play piano, the idea to form a band was on the horizon. They soon discovered that a majority of their housemates and fraternity brothers were musicians.
“We’d always play in our rooms by ourselves or a couple guys together,” Ackerman said, “And it just seemed like a waste to not all play together.”
They then finagled a series of instruments together, scrapped together money to get a PA system and set up a full band in the basement of their Summit Street home.
The official lineup consisted of Daniels on drums, Kestenbaum on keys, Ackerman on guitar, Brandon Sherman, ’10, on guitar, Alan Abeel, ’09, on bass, Elliot Friedman, ’09, on saxophone and Kelly Ashton, ’08, on violin. All members contributed vocals.
After initial problems with members not showing up, the group got into a groove of playing once or twice a week for three to four hours at a time.
“We were terrible, like absolutely an awful sounding band,” Kestenbaum said. “I cannot believe people actually were willing to come see us.”
However, after three to four months of practicing and getting their groove, the band booked their first gig at FunHouse. From then, they would play many shows around the South Side at places like FunHouse and Element, which is now the Bookstore Speakeasy, as well as shows at Lamberton.
When five of the members graduated by 2009, the remaining two would occasionally put on shows with side bands. However, for the most part, Phase Two was seemingly over, Daniels said.
That was until two summers ago, when Ackerman hatched the idea to get the band back together.
Although members are strewn along the East Coast, living in Washington D.C., New York and Bethlehem, they remained close since their time at Lehigh. As a result, the most logical time seemed to be when everyone reunited for Le-Laf.
“The timing all worked out to do what we’ve been talking about doing for so many years,” Ackerman said. “Once it’s on the calendar it’s a lot harder not to practice because you don’t want to look like an idiot.”
Ackerman had already been involved in the Movember Foundation for around five years, after a classmate from Lehigh introduced him to the cause. With the perfect timing and the band’s proximity to the cause, giving proceeds to the charity was an obvious choice.
“We would have payed to play there at that point because we wanted to play so badly,” Ackerman said. “Doing it as a fundraiser was an awesome motivating factor.”
The Movember Foundation works towards addressing and finding solutions for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention.
Last year at its reunion show, the group raised more than $1,500 towards the foundation, with a turnout of around 250 alumni and students who attended the event.
“When you’re up there and you’re playing, it all goes by so quickly,” Kestenbaum said. “All of the sudden you look up, and it’s been 2 1/2 hours.”
The success of the show and the band’s adoration for doing it led to the decision that they will indefinitely make it an annual occurrence.
“What everyone can look forward to is listening to and singing along to songs that are fun to be around,” Kestenbaum said.
Phase Two’s second annual Movember benefit concert will take place at FunHouse on Nov. 18 at 10 p.m., and there will be a cover fee of $5.