It takes very little to make a member of the BEATs team laugh — about as much as it takes to get them to start hitting a paint bucket.
Maybe the most unique performance group on campus, BEATs, short for “Bangin’ Everything at Tufts and then Some,” is known for making music by, well, banging everything they can find — from trash cans to street signs. In recognition of their club, four of BEATs’ graduating seniors, “Eightball” (Emily Walker), “Vanellie” (Francesca Guthrie), “DJ Gran” (Jojo Kuo), and “Trent (the Giver)” (Neil Arora), took the time to look back on their long, complex and ridiculous Tufts journeys. By their own request, this article will refer to them primarily by their BEATs names.
These nicknames are just one example of how, according to all of the seniors, the club acts as an escape from the stresses of Tufts life. When a new member of the club is accepted, they are given a mysterious yet purposefully silly nickname that they then stick with for as long as they stick with the club itself. Trent even joked that he doesn’t think younger members of the club know his real name. Yet all of these seniors still call each other by their BEATs names, a sign of their dedication to the fun of the group.
BEATs’ spirit remains as foundational to its success as it was when the group was formed in 2002. Eightball, who is friends with one of the original founders, says that the group was founded to satirize Greek life and other more prestigious performance groups at Tufts, particularly how seriously they took themselves at an already stressful school.
“It’s a very good way to release stress and just be with a bunch of people who want to do the same,” Eightball said.
The club does have practices and do care about their routines and shows, but even then, they still have fun.
For the Class of 2023, this fun was only interrupted by the boogeyman of this decade’s college students: COVID-19. The pandemic effectively shut the club down for a year, and though the then sophomores attempted to help transition to a new reality, they felt that the fun that the club was known for could not be recaptured over a Zoom call. So they stopped, and waited until they could come back.
“If you ask every person on BEATs what their favorite thing about BEATs is, I think they’re all going to give a very similar answer,” Trent said. “We all love the drum and we all love to make music together, but I think it’s that last part of doing it together that’s really special.”
Soon, they came back to performing in person with each other, managing to put on several shows since all pandemic restrictions were lifted on campus this year and acquiring a new set of freshly nicknamed members. The seniors had their last show on April 20 — an on-brand and traditional performance date for the group — where they reconnected with past members. Fourteen alums came, some of whom still remembered the intentionally chaotic and irreverent songs.
“There were like 20 of us all getting super excited,” DJ Gran said. “It’s such muscle memory to play all these songs.”
In that meeting of minds, they played a song some of the alums had written, “Sfspatch von Deli” a song so crucial to and representative of the club’s spirit that, according to club legend, Tony Monaco himself helped play it at one point. All of the seniors attest that Monaco has said they are his favorite performance group.
Even the mention of the end of their times with BEATs brings the seniors to tears.
“I have had a very weird Tufts journey,” Vanelllie said. “[COVID-19] hit at a weird time in my college experience where I just hated school. I really did not like Tufts. Partially for that reason I took a year off from Tufts and then came back. BEATs is the only thing that has been consistent for my entire college experience. It is the only group of people I have consistently loved throughout college.”
Eightball agreed with the sentiment: “You know, when you’re there, you are never going to find something like it again.”
In terms of their futures, the seniors only had two things in mind: keeping in touch, and making a request. For their, and his, last year on campus, they want to do the one thing they’ve never dared to do before: ask Tony Monaco to play “Sfspatch von Deli” with them.