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Paxton Long, Greg Taylor, Beni Yuzawa, Mike Ven­diola, and Dean Sin­clair ‘18 perform as Midamerican Ele­vator.
Courtesy | Gracie Hagan

“We met in an ele­vator. But that’s not how the band got its name.” 

Last weekend, Rough Draft hosted Midamerican Ele­vator, a Chicago-based band set to release its debut album this year. Drummer Dean Sin­clair ’18 studied history at Hillsdale College. 

Singers Beni Yuzawa and Paxton Long met in 2012 during freshman year at Williamsburg Uni­versity in an a cap­pella group. Long was already in the group and took Yuzawa up to her audition in an elevator.

“We made the con­nection that we met in an ele­vator six months after we created our band,” Yuzawa said. 

The two started writing music together three years ago and formed Midamerican Ele­vator a year and a half ago. 

“I’m still kind of shocked at how we came together,” Long said. “I think it’s a fun story about how we found each other. We found everyone through friends of friends, and then we found Dean through Reddit.” 

Sin­clair has returned to Hillsdale for home­comings and wed­dings, but this time he brought friends. 

“Hillsdale reminds me a lot of Vir­ginia where I went to school,” Long said.

Though Sin­clair loved his time at Hillsdale — espe­cially Pro­fessor of history David Stewart’s lec­tures — he said he doesn’t see himself ever coming back per­ma­nently. 

“Crossing over the Michigan border always hits me with some serious nos­talgia, but I can’t say I truly miss it,” Sin­clair said. “I miss the mem­ories I created for myself there and so many people still in town, but if I were to come back per­ma­nently, it would just be a sep­arate expe­rience for me entirely.”

As the band members set up shop in Rough Draft Sunday, their sound­check teased the audience with rich, soft vocals and hints of an indie acoustic band. 

A mix between George Ezra, The Paper Kites, and The Head and the Heart, this band went above and beyond a normal indie set, adding a subtle, soulful, funk-rock edge to their covers. 

Yuzawa and Long’s har­monic duos blended together per­fectly. Moments passed by where the band would pause all instru­ments, and just their voices sang out. They also played original songs, including “Lady Jane” and “245.” 

Electric gui­tarist Greg Taylor even leaned in to join on Yuzawa’s mic occa­sionally. The rhythm of his electric guitar pushed the band along. 

“They’re like Phoebe Bridgers but with good voices,” junior Regina Gravrok said. “They sound like her music but with more funk and vibes.”

Bassist Mike Ven­diola grinned along to each song behind Yuzawa and Long. Tucked in the back of the group, Sinclair’s exciting drumming held the whole set together. 

“Since the music is pretty chill, I feel like I had to be very inten­tional in how the drum parts I might create would benefit their sound,” Sin­clair said. “I love the chal­lenge of making some­thing I think is unique yet having it sound simple in the context of a recording.”

The first album, which doesn’t have a name yet, is set for release this summer. 

“Another fun fact is we recorded the album a year ago before we really had the oppor­tunity to gig or play live,” Long said. “We would love to tour, like an actual tour.”

At the end of the show, Long passed out stickers to the crowd. One student imme­di­ately slapped the sticker on his laptop. 

“I always love being able to come back and see so many of my friends who stayed in town after grad­u­ation,” Sin­clair said. “I only wish I was able to stick around for a bit longer.”

It’s impos­sible to fake the chem­istry this band exe­cuted — their stripped down tones, remarkably synced vocals, and funk twist made for the perfect indie-acoustic set you’d want to hear on a sunny afternoon.  

“It’s just a good group of people,” Yuzawa said. “They’re fun to hang out with. We feel so sup­ported, and that’s been really helpful for us. Being the two people in the front, it’s def­i­nitely nice to feel like you have people behind you sup­porting you.”