Geneseo isn’t exactly known for its exceptional studio or musical art scene, but the community’s handful of successful bands is astounding. One such group—Ponder the Giraffe—has been making serious waves lately; playing both local shows out of their house on Main Street and having their music played on radio stations throughout the state. Ponder the Giraffe is an indie-pop, funk band made up of all juniors: vocalist and guitarist Gabriel Birkby, drummer and percussionist Aaron Murphy and bassist Justin Fischer. The three began playing together last winter when Birkby accidentally signed up for Battle of the Bands. Realizing he didn’t have a band to play with, Birkby called Murphy—the two shared a mutual friend—and Fischer, who Birkby had known since his freshman year and had casually played with before.
As the band’s chief songwriter, Birkby described the band’s musical sound to be mostly indie-pop. He added, however, that everyone’s musical tastes merge together when creating the final product. Birkby, for example, leans more toward underground indie music and bands such as Walk the Moon. Murphy, on the other hand, likes to listen to mellower music, but prefers to play heavier rock songs when drumming. Fischer noted that he listens to “everything on the face of the earth.” As a result, each member personalizes their respective instrumental parts while Birkby writes lyrics that are inspired by real life experiences.
Five of the band’s released songs have been played on radio stations such as Alternative Buffalo 107.7. The most recent song to be played was “Out to Dance.” Murphy recalled gathering together in his dorm room when the band’s first song was played on the air, as they patiently waited with the radio on full blast to hear their own tune. Birkby emphasized the excitement and pride he feels whenever he hears his band on the radio—the band records all of their own music with no studio.
Ponder the Giraffe has been busy this semester, playing a gig about every two weeks. Murphy’s basement on Main Street is the usual spot for their shows, bringing in about 100 excited listeners. In addition to house shows, Ponder the Giraffe performs for school events and in off-campus social venues.
Ponder the Giraffe takes a leading role in fostering the local music community here in Geneseo. They support other new local bands and performers such as Donner Dance Party—whose unique instrumental sound and improvisational technique has started to turn heads—and host them at their own shows, giving them the opportunity to play.
All three members admitted that scheduling can be hard at times, as each member is involved in a host of other commitments. But Birkby, Murphy and Fischer are all committed to the band. They always find time to work on their music—whether it be together or separately. The men unanimously agreed that the most important thing is that their authenticity resonates with their audience because, as Birkby emphasized, Ponder the Giraffe’s songs are written with the band members’ own feelings and experiences in mind.
Big things are in the works for Ponder the Giraffe. Their first full album will drop this winter as they embark on a mini-tour that will take them from Oneonta, NY to New York City.
To check out their music, Ponder the Giraffe has songs on SoundCloud and is also available to book for a performance at the beginning of next semester.