Walk a mile with Groundhog Shoes

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Groundhog Shoes showing off their sweet kicks at Fall Fest. Photo by Henry Gramling.

A sneak peek into the 2024 Groundhog opening band

Groundhog Shoes are not the extraordinarily small footwear groundhogs are known to rock, nor are they a reference to the natural conclusion of a marmot’s boot-esque shape. Rather, they are a new student band on campus, taking their name from “the ‘dirty, sticky, icky’ shoes you wear to Groundhog and then leave outside your dorm for months” senior art and computer-science major and bassist Lauren Hill said.

This visceral image may be a good way to describe the band itself, a rough-and-tumble effort that organized their winning show at the Battle of the Bands with little time to spare. “We had three weeks to crunch it all together,” said Luke Ryan, senior business major, vocalist and tambourine player.

James Ryan, a senior French major and Luke Ryan’s (older) twin, organized the band. The idea came back in spring of 2023 when the Ryan twins and Abby Medico, senior English major and keyboard player, were doing karaoke. James made a joke about the group playing at Groundhog, saying that it might be fun to put together something that was uniquely theirs. They discussed playing music they wanted to play and not sticking with a particular genre or kind of music. Everyone was on board, and the idea was more or less forgotten.

In late September, James asked Medico if she was still in. Surprised but excited, Medico was ready to start putting the group together. They asked Hill to play the bass, and she brought on Rachel Thomas, junior studio art major, on guitar and a friend, Genesis Guttierez, on drums.

Medico says that the unique make up of the band members is what makes the band a perfect fit to perform at Groundhog. “We have people of all different majors and in all different friend groups,” she said. “It’s all very eclectic and honestly kind of random grouping of people but I think that’s what makes us appeal to a bigger crowd[…] we combine to make up the general UD experience.”

“Two or three days before the audition,” said Thomas, “we were like, ‘Oh my God, we just played a full song all the way through!’” said Thomas. “The leadup to the show was frequently chaotic; the band was rarely able to practice altogether, and two members, Thomas and Gutierrez, had to learn their instruments from scratch for the show.”

At their first-ever live performance, the Battle of the Bands proved to be exhilarating. “The biggest [difference] for me,” said Medico, “was that we had lights, and could hear each other with functioning amps. When we’re practicing, sometimes we don’t even use amps, and the drums are so loud that I could hardly hear what I was playing sometimes. So being up there, it just felt like, ‘Oh, this is what a performance feels like.’ It was a very good change of scenery.” Luke added by saying: “I feel like we all had a really good time, and the audience too […] Overall, it was a good day.”

What’s next? “We’re taking a break!” Hill said. They will be opening up the Groundhog Party in the Park, the second biggest ground- hog event in the world, several months from now on Saturday, Feb. 3; beyond that, it seems like they might have a few more surprises down their socks. “The day of the audition, we all went our separate ways to get ready, and Genesis texted in the groupchat, ‘Hey, would you guys be interested in, like, keeping this going?’” said Lauren.

“I think that’d be really fun,” Thomas added.

It’s undeniable that the group already has a small, yet dedicated, following, as seen by the “Go Groundhog Shoes!” signs in the crowd and the excited cheers throughout their performance.

Even if they end up being one-and-done, Groundhog Shoes has captured a moment that few others will ever have, and has no intention of letting it go too quickly. “We’re all in the moment, on the same wavelength and able to play off of each other’s idiosyncrasies,” said Hill.

Thomas agreed, “We kind of slay!”

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