by Caitlin Tortorici
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER
At first mention, Chin Up Chin Up may sound like a “we know what our name means, but you never will” band. However, history and Whitties agree that the Chicago-based indie-pop group has lived up to its title.
Chin Up Chin Up was formed in 2001 by guitarists Jeremy Bolen and Nathan Snydacker, and soon expanded to include percussionist Chris Dye and bassist Chris Saathoff. The band released a self-titled EP in January of 2002.
Keyboardist Greg Sharp hopped on the bandwagon in Chin Up Chin Up’s extensive tour, which involved several performances with groups such as the Appleseed Cast, the American Analog Set and Broken Social Scene.
In 2004, the band faced a tragic loss hours after mixing the demos for their debut album, “We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers.” On Valentine’s Day, following their first full-length show at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, bassist Chris Saathoff was struck by an SUV outside the venue. Saathoff managed to push his girlfriend to safety, but was dragged several feet by the vehicle. The driver was never found and the band took a break from music for months thereafter.
At the request of Saathoff’s parents, the band reunited later that year, and pieced together the record’s final songs, working to keep Saathoff’s bass lines intact. Narrator bassist Jesse Wohgin joined the band full time.
With new bassist on board, the band released a title album in 2005, and on Oct. 10, 2006, Suicide Squeeze Records released the band’s latest album, “This Harness Can’t Ride Anything.”
Junior Keith Cushner booked Chin Up Chin Up through Suicide Squeeze Records, where he interned this past summer.
“I talked to my bosses about trying to set up a show at Whitman on their next U.S. tour, and two weeks later I received an e-mail from their booking agent/frontman Jeremy Bolen and it turned out they had the 19th of October off and wanted to fill the date,” said Cushner.
Whitman proved the perfect detour between Boise and Seattle. With the financial aid of Coffeehouse Manager Toby Kahn and Public Events Chair Stefan Ducich, Chin Up Chin Up was bound for Walla Walla.
The band proved quite a success.
“According to many members of the band, it was their best college show of the year,” said Cushner. “It was one of the most energetic Whitman crowds I have ever seen, and it was great because they are a band that I really love and they deserved the crowd that they got.”
Other audience members shared Cushner’s enthusiasm. “There were quite a few people down dancing, especially for a Thursday night. They had some really relaxing, good technical music,” said sophomore Jesse Maxwell, who had happened to wander into the concert while going for a meal in Reid.
Sophomore Jens-Eric Lund-Snee was equally pleased. “They had a really great sound, and the guys were really goofy and cool,” he said.
Sophomore and Chicago native Sarah Stellberg was thrilled to experience a piece of her homeland in Walla Walla. “They were fantastic. They represented Chicago well,” said Stellberg.
The band played two sets of roughly 45 minutes each—by far the longest show of their tour.