Boston Alt-Funk Band “Juice” Returns to Campus



Alison Nieto Culture Editor

On Thursday, Nov. 8, the seven-member funk band from Boston College, Juice, returned to campus for the 4th time in two years, right after the release of their EP “Workin’ On Lovin.” The band played in the Connelly Center’s Cyber Lounge for 45 minutes, and I think it’s safe to say Villanova was reminded of why it fell in love with the band last year. Lead singer Ben Stevens’ heartfelt soulful voice seems perfectly fit for every song he sing. While many bands may boast a unique sound, very few back it up like Juice does. The band features two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, an acoustic guitarist (who was unfortunately not present for the concert), lead singer and violinist. This dynamic makeup has perfectly blended music genres such as hip-hop, r&b and rock, all of which is evident on their sophomore project, “Workin’ on Lovin’,” which was released this past summer and features the title track, “September Told Me,” “Sugar” and “Heartbreak in a Box.” 

The band met as freshmen at Boston College and, soon after, Juice was formed. The septut went on to win their school’s  Battle of The Bands in 2014. From there, things got slightly more serious, and the group went from frequent gigs at Boston’s famed Middle East (for everyone like myself who didn’t know what Middle East is, it is a restaurant and nighclub that features performances from underground and indie bands) to selling out venues like Brighton Music Hall, the Mecury Lounge and Rockwood Music Hall. They received viral success in their single “Gold,” which according to their bio, popped up on many different Discover Weekly playlists on Spotify without any traditional promotion. In 2016, the group released their self-titled EP, which contained hits such as “Gold” and “Shoot Me Down.” The band has opened for pop giants DNCE at Summerfest Milwaukee in 2017.

While the band only has about ten songs out on Spotify, members assured the crowd gathered in the Cyber Lounge that they were working on new projects, set fo release in the upcoming future. One of these new songs gave off a more “rock’n’roll” vibe, with crunchy guitar chords and hard-hitting lyrics, while another had more hip-hop influence and featured Christian Rose (vocals and violin) prominently. The band played hits such as “Heartbreak in a Box” and “September Told Me” and closed with  arguably their biggest song, “Sugar,” which was released as a single this past February. 

After the concert, the band stuck around to talk to Villanova students who were seeing them for the first time as well as returning fans such as myself. What I love most about the band (besides their music) is how genuinely excited they are to talk about their music and experiences in general. This past summer, the band was featured on the Today Show as Elvis Duran’s “Artist of the Month,” where they performed “Sugar.”  

“On the surface, you can think of “Sugar” traditionally ike buying into lust, it’s an insatiable feeling,” said guitarist Michael Ricciardulli. “It does go a little deeper though. At our age, we experience elements of this vanity culture in high concentration. It speaks to that. There are also elements of temptation in there, but at its core, it’s some youths taking a crack at a bright rock ‘n’ roll record.”

While their sophomore EP has only been out for four months, many fans are eagerly awaiting the release of new music from this funky little band that has set up camp in our hearts. There material is streaming on Spotify and if you didn’t get the chance to see them perform last week on campus, I highly recommend spending the 45 minutes with Juice the next time they visit. You can also stream their performance from the Today Show on YouTube. 

What makes this band great is not just their music. It’s not just the violin, or guitar riffs, or the insertion of freestyle verses in songs that would otherwise be classified as straight R&B. It’s not just the ability of the group to put into words how people are feeling, or the onstage chemistry. It’s all of that put together. For a band that’s only been together for a couple of years, they have found their sound, vibe and audience, and I firmly believe that while this may be the first time you’ve heard of Juice, it certainly won’t be the last.