THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT


REMEMBERING EDITH VARGAS: AN AS220 BENEFIT SHOW HONORS THE LIFE OF A PROVIDENCE GIRL

by by Audrey von Maluski

AS220 // 11.08.08 // $5 cover
Mahi Mahi // midnight Triangle Forest // 11 pm The Viennagram // 10 pm
A Troop of Echoes // 9 pm What Cheer? Brigade // 8pm Feinstein HS Guitar Ensemble // 7pm
All proceeds will be donated to the Vargas family.

The Providence band A Troop of Echoes never knew her, but she was always there at the front of the crowd, pressed into the stage. The band's saxophonist would step forward to the microphone, instrument in hand, to sheepishly introduce the band. Maybe, once, their eyes met when he squinted out into the darkened room.

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They never knew her, but she was always there.
But this fall, Edith Vargas, age 17, is no longer there. In the early morning of September 10, 2008, a candle left burning in her bedroom as she slept ignited the bedclothes or the rug or the drapes (it was anybody's guess). By the time her father heard her screams and tore up the stairs to her attic bedroom, Vargas had sustained first, second and third degree burns over 85 percent of her body. She passed away a day later at Rhode Island Hospital.
Her principal at Feinstein High School, K.C. Perry told the Providence Journal that "everyone liked her. She was a real connector." Vargas is still bringing people together. This Saturday, November 8, a benefit concert will be held in her memory at AS220, where she volunteered. The lineup includes the prominent Providence bands Mahi Mahi, Triangle Forest, The Viennagram, A Troop of Echoes and What Cheer? Brigade. All proceeds from the $5 admission charge will be donated to the Vargas family.

Peter Gilli, saxophonist for A Troop of Echoes, told the Independent that he and his bandmates were first contacted about playing a benefit show by Vargas' friend via MySpace: "My first reaction, after the initial shock, was a sense of loss and regret that it had happened to someone so young, as cliché as it sounds," he said. "We were probably in the audience together at more than one show and I didn't know it."
The friend told A Troop of Echoes that Vargas had been a great fan of their music, and had been to many of their shows. Dan Moriarty, drummer for A Troop of Echoes, told the Independent, "There are certain people you see at every show you go to. Edith was one of those people."

Moriarty never knew Vargas personally, but he learned that she loved the 'physical' aspect of Providence's experimental dance bands. He said his band is "a different realization of that same aesthetic philosophy," but unlike the bands they're sharing the stage with on Saturday, they swap synthesized vocals for saxophone.
A Troop of Echoes creates the kind of music that is best to experience live; the band experiments with sloppiness, dissonance and noise to create tension between Gilli's agile saxophone melodies and Moriarty's disciplined drumming. Understated guitar fills in the background, pulsing in tandem with driving bass riffs and anguished moans from a Moog. "We try to collaborate [in order] to convey feeling the best we can, and that ranges from melancholy and frustration to joy," said Gilli about his band's music. "It gets visceral."
On Saturday night, emotions will be riding higher than usual, as A Troop of Echoes takes the stage alongside the best-known bands in Providence to remember the life of a girl they never really knew. For Moriarty, the fact that so many successful Providence bands are coming together for the show is "testament to the solidarity of the Providence music scene" and also Vargas' role as a fan. He said, "It's hard to accept that we'll never run into her dancing to Providence bands again."

AUDREY VON MALUSKI B'09.5 is your little bird.