New freshman band “The Vipers” brings their remixes to high school


Photo by Alec Silberg, Dimensions

“The Vipers” performed at last year’s eighth grade graduation

Tali Loeffler, Guest Writer

It’s the last Friday of the 2021-2022 school year.  Freshman Josh Dori gets on stage to perform the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” with three of his friends in front of the entire middle school. All eyes are on him. Dori and his friends take turns soloing, first guitar, then piano, base and closing out with drums. Everyone in the audience starts clapping to the beat of the song. They are applauded as they take their seats for the rest of Kab Shab.

“[I]t’s just a pretty awesome experience,” Dori said. “I’m really happy to be part of the band.”

The freshman band, called the Vipers, formed last spring. After writing an original song called “Lifeline,” Dori went to freshman drummer Hadriel Dayanim, and the two decided to perform it for Kab Shab. When it became clear that they needed more musicians to complete the band, freshman Tyler Portnoy joined as the base guitarist and freshman Jonathan Gordon joined as the pianist in time for their performance at Arts Chailights. 

While the Vipers don’t play a particular kind of music, they tend to focus on music from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Their style focuses on remixing the classics, “really transforming them into music that people can enjoy today,” Dori said. They often keep the same song but make it their own by adding a twist, for example changing the key.

Instead of standard practices, the Vipers like to have jam sessions together, typically in the school’s music room during lunch or CT. The frequency of sessions depends on the band members’ schedules. During a jam session, the students informally play music in a fun and enjoyable way.

The band typically has one or two standard practices before a big performance. Since they don’t perform concrete songs, rather remixes and improvisations, the Vipers do not practice regularly. 

“We kind of understand each other musically,” Dori said. “We don’t really have to practice that much.”

Upper School instrumental music teacher Gary Prince listened in on some of the Vipers’ jam sessions. While he is not involved with the band, he makes the music room available to any musicians during lunch, CT and Academic Flex Block.

Prince encourages students to come to the music room and experiment, no matter who they are or what their background is on music. 

“[T]he message that I would like to send is that anyone can form a band… Any group of students can perform in a band, any group of students can perform at a Kab Shab,” Prince said. “I’m happy to help. I’m here to help and just like those guys formed a group together by coming in here and jamming at their free period, so could any group of students who’s interested in it.”

Later in the year at their eighth grade Siyum, the Vipers played “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane. They performed at two other Kab Shabs during the second semester.

While the Vipers’ musicians are experienced, they sometimes have nerves when it comes to performing. For Gordon, playing in front of an audience for the first time was both exciting and nerve racking.

“It was pretty cool. I mean I kind of felt like I had to rise to the occasion in order to play on their level because they all play really well,” Gordon said. “…[B]ut I kind of knew I could do it. I knew everyone else, we were basically doing the intro stuff, which was basically a public jam session.”

Not all of their performances have gone smoothly. In fact, Dori said that almost every performance has had at least one mistake. But the Vipers always pull through. For them, it is not about being perfect; it’s about having fun and making music. 

“[T]he amazing thing is no matter how many times we mess up, we’re still able to have a good time. And that shows seeing as we have a good time, the audience has a good time,” Dori said. “Being able to recover from mistakes:  It’s something that we’re pretty good at. It’s good that we’re good at that.”

Now that the students are in high school, they are having difficulty setting time aside for jam sessions or performance practices. Some band members are finding it a challenge to dedicate time for music during lunch or CT, because of their various clubs. However, they are still passionate about making music and will try to find time to make it work. 

The Vipers next Kab Shab performance will be on Feb. 24.