The She’s take on center stage

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Aideen Murphy

Urban’s Sami Perez (’13) and Sinclair Riley (’13) play on May 4th at The Fillmore.

Aideen Murphy, Staff Writer

Blue lights sweep the stage. The energy in the room is rising, like a tidal wave building up momentum.

Four girls emerge from backstage, and suddenly, the sound swells into a roar. Each member is dressed in different and quirky clothing styles, exuding an alternative vibe. The band begins playing one of their most popular songs, “Picture of Houses.”

It’s obvious from the crowd’s reaction that The She’s, an all-girl band including Urban students Sami Perez (’13) and Sinclair Riley (’13), and Drew students Hannah Valente  (’13) and Eva Treadway (’13), have made a big splash in the Bay Area music scene.

An estimated 700 concert-goers poured into The Fillmore theater on May 4 to see The Stone Foxes, with The She’s and Little Hurricane as the opening bands.

It was their second time performing at The Fillmore, their biggest and most historic venue to date.

Their success onstage continues offstage. The San Francisco Bay Guardian’s February issue featured a cover story on them. The band members will also appear in a print ad for Converse shoes, which are now on billboards and bus stops in the Haight-Ashbury and Mission District.

The She’s latest album, “Then It Starts to Feel Like Summer,” is available on iTunes, and has received exceptional reviews and interviews on websites such as KQED.org and sfbg.com.

The She’s, who began their musical journey in middle school, have a sound comparable to The Ronnettes and The Beach Boys.

Perez defines their music as “pop, but with a more complex structure, inspired from 60’s music.”

Using personal experiences as inspiration, The She’s write their own music and lyrics. Songs like “Fabian” from their 2011 record, “Then It Starts to Feel Like Summer,”  was influenced by a surf instructor who Riley met in Hawaii.

“It started in fifth grade, after soccer practice,” Perez recalled. “A bunch of our friends would go to Hannah’s house and bring our guitars and jam.”

When they were deciding on a band name, they thought of an acronym that included the first letter of each band members’ name: Sinclair, Hannah, Eva and Sami.

Urban student Emily Miller (’15) attended the Fillmore concert. “It was really great,” Miller said. “It was so fun being at a historic place like The Fillmore and seeing people I knew playing on stage. I was really proud to know them and to go to school with two of them. The She’s were definitively the highlight of the night!”

Unfortunately, unlike other musical artists, The She’s faced a big challenge in balancing music and the academic demands of high school. But they did: Next year, Perez and Riley will attend New York University, while Valente and Treadway will go to the Eugene Lang College at The New School in New York, so all four will be living in the same city.

“The hardest year was sophomore year for me, because we played a show every weekend, sometimes twice a weekend,” Riley recalled. “We had a period of time where we were playing constantly, any shows that we could get in the area.”

“(Music is) sort of hard to manage with school, but we’ve put (the band) always equal to our academic lives, so I guess we wouldn’t drop either one,” Perez said.

It was part of The She’s strategic plan to go to college in a city where they could remain together, so they can still pursue their music. “We decided on New York, because it would be more of a challenge,” Perez said. “I think it will be good to push ourselves.”

However, The She’s are all deferring college for a year to go on a national tour, which is still being determined.

Along with working out the academic angle, The She’s also managed their own business: They released their music independently and handled their own budget. “Sometimes we’ll get a loan from a parent (to pay for studio time),” Perez explains, “but it works out well because the records sell really fast.”

The She’s have many fans, especially in the Urban community, including teachers Mary Murphy, Greg Monfils and Riley Maddox.

“First and foremost, I go to see The She’s to support two of my students,” Murphy, who attended the concert on May 4, said. “The added bonus is that I genuinely like their music. And, they put on a fantastic show. Lastly, if they ever get super-duper famous, I want MTV to interview me.”

Since their middle-school beginnings, The She’s music has evolved along with their understanding about the music business and studio sound.

“Once we started learning the engineering and production side of music and what you could do in a studio … it affected our songwriting and style,” Riley said.

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Drummer Sinclair Riley (’13) pauses for a photo with fellow Urban Students after the show. Photo by Aideen murphy

Perez says the band is now “at a transitional point. We’re recording again in June, and it will be a little (darker), but still pop.”

While The She’s public profile is growing, band members say it’s their personal relationships that are at the heart of what they do.

“Honestly, when I’m onstage, the only people I can see are Hannah, Eva and Sinclair,” said Perez. “Which is awesome,” Riley added, “because it then it’s just like having fun with your best friends.”

For updates and future concert dates, connect with The She’s on their Facebook page, or on Twitter at @theshesmusic.