Saxophones and smooth jazz fill the air at Celebration Park in Naples. Eyes closed, you sway along to the soothing music when suddenly, rapid drum hits, an electrifying guitar line, deep bass and a booming voice pierce the atmosphere.
Open your eyes to Alexys Dowling commanding the microphone. The lead singer of student band Double Take, her powerful voice is supported by Benji Dienstfrey and Jason Fieler on lead and bass guitar. Sameer Kumar strums along on a third guitar and Tucker Motyka gracefully plays the keys. Drummer Max Levy ties the band together and pours his passion into every beat with calculated dexterity.
The group of six — all UM sophomores studying contemporary music performance — unite for a sound reminiscent of classic rock.
Their inspirations include solo artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix to bands like Steely Dan, Greta Van Fleet and The Beatles. With covers of “Long Train Runnin’” by the Doobie Brothers and “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath, they make the classic sound contemporary.
Double Take represents a new age of rock music. They believe every moment of ecstasy, anger and sadness can be told and healed through music.
“We didn’t know each other at first and it brought us together,” Dowling said. “It brings a sense of peace.”
Kumar reminisced on how playing with Double Take brings him back to childhood.
“When I was growing up, I was the happiest when I was playing and creating music with my friends,” Kumar said.
A source of tranquility through thick and thin, Double Take turns their passion for music into a performance. The band mainly plays rock and blues, genres that give the band more room for experimentation.
“It gives us a lot of room to feel whatever we want to feel. During rehearsal, we can feel all our emotions and that gives us a lot of opportunities to be more active with our instruments,” Fieler said.
Levy felt an immediate connection with his bandmates at practices in the Frost School of Music during his first semester of freshman year.
“When performing, you can tell when you vibe with someone,” Levy said.
The band members met in the skills lab, a Frost course that lets students explore their musical interests. After becoming familiar with various musical genres, they were eager to gain more experiences and improve their performance.
“I really had not played much classic rock before coming to Frost,” Dienstfyre said. “What’s great about contemporary is that every contemporary student just has a general love of music.”
Double Take debuted at Patio Jams in February. Starting with an instrumental session, Double Take quickly made their rock prowess known.
“Patio Jams drew a lot of people,” Levy said. “We got a lot of compliments on our set. It was the first time I realized we have something going on here.”
Here, Dowling first introduced her strong vocals to the campus community, which draw inspiration from Susan Tedschi and Holland Wolf. The climax of their Patio Jams performance featured her voice on Tedeschi’s song “It Hurt So Bad.”
Dowling belted with all her heart as Levy and Motyka jammed alongside her. In true rockstar fashion, Fieler and Dienstfyre laid on the ground, playing with enthusiasm as Dowling danced around them.
“With a big stage, I’m gonna run around and do my thing,” Dowling said. “We all jump and dance and bring energy,” Dowling said. “Having people dance while we play is amazing.”
Following their on-campus debut, Double Take started booking off-campus shows. As they rehearsed during the day and late into the evening, Double Take played without a care in the world, leading to some musical mishaps.
“Last night, we were playing loudly during practice,” Motyke said. “In a moment of silence, we hear knocking at the door. Someone opens the door and says, ‘We’ve been trying to record upstairs and we’ve been knocking for a while.’ We just lose track of time and get so lost with the music.”
Landing gigs at venues like the local Titanic Brewery, Double Take’s growth led to a victory at Amplifi’s 2023 “Battle of the Bands” contest.
“We put a lot of emphasis on having fun while playing. As much as we care about the notes, we make sure to have the most fun,” Fieler said. “Though we mess up sometimes, we still have fun and our audience enjoys it.”
Check out Double Take’s shows on Oct. 23 for the Homecoming week Patio Jams.