February 2, 2007 Vol. 77,
STARS: EECS student Andrea Frome fronts Lady X and
the Positive Eigenvalues.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE BAND
Out of the EECS department comes a hot new band
By day, Andrea Frome is an EECS Ph.D. student researching
content-based image navigation, retrieval and object recognition of
2-D images in EECS professor Jitendra Malik’s Computer Vision
Group. By night, she is Lady X, lead singer of Lady X and the Positive
Eigenvalues, a somehow, sometime rock band whose repertoire includes
the Rolling Stones and Violent Femmes and who boasts a fair number
of EECS musicians. Frome rocks out with professors Michael Jordan (drums/guitars/vocals)
and Christos Papadimitriou (keyboards/vocals) and other post-docs and
graduate students, depending on individual schedules and the gig.
And Lady X and the Positive Eigenvalues have had three gigs so far.
The band debuted at EECS professor Shankar Sastry’s 50th birthday
party last May. They incited a mosh pit of pogo-ing scientists and
engineers with a rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen
Spirit” at the 2006 Foundations of Computer Science conference.
And they set Wozniak Lounge in Soda Hall ablaze at the October opening
of the RAD Lab. Engineers can dance. Lady X has seen it.
When the audience gets into it, we can really ham it up rock star-style,” Frome
says. “Christos has even worn a Jimi Hendrix do-rag and a Rage
Against the Machine T-shirt.”
Frome likes to sing and that’s how she got involved, answering
a blast e-mail request from Jordan. (“Can you sing?”) Her
experience with the band has even prompted her to entertain a more
serious vocal pursuit after she finishes school. “But this is
really just a fun thing I do on the side right now.”
That goes for all the members. The band won’t be touring, recording
an album, or well, practicing much (no one has time). They prefer songs
with easy chord transitions and song structures but have written their
own songs (two) and take audience requests. However, they do have a
limited repertoire. When one audience cheered the band on to multiple
encores, they almost ran out of songs. Transitions between songs are
organic. They have a sound engineer but no manager. They haven’t
played on a real stage yet, unless risers count. And their name? “Positive
Eigenvalues” is a linear algebra term commonly used in signal
Underground mystique is what it’s all about, plus volumes of
tongue-in-cheek. According to one band member, “Lady X and the
Positive Eigenvalues is a California-based band that is rapidly achieving
cult status … Their first bootleg ‘Live at the Brazilian
Room 5-13-06’ captured their sparkling debut performance in front
of a roaring Berkeley crowd and is now a rare collector’s item.
Their music has been defined in academic circles as ‘the heart
and soul of next-generation’s rock.’”
So what’s their next gig? Frome says the band is thinking about
performing at EECS Visit Day this year, but doesn’t know for
sure. Hey, that’s cool.
Check them out at http://circuit.ucsd.edu/~massimo/LadyX.html.