Dueling Pianos: A Barroom Trend Comes to McPhail’s

by The Cowl Editor on February 28, 2019


by Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff

During a weekend reserved for togetherness and celebration of bonds between Providence College students, families, and alumni, the last thing one would expect to bring people together is any kind of duel. However, on the night of Friday, February 22, a certain type of duel unified the College in PC’s own bar, McPhail’s. This duel, of course, did not feature any sort of weaponry or physical combat. Instead, each member was equipped with their voice, a sense of humor, and a piano.

As part of the weekend’s festivities, PC sponsored a Dueling Pianos event for all who were gathered on campus for the weekend. With each of their red and black pianos set up side-by-side on the stage in McPhail’s, the two participants immediately fostered interaction with the crowd. Stating that their show ran on the requests of the public, they slyly added, “Hopefully nothing slow or sad, though” with a smile. This established the performers’ sense of humor, which they implemented throughout their performance in order to connect with the crowd.

The two talented pianists exercised their range during the entire duration of the show, accommodating as many requests as accurately as they could. This set list ran the gamut of genres, including anything from classic rock, contemporary alternative, country, hip-hop, rap, and more. Songs such as “Great Balls of Fire,” “Radioactive,” “Just a Friend,” and plenty of Billy Joel tunes made appearances during the set. 

Each performance included both teamwork between the two pianists, as well as a personal spin added to the song in order to make it more entertaining for the crowd. Not only did this personal stamp entail some improvisation and altered lyrics during songs, but also occasional costumes and assistance from other parties. Whether this meant a convincing Elton John hat and glasses for a rendition of “Crocodile Rock,” or the assistance of a crowd member on the tambourine, the two performers were certainly comfortable getting creative with their work.

The inclusion of this type of show during this weekend at PC was successful on multiple levels. For one, this sort of entertainment has been rising in popularity in bars around the country. Bringing it into McPhail’s for a night was guaranteed to engage and please any crowd that attended, from students, to parents, and alumni.

The other level that this performance worked well on, though, has more to do with the theme of the Alumni & Family Weekend. Ultimately, PC uses this weekend as an opportunity to gather the extended Friar Family on campus and celebrate the bonds that the school is able to create and foster. By including a Dueling Pianos performance, which makes collective participation and community central aspects of its show, PC was able to effectively highlight these bonds that it is able to create. Whether a student, parent, sibling, or alum, every guest at this event sang along with the performers. In doing so, the Friar Family had a lot of fun.