Pancake Riot

How the Band Got Its Name

The band sprang up out of the Open Mic Nights held twice monthly at Mocha Moment, a coffee shop in Janesville, Wisconsin (1121 Center Ave.). The open mic was held on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Ken Wagman hosted the event and did a tremendous job. As the event grew more and more popular, several of the regular performers began meeting on the “off” Wednesday evenings; Danial Monson-Bergum organized the group. The first meeting, set for March 27, 2013, was canceled because no one could make it; the first actual meeting was in April. Meetings were held at members’ homes, often in Dan’s basement.

The group held an evening “Jam Sesh” on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at another coffee shop called The Little Bean (at its original location, 2624 E. Milwaukee St.; they later relocated to 101 E. Milwaukee St. downtown). The session began at 6 p.m. and continued after the shop closed. I was there myself until 8 p.m. but left. The others wrote a new song after that; they played it at the Open Mic at Mocha Moment the following evening during the 8:15 slot, inviting me to join them onstage. I didn’t know the song, but it was easy to learn. It became an instant hit; the song would become known as “Coffee Shop.”

On Tuesday, November 12, 2013, there was a recording session at Danial Monson-Bergum’s house; he wanted to get a “big choir” sound on the final chorus of his song, “City Tonight.” Having never recorded a group before, it took him a while to get the sound he was after. We sang it twice: once in harmony, then once in unison. We also discussed the future of the group and decided that we are now a band; we would pursue some gigs in the area and eventually more recording.

Recording with Pancake Riot, November 12, 2013. Song was “City Tonight.” From left: Mackenzie Benish, Robbie Haas, Candace Griffin, Charlie Petitt, Danial Monson-Bergum. Photo courtesy of Pancake Riot.

On the following day (November 13), Danial Monson-Bergum, Mackenzie Benish, and Kat Farnsworth appeared at the studio of the new Janesville Community Radio for a live broadcast of “Discover Janesville.” The station was applying for a low-power broadcast license but so far was doing podcasts online. Representing the new band (so far with no name), the trio played two of their original songs and were interviewed by Yuri Rashkin, the show’s host. Later, they ate lunch with Yuri. The subject of Quotes, a local bar, came up: they were relinquishing their liquor license due to a number of violent incidents that occurred there. “What are they going to do,” Yuri remarked, “go down to the Citrus Cafe and start a pancake riot at two in the morning?” Danial noted that this phrase could make a good band name: Pancake Riot.

The group met at Jeff Robichaud’s apartment for a song share at 6:15 that evening. We spent most of the first part deciding upon a band name: we started with ten choices, voted six of them out, then chose names out of a hat twice to narrow it down to two. Finally, Robbie and Jeff played “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to choose between “Emerald City Showdown” and “Members of a Pancake Riot.” Finally the name was chosen. Kat posted on Facebook: “11.13.13 Members of a Pancake Riot were born at 7:50pm during share group. — with Mackenzie Benish and 5 others.” The name was quickly amended to “Members of the Pancake Riot.” Their Facebook page and Twitter account were created on November 14, 2013 (the following day).

Later History

Angelea Presti did the first official photo shoot for the band on January 19, 2014, providing cover and profile photos for their Facebook page.

On January 23, 2014, Members of the Pancake Riot became the official house band of Discover Janesville on Janesville Community Radio. The broadcasts have been available as podcasts, but an application for a low-power FM station was submitted to the FCC. Once granted, the air frequency was 103.5 MHz.

On April 8, 2014, the band’s name was officially shortened to simply, Pancake Riot. Their official website link was changed to point to their Tumblr blog at that time.

The band took a break at the end of June, 2014, then returned near the end of August with only three members: Candace, Kat, and Robbie. They burst onto the local music scene with a flurry of appearances in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

Candace left for Nashville on October 23, 2015, so the band went on hiatus. They appeared a few times in 2016 and 2017, when Candace would return to Wisconsin to visit, then once in February, 2018; after that, the members went their separate ways and pursued their own projects.