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SOMA Serves Up Music To Go

Everyone has had those nights where sing-alongs spread contagiously through the CATA bus as you make your way from the pre-game to the party. Typical crowd pleasers are “Hey Baby,” “Sweet Caroline” and “Freshman, Freshman” chants when someone falls as the bus takes off. A new jam can now be added to that list- “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People.

That’s because last Friday, Penn State art and music club, SOMA (@psusoma), held another installment of their grass-roots, mobile music showcase Keyboard CATA.

Small groups of participants boarded Blue/White Loops at varying stops in a pseudo-flash mob style. Once all on the same bus, SOMA musicians busted out the lyric sheets, snare drums, acoustic guitars and mandolins that they were patiently waiting to put to use. After the strange stares dissolved into nodding heads and tapping feet, a choir of inebriated bystanders in Friday night party gear dropped their guards and join in on shouting the ever-catchy “oh” chant of The White Stripe’s classic, “Seven Nation Army.”

“It’s one of our goals this semester to bring casual music to State College,” said Silvio Navaro the local music chairman of SOMA. Keyboard CATA is just one step in the club’s mission to breath life into the Penn State music scene. From the atmosphere on the Loop, I’d say Navaro and his SOMA counterparts have struck a chord.

“This is awesome, I’m never graduating,” said one bystander as he clapped along with the beating snare drum. “I’m so glad we missed the other bus,” said another student as she wrapped her arm around her friend sitting next to her, forcing them both into a perfectly off-tempo sway.

Music brings people together. There were no longer individuals sitting bashfully in a dirty bus seat, there was a collective conscience of cracking vocals and viral bouts of laughter. Couples exchanged kisses between forgotten lyrics. Strangers shared smiles after bumps in the road forced them awkwardly into each other’s laps. A group of alumni sat quietly in the back, undoubtedly recollecting the glory days in Happy Valley. For a moment it didn’t matter what stop you were getting off at, everyone was just happy to be where they were at.

For some, I’m sure Keyboard CATA was just some musical entertainment on the way to a party. But I could tell for others it was more than that. It was a live example of the unique togetherness that Penn State has become famous for. It even inspired countless numbers of “We are” chants. However instead of the normal “Penn State” answer, the band of guerrilla music lovers replied with a “if you don’t know you better ask somebody” form of self-promotion. “We are, SOMA!”

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