Perspectives on Arts Crawl
On Friday, SOMA and VASA came together to produce Penn State’s Arts Crawl 2012. For those unfamiliar with Arts Crawl, it’s a huge showcase of local arts talent, including student artwork in a variety of mediums, local bands and interactive exhibits, as well as a visiting professional artist. It all culminates with a nationally recognized headlining band. This year’s Crawl featured Philadelphia multimedia artist Tim Eads and indie band Ramona Falls. Here are some of our thoughts on what we were able to catch:
Arts Crawl 2012 was an awesome mash up of music, movies, art and overall expression of one’s thoughts and feelings. Immediately when the event started, I could hear house music being blasted off the balcony of the Stuckeman Architecture building.
The SFO experimental film screenings were all incredibly abstract and made you think for a long time about what you just watched. I really liked one called “You’re Life is a Fucking Wreck” or something like that. It was about this kid who starts daydreaming in class about becoming a cartoon and walking over to mac on this girl. She’s all about him until his professor snaps him back to reality, threatening to smack the kid through a wall despite having one arm in a sling. That was hilarious.
The bands that played in the Palmer lobby were very experimental. Peacefather was this synthesizing hippie folk guy that was very spine-tingling. Mockage used his laptop and foot pedals to create loops with his guitar and drums. It was dirty as hell. And the free cookies and capri suns set up nearby were pretty clutch, too. Shout out to the sculpture club with their awesome designs in the 103 Visual Arts building. Great afternoon all around.
I hung out in Zoller Café most of the evening, watching the performers there. The first thing I noticed about Andre Costello was that he had a voice almost identical to Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes. His voice isn’t the only thing comparable to Fleet Foxes, as their music shares the beautiful rhythms of folk rock. He played both acoustic and electric sets. And anyone who can jam a harmonica and guitar at the same time has true musical talent.
What I liked most about Jacob Patalive and his solo-band Eagles Mere was that he plays his folk music with the bare essentials: just his voice and his guitar. He is truly a great guitar player. I found it funny that the first thing I noticed about Jacob was that he has a voice like Jeff Mangum and shortly after thinking that he played a perfect cover of Neutral Milk’s “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea.”
I hadn’t heard of Arts Crawl until our talented entertainment editor Matthew D’Ippolito asked me to cover the event, and I’m happy to say that I in no way regret giving up my Friday night for my first experience of “the Crawl”.
When I first arrived, I was able to catch part of a set from Keegan Tawa, an electro/progressive house DJ studying aerospace engineering at Penn State. I only got the chance to hear a couple songs, but the crowd was vibing to the beats and the setup was awesome, with Tawa’s booth on the balcony of the Stuckeman Building, overlooking a small group of students who were either dancing, hula-hooping, or poi
I then made by way inside of the Stuckeman building and caught the tail end of Runaway Heroes’ performance. The alternative rock band played some upbeat originals and a couple covers for a small crowd that couldn’t get enough, asking for an encore as the band was getting ready to pack up. They gave the people what they wanted, jamming to a jazz classic, “Chameleon” by Herbie Hancock, for what seemed like ten minutes of pure bliss.
I originally thought that the next group I’d be seeing, located in the Visual Arts Building’s sculpture room, was a Grateful Dead cover band, but I quickly recognized I was wrong when I saw Dead Channel’s lead singer in a sleek black suit that covered his purple button-down. The punk-esque rock band had issues with their vocal volume, but the technically skilled instrumentalists made up for it with some masterful guitar riffs and commanding drum beats.
The performer I was most excited to see, DJ Desu, didn’t get to perform because they were behind schedule and subsequently got rained out. Instead, I caught the beginning of Keegan Tawa’s set. He began his upbeat set with Wolfgang Gartner’s “Space Junk”, then transitioning into Zedd’s “Stars Come Out”, but unfortunately all that really came out was rain. Tawa ripped off his shirt in an attempt to wipe down his mixer, but the effort wasn’t enough and he unfortunately had to cut off the set after less than ten minutes.
I made my way back to the sculpture room, which had a dark feel to it with lowlighting and eerie décor. Self-described indie/melancholic dream pop/minimalist band Think Twice, Dublin was up next, a three-man group with one guitarist, one bassist, and a drummer. Their music had a really chill, laid-back, and relaxing vibe to it and it was a nice complement to the more upbeat, fast-paced sets that I had already heard.
Once again, Arts Crawl was a definite win, despite the shitty rainstorm near the end of the night. The storm forced the DJs, who were a new touch to Arts Crawl and were set up on the balcony of Stuckeman Architecture Building, to go inside near the end of the night.
The highlight of the evening was clearly headliner Ramona Falls. Frontman Brent Knopf mingled with the crowd before his set and then started off playing a lot of new stuff, giving Penn State a chance to hear some of the music from upcoming album Prophet before anyone else. He also launched into some of the hits that made a name for Intuit, playing “I Say Fever” to loud cheers from the audience, followed immediately by “Russia.” He also closed strong with “Melectric.”
I got a chance to speak to Knopf after the show. He said the band had been really excited to “cut [their] teeth a little bit” on some new material, including debuting two songs. One of those, “The Space Between Lightning and Thunder,” was fitting considering the weather, he added.
Visual headliner Tim Eads had this sweet interactive, multimedia room that featured a crank machine that spun a length of USB cable against a plastic bucket over a mic, which was hooked into a computer with sound effects. There were also two other interactive mics hooked up with piano strings, fans and zip ties, all making these crazy futuristic noises.
Sculpture Club impressed yet again, with cool pieces like a metal dog skeleton on long, spindly legs and a paper mache fat guy covered in cheese puffs on a couch. Punk band Forger filled Patterson with their noisy stylings, the tiny space clearly not conducive to the moshing that knocked several paintings off the walls. Flashback Forward and The Warmingtons also rocked out Stuckeman building’s lobby, a much more band-friendly space.
After the initial buzz-kill of one of the experimental films that was all about beginning the process of dying right from birth and coming to terms with that, the rest of the night was fantastic. Even the other films were great, especially the hilarious “Pretentiousness Loss” about a guy who loses brain function by opening a door into his head. Everytime he whacked himself I cracked up.
Overall, the bands were great and the art was cool (especially interactive areas, like the several paintable walls and the PSU Magicians cornering you to perform their black magic voodoo spells outside the sculpture room). It was a crazy night.