Arts Crawl 2016: A Retrospective
The Students Organizing the Multiple Arts (SOMA) Arts Crawl took place Friday around the north side of Penn State’s campus. SOMA brings in local and traveling musicians to perform throughout the day on stages scattered in and around the Visual Arts, Patterson, Palmer, and Stuckeman buildings. Our staffers ventured through this year’s Arts Crawl and returned with their own unique experiences.
SOMA’s 2016 Arts Crawl marked my second appearance for the eclectic event, so I had high expectations going into it. After embarrassingly fan-girling over Mute Cities during my junior year, my anticipation to see what local bands and outsider talent the club brought in was pretty high, and I was excited to see if it would match up to last year’s popular lineup. The first act had already started when our group of music heads rolled in. Known as Surf Bored, the group featured just two members – a drummer and a lead vocalist/guitarist. Their sound was appealing and charming, and I caught the lead singer smiling at the camera through my lens while I was snapping photos of the duo.
After our troop split up to expand our coverage, we made our way through the Crawl’s quirky set-up, catching glimpses of multiple acts at different “stages.” Notable performances for me included acoustic sweetheart MIM and (my personal favorite) Sea Offs. Sea Offs had a beautiful sound and utilized two harmonic singers, an acoustic guitar, a hand drum, and an eerie electric guitar that floated perfectly in the background. Pittsburgh natives Bat Zuppel were also impressive, employing a hardcore punk sound similar to Title Fight.
Pinegrove ended my night, and they were fantastic. Clearly a crowd favorite, their set featured a lead singer with an unforgettable voice and notable pop-punk style. All in all, I loved SOMA’s rendition of its Arts Crawl this year, and I highly recommend students with an interest in the underground music scene at Penn State to experience this special function.
One of my favorite things about Penn State is the amount of artistic talent there is in this small pocket of the world. At a massive university where most people are gung- ho about things such as football, sometimes art and music are put on the back burner . What’s cool about SOMA is the club works all year to give local and traveling bands a platform to show their stuff. Arts Crawl perfectly fits my style of music, so events like this fill my heart with happiness. That being said, I was looking forward to Arts Crawl for months.
Mother Nature decided to finally grace University Park with beautiful weather, making walking between buildings much easier. Before our group scattered, we started at the Kiln Stage, an outdoor setting next to the Visual Arts Building. We were immediately immersed in the vibes of the band Surf Board, creating the perfect background music as we mingled and looked at the showcased art.
The next band we saw at the Kilns Stage is hard to explain. Smol looked like a group of misfits, who were tripping on all the drugs in State College. One guy was killing it in a shirt that said “Father of the Bride,” which reminded me of that weird Steve Martin movie my mom likes. At the start of their set, Smol’s front woman grabbed the microphone and shouted, “We are going to start off with a cover, because we’re violent.” I was a little taken back, but I later realized they were referencing the Violent Femmes’ 1983 hit “Blister In The Sun,” which they then covered… four times in a row. (At least we think)
I headed to the Palmer Art Museum lobby to watch Tim Mayo perform his solo act under the name MIM. I became a fan of his work after seeing him perform at local State College house shows this semester, so it was different to see him play this coffee house atmosphere at the Palmer stage. One thing I always enjoy about MIM’s performances is the audience participation. He plays original music, but because he is a house show regular, many of his fans sing along with him.
One of the smaller headliners this year was Pinegrove. I heard about these guys, so I was totally stoked to see them live, especially for free. They took the stage around 8:40 p.m. and were immediately welcomed by a warm crowd. The New Jersey natives did not disappoint with their set and had the SOMA audience begging for more.
Overall, I couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up my time here at Penn State. Everyone in SOMA dedicated lot of hard work to this event, and it definitely showed.
I’ve never been overly attracted to abstract art, or any sort of art, for that matter, but the pieces on display at Arts Crawl this year were extremely thought-provoking and gave me a better appreciation for the craft. The different pieces provided their own spin on the mini-golf setting, allowing me to enjoy the art on both mental and physical levels. The creative content ranged from zombies to pop star-esque cows, and I loved every piece of it.
The musical artists that performed specialized in different genres. I was impressed with the raw talent that many of these artists showcased, almost instantly turning heathens to the indie music genre (like me) into steadfast fans.
If someone would have asked me to attend an event like this two years ago, I undoubtedly would have refused. Luckily, my position as a photographer forced me to step out of my comfort zone and introduced me to a truly remarkable environment that I would recommend to any student interested in attending.
Since I got to Penn State, I was hoping there would be something like Arts Crawl. I really didn’t know anything about the music scene, despite how into music I am. When I saw the Facebook event for Arts Crawl and found out Pinegrove was playing, I was excited to go and check out the event.
I really didn’t know what to expect going into Arts Crawl, especially because I wondered where the bands would actually perform. When I saw them performing near the visual arts kilns, in little alcove on the side of a building, and in a tiny hallway in Patterson building, I thought: This is what music is all about. Music can be played anywhere, with minimal equipment, to be enjoyed by anyone. It’s just something that comes together, and SOMA did a great job of making that happen. All of the acts were fun to watch, but the Arts Fest-like atmosphere made everything that much better. There was a comforting, freeing feeling that everyone was just there to hang out and enjoy music, which was something I found quite special. I’m excited to return to Arts Crawl for the next three years.
Arts Crawl was a big slap-in-the-face wake-up call to how underrepresented the arts are at Penn State. The local music scene is large and talented, yet I saw less people than expected at SOMA’s mini music festival, which is a shame, because a change of culture is healthy and exciting. Bands and musicians not local to State College also performed at the event, so it was a great opportunity to listen to some awesome music while enjoying the atmosphere generated by so many creative minds. There’s something really unique about groups of musicians plugging into indoor and outdoor outlets scattered around north campus just to play some music and maybe attract some passers-by. Ultimately, Arts Crawl proved a very entertaining and fun event. As a freshman, this was my first year attending Arts Crawl, and I’m certainly excited to attend the event again next year.
As someone who has never experienced Arts Crawl before, I was impressed. I had no idea this facet of Penn State existed, and it was eye-opening to see all the talent that Penn State students have. My first impression of the crawl was the large plaster cow outside of the Palmer Museum of Art. I thought, “Is this it?” But there was so much more to experience in the next five hours. The mini golf course the cow was part of linked all the venues and was truly a work of art.
The first act I saw perform was MIM in the Palmer Museum of Art. MIM was a one-man band, using only his voice and an acoustic guitar. He had a smooth and relaxing sound and performed three of his original heartfelt songs. Arts Crawl was off to a great start with MIM as an opening act.
The next band I went to see was Smol, who performed on the outdoor stage behind the Visual Arts Building. Smol was unreal and most of the time incoherent. They opened with “Blister In The Sun” by Violent Femmes and drew in a big crowd with their loud sound.
Sea Offs was by far my favorite band at Arts Crawl. With an electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bongo drums, and amazing vocals, Sea Offs performed their unique genre “dream folk” for a larger audience in the Palmer Museum of Art.
Overall, Arts Crawl was a fun way to spend a Friday night, and I will definitely return next year to see the up-and-coming talent that Penn State students have to offer.