Hello, dear readers. It’s been a busy few weeks. This little town has been hearing a lot of great music lately and I’ve done my best to hear as much of it as possible.
So I’ve told you all about the Roustabouts. Shows at the Darkhorse with Lemont and the Warmingtons and a show at Chronic Town with School of Seven Bells and Think Twice, Dublin. But Roustabout isn’t the only venue for local bands to play. Every year, something amazing called Arts Crawl happens on the Penn State Campus. All the art students gather their paintings, sculptures and games and show them off in the art buildings. Every surface is covered with all the art being made by the campus’ art students.
Because music is a form of art, bands have always been a part of Arts Crawl. This year, music was featured prominently. Bands filled up many rooms, surrounded by sculptures and art. Nineteen bands played the show, as well as five DJs, an African dance group and visiting artist Tim Eads.
Arts crawl is my favorite event on Penn State’s campus all year. You get to see loads of art, meet cool people and hear music everywhere you go. Among the art you get to see is a room devoted to video games. I got a chance to interview Curt Kling, one half of Shark Arm Brothers Studios who have made over 11 games. Their newest games, “The Chicken Bandit” and “Fins and Flippers,” were on display along with a few others. In the latter game, two partners use a hook to spear fish and carry them back to their boat. You can also use this hook to shoot yourself forward. The other team is trying to get their boat filled with fish first. All the while, a nasty shark patrols the water, giving chase to anyone who gets too close. We were yelling the whole time we played. It was definitely an intense, fun game. “The Chicken Bandit” was pretty cool as well; clearly a lot of work had gone into its creation. It’s available for download on Android for cheap, and it’s a pretty cool side-scrolling shoot-enemies-on-a-train and lasso-treasure-to-buy-upgrades kind of game.
A new feature of Arts Crawl this year was having live DJs play off a balcony of the Stuckeman building. People were dancing out there all night or in between seeing all the art. The event takes place across six buildings, with people zig-zagging back and forth to see all the bands. The DJs definitely made it easier to find Arts Crawl, you could hear it for a few blocks. Maybe next year the Sculpture Club can build a huge robot for them to DJ from the top of.
It was a great time and one of the redeeming qualities of living at State College. Occasionally, great things happen here. Featured bands included The Warmingtons, Peacefeather, Flashback Forward, Lemont, Gay Republicans, Think Twice, Dublin, Mockage and headliner Ramona Falls.
I got to see a few bands in between the art, snacking and video games. Peacefeather brought the strange in the museum. Keyboards with toy sounds and spoken word. Sonic experimentation on the fringes. You never know what you’ll get with a Peacefeather show, aside from a little confused.
Lemont put on another great show. The mics were a little low, so the vocals were hard to hear. The band just kept playing and the crowd in the Sculpture Club room was digging it. Lemont just keeps bringing it.
After Peacefeather and Lemont, I wanted to hear Gay Republicans, but ended up playing video games in the game room, then making clay creatures at the clay table. I also managed to catch the Warmingtons, which was of course pure rockitude. They had problems with the PA system as well, but they still sounded great. They lucked out getting to play in the Stuckeman building, since the space is a big sunken square and people can sit around while the band plays. A perfect place for a small show, if they could get a better amplifier for the mics.
It’s hard to communicate the festival-meets-art-opening-meets-carnival-feel of Arts Crawl. From five to eleven PM, six buildings are full of excited students and community artists buzzing around checking out everyone’s work, socializing, drinking free coffee, drawing on walls and planning out which bands to see. I took a few pictures this year so I could share a little bit of the event with you, my dear readers. Give a click HERE to see my attempt at photojournalism, or as I like to call it, “pointing the clicky box at cool stuff.”
Hope you dug this glimpse of Arts Crawl. There’s a strong current of creativity in this town, manifesting itself in art, music and filmmaking. It’s at events like this that you really get a feel for how many people are doing cool things in your area. Turns out, quite a few. As always, I’ll do my best to give you, my dear dear readers, the inside scoop on everything great coming out of this happy little valley. And don’t forget to check out my other article this week about the incredible School Of Seven Bells show that just went down.
Till next issue, stay optimistic and support your local artists.