Paige Owens

Incubus Showcase Newest Album 8 and Greatest Hits at the Key Bank Pavilion

With more than twenty years of success in the music industry and stage experience on their resume, it’s no surprise that as soon as Incubus enters the stage, almost any large crowd becomes instantly captivated by the band’s effortless stage presence and frontman Brandon Boyd’s unique vocal range. As the heat began to dissipate and the crisp evening air crept into the venue, fans anxiously filed into their seats beneath the pavilion with cold drinks in their hands, while others got comfortable on the lawn taking selfies and sending Snapchats of the stage. Alt-rock group, Incubus, along with special guests, Jimmy Eat World and Judah & The Lion, joined Pittsburgh fans at the Key Bank Pavilion on Wednesday, July 26, for an indescribable evening that showcased the headlining bands’ old and new material that was recently released on their eighth studio album, 8, this past April. Despite being the opening act to Jimmy Eat World and Incubus, two extremely well known alternative bands who found success in the 90’s music scene, Judah & The Lion came onto the stage filled with evident enthusiasm. With ease, the group was able to channel their energy into their performance, and get the still growing crowd off of their feet and dancing. Kicking off their performance with one of their singles, “Suit and Jacket” from their 2017 album, Folk Hop N’ Roll Deluxe, the group bounced around during their set before covering T-Pain’s “Booty Work” and comically dancing at the apron of the stage. During the group’s finale performance of “Take It All Back,” frontman Judah Akers, ran through the pavilion and into the lawn where he danced with fans, before returning to the stage to close out the group’s set. As the pavilion echoed with applause and excitement, guests moved around the venue to get refreshments and meet with friends on the lawn, while the audience in the pit continued to steadily grow. Jimmy Eat World opened their set with their 2016 single, “Sure and Certain” from their ninth studio album, Integrity Blues, before leading into “Bleed American.” The heavy riffs and upbeat tempo drew the crowd from their seats and onto their feet. Despite frontman Jim Adkins joking with the crowd that the group only had an hour on stage, they effortlessly flowed through their heavily packed set list like a well-oiled machine. Ending their performance with “Sweetness” and their number one hit, “The Middle,” Adkins crooned the group’s major hits before bidding the crowd farewell. Following Jimmy Eat World’s performance, the audience on the lawn, beneath the pavilion, and in the pit swelled. The final remnants of sunshine faded into the horizon while the crowd eagerly awaited Incubus’ arrival to the stage. As the stage transitioned from a red hue to dark blue LED lighting, Incubus made their way on to the stage. With a piano positioned to the right of the stage, frontman Brandon Boyd stood in the center of four large ground speakers with his eyes closed during their opener, “Quicksand” before leading into the first single, “Nimble Bastards,” from their newly released album, 8. Despite Incubus’ rise to fame in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the group has never allowed one album or one song to define their musical abilities and sound. As the band continued to perform a jam-packed set, they made sure to hit fan favorites, such as “Anna Molly,” “Pardon Me,” and “Drive.” As the deep blue hue that filled the stage faded, the crowd was introduced to a warmer atmosphere as yellow and orange flooded the stage and pavilion. Following the group’s performance of “Wish You Were Here,” Boyd crooned the opening verse of Pink Floyd’s song of the same name, which caused the crowd to erupt with applause. As the late evening drew on, the band pleased the audience with an encore performance of “Aqueous Transmission,” another favorite of many, before exiting the pavilion stage. Overall, the simplicity that Incubus, Jimmy Eat World, and Judah & The Lion delivered to the Pittsburgh crowd, made for an unforgettable evening.

Bat Zuppel Premiere “The Witch” Off Of Their Highly Anticipated Fifth Album “Dylar”

With a sound similar to that of Thee Oh Sees and Black Sabbath, the psych-punk group, Bat Zuppel, remain a force to be reckoned with in the Pittsburgh music scene. After Bat Zuppel formed in the summer of 2013, the band quickly got down to business to release their self-titled debut album that October. The band consists of Zach Bronder (vocals/guitar), Spencer Geer (guitar/backing vocals), Matt Ruppel (bass guitar), and Gordy Brash (drums). Following the release of four albums over a four year period, the group is enthusiastically gearing up for the release of their highly anticipated album, “Dylar,” this September on Wild Kindness Records. The band worked closely with Nate Campisi, whom recorded and mixed the album at Mr Smalls Studios in Pittsburgh, while the incredible artist, Keith Caves, provided artwork for the album cover as he has done in the past for each of Bat Zuppel’s previously released albums. The album’s first single, “The Witch,” premiered this morning on Bat Zuppel’s official webpage, Spotify, Apple Music, and most other music streaming sites. The song begins with an incredibly catchy guitar riff, which then rhythmically leads into the perfect combination of frontman Bronder’s grungy growl, psychedelically shredding guitar, and meticulous drum beats. Despite the band’s unique sound and continuous dedication over the years, like many artists, they have been greatly influenced by a number of exceptional musicians and bands. Brash explained, “When we are all in the tour van together, we’re always looking for good old stuff on the radio and listening to 90’s hip hop, Van Halen, Mint Condition, Jesus Lizard, Black Sabbath, that song Slow Ride [Foghat], The Stooges, and all kinds of good jams. Zach [Bronder] and Spencer [Geer] also have backgrounds in jazz, and a lot of that comes through in our music.” Bat Zuppel will be hosting their CD release party for “Dylar” at Spirit in Lawrenceville on September 15th, where they will be selling physical copies of the album. The official release date for the entire album to be streamed online and on will be on September 22nd, however, the album is currently available to be preordered for $5. If you haven’t already, take a listen to Bat Zuppel’s newest single, “The Witch” (you won’t be disappointed), and keep your eyes peeled for more details on the band’s upcoming performance at their CD release party and who will be joining them on stage that evening.

Hear Tonight Convey Powerful Message in Official Video for “Stay Dry”

Following the release of their last official music video nearly a year ago, California, PA indie rock group, Hear Tonight, debuted their newest single, “Stay Dry,” on Friday, July 21st. Hear Tonight is comprised of Shane Turner (vocals/acoustic), Stephen Grzenda (guitar/vocals), Jake Urbanek (guitar/ vocals), Evan Yester (drums/vocals), while Nick Linder (bass guitar) and Greg Davis (keys/synth) joined the foursome in the studio for the recording of “Stay Dry.” The song’s upbeat vibe, bouncy beat, and catchy chorus act as an ironic juxtaposition compared to the depicted storyline that is neatly presented throughout the video, which was directed by Martin Jerome Lambert. Frontman, Shane Turner, whom stars as the video’s lead, explores the darkness and negative space that looms in his head, while the world continues to go on around him. Per Hear Tonight’s official Facebook post, the band writes, “’Stay Dry’ exemplifies the mental struggles of loneliness and isolation even when others are right there with you.” The video begins with a close up shot of Turner sitting on the floor of a seemingly empty room, before panning out and transitioning into a party scene where he is still shown sitting on the floor by himself. Despite the rather optimistic sound of “Stay Dry,” the lyrics reveal, as suspected, a darker theme that correlates with the video’s overwhelming sense of loneliness and inner-frustration. As the setting of the room alternates back and forth between a party, in which Turner is outwardly disassociated with the events that are unfolding around him, and the world that exists within his head, the lyrics deliver a similar message, “you’ve so much time to lose your mind.” Although it is easy to see the evident isolation that Turner experiences during the filmed party scene, it plays a secondary role, comparatively, as viewers watch him transition back into his thoughts. Here, he hangs photos of people, places, and his passions [music] on the fireplace of the empty room before aggressively tearing them from the wall. This moment of “Stay Dry” symbolizes Turner’s frustration with himself and disassociation from the things that he once cherished, however, for many, it can be difficult to show the same interest in the things you love while struggling with destruction, confusion, and loneliness. The band also stated on their Facebook page, “It’s okay to reach out. With all of the tragedies happening recently, we hold this message close to us.” In light of recent tragedies in the music scene and beyond, Hear Tonight’s powerful message certainly pulls on some loose heart strings.

Thursday Delivers Incredible Reunion Show at Mr. Smalls

The best shows are always the ones you arrive to and there are no stage gates to hold you back from reaching your favorite bands, and there are no guards destroying the atmosphere. At Mr. Smalls Funhouse, that is exactly the vibe you expect when you walk in and it never fails to deliver what the crowd is longing for. Opening the stage for the June 27th show with mewithoutYou and the main act, Thursday, were Atlanta rockers, Big Jesus. The still small crowd lingered throughout the room as Big Jesus took to the stage. Though a small audience, each person in attendance held onto each word the lead vocalist, Spencer Ussery, sang, each guitar string plucked, and each beat of the drum. As Big Jesus went through their setlist, the audience became more engaged with the music and began swaying back and forth as they sipped on their PBR pounders. Before their final song, Ussery explained “being able to announce this tour [with mewithoutYou and Thursday] was a kind of wild experience.” The four-piece packed up their equipment following their finale to clear the stage and invited audience members to come and hang out at their table in the main lobby to talk with them between the other performances. While mewithoutYou vocalist, Aaron Weiss stretched on the side of the stage, stage hands set up several microphones and a vibrant green drumset in the middle of the stage that reflected the blue overheard lights into the crowd. mewithoutYou, a band that can only be described as transcendent, with spoken-word vocals, a free-spirited vibe, and unmatched performance skills. Each time mewithoutYou enters the stage they come to do one thing: to put on a kickass, interactive performance. Each of mewithoutYou’s past performances have been accompanied with a variety of unique percussion, and their most recent visit to Mr. Smalls was no exception. The band effortlessly brought the crowd to life and shock the venue with their heavy bass pedal and superior stage presence. As the heat crept into the tightening space and onto the stage, Weiss substituted his signature burnt yellow beanie hat for a dark purple, folded bandana to keep his hair from his face and sweat from rolling into his eyes. After spending over five years out of the music scene and away from Pittsburgh, Thursday entered the stage filled with evident enthusiasm and consistent jokes about their age and the age of the crowd. It wasn’t until Thursday began their performance did stage guards reveal themselves from the shadows of the room to catch crowd surfers and prevent anyone from getting injured. The post-hardcore band commanded the room with ease, while vocalist Geoff Rickly encouraged the audience to make their way to the front of the stage, offering his hand to anyone who got close enough to the performance area. As Thursday played through their jam-packed setlist, they hit every song any fan would want to hear, including “Cross Out the Eyes” and “Understanding in a Car Crash.” The band continuously and happily interacted with the crowd in new and exciting ways; nearly halfway through their performance they took a moment to kick a dozen gigantic, red balloons into the venue space for everyone to throw around as they played. Before exiting the stage with their encore song, “Into The Blinding Light,” Rickly extended an invitation to the audience to join them on the upper level to see another performance at the The Funhouse of Mr. Smalls. Rickly explained, “If you wanna come hang, we would love for you to come say hi. This is the first time I’m touring sober, so if you want to buy me I drink I’ll have a Coke with you.” Although it was a joy to see Thursday embark on their reunion tour after disbanding in late 2011, there is surely no way to predict what is next on their agenda or what the future will hold for them as a band. Perhaps after taking some well-deserved time to reflect on their personal lives and being back on tour after so long, Thursday will surprise us with some new revolutionary music in the future.

Real Friends Returns to Pittsburgh

After taking several months off of the road and the stage, Real Friends performed in Pittsburgh’s South Side at the Rex Theater on June 7th. Following the success of their second studio album, This Home Inside My Head, released in May 2016, Real Friends’ frontman, Dan Lambton, announced last November that he and the band would be taking time off to take care of their personal lives. Lambton explained that due to a number of factors including his mental health, Real Friends would be unable to tour overseas in December as previously planned. But after taking the time necessary to regain their strength and spirits, Real Friends returned to the road this spring and they’ve certainly left their mark across the country. Before Real Friends took to the stage to showcase their newest album in the dark and rather intimate Rex Theater on East Carson Street, four well-versed performances warmed up the crowd and got everyone hyped up for the main event. Starting the show promptly at 6:15 pm, nothing, nowhere opened the night with his 2016 hit “Letdown.” Captivating the audience with his raw sound, rhythmic beats, and catchy choruses, nothing, nowhere effortlessly moved around the stage in his oversized hoodie. Following nothing, nowhere’s five song setlist, Broadside eagerly began setting up their equipment and interacting with fans leaning against the stage. A bright pink, neon sign flashed “PARADISE” throughout the dim venue and lit faces within the crowd, while frontman Ollie Baxter gushed over Broadside’s second full length album, Paradise, which is set for release on June 16th. Have Mercy opened their set with “Smoke and Lace” off of their new 2017 album Make the Best of It. A compilation between their first and second album, Have Mercy’s raspy vocals tore through the room as the vibrant blue and red lights set the tone to highlight their performance. The final act before Real Friends hit the stage, Tiny Moving Parts, ran like a well-oiled machine. Between their intense vocals, incredible drums, and melodic guitars, the trio left a lasting impression on the anxious crowd at The Rex Theater. As anticipation continued to build throughout the room, the opening acts and crew members paraded on and off stage as everyone enthusiastically waited for the arrival of Real Friends to the stage. But finally, the moment had arrived. Real Friends walked nonchalantly on stage with enthusiasm spread across their faces and house furniture set up in the background to mock their album cover. Despite the time they had taken off to regroup, they had certainly come back on the road in better spirits and ready to rock every city they stopped in. As frontman, Dan Lambton, grabbed the microphone, the red and blue stage lights glowed off of his Emo International t-shirt. The set opened with “Empty Picture Frames” from their new album and flowed into several new songs including, “Colder Quicker.” Although their tour showcased This Home Inside My Head, you know Real Friends couldn’t leave fans without playing classics such as, “I’ve Given Up On You” and “I Don’t Love You Anymore.” Emotions ran high throughout the theater as the set came to a close and Lambton touched on the subject of his anxiety. Lambton proudly explained to the crowd, “If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression or bipolar disorder, it’s okay to get help. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you want to improve, it means you want to better yourself. You want to be the best possible version of yourself that you can possibly be, and I commend you!” Real Friends concluded the show with a performance of “Summer” that brought the entire crowd together before exiting the stage. Real Friends will be concluding their spring 2017 tour on June 9th in Chicago, Illinois, their home state,before heading overseas to Australia in late July.

Betsey Johnson Performance Women's Moroccan Cutout Leggings

Find your inner strength and tranquility with the Betsey Johnson Performance® Women's Moroccan Cutout Leggings. Designed with comfort in mind, these bottoms feature a cutout design at the ankles for amplified breathability, while a stretch construction allows you to move freely without restriction. Finished with an allover Moroccan print for a chic look, the Betsey Johnson Performance® Moroccan Cutout Leggings push you harder and longer.

Alala Women's Flyweight Hoodie

Take on your studio routine with the Alala® Women's Flyweight Hoodie. Ideal for wear to and from the gym, this fitted hoodie delivers the trendy coverage you crave for your workout. The lightweight construction and quick-drying fabric keep you cool and dry, while mesh panels deliver heightened breathability. Finished with an adjustable hood for locked-in warmth, get unparalleled style and comfort with the Alala® Flyweight Hoodie.

adidas Originals Women's Trefoil Bra Top

The adidas® Originals Women's Trefoil Bra Top combines a classic design with bold colors to create a sporty, fashion forward look. This tight-fit bra can be layered with your favorite tank top or worn alone for standout style. The stretch construction delivers luxurious comfort, while the elastic bottom band provides unmatched support. Show off your vibrant style at the studio in the adidas® Originals Trefoil Bra Top.

The Original, the Unique, the Already Famous on Penn

By Paige Owens PITTSBURGH, Pa. — On a crowded street, in the heart of the city, Penn Avenue in the Cultural District sees the hustle and bustle of the city goers, the art addicts, the theatre junkies, and the bar crawlers. The Cultural District is home to countless restaurants and eateries, theatres, galleries, and more. On Jan. 30, the Cultural District became the home of a new, brilliant, second-floor art gallery, Already Famous on Penn. Already Famous on Penn resides on the corner of 9th Avenue and Penn Avenue above the gourmet chocolate and ice cream shop, Sinful Sweets. The owner, operator, and brains behind this new gallery, Nolan Sanders, is a former Sinful Sweets employee with a passion for photography and a love for undiscovered, unexposed art. The gallery has been in the production process for approximately three months and was an idea crafted by Sanders and his friend and business partner, Patrick Howerter. “The layout [of the gallery] came straight out of my head,” Sanders explained. “I saw this place empty and white and took mental notes of what would look right. The colors were my attempt to make it more than just a whitewall gallery. Allowing the artists to paint murals behind their paintings was really important for me, being that I am the only gallery that does that.” The art gallery began as a dream and an idea for a studio space that Sanders would be able to sell his photography from. Yet his dream snowballed into a unique, innovative, and new art space dedicated to helping the “starving artist” grow and strive. “My mission is to expose underground artists that I know; I call them under rock artists,” Sanders said. “The mission here is to make starving artists fat! That’s what I want to do. I’m tired of hearing my friends that are starving artists and just don’t have the exposure.” “The location is key; being in the Cultural District, being right here on Penn and 9th,” he added. “My main goal is to expose all of these other artists. My photography started first, but now it’s taken a back burner to this.” Already Famous on Penn is not only an opportunity to reel in artists and art lovers, but party goers, dancers, and skilled musicians. Sanders plans to have a unique combination of artists and art forms on the walls and throughout the gallery. Unique to this venue alone, Sanders will be renting out the venue to outside parties for private events, dinners, yoga classes, ballet classes, and music competitions; something no other art gallery in the area permits. “The art will move whenever there are big parties,” Sanders explained. “Obviously, we don’t want anything damaged, but the art will be around. What I’m trying to do is relate the art to whatever is going on and music wise too. We’re going to have hip-hop nights, we’re going to have DJ competitions, have singing competitions. So I’m pretty excited about that part.” The tone of the gallery radiated with appreciation for art as artists lingered in every corner of the room, eager to share a small piece of their world with guests. To the unknowing eye, you may only see paint on the walls, frames, and tables throughout the gallery. However, the gallery permeated the room with original, unique, and bizarre art forms. The tables and furniture, perfectly placed in the room, were created by local artist Wade Bowser. Featured in the Grand Opening was also Patrick Kelly, an illustrator; Jamie Apgar; a painter with his Insidious Collection painted directly on to the art gallery walls; David Calfo, a salvage artist who creates a story and art with old material from steel and saw mills; Lindsey Brown, a photographer; and Rod Morris from Kittanning where Sanders grew up. Neatly placed across the center wall of the gallery were Sanders’ photographs. “I think art is important to everybody whether they know it or not,” illustration artist Patrick Kelly said. “I think it’s essential to human life; it’s so important. Some people create it, some people just view it, but it’s necessary. I think it’s part of what keeps us going.” The Grand Opening of the gallery filled with guests of all ages, friends, family, musicians, artists, and media to have a first-hand look into the world of an artist and to praise Sanders on his success. Guests had the opportunity to purchase art, enjoy wine and refreshments, and listen to internationally known saxophonist, John Petrucelli, and jazz, electric guitar played by Max “the Wax” Snyder. “It’s about the exposure, it’s about the art, it’s about the people here in Pittsburgh; I feel like they’re hungry for something like this,” Sanders said. Only time will tell where the future lies for Sanders and his newly opened gallery, all we know is he’s Already Famous on Penn.

Vans Warped Tour Pittsburgh Welcomes Local Band to the Stage

By Paige Owens Despite the downpour of rain that we’ve been experiencing lately in Pittsburgh, Vans Warped Tour, the largest traveling music festival in the United States since 1995, made its annual stop on July 9 at the First Niagara Pavilion. Among the musicians in various genres and styles, several Pittsburgh native bands and musicians had the chance to play including Who We Are and Luke Smartnick of Major League. Local Pittsburgh metal band, Who We Are, formed in early 2015 and shortly after released their first single “One for the Home Team.” The band consists of five native musicians: Chris Barna (vocals), Nicholas Fike (guitar), Anthony McMillan (guitar), Zachery Urbanek (bass), and Jesse Hildenbrand (drums). Who We Are landed a spot on the Ernie Ball Stage after entering Ernie Ball’s 19th Annual Battle of the Bands contest. By a show of votes, Who We Are won the chance to be the featured band on the Pittsburgh Vans Warped Tour 2015 bands list. The members of Who We Are started their set with an original, metal song to a crowd of approximately 200 fans. Frontman, Barna then introduced himself, the other band members, and gave a special welcome to their new drummer. Barna also gave shout-outs to friends, family, and other local musicians who came out to support the band at their first show. After four songs and plenty of rain, the band left the stage to sign autographs, take photos with fans, interact with other musicians, and to sell T-shirts at their merchandise tent. Although the rain continued to soak merchandise and fans throughout the day, a majority of the well-known bands performed on the Shark Stage and Unicorn Stage under the pavilion where fans took for shelter. Several bands that played on these two stages included Pierce the Veil, Miss May I, Family Force 5, and Memphis May Fire. As the day came to a close, English metalcore band, Asking Alexandria were the final band to play in order to wrap up Vans Warped Tour 2015. Asking Alexandria recently replaced their former singer Danny Worsnop with 23-year-old Denis Stoff, the previous singer of Make Me Famous. Stoff’s first performances as frontman of Asking Alexandria began with this summer’s Warped Tour. Asking Alexandria opened with “Welcome” and continued the performance with eight songs including “Breathless,” “Not the American Average,” “A Prophecy,” and closed the show with “Final Episode.” Vans Warped Tour continues to be the largest travelling music festival and draws in thousands of young punks, rebels, and rockers each year. The tour will continue throughout the country and make its final stop in Auburn, Washington on August 8th.

Break Free: The Rise of Ruby Rose

By Paige Owens The highly anticipated third season of Orange is the New Black leaked early after being scheduled for release on Netflix on June 12, 2015. The seasoned cast returned with a few new faces joining the already famous Litchfield inmates, one of which has taken the Internet world by storm. New inmate, Stella Carlin, played by Ruby Rose, 29, has everyone buzzing with excitement not only about her nude shower scene that appears in episode 9 of the season, but about her short film that she released in July 2014. Last July, the heavily tattooed model, actress, musician released a short film, Break Free, that explored gender roles, transgender, and what it means to identify as a man or a woman and how these genders should appear according to society. Although the short film was released nearly a year ago, it has recently hit over 5 million views and is receiving praise within the media. The film begins with Rose featured as a materialistic, stereotypical woman with long, blonde locks and a full face of makeup. After seeing herself in the mirror, she starts cutting her hair off into a short undercut, removing her makeup, and revealing the tattoos that cover her arms, neck, and back. As she strips down from a skimpy dress and high heels, she then gauzes her breasts flat and dress in male attire. The Orange is the New Black star identifies herself as “gender fluid,” meaning although she was born a female, she does not consider herself either gender, but rather somewhere in between. The cast are no strangers to gender identification roles as they co-star alongside, Laverne Cox, the first transgender individual to be a Primetime Emmy nominee. Rose’s attention from her short film and role in the Netflix original series comes at a rather great time in the LGBQT community. It was not long after Rose’s film debut that Bruce Jenner, former Olympic athlete, revealed to the public that he was transgender and would be undergoing surgical operations in order to complete his transformation into a female. He recently made his debut as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair.; “Between Orange with Laverne, the show Transparent, and Caitlyn Jenner, obviously we’re in the middle of something enormous – a transgender movement,” Rose revealed to Elle magazine. I’m just proud to be alive during this massive shift in the world.”

Art All Night 2015: What If Art Ruled The World?

By Paige Owens Art All Night in Lawrenceville held its eighteenth annual, 24 hour art exhibit on April 25 & the 26. The event took place in the former 2014 location in a large, grungy warehouse on the corner of Willow and 40th Street. The yearly event is free to the public and accepts artist submissions from all ages and all forms of art. In the past, Art All Night has generated a crowd of over 7,000 guests with hundreds of artists submitting artwork in all shapes, sizes, colors, and themes. This event has been described as a “cult-like” gathering for artists and art enthusiasts alike. This year, the Art All Night warehouse flooded with people from every walk of life. Artists anxiously hung their work and guests mingled around the event sipping wine and enjoying cold beer all while enjoying the unique and original artistry. Saturday evening and Sunday morning invited guests to watch artists in action, listen to live performances from local bands, and to enjoy hands on activities. Late Saturday night, however, welcomed the night owls of Pittsburgh to enjoy a more artistically inspiring atmosphere. Sunday morning and afternoon prepared artists and attendees for a live auction of many of the pieces and artwork that were displayed to wrap up the 24 hour event. Each year, Art All Night welcomes young college students, artists, families, and Lawrenceville locals to enjoy the event, view intriguing artwork, and to experience Lawrenceville in its artistic realm. The event thrives on no fees, no judgement, and for artists to have an uncensored outlet for their artwork. Art All Night will continue to be a cherished annual event, however, Art All Night All Year, is a project to extend the annual event online, which allows artists to submit and upload work throughout the entire year.

We Are…Who We Are

By Paige Owens PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Fans and Pittsburgh locals gathered into the upstairs of The Smiling Moose bar and music venue located in Southside on Jan. 29, eagerly awaiting the performances of Camp Element, Awake & Create, and Palisades. Members from each of the bands buzzed around the hot, dimly lit room preparing for their set and interacting with fans and friends that had come out to support them that evening. Zachary Urbanek, a sophomore studying Criminal Justice at Penn State New Kensington, sported black skinny jeans, a white graphic T-shirt, and his signature black faux leather jacket with a hoodie underneath. Urbanek was not only a member of Awake & Create, a band which broke up in late August 2014 and reunited for this particular show, but he is also a member of the highly anticipated local band, Who We Are. Who We Are is a post-hardcore band, made up of five members originating out of Pittsburgh. Who We Are first formed in late 2014 after Awake & Create decided to part ways. However, four of the former Awake & Create members joined forces with viral YouTube video vocalist, Chris Barna. Who We Are is made up of Chris Barna (vocals), Nicholas Fike (guitar), Anthony McMillan (guitar), Zachary Urbanek (bass guitar), and John Harrison (drums). Prior to Awake & Create’s demise, the band played various venues in the Pittsburgh area, including Vans Warped Tour (2014), one of the largest post-hardcore travelling festivals in the United States, at the First Niagara Pavilion. According to McMillan, Urbanek’s brother, “Zach didn’t know how to play bass guitar. We needed someone to fill in on bass for a show in late August. So we taught him how to play all of our songs and he played one show with the band before we broke up.” Who We Are is currently an unsigned band, sponsoring and networking themselves. The band is working to create a fan base through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which is their most active sources of communication. The band posts updates on their fan pages in order to stay connected with the fans they have already gained. Currently their ever growing fan base has over 2,000 “likes” on their Facebook page and over 4,000 Twitter followers. According to the band’s Facebook page, “Who We Are is looking to bring something different to the music industry and is currently working on their full length album, which is yet to be decided on a release date.” A teaser video for the band’s debut single, “#apt69” was released prior to the band’s original release date of Jan. 16. However, according to a Facebook and Twitter post, the release of “#apt69” was postponed indefinitely. “My brother and I are working on rewriting some of the music and writing new music. That first song probably won’t be released at all,” said Urbanek, while sharing a cigarette outside of the Nittany Highland Apartment building adjacent from the New Kensington campus the day before the show. Despite Who We Are not able to play the Jan. 29 show at The Smiling Moose as planned, the former Awake and Create, was able to captivate the audience with their energy, dedication, talent, and an overall outstanding performance. As Who We Are continues their writing and recording process throughout 2015, it is evident that the music they produce will connect with the audience and bring something new and exciting to the music industry.

Local Writer Explores Heavy Metal Music in Africa

By Paige Owens OAKMONT, Pa. – Pennsylvania native, Edward Banchs, 35, has incorporated his three passions into a project he has been working on since 2010: Africa, heavy metal music, and writing. Banchs has been writing his first novel, “Heavy Metal Africa,” since 2010 after the idea came to him while he was attending graduate school. He first graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Anthropology. He then obtained his Master’s degree in African Studies from University of London at the School of Oriental African Studies. Banchs’ first love for music is what inspired him on his journey. Right out of high school, Banchs went to Penn State Altoona in his hometown to study art, but was soon unsatisfied. After three semesters, he dropped out of college to join a touring heavy metal band, Negative Theory, as a guitarist. After taking several years off from college to play music, Banchs decided to leave the band, and with the support of his mother, moved to Florida, where she lived. There, he told his mother that he was going to go back to college, but that he was going to study Africa. “When I was in school as a Political Science major, all of my professors were really cool with me reworking all of the assignments I was given to cater towards Africa,” Banchs explained. “While I was in graduate school, I had this idea with my friend there who was studying metal culture. One of the things I said to him was that I wanted to bridge Africa and metal together because I knew that there was metal in Africa, but there’s nothing going on in terms of promotion there.” Throughout Banchs’ college career, he immersed himself in the metal and African culture. Although Banchs was drawn to Africa, for an indescribable reason, he was able to learn more about the culture, music scene, and people by living in Florida. Banchs started ransacking the bookstore he worked at to learn as much as he could. Florida had a large migrant community from around the United States, but also from other countries and continents around the world, Banchs explained. “I was meeting a lot of Africans while I was living in Florida,” Banchs said. “The way I would talk to them they would say that I spoke like an African because when I talked about Africa my face would get lit up.” After graduating with his Master’s degree in Africa Studies, Banchs moved back to the United States from London and worked as a substitute teacher. He had begun his writing and research on the heavy metal music scene within Africa, conducting interviews through emails. He wrote the first two chapters of “Heavy Metal Africa” and hated it. “All I was doing was interviewing people through emails, but I couldn’t write about the place,” Banchs explained. “I couldn’t write about the people and the way their voices sounded, I couldn’t write about the sounds or the air blowing in through the window. I had a ‘what the hell’ moment and I said let’s go. I sold my guitar amps and a lot of my guitars and I bought an airline ticket to go on a six-week trip to Africa. I used all that money to fund my trip.” Each time Banchs has gone on a trip to Africa in the last several years, he has kept his experiences as genuine as possible. Banchs stayed with friends and people who live there rather than staying in a hotel because he did not want to compromise his experience with fancy hotel rooms, he wanted to live like an African. “Heavy Metal Africa” is going to include eight chapters and Banchs’ introduction to the content. He explained that this book isn’t just about the music or Africa; it’s his personal story about the places he’s been, the people he’s met, and the journey that has brought him to where he is today. When Banchs initially began his journey to write a book that was going to bridge Africa and heavy metal music, he did not realize that he would also be connecting the “metal heads” throughout the world. Banchs has spent years of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears into turning his dream into a reality. Through “Heavy Metal Africa,” Banchs has given the metal community in Africa a voice. Banchs is planning his final trip to Africa in Oct. 2015, which will turn into the eighth chapter of his book. He hopes that when he returns from his trip, he will have “Heavy Metal Africa” finished and ready for publication by spring 2016.

To Infinity and be THON’d

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The Bryce Jordan Center (BJC) at Penn State University Park erupted with thousands of cheers and vibrant T-shirts from students, volunteers, and families during THON Weekend 2015, which took place starting at 6 p.m. Feb. 20 through until 4 p.m. on Feb. 22. Each year since 1977, Penn State students from the surrounding branch campuses and University Park gather together in State College for a 46 hour dance marathon to raise money for children with pediatric cancer. Penn State has raised over $127 million dollars for the Four Diamonds fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital since the creation of THON. THON Weekend 2015 generated a staggering total of $13,026,653.23, according to the official THON organization. Over 700 Penn State students are recognized as THON dancers from various organizations, fraternities, and campuses. This year, Brooke Churma, a senior Corporate Communications major, and Alex Pedder, a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major, represented Penn State New Kensington (PSNK) as THON dancers. Pedder explained that he experienced his first THON Weekend in 2014. “After seeing my first THON and seeing the experiences people were having on the dance floor, I knew I wanted to be a dancer this year,” said Pedder. Churma and Pedder had been preparing for months in order to be selected as the two dancers to represent PSNK. Their preparation consisted of a healthy diet, which excluded alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. A healthy diet was required in order to prepare the dancers for a 46 hour weekend without sleep or sitting down. “Alex joked multiple times Thursday night that it was like we were being prepped to go into The Hunger Games the next day,” Churma enthusiastically stated. “It was honestly like luxury everything and then it’s like, ‘okay go to war now!’ But it has been so fun the entire time.” Each dancer was not alone in their journey through THON Weekend. The dancers’ families, friends, campus members, and perhaps most importantly, their personal Dancer Relations Committee Member (DRCM), were all present to support and cheer on the dancers. The volunteers for THON Weekend were all divided and distinguished by different colored T-shirts. DRCM volunteers wore yellow, while those in charge of Rules and Regulations wore red, Public Relations wore purple, and Hospitality food distributors wore pink. “My favorite part of THON would probably be just interacting with our DRCM’s,” said Churma. “They’re personally there for us at all times and they’re perfect matches, I think, for the both of us. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. Your DRCM is like your own little, personal cheerleader and they’re in charge of making sure you stay motivated at all times.” Harte Olechowski, a sophomore studying Biology and a DRCM this year, discussed her experience and the pride she had in helping to inspire her dancer. “We’re there to support our dancers physically, but also mentally and emotionally,” Olechowski said. “We make sure they’re eating and drinking water all the time. We also have to make sure they’re stretching. That’s one of the biggest things. We help to inspire them and when they hit their low points, we help bring them back up by having them play with one of the kids or by reminding them why they’re here.” Caroline Ryan, a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at University Park, explained her position in Rules and Regulations (R&R) during an interview throughout THON weekend. “With R&R, it’s more about making sure everyone follows the rules,” Ryan said. “We’re in the stands, throughout the mezzanine, and some of us are out on the floor right now making sure no one has taken the dancers’ water or anything like that. We try to keep the peace and, in general, there aren’t many issues because we’re all here for the same cause.” THON Weekend was packed with events for families, kids, dancers, and the Penn State students and faculty to enjoy. One of the signature events that occurred periodically throughout the weekend was the Line Dance by the dancer relation officers. The Line Dance was a nearly five minute choreographed dance that kept the dancers and families motivated, active, and stretched. Pedder explained that stretching was an essential part of the weekend in order to get through the 46 hour marathon. Another event that drew in a nearly maximum capacity audience was the University Park athletic teams Pep Rally on Saturday evening. Each team put on a performance that they choreographed. The football team, men’s soccer team, men’s hockey team, and the men’s gymnastics team were among the finalists for this dance competition. The winner was judged based on the loudest crowd reaction when the finalists were listed. The men’s hockey team took the win with a crowd pleasing performance of a mash-up of “Come on Eileene” and “It’s Raining Men,” utilizing umbrellas, water guns, and various hockey equipment. Among a variety of musical performances, fashion shows for the kids, and the 2015 Line Dance, audience members kept the dancers and kids motivated with colorful, creative THON inspired T-shirts and Greek organization letters. Penn State New Kensington was voted one of the best THON T-shirts this year by Onward State, an independent Penn State blog. The shirts read, “To infinity and be THON’d” with Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story under the phrase. The crafty letters and T-shirts helped keep up the spirits of the families, kids, and dancers at THON. Throughout the weekend, students, families, faculty, and volunteers teamed together for the same reason: For The Kids (FTK). After families of children with cancer took to the stage to share their stories and thank Penn State for the efforts that they have given for the last 43 years, a “Celebration of Life” video was played throughout the BJC. This heartbreaking moment brought every individual together, arm in arm, hand in hand to commemorate and remember those children lost to pediatric cancer. After nearly 46 hours on their feet, THON dancers enjoyed one more Line Dance and then were finally able to sit down. The Nittany Lion mascot, a participating dancer for the entire weekend, collapsed on stage in front of the crowd. To conclude another successful THON Weekend, the total amount for donations was announced. The top five Commonwealth Campuses, independent dancer couples, general organizations, Greek organizations, and special interest organizations amounts raised were announced before revealing the grand total of donations raised for THON that year. Penn State New Kensington’s THON organization raised $28,000.00 on their own in the last year of fundraising. THON Weekend exists to provide the kids with pediatric cancer a chance to forget their illness, and enjoy their lives to the fullest. It gives students the opportunity to participate in an event that may never be understood to fully unless you are able to experience THON Weekend for yourself. THON will continue to fundraise and collect donations in order to one day find a cure. “One day we will dance in celebration. Until then, we dance for a cure.” – THON 2015

A Look: “Into the Woods”

By Paige Owens NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – This spring semester, students in Bill Mitas’ Production Practicum course, the Penn State New Kensington Drama Club, and local Pittsburgh actors and actresses are teaming up to accomplish an outstanding performance of “Into the Woods.” “Into the Woods” made its stage debut in San Diego in 1986 and again on Broadway in 1987. A film adaption of this musical was released in late 2014 by Disney. Mitas has been teaching at Penn State New Kensington as the Adjunct Instructor in Theatre Arts for the last seven years. “I have always been interested in Theatre since early in high school,” said Mitas. “I wanted to go to Carnegie Mellon for Theatre Arts after high school, but I could not afford to go.” Mitas returned to school and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Point Park University, and finally his Master’s Degree in Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon University. He joined Penn State in 2008. However, he remains at the Art Institute as a full time faculty member. Auditions for “Into the Woods” were held at the beginning of the semester and were open to all Penn State students and the local community. Mitas explained that after last semester’s production, he took requests from his students for what they would like to perform for the spring musical and “Into the Woods” seemed like a good choice. “This is a ‘BIG’ production,” Mitas said. “The cast has 22 roles and typically I get around ten students, at most, to audition. This gives our students an opportunity to work with seasoned professionals in the area.” Last semester, Mitas and the Drama Club put on a performance of “Beyond Therapy,” which included freshmen Jon McCabe and Laura Gensamer as the leads. McCabe and Gensamer have returned and will be hitting the stage again together. Gensamer is acting as the narrator for this production and McCabe is acting as Jack. Gensamer is a freshman that is considering majoring in Corporate Communications or Marketing, but has been actively involved with theatre for many years. “I’ve always liked talking in front of people,” Gensamer said. “The idea of getting to play a different person every time you start a new production has always been exciting to me.” Mitas’ students praise him for his talent, dedication, and inspiration. He encourages his students to push their talent, which brings out the best in each of them on stage and in rehearsals. McCabe, a freshman Psychology major, states he has always been interested in theatre, and was involved in the theatre program at Burrell High School. “Bill is the second director I’ve ever had. He is caring towards his cast and is really great with designing sets,” McCabe said. “He inspired me to audition for the theatre program at University Park and I auditioned this past week. He is a great director who can make the smallest cast and crew put on a really great performance. That’s what it takes to be a good director, using what you have to make things remarkable.” The leading female role for “Into the Woods,” the Baker’ wife, is played by Klase Danko, who graduated from Point Park University. Danko auditioned as a member of the community and is an experienced actress. Mitas is hoping that having students, trained actors, and the community involved will create, “a wonderfully, magical production.” “I would hope to have a positive effect on our students, as well as the community, sharing my experiences performing on stage, as well as working back stage,” said Mitas. “I have made a strong effort to integrate the community into our campus productions.” Another freshman involved in the Drama Club, Wati Kumwenda, is studying Biomedical Engineering Technology. She explained that she loves singing and acting, which is why she first became involved in theatre. She continued to state that she performed throughout her high school career, and naturally, wanted to perform in her college career. “Bill is very eccentric and open-minded,” Kumwenda said. “He encourages us to express ourselves fully not only in the roles we play on stage, but also as a cast and crew in our down time. He is very professional and considerate of us and goes out of his way to ensure we perform to the best of our abilities.” The cast and crew will work diligently throughout the semester to prepare for their production of “Into the Woods,” which will open at the Forum Theater at Penn State New Kensington April 16th, 17th, and 18th at 8 p.m.