On Oct. 15, Keene State College’s campus was rocked by some of the college’s very own student bands at “Rocktoberfest.”
KSC’s Student Activities Council (SAC) organized the event as an alternative to the usual fall concert the group would put on, which would normally include the luring of an artist or band to campus. “Rocktoberfest” is also a repackaged version of the event formerly known as “Battle of the Bands” which used to take place inside the Young Student Center, SAC concert coordinator Bethany Peterson said. This year, “Rocktoberfest” took place outside on Oya Hill where a crowd of mostly students were able to experience student rock bands compete, along with other festivities, such as hot apple cider, hot cocoa, tie-dye and henna present at various tables.
Peterson played an important role in the event’s production, as she brought bands on and off stage while managing sound checks for each act throughout the day.
On the decision of putting on “Rocktoberfest” as an alternative to SAC’s fall concert, Peterson said, “We actually decided to do this to give a little more support and love to our campus bands. We have seven bands and they’re all Keene State students, which is phenomenal. It’s something that SAC doesn’t usually do. We’ve never really done an event like this, and I think it’s really great for the bands to have their name out there, and also, this is replacing the fall concert, which is what we usually host. In that way, we’re supporting local bands and we’re putting more money towards our spring concert for an artist. It’s the way to have the best of both worlds. Instead of bringing two artists, we’re honoring local bands.”
A special aspect of “Rocktoberfest” was the fact that it was held outside beneath the foliage on a crisp fall day.
Guitarist for the band “Gray Haven,” Nick St Amour, said the aspect of the concert being outside gave the event a “festival type of feel to it,” which the band said they collectively enjoyed.
“Gray Haven” is a student band started by bassist Joe Sansone and lead singer Ricky Pelchar during their first year at KSC, Sansone said. Now as seniors, the duo added St. Amour to play a guitar and Mike Holahan to play drums. The band said they hope to make music their career.
Although the band, in its entirety, is newly organized, each member has been playing music all their lives and have experience performing in front of people.
“We’ve been doing this for a while,” Sansone said. “We all have a lot of experience playing in front of people. We usually play in basements at night and we may be a little out of our element, but we’re so excited to just get out there and play and hopefully make a couple new fans.”
Fellow bassist from the band “Rubber,” Marc Apesos said he enjoyed the events new look and what “Rocktoberfest” represents.
“It’s the new face for ‘Battle of the Bands’ and it’s the perfect day for it,” Apesos said.
Apesos added, “This is just an extension of the local music scene and we definitely have a ‘do-it-yourself’ scene here in Keene and it’s kind of cool.”
In his time “basement jamming,” Apesos said Keene has a flourishing music scene where bands from all over New England have come to join him playing in basements and other venues.
The focus of the new event is a financial decision, as well as an attempt to inspire student musicians and bands to keep playing and having a passion for music.
Peterson said that she hopes “Rocktoberfest” can become a tradition.
“I would love it to (become a tradition), and we were thinking that maybe the band who wins actually opens for next year and then it kind of makes a tradition, and I think people are going to become more interested,” Peterson said. “I think bands that didn’t compete in this are going to say ‘Wow, I really want to get up on that stage and compete this year,’ and maybe that means prize money goes up.”
The band, “Rubber” made up of KSC senior’s, Apesos, singer Brendan Poor and drummer Adam Bouchard ended up winning the competition and the $500 prize. This years Fall Concert will be presented by WKNH in the Mabel Brown Room on Saturday, Oct. 22 free of admission.
Nick Tocco can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org