Keene State College’s Oya Hill exploded with sound and color Saturday, April 22, for Solarfest. Campus Ecology and WKNH’s ecological rally/music festival started at 12:30 p.m. with local band Los Groms opening the day.
The main stage was set up with its back to Appian Way, and was powered entirely by a solar panel truck behind it. Sound for the event was provided both by the L.P. Young Student Center tech crew and by Moresound Audio to supplement the tech crew where needed.
Alongside the music, many campus organizations, local activist groups and vendors were set up around Oya Hill. Between the bands’ sets, Campus Ecology had speakers- varying from employees of state offices to interest group activists- that gave talks about ecological impact and how we can help reduce our carbon footprint.
Anti-Pipeline activist Patricia Martin, who was tabling at Solarfest, said she was very excited about the event.
Martin said, “I’ve never really been to something like this…the amount of younger people here to see the music, [and] are engaging with this important message is amazing.”
Martin’s only complaint was that she was a little chilly, as the day started overcast and in the low 50s.
As the music started, the sun cut through the clouds and kept up throughout the entirety of the festival.
WKNH Events Coordinator Nick Busby said that he wanted to add an element of genre diversity throughout the event, which was apparent and well received. Five bands performed during the day.
After Los Groms finished its set, New Jersey ska-punk band Survey Says took the stage. Its eclectic brand of positive vibes ska music combined with angsty pop-punk that’s familiar, but rarely seen on campus, got the crowd dancing.
Following Survey Says was the Green Bikes parade, which started at the library, cut through the festival and continued on through campus.
At the lead was Green Bikes Program Head Marcus McCarroll in his hand-built four-wheeled pedal car with many students biking behind.
Maine-based rapper ‘Spose, who brought with him a DJ and a fellow MC to share the stage, started their set after the parade. The bass-blasting set drew in many walking by, as it was also Accepted Students Day, and plenty of potential students stopped with their families while walking through.
After ‘Spose finished his set, New York-based A Great Big Pile of Leaves took the stage. Lead singer Pete Weiland said between songs that this was their first time in New Hampshire. Drummer Tyler Soucy said he was ecstatic about how their set went.
“[We’ve] never really had a chance to come this far north before on tour,” Soucy said. “…With this being our first time, Keene State really hooked it up for us. We definitely have to come back.”
The final band to take the stage was Kung Fu, who call themselves a “nu-sion” project that transcends genre classification through their progressive brand of music. Throughout their hour-long set, the entire area in front of the stage was filled with people jumping around, hula hooping and dancing along to the music.
This year’s hardened focus on the ecological aspect of the event compared to those in the past is made this on-campus festival one that extends into the community in brand new ways.
Matt Bacon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org