At 12:30 p.m. on April 23, Campus Ecology and WKNH will welcome spring on Oya Hill with their annual solar-powered music festival Solarfest. Alongside being a music festival, this is an ecological awareness rally for the town. This is the second consecutive year the clubs have banded together to throw the festival. Campus Ecology President Erik Labieniec and Vice President James Spineti agreed that working together has made the event run more smoothly.
Labieniec said, “This event is really becoming ours together, which is nice…It gives us a chance to bring more of the environmental aspect back to it.” They said they started planning this past October. WKNH took care of booking the bands while Campus Ecology handled the vendors, stage setup, the power supply and general event planning.
Nick Busby, events coordinator at WKNH, said, “There’s two different aspects to this concert: the environmental aspect, which really falls on Campus Ecology, and then the music part, which is where we come in, and when you put them together that’s really what Solarfest is.” Busby said he was excited when Campus Ecology reached out for a second year, and couldn’t wait to start booking bands.
A difference in this year’s Solarfest is the absence of “in-betweener” sets, which are usually shorter, acoustic performances that take place while bands are setting up. Instead, Labieniec said that they have four speakers that will fill the time between the five bands.
Spineti said, “Our advisor said to us that we were becoming more of a rock and roll club than an environmental club, which we all agreed with and wanted to change.”
Campus Ecology members said their focus for Solarfest will be divestment in the university system away from fossil fuel consumption. Labieniec, a political science major, made a comprehensive plan to enact this as a project for class, and said he was excited it’s coming to fruition.
There will be petitions to get the University System Board of Trustees to divest away from fossil fuels and reinvest in “more socially conscious groups…or even more solar panels on campus,” Labieniec said.
Performing this year will be local band The Groms, Survey Says, Spose, A Great Big Pile of Leaves and Kung Fu. Busby said WKNH wanted to get broad diversity in the bill this year.
Busby described how the bill was set up. He said, “Campus Ecology had a big list of acts, and we [WKNH] had a big list of acts, and they said ‘okay make this work’…I knew I had [to get] five bands so I picked a bunch we all could agree on and got to work.”
Busby said he wanted to keep a local band on the bill, and that The Groms have worked with WKNH before, so it was an obvious fit. He said, “I know they’ve been playing a lot around town…and they’re sound fits exactly what I was looking for.”
Survey Says is a pop-punk band from New Jersey that was suggested by Campus Ecology Member Dorothy Arroyo. Spose, a hip-hop artist from Maine was booked last minute to replace the indie-act Diet Cig, who couldn’t come because of a tour. Headlining the night is Psych/Jam band Kung Fu from New Haven, Connecticut. They’ve been a touring act for over ten years, and have played with bands like Phish and MOE. Spineti, Labieniec and Busby all said the band they were most excited for was A Great Big Pile of Leaves.
Keene resident Brandon Cunniffe said that he loves anything the college or town does for music and is excited to go to this year’s Solarfest, as it’ll be his first one. He said, “I love when the college and the town get together and do things…it’s nice. Plus after a year of going to basement shows, [it’ll be nice] to be outside…hibernation is over.”
Labieniec said that the vendors and club tables would be set up on Oya Hill at 11:30 a.m., so there will be plenty to do before music kicks off at 12:30. He also said that this is a family and pet-friendly event.
Matt Bacon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.