By Kelly Carlin
The scene inside Festival is usually an assortment of moving images: students studying, eating and catching up with friends. On September 25, the building’s Ballroom A buzzed with a different kind of energy.
At first, the building seemed deserted, but as 9 p.m. approached, the space was flooded with anticipation. On this particular evening, JMU’s student-run radio station, WXJM, hosted three superb acts to a crowd of about 100 students and local residents. The show featured local Harrisonburg band Malatese, California’s Mikal Cronin, and headlininer Ty Segall from San Francisco.
The ballroom had nothing more than a simple platform stage and a small table for merchandise. Though the large room wasn’t filled to the brim, people of all ages crowded as close as possible to listen to the three bands’ sets. In what amounted to a giant mosh pit, there was dancing, crowd surfing, singing, and all kinds of camaraderie.
At one point, a state flag was hoisted into the air in a strange act of concert enthusiasm. Jon Reed, a senior and the drummer of Malatese, was excited by the display.
“It was the most rewarding thing at the show to see such a large and electrified crowd,” Reed said. “The audience is such an important aspect for creating a great show experience.”
Though the most anticipation surrounded Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin stole the show with his feel-good surf pop and rock fusion. Cronin played for roughly half an hour, and continued to pump up the crowd for the main event.
By the time Ty Segall took the stage, the crowd was as rowdy as any large-venue show. The music, which blended punk rock with psychadelic sounds, filled the room at full volume. All through Segall’s set, the ballroom shook from the speakers and the sneakers, keeping the energy up until he closed with an adrenaline-filled cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.”
“It was a really, really great experience,” Reed said of playing with both Segall and Cronin. “Ty and Mikal are great artists who have really honed their craft, [and] we wanted to make sure we represented as best as possible.”
“We definitely were extremely disciplined in regards to practicing before the show.”
Months of planning went into the event before the pieces could fall together. It all started in May when Segall’s booking agent contacted local Harrisonburg concert promoter and organizer Patrick Walsh. Shortly thereafter, Walsh teamed up with WXJM and booked the Festival ballroom.
WXJM’s Big Events Directors, Marisa Cagnoli and Natalie Strickland, were among the students who worked to get Segall and company to JMU. Once the date and bands were set, WXJM Publicity members took to the streets of Harrisonburg, handing out flyers, putting up posters and spreading the word on Facebook.
“I was so happy because there were over 100 people there, and it’s different, because we don’t live in New York City and there is a small community that contacts that type of music here in Harrisonburg,” said Cagnoli, a junior. “The energy was awesome because people were dancing and bobbing their heads, regardless of if they’d heard of the bands.”
While many of the big acts JMU books appeal to pop music fans – such as the recent Chiddy Bang – Segall, Cronin and Malatese offered an alternative for those who don’t enjoy the hip-hop or rap featured in Top 40 radio. Freshman Hannah Chapple, a DJ for WXJM, enjoyed the variety that the Ty Segall show brought about.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for the people that aren’t a fan of the other music played here to expand their horizons musically,” said Chapple, who helped take tickets at the door.
“It was a really good turnout. Everything was great with the dancing, and I can say I gave Ty Segall a place to stay, which was cool,” said Tess Duncan, senior and Programming Director of WXJM.
The concert proved overall a success for WXJM. Though the tickets were only $3, the radio station raised over $300 to put towards bringing other alternative acts to JMU, ensuring students a different musical experience. For those students who chose to attend the event, the show proved to be all that and more.
“I feel like there’s more of a sense of community to the shows [WXJM] makes happen,” said freshman Mary Menchel, a member of WXJM’s tight-knit population. “It makes me feel like more of a part of JMU.”