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Studio-A-Rama showcases local bands
Local bands were given an opportunity to showcase their talents last Saturday at WRUW’s Studio-A-Rama. This was a free outdoor concert next to WRUW’s studio, which is in the Mather Memorial building. Ten bands played from 2 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. The concert’s slogan was “It’s big. It’s loud. It’s free.”
Studio-A-Rama is an annual concert in its twenty-second year. It started back in 1981 as a way to reward listeners for their donations to the station’s telethon. The concert continues as a thank you for donations, a way to help local bands to build an audience, and as a public affairs showcase to attract undergrads to the radio station. According to WRUW’s production director Jassen Tawil, over 800 people were expected to show up this year for the headliner, Birth.
As the concert has grown in size, local restaurants have sponsored the concert. This year The Barking Spider was dubbed as a meeting ground for the band members after their shows so that the audience could mingle with them and eat a lunch donated by Decent Pizza.
The concert was opened by Furnace St., an electronic rock band based in indie, synth, and industrial rock. Their music had a very Radiohead feel to it, and they played a very good show, one of the best of the concert.
Their performance set the stage for an eclectic mix of bands that varied quite a bit in style. After Furnace St. came Slap, a five piece jazz ensemble; Lords of the Highway, defined as “hillbilly punk rock” at the WRUW website; Cap Gun Cowboys, an alt-country group; and The Hot Damn, an all-American rock and roll band. The later bands with larger followings were a hardcore/thrash band called Victory Flag, a rambunctious indie rock band by the name Kiddo, and emcee Iyan Anomolie. The second to last band was Infinite Number of Sounds, which plays electro-rock and has a large media art board showing videos that go along with the music, creating a complete piece of art. The headliner was Birth, a critically acclaimed avant-garde jazz band.
Birth actually has ties to Case and even to the Studio-A-Rama. According to Joshua Smith of Birth, his band first played together as accompaniment in the Mather Dance Collective in 1998. They then submitted a low-quality recording of this performance for that year’s Studio-A-Rama but never heard back. Of that, Smith said “It seems oddly fitting that 5 years later, we would be asked to headline the event.” WRUW considered itself honored to have Birth as their headliner since they are now recognized as one of the best avant-garde jazz bands in the country.
The bands that were in the concert probably had no idea what a rigorous system the station uses for picking bands. For two months at the beginning of summer WRUW solicits over the air for demo tape submissions, and this year they received approximately 200. Experts in different genres put forth their best and favorites, and a committee picks the very best from all.
Case freshman Jay Williams attended much of the concert, finding out about it during a visit to the radio station’s website. Williams thought Infinite Number of Sounds was the best show by any band at the concert. He described their music as “electronic, post-rock music” and their show included “cool video collages that went with the songs and were projected onto a small screen next to the band.” One of their best songs, in his opinion, was “Tiny Spiders,” which he said “had footage of B-movie monsters that went with it that complemented the creepy feel of the song.”
Radio station DJ Miklos Nadas thought that Furnace St. played a great show and that their quality warranted a better slot if they are back next year. Steve, a middle-aged Cleveland resident who attended part of the concert, echoed Nadas’ opinion, stating that “they are much improved from the last time I saw them, which was about a year ago. They’ve matured in sound.”
David Mansbach of Infinite Number of Sounds stated that the concert ads over WRUW helped increase their internet traffic by quite a bit. He applauded the crowd for being “energetic and enthusiastic.” He also complimented some of the other groups performing, saying, “Slap had some great interpretive dancers with them ... Iyan Anomolie and the Low In the Sky crew brought a troupe of break dancers.” Apart from their projector, Infinite Number of Sounds also released a rehabilitated condor out into the wild.
All ages attended the concert, and just about everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. For those who missed out at the opportunity to hear some great local music and those aspiring to make music, the next Studio-A-Rama isn’t for another year, but WRUW plays local music on its show “Live From Cleveland.”
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