There are no all-ages music venues in St. Cloud, which can make it difficult for those under the age of 18 to check out new and upcoming music, and for new bands to reach younger audiences. SCSU greek organization Tau Kappa Epsilon sought to remedy this situation with their recent event that raises funds for The St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, TKE’s national philanthropy. The St. Jude’s Benefit show presented by TKE on Saturday in the Atwood Quarry showcased several local bands for those of all ages.
James Seegebarth, 23, an organizer of this event and a member of TKE, backs this up with his statement. “We want to give students and local teens an opportunity to come together and enjoy music. St. Cloud doesn’t have an all-ages venue for teenagers to attend shows or mingle with friends, so we’re really proud to provide that for them tonight. [TKE] is shifting a lot of our focus not only to SCSU but the St. Cloud community as a whole.”
The St. Jude’s Benefit Show was heavily promoted to high schools in the surrounding area. Promotional posters were handed out with purchases made at the Hot Topic at Crossroads Mall. So when the doors to the event opened at 5:30 p.m., there was no question whether the room would be filled.
Throughout the show, each of the five bands performing brought a new take and adaptation to their environment when it came to the stage, how they used it, and how it affected the overall intimacy level of the set. The bill included Dismantling the Silence, The Following, Zealot, Insomniac, and We Are the Blog.
At 6 p.m., with a full room eagerly awaiting the start of a metalcore show, Dismantling the Silence began their set. Often times, the opening set is crucial to set the tone for the rest of the show. Led by vocalist Dilan Lange, a student here at SCSU, the band got up close and personal with the crowd by performing on the floor instead of the stage. They successfully warmed up their audience and readied it for the sets ahead while also sharing their own sound.
The next band that performed was The Following, a metalcore band from the Twin Cities. As their set began, it was clear that it could only be described as powerful, melodic, and high energy. The crowd was involved and entertained as some gave it their all in the mosh pit and others crowded the stage to scream lyrics right back into the faces of Shane Olson and Cody Crook, the two vocalists of The Following. They strictly performed on stage to keep it traditional and they remained humble throughout the set about their performance.
By the end of the second set, the crowd is powered up and eagerly awaiting Zealot’s arrival on stage to see if they can follow in The Following’s footsteps.
When Zealot took the stage, it was clear that the entire set was to be performed on the floor instead of the stage, with the exception of drums. The band played in the dark with only a red glow shining down from four stage lights with creative use of strobe and black lights at certain points throughout their set. Zealot delivered a brutal message, one that highlighted letting go and losing oneself during their performance as the pit so easily proved. As a bonus for being at the show, Zealot gave their album out for free at their merchandise table.
In an interview with Varrick Bruno and Sam Fassler of Insomniac, both of them described Insomniac as possibly the “black sheep” of the show. Their sound is more in the style of pop punk as compared to the metalcore that was emanating in every other set throughout the night. They expected to be the calm before the storm that is We Are the Blog, but after the event, Insomniac was all that was talked about on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. They were definitely the crowd-favorite.
From the get go, the crowd knew what Insomniac stands for. They embody fun, positive, and high energy performances. They got their audience involved in their performance and other bands’ members as well. Their first song featured guest vocals from Cody Blackwood (We Are the Blog, drums) The highlights of their set was definitely their two covers: “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” by Fall Out Boy and “I’m Not Okay” by My Chemical Romance. These covers allowed for people who may not have heard of their music before to sing along and enjoy themselves while also growing accustomed to the band’s sound. Their set was so enjoyable that the crowd demanded an encore where a member of the crowd, Jerrod Michael joined the band by playing drums– leaving some show-goers wondering how the crowd would respond to the headliner and final band, We Are the Blog.
Every performance of the night, the anticipation, and built up energy all led up to the headliner We Are the Blog. The beginning of the set began fully on the stage, but changed after the first song so that vocalists Andy Pritchard and Collin Toner could get up close and personal with the audience. Their performance was intimate and brutal. They moved and played as a unit, practicing their power over the crowd and mosh pit. We Are the Blog took every beneficial quality of the last four bands and exploded it into their own sound. It was clear as Pritchard said, “Everybody here is here to share a connection with other people; the connection music provides.”
As for the cause, Tau Kappa Epsilon successfully raised approximately $800 by the end of the night. The city of St. Cloud also profited: a new experience and a potentially new venue to share their talent in for years to come. As We Are the Blog puts it: “It’s just a new beginning.”