Alex Fredkin, Arts Editor
The Ready Set and Outasight headlined on Saturday night to close out a fun-filled day for the eighth annual OH-Fest. Last year’s event was the first time in its history in which the concert was not held in town. Many students called for a return to the way it was in years past, and this year OH-Fest returned to Neahwa Park.
Next year’s VP of Activities and head of SAAC, Kainat Malik, said “The event was successful in the sense that we got it downtown, which was really difficult.”
Although the effort to return the concert to Neahwa Park was successful, this year the attendance of the event was dramatically lower than in the past. The last time the concert was held in town was for OH-Fest 6, in which Pitbull performed. For that year’s event, Malik put the attendance at “over 10,000.”
MaryBeth Carswell, who was head of SAAC before Malik took over, spoke on the amount of people that were at this year’s OH-Fest, saying “I believe we had about 1,200 people in and out.”
One of the main reasons for the huge disparity between concert attendance was the acts that were booked. SUNY Oneonta junior, Kevin Driscoll, stayed at home during the event, saying “I didn’t go to the show because I was having such a good time with my friends. I didn’t think The Ready Set was worth it.”
While many more students chose to forgo the concert, for those that did choose to attend, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. “I loved how much energy The Ready Set had, and everyone seemed to have a good time dancing and singing,” says SUNY Oneonta junior Rachel Maloney.
The Ready Set was preceded by three bands. SUNY Oneonta student band Hello, Seattle opened up, followed by a Dave Matthews cover band called One Sweet Burgh. After came Outasight, who co-headlined the show with The Ready Set. Outasight helped prep the crowd with his unique blend of pop-dance music. Propelled by his hit single “Tonight is the Night,” Outasight put on an entertaining set for the crowd.
The Ready Set came on afterwards and put on a thrilling show. The group surprised the crowd by opening with their most recognizable song, “Love Like Woe.” The Ready Set put on a surprisingly high-energy set for a pop act and played their live songs differently than in the studio. A good example was their revamping of “Young Forever.” While light-hearted and bouncy on the recording, the track turned into a hard rock showing during the concert. Interspersed with AC/DC riffs and rolling drum fills, The Ready Set proved their versatility as a live band.
Fans of the group were jumping up and down during the whole show and gave it their all for the last song of the night, “Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever).” People sang the lyrics and a few daring concert-goers even crowd surfed. After this last song, the remaining faithful stuck around to demand an encore, but The Ready Set had played their hearts out and did not come back to the stage.
The acts for the event are chosen by a selection committee that consists of mainly students—members of SUNY Oneonta’s SAAC and Hartwick College’s Hartwick Campus Activities Board (HCAB). With the return of the concert to the town, two city council members sat in on the voting as well.
It was clear that the community was involved with the event in addition to the college demographic. There were plenty of high-schoolers, as well as older adults and smaller children. Kids were in the street playing basketball, while some were using the playground. Others were enjoying the vendors in the park who sold classic carnival food such as hot dogs, popcorn and ice-cream.
Students at the event enjoyed the fact that it was in town again as opposed to being confined to SUNY Oneonta’s campus. Maloney said, “I like it better in town because I like the atmosphere when it’s outside and I feel like everyone enjoys it a lot more. It’s definitely more fun.”
Sophomore Ben Kuettel said “The best thing about Oh-Fest is that it’s all ages. It’s more of a community show instead of just the students.”
Regardless of whether attendees of the event were into the music or not, there was definitely something for everyone who went. The main member of The Ready Set, Jordan Witzigreuter, appreciated the outdoors spirit of OH-Fest, saying “Things like this are fun … I think the benefit of doing something like this is there are a lot of people who probably have never heard of any of the bands that are playing. So you get a lot of passerbys who are like ‘This is cool, maybe I’ll potentially check it out later.’ You can unintentionally draw people in that way.”
With people coming in and out of the park all day, the festival lends itself to this kind of back and forth event, concluding with the final concert during the night.
While the turnout for the headlining acts left a little to be desired, the successful partnership of both colleges and Oneonta lends itself to bigger acts in years to come. Speaking on the event and the future, Carswell said “It’s not going to be the Ready Set every year. This was kind of a year in which we are trying to appease all communities and we are trying to show that we are willing to work with the town and the community.” “Next year it will definitely be more of a college act.”
That being said, if the majority of students want the event back on the SUNY Oneonta campus, SAAC will cater to that too. When asked if OH-Fest could return to the campus, Malik said “If the students want it, then yes. If not, then we will still have it downtown. The thing is I am going to do whatever the students want.”
Students that did go to OH-Fest want it to remain downtown, and are looking forward to the future of the event at Neahwa Park. Whatever the student body decides, everyone involved will be on extra notice for OH-Fest 9 to see who is chosen for next year’s musical act.