Marielle Genovesi, Arts Editor
Ryan Hendrickson, Staff Writer
This past weekend, large crowds gathered at Gallagher’s Pub Club & Grill and the Oneonta Theatre to see some of the biggest names in the hardcore and punk genres play two full days of nonstop music for the first Oneonta Punk Fest Each day began around noon and ended at 11 p.m. Oneonta Punk Fest brought together dozens of bands and over one hundred fans for what might possibly be one of the biggest music events to take place in Oneonta in recent memory. Although it was big name groups such as Harm’s Way, Merauder and Sheer Terror that brought in people from different parts of the country, many came to see local bands, or smaller bands who were returning to Oneonta after having played here before, such as Orogeny, KLOZAPIN and Bray. The event was organized by SUNY Oneonta Senior Jordan Reiley with the intention to not only bring over 40 bands together for a packed weekend of music, but for a cause: The Crohns & Colitis Foundation.
The first band to play was the local black metal band, Orogeny. At noon, when the crowd arrived at Gallagher’s the floors were still wet from being mopped and everyone seemed to be scrambling to get their acts together. However, after a brief delay the band began their set with ominous church bells, followed by the heavy riffs and shrill vocals indicative of the genre. As soon as Orogeny, a SUNY Oneonta alumni and student band started playing heads in the crowed started bobbing–already it was clear that it would be an awesome day of music. When Orogeny’s set ended the crowed ran around the corner to the Oneonta Theatre in order to catch the next band. This cycle would repeat itself for the next 11 hours, catching one excellent band playing their set, and then dashing to the other venue in order to catch the next, the whole walk filled with anticipation.
After Orogeny came the Hudson Valley area band, Living Laser. This hardcore-punk group’s fast pace music brought out the very best in the crowd. A pit instantly formed in the center of the Oneonta Theatre once the music started, pushing everyone else to the perimeter. Audience members climbed up on stage to flip into the crowd while others moshed to the hard-hitting sounds of the four piece band. The entire day was a crazy blur.
Although the basic human needs to eat, breath and check out merch made it impossible to catch every single band in the first day’s nonstop lineup, a few other notable highlights of the day included Trenchfoot, Suffer on Acid, Coke Bust, Full of Hell and Old Wounds. However, the one band that everyone seemed to agree stole the show was Harm’s Way. This very heavy hardcore band had a sound like no other, and the level of violence in the crowd during their set seemed to demonstrate everyone’s approval. Quite a few people took elbows, fists and feet to the chest and face. But despite this, when Harm’s Way finished every single person in attendance left the venue as a loyal fan.
By the time headliner Sheer Terror, a band which has been a staple of the Hardcore scene since 1984, was ready to play the crowd had been giving it their all for the better part of the day. Quite a few people were sleeping in their seats toward the back, and many more had a glazed look over their face. But, once the lead singer, Paul Bearer began to speak everyone immediately gathered for one final show that left no one disappointed.
The end of Sheer Terror’s set marked the end of the first day of Oneonta Punk. Everyone was bruised, battered and exhausted, but those aches and pains signified the good time that every single person in attendance seemed to have had.
Punks rallied for the second day of Oneonta Punk, which mostly boasted punk, psychedelic, rock and alternative bands. The day began at Oneonta Theatre with SUNY Oneonta post-hardcore band Bray who has a strong local following. They released their newest album about a month ago. The first performance of the day at Gallagher’s was UK-based acoustic-folk artist Helen Chambers, her lustful vocals a strong contrast to the hardcore bands of the previous day. Other acoustic and alternative solo artists were SUNY Oneonta alum Steve Layman and well-known indie-punk artist from Pennsylvania, Koji.
Around mid-day, local psych-noise band KLOZAPIN played a brief set following Shitty Neighbors in the Theater, both bands calling up those who hung out at the back of theater to the front of the stage. KLOZAPIN played songs from their self-titled LP familiar to Oneonta fans, such as “%” and “Perception,” although they treated the audience to a new untitled song; they had not yet played in front of an audience. Following KLOZAPIN was hardcore band Concrete. Hailing from the Albany area, they were able to please hardcore fans that lingered from the day before, playing songs off their album Deadlock, such as “Quicksand.”
However, late afternoon and night highlights included bands like Time Shares, Crime in Stereo and I Am The Avalanche. As well as groups such as the Westchester, NY band Spraynard, who started their set by saying, “This goes out to Timeshares for telling us about Oneonta and all the great times they’ve had here,” their energy enough to excite those who had travelled to Gallagher’s on a Sunday night.
Other Gallagher’s highlights included friends and former band mates Jeff Rosenstock and Laura Stevenson, who played separate sets but brought in the biggest crowds Sunday night. Rosenstock took to the stage solo and was instantly electrifying. He spoke easily on stage about his college memories in Oneonta, where he had crashed in his girlfriend’s apartment on Main Street and eaten bagels from Oneonta Bagel Company. He played music off his new album and by the end of his set audience members were invited by Rosenstock to join him on the small stage.
Closing Oneonta Punk at Gallagher’s was Brooklyn-based Laura Stevenson & The Cans, the four piece no doubt being one of the most talented groups to play Oneonta Punk. The band played well-known songs from their 2011 album, Sit Resist, (“Master of Art”) as well as their newest album, “Wheel” (“Runner,” “Triangle”). The band had the audience entranced, everyone in the small room unable to refrain from singing along or taking their eyes away from the stage.
Capping off Sunday night were the bands who drew the biggest crowds all weekend at Oneonta Theatre, Citizen and The Menzingers. Both bands have huge fan bases stretching across the United States, however indie-punk band The Menzingers easily drew the rowdiest crowd–audience members crowd surfed the entire hour the band took the stage. They played songs off their recent album, “Rented World” such as “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore.”
Oneonta Punk Festival was undoubtedly a successful first. The amount of bands on the line-up had intimidated many; it might have even made ticket buyers question whether an event this big could be pulled off at all. Yet, the event ran smoothly, fans and new fans left pleased and bands got a chance to play alongside others. And with the spirit of the show, what else could music lovers have asked for?