The Hills Are Alive with the Wrong Kind of Music

We, The State Times editorial staff, ask that commenters avoid personal attacks. This is a forum for discussion, not abuse.

Katrina Steier, Managing Editor

Jam bands, funk or alternative punk rock. This is the music scene that Oneonta has to offer—options that are disheartening at best. No amount of gin and tonics will make me want to listen to some bizarrely named electro-reggae-funkadelic band at the Oak for six hours and actually enjoy it. I won’t even mention the discordant, sleazy noise that pervades the other bars of Oneonta on a weekend night—really, I won’t.

While the Oneonta Theater does manage to book decent music every so often, the cost of tickets is not affordable and good shows are few and far between. So I find myself stuck between choosing to pay five dollars to listen to rowdy, ill-composed bar music or simply going home and watching The Wonder Years on Netflix. There are a few reasons why the music here has little variety in genre and one of them could be that upstate New York is kind of out of the way… of everything or it could be the lack of venues. Besides the Oak, and with the Pub gone, bands have slim pickins’.

Of course there are always the charming and cramped house shows in basements that look like they belong in horror films. Needless to say, this town is lacking. I find myself asking questions such as, do the show-goers here actually enjoy this kind of, dare I say, music? Or are they settling? Or is everyone too intoxicated to care? The punk rock and metal scene here is pretty successful, which is alright, but I personally enjoy something a little more euphonious. Or at least something that doesn’t sound like it was thrown together hap-hazardly and half drunk. And I wouldn’t mind a little less emphasis on the bass, man.

There are more funk bands than pizza shops in Oneonta—and that’s quite a lot. While I prefer funk to most other genres; it all tends to sound the same and blend into this contrived, mundane, Eddie Kendrix influenced- clusterfuck. I just can’t really get down. And jam bands, unless doing covers (and even then, I’m not too keen), are only good for headaches.

As a music enthusiast, of course I’m frustrated. Especially when I go to places such as Albany or New York City, with musically rich and diverse communities. I’ve already accepted the fact that there is not much else to do in this town but drink, and I may as well listen to some good music while I indulge.

The obvious solution to this deficiency is to wear headphones at all times. Or, form my own booking company. My colleague and I are starting a project together in an effort to bring decent artists to this town. We named our company “En Masse,” a French phrase meaning “all together.” We are working with some local artists to put together shows and we hope to branch out eventually. We are not subscribing to any particular genres and we will be using a kitchen as our venue. What could be better than watching an awesome band and eating a freshly baked cookie at the same time? Probably nothing. We want to provide an option for people who appreciate something different and desire an alternative from the usual music setting.

In the meantime, unless I can choose Talking Heads on the jukebox at the bar, I probably will avoid most shows that the local venues have lined up. Though I am a supporter of local music, I am not an advocate for sloppy composition or cacophonous noise—I am a supporter of quality. And cookies.


  1. Hey, it’s all been said but the area deserves a lot more credit for the bands it has bred.

    Listen to some of them here:

    I added genres just so you can see none are those of which you called out. I’m positive plugging the comp in the State Times or having someone do a simple review would be appreciated by all the artists involved.

    1. Timeshares (Punk Rock)
    2. Athletics (Post Rock)
    3. The Cast Before The Break (Emo Rock)
    4. Cattle Drums (Post Hardcore)
    5. Casting Curses (Hardcore)
    6. The City Never Sleeps (Pop Rock)
    7. Johnny Booth (Metalcore)
    8. Galleries (Pop Punk)
    9. Cave (Sludgy Metal)
    10. Steve Layman (Acoustic Folk)

    Into It. Over It. who was just on tour with Frank Turner (selling out the Middle East, Bowery Ballroom, etc) is playing Oneonta tomorrow. Kind of a big deal, but I doubt it has been published about. Things like that (which I observe from two hours away) are why people are up in arms about this piece.

  2. “The wrong kind of music”???

    This article couldn’t possibly begin with a more ignorant title. As an alumni and music professional, all I see here is an attack on a thriving music community because they don’t cater to your individual tastes… which is hardly fair to say the least. A real “music enthusiast” wouldn’t use a college newspaper to talk trash on the musicians that are out there doing what they love, honing their skills, and oh yeah, HAVING FUN. If you don’t enjoy the music then don’t go to the show, its that simple. The alley or OST are probably safe bets. If you think this article will inspire people to do anything other than respond negatively and keep on doing what they love, then well tough “cookies”.

    Good luck with your booking company, everyone will be watching and biased judgment is a 2 way street.

  3. I agree with the fact that there is little musical diversity in the bands formed in Oneonta, but I also agree with the above comments; the funk, metal, and rock bands organized here are trying their best to get their name out and, as the other anonymous commenter stated, “trying to get on their feet and potentially make something of themselves”. It would be nice to show a little more support for these bands instead of essentially saying that all they amount to is white noise. However, I do have to encourage other musical entrepreneurs to expand their horizons. Stepping outside the box and this town’s musical comfort zone will add some zeal to the Oneonta community and help fix the lack of musical diversity that Katrina complains of in this article.

  4. If you have enough determination to set up a booking company, where is your determination to learn an instrument and start your own band playing your own music? It sounds like you have no idea what goes into any of these things.

    The local bands aren’t perfect. Some of them, strictly speaking in terms of technical playing, aren’t great. But to not give them credit for trying and, in place, calling their efforts garbage, makes you no better than the words you choose to describe them with. I particularly find that “deficient” and “sleazy” can apply to you as easily as you apply them to these bands.

    Have you ever seen some of the other school-affiliated bands? The jazz octet? The jazz/big band? The Zappa Band (Mothers of Intention)? Even the a capella group? It sounds like you just don’t go out much or put in the research for a “music enthusiast”.

    You don’t have to care about the comments the music industry meanies are leaving. Your opinion doesn’t even have to change. Your article said enough about you than any of us could possibly say.

  5. #11 I’ve been a reader of the State Times and I think they cover the music scene a lot, a lot a lot.

    But if you think that, I think the “music enthusiasts” proud of the scene should write some articles reviewing these AWESOME DIVERSE bands. Get out there, promote the thriving music that some people haven’t seen or don’t know enough about. Make it happen

    She’s bitching and self-promoting, okay, fair, y’alls is offended, we all bitch, your amount of bitching has made that clear. Everyone on this general theme, author and others, be bitching might hard. Not so constructive. Make it productive

  6. There are many great venues for acoustic shows, which you didn’t touch upon in your article. They include: The Bluefields Cafe (open mic every Saturday at 9), Oneonta Theater (Julia’s Open Mic every Tuesday at 8), The Autumn Cafe, as well as the Black Oak and even Capresso is starting something up next week. There are also a good amount of house shows as well, all it takes is making a few friends and you’ll be invited.

  7. Have you all forgotten that this is an opinion article? I read someone in this comment field say your opinion is biased. Of course her opinion is biased, it’s an opinion ! The best thing you can all do is accept this article for what it is and nothing more. Unpopular opinions and perspectives are what have spawned some of the greatest movements in music.

  8. I am actually appalled that you call yourself a ” music enthusiast ” yet completely shit on basically every type of music. A true music enthusiast knows that the golden rule of music is to respect other people’s musical tastes. Do I like metal/ no, but I have friends who do and friends who are in metal bands and I respect their tastes. When I came here as a sophomore I had the pleasure of living below the talented musicians of Kakiat Park, and while I was completely ignorant to their style of music I ended up growing to like them because I have an open mind when it comes to music. My personal favorite type of music is dubstep, and I ask myself how many people like Katrina Steier will read this comment and come up with all these preconceived notions about me based solely on musical taste.

    With that being said it is utterly despicable that you look down from your high horse and completely disrespect other’s musical preferences because they don’t coincide with your own.

  9. Celibate Cries!

    Good article. Even better replies…

    There’s nothing anybody can say that will convince me that there’s anything important or interesting about the bands being referenced. Bands nowadays have become such a public nuisance and embarrassment to music in general. Really, they offer nothing to the human race and are just getting in the way of talented groups. It’s been said a dozen times before but I truly believe most people have the pleasure of being completely brainless. It’s this assumption, in my mind, which allows this epidemic to continue. I also think that most of the replies to this article are quite silly. Critics have been around as long as art has been around. And if you are a band that is placing yourself in the public eye, you must anticipate criticism. And if a band is not willing to accept and respond to these criticisms, and better yet, stand up for their own music, that band is not worth a second of my time.

  10. Open mics have been weekly in Oneonta for YEARS. Hardly a venue.
    Bluefields has shows sometimes, and not everyone likes going someplace so filled with… Jesus.
    Autumn Cafe has shows infrequently, and while it’s a FANTASTIC place and a great restaurant, the sound in that room is awful.

    House shows are utter shite.
    Invite all your friends to a party at your house, where you set a TRAP! Charge them to come in and force them to listen to your band!

  11. Concerts on campus don’t count!
    They’re only useful to kids who live on campus.
    You can’t park anywhere without getting a ticket, and who wants to go to a concert in a lecture hall of a cement building?

  12. The fact that so many different genres of music have been here and that there is an exceptionally diverse amount of music in Oneonta makes this article retarted.

    There are tons of amazing local artists in Oneonta including: Cattle Drums, Cave, Lights On The Horizon, Sword of Truth, Slickback Swagger, A-Game, JuiceBox, Mars, Samurai Pizza Cats, Galleries, Glass Skeleton Death March, Really Old Airplanes and many others.

    Artists that have played here (this year and last[non-local]):

    Ace Enders (ex The Early November)
    Reel Big Fish
    Local Natives
    Texas In July
    Algernon Cadwallader
    Bela Fleck and the Fleckstones
    Victor Wooten
    Blue Oyster Cult
    Title Fight
    Screaming Females
    Home Video
    The Dear Hunter (ex Receiving End Of Sirens)
    This Condition
    Young English
    Hoodie Allen
    Abandoned Pools (ex The Eels)
    and many many more.

    To say that this town does not have a diverse enough music scene is absurd. The Oneonta Theater even has some dj event coming up that looks pretty cool. If you and the whole editorial staff of The State Times believe that there is not a good music scene than you guy must not go out much at all. Do some research if you want to write a good article. I understand that you guys want people to read your paper, but this is a little too extreme of an article. If anything, people will read your paper this time, but then discredit the State Times all together.

  13. As a recent alumni, I’ve got to say that I don’t understand how you think there’s no musical diversity in Oneonta. I was involved with the production of the majority of concerts on campus last year, both as production manager of the Music Industry Club and as a tech at Hunt Union; in addition, I worked as a booking agent and engineer at the General Clinton Pub. Maybe you’re looking only at the music that happens off campus, in which case, I can see why you might be a little disappointed. (Although Blue Oyster Cult and Arlo Guthrie both recently played at Oneonta Theatre – both seriously great national acts.) Have you ever looked into the shows that happen on-campus though? In my 3 years at SUCO, I’ve seen or ran sound for almost every genre of music, and most of it was ON CAMPUS. The Music Department does an amazing job of putting on shows of all kinds. Annually,the Department does an entire week of music that showcases student and faculty compositions, which are usually pretty amazing. (Ever see Atom3, which includes Drs. Legname and Pignato?) SUCO had Black Violin last year; that’s certainly not the norm.

    Is the problem that you only go to hear music if you can drink at the venue? If that’s the case, then you’re the one limiting yourself, and that doesn’t say much about how much of a music enthusiast you really are. Musical diversity does exist in Oneonta. I don’t think it’s fair to look to the bars downtown as the epitome of the music scene, not when Oneonta has an intellectual institution that makes an effort to perpetuate various forms of music. I’ve firsthand seen and been involved in the efforts of the Music Department; most of the faculty work damn hard to bring great musical programming to the college. (Dr. Newton organized a performance of African Sanctus with the choir, and Dr. Licata does a lot to promote world music, etc.)Oneonta also has the Catskill Symphony Orchestra for those who like classical music. Maybe all these kinds of music aren’t exactly to your taste either, but for you to claim that Oneonta only has three genres of music is a complete and utter fallacy.

  14. #20 Please recognize this is an opinion article. An opinion article, as it is plainly stated and should be well known, does not reflect the opinion of the State Times, only that of the author. For that reason, it is not an article, but an opinion piece. Please do not confuse the two.

  15. #21, I well understand that opinions are different from facts. My response is my opinion, one that I think most people would agree is backed by facts. As someone who cares deeply about music in Oneonta, I simply wanted to ask readers to think about the issue in a different way.

  16. The bottom line is that Katrina is entitled to her opinion, she should just back it up better. Or at all. It’s an opinion piece, yes. It’s just a terribly formed one with little to no legitimacy.

  17. Whitney Bashaw,

    I do recognize that this is an opinion article, but even so it is hosted by The State Times and thus affiliated with your name. Also, I was #19 not #20.

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