Normally, when you walk up the stairs in the Rutgers Student Center, you’ll pass a few offices, see a couple students either studying or napping, but there’s not much else to take in. This past Sunday though, those stairs led to a multi-purpose room decked out with lights, speakers, a stage and six local bands and some poets who were all anxious to gear up in the name of college radio. Welcome to RLC’s third annual Corefest, a music festival dedicated to bringing some of the brightest newbies from various New Jersey/New York scenes out from the basement and onto campus.
Professor Caveman opened the show with frenetic energy, tossing blues, funk, garage rock and a shot of adrenaline around the stage. Lead singer/guitarist Rob Romano was, unfortunately, the only one to lose his pants during the whole event. Next up was Philadelphia trio Mo Lowda and the Humble who added some unique swagger to tight-knit Kings of Leon-inspired grooves. New Jersey’s Boxed Wine rounded out the first half of the show with a set full of power-pop anthems that ended with explosive covers of Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark and Alice Deejay’s Better Off Alone. In between bands, several poets from the area were given the spotlight, adding even more local flavor to the event.
From this point on, you can separate the show into two acts: the first act was all about movin’ and groovin’ and guitar solos; then the second act showcased a much darker end of the basement scene spectrum. Doughnuts sauntered through a drone-gaze set with a real doughnut appropriately perched center stage before being consumed in the final noise-jam moments of the band’s set. New York’s Heaven’s Gate brought us through a dark No Wave night in Brooklyn where lead singer Jess Pap’s tortured vocals—surrounded by a flurry of guitar noise—provided the only road map home. The final act in the multi-purpose room that night was Noun, whose proficiency in both gentle harmonies and wailing garage-goth provided a perfect wrap-up for the evening.
Between the diverse talent, crowd enthusiasm and copious screen printed t-shirts and zines, one could easily tell that this was an event with major DIY roots. The entire evening was thrown together by radio DJs who are heavily invested in the pursuit of emerging (literally, from basements) music. While you may eventually hear some of these bands on the radio, they’ll be way left of the dial, and that’s just how we like ‘em.
Photos by Nick Andre.