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Student Voice, Student Music Potluck: SUB Hosts its First Annual AMFest

By Angeline Rosato | 4/11/16 2:57pm | Updated 4/11/16 3:04pm

Sub-Radio Standard performs at AMFest. Photo by Charlotte Vogler of the Student Union Board

American Word Magazine

The sun had already set behind Leonard Hall by the time alternative pop rock group Sub-Radio had gotten onstage to perform on Saturday night, March 26. Students huddled together wearing flannels and sitting on blankets, but not even the cool spring temperatures could dampen the lively mood.

Festival-goers showed their support for Sub-Radio by clapping, jamming in their seats and singing along to the lyrics they knew. But once they began playing Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down,” a small crowd amassed in front of the stage-- Sub-Radio had just gained a handful of new fans.

“It was so much fun. Just the energy, the whole vibe was really great,” said lead vocalist and AU alum Adam Bradley. “And honestly, I was getting that from this crowd all night, that like people wanted to dance, go nuts, and maybe just didn’t have the opportunity.”

“When you give them the opportunity, they really respond,” concluded drummer Michael Pereira.

The group was one of the 13 groups to perform at the Woods-Brown Amphitheatre as part of the AUSG Student Union Board’s first Arts and Musical Festival on campus, titled “AMFest.” A celebration of art, music and culture on campus, the event allowed various student groups, from student media organizations to cultural clubs to student government, to host a different act. Performers included student groups such as house DJ K Cap, Finnish indie singer-songwriter Peppina, and Dabke- and Zaffa-dance group Faris El-Layl Dabke. Other sponsored artists included S. Ross Browne, a DMV-area artist; Baltimore singer Beya Likhari; Capoeira Malês DC, an Afro-Brazilian martial arts group; and the African Dance Showcase. The festival took place from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and provided free barbecue.

Students admired the event’s ability to bring in a variety of unique groups and individuals.

“The music is really diverse, like there were rap acts earlier and now there’s pop punk…,” said Maryam Khan.

“I think it’s really cool that they’re showcasing AU bands,” said junior Gyeongbae Jung. “It’s… very wonky. It’s very AU.”

Displaying as diverse a lineup as possible was a big goal for SUB Director and senior Tam Sackman. “And I think we totally brought that,” she said.

Sackman’s and SUB Deputy Director Dawson Bristol’s initial plans were centered around the idea of a potluck. It would be “an event where different clubs bring different things to the table,” Sackman said. SUB gave $500 to any club on campus who put in a proposal to bring an act.

Organizing the event was quite complex. According to Sackman, “It’s the same as booking 12 different shows. Every single act requires their own contract, requires their own logistics, getting everything ready, requires their own gear… it’s the most undertaking we’ve ever done for SUB, but to start something that has never been done before-- it’s worth it.”

Jake Diamond, an AU senior and drummer in the D.C.-based alternative rock band Calm & Crisis, started helping out at the event at 8:30 a.m. He said he had been friends with SUB members for a while, but events are “...about giving back” to the peers and friends who have supported his group and him along the way.

Additional members in Calm & Crisis, which formed in 2014, include Peter Bonaventure (guitar and vocals) and Andrew Jordan (bass). Influenced by bands such as Balance and Composure, Beach Slang and FIDLAR, the group performed covers such as “All Star” by Smash Mouth as well as originals from their first full-length album, which was released in February. The band completed their first tour in early March, and their current goals are “to keep working and improving.” They would love to play in Europe someday.

Diamond loved seeing students grooving along to their music, saying , “It was the best feeling in the world… especially seeing students I don’t know singing, dancing, holding up a phone while we were playing.”

Sub-Radio members echoed similar sentiments about the audience. “I had been to SUB shows in the past with AU students, and… we’re usually a pretty good crowd,” said Bradley. From Sterling, Virginia, the band consists of include Bradley on lead vocals, Pereira on drums, John Fengya on guitar and keyboard, Barry Siford on bass and vocals, Matt Prodanovich on guitar and vocals, and Mike Chinen on guitar. Citing musical influences such as Walk the Moon, the “old” Maroon Five, Young the Giant and Two Door Cinema Club, the band just released their newest album, titled “Same Train//Different Station” on March 11. Moving forward, the group is “trying to get as many people to listen to [their] music as possible.”

RDGLDGRN, the indie punk rock, go-go inspired, Virginia-based headliner, closed out the night. Dressed to match their aura colors, Marcus Parham (guitar) wore red, Andrei Busuioceanu (bass) wore gold and Pierre Desrosiers (vocals) wore green. A group from Reston, Virginia, the three-member band has worked with musicians including Dave Grohl and Pharrell Williams. They released their debut self-titled full-length album in September 2013.

A handful of students had heard about RDGLDGRN before and looked forward to hearing them at the end of the night. The trio did a great job of entertaining and engaging with the crowd, with GRN getting off the stage and dancing with students at one point during their performance.

Overall, attendees, performers and sponsors alike were extremely pleased with the event and would attend again. “I think this was a total success, I think we learned a lot. There’s definitely a possibility that we could do it again next year,” said Sackman. And while she may not be around to see the event take place next year, one thing is for sure: she can definitely say she organized the first of many future successful SUB festivals.