WNEpalooza- Punk, Funk, and the Idol

Exclusive Interviews with Kris Allen, Everything’s Taken, and The Farmhouse!

It has been talked about even before students began moving in here at Western New England University; one of the many CAB events that never fails to disappoint. WNEpalooza took place on Sunday, September 4th this year and had many eager to relax after syllabus week. Headlining this year was none other than Season 8 American Idol winner, Kris Allen, supported by local bands, the Farmhouse and Everything’s Taken.

For the first time in years, WNEpalooza took place outside, allowing for an almost picture perfect, all- American University scene out in the breezy sunlight leaving students excited like Junior Communications student, Steven O’Brien Jr who said “I mean, Everything’s Taken are my friends so obviously I’m excited for them, but Kris Allen… that was the first season of American Idol I watched, so I’m very excited.”

Commonwealth lawn, complete with the stage, tie-dye, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and more, gradually began to fill as WNE’s own, Everything’s Taken (EVTakenOfficial on Twitter) took the stage at around 2:30 PM. Sophomore business students, Ryan Glynn and Matt Morris put their own spin on modern punk-rock with acoustic covers and edgy vocals. Among the activity of soundcheck, I got to ask the duo where their unique name came from.

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Guitarists Matt Morris and Ryan Glynn of Acoustic Rock Duo, Everything’s Taken. Photo: Erin Cristi

“It’s in a sense that all the [band] names were taken, but also in a sense that, like, it’s got a deeper meaning to it” says Morris as Glynn chimed in “you know, sometimes you just feel like everything’s gone, like your left with nothing, and then you find something in whatever makes you feel better and you escape… like we escape through music.” Always a crowd favorite, the duo performed covers of their favorite songs from “Dear Maria, Count Me in” by pop punk rockers, All Time Low, and an original rendition of the post-hardcore duet “Hold on til May” by Pierce the Veil.

As the sets began to change, students were exposed to different activities spread out along the lawn. One such activity was the chance to spin a wheel at the Livenation tent, hosted by WNEK Radio, to win a variety of prizes including Blake Shelton concert tickets. Other options ranged from Tie-dying t-shirts, to testing your reflexed on the always popular, life-sized Hungry Hungry Hippos, while others remained on the grass to listen to the second act.

Moving away from the acoustic punk of Everything’s Taken, local band The Farmhouse (The Farmhouse on Facebook) took the stage. The laid back musicians took a lighthearted and fun look at their day, throwing around a frisbee they enjoyed the set before them.  Frontwoman, Ashleigh Theroux seemingly floated across the stage as her strong vocals carried across the lawn backed by keyboardist Henry Shmiegs Siegel, guitarists Kurtis Gucik and Alex Sours, drummer Erek Brown, and bassist Tyler Roberts.   The upbeat tunes had students up and dancing through a mix of original songs and customized covers.

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Musicians Ashleigh Theroux (vocals), Henry Shmiegs Siegel (keyboard), Kurtis Gucik (guitar), Alex Sours (guitar), Erek Brown (Drums), Tyler Roberts (Bass) of The Farmhouse Photo:Erin Cristi

When asked how they described their sound, Theroux did not hesitate, “we’re looking for the Farmhouse Funk, we’re trying to be funky,” “funky, psychedelic rock,” drummer, Brown added.  The crowd was not let down as the rockers flowed through their set, wowing students with their original, and Theroux’s personal favorite cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”

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Kris Allen Performing Hit “Way Up High” Photo: Erin Cristi

As the funk subsided, the energy continued to grow in anticipation for the headliner as the smell of burgers and hotdogs fresh off the grill floated across the lawn. Students began to congregate on the grass in front of the stage with their plates, excited for Kris Allen took the stage with Devon his Drummer, and Cale his guitarist.  Allen’s talent stunned as he played a combination of classic originals and tracks off his most recent record, Letting You In, released in March. His critique of the new Swedish Fish Oreos left students laughing and his story telling of the fan requested song “Way Up High” gave Allen a very approachable, very humble vibe that was emphasized as he happily took pictures with fans after his set. Settling down with an order of Wings Over, Allen took some time to answer questions on his new record, American idol, and his writing process.

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Kris Allen, Season 8 winner of American Idol performing hit, “Live Like We’re Dying”. Photo: Erin Cristi

Allen credits his drive to his experience on American idol saying “I try to take it as, you’ve been given this opportunity, here, go do what you can with it” and since, he has developed a lot, “I learned a bunch about music… my voice…and the things I’d like to say in songs.” Allen leaned back in his chair as he described the difference between a campus performance versus a tour performance “today was a very chill day,” says Allen, “I mean, you guys have this beautiful lawn, so it’s kind of like I’ve come into your guy’s living rooms, where when you’re in a theater it’s like they’re coming to see me.”

After playing songs from his most recent record, Allen explains the inspiration behind it, “ I think this was the first time in making a record that I was dealing with a lot of self-insecurities and instead of running from it I was just like, I’m going to write songs about it. They’re kind of masked in these uplifting songs, but when you dissect the lyrics you can hear a lot of that.” When asked about his writing process, Allen explained varying methods “some of them happen really fast, but usually I try to come up with some sort of inspiration first, I’ll hum or mumble something and then I’ll find the words from that. I feel like song writing is more about listening to what the song wants to be than what I want it to be”.

After thanking him, Kris finished his wings and got up returning to his greenroom with a smile, much like the students returning to their dorms after the resounding success of this year’s WNEpalooza leaving everyone excited for the year to come!

 

– Capt Ireland

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