Blue Robot

Guide to State College Cover Bands

Posted by Stephen Smith on 06/03 at 10:27 AM

Seeing as how State College is a cover-oriented music town, I figured I might as well point folks in the right direction. I’ve compiled a list of the more reputable and enduring cover bands in the area. It contains the usual time and place of their performances, as well as what genre of music they play. I cannot give you my personal opinion of all of them, since I have only seen a handful. But I have separated the list into bands I have seen (top half), and bands that I have not (bottom half). I’ve also added links to other Blue Robot reviews where ones exist. Of course, I encourage you to go out, hear them all, and form your own opinion of them. As this list becomes outdated, I would recommend you check out StateCollege.com (http://www.statecollege.com/bartour/) to get updated dates and times

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If You Build It

Posted by Stephen Smith on 04/21 at 02:18 PM

As a music reviewer for the Blue Robot blog, I’ve gotten a good taste of the music scene in State College.  As I near the end of my tenure, I’ve noticed that the music scene is mostly comprised of two types of performances: cover bands and Bryce Jordan Center-caliber celebrities.  In this great college town of ours, it surprises me that there really aren’t any locations truly dedicated to the cultivation of original music for the aspiring young musician.

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John Schmitt - Sticking It to the Man

Posted by Stephen Smith on 04/12 at 12:03 PM

John Schmitt informed the audience between songs that he had quit “slaving away for the man” to pursue a career in music.  After hearing his set, I’d have to say I’m glad he told his boss to shove it.

The Buffalo-native performed for the SPA’s Noontime Concert Series last Friday.  He did not bring any accompaniment for this show, instead relying on his vocals and acoustic guitar to do the job.  That said, he created a very full sound by himself.  His guitar (a Gibson Hummingbird Pro Cutaway, I believe) had an even, beautiful sound that meshed perfectly with his voice, which was spectacular in its own right.  The stripped down solo set-up created an intimate atmosphere that complimented the overcast drizzle outside the HUB.

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John Schmitt to Perform at Noontime Concert Series

Posted by Stephen Smith on 04/07 at 10:57 AM

Buffalo native John Schmitt is slated to perform at the SPA’s Noontime Concert Series this Friday.  His style acoustically blends folk and soul into a smooth, lyrical, and easily relatable sound.  His latest album, “Ophelia,” came out last November.  It’s available on amazon.com and can also be sampled on Pandora.

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Students Shine Again at Second Student Showcase

Posted by Stephen Smith on 03/29 at 01:16 PM

Students were in the spotlight again this past Friday for the SPA’s Second Student Showcase at the Noontime Concert Series.  Six groups were featured in this installment.  Similar to before, a wide range of styles were covered, including hip-hop, acoustic duets, and even instrumental electric guitar.

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Second Student Showcase on Display Friday at the HUB

Posted by Stephen Smith on 03/24 at 03:20 PM

The Second Student Showcase of the year will be held this Friday as part of the SPA Noontime Concert Series.  The free concert will take place on the first floor of the HUB.

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The Lawsuits at SPA Noontime Series: Folk for Folks

Posted by Stephen Smith on 03/23 at 10:29 AM

The Lawsuits graced the first floor of the HUB for the SPA’s Noontime Concert Series last Friday.  Based out of Philadelphia, this indie folk band combined Dylan-esque lyrics and vocals with a strong rhythm section and female harmonies throughout their entire act.

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The Lawsuits to Perform at Noontime Concert Series Tomorrow

Posted by Stephen Smith on 03/17 at 01:51 PM

This Friday, The Lawsuits will perform at the HUB for the SPA’s ongoing Noontime Concert Series.

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The Pennharmonics - An A Cappelluva Good Show

Posted by Stephen Smith on 03/09 at 01:33 PM

How many a cappella groups claim to be the “sexiest a cappella group in the universe?”  How many a cappella groups have harmoniously sung the verse, “They’re climbing in your windows, they’re snatching your people up,” or have artistically explored the question of what tigers dream of when they take a little tiger snooze?  The Pennharmonics’ performance last Friday for the SPA’s Noontime Concert Series was the first a cappella group I’ve seen since high school chorus assemblies.  I was fully expecting a rigid, polite affair where energy and emotion is sacrificed for the sake of perfect pitch.  However, with their modern song choice, stage presence, and vocal skill, the Pennharmonics prove that a fun, energetic, and contemporary a cappella group is actually possible.

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Pennharmonics to Play Noontime Concert Series This Friday

Posted by Stephen Smith on 03/03 at 11:36 AM

This Friday, the SPA Noontime Concert Series will showcase the Pennharmonics.  As their website proclaims, the Pennharmonics are “Penn State’s premier co-ed a Cappella group,” in addition to being “The Sexiest a Cappella Group in the Universe…”

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Students Shine in Noontime Showcase

Posted by Stephen Smith on 03/02 at 12:15 PM

This week’s Noontime Concert Series featured the first of several showcases highlighting original acts within the Penn State student body.  Hosted by SPA, last Friday’s edition featured five acts of varying genres, from folk to acoustic rock to rap.  All of the artists’ sets were mostly comprised of original material.

As usual, the HUB was bustling to accommodate the lunch rush.  However, as I walked towards the concert area and found a seat, I noticed a change in the atmosphere.  There was definitely a sense of youthful enthusiasm that is typically found at an open mic, but with an edge of professionalism.  These students had auditioned to be in the concert, and this created a higher level of performance and crowd expectation.  Roughly 30 people were in attendance at the start of the show, increasing to around 60 people by the middle of the concert.

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Students in the Spotlight for Friday’s Noontime Concert Series

Posted by Stephen Smith on 02/24 at 10:47 AM

This Friday, the SPA will host its first Student Showcase of the year at the HUB.  Starting at noon, the concert will feature Maura and Chris, Fred, Topher, Free Rollercoaster, and Eric Faust with Mike D. Mulligan.

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Matt Beilis Puts On Solid Show at Noontime Series

Posted by Stephen Smith on 02/22 at 04:09 PM

Maybe it was the excitement of THON. Maybe it was the unusually warm weather in a typically bitter February. Maybe it was the fast approaching weekend. Probably for all of these reasons, campus was humming with excitement on Friday. Flocks of students were decked in fluorescent shorts and T-shirts. The wheels from bikes and skateboards rolled through puddles of melted snow. The air was practically crawling with electricity.

New York musician Matt Beilis added to the voltage with his performance at noon on Friday in the HUB, continuing the Student Programming Association’s weekly Noontime Concert Series. Beilis and his supporting cast did not disappoint a fluctuating crowd of lunch-goers and passers-by. Looking around before the start of the show, I was a little disappointed that the audience was half comprised of SPA organizers. However, the attendance grew rapidly after the band’s lengthy and meticulous sound-check—an unfortunate side effect of the HUB’s open acoustics. Perhaps sensing the crowd’s apprehension, Matt jumped right into the show, starting the setlist without a word.

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Matt Beilis to Perform this Friday at SPA Noontime Concert Series

Posted by Stephen Smith on 02/16 at 03:22 PM

The Student Programming Association will continue its weekly Noontime Concert Series this Friday, February 18th. Matt Beilis will be performing at noon on the first level of the HUB.

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The Lowdown on Lowjack

Posted by Stephen Smith on 02/15 at 03:35 PM

The stage is buried in a small corner room in the basement of Bar Bleu.  The artfully painted walls support a low ceiling.  There are two booths along the back wall and tiny two-person tables lining the perimeter of the room.  This basement area also contains a second bar, an even smaller corner room for mingling, and a set of bathrooms.  All of this is located below the first level, which is more spacious with comfortable seating, a much larger bar, and half-a-dozen hi-def TVs. Such disparity between floors led me to believe that live entertainment was not highly valued at this sports bar.  But after listening to Lowjack perform, I see now that Bar Bleu knows what it’s doing.

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