Posted by Charlee Redman on 04/20 at 09:42 AM
Yet another festival will spring up on the green lawns of University Park this Friday. Less than a week after Movin’ On, a coalition of student organizations will present Celebrate State.
Hosted by Democracy Matters, Engineers for a Sustainable World, Eco-Action, and University Health Services, the event will feature games and free food in the afternoon (1-5pm). You’ll also be able to find information about environmental issues at the club tables. There may be a few small acoustic acts, but the music won’t start until 7pm due to a State College noise ordinance.
Only one act is slated to play Celebrate State - The Flobots. Hailing from Denver, Colorado, the alternative rock/hip hop group formed in 2000. They’ve released three studio albums of which the most recent, Survival Story, came out a month ago. The single “Handlebars” from 2007’s Fight with Tools reached #3 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart, its genre-bending clever lyricism and poignant viola capturing the attention of a wide audience.
The Flobots go where other musicians are wary of treading. They navigate a space between blind acceptance of the world and an exhausted anti-establishment spirit. Instead, they want to create a new story. Explaining the idea behind their newest album, they wrote on their website that Survival Story is “a vision of hope for a world facing its limits. . . Navigating the coming years will require new tools. It will require narratives that cause us to reexamine our priorities, redefine wealth, and re-inspire ourselves.”
Beyond having a dedication to social action and change, the Flobots use their music to blend alternative rock and rap in ways that stretch the traditional boundaries of genre. The mix is never contrived, but somehow appropriate; it’s a new kind of narrative, written with elegiac strings, catchy guitar riffs, and a refreshing lyric style. “Handlebars” is an unforgettable song with a keen thematic unity. The Flobots rap about all of the things they can achieve in this day and age: they can ride their bikes with no handlebars and “make computers survive aquatic conditions.” But that knowledge and power can also be misused, ending the planet in a nuclear holocaust.
There’s been some dissension (and lots of snarky comments) recently about funding for festivals and concerts from UPAC, the University Park Allocation Committee. Whether you agree with their policies or not, it’s interesting to note that other shows have included a combination of local and national (read: more expensive) acts. Movin’ On gives student/local bands a chance to play, as do SOMA and Asylum. But Celebrate State hasn’t chosen to do so.
In any case, it’s still pretty cool that The Flobots are coming. Check them out on Youtube!
Friday April 23rd, HUB Lawn
Games and food 1-5pm
Author: Charlee Redman
Bio: Charlee Redman is currently a sophomore studying English and French at Penn State. She enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, making ambient noise with the local band The Roaring Kittens, walking, and drinking lots of coffee. Although she likes many styles of music, some of her favorites are folk, indie, classical, and electronic. Her favorite bands at the moment are The National, Iron & Wine, Of Montreal, and Radiohead.
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