WERW Launch Party 2018

WERW Spring Launch Party kicks off the semester on a high-note

WERW started the spring semester with sounds of Syracuse University favorites Feb. 8.

WERW’s Spring Launch Party jet streamed the largest student-run radio station into a fresh and new semester. The kick-off took place in the Schine Underground Center from 8-10 p.m. and showcased three top-notch acts: campus favorite Charlie Burg, Varsity, and long time friend Vundabar. General Manager Allison Carr was feeling bittersweet describing her role in setting up WERW’s launch party; this would be her last one.

Photo: Liam Sheehan
Stef Smith performs as the lead vocalist and keyboardist for the band Varsity, based out of Chicago and direct support for the WERW Launch Party on Thursday night.

“I’ve been with this station for three years, and I know the next GM will have something great to build off of,” she said.

WERW members filed into the Underground; a space they’ve been using for the past three years. The launch parties used to be held at Spark, but they moved to the Underground because the launch parties would sky rocket out of control. This year things were definitely kept in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Even thought the crowd was small in number, it did not take away from the appreciation of music and close gathering of friends. Christian Cabatu, a DJ for WERW, was more than happy to come support the spring semester launch.

“I’m happy I get to connect with people through music, and WERW does a great job of finding new small bands that all of us can appreciate,” he said.

The launch party kicked off with Charlie Burg, the favorite of the audience. He opened for Vundabar three years ago, and was very happy to open for them again. His set was short and sweet, but the audience did not want him to leave. When Burg announced his last track, a voice from the crowd shouted, “Play five more!,” and an array of cheers rose up in response. After Burg left the stage, audience members had time to catch up and talk with their friends while the stage crew set up for the next set.

The next performer was Varsity, led by female singer Stephanie Smith. Started in 2013, this indie-rock band hails from Chicago and brought the windy city energy with them. This band was especially important to Carr.

“I really wanted a female presence on stage for the launch party and the energy of Varsity was perfect for the headliner,” she said.

Their one track titled “Amanda” spiked energy levels, especially with the unique tone of Stephanie’s voice. At the end of their set, Smith announced the band would be sticking around to see Vundabar, and they wove their way into the crowd to listen.

Vundabar definitely brought the energy to a great high during their setlist. The band is led by Brandon Hagen on vocals and guitar, followed by Drew McDonald on the drums, and Zack Abramo on bass. They kicked-off their set off with a literal bang, playing hits such as “Holy Toledo” and “Oulala.” Carr said that Vundabar was one of her favorite bands that she had to schedule.

“These bands, especially Vundabar, were the best bands we’ve gotten, especially on a talent caliber bases,” she said.

The crowd also became extremely intimate during their set. Instead of groups scattered throughout the venue during the other performances, Vundabar had the audience stuck together like a magnet.

“It’s awesome how the people who pull this off can keep it under wraps until it’s announced. We do this every semester and each year we fill space and really start the semester off on a high note,” said Jess Berenson, a WERW member.

There really is so much passion within this station, especially because it is completely student run through University Union. It really is a group of musically passionate individuals at WERW, and what could be more deserving than a private concert for its members in celebration of another great semester with new acts and rotations. They certainly know how to pat themselves on the back.

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