State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Category - Uncategorized

Songwriters Club and the Present: Koffee with Koji

BREAKING NEWS: Acoustic punk singer-songwriter, Koji, is returning to State College this Friday (10/24) at 8PM for a coffeehouse-style performance at the  The show, brought to you by the Penn State Songwriters Club, will begin with performances by two local student artists, Julie Bouchard and Rashmit Arora (who recently was crowned this month’s featured artist,) and will end with an intimate Q&A session with Koji.  The show is designed to specifically benefit aspiring musicians, as attendees will be able to freely ask him questions about how he got his start and what it’s like to actively pursue music professionally.

Aside from allowing you entrance to the show, $5 will give you access to all-you-can-eat cafe-style snacks and all-you-can-drink tea and coffee.  Bring an appetite, bring questions, and bring a friend because this will certainly be a night to remember.





It truly is rare in college to come across individuals who are passionate enough about music to orient their entire lives around it.  It is even more rare to meet such musicians that are willing to uproot the lives they once knew to pursue it professionally.  Sophomore economics major, Rashmit Arora, came all the way from Mumbai, India in an attempt to break into the notoriously competitive music scene in the United States.  Starting at the age of 9, Rashmit picked up his first guitar, and soon after realized the capabilities of his voice.

His musical career started out the same as many musicians’ did: by covering Green Day songs.  However, the rest of his journey is what sets him apart from the sea of other young talents. At the ripe age of 19, Arora has already worked as a studio musician in India, which allowed him the privilege of playing along with a long list of professional musicians, most notably Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman.
His music, similar to the likes of Damien Rice and Gregory Alan Isakov, captivates people, which is something very hard to do, as we  are currently living in the midst of a pop-anthem-obsessed culture.  Though he has never taken formal lessons, Rashmit’s deep, raspy voice bleeds emotion and almost rivals the beauty of his guitar melodies.  His lyrics tell a story…and not a generic story about love. Rather, they express his experiences of traveling across India as a vagabond.  They speak of the interesting people he met, the beautiful sites he saw, and the lessons he learned along the way.

It’s safe to say that Rashmit Arora is unlike anyone you’ll ever meet. He’s had experiences at 19 that most of us will probably never have in our lifetimes. More so, he’s had experiences that have played integral roles in the shaping of the musician who stands before us today.  Trust me when I say that this musician is one to look out for. Rashmit came to the U.S. with a dream, and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t achieve it.

To see him live, Rashmit frequents the open mic scene here in State College, with Webster’s being his favorite spot. To hear him on your own time, be sure to check out the songs on his Soundcloud. Hats off to a true artist.

Open Mic Hosts 3rd Annual Rap Battle

Attention all Penn State rappers: YOUR talents are needed.

Open Mic’s 3rd annual rap battle is fast approaching and they are in need of talented rappers. Anyone who is interested in participating must contact to schedule an audition. There is a $10 entry fee for Penn State students, and $15 for non- students.

The winner of the rap battle will receive a cash prize in addition to an interview with Penn State’s student radio The Lion FM. A panel of hip-hop experts will judge the battles, and the crowd will be used exclusively for tiebreakers.

All lovers of rap are welcome and encouraged to attend the event, which is on Friday October 24th. The battle will take place in 105 Forum with a $1 admission. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

After a night of great music and competition, all are welcome to attend the official after party on Friday night! Information is below.

Album Review: Foxygen's …And Star Power

I think what I’m going to try to do here is save some listeners a little time. I listened to this whole album all the way through twice, and honestly, afterwards, felt violated in some way. Getting right down to it, …And Star Power is 82 minutes of disjointed, mind-boggling clips of noise that can piss you off at times. But please don’t get me wrong, there are some great songs hidden in there. The problem is that the good ones are surrounded by all-too-avant-garde, demo-like bits of music that amount to very little.

Listen, I’m all for some experimentation, some surprises, but I can’t help but hate the better part of this album- full of its noise bytes of glass breaking and orange juice pouring and weird chants that gave me a headache and made me need a nap. I laughed a little when Foxygen used the recording of a kid saying “hold onto your butts!” but otherwise, I was left wanting something more substantial. It seemed at times that the only function of these uneven clips of music were to make the actual songs sound better by comparison. If you listened to We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, think if every song was a far more extreme version of “Shuggie” where the parts matched up even less. There, now you have the better part of …And Star Power. For examples of this bullcrap filler sound- I would listen to songs like “Wally’s Farm” or “Can’t Contextualize my Mind.” And for the record, I loved We Are the 21st Century…  and “Shuggie.” I’m just not a huge fan of seeing a certain schtick blown way out of proportion.

That being said, there are some great parts to this album if you trim the fat. My highlights are “How Can You Really”, the single that came attached with a pretty cool music video, “Coulda Been My Love”, a nice little sad song for a rainy day, and “Flowers” , a tune with just the right amount of simple weirdness to it. “Star Power III: What Are We Good For” is also nice after a few listens. See, these songs are fine, but if you listen to them along with the album in full, they kinda just blend in with the rest of the noise. But what do I know? Maybe a few more listens will make awaken something else in me. You, dear reader, may like the rest of the stuff …And Star Power has to offer, but if you are like me and believe there aren’t enough hours in the day as there is- save yourself the 82 minutes of indulgence and cut to the good stuff.

…And Star Power is expected be for sale on iTunes October 14.

Sounds Event Showcases Local Musicians

To support the local music scene in Happy Valley, Sounds is bringing Eric Farmer, Laura Boswell and Annalisa Barron together in a fun and alcohol-free event for all ages.

This group of talented singer-songwriters is sure to deliver a fantastic night of original music. Farmer and Boswell are well known in the State College community for their great voices, quick hands and acoustic guitars. Their smooth tunes will be accompanied by Barron’s electric guitar and intimate lyrics. Not only is Barron a talented musician, but also a popular sculptor and painter!

“Our team is excited about the artists we’ve booked for this event,” said Sounds Executive Producer Misha Cleveland. “We love watching performers step into the spotlight and show what a fun night with great local musicians can look like, even without alcohol! Sounds shows are drawing increasingly larger crowds, and that’s very encouraging.”

The event, Acoustic Sounds, kicks off at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17, in the Community Room of the State College Municipal Building. Tickets are $5 at the door and help support Sounds’ cause and keep State College rocking! Free tickets are available to individuals who want to volunteer or vendors who are interested in selling art. Contact Misha for details.

More information is available on Sounds’ website and on their Facebook page at

About Sounds

Rooted in the heart of State College, Sounds is a nonprofit organization that hosts local bands and open mic nights for Happy Valley inhabitants of all ages. Currently, Sounds hosts live music events three Fridays per month in the Community Room of the State College Municipal Building.


Misha Cleveland

Sounds Executive Director

(814) 933-6731

The Tommy Roberts Strike Again With 'The Moon'

Remember about a month ago when we debuted The Tommy Roberts‘ single ‘Walking Back?’ Remember how awesome it was? Well, following the release of their self-entitled album, these fine lads are back at it again, generously releasing yet another single entitled ‘The Moon.’

A departure from their characteristic American roots rock sound, the song presents a whole new funk dynamic to the duo. From the very beginning of the song, you know you’re in for a treat. The intro is comprised of a musical conversation between an acoustic guitar and what I can only describe as a “popping bubble” electric guitar effect that Brian Cleary contributes. Soon after, Nathan Cutshall’s vocals make an entrance in the form of a smooth, rhythmic rap…and the song only gets better from there.

Cutshall explains that the song was inspired by a friend (shout-out to Christian Fetterman) who wrote the repeated line “how you get to the moon.” A year later, Cutshall decided to further develop Fetterman’s idea into a full story, drawing upon inspirations from one of his favorite musicians, G. Love.

The Tommy Roberts have a lot to offer the local music scene in State College, and this song is just one more example of their adaptability and creativity. I can’t wait to see what else Cleary and Cutshall have in store for us.  But hey, don’t take my word for it.  Give it a listen, and fall in love with it yourselves.  The locals’ lauded album is currently available for purchase on CD Baby and Bandcamp.

And if you’re someone who appreciates the art of live performances, the group has a show coming up at the State Theater on November 8 with the Return of the Native Sons and Daughters.