On Friday, March 8, Binghamton University’s professional music fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon will host its annual benefit concert, “One Cyber World,” at Cyber Cafe West, located on Main Street. It will feature performances from student bands The Landshark Committee, Gnarwall and Funky Toona.
Jacob Zall, a senior double-majoring in business administration and music, a member of Mu Phi Epsilon and a trumpet player for Gnarwall, talked about the fraternity’s goal to help unify the Binghamton community through musical performances and their other volunteer work.
“Our mission as a professional fraternity is that we service the community through music,” Zall said. “And a big thing we have gotten into the habit of doing every year is that we do a benefit concert for a local charity.”
Proceeds from the event will benefit One Special World, a national organization with a chapter at BU that aims to destigmatize special needs. Zall said the fundraiser will reflect the organization’s mission of celebrating individuality.
“We really liked their mission as a charity to develop a ton of funds to special needs, and we just think doing a benefit concert with all the student bands and celebrating their talent as well is a great way to sort of combine charity with our whole mission as a fraternity,” Zall said.
Mu Phi Epsilon hosts benefit concerts annually with different charities, such as a charity for family planning, which was performed at Galaxy Brewing Company. This year, Cyber Cafe West is their venue of choice because it is a music venue that includes members of the Downtown Binghamton community as well as accommodates students. Cyber Cafe West has hosted nearly 5,000 musical events over its 21 years of business. Jeff Kahn, owner of Cyber Cafe West, is responsible for booking musical guests and scheduling other events and said he wants his cafe to be a comfortable place for the Binghamton community members.
“I look at this as a community cafe, and the students are a part of the community in my world,” he said. “We’re one of those places where people can come in groups or alone and feel comfortable which I consciously like. There’s lots of people sitting there doing their own thing.”
Student band Gnarwall is largely influenced by hip-hop with elements of funk, rock and jazz. They are self-described as a “hype” energy band and look to amp up any crowd they are performing for. Students can usually find them at house parties, Galaxy Brewing Company, Spotlight and Cyber Cafe West.
The Landshark Committee is another student band playing at “One Cyber World.” The Landshark Committee creates its sound through influences from old blues, The Grateful Dead and heavy indie and soul music. The band can be found playing at house parties and on radio shows. They will also perform at Battle of the Bands later this semester. The Landshark Committee is glad to switch up its usual groove from the intimate environment of house parties to playing on stage for a great cause.
Gabriel Steinberg, a junior majoring in computer science and bassist for the band, said The Landshark Committee likes to keep their gigs fresh by including improv into different sets sometimes.
“Sometimes we’ll end a song and someone will start playing something [after the song] and we’ll follow them and we’ll see where it goes,” Steinberg said. “Sometimes we improvise a third of the set — often we come back to a song, someone goes into something that we recognize and then we finish the jam with something that we know.”
Funky Toona, a new funk group comprised of some members from student band POOL, will make its debut on Friday. The new band is largely instrumental and includes all band members in their songwriting process. They are very focused on sharing their music throughout Binghamton and beyond and will be performing both covers and original songs at the event.
Each representative of the bands agrees that there is an unspoken community between them. Eric Sabshon, lead guitarist for POOL and a senior majoring in business administration, commented that there is a rarity of having such a supportive community between student bands.
“Generally the bands get together and we jam sometimes and it’s a very strong community,” Sabshon said. “It’s difficult to find people on the same page.”
According to Zall, each band performing has the common goal of raising money for the charity.
“We just want to celebrate everyone that’s involved in total,” Zall said. “One Special World and all three bands because it’s a group effort and we want to make as much money as possible for a great organization.”
Tickets are $5 and go toward One Special World, an organization advocating for special needs. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show begins at 9 p.m.