As Earth Day draws closer, many students will celebrate the environment in various ways. This past Saturday, April 13, the students of 101 Oak St. fused entertainment, art and activism in their third annual Earth Day event, this year rebranded from Earth Dage to Oak Fest, a student-run music festival honoring the earth.
Starting at 3 p.m. and running past midnight, the event took place in the backyard of 101 Oak St., a residential house on the West Side in Downtown Binghamton. People gathered around a platform that served as the stage to listen, sing and dance along with student bands like Ben Franklin and The Electric Keys, The Landshark Committee, Natural Action Committee and natural born kissers performing. Several bands from out of town were invited to perform as well, including headliners Stuyedeyed, an indie-rock band from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. Other out of town bands and artists included Starbat!, Playshoes and rap duo Your Mystery Guest, who opened for Yaeji at last spring’s Binghamton Underground Music Presents (BUMP) show. Later in the evening, attendees headed inside for indoor DJ sets by Buzi, Taegyu and VONABROOK.
Lizzy Price, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies, said she liked the music and the environment was friendly.
“Oak Fest is super fun,” Price said. “Everyone is really nice, the music is really good and it’s just overall a really good scene.”
The festival was sponsored by Binghamton University’s branch of New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). The student group collected signatures in support of the Green New Deal, a policy proposal to help push the United States toward a more sustainable future. Along the periphery of the backyard, student organizations such as the Food Co-op, Decol A, Ideas Club and the Service for Health, Inequality reduction, Natural disaster relief and Education (S.H.I.N.E.) set up tables to promote various environmental causes. Students alongside NYPIRG sold cookies, chili, cornbread, drinks and numerous other snacks. Proceeds from $5 tickets also allowed for $1,000 to be donated to environmental activism organizations.
Dheiva Moorthy, a freshman double-majoring in environmental studies and sociology, tabled with DIVEST BING at Oak Fest. She emphasized that activism was central to the concert.
“Oak Fest is a great group of people putting together a concert for a really good cause,” she said. “There are so many different organizations tabling here today in support of the Green New Deal and ending environmental racism and I think that’s really awesome.”
Natalia Romanzo, a senior majoring in environmental studies and NYPIRG e-board member, stated that sending student signatures to Anthony Brindisi, 22nd congressional district representative, sends out an important message to our leaders.
“We want to show campus support for the Green New Deal,” Romanzo said. “We want to let Brindisi know that students at BU care about these issues.”
Kojo Senoo/Pipe Dream Photographer
LeeAnn Epstein, festival manager and a sophomore majoring in theatre, expressed the dedication and hard work the event staff put into organizing Oak Fest.
“Everyone on our team put our own money, time and energy into this event without knowing if it would even work out, because this was such a crazy thing to do,” she said. “This wasn’t just a party. We threw an entire music festival in a backyard.”
Festival manager and producer Jeff Bagg, ‘18, added that Oak Fest was an entirely student and volunteer-based event.
“Initially, there was no involvement from organizations but just a group of people who brought it together from the ground up,” Bagg said. “Everyone had a different unique perspective and skill set to contribute.”
Bagg said that the student hosts had a background in playing their own music and supporting other student bands, and Oak Fest was an especially rewarding way to continue this tradition.
“The house has history to it,” Bagg said. “People have been hosting music shows here for three or four years straight. Binghamton itself has a history of jam band parties. To create something from the bottom up and have it turn out so well and smoothly feels good, it’s a moment where all the hard work paid off.”