Brooklyn-based band Stuyedeyed will be bringing Bedford-Stuyvesant to Binghamton this weekend at the third annual local music festival, Oak Fest. With high-energy fuzzy rock rhythms and punk-like vocals, Stuyedeyed presents a break from the usual local Binghamton music scene as it “depicts the experiences of being young Latinxs in a ‘New York-for-some’ bubble,” per the band’s website.
Nelson Antonio Hernandez-Espinal, the singer, songwriter and one of the guitarists for Stuyedeyed, said the band draws on both environment and experience as Latinxs growing up in an increasingly gentrified Brooklyn.
“I think it’s as simple as understanding that environment affects the subject,” Hernandez-Espinal wrote in an email. “Childhood institutions coming and going, neighbors being priced out, infrastructure improvements for the well-off, profit over community — it’s all disheartening. We’re in a time where our voices and platforms need to be utilized.”
Stuyedeyed consists of Hernandez-Espinal on vocals and guitar, Humberto Genão on bass, Luis Ruelas on drums and George Ramirez on guitar. After performing at festivals such as South by Southwest and Otis Mountain Get Down, the band’s coming to Binghamton may seem completely random at first. According to Hernandez-Espinal, Oak Fest organizer Jeff Bagg, ’18, saw Stuyedeyed perform live a couple times and decided to pursue them to bring their explosive performance to Binghamton.
The band certainly does not take its platform for granted. In fact, part of what makes its stage presence so compelling is the genuine way in which its members understand the significance of having such a platform. Given all their experiences as Latinxs, they have no choice but to channel their feelings into their performance, making it increasingly raw and sincere.
“I think as a band of first generation Latinxs, we try to be undeniably ourselves,” Hernandez-Espinal wrote. “I think there are many bands and acts that almost seem copy and pasted; I’m sure it’s refreshing to see us bash around not for the sake of theatrics, but out of sheer necessity. People of color need to scream twice as loud to be heard. So with whatever anger, angst, frustration, silliness, or intensity it brings — honesty and presence is what we aim to reproduce every show. Our experiences and what we sing about are an extension of that.”
According to its website, Stuyedeyed aims to “cultivate an unfettered attitude in their music to embolden the disenfranchised to challenge the status quo.” Though not all of its songs are explicitly political, this attitude of fighting back against the status quo is perhaps clearest in its top-streamed song “Mr. Policeman.” As the title suggests, Hernandez-Espinal said the song points to the injustice that comes with the impunity enjoyed by police officers in the aftermath of the shootings of unarmed black people like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray.
“Our feelings are pretty self-explanatory in that song,” he wrote. “Wealth inequality/class suppression is something that’s definitely of great importance to us as it hits closest to home. It’s all tied together — systems in place to keep us working, angry and cogs in the machine. Freedom SHOULD be free, but free we are not. The ugly we see politically is only a reflection of unchecked and unexposed behaviors.”
Aside from its goal to empower marginalized peoples, Stuyedeyed also likes to emphasize that nobody is really cool or important. Instead, Hernandez-Espinal said it all comes down to how we love and care for ourselves and our communities.
“Be you,” he wrote. “We’re all the same. We’re all different. None of us are cool. None of us are important. The only thing that matters is that we love ourselves and each other. See you Saturday at Oak Fest!”
Oak Fest is sponsored by the Binghamton University chapter of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). The event will take place at 101 Oak St. on Saturday, April 13 and begins at 2 p.m. Admission is $5, cash only, at the door. There will be live bands performing all day starting at 3 p.m., with Stuyedeyed slated to play at 7:30 p.m.