The Mat Fills Musical Void on Campus

The Mat brings Oshun, a hip-hop rap group, to Parker Commons on Feb. 14 as part of their ongoing music series.

The Mat brings Oshun, a hip-hop rap group, to Parker Commons on Feb. 14 as part of their ongoing music series.

Marissa Volkman, Maroon-News Staff

Between Juicy J and Earth, Wind and Fire, Colgate hosted a few really great concerts last year—the problem is that there were only a few. This musical void sounded like an opportunity to some students and faculty members. Last fall, they formed a committee that organized a new concert series at the Parker Commons called “The Mat.”

Every student on the board has shown some interest in music at Colgate—whether that be as a performer in musical groups, as a board member in SCOPE or as a radio host at WRCU.

“No matter the background, I think our shared love and passion for music is what unites and ignites us,” sophomore committee member Annette Senesi said.

The students turned passion into planning in August 2018 and worked throughout the fall semester to secure BAC funding, book six shows and choose a venue. Once Parker Commons was set as the venue, the committee created the clever name “The Mat,” stemming from the building’s function as a laundromat.

Senior and committee member Mark Sibold approached the goal of forming a more vibrant, diverse campus music scene by looking back on the past and ahead toward the future. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Colgate featured some big name artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, the Grateful Dead, The Doors and The Clash. This provided some inspiration for what the series could amount to in the future. For now, The Mat is booking smaller bands, creating the foundation for something that will persist and grow over time.

“We are starting small and hope to scale up,” Sibold said. “It is my hope that when I come back for reunion in a few years, The Mat will be a place students go to listen and enjoy music.”

In the coming years, students and faculty on the committee will be working to make The Mat an exciting and inviting place on campus, starting by renovating the space this summer. Sinesi expressed the desire for the refurbished venue to be a marked place for music, and possibly even dance groups, to perform regularly. “Ideally, we kept coming back to the idea that we want The Mat to be something you know by name,” Sinesi said.

The first concert in the series was on January 26, with Tach Band opening and The Ready Set headlining. Every Colgate student in attendance received free admission, food and nonalcoholic beverages. The organizers requested that campus safety remain absent from the event to ensure that it’s truly “a place of, by and for the students,” Sibold said.

The next concert will feature Oshun, a hip-hop/rap group, on February 14. The two artists announced so far depict the range of genres that The Mat plans to present. This variety aims to attract Colgate students of all musical preferences.

“We’ve had some amazing artists come perform here in the past, and we hope that with time we will be able to bring some more to The Mat,” Senesi said.

Contact Marissa Volkman at [email protected].