Colgate’s First Punk Fest Gets Sloppy, In a Good Way

Colgate’s first-ever Punk Fest took place on Saturday, October 15 in the Hall of Presidents, featuring the bands Chemical-X, All Around, Toy Machine and headliner Soul Glo. The event was organized by Colgate’s Live Music Collective, an organization that curates musical events on campus. 

As a recently founded organization, the Live Music Collective has taken off in popularity since 2020. Its Instagram account, @colgatelivemusic, showcases photography from prior events and promotes upcoming opportunities. Punk Fest was planned in part by Joshua Finnell, interim associate University librarian. As a staff member of Colgate’s Live Music Collective, Finnell plays an integral role in decision-making; however, the organization stresses the collectivity of its nature. Finnell described the enjoyment he gets from planning musical events. 

“We’re in year two of the Live Music Collective and it’s really great to see the excitement generated on campus for these shows,” said Finnell. “Personally, it’s really fun to envision which new building or space on campus can be transformed into a pop-up music venue.”

Punk Fest was held in the Hall of Presidents, where just 24 hours before, the Center for LGBTQ+ Studies’ annual Drag Show took place. On the student side, Punk Fest was largely initiated by senior Jacob Steinberg, whose interest in the genre is reflected in his WRCU 90.1 FM show “Into the Pit.” The segment airs at 11:00 p.m. every Tuesday, during which time Steinberg showcases artists local to the New Jersey punk scene, which he visits in-between semesters at Colgate. Included in this scene are artists Toy Machine, Chemical-X and All-Around, whom Steinberg curated and helped recruit for Punk Fest. Steinberg met all three artists at a small concert and each artist convinced him to join the Punk scene. 

“It was a free show in some guy’s driveway,” Steinberg said. “I ended up getting really into it, and I met all three of our opening acts there. I was like, ‘this is a scene I want to be a part of.'”

The addition of the hardcore punk band Soul Glo as the headliner in this lineup was a subsequent step in the planning process as Steinberg looked to artists rising in popularity. Songs such as Soul Glo’s “Driponomics,” and “Gold Chain Punk” boast over 400,000 streams on Spotify’s music streaming platform.

The expectations of the promotional flyers posted throughout the O’Connor Campus Center advising students to “get sloppy” were certainly met. When Soul Glo took the stage at 10:00p.m., an audience of about 50 students broke into scattered mosh-pits and head-banging. Soul Glo, whose belting screams were purposefully more aggravated and less intelligible than the other artists featured, contributed to the variety of genres scattered throughout Punk Fest and within the Punk genre. 

The group Toy Machine, who preceded Soul Glo, featured rap vocals from lead singer Ray Bentley, crashing cymbals from drummer Greg Alders and angry strums from guitarist Ryan Lamon. The band, which releases a new single nearly every month, is in the process of planning their first album; at Punk Fest, they played a great deal of unreleased music. Lamon playfully remarked that his friendship with Bentley was one of “love at first sight,” as they formed an immediate bond upon meeting. 

“I met Ray at a college show — we were playing for an all-day radio show,” Lamon said. “I walked in there, and Ray was hanging out at his college. I saw him over in one of the areas where we were, and walked over to him, and said, ‘You need to be the singer in my band.’”

At Punk Fest, this energy was apparent. Bentley, with long dreadlocks and a long plaid skirt, could not have appeared more different from Lamon who wore a trucker hat and a t-shirt. But their synergy was electric. Alongside Alders’ crashing drums and bassist Mikey O’Connor’s sharp backings, Lamon mouthed the lyrics to Bentley’s every word and proved that the whole band was on the same note. Between song recommendations from the audience, the members conversed about what to play amongst each other and produced their desire for the likeness of a stadium at a small show. 

Through a variety of distinct performances, the groups Chemical-X, All Around, Toy Machine and headliner Soul Glo made a space for the punk scene on Colgate’s Campus.