On Sept. 16, I had the opportunity to experience the first show of the school year from one of the many venues here at Rowan. That venue is the Funhouse. The music scene at Rowan is diverse and caters to many different tastes. The Funhouse is just one of the venues available here to explore those tastes, offering a lot of options for both new and returning students.
Before entering, one of the Funhouse owners was able to answer some questions. That being James Davenport, a Rowan graduate student who’s been hosting shows at the house for the past two years. He spoke on his inspiration coming from being a freshman and going to similar shows in the area. After being blown away by the experience he knew he had to open his own venue with his friends. He also touched on the origin of his logo. A band named Wild Mothers was promoting their single and had decided to make a logo for The Funhouse. It’s stuck with them all this time.
Davenport then described the types of bands and artists they book; “I try and look for everybody, I feel there is a great scene in Glassboro, but I also feel like that scene has been very well represented by other venues. So I’m trying to get a good mix of the like Glassboro bands I love and the Philadelphia bands I love to try and come here”.
He continued on by saying he likes to look for psychedelic rock, punk, and hardcore music, and even wants to venture into booking some hip-hop artists. Davenport said that there is a nice mix of all types of people who come to attend. While they lost a lot of regulars who have now graduated and moved away, he was excited for the new crowd of people and fans they could now captivate.
The basement is a statement in and of itself. When you walk in, you’re greeted with a bar/sound station to your left. To your right are the merch tables. The stage upfront is stylized with a huge D.A.R.E. poster. The ceiling is lit up with colorful lights and even a disco ball. The most intriguing thing was the left wall, which was all drawn over with words, mini art pieces, and even some personal messages like, “I have a problem with my sobriety”. Giving the basement all the personality and certainly being the centerpiece to look at.
The opener was Party Nerve, an all-instrumental band from Philly who describes their sound as “loud, dark, post surf”. This was the first show they’d played in New Jersey. They hit fast and hard with a sound that felt retro and modern at the same time. The audience agreed with multiple mosh pits starting, with the band egging the audience on to get more raucous for the set.
Their influences range across multiple genres. Pavlo highlights hip-hop artists like MF DOOM and Currency, while Wholly grew up with thrash music. Mike looked more to bassists like Mike Watt from the Minutemen, Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath, and different bassists from three-piece bands who can hold their own.
The next band to perform was Swansun, a New Jersey psychedelic rock band. The first eye-catching aspect was the fact that the drummer was going to be standing while playing. It was a compelling idea. They certainly did not disappoint. They started off with some lighter stuff before they erupted into this darker, more menacing sound with the song Orca. They would keep this moody aura for the rest of the set. The crowd was really getting into the band and begging for more as they called their last song.
Then up next was The Jette Planes, a band from Philadelphia that gave me some pop-punk vibes, similar to bands like Green Day or Weezer. They were definitely a much-needed palette cleanser from the last two bands. That doesn’t mean they still did not have a commanding sound, still leading a forceful set that was able to get the crowd jumping. One of the highlights of the band’s performance was when they decided to all shift instruments. Guitarist going to drums, drummer going to bass, and bassist going to guitar. They then had the drummer (who was now on bass) sing the next song. This was an impressive display of musical versatility. Despite the shift, they didn’t miss a bet and continued with a great set.
They then spoke about their love for playing underground shows like The Funhouse. Mike told me, “Everyone’s excited to be here. Like when you play bars, you’re playing for bored adults who just wanna go home…in shows like this everyone is hyped and stoked to be here. The energy is great and it’s sick because we feed off the energy and we put more back.” Continuing on by saying “You can’t get it anywhere else.” That is definitely the impression you get from attending one of these shows.
The last band up was Te Vista, a local favorite. They had a tender, more folk sound, with more of a focus on lyrics and vocal performances. As with all the other bands before, they could still get loud and give the crowd something to dance to. They had a great way of controlling the crowd with their sound. They closed the set with an unreleased song, as a gift to the audience.
Niko Beardo and Ricky Hardin are both Rowan graduates who have been playing in bands with each other since 2017. Once one of their bands ended, they got together to create what we know today as Te Vista. Beardo added that it was the “smartest decision”. They then spoke on their sound with Niko mentioning that they consider themselves Folk Punk with influences from bands like The Byrds, Dead Kennedys, and Black Flag.
When asked about their reasoning for playing these types of shows, they stated that they love the experience and are able to feed off the audience. Emphasizing the privilege of being able to see the crowd at eye level rather than being up on a stage. There was a shift over to the scene down here and what they thought of it. Touching on the fact that it is always evolving, looking to make more friends and get bigger crowds. Spotlighting bands like Spud Mack, King Puzzle, The Customers, and The Jette Planes.
There were some audience members willing to share their thoughts on the music scene at Rowan, including two seniors who are heavily invested in the scene down here, Juliette Warren and Tessa Wood. Wood said “the show was amazing. The music scene at Rowan University is an amazing culture to be in”. Warren adds that the underground music scene is great and like no other.
There are all types of people who attend these shows with one thing in common: a passion for music. That’s all that matters to anyone in the scene down here. To have a good time and enjoy some good music. This type of unity within the scene down here is hard to replicate with venues like The Funhouse creating safe and fun spaces for students and others alike to explore their enthusiasm for alternative music. Places like this are just what we need to help bring more music lovers and people together. Follow the Fun House on Instagram, @the_fun_house_official, to stay updated on the remainder of their events.
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