By Kelly Yu
It started with a drum kit. But before the arrival of the drum kit, the music scene at Stony Brook had long been deserted since acts such as Jimi Hendrix and The Who played on this campus. Students on campus lacked an adequate musical outlet on campus for quite some time and the Open Mic Night, previously held at Kelly Quad, was disappointingly lackluster. “The Open Mic Nights are terrible, done poorly and there is not enough support,” said Junior Patrice Zapiti.
She and a friend did something about it. Patrice and fellow junior student musician Carlos Parreno shared the same desire to build up the music scene on campus. Both musicians agreed that there needed to be a catalyst to inspire the student body to create and express music. What was needed was a decent practice room for students to play and drums. “There’s a lot of false free time [on campus]. It gives people time to meet each other,” says Parreno. They approached Norm Prusslin, one of the two faculty advisors for RockYoFaceCase. “I was like, Norm, get me some drums. Please. And he was like, here’s $2,000. And I was like, thanks,” said Parreno. And a drum set they received. This set lives in a dark practice room in the Tabler Arts Center and is open to public use by anyone. The drum set was in place so that students could jam and create a complete band. Still, they both attended Open Mic Nights on campus and found a desperate need for an alternative outlet. Patrice was able to move the event from Kelly Quad to the Tabler Arts Center, but this still wasn’t enough.
“Stony Brook needs a kick in the butt,” said Zapiti. Parreno and Zapiti got together and proposed the concept of the ACH and SSO Council’s Battle of the Bands. Zapiti found that the problem with bands on campus was that they could plan, but had no outlet. If the bands were not given deadlines to follow, nothing was going to get done. However, the success of the Battle of the Bands exceeded any of their expectations. “It got people excited,” said Zapiti. Parreno mentioned that their success was attributed to the fact that what people liked was they could see people they recognized on campus playing the guitar or singing with their band. With their first event a huge success, the duo wanted an arena where bands can get better, get exposure, and make the Tabler Arts Center a consistent venue for bands to perform. “We needed to put on shows!” explained Parreno.
What started with a drum kit evolved into putting on one big kick ass show and trying to make it into a consistent event. Zapiti and Parreno came together again and thought of not a monthly Battle of the Bands, but a showcase where bands on and, possibly, off campus could show the student body what they could do. “What comes next sometimes is energy gets zapped” said Prusslin in reference to events on campus such as Battle of the Bands. “The challenge is to find a mix and balance of excellent students to organize events.” According Prusslin, what was needed to make RockYoFace a successful event was a great idea, logistical skills, and the administrative skills to pitch and follow through with the idea. And that was exactly what Zapiti and Parreno had. They set up meetings with faculty and sent proposals about their idea. With the initiative of the two, RockYoFace became a reality.
They have already received a lot of submissions, half from bands on campus and the other half from bands off campus. Parreno and Zapiti hope to make RockYoFace a monthly event at the Black Box Theater at the Tabler Arts Center. Their Facebook group, “RockYoFaceCase! – a monthly showcase series for local music,” has all the information for people looking to submit a music sample to play at the showcase or just information about when the event will be. The band list for the first showcase will be released on October 15 on Facebook and the first RockYoFaceCase will be on October 22. One can reach Carlos and Patrice at their gmail account, RockYoFaceCase@gmail.com.
It started with two people who had an idea and followed it through. “There is a need for an event like this,” says Zapiti. “If students want something to happen, they shouldn’t bitch about it.” “Start a band,” implores Parreno, “that’s what we did.” So tell all your friends, the Stony Brook music scene is rising from the dead and it’s going to rock yo’ face.