Behind the scenes of the SU house scene

Behind the scenes of the SU house scene

From Mudpit to Hush Hush to FEEM at The Cage, student organizers share the behind-the-scenes efforts of creating unforgettable musical experiences.

Alternative Text
Hannah Delaray Stein
Syracuse students enjoying live music in the crowd of Mudpit house venue.

Walking down Euclid Avenue on a cold evening, the warm glow of basement lights draws Syracuse University students into a scene almost anyone can appreciate – the music scene. Here, diverse genres and artists converge into a lively musical atmosphere that brings the community together through their peers’ homemade concerts. 

At SU, students are turning up the volume with a growing love for house music. It’s not just about the beats; it’s about the vibe that brings the community together, turning mundane college housing into professional-level concert venues – and often for only a few dollars for the price of entry.  

This phenomenon is all thanks to the students running these concerts behind the curtain. With the house scene taking over campus, it’s not easy for organizers to keep everything in harmony, but still, they make it happen every weekend. Now, their shows dominate campus culture. 

Public relations junior Camille Rowlands-Rees worked at the venue Mudpit helping out with show operations last school year before inheriting the spot on Livingston Avenue from a friend. Now, she holds the responsibility of running the shows alongside junior Emma Barbosa and senior Guiv Lederer.

“I just love the houses and I think it’s such a unique opportunity for both us running it and the artists that are involved in playing,” Rowlands-Rees said. “It’s such a unique aspect of our campus here that I wanted to be involved as much as I possibly could.”

Mudpit has held seven shows in the fall 2023 semester with a variety of performers. Artists range from solo acts to duos to bands, and DJs. You can get a taste of the performers on this playlist:

Rowlands-Rees’ shows entertain hundreds of SU students, but that cannot happen without hours of tedious preparation — the parts of the shows that fans don’t see.

“I don’t think [fans] realize how much time and energy goes into every show,” Rowlands-Rees explained. “On our end, we work the entire day. We’re setting up the basement, we’re making sure all the equipment’s running.”

However, she keeps the concerts going every weekend because of the overwhelmingly positive results. Rowlands-Rees overhears students talking about her shows on campus, giving her a front-row ticket to her own audience’s entertainment.

“Hearing the artists love to play at my venue is amazing because a lot of what we do is for the artists and for the crowd,” she said. “As long as people are having fun and want to come back, that’s the most rewarding part. We’ve made a name for ourselves and we’re helping make a name for the artists on campus.”

Performers and crowd in Mudpit house venue
Maya Lockwood
Students enjoying a performance by Bella Fiske at Mudpit this fall.

Inspiration across the pond

While studying abroad in England, television, radio, and film seniors Joe Lauria and Max Lehouiller became enamored with the scene of intimate DJ sets that gathered thousands of attendees in famous cities.

With this inspiration held close to their hearts, they decided to form a venue to try and replicate the London music scene in Syracuse. As a result, Hush Hush was born.

“The concept was made probably on Aug. 31. By the first week of September, we were having meetings. We were reaching out to about 15 or 20 DJs to figure out which ones we wanted to use,” he said.

Lauria and his friends wanted to make sure the concerts were for everyone. Hush Hush reached out to a diverse group of DJs to make that happen. “We were spending upwards of an hour or two just on Instagram every day.”

But, much like at Mudpit, the work paid off for Lauria and his team.

“We sold over 1,800 tickets, which was awesome. For me, the moment where it all kind of hit was the DJ set around 1:30 a.m.,” he said. “The show was still packed. Everybody was still there and dancing and having an awesome time. I was like, ‘Wow, we really did this.’”

From Brooklyn to Syracuse

Roommates and friends Michael Lieberman and Max Cohen found their attraction to the music scene after falling in love with nightlife in Brooklyn and Queens.

“Going to the club in Queens, we fell in love with the music and the people. So we wanted to do that on our own,” Lieberman said. The welcoming atmosphere of the city clubs inspired them to replicate the same atmosphere in Syracuse.

“We love a club that prioritizes dancing and community, and just challenging someone with the music they play to get on some sort of different wavelength,” he said.

To make this possible, Lieberman and Cohen worked hard with their roommates Anish Vasudevan and Dominic Brancoli to create their own venue on Walnut Avenue: FEEM at The Cage.

Disco ball hanging in the center of the outdoor venue Cage surrounded by students
Sophia Lucina
Crowds congregate under the lights of The Cage during a fall show by FEEM.

“We’ve been working together just as the four of us and since starting last year and we’ve really tried our best to up our game behind the scenes and see what we can do,” Cohen said.

Of course, this has taken a lot of time and money from the roommates. So far, they have put over $4,000 into their venue, according to Brancoli, their designated numbers guy.

“To make people feel like it’s a safe space but then also putting in the intention to make people feel like their money is going to a good place. So it’s investing in lights, investing in all different things to make people feel like they’re at a venue space.”

But, similarly to the other student venues, they continue to work tirelessly at The Cage because of how much they love to see it grow.

“We have a couple of exciting great things going next semester. More live music to come, bigger events, hopefully, bigger artists, notable non-Syracuse artists, and the return of some Syracuse bands that have been gone for some time,” the roommates said.

Three band members performing on stage at Mudpit house venue Crowd of students outside under disco ball and lights at the Cage concert venue Performer and crowd of students together during a show at Mudpit concert venue Crowd of students at The Cage under the lights
Maya Lockwood and Sophia Lucina, Fall 2023

It’s not just about the music; it’s about bringing the community together. The magic is in the hands of the students who organize these concerts, working countless hours to create a unique college experience.