WERW spring launch party kicks off new semester on a high note

WERW spring launch party was a hit

Student-run radio station hosts concert with three musical performances, including campus favorite Vundabar.
Published: February 5, 2018
Returning favorite Vundabar plays at the WERW Spring Launch Party.

WERW’s spring semester launch party celebrated the largest student-run radio station’s transition into a new semester. The kickoff took place in The Underground at the Schine Student Center from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and showcased three top-notch acts: campus favorite Charlie Berg, Varsity, and Vundabar.

General Manager Allison Carr was feeling bittersweet describing her role in setting up WERW’s launch party; this would be her last one. “I’ve been with this station for three years, and I know the next GM will have something great to build off of,” she said.

WERW members filed into The Underground, a space they’ve been using for the past three years. The launch parties used to take place at the Spark Art Place, but they moved to The Underground because the launch parties would skyrocket out of control at Spark. This year, the atmosphere was definitely more relaxed. Close friends of WERW members and members themselves flocked in small circles around the metal barriers. The barriers served as a satirical representation of the audience. Vundabar told the small crowd, “Please guys, don’t rush the barriers.” Even though the audience was small in number, it did not take away from the appreciation of the music and close gathering of friends.

Christian Cabatu, a DJ for WERW, was more than happy to support the launch party. “I’m happy I get to connect with people through music, and WERW does a great job of finding new small bands that all of us can appreciate,” he said.

The launch party kicked off with Charlie Burg, definitely the favorite of the audience. He opened for Vundabar three years ago and was very happy to open for them again. His set was short and sweet, but the audience did not want him to leave. When Burg announced his last track, a voice from the crowd shouted, “Play five more!” and an array of cheers rose up in response. After Burg left the stage, audience members had time to catch up and talk with their friends while stage crew set up for the next set.

The next performer was Varsity, led by female singer Stephanie Smith. Formed in 2013, the indie rock band hails from Chicago and brought the Windy City’s energy with them. This band was especially important to Carr. “I really wanted a female presence on stage for the launch party and the energy of Varsity was perfect for the headliner,” Carr said. One of their tracks titled “Amanda” really spiked energy levels, especially with the unique tone of Smith’s voice. After their set finished, she announced the band would be sticking around to see Vundabar. While Vundabar played their set, Smith’s band wove their way into the crowd to listen.

Vundabar brought the energy to a high during their setlist. Comprised of Brandon Hagen on vocals and guitar, Drew McDonald on the drums and Zack Abramo on bass, the band played hits such as “Holy Toledo” and “Oulala.”

Vundabar was one of Carr’s favorite bands and something she had to schedule, Carr said. “These bands, especially Vundabar, were the best bands we’ve gotten, especially on a talent caliber basis,” she said.

The crowd came together during Vundabar’s set. Instead of groups scattered throughout the venue during the other performances, Vundabar had the audience stuck together like a magnet.

WERW member Jess Berenson said, “It’s awesome how the people who pull this off can keep it under wraps until it’s announced. We do this every semester, and each year we fill space and really start the semester off on a high note.”

There is so much passion within this station, in part because it is student-run by University Union. WERW is a group of musically passionate individuals, and what could be more deserving than a private concert for its members in celebration of another great semester? They certainly know how to pat themselves on the back.