Summer Rockin’: WHJE members organize student music festival on Aug. 16

Junior and prospective Last Rock of Summer performer, Ethan Meneghini, works on his music over the summer in preparation for the LROS. Meneghini has created his own home studio that he works out of to produce his own music.

Junior and prospective Last Rock of Summer performer, Ethan Meneghini, works on his music over the summer in preparation for the LROS. Meneghini has created his own home studio that he works out of to produce his own music.

Josie Cruzan

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For Ella Carlson, Last Rock of Summer (LROS) president and sophomore, a typical SRT involves getting her SRT teacher to sign her pass, which has “ASAP” written on it in square, capitalized pencil, and signed by her SRT teacher, Sarah Gillum, and then heading to her home away from home: the radio hallway. It is compromised of the radio room, C145, the live booth where radio staff members broadcast on WHJE, the school’s radio station, and five recording booths that host many different people and activities during SRT. One such activity is planning meetings for the Last Rock of Summer, which is scheduled to occur at this Friday at Murray Stadium on from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. 

Jessica “Jesse” Cooper, Last Rock of Summer co-vice president and sophomore said, “It’s kind of like a shrunken version of Lollapalooza. It’s school bands, hopefully a headliner that’s bigger than ourselves, and we’re gonna have some students play. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. It’s gonna bring the whole community together to have one last hurrah before the summer is over.” 

Carlson came up with the idea for LROS, drawing inspiration from the music festival her father put on for WHJE when he attended CHS. Carlson said that after hearing her father talk about his experiences planning the festival, she decided to pitch the idea.

Cooper said, “Back in first quarter during my (radio) liveshow, Ella was my news girl, and one day she goes, ‘When my dad was a student here he had a concert and I really want to bring that back, and I looked at her and I said, ‘Go talk to (WHJE Advisor Dominic) James before someone else takes your idea.’”

The process of planning LROS began in January and has involved participation not only from the LROS committee but from the whole of WHJE staff.

James said, “[The first time I heard about LROS was] when Ella came to me with a hairbrained idea that she wanted to do an outdoor music festival involving a whole load of musicians and the high school. It was a terrifying idea, clearly, but she did a very good job at convincing me that it would be a great event; it would be fun for the high school and the local community, and it would be a very good way of producing an event that WHJE could get its hands on.”

A typical LROS planning meeting consists of the committee members sitting at one of the many long tables in C145, discussing everything that they have been doing thus far and what needs to be done, as well as how smoothly everything has played out so far. At the front of it all is Carlson, who leads these meetings. Committee members do the vast majority of the planning, each heading up a different aspect of the festival and helping with other commitee members’ sections. Cooper, for example, is in charge of marketing and sponsorships, and manages the money going in and out of the festival. Carlson, in addition to managing the committee itself, picked which bands are playing at the festival. 

“Bernie Szuhaj runs Shark Mouth Productions, which we are using to help us find reasonable bands that are in our range to play LROS, and he’s also helping us set up a ticketing account to do presales and make it very cool and very official. He also manages the auditorium here at Carmel High School,” Carlson said.

Juniors Ella Carlson and Ethan Meneghini attend a Last Rock of Summer planning meeting on July 1. The meeting took place at CHS, and the group spent the time working out the logistics of the quickly approaching event which will take place on Aug. 16 at the Murray Stadium.

Pertaining to his role as a teacher involved with LROS, James said, “I’m mostly serving as an adviser. People come to me with ideas and I say whether I think it’s a good idea or not, but basically I just leave it up to the students to decide which way to go. Occasionally they just need a bit of encouragement or a bit of help in taking shortcuts and making decisions. Back in the U.K. I was a theater teacher and I was department chair for the performing arts faculty in two large high schools, so I’m quite used to running big, creative things.”

Carlson spends most of her time thinking about LROS: the bumps she needs to smooth out in the process, who she is meeting with next, or just what she wants to get out of the event, which she hopes will become an annual event for WHJE, like the radiothon they put on every year. 

“I am really looking forward to seeing it all come together in the end on the actual performance day where we get those big bands performing and we get to see everyone super excited to be there and we just get to see the whole setup itself,” Carlson said. “We’re having the tech theater kids come help us set up the sound system and things for part of the day, which is a good thing because us radio kids don’t know what we’re doing with that and they do. They’ll be the ones setting up the stage, putting up the banners and just really making it look professional.” 

Despite the fact that WHJE mainly plays alternative and rock music, the festival plans to offer a wide variety of styles, from EDM (electronic dance music) to heavy metal to soul. The LROS committee said they hope to offer something for everyone in attendance.

Cooper said, “You’re going to hear every instrument, you’re going to hear the voice of the singer, you’re maybe going to hear the microphone screech a couple of times. It’s going to be what a real concert would look like.”

In addition to the concert itself, WHJE will also have a live show happening during the event, and there will be food truck vendors for attendees to purchase food, as well as a merchandise booth as well. 

“We’re trying to get the whole student body to attend, because everyone loves music, it’s just a matter of what music is offered and who that music applies to,” Carlson said.

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