By Frances Clause
Twenty-four bands, six venues, food trucks and art filled four blocks of downtown Youngstown for the fifth annual Federal Frenzy on April 27.
Sponsored by Penguin Productions and the Summit FM, the nine-hour music and arts festival attracted an energetic crowd for headlining act Robert DeLong.
As an electronic rock and roll musician from Bothell, Washington, DeLong drew the crowd into his performance with music from his new EP, “See You In The Future.”
“[The EP] is four songs and touches on different reactions to life in the modern era,” he said. “‘Revolutionary’ is about dealing with technology and social media in daily life and ‘Beginning of the End’ deals with our social and political climate.”
DeLong said the music that inspires what he creates stems from growing up in Seattle, Washington, in the early 2000s.
“Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse were coming into their own at the time, and those two bands are definitely part of my musical language,” he said. “But, I’m really influenced by all music, whether it’s electronic or even ambient background sounds.”
Because he always had an interest in electronic music and a background in percussion instruments, DeLong stumbled into finding his sound naturally and believes supporting local artists can help them do the same.
“If you can foster creativity in the community, then it creates possibilities for performers,” he said. “And the more space you give people to be creative and have an outlet, the more people that are inspired, as well.”
Local musicians were abundant at this year’s Federal Frenzy, and for Ziya MC, being in the music lineup for the first time at the event was important to him.
“I started performing solo in Youngstown the summer after my junior year of high school and continued with it,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be in a festival.”
Ziya’s goal was for the crowd to enjoy his melodies, but most of all, interpret his lyrics to get the messages he brings.
“It’s so powerful when people can relate to your lyrics, even if they take it in their own way and not what [the lyrics] really mean,” he said.
Ziya said he has something to prove through his album that is being released in August about his internal and societal struggles that have lead him to change.
“So, for all the people who have shut me down or doubted me, it is slightly satisfying to show them how seriously I take my music by performing at this festival,” he said.
Frank Toncar, a music major at YSU, also performed for the first time at Federal Frenzy and believes it was the perfect opportunity to spread the sounds of his EP “Avalanche.”
“[The EP] was just going to be a studio project, but then I had the idea that playing out would be a cool way to bring the songs to life,” he said.
Toncar said the timing of Federal Frenzy was perfect because of “Avalanche’s” release the day before the festival, serving nicely as a pseudo EP release show.
Toncar also took the festival as an opportunity to enjoy the other talent that the Youngstown and Northeast Ohio area had to offer.
“The world of local music is very fun and intriguing,” he said. “We have a ton of great musicians around here with some really phenomenal minds. Supporting, contributing and being involved in that scene is just so important.”