By Cailey Barnhart
Penguin Productions is the student organization responsible for bringing large-scale events such as Fall Fire Fest and Federal Frenzy to downtown Youngstown.
But what students may not know is that between these two events, local and upcoming artists are performing frequently on campus.
The organization kicked off the start of its yearly Penguin Productions Concert Series at The Hub in Kilcawley Center Sept. 12, featuring synth-pop artist Emily Reo and local experimental artist Griefshark.
Reo is an artist, performer and sound engineer from Brooklyn, New York. She describes her sound as “dream pop” and draws inspiration from Beach House, Broadcast, Blink-182 and Weezer.
Reo began her musical journey when she was 9 years old because a friend persuaded her to go to theater summer camp. She had to know how to play piano for a role she wanted.
“So, I lied and said that I could [play piano], and then I had to learn,” she said.
Tre Mastran, who performs as Griefshark, describes his sound as “experimental electronic.”
“I’ve been working on [the sound] for many, many years. It’s gone through a lot of changes and different names, but this is the most recent and final iteration. I’m finally starting to get all my ducks in order as far as the sound I want,” he said.
Mastran lists Radiohead, indie music, EDM and low-fi hip-hop as his biggest sources of inspiration.
“I started playing music probably when I was 15, and then I really started to get serious with it when I saw Van Halen live in concert,” he said. “They’re incredible musicians, and I just always wanted to reach that greatness and grandeur.”
He said reaching that level of musicality doesn’t seem achievable in today’s scene, but he can dream.
Alli Marado, senior marketing management major, is the Concert Series leader this year, as well as the operations leader for Fall Fire Fest.
“Concert Series shows are our smaller events on campus. We get lesser-known touring bands to come to the university or other local venues to do performances for us, and we also include a local act,” she said.
Marado said these shows are more hands-on and include being involved in an entire day’s events.
“We go through rosters, find bands in our price range, work with Forty Two Event Production to get our sounds and lights and all that fun stuff in,” she said.
While all members of Penguin Productions work on larger events, a smaller group puts together the Concert Series.
Sarah Dubos, senior theatre studies major, was the event leader for the Emily Reo show as well as the outreach leader for Fall Fire Fest.
“For each event, it’s a lot of little aspects that go into making the whole event. It’s a lot of the nitty-gritty things that [people] wouldn’t normally think to do, and we take care of them,” she said. “We each get our own individual job to do and then eventually it all comes together.”
The next Concert Series is Nov. 7 at Butler North Church and features Mikaela Davis and Hayden Brooke.
The Fall Fire Fest is Oct. 10 in the M-71 parking lot. Topaz Jones will headline the event and local openers will be announced soon.