Student Spotlight: Friday Night Rock organizes concerts on campus
The student-run organization brings energy to Sarner Underground, with musicians performing three times per term.
Cooper Zebrack, guitarist for the rock band Moon Unit, performing for the FestNR event.
United by a passion for live music, the students who comprise Friday Night Rock bring bands to campus to perform, offering a unique alternative space to Greek Life. Founded in 2004, the student-run organization hosts musicians three times per term, staging free concerts for Dartmouth students in Sarner Underground.
Current members of FNR identify a variety of motivations for joining, from a long-held appreciation for live music to positive experiences as audience members. FNR encourages any Dartmouth student who enjoys listening to music to join, regardless of music experience or background.
FNR general managers Addison Green ‘22 and Anaïs Berumen Swift ‘22 — whose role is largely focused on recruiting new members — emphasized the important role club members play in planning and organizing acts.
“I think that probably the biggest lure for the club is that we do very much take input from all our members about the bands that we’re bringing to campus, as long as they’re within our price range and relatively small,” said Green. “I think that’s probably why people would want to join, just because you have a more active hand in it.”
Green said that she was initially spurred to join FNR during her sophomore fall, when singer-songwriter Nick Rattigan — who releases music under the moniker Current Joys — performed at Dartmouth on Rattigan’s birthday. After the concert, Green and a small group of students met in Sarner Underground’s green room to sing “Happy Birthday” and eat cake with Rattigan.
“I think that it’s really cool that you can have input based on music you’re listening to,” Green said. “[You can] bring that band to campus, have a really intimate concert and then get to hang out with the band afterwards.”
Many current members joined FNR after attending one of their concerts — which were often followed by memorable interactions with the musicians. Both Green and Swift point to meeting singer-songwriter Sidney Gish their freshmen year as one such experience.
“She’s our age and she’s a student in Boston, so it was super cool to hang out with somebody who is a college student but also in the music industry,” said Swift. “It’s a lot of fun to get to know artists who are really close to our age but incredibly talented.”
Even in rural New Hampshire, FNR members want to bring live music to their fellow students and create memorable experiences. Some notable favorites of the group include rock band KROME, pop band No Vacation, indie pop band of Montreal and Mr Twin Sister, whom Swift particularly enjoyed.
“They are one of my favorite bands,” said Swift. “It was crazy to have them here at a small college in New England.”
Jackson Elder ‘23, who is in charge of hospitality, joined during the fall of his sophomore year after attending multiple concerts as a freshman. Like Green and Swift, he enjoys interacting with the visiting musicians, pointing to a conversation with electronic musician Skylar Spence about the Boston music scene as a highlight.
“It is always really cool because I am able to meet and hang out with and have normal conversations with artists that are professional musicians, which I feel like is not a normal thing that people get to do,” said Elder.
For Elder, who has been attending concerts since a young age and identifies music as an influential force in his life, FNR’s commitment to bringing live music to students is essential.
“I remember it was always such a highlight being able to go see cool bands [my freshman year] because going to see live music was always a big thing for me in high school,” Elder said. “I was a little worried coming to Hanover that there wasn’t going to be that same amount of live music, so it was really awesome to see that there was a club so dedicated to it.”
When Clara Pakman ‘23 started making promotional posters for FNR, she realized that it was an opportunity to combine her interests in music and design. Now, as publicity head of the group, she appreciates the artistic freedom she has to design marketing materials.
Pakman accompanied a friend to her first FNR meeting during her freshman fall. They bonded over their appreciation for music and enjoyed meeting other students who shared their interests.
“It’s fun because FNR has been the space where our friendships have really consolidated,” Pakman said. “That’s how I met a lot of my close friends, so I really want it to be a space where people can form close friendships like that, too. And hopefully [they] will hang out outside of the club — just get to know each other and talk about music and shared tastes.”
Green also appreciates the bonding element of FNR, describing it as “a little friend group.” Like Pakman, she met many of her closest friends through the organization and said she has “loved everyone that [she’s] met in the club.”
Unable to bring bands to campus for the past year and a half, FNR created a radio show with themed playlists to keep the club going. Additionally, the radio show featured interviews with groups that FNR hosted in the past, including musician Quiet Luke and rock band Habibi.
“We tried to keep a club that is very much based on in-person events alive when we couldn’t have in-person events,” said Green.
Through the challenges of the past year and a half, the friendships the members formed extended beyond their official meeting times. Four members heard electronic musician Pictureplane in Kingston, NY this summer, and immediately extended him an invitation to campus. Pictureplane will be featured in FNR’s first concert this term, scheduled for Friday, October 1.
As they return to planning in-person events, FNR faces challenges navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including uncertainties related to gathering restrictions in Sarner Underground’s small space. However, the group remains hopeful for Pictureplane’s Dartmouth debut as well as an October 22 performance by alternative rock band Slothrust and their opener, electronic musician R.I.P.
“We’re really excited,” Green said. “It looks like this term is going to be a very normal term as far as clubs go, so it’s really exciting.”
Correction appended (7:40 p.m., Sept. 28, 2021): A previous version of this article inaccurately stated that the opener for the October 22 performance is heavy metal band R.I.P. The opener is actually electronic musician R.I.P.