Keyboards, music stands and electric guitars lay scattered across the stage in Bellefield Hall Saturday afternoon. As concert host Sam Ashworth, a sophomore studying gender, sexuality and women’s studies, history and political science, stood on stage fiddling with his microphone, an audience of about 100 people sat in their red velvet seats, waiting for those props to be put to use.
“Y’all ready to hear some music?” Ashworth, the member educator for Pitt’s Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, asked.
The audience raised their hands above their heads and cheered.
ATO hosted Saturday’s concert as its annual philanthropy event, with the $5 admission fee going toward the Children’s Miracle Network and Greenhouses for Everyone. The event put a spotlight on a diverse lineup of local musicians, bands and guest performers from the fraternity itself.
And despite the crowd’s energy, the first performer, Pitt student Lauren Kaseman, struck a softer, more somber note when she sang Adele’s love ballad “One and Only.” As the undeclared first-year student’s strong, resonant vocals rang throughout the room, audience members swayed their hands back and forth to the slow rhythm of the music.
ATO brother and senior communication major Jared Landau wanted to mix it up a little with his performance. He strutted onto the stage with a guitar slung over his back.
“Gonna try something a little different for you guys today,” Landau, who’s been performing for four years, said. “I doubt any of you have ever heard of this next song.”
He launched into a cover of the folk song “Come Pick Me Up” by alternative country singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, and then abruptly transitioned to an acoustic cover of Dr. Dre’s “No Diggity.” The audience rose to their feet and roared.
Landau finished his performance serenading the crowd with a love song he wrote in high school, before handing off the microphone to headline band Jungle of Thieves, which really brought the energy to Bellefield Hall.
A trio of electric guitar players walked onto the stage, and a student holding a pair of drumsticks hopped in front of the previously dormant drum kit.
“We’re performing original songs only,” the lead singer said. “This next one, called ‘Pink Champagne,’ was inspired by my roommate who left out a half-filled bottle one night … I think everyone here can relate to that.”
The drummer tapped his drums to a fluid rhythm throughout the song, while the guitarists strummed in unison to the lead singer’s booming vocals. Audience members leapt to their feet when the lead singer landed a high note to conclude the performance.
The crowd size ebbed and flowed throughout the afternoon, peaking at about 150 people, when the band Rack Jobbins, lead by singer and ATO brother Sam Jenkins, strolled onto the stage to cover several songs from different generations and some with local significance.
“I want everyone to sing along to this next one,” Jenkins said. “I know you all know it.”
One audience member cocked her head to one side, waiting anxiously for the song choice. Jenkins hunched over the microphone and began to sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” As he reached the chorus, the audience began to sing along, nearly drowning out the band with their shrieks.
Pausing for the crowd to simmer down, Jenkins stripped off his guitar and adjusted his microphone.
“Now, I know everyone knows this next song,” he said with a laugh, beginning to sing Pitt-favorite “Sweet Caroline.”
The crowd stood up, raised their hands and answered back.
“Touching me,” they sang. “Touching you.”
After the show’s biggest headline song, it was time for the afternoon’s biggest headline act — local rapper, Pitt student and ATO brother James Pickering, known as Pick Patek, glided onto the stage wearing a red bandana and a paint-stained denim jacket.
Pressing the power button on his boom box and raising the microphone to his lips, Pickering began to rap to his hit song “Blue October.” The crowd, got up from their seats and made their way toward the stage, forming a circle around Pickering to give the show a more intimate experience.
“See, isn’t it more fun this way?” Pickering said, gesturing to the crowd in front of him.
He shrugged off his denim jacket to reveal a T-shirt that read “AWOL,” the name of his next song. Pickering told the crowd to to “get hype.” Several audience members jumped up and down.
Pickering finished off the show with a dizzying energetic display hunching over the microphone, spitting lyrics and strutting back and forth across the stage. He said after his performance the purpose of the event was to donate to children, and they’re the ones who really need the crowd’s attention.
“I want to thank you all for coming out today,” Pickering said. “I think we’re all here because we all love music. But we’re sending love to the children, too.”
Audience member Rachel Martin, a sophomore industrial engineering major who attended to cheer on her roommate performing in the show, said she liked that this kind of philanthropy event was different from those put on by most Greek organizations.
“[This event] I think was a success because it got people really energized and involved,” Martin said. “It’s really exciting to come out and support your friends and have them be a part of such a great cause.”
Landau, one of the first performers in the show, echoed Martin’s point. He said the show provided the opportunity to use his talents for philanthropic purposes.
“I really love to perform. I hope the audience liked seeing me perform,” Landau said. “And because this is for such a great cause, I was all the more willing to get up there on that stage.”