Black Lodge to host Oakland Indie Fest in support of those in East Palestine


Image via Turtle Park

Turtle Park band member plays the drums.

By Renee Dubaich, Staff Writer

The DIY music scene in Oakland has allowed students of all backgrounds to come together to find a sense of belonging. The Black Lodge, an  independently run music venue in South Oakland, is a place where many students gather on weekends to check out local bands in the scene. 

Adam Klenovich and Rory Monaghan, co-founders of the Black Lodge, utilized this creative environment to bring awareness to the East Palestine train derailment that occurred in February. They are hosting the first-ever Oakland Indie Fest on Saturday, April 29 at Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park from 12 to 9 p.m. The event invites students, families, and community members of all backgrounds to come together for a whole day of music featuring Oakland born bands like ClayCoast, Moontown, Quiet Hours and more.

“I’ve been wanting to host a show at flagstaff since I was 16 years old,” Klenovich said. “Through the Black Lodge, we saw how we can use something that we’ve been building over the last semester to support the unity of East Palestine, by any means, so we thought, ‘How can we help?’”

Klenovich, a 19-year-old South Oakland resident, said proceeds from the event will benefit the East Palestine School District, local non-profit organization The Way Station and local families. 

Shelby Walker, an East Palestine resident, will speak at the festival about her and her family’s experience living through the affects, caused by the hazardous material released when 38 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed. 

Klenovich and Monaghan, a sophomore neuroscience and psychology major at Pitt, worked together to host a musical festival that will not only bring together local bands, but also benefit a greater cause. From there, they worked with the city to gain approval and with businesses and organizations like Groceria Merante and Pittsburgh City Paper to sponsor the event.

“We started putting this together in February, right after the derailment happened,” Klenovich said. “I live like 15 minutes away from where the derailment happened. It was a shot in the dark essentially, so I sent an application into the city, everything got approved, and we just hit the ground running. We’ve been working with local businesses and are involved with many people in East Palestine.”

Klenovich said he and Monaghan traveled to East Palestine regularly to connect with local business, families and organizations in order to have more direct contact to the people that would benefit from the concert.

“We’ve had the opportunity to meet with and talk with these people from East Palestine, and after meeting with them, it hit me that we were really making a difference with this. To actually go in person and hear their stories, I got goosebumps,” Klenovich said. “It was a very reassuring feeling to know that something we are doing is going to make a difference.”

Chaney Nezbeth​ is the executive director at The Way Station in East Palestine, a nonprofit faith-based organization that allocates resources to those in need within the community. When Klenovich contacted her about the festival, she said she was eager to get involved and show support.

Nezbeth​ said The Way Station is not niche to any specific issue. They offer resources like thrift stores, teen pregnancy prevention programs, poverty assistance, job training opportunities and more.

“We try to fill in the gaps within the community and fill the needs where maybe another agency isn’t meeting their needs, while also strengthening services that are already offered,” Nezbeth​ said.

Nezbeth​ said the East Palestine train derailment affected her personally because of how near she lived to the area. She said she had to focus first on her family to make sure they were safe before helping the larger community.

“I’m an East Palestine alum, my family lives there. I live just a few miles out in the next town over, but still very actively involved in the community as a resident. The first couple days after the derailment, I was just focused on my own family,” Nezbeth​ said. “Like, where’s my mom gonna go? Where’s my sister gonna go?”

Nezbeth​ said the worries and concerns caused by the derailment are far from over. The Way Station remains vigilant to respond to communities needs and keep the community afloat in times of a tragic event, according to Nezbeth.

“The concern for the water and the air quality is still a major concern,” Nezbeth said. “There are families dealing with some serious trauma, and there are people that have health issues, and some of those issues are trauma-related and anxiety-related, some people are more affected by the toxins than others.”

Nezbeth​ said it is important for young people to advocate for these issues. She explained how awareness from this event will hopefully keep East Palestine from getting left behind as another forgotten tragedy.

“It’s our responsibility if we have the opportunity to engage young people and give them an opportunity for their voices to be heard and do it in a way that is meaningful and impactful to them,” Nezbeth​ said. “Much of this cleanup that is finally occurring and the questions that are finally getting answered, are because young people like Adam are keeping East Palestine relevant, keeping us in the news, and spreading that awareness in their community.”

Monaghan said organizing this event was especially meaningful to him because he found a sense of belonging in the music scene and Oakland and wants to share that experience with others — especially since it’s for a greater cause.

“From being one of the biggest enjoyers of spaces in the music scene, being able to curate a space myself, for others, and then to be able to use this directly to help somebody is amazing. This is also about bringing awareness about this issue to young people in Oakland and everyone else,” Monaghan said. “To have a little taste of this beautiful culture that’s incubating here in Oakland, that’s an exceptional opportunity. I want everyone to be able to enjoy this.”

Monaghan said he hopes when young people attend the event, they might feel inspired to organize something like this where they can utilize their passions to bring awareness to important issues.

“One of the biggest things I want people to take away from going to this event is that they can do this too, we are both undergraduates who came up with a plan and reached out to people,” Monaghan said. “The biggest thing is to try to inspire other people also. I would love to see more young educated people and anybody who may not think they have the resources, to just realize if they can do it I can too.”