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Former President and convicted felon Donald Trump menaces at the camera during his hearing.
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

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Former President and convicted felon Donald Trump menaces at the camera during his hearing.
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

‘It’s up to us to keep it alive’: Oakland Block Party showcases Pitt’s local music scene

The+Oakland+Block+Party+on+Schenley+Drive+on+Friday.%0A
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
The Oakland Block Party on Schenley Drive on Friday.

Schenley Drive was alive with local music, art and food for the eight-hour Oakland Block Party on Friday. The schedule consisted of Oakland student bands Mr.Dr, Wild Blue Yonder, Pitter Patter, Trip Lotus, James Castle, Valleyview, 9FiftySeven, Moontown and Funky Lamp performing throughout the day. 

Adam Klenovich, sophomore business major at the Community College of Allegheny County, organized the Oakland Block Party with Eli Alfieri, an Oakland resident, and Mark Riggio, a sophomore audio engineering and jazz performance major at Duquesne University, through a new project called Post-Genre. Alfieri said the project’s mission is to draw attention to Oakland’s music scene.

“[We want to] make the greater area of Pittsburgh appreciate and uplift what’s going on in Oakland musically,” Alfieri said. 

The planning process was hectic, Klenovich, Alfieri and Riggio said, requiring three and half months of preparation. With sponsorships from Pittsburgh Innovation District, The Government Center and Gene’s Place, local vendors like Elcon Threads and Little Onion Vintage, and student bands, Riggio said the event aimed to bring the Pittsburgh arts community together.

“We’ve been working toward finding a way that the local Oakland music community, not just the artists but also all of the people who love watching these artists, have a space that’s safe,” Riggio said. “It’s so nice that we’re moving toward a point where we’re having these shows that are run really professionally but still have that DIY vibe to them.”

Klenovich, Alfieri and Riggio each have a deep history with music. Klenovich first became involved with local events when he co-founded The Black Lodge last September, an event venue in South Oakland where he hosts shows every Saturday. In April, he hosted the Oakland Indie Fest with his co-founder Rory Monaghan to benefit victims of the East Palestine train derailment. He said he hopes to continue growing the events and uplifting local artists. 

“We want to give [bands] a platform to meet new audiences, give them an opportunity to generate revenue and just pull everybody in Oakland together for live music,” Klenovich said.

Alfieri plays guitar and bass and sings in the band Wild Blue Yonder with Riggio, founder of 8-Trak Entertainment and owner and operator of the Oakland Block Party’s lighting and sound equipment. Riggio said he began working with lighting and sound equipment at eight years old, and now he’s using his skills to benefit other artists.

“At the end of the day, we’re all teams. It’s such an awesome music scene. We’re really just trying to push everyone forward together. We’re trying to elevate these bands and do dope s—,” Riggio said.o

Alfieri agreed that Oakland Block Party is their way of contributing to an already supportive music community.

“There’s a real community here of people who are genuinely interested in elevating this to the point where people come from other cities, from other states to listen to this music and be a part of this scene,” Alfieri said. “We’re giving the Oakland music community what it deserves.”

Alfieri hopes that events like the Oakland Block Party will help lay the foundation for future events, and they’ve already started planning a new live music series at 115 Atwood Street, with concerts on September 23rd with Funky Lamp, Southsiders, and 9FiftySeven and October 7th with Street Profits, Heading North, and Histrionic

Moontown, a band featuring members James Rankin, Aiden Carroll, Lucas DiBlasi, Mike Stolarz and Dom Frankeny, performed at Oakland Block Party. Stolarz, the band’s lead guitarist, said the Block Party created a welcoming environment for young talent and up-and-coming artists.

“There’s a lot of gatekeeping from the top down. The more established acts can be exclusionary towards younger bands. I think the fact that today it’s just all young adult, college student-age bands that kick ass really proves that being young doesn’t invalidate us,” Stolarz said.

Rankin, the band’s drummer, said he has a deep appreciation for the Oakland music community.

“Literally some of the best people. No one’s in the local music scene unless they love music and that’s all they want to do,” Rankin said. “We’ve played with every single band performing today – it’s a really integrated community.”

Priyanka Iyer, a first-year chemistry economics major who attended the event, said that while creating events like Oakland Block Party is important, it’s also up to individuals to show support.

“Live music is such an important institution. People will tell you that live music is dying, things like this are dying, but it’s up to us to keep it alive and support local bands and artists,” Iyer said.

Iyer said she would encourage other students to attend. Klenovich said he agrees.

“Music really makes people happy. Nine times out of 10, people will walk away feeling good about their experiences,” Klenovich said. “That’s why I enjoy doing this type of stuff, even though it’s a lot of stress, it’s a lot of work. To have this, right now, where people are performing and you see how many people are here enjoying the music, is priceless.”

About the Contributor
Trinity Foster, Senior Staff Writer