COIN’s lead vocalist Chase Lawrence shreds the guitar during Fall Fest at Schenley Drive on Sunday.
COIN’s lead vocalist Chase Lawrence shreds the guitar during Fall Fest at Schenley Drive on Sunday.
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor

‘Electric’: COIN and student openers rock Fall Fest 2023

“Can we just lose our minds for like 30 seconds?” shouted Chase Lawrence, the lead vocalist of COIN, to hundreds of Pitt students crowded into a stretch of Schenley Drive. The audience obliged, chanting the chorus of the band’s chart-topping single “Talk Too Much.”

Pitt students bounced and belted while pop rock band COIN jammed in front of a flashing holographic backdrop and a gigantic inflated ladybug at this year’s Fall Fest in the late afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 8. Lawrence serenaded the crowd and climbed the stage’s pillar sporting a navy and gold shirt akin to Pitt’s Pathfinders. The sound of the stage’s speakers boomed through Oakland as COIN performed an hour-long set.

Sofie Gill, an undeclared first year student and COIN fanatic, said the energy COIN brought to the stage made her feel the band was a fitting choice for this year’s Fall Fest.

“I was freaking out when I saw they were the headliner,” Gill said. “I love how amazing they are live. They’re really electric, and I think they’re really engaging with a younger crowd of students.” 

Hailing from Nashville, COIN rose to prominence in 2017 with their hit single “Talk Too Much.” Since then, the band has released four albums, most recently “Uncanny Valley” last year. Lawrence told the audience that Fall Fest represented a milestone for the band.

“This is the closest proximity we’ve ever performed to a merry-go-round,” Lawrence said, pointing to the carousel in Schenley Plaza.

A fan makes a heart with their hands during COIN’s performance at Fall Fest at Schenley Drive on Sunday. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

Emily Wang, a junior creative writing major and Pitt Program Council member, said she hopes Fall Fest provides students with an opportunity to let loose during the semester.

“This week, I talked to all my friends, and I was like, ‘How are you?’ and they were all like ‘Ugh, this week, man!’ and then I said, ‘Just come to Fall Fest and hang out! It’ll be two or three hours of literal excitement — you don’t have to think about anything else,’” Wang said.

Several Pitt student bands performed earlier in the day starting at 1pm. The first opener, NHarmonic, a recently formed group of Pitt students, played funk-filled covers of Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Brian Ihejurobi, the drummer for NHarmonic and a junior economics and health informatics major, said he loves to see students find joy in his band’s performance. 

LANNDS opens for COIN at Fall Fest on Schenley Drive on Sunday. (Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer)

“To play for a crowd, for them to have a good time and spend time with their friends — it’s one of the best feelings in the world. It’s what we do it for,” Ihejurobi said. “To play for students on a Sunday like this, it’s a great moment because there’s a lot of people and it’s great to have that camaraderie of students.” 

Will Berick, the bassist for Funky Lamp, another student band and the second opener of the day, said a sense of community among students in the audience and on stage made for a meaningful experience. 

Funky Lamp opens for COIN at Fall Fest on Schenley Drive on Sunday. (Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer)

“It doesn’t feel like you’re on a stage and you’re above your colleagues — you’re with your colleagues and you’re creating experiences for them,” Berick, a Carnegie Mellon music composition major, said. 

Beyond having fun, Berick said Funky Lamp saw Fall Fest as an important opportunity to expose more Pitt students to Oakland’s local music scene. 

“Music is integrated into more things that can be easily realized, and so if you’re aware of the musical surrounding that you’re in, then anybody can benefit from that,” Berick said. “I feel like more shows means more people know the type of area they’re in, and the people they’re with and that no one is alone out here.”

With the visibility Fall Fest gives student musicians, Ben Orr, an undeclared junior and Funky Lamp’s guitarist, said he hopes that Pitt will offer more opportunities for student musicians to perform at Pitt events.

“Honestly, there’s been very few opportunities for us through the school. I mean, this we had to fight tooth and nail for,” Orr said. “It would be really important for Pitt to do more school sponsored stuff that combines the general scene of people interested in music with the scenes they might not know about.”

WPTS Radio, a Pitt student organization that highlights underground musicians, presented the third opener LANNDS. Everett Cannon, an undeclared junior and a member of WPTS, said he hopes students might find something new to enjoy at big events like Fall Fest.

“Even if it’s not in the wheelhouse of what some students like, in exposing them to it, they might find something they like,” Cannon said. 

Regardless of the performers’ profile at Pitt, Cannon said having live music on campus is always valuable.

“Live music is huge in general. I think it [Fall Fest] gets students excited about being at Pitt,” Cannon said. “Getting to say ‘my favorite artist came to Pitt’ is cool.”

For first year students like Isaac Mains, Fall Fest is one of the first large events they’ve attended at Pitt. Seeing the diverse lineup of artists, Mains said Fall Fest shows students Pitt’s  commitment to uplifting all their interests. 

“A lot of schools don’t have stuff like [Fall Fest],” Mains said. “It empowers students to feel free to express themselves how they want to.”