As the strains of an electric guitar rose through the air, a growing crowd staggered down the Porter apartment infill through the rising fog. The students came to watch their friends and hallmates jam for one infamous day known as Porterpalooza.
“Porterpalooza is an annual event put on by Residential Life here at Porter College,” said Derek Denny, a Porter resident assistant and Porterpalooza event organizer. “It’s a chance to showcase all of the talent concentrated at Porter, across UCSC and just around Santa Cruz too.”
Porterpalooza ’09 hosted innumerable bands and performers from across the UC Santa Cruz campus, all of whom came out in the cold to play at Porter College. Ranging from acoustic indie songwriters to hip-hop ensembles to screaming rock balladeers and everything in between, it was evident that the people of Porter know how to have a good time.
Denny, a second-year, wanted to model this year’s event after popular music festivals such as Coachella and the Porterpalooza namesake, Lollapalooza, by providing a more inviting environment for concertgoers.
“I wanted to add more things to do throughout the day so kids would stick around,” Denny said. “We provided free popcorn and cotton candy, body painting and sidewalk chalk to keep the crowd entertained while the concert went on.”
While the free food and entertainment appeased the crowds, the prospect of quality, student-performed music kept most out of their pajamas for the day. James Forrest, a Porter first-year and drummer for Parliament Grass, was the first act of the day.
“Porterpalooza is just great,” Forrest said. “Currently at Porter we don’t have a place to practice our music besides our rooms, and it’s awesome to see that everyone can still get together and pull off this show.”
Without facilities in which to practice, bands and soloists have gathered in their rooms to practice every night until quiet hours force the jamming to stop. Because the ongoing construction of the Porter B and C buildings blocks access to the Fireside Lounge, Porter musicians have to utilize creativity to keep their craft alive.
Despite the setback in practice time, Porterpalooza performers managed to each play 20-minute sets, totaling about nine hours of music. Some played covers, while others showcased their own material. Many signed up to play for fun, but others, such as Porter first-year Lonny Jones, used the festival to gain experience for later gigs.
“I’ve made it to the semifinals in a songwriter’s contest at Mars Studios in Aptos,” said Jones, a soulful singer-songwriter. “Playing the fest is good practice for what I’ll have to do soon.”
Performers also used the event to promote themselves and sell merchandise. The duo Teenage Galaxy sold buttons emblazoned with their pictures and lyrics for a dollar. They also fashioned tinfoil headbands for followers to show their support of the band. No Jet Left gave away demo CDs, but assured audience members that they could “pay for them if they really wanted to.”
“Porter attracts a wide range of people and music and talents,” Jones said. “But I think that can be expected, don’t you?”