Hundreds of students made their way through Stevenson College’s lower quad and spilled onto the knoll. Tables set up for face painting and screen printing led to clumps of students sitting, standing and dancing while gazing at the stage that overlooked the Monterey Bay.
Stevenson Student Council and Cultural Arts and Diversity (CAD) teamed up for the first time to present this year’s Rock and Roll on the Knoll last Saturday.
The weaving of poetry between music performances served as a mini intermission throughout the 10-hour event. CAD member Miguel Sarabia, who was the liaison between Stevenson College and CAD’s board of directors, said he hoped to bridge the two mediums.
“Poetry as intermission was great because it kept the audience attentive,” Sarabia said. “It’s important to foster community and diversity in our spaces.”
Nervous to perform the poetry he had written only an hour before his reading, the uncertainty of reception from the crowd added to his anxiety.
“The audience members who did engage, did really feel our words, they were snapping, and they actually listened,” Sarabia said.
A variety of performers brought students bustling to the knoll, but the audience was not an easy one. Concertgoers were honest when they didn’t like what was going on, walking away from the stage and then coming back to the center of the crowd when they enjoyed the performances.
Stevenson Student Council discussed the setlist with attention to what sounds would be enjoyable at certain times of the day. Although Stevenson Student Council’s main focus was the evolution of the music, it was also focused on unifying the different mediums of art.
“We wanted it to be music based, however we also wanted to make room for people who wanted to come out and make different kinds of art,” said Stevenson Student Council Chair Guillermo E. Rogel, Jr. “We had screen printings with the Love Foundation and the mural, which was great. People could see what goes into 10 hours of painting it.”
Some bands, like Sweet Peaches, drove from Berkeley and others made the strenuous drive from Los Angeles. Franco Funktion, a family band, rocked its set with funky vibrations. The band members oozed radness from every aspect of their performance, from their ‘70s attire right down to their humility. The vibe smoothed out to calm reggae and hip-hop fusion as Franco Funktion started its set with a cover of Rick James’ “Mary Jane.” The beat switched as the band increased the tempo to a ska-like Southern California sound that danced and mingled with bits of cumbia.
Franco Funktion manager and UC Santa Cruz alumna Brenda Covarrubias Guevara was excited to participate in the first CAD and Stevenson event. She said it will expand the diversity of the college for years to come. Although the lack of diversity among “knollgoers” was apparent, she talked about the importance of not letting that detract from the meaning of the performances themselves.
“Sometimes people just disengage or have other stuff going on,” Covarrubias said. “I don’t think that reflects the talent or importance of having important truths spoken at large gatherings.”
Overall, she said she was happy to bring back a performance to the community that she once resided in as a member of CAD and president of Rainbow Theater.
“It was beautiful to have an ocean view and enjoy music and the scenery with others,” Covarrubias said. “A lot of people seemed to really like Franco Funktion so that was great to travel up here for a show and receive such a good response.”
Alumni and current students were invited by Stevenson Student Council to perform at the event. Franco Funktion’s bassist Jacob Franco and singer Julia Franco were among those alumni.
Eliquate, which closed out the night, tied together the experience of this year’s Rock and Roll on the Knoll. Eliquate’s sound combined hip-hop and rock with lyrics that were deeply rooted and critical of the world. The rhythm and flow provided the release that allowed listeners to let go and enjoy the night. With the two musical components in sync, some audience members bobbed their heads to the poetic and lyrical words that dealt with world issues, while others danced to guitar chords and basslines.