Pep It Up! An Interview with the PC Pep Band Seniors
by Ryan Cox ’18
A&E Staff Emeritus
The Providence College Pep Band is part of Friartown’s heart and soul. I got a chance to talk to three of the seniors—Kasey Cardin ’18, Sam Mahoney ’18, and Kyle Van Dzura ’18—about their memories with the “best band in the land.”
Ryan Cox: What motivated you to join?
Kasey Cardin: I wanted to be involved with music in some way at PC, and I saw the Pep Band everywhere. I fell in love with them when I came to Accepted Students Day.
Kyle Van Dzura: I saw the Pep Band at Accepted Students Day, and I knew right away that I needed to be a part of it. Even passing Friar fans notice how much the band acts like family.
RC: What are some of your favorite songs from the Pep Band?
KC: “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band played it when I went to Accepted Students Day, and I got goosebumps when I got to play it at my first rehearsal.
Sam Mahoney: I really enjoyed “September,” “Jungle Boogie,” and “Thriller.” They always remind me of the band from now on.
KV: “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” by James Brown. It’s the first tune I learned how to solo on, so it holds a special place in my heart.
RC: What are some of your favorite Pep Band memories?
KC: I always wanted to storm the court, so getting to do that at the Villanova game was awesome. We are so lucky to get to do all these incredible things for free.
SM: I always enjoyed traveling, especially to Raleigh and Charlotte. I got to perform at the NCAA National Hockey Championship and actually watch the Friars win that game.
KV: The 2018 Basketball Big East Tournament. I took a half day from student teaching and took a six-hour bus ride to New York. I’m not saying I’m a good luck charm, but when I arrived the team was down by 17 against Xavier and we went on to win in overtime. It was one of the best games I’ve ever seen.
RC: What are you going to miss the most?
KC: What isn’t there to miss? The worst part is you only get four years.
KV: I’ve met my roommates, best friends, and girlfriend because of Pep Band. The games are fun, but it’s the members that make the Pep Band the best band in the land.
RC: What advice would you give to anyone interested in joining?
SM: There’s room for everyone. Everyone in the group has different talents that all contribute to the ensemble.
KV: You’ll get four years of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and the chance to jam with some of the best musicians at PC. Enjoy every moment. Most importantly, be yourself. You’ll see me with ridiculous face paint or dancing like an idiot. In high school, I was ridiculed for doing that. In the Pep Band, I’m accepted. This band is so special because it’s a place where anyone is welcome, regardless of who they are.
The Big East Welcomes eSports Club to its Conference
by Ryan Cox ’18
Who said the Big East has to be strictly physical sports? This weekend the Providence eSports Club, a team of students competing in video game tournaments, sent teams in Rocket League and League of Legends to Big East playoffs. This is the first semester that the club has been in existence, and teams have only played together for a few weeks. Providence eSports also has Hearthstone and Overwatch teams that play in third-party tournaments through Tespa, a collegiate eSports organization.
The club’s co-presidents are Zachary Gandara ’19 and Matthew McGuane ’20, and the club is made up of about 70 members, a mix of casual and competitive players. “The club accepts people who play all games, on any platform,” said Gandara. “You don’t have to be a competitive player to join. We want it to be a fun environment for everyone, not just for competitive players.”
Gandara and McGuane admitted that putting teams together took some time, but was worth the time and effort. “The school came to us and basically said, ‘you know the students, you know who would be interested.’ So, we scouted to get the teams together and coordinated captains just by knowing everyone,” said Gandara. “PC got into it because of pressure from Big East. Other schools have had teams for a while,” such as DePaul University and Villanova University.
Because of the timing of the tournament and how quickly it was put together, seeding was determined by a Swiss-style tournament, where every team plays every other team in the pool before the top four teams moved on to semifinals. Providence College was expected to finish last because the team was so new, but finished fourth overall in League of Legends, losing to the champion, DePaul.
“For such little time and having been seeded so low, the team did an incredible job,” said Gandara.In addition to playing on the club’s Overwatch team, Gandara also leads the club’s production team, which includes streaming the matches, hiring commentators, and keeping the match coverage running smoothly.
For their first semester in operation, and the first year that eSports have been recognized by the Big East, the streams did exceptionally well, with around 700 viewers watching the live stream via the Electronic Sports League (ESL).
As for non-Big East play, the competitive teams within Providence eSports have competed in tournaments through Tespa, mainly on Activision Blizzard games, such as Overwatch. Gandara, a member of Overwatch is currently ranked 200th in the United States.
Gandara hopes that in the future the team can have a space dedicated for the club, instead of reserving the lower level of Ruane for playing and production. The Office of Student Activities and Cultural Programming has expressed their desire to give the club space in the Slavin Center. Administrators hope that the central location will allow the student body to rally behind the newly-formed team.
Within the Big East, the eSports division plans to establish a regular season and a tournament system similar to the Big East athletics playoffs. The NCAA has yet to recognize eSports as an official part of collegiate athletics, but pressure from the Big East and the growing popularity of eSports are pushing the NCAA toward recognizing eSports soon.
Providence eSports is now open to all interested members, both those who want to play competitively or those who wish to play casually.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert Sets New Standards for Live Theater Productions
Ryan Cox ’18
Many Christians and theater-lovers alike wrapped up their Easter celebrations with NBC’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar Live, which starred John Legend as Jesus and Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene. The acclaimed musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice tells the story of Jesus Christ, beginning with the Apostles’ first following him, briefly touching upon his ministry, and concluding with the Last Supper and Crucifixion.
Jesus Christ Superstar is the latest production in a trend of live musical productions aired on the major television networks. This trend has included The Sound of Music, starring Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp, Grease! featuring Vanessa Hudgens, and Hairspray featuring Disney star Dove Cameron and former popstar Ariana Grande.
Star-studded casting has been a hallmark of all of these live productions as it helps to draw attention to the production and drive up viewership. However, this move has been criticized for the risk in trying to turn pop artists into Broadway-grade actors.
This time, it seemed as though critics viewed the star-studded casting more positively. Vanity Fair wrote, “stunt casting is by now a staple of these events…Legend is a relative newcomer to the world of musical theater, but…even at rehearsal, he was already putting his stamp on Jesus’s vocals.”
On Easter night, Legend’s performance exceeded expectations. Despite being more of a high baritone and Jesus being written for a tenor, Legend’s smooth, rich timbre fits the music surprisingly well. His acting seemed a little rocky at first, but owned the role by the crucifixion at the end, playing it poignantly and dramatically.
Bareilles seemed made for Mary Magdalene’s role. Her solos, including “Everything’s Alright” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” sit in a perfect register for her. That, combined with the vulnerability and calmness in her voice, made her performance exceptional. Bareilles seemed natural on the stage, due to her successful run starring in Waitress: the Musical.
Rock icon Alice Cooper made an appearance at the end of the show as King Herod. Visually, Cooper was a great selection for Herod, considering the show’s goth/punk set and costume design. However, his acting felt dry and unconnected. This is perhaps rightfully so, considering the character he was playing, but it was difficult to tell if he was playing himself or playing Herod.
Despite what seems to be a hit-or-miss trend in producing these live TV musicals, they cater to a wide audience. There is a unique merit to staging these shows live so as to convey the excitement and unpredictability of a live musical. It makes Broadway theatre more easily accessible to those who cannot afford to travel to New York City or are not near a touring stop. After all, if you cannot bring people to the theater, bring theatre to the people.
There is no confirmation yet on any upcoming projects, but if the generally positive feedback is to be a gauge for the success of this trend, these kinds of productions have a bright future ahead.
Ciao! From Across the Pond: Providence College Honors Program Travels to Florence, Italy
by Ryan Cox ’18
Almost 80 students and faculty members from Providence College’s Liberal Arts Honors Program spent their spring break in Florence, Italy. The program chooses a new destination every year, usually a city in Europe. The program was centered mostly in Florence but included excursions to Rome, Siena, San Gimignano, and Lucca.
While taking in the art, architecture, and food of the so-called “cradle of the Renaissance,” many students opted to explore the Piazza del Duomo. Located in the center of the city of Florence, the plaza is marked by the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, otherwise known as “Il Duomo di Firenze.” With the purchase of one ticket for 18 euros, tourists are given a 72-hour window to see the inside of the cathedral, climb the dome (with a reservation), explore the Baptistery, and tour the Duomo museum.
The Duomo still serves as an active Roman Catholic church, and daily Masses are offered before and after museum hours. This offers faithful Catholics an incredible opportunity to attend mass in the basilica while taking in the ornate Gothic and Renaissance artwork which decorates it.
Our tour guide’s advice was simple: climb to the top of every city to which you travel. The 463-step climb takes about 15 minutes and offers a bird’s-eye view of Florence from the center of the city. The breathtaking view at 376 feet is flanked by the Apennine mountains on the east side and the Piazzale Michelangelo on the west side. The Piazzale Michelangelo is situated at a higher elevation than the Duomo and offers another panoramic view overlooking the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Basilica di Santa Croce.
The inside of the Duomo displays artwork primarily by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi. The masterpiece on the Duomo’s interior, however, is a large fresco painted on the interior of the cupola itself. The 3,600-square meter fresco by Giorgio Vasari depicts the Last Judgment, showing the fires of Hell but placing a natural emphasis on Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the saints.
The Baptistery in the center of the Piazza del Duomo features three sets of doors by Ghiberti. The original doors are now found in the Duomo museum, but the replica doors still depict detailed scenes from the Bible, done in relief, and were called the “Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo.
The campanile, or bell tower, was constructed by Giotto. The 277-foot climb to the top also offers a panoramic view of the city that also includes a view of the Duomo. Students on the trip generally agreed that the view at the top of the bell tower was nice because it included the Duomo in the panorama, but the view atop the Duomo itself was more impressive.
For students in the Honors Program, these trips offer the opportunity of a lifetime to become immersed in cities central to western history. Students from all classes on the trip constantly commented on how the sights of Florence connected to the Development of Western Civilization curriculum, especially the freshmen who were preparing to begin Dante’s “Divine Comedy” once the group returned to Providence.
Next year’s destination has yet to formally be announced but promises to once again provide both an exhaustive, and an exhausting, week abroad.
Scotty McCreery: Success After American Idol
by Ryan Cox ’18
American Idol winner Scotty McCreery has had a busy five years since releasing his last studio album, See You Tonight. While still studying at North Carolina State University, he headlined a tour with The Voice alumna Danielle Bradbery and opened for Rascal Flatts. He published a book, and got engaged to his long-time girlfriend. Now, the 24-year-old Garner, North Carolina native has been back in the studio working on his fourth studio album, Seasons Change.
“In the last five years, I have grown from a teenager to a man, moved out on my own, lost my grandfather, proposed to the love of my life, and learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined,” McCreery told Billboard. Regarding the 11 songs on the album, he said, “I feel like I’m having a conversation with everyone that listens. It’s that personal.”
Since announcing Seasons Change, McCreery has slowly released a handful of songs from the record, starting last May with “Five More Minutes.” McCreery has since released three other songs from the record: “Wherever You Are,” “In Between,” and the most recent release, “Home in my Mind.” This is McCreery’s first album produced on Triple Tigers Records, instead of American Idol’s Interscope/19 label.
“Five More Minutes” has set up the deeply personal, reflective tone for the album. A particular kind of honesty and poignancy is one of the hallmarks of country music. “Five More Minutes” is a reminder of the “three chords and the truth” philosophy that grounds authentic country music. Country legend Randy Travis even called the song “storytelling and country music at its best.” As of Sunday, February 25, “Five More Minutes” has become McCreery’s first number one single on Billboard Country Airplay Charts.
“Wherever You Are” and “In Between” help to establish a more mature version of the style that McCreery has developed since Idol. “Wherever You Are” especially highlights the mix of modern, rock-influenced country and McCreery’s old-school, Josh Turner-style baritone. It seems to push McCreery’s vocal range and could easily become a song of the summer.
“Home in my Mind,” the most recent release, strikes a chord especially among college-aged fans and can relate to college students world wide. It seems to be the most genuine song of the three more recent releases and could easily become a successful single down the road.
What could be missing from the album thus far is the bass vocals that attracted audiences to McCreery back in 2011 during his Idol audition. This set him apart from his competition on the show and continues to set him apart from his competition in Nashville. Ever since country began to fuse with pop music, there is a lack of these country baritones that makes the genre unique; featuring his lower register could certainly help drive McCreery to the top of the charts.
It is clear that McCreery has developed a style that works for him and the raw sound that is presented in these four songs . With these sounds, fans are able to connect toe Season Change on a personal level.
The album will be release on March 16, both as a digital download and physical copy.
Let’s Rant: The Providence Music Scene
by Ryan Cox ’18
Travel and Leisure ranked Providence the second most-cultured city in America, behind New York City, in 2015. Thrillist ranked it the second best city for college students in the United States in 2016, behind Austin, Texas. Momondo placed it among the most underrated travel destinations in the United States in 2017, along with Albuquerque, Sacramento, and Atlantic City. So what is this mysterious city others describe as remarkably artistic?
The city is Providence, Rhode Island, the one we call home for nine months of the year. For us Providence College Friars, it is no surprise that Providence stands tall alongside these big cities. Events like WaterFire, destinations like Westminster Street, and venues like the Providence Performing Arts Center have made Providence one of the art capitals of the country.
This reputation draws many big-name acts of all kinds to its historic venues. The Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, and The Strand, formerly Lupo’s, draw some of the top names in music year-round. In addition to drawing in headline talent, Providence also supports local talent seeking to enter into the music business.
The Met, just north of Providence but still in the Providence metropolitan area, hosts both rising acts and local artists. The venue is known for musical diversity; the Met will host local jazz/funk band Brass Attack and former pop star Aaron Carter within three days of each other in February. PC’s own Adam Hanna ’18 has performed at the Met on a number of occasions as well, proving the Met’s commitment to supporting local artists.
Until it switched to a low-power station, Brown University’s radio station WBRU, 101.1 FM, formerly 95.5 FM, hosted the Rock Hunt, an annual summer battle of the bands in which local rock bands performed for a chance to headline the WBRU Summer Concert Series at Waterplace Park in downtown Providence.
For many of the acts, the Rock Hunt was their chance at local stardom, and scores of bands vied for their shot on the finals stage at the Met, and again at the Summer Concert Series. It is unknown if the Rock Hunt will continue now that WBRU is no longer a statewide radio station. WBRU also features local acts in a segment they call “Home BRU’d,” most recently featuring Providence-based “art rock” band Roz and the Rice Cakes in October 2017.
These are just two examples of the way Providence and Rhode Island as a whole supports its rising musical talents. Bars and restaurants statewide host local acoustic musicians and full bands almost nightly. From Point Street Dueling Pianos to G Pub, Providence’s local, unique businesses recognize and support the same kinds of musical talent that help breathe life into one of the most artsy cities in the United States.
In a business where talent has to constantly fight for performance opportunities, Providence welcomes its rising musicians with open arms, giving them some opportunity in a dog-eat-dog world.
Celebrating 130 Years of The National Geographic
by Ryan Cox ’18
The National Geographic Society began in 1888 as a club for elite academics to discuss—you guessed it, geography. On Jan. 27, they celebrated the 130th anniversary of their incorporation, marking almost a century and a half of scientific education and natural preservation. From 33 founding members in Washington, D.C., the Society has become one of the largest nonprofit scientific education institutions in the world.
Gardiner Greene Hubbard was the Society’s first president. His son-in-law and successor was Alexander Graham Bell, who later invented the telephone. Bell’s son-in-law, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, was the first editor of the National Geographic magazine. Bell remained such an avid supporter of the National Geographic Society that the Society now awards a medal in his name to significant contributers to geographic research.
In 2004, the National Geographic Society’s headquarters became the first existing building to receive a “green” certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, showing that the Society existed not only to talk about environmental issues but also to be a model for change. Over its 130-year history, they have sponsored many research and exploration initiatives, such as Robert Peary and Matthew Henson’s expedition to the North Pole in 1905, and Jane Goodall’s research on chimpanzees.
In addition to their scientific initiatives, the National Geographic Society is perhaps best known for their media, specifically their magazine. The first issue of the magazine was published in September 1888, just nine months after the society was founded. It was originally created to be distributed as a reward for being a member of the Society. Its now-signature yellow border was not adopted until 1910.
In its monthly issues, National Geographic includes articles on geography, popular science, and world history. It is best known for its photography; Bell first advocated for the use of illustrations in the magazine and National Geographic has since established a trademark high standard for its photographs. Since 2006, the Society has hosted an international photography competition.
In film, the National Geographic Society has sponsored a handful of films on wildlife and environmental protection, most notably March of the Penguins, the critically acclaimed 2005 documentary which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2006.
The National Geographic Society also launched a television channel in 2001 under a partnership with Fox Cable Networks, which highlights the work of leading scientists in wildlife and geography, such as Jane Goodall and Louis Leakey.
These features have propelled Goodall, Leakey, and other scientists to international fame. Prior to their TV channel, the Society aired specials on PBS and other major networks.
In an age where scientific thought is often questioned, it seems as though the National Geographic Society is recognizing their position as a cultural force and using it to combat doubt. Their media outlets and events like the National Geographic Bee help to keep the public aware of the world around them, and informed about the way in which it is changing.
Netflix Announces a Fortunate Event: Fans Anticipate a New Season of A Series of Unfortunate Events
by Ryan Cox ’18
When Netflix first announced a television adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s popular, children’s book series A Series of Unfortunate Events, critics were skeptical. The 2004 feature film starring Jim Carrey as Count Olaf received generally mixed to poor reviews and was a failed attempt at turning the book series into a film franchise.
The Netflix series, which premiered in January 2017 and stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, however, worked around the mistakes of the film, and its second season is slated to premiere on March 30.
Following the format of the first season, each book of the series occupies two episodes of the season, allowing the creators to flesh out all the details in the plot. Season two picks up where season one left off and will cover books five through nine of the series: The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital, and The Carnivorous Carnival.
Season one received a 93 percent fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus: “enjoyably dark, A Series of Unfortunate Events matches the source material’s narrative as well as its tone, leaving viewers with a wonderfully weird, dry, gothic comedy.” The show was also praised for its handling of themes of grief and loss, in addition to its set design and casting.
The second season, then, has a considerable amount of pressure to live up to. Its teaser trailer featured Harris as Count Olaf, but did not offer many details besides the release date. Online sources showed no additional information, and it seems that Daniel Handler (real name of Lemony Snicket and executive producer of the series) is keeping the project as quiet as possible.
Handler did acknowledge the possibility of a third season, admitting that he hopes Netflix will green-light the final season. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Handler said, “We hope to get the go-ahead to do season three, which…given how quickly young actors age and change, we’re trying to film everything as quickly as possible…The third season would be the rest of [the book series].”
In addition to Harris, the series includes Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, and Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire. The first season features Will Arnett, Joan Cusack, and Alfre Woodard, and the second season plans to include Tony Hale, Nathan Fillion, and Sara Rue in its supporting cast.
Season one of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is now streaming. Season two is scheduled to release on March 30 at 12:01 a.m.
I’ll Take “HQ Trivia” for $2,000
by Ryan Cox ’18
The mobile app HQ Trivia has taken the world by storm, attracting over one million “HQties” who log on almost daily to play. The new, free-to-play quiz show app is revolutionary to some, while simply another fad to others. Regardless, it has workplaces coming to a screeching halt during the week.
The premise is simple: every weekday at 3 and 9 p.m. the app hosts a live trivia game open to anybody who has downloaded the app. The host, usually comedian Scott Rogowsky, asks 12 questions ranging from easy to difficult. If you get a question wrong, you are eliminated. Those left standing at the end of 12 questions split a cash jackpot of $2,000, although some special games have jackpots at $10,000 or higher.
It sounds too good to be true, especially since HQ has no way to make a profit off the app itself. The founders, Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, also founded the now-defunct app Vine. So in addition to their profits from Vine, the app is funded through venture capital.
Yusupov stated in an interview with Time that he received “a ton of interests from brands and agencies who want to collaborate,” but the app has yet to include sponsored questions or ads. A $20 minimum on cashing out any winnings, the high number of winners splitting the pot, and a low chance of repeating victory also help to save HQ money.
The cash, flashy graphics, and quick pace of the game has made it wildly popular over the last several months. A record 1.2 million players competed for a $10,000 prize on Jan. 3, although the game averages about 400,000 to 600,000 players. It remains popular despite constant technical difficulties.
“Players are regularly booted from the game without explanation. The live host’s face is frequently obscured by the wheel of death. Sometimes, the whole game is scrapped for mysterious technical reasons,” said the New York Times, “and yet, as many as half a million people are tuning in for each session.” Recent updates to the app seem to have quelled many of these issues as recent games have been running without crashing.
These difficulties are in addition to Yusupov’s meltdown with The Daily Beast in response to a profile being run on Rogowsky. According to The Daily Beast, “[Yusupov] said that we were ‘completely unauthorized’ to write about Scott or HQ without his approval…even after The Daily Beast explained that the story was framed around Scott’s daily life and that he revealed no corporate information.” Yusupov later denied to The Daily Beast ever having such a conversation.
Rogowsky’s quirky sense of humor earned him a cult following, and players either love him or love to hate him. Despite all the negative press, HQ seems stronger than ever. It recently launched on Android phones, driving up daily viewership. Coworkers frequently take a collective break at 3 p.m. to play together. Families on Christmas and New Year’s teamed up to try to take down the 12-question gauntlet. In a world where phones are attacked for wrecking human interaction, HQ seems to be a step in the right direction.
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? To Get the New Animal Crossing App: Nintendo Releases Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
by Ryan Cox ’18
The Animal Crossing series has been a mainstay of the Nintendo franchise since its inception in 2001 for the Nintendo 64. Since then, four iterations of the series have been developed and released for several of Nintendo’s hallmark home and handheld consoles. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is the first of the series to be released on mobile devices.
The series looks and feels almost like a standard Animal Crossing game. You create your character and are put into a village inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. Unlike the main games where some of the animals are already members of your village, you arrive at an empty campsite. Your general goal is to visit other animals’ campsites and invite them to visit your own, done by performing certain favors for the animals.
You can buy furniture and upgrade your campsite by collecting materials such as wood and fabric and exchanging it for various furniture. This system gives Pocket Camp a much more tedious, farming-based feel, rather than the commercial aspect of the main games. To my knowledge, there is no sell-for-profit mechanic in Pocket Camp, unlike the main games where fish and other items can be sold for Bells (the in-game currency), which can in turn be used to purchase tools or furniture.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is, at best, a good introduction to the Animal Crossing series, and a good way to pass the time. It lacks the depth and freedom of the main games. The favors that the animals ask for turn the game more mission-based than open-world. Longtime fans of the series will especially notice this lack of depth, and may be left hoping for more.
Model Chrissy Teigen nailed this sentiment on Twitter, writing “pocket animal crossing might be okay for you [Animal Crossing] newbies but for us tom nook loyalists…it lacks the heart [of the real Animal Crossing]. The soul. It’s a sandwich without meat. A car with no tires.”
Every aspect of the game’s aesthetic—the graphics, the characters, the soundtrack and sound effects—feels like a real, authentic, Animal Crossing title. Because of the mobile nature of the game, however, Pocket Camp feels like a shell of the real thing. It misses the open-world, exploratory nature of the Animal Crossing series because it is so watered down.
For those looking to try out the Animal Crossing series: Pocket Camp is a great introduction into the franchise. It is certainly a great way to pass the time. Series purists, however, may be turned off by the superficial nature of the mobile version, as backed by Metacritic’s 76 percent rating. It is a good, entertaining installation of the series, but it is overshadowed by its console predecessors.