A new society for soloists
Students create UB Solo club, hold first music showcase
Manuel Pena Cruz has struggled to involve himself in the music scene at UB during his early years of college.
The senior psychology major was an active musician in high school and the president of his high school music club for two years. When he arrived at UB, Pena Cruz joined The Buffalo Chips –– UB’s male a cappella group –– but soon realized that the group wasn’t for him. He is more of a solo artist.
He soon realized other solo artists on campus share a similar experience.
“There's so many talented students here and they just need to get out of their bubble –– the same bubble I’ve been in for the past few years,” Pena Cruz said.
So he decided to pop the bubble and founded a new club on campus: UB Solo.
UB Solo, founded in early October, is a club for students interested in the music industry. It is not yet recognized by the Student Association, but the club’s leadership is working to gain recognition as soon as possible. Club members believe a community is important for artists to grow their individual careers, as the club provides the opportunity for artists to learn from one another, enhance their networking skills and collaborate.
UB Solo plans to hold regular workshops for students to learn about artistry and plans to hold biweekly showcases called “Show-off Saturdays.”
UB Solo held its first ever showcase on Saturday at the firepit outside of Greiner Hall.
The showcase featured six performers and two DJs. Each performer put on a short set while the DJs kept the music going in between. The show lasted from 7:30 p.m. until 9 p.m.
The club lit a small fire in a grill to provide warmth and s’mores to their fans.
Members of UB Solo promoted their showcase on social media and by posting flyers across campus.
Over 30 people showed up to watch.
Members of UB Solo hope that being a part of the club will help them reach a wider audience. Performing shows together allows artists to perform for other artists’ fans and friends.
Club members also believe that being a part of a collective will allow them to grow artistically. Each artist brings something unique to the club and members hope that they can all learn something new from each other.
“This club exposes me to different types of artists and different types of music and working with them collaboratively helps me grow as an artist,” Isaac Rizkallah, a freshman business administration major and vice president of UB Solo, said.
Members of the club have experience in different aspects of the music industry, so workshops are also a time for members to pass on knowledge to each other.
“I want people to have each other's backs and so far everybody has been superb at being teammates and helping each other out with social media, shout outs, all that stuff,” Pena Cruz said. “We even have DJs teaching DJs with less experience.”
AJ Franklin, a freshman business administration major known around campus as “Boombox Guy,” is using his campus fame to help promote the club.
“Seeing that I can be a part of this and help them spread their name so quickly is always good to know,” Franklin said. “It feels like I’m helping the cause.”
Pena Cruz wants UB Solo members to improve their abilities quickly and so far he says he’s getting the results he hoped for.
“In these two weeks, I’ve seen these guys start with unfinished songs and finish them and get prepared for performances like [Saturday’s showcase],” Pena Cruz said. “Their stage presence has gone up so much in the span of weeks.”
UB Solo intends to host more showcases in the coming weeks and its next event is a rap cypher, with details to come.
Pena Cruz believes that the most important part of making it in the music industry is “getting out there.” He hopes that Saturday’s showcase and the showcases in the future allow all UB Solo members to show off their skills and make their names known.
“Eventually, if we're good enough, I'm hoping we will become something known on campus.”
Julian Roberts-Grmela is a features desk editor and can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @GrmelaJulian.