Featured image photo by Michael Marado
by Michael Marado
Lovers of live music and art, keep your ears to the ground. Youngstown’s favorite festival is back and better than ever!
The fourth annual Federal Frenzy festival was held Saturday, April 21. For the uninitiated, Federal Frenzy is a local music and arts festival located right in the heart of downtown Youngstown on Federal Street. The festival is organized by Youngstown State University’s Penguin Productions team.
Penguin Productions is a student-led organization that promotes events for students in and around the YSU campus.
Past Federal Frenzies have included headliners like Judah and the Lion, Reel Big Fish and Bully. This year’s headliner is the Los Angeles alternative pop band, Smallpools.
Chad Miller, music director of the Akron-based radio affiliate 91.3 FM, The Summit, which partners with Penguin Productions to host Federal Frenzy, described how Penguin Productions booked headliner, Smallpools.
“It just so happened their tour routing made its way around here. I think they’re playing here at the House of Blues on May 7. That’s three weeks before [Federal Frenzy]. That’s what you have to look for, tour routing,” Miller says.
In addition to featuring national touring music acts, Federal Frenzy also features local musical talent during the day. Past festivals have featured the likes of Spirit of the Bear and the Vindys, as well as many more bands from the Youngstown area. To squeeze all that talent into one day, the music is spread across multiple stages, all but two of which are housed in various local establishments like Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts, O’Donold’s and Whistle and Keg.
Penguin Productions’ hospitality lead, Hannah Telesz, provided more details on the venues featuring local acts when interviewed before the event.
“We have the second floor of the Federal building which is called the Lemon Grove and the floor above that as well … we’re going to showcase another art gallery in there,” Telesz says.
“We’re going to have acoustic sets in there too and a lot more art for our families, groups and students to interact with as well.”
Drake Hankins, a co-event lead for Federal Frenzy, explained how talent was chosen to play the festival.
“A lot of it is picking out which bands, and what genres we want to [feature],” Hankins says.
“We like to [make the line up] more diverse, but if we want to have a certain genre as our headliner, we want stuff that’s going to complement it but it also be different … not have the same kind of music,” Hankins explains, adding that festival organizers also pick YSU bands that have different “vibes” to cater to a different musical tastes.
The festival’s fun includes more than music. Federal Frenzy also hosts a variety of other amenities including but not limited to food vendors, art showcases and family-friendly activities.
Telesz details the vendor contributions to Federal Frenzy.
“Last year we started incorporating a lot of different vendors. We worked a lot with the Youngstown Flea to get those vendors … They just sell multiple different items and we have them lined up in the middle of the street. So everything ranging from cookies to home beauty products to kettle corn to all kinds of different items [are] there,” Telesz says.
Hankins describes some other entertaining amenities offered.
“This year we’re doing a lot with the art, such as an art gallery. We’re having live art on the streets,” Hankins explains.
“We’re [also] incorporating dance groups [from] campus, as well as all our music venues and our two outdoor stages.”
Telesz explains why she believes Federal Frenzy is so remarkable.
“I think the one thing that makes it so special is that it’s students that are working on this project, being able to perform and put on this event for 5,000 people in the community and students as well,” Telesz says.
“I think that’s the most important part and I think that’s what makes it so special – any student at the university … could do that or be a part of this as well.”
Miller adds his opinion of the impact Federal Frenzy has on the greater Youngstown community.
“It’s just a great thing that they [the city and the university] do every year to help revitalize that area and give the people of Youngstown, not just the students of Youngstown State, but the people of Youngstown, something to go out and do and look forward to and be a part of,” Miller says.
“It’s all part of the revitalization of the community. It’s a street fair party and its free. There’s live music out there and they’ve had some pretty significant bands play these. And you know just all the communities, shops and restaurants and businesses of downtown get a lot of business that day.”
Danny Svenson, keyboardist for Spirit of the Bear, describes how he feels about the festival.
“I love the sense of community it brings to the table” Svenson says.
“We have an awesome saturation of art and music talent [in Youngstown], but not enough events that actually tie everything together, and I think Federal Frenzy does just that very well.”
Jordan Audia, a past attendee of Federal Frenzy, weighed in on the festival.
“I think it’s a big step in the right direction for local events,” Audia says.
“I’ve been to the festival every year since 2015 and it’s only gotten better. Despite weather complications or traffic diversions, Penguin Productions always does a great job putting together a full experience involving both regional and local acts, and every year they’ve done a better job with booking bigger acts that people actually want to see.”
For more information on the festivals and the complete lineup, visit the official Federal Frenzy facebook page.