Rowan Alternative Works to Keep the Crowd Alive During COVID-19

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Gerren Sayco (top right) and James Lynch (bottom) hang out with fellow Rowan Alternative members. Gerren and James plan to safely keep their club going this semester. / Photo via Gerren Sayco

The music scene at Rowan University has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the last few years. With notable performances from Tigers Jaw, Sweet Pill and Paper Native, the campus provides a spot for local talents, as well as big names in the business. Despite the unprecedented times we have found ourselves in, students still have the opportunity to connect virtually in a safe space to share their musical passion and cultivate friendships. 

Rowan Alternative, a notable music club on campus, has been a prime example of branding themselves around this message. Described as “aiming to nurture and preserve the Glassboro music scene” on their social media, Rowan Alternative has been consistent in their inclusivity and determination to keep the music scene alive.

Serving as President and Vice President for the academic year respectively, senior Gerren Sayco and junior James Lynch knew the differences this year would present for the club and the preparation that needed to be taken.

“There was a decent amount of time where people were in their houses and couldn’t really leave. It’s a lot of time to reflect on what me and James should be doing,” Sayco said. “We were pretty proactive over the summer when it comes to meetings and ideas. We didn’t really stop to an extent.”

As the semester has progressed, the duo have worked closely together to mediate each of their departments, as well as developing creative alternatives to keep the club engaged. One way, which both agree has proven to be successful, is the creation of a Discord server. Found on their social media platforms, this link directs users to a group chat of nearly 100 members (both students and non-students) where club meetings are held, and all can engage in discussions of newly discovered artists, trade playlists and more. 

With the development of virtual meetings has come the idea for virtual shows. Similar to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, a virtual series of intimate performances, Rowan Alternative has begun to plan live sessions to record and post for members to view.

“We’re still doing a couple of tests…we have to make sure we have the appropriate equipment for it…make sure it’s all set up, it’s safe for social distancing, stuff like that,” Lynch said. “We wanna film something where people can stream safely at home and actually feel like they’re at a show. We wanted to capture that live essence, raw feel to it.”

While virtual concerts are becoming a staple, both in Rowan Alternative and out, returning to the normalcy of in-person shows feels like a pipe dream. At the moment, Sayco and Lynch don’t wish to put the health and safety of their club members, e-board or performers at risk. 

Planning for both current events and looking towards the future has proven to be a frustrating, almost stressful situation for the pair. However, the outcome has proven to be worth the struggle.

“The interaction and success we’ve had so far this semester with the amount of people that are still interested in this type of thing is a testament to show that our club, and why people are so interested in it, is definitely on the ground level about their passion for it,” Lynch said. “No matter what, people are still going to be interested in this kind of thing.”

Rowan Alternative has gone above and beyond with maintaining communication and union in their club, despite the stress surrounding the pandemic. Having the desire to keep their members strongly engaged with each other while continuing to provide a welcoming environment shows their true commitment to the music community. If you’re interested in joining the club, or keeping up to date with upcoming events, follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (@rowanaltmusic) and join their discord server for future meetings.

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