Students, alumni bring Binghamtronica to life

The third annual Binghamtronica Music and Arts Festival will be held from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday in the Mandela Room.

This year’s theme is “Mayans and Aliens,” according to Josh Spodick, the festival’s production manager and producer and a senior majoring in technical theater.

The show is produced by Binghamtronica Productions Group (BPG) and was described in a press release as “a multimedia collective bringing music and art to audiences all around the northeast.” BPG was a group formed specifically to produce electronic music and laser shows such as Binghamtronica.

The festival is an entirely student and alumni-run production, though no students or alumni perform.

“The staff is completely volunteers, and they are all alumni or current students,” said Greg Sarafan, founder of Binghamtronica and a BU alumnus. “The two producers are both current students as well as many of the on-the-ground volunteers doing art and décor.”

Musical performances will feature electronic and dubstep artists including BoomBox, Archnemesis, Horizon Wireless, SOLARiS, InK Line and Con Artist.

These artists are in high demand, Sarafan said.

“The electronic music scene there has been growing in the past few years with students most recently bringing Pretty Lights and Big Gigantic over the pop acts of just a few years ago,” Sarafan said.

Electronic music isn’t the night’s only draw, however.

“It’s not just a music event, but a multimedia one,” Spodick said. “It has paintings, sculptures, installations. It’s unlike any event this campus has ever seen.”

Student groups, vendors and art installations will be set up in the Tillman Lobby.

All proceeds from Saturday’s event will go to HeadCount, a nonprofit grassroots organization that promotes political involvement and voter registration at music events.

Binghamtronica had previously been held as a charity event for Oxfam, an organization devoted to combating world poverty. Spodick said BPG had difficulty getting in contact with Oxfam this year.

HeadCount took a lead role because it co-sponsored the event last year, and Sarafan has a personal connection with the company.

“I worked for HeadCount and their mission is to register people to vote (mainly college-age students to vote at concerts) so it seemed like a perfect fit,” Sarafan wrote in an email to Pipe Dream.

Spodick added that HeadCount is an ideal organization to sponsor because it doesn’t have a specific political affiliation.

“It encourages people to get out and be active, and we didn’t want anything that was partisan,” he said.

Andy Bernstein, co-founder and executive director of HeadCount, agreed.

“HeadCount is best known for registering voters at concerts. We register at about a thousand concerts a year, raising social consciousness about voting,” Bernstein said. “It’s not just about registering voters, but about creating a community among voters.’

Although it is not the first time Binghamtronica will be held on campus, the Mandela Room will be the show’s largest venue yet.

Sarafan said this is a huge venue relative to where Binghamtronica began — it started as a house party. Last year, the festival was held in the Appalachian Dining Hall.

“We wanted someplace bigger, but we didn’t have enough money to move off campus,” Spodick said. “The Mandela Room is bigger, has all the necessary tech equipment and it’s easy access for a lot of students.”

Spodick said a low-key group of people who enjoyed these type of shows started the tradition. He has high hopes for its future.

“There was a group of us that have been involved in putting on shows at house parties, in people’s basements, and BPG is pretty much that core group,” he said. “Hopefully in the future we’ll be in a warehouse someplace in Binghamton with a crazy concert going on.”

Ken Tornatore, a senior majoring in history who works at the Anderson Center, said Binghamtronica will be an “amazing experience.”

“It will be an experience unlike any other on this campus. It’s an incredible production value for the cost,” Tornatore said.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling the Binghamton Box Office at (607) 301-0804.