Penn State’s school year is winding down, with the last day of spring semester classes this Friday, April 26. But that day is also one of the most anticipated dates on the 2019 calendar. A blockbuster unlike anything we’ve seen or heard before will premiere that day. A blockbuster people have looked forward to for months with giddy excitement.
No, I’m not referring to the premiere of Avengers: Endgame, Although that is a very important and highly anticipated event as well. (By the way, if it’s really the endgame and Thanos is finally defeated, doesn’t that still leave Dormammu of the Dark Dimension out there somewhere to terrorize the rest of the universe – other than the Earth which Dr. Strange made a deal to keep safe? Oh the tangled web of these superhero action films! And someone still needs to explain to me how it is that the release date for Avengers: Endgame is Friday, but theaters all over the country will be showing the movie Thursday evening.)
Anyway, the reason Friday, April 26, is a highly anticipated date on the calendar is because that’s the date of Movin’ On.
Movin’ On is one of the five largest student-run music festivals in the country. It’s an outdoor concert held on the intramural fields on northeast campus, and this Friday afternoon the gates to those fields will open at 3:30 p.m., with the bands will play until 10:30 PM. There are five acts scheduled to appear this year: Grouplove, A$AP Ferg, Snakehips, Bryce Vine, and The Idea. The best part? It’s all free.
The funny thing is, I’ve never heard of a single one of those acts. But that’s OK because I’m not the demographic for the concert. The graduating seniors at Penn State – and all the other students as well – are. Many of them have heard of, listen to, and enjoy the music of those acts, and this is their one big music festival after the last day of classes have ended to enjoy a great live concert for free (assuming they don’t have a class after 4 p.m. on Friday – and who schedules those?).
So, why am I interested in Movin’ On if I couldn’t tell a Grouplove from a Snakehips?
Because way back in history – 1981 and 1982 to be exact – I had the honor and pleasure of serving as the chairperson of Movin’ On. That’s right – I technically “ran” the 7th and 8th annual Movin’ Ons.
Now, as anyone who puts on large events knows, no one person can “run” such an enterprise by themselves. I was lucky enough to have many great volunteers who were organized and led by old friends of mine such as Jeff Glazier, Tom Hesketh, Paul Bertalan, Todd Becker, Ed Doherty and others, as well as the support of the officers and members of the Association of Residence Hall Students (ARHS).
So as we approach the 45th incarnation of Movin’ On, let’s take a trip down memory lane and find out how this great tradition started.
In the 1970s Penn State was on a 10-week term schedule with three terms to a standard academic year, rather than the more traditional 15-week, two-semester schedule that it now uses. This meant classes were scheduled further into the spring, and finals week and commencement were in mid-May rather than early May as they are now. This allowed students – and their student government organizations – to take advantage of two or three extra weeks of warmer weather to schedule outdoor activities. The residence hall governments put this time to great use and created Residence Hall Week – a weeklong schedule of activities each dorm area organized for the students living there. These included events such as outdoor movies, games, races, and offbeat entertainment such as the infamous “Emperor Of The North” competition.
In the spring of 1974, a group of East Halls residents organized a concert on the IM fields to the west of Beaver Stadium (now parking lots) and called it Good Feelings ’74. Music went from noon until midnight with eight bands appearing. The final band was a group called Forest Green. They were from Philadelphia, had released two albums on Capitol Records and were expected to soon break out nationally (you can be the judge if they did).
In 1975, the students who had organized Good Feelings ’74 were now part of ARHS, and ARHS decided it would be a great idea to hold a campus-wide concert on the centrally-located HUB lawn so that students from all the dorm areas could enjoy it. Thus the very first Movin’ On was funded, organized and inaugurated by ARHS on Saturday, April 26, 1975, with the following raison d'être: to provide a program of free, quality music to the university and at the same time collect donations for a worthwhile charitable organization.
The following year Movin’ On expanded to fill both days of the weekend – Saturday and Sunday, May 8 and 9, 1976. The two-day era of Movin’ On continued for eight years until 1984 – the first year Penn State moved to the traditional semester system – causing Movin’ On to be shortened back to its original one-day incarnation. That year it was held Saturday, April 28. The choice of a mid-to-late April Saturday as the date for Movin’ On continued until recently when it was moved to Friday and a mid-afternoon-to-evening schedule.
For many years Movin’ On was always held on the HUB Lawn -- with the exception of a one-year trip to the IM fields west of Beaver Stadium in 1978 (harkening back to the Good Feelings event). If you’re interested in looking, the small gazebo in the southeast corner of the HUB lawn has underground power lines running to it which far exceed any electrical need the gazebo could ever require. Those lines are there so temporary cables would not need to be run from White Building to supply power for the stage, lights and sound of Movin’ On.
Over the past 45 years the tradition of free, quality music has held up very nicely. The Movin’ On website touts many of the well-known acts of recent decades who have graced its stage: Fall Out Boy, Gym Class Heroes, Daya, Lupe Fiasco, Judah & The Lion, MGMT, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Passion Pit and Two Door Cinema Club. Going back to the early days there were acts such as Gregg Allman, Orleans, They Might Be Giants, Richie Havens, Robert Cray, The Roches, Franke & the Knockouts and Beru Revue.
So this Friday afternoon and evening, if you’re looking for some fun, fresh air, and free entertainment (the weather forecast is clear and 60’s in the afternoon, and clear and upper-40’s at night), drive your car to the parking lot on the west side of Beaver Stadium ($5 parking), take your license and some cash for concessions, go watch and listen to some great Movin’ On music, and take part in this nearly half-century long tradition at Penn State.
The logo for Movin' On in 1982