Art of Cool Fest 2016

NC State alumna Rapsody performs at the Pinhook Friday night during Art of Cool Fest in Durham. The third annual jazz and alternative soul festival held May 6 through 8 brought in both local and global artists including The Internet, Terence Blanchard and Kamasi Washington.

Technician has reported on many musical events and acts throughout its 100-year history. The newspaper actually predates NC State’s Music Department, and covered its founding on Sept. 19, 1924. On that day, the front page article began as follows:

“In establishing a music department at State College the college has taken a step in the right direction to encourage in her young men a liking for one of the oldest cultural subjects. Music means a lot to mankind, and is used by mankind to display all his emotions. Our church life, our home life, and our school life would lose a lot of their attractiveness if music were left out.”

This affection for the topic of music was not always so romantically expressed in the paper. Sometimes, Technician was a platform for passionate musical critique. Take for instance the coverage of a 1965 Reynolds Coliseum performance by a little-known English rock band.

“‘I didn’t get no satisfaction,’ was the popular consensus as the Rolling Stones rolled on after their ‘performance’ here Wednesday night,” Staff Writer Bill Rankin wrote on Nov. 16, 1965. “Capitalizing on their popularity, the Stones attracted a predominantly high school crowd to their 15-minute appearance. They sang the few songs which have made them famous including ‘Get Off My Cloud,’ ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,’ and ‘Last Time.’”

In fairness to the author of this story — a front page piece — “Beggars Banquet” wouldn’t be released for another three years, “Sticky Fingers” for six, and “Exile on Main St.” for seven. However, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts earlier that year but they were still playing some covers and living in the shadow of The Beatles.

“The Rolling Stones appearance was the last and shortest of the evening,” Rankin wrote. “Well on their way toward ‘earning’ their predicted half million during their 45-day tour, the Stones intend to take it all back to England. Unlike the habits of the new-rich, the Stones are investing their money so that ‘they can retire and never have to work another day after their popularity begins to wane.’”

The Rolling Stones have yet to retire though, and were able to "redeem themselves" when they returned to Raleigh for a performance in Carter-Finley Stadium in 2015. The Technician article that ran on July 2, 2015, stated a concert-goer was “in awe of the aging rockers.”

A more positive article covering a very different English act who performed in Reynolds in 1980 started “Piano solos and encores prove John still a showman.”

“Elton John took to the state Saturday night in the midst of smoke, flashing lights and synthesization,” Entertainment Writer Ray Barrows wrote. “Backing him up was a sophisticated light system and an elevated sound system. From the beginning it was clear he was on stage to impress but all of this on-stage glitter could not accomplish the job. The real show was John himself.”

Occasionally, as artists visit and perform at NC State, a handful of lucky writers get the chance to actually interview the musicians. North Carolina rapper, Grammy nominee and NC State alumna Rapsody was one such artist interviewed in the modern era of the newspaper. The Snow Hill native sat down with Technician’s then-Editor-in-Chief Kaitlin Montgomery for a Q&A following her performance at Packapalooza 2015. The pair discussed the hip-hop star’s style, influences and, of course, her alma mater.

“I know it sounds cliché going for your goals and dreams, but that’s exactly what I did,” Rapsody said. “I made my first beat on this campus in North Hall, which is right down the street. I was flat broke, but I found comfort in the music and went from there. I went from house to house, floor to floor and sofa to sofa, and it paid off.”