By Zach Mosca
Penguin Productions and Youngstown State University’s Student Diversity Council teamed up to bring New Jersey band Hit Like a Girl to The Hub in Kilcawley Center Feb. 7.
Hit Like a Girl is an indie rock band fronted by singer and activist Nicolle Maroulis. Maroulis cites artists like Soccer Mommy, Petal and Copeland as her influences.
Maroulis said her favorite part of performing is seeing the crowd getting into the music and seeing that it makes other people happy.
“My whole life, I’ve never felt like it was easy for me to make friends, and I’d always be anxious that everyone hates me. So, when I play a show and people are into it, it makes me feel good about myself and maybe people do want me around,” Maroulis said.
Hit Like a Girl did not play this show by themselves. They were also supported by The Bears and the Bees, an acoustic act specializing in emotional ballads.
According to Carolyn Jesko, director of Penguin Productions, Maroulis actually reached out to Penguin Productions to organize the show. Maroulis has previously visited Youngstown with her other band, Kississippi and wanted to return with Hit Like a Girl.
“At our previous show at Suzie’s we had Kississippi and Nicolle is their keyboard player, and she actually has her own band and she reached out to us,” Jesko said.
In addition to music, Maroulis is also deeply involved with the transgender and non-binary community. She is the founder of the nonprofit organization No More Dysphoria, which helps young transgender people in need.
“Our main goal is to help transgender and gender nonconforming people pay for different parts of their transitions,” Maroulis said.
Students who attended the show were able to do their part to help with the organization by purchasing merchandise from the band. This money will go toward Maroulis’ goal to help pay for a transition surgery
“Right now, my main goal and focus is to raise and save enough money to pay for an entire surgery or most of it for someone,” Maroulis said.
Penguin Productions member, Allison Marado admires Maroulis for her contributions to the transgender community and hopes that the people who came out to the show did too.
“That’s one of her biggest goals, to expose people to that [transgender issues] and give them information and inform them about it and she does that through her music and all through her social media. She’s a really great person and I only want success for her,” Marado said.
Penguin Productions organizes concerts at a variety of different venues. Jesko said that Penguin Productions has partnered with many venues in downtown Youngstown to expose students not only to new music, but new hangout spots as well.
“We’ve explored and expanded our partnerships with downtown venues to expose students that may not necessarily go downtown or other areas of Youngstown to give them a safe environment and opportunity to enjoy the restaurants and businesses downtown,” Jesko said.