By Michael Marado
Kississippi, an up-and-coming Philadelphia, Pa. emo crooner, made their Youngstown debut at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts on Oct. 18. The show, presented by Youngstown State University’s Penguin Productions, is the latest in their recurring concert series.
The concert was put together in association with the Summit.FM and YSU’s Relay for Life Concerts for a Cause.
Allison Marado, event leader, said she coordinated with the bands to provide load in, soundcheck times and also advocated for the booking of Kississippi.
“I managed the show to make sure everything ran smoothly,” she said.
Penguin Productions marketing team member, Kayla Hay, said she was at the show to help load in and to support Penguin Productions in any way she could. She also played an instrumental role in helping to book Kississippi.
“I saw Kississippi last year at a Mom Jeans show in Cleveland and literally fell in love,” she said. “I wanted to do whatever I could to get her to Youngstown.”
Hay said that many popular indie bands don’t come to Youngstown, and having an up-and-coming, super rad, female rock star come play in a small town is stellar.
“Zoe [Reynolds] is also one of my oldest and dearest friends who I lost touch with, but unknowingly reconnected with her at that Mom Jeans show,” she said.
With their new album “Sunset Blush” out now, Kississippi’s frontwoman, Reynolds, said the record was about her coming out from a point in time when she was letting people take advantage of her a lot.
“I’m not gonna do this to myself anymore,” she said. “It was a disconnection from toxic friendships and obviously people are always overcoming that kind of thing.”
Reynolds said the album is relatable and it doesn’t stop as long as people are empathetic. She said it’s also about letting go of toxic relationships in life.
“Even if it’s heartbreaking for you, you’re making the right decision for yourself and that’s all that matters,” she said.
Kississippi was supported by twin pop rock duo Nalani & Sarina, along with one-man band Ray Goren. Hay said Penguin Productions partnered with The Summit to find openers that would fit well with Kississippi’s genre.
Goren opened up the night with an eclectic set of blues-infused pop rock. He played by himself with a looping station to help him create a full band sound.
“I was always into music and I was always doing music. There was never a day where I woke up and said, ‘I’m gonna do this,’” Goren said.
He said some advice he was given was by legendary Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger.
“Robby told me, ‘Hey man, guitar is cool, but if you don’t write songs you don’t exist.’ He stressed to me to write songs,” Goren said.
Nalani & Sarina, armed with two acoustic guitars and a keyboard, and who also met fellow New Jersey musician, Bruce Springsteen, delivered a clean and crisp performance to a packed Suzie’s crowd.
“It was a benefit we did a couple years ago and we were playing it to help out. We were told sometimes Springsteen shows up and we were like ‘yeah right,’” she said. “He shows up and talks to us for a good 15 minutes about songwriting and all this stuff … He actually watched our performance, sat dead in the front and we sang one of his songs.”
Marado said Penguin Productions brings up-and-coming acts for students and gives students real-life opportunities that set them apart.
Hay said Penguin Productions does an amazing thing for students interested in working in awesome, real-life situations in a direction they choose.
“Penguin Productions offers students the opportunity to become apart of making not only YSU but Youngstown a really fun place to be,” she said.
For more events by Penguin Productions, follow them @YSUPenPro on Twitter and Instagram or by visiting their Facebook page.