What is BankWet?
“What is BankWet?” This question, which has frequently lit up the Yik-Yak and Facebook feeds over the last few weekends, is an interesting example of the strong (and growing) underground music culture that can be found at Bucknell.
BankWet is the name of a recurring group of concerts that have occurred sporadically for the past few years in downtown houses. These concerts feature a breadth of musical genres that one might not expect to find at Bucknell, including rap/hip-hop, acoustic folk, and EDM, but beyond the wide variety of music that is presented, one of the main goals in the founding of BankWet was to provide a platform for musicians to perform their original music.
The event has an interesting history: founded by Bucknell students J. Brown, who DJ’d under the same name, Joey Verica (JM Harmonica), CJ Fujimara and Darren Harris, who together comprised the hip-hop duo Headnotic, the event started at the musicians playing for a small group of their friends. Eventually, BankWet began to grow.
I was able to get in contact with Fujimara, who had this to say about BankWet:
“We would play other houses downtown sometimes, but I assure, BNKWT was NOT cool. For a LONG time. I’d say we were treated like a mild nuisance. After a while most of the original community had graduated and people left were just the musicians. At that point it became more about the music I think. People started coming because they liked the music and the “scene” I guess. By the time I graduated we were throwing bangers, but it wasn’t always like that.”
My first experience with BankWet was much like the latter, a banger. As a freshman involved heavily in the music scene, I was invited by a friend to see Headnotic perform downtown and the experience was much different than any party I had been to up to that point. There was, first and foremost, live music IN A DOWNTOWN HOUSE. This was something I had never seen before.
More than that, everyone there was friendly, and there was a diverse crowd: male, female, black, white, Greek-affiliated and Independent. The atmosphere was just chill, and I could tell everybody was there for the music. And that notion, according to everybody I have talked to about BankWet, is at the heart of the event.
After talking to original BankWet member, Matt Szucs ’14, about the event I was directed to J.Brown’s website where I found his 8-page thesis on BankWet. In this manuscript, he details the history of the event, its original intentions, and how the event has evolved. It is an interesting read that I highly suggest checking out, and can be found here: http://www.j-brownmusic.com/The%20Bankwet.pdf
I think the most important idea to note about BankWet is the community aspect that the concert brings to our campus. Everybody knows that music is a great unifier; people have been gathering for centuries around live music, and Bucknell is no exception. Recently, Campus Vinyl has strived to bring more live music to Bucknell, as well as provide platforms for student musicians to perform. BankWet, more than anything I have seen here thus far, has succeeded in this venture, and though it runs through the “underground” persona, it is growing. Just look at the list of performers below and you’ll get a sense of the pool of musicians that BankWet draws:
Skinny pete (Ben Levine), JaZe (Joe Ferguson), Cj Blues, Child Prodigy (David R-K), Stephen Parish + Morgan Klein, Adam Kedzulak, Adam Wetzel, Operator (Christos Schrader), Justin Eyster, Rob O' Donnell, Ben Shelly, Fluxxy (Katie Wiley-Alt), Eric Kwiatkowski, Basharr Jarrar, Drew Picketts, Issac Dost, and Andrew Kilman.
The list goes on. BankWet has the ability to bring students together in a way that transcends affiliations. As Szucs said to me in our brief interview, “…one of the best parts about BankWet in my opinion is the D.I.Y nature of the event and its non-affiliation with any sort of typical Bucknell organizations. The only affiliation is the affiliation to music. This event is what this school needs, but can’t provide itself. “
BankWet, and its spirit, needs to live on. There need to be more of underground-type events in which student performers can showcase their abilities. There is limited “official” space in which we can play; Uptown, 7th Street Café and the few other venues on Campus not being enough. BankWet is a prime example of how the music scene here is thriving, and I think it is a great break from the typical mixer scene that is on display downtown. Wouldn’t it be awesome if when you walked downtown you not only had mixers to go to, but underground house-party concerts? What if mixers had live music too? The possiblities are endless, and I think we all need to take the model BankWet has provided us with and use it to diversify our social scene.