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The Orion

Student musicians build outdoor stage to ‘Bring live music back’

Four students who play in a band called Sweet Release built a stage out of used pallets in their backyard
Punk rock band Facejug performing No Doubt and Deftones covers as well as originals at Sweetfest 2.0. Taken by Alina Babajko on April 5.

Four students who play in a band called Sweet Release built a stage out of used pallets in their backyard. The band formed in the summer of 2021 after meeting at The Social swimming pool, combining genres of alternative indie rock and garage. 

Lead singer and guitarist Adam Gulcu is a finance major at Chico State and graduating this spring. He began playing guitar at 14. 

“That’s what this whole Sweetfest is about, getting live bands out in front of people; bring live music back,” Gulcu said.

The drummer, Drew Tolley, began at 10 years old and hopes to play more shows and release more songs with Sweet Release. Tolley, is a junior at Chico State as a film major. 

They have recorded and released two songs over the past month. “Blossom” was written and sung by Luke Bartholet, a senior business major who plays rhythm guitar in the band. “The Car” was written by Gulcu. 

Their music can be found on both Spotify and Apple Music

Bassist of Sweet Release, Garrett Munsey performing at the latest show, Sweetfest 2.0, taken by Alina Babajko on April 5.

The bassist is Garrett Munsey, who picked up bass at 15, is a communication design major. He’s in another band called All Shall Burn

House shows are coordinated, managed and promoted through Snakepit Productions, a student-run group. They make flyers, contact bands to participate and find venues available. Their linktree provides signups for bands, vendors and digital media. 

Evan Gregg, far left, and Aidan Tanner, third from right, of Snakepit Productions with Sweet Release members, from left to right, Adam Gulcu, Garrett Munsey, Luke Bartholet and Drew Tolley on stage after Sweetfest 2.0. Taken by Alina Babajko on April 5.

What began as wanting to throw one show for some friends, Aidan Tanner, a recording and music arts major who works for Snakepit Productions, says expanded into the production of more than 10 shows.

“Now we are able to give musicians a platform and an audience to showcase their hard work and artistic ability. Sort of another way to engage the community, which is great because Snakepit to me is all about community involvement,” Tanner said. 

Other Snakepit Production members include Evan Gregg, Hannah Swickard and Maile Ariza, who all study music industry and recording arts at Chico State. 

The next Snakepit Productions event will be Spring Fling on April 20 and is supported by Chico’s radio station KCSC. 

Flier created by Hannah Welch to promote Sweetfest 2.0 through Snakepit Productions.

The wooden stage was built in February and has since provided two shows, Sweetfest 1.0 and Sweetfest 2.0, both through Snakepit productions. Other bands included in the lineups are Facejug, Oblong and Prisbros

Opening for Sweetfest 2.0 was Peter Alvarez whose stage name is Boston Byer. As a business marketing major at Chico State and graduating this spring, Alvarez said playing music is a hobby in which he hopes to bring chill vibes and spread some joy while having fun. Singing Jack Johnson covers and originals, he had his singing debut at the show Friday evening. 

Sweetfest 2.0 took place on April 5 in Bartholet’s backyard and had a great turnout of more than 100 people. 

“Everyone here was so nice, so accepting, so open minded. I absolutely love coming out to these shows. Seeing the community of the [music] scene up here is really inspiring,” audience member Gabriel Delgado said.

These shows are open and free to the public and have been a safe place for the young live music scene. Music lovers of all ages are welcome to join. There is always a merch booth at the shows where fans can buy T-shirts. 

Sweet Release appreciates the support and hopes to continue bringing good vibes to the community of Chico. 

Alina Babajko can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Alina Babajko
Alina Babajko, Reporter
Alina Babajko is an agricultural communications and leadership major. Her goals in life include helping with food insecurity and improving resource depletion as well as environmental degradation. In her free time she enjoys nature walks, fresh and salt water swimming, and cooking for friends and family. After college, she plans to join the Peace Corps to learn about international culture and assist poor countries with sustainability.  

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