By Annemarie Marconi
This article has been updated and appears differently in its print version.
On Friday, Nov. 20, local campus hotspot Rodrigues’ Coffee House hosted professional musician Max Sollisch — who performs using the stage name Dolfish — for the fourth year in a row. Some campuses will spend an entire year securing music acts for their students, but at Rods’, such events are ordinary. Throughout the years, Rodrigues’ has been the biggest outlet for Fordham’s music scene.
Sollisch himself raves about the place. “You can hear a pin drop. And if you ever hear someone talking, there will be a kid from Fordham that looks at someone and says, ‘Hey, quiet man, he’s performing.’ So, it’s like, this intense level of appreciation for music and appreciation for the arts. You’ll be shunned if you’re on your cell phone in this crowd, you’ll be told to go outside, which is not something that is common in this generation at all. So, it’s pretty much the greatest place to play.”
With reviews like that from a professional musician, Rods’ should have campus bands busting down the door to play there. And for a while, that was the case.
“There was just this big scene in the late 2000s and early 2010s,” said Tim Livingston, FCRH ’16. “All these bands were playing, and we could bring them and it was a lot busier. There are definitely fewer bands now than there once were.”
In the past few years, the music scene at Fordham has dwindled. Speaking from personal experience, I can remember being told about The Keating Steps on one of the first days of Freshman Orientation. Now, as a junior, I cannot think of a music group that has reached a similar point of ubiquity. I also attended a show off-campus that featured bands like, Second Child and Bright Red Cardinal along with several others. The concert took place in the Arthur Avenue ballroom, a basic, rustic and gritty space right above Full Moon pizzeria.
However, most likely a collaborative effort on behalf of Fordham administration and the owner’s of the ballroom, concerts like the one I attended in January 2014 became off-limits. Still, several student musicians and fans alike believe that there has to be an off-campus outlet for music at Fordham.
“There has to be, with a capital H, some spaces off-campus for music where you’re not under the strict regimen of being on campus. It just destroys the whole mystique of having a gritty, DIY show,” says one senior who plays in a student band called Church Keys. Wanting an off-campus space, however, is about more than a simple desire to be freer of the Fordham law. Inclusivity with the Bronx community has also been cited as a concern.
“We want there to be places where locals can come to see student bands, if they want,” says another senior who plays in Church Keys. “A balance needs to be struck between making sure the students are safe and not doing anything stupid and regard for families around here, because obviously we’re talking about something that’s really loud.”
To end the conversation by blaming administration or other outside forces for condemning off-campus concerts is to miss a large factor in the decline of Fordham’s music scene — the students themselves. If students want a bigger band scene on campus, they will have to create it themselves. The more people in bands, the more people will hear about shows and the more people will go to said shows, whether on or off-campus.
However, for students who do still believe in Fordham’s music scene, there is one great way to support what does exist.
“Reach out, figure out what shows are happening every weekend, on-campus like at Rod’s and off-campus at The Meat Shop,” said the drummer of Church Keys, an FCRH senior. “There’s always something happening.”