Digging Deep for the Underground: New Paltz Music Collective Fosters Intimate Community

Photo by Eric Lloyd.

New Paltz’s underground music scene is a trademark of this hip, college town. Many are familiar with the weekly shows at Snug’s Harbor, and sometimes even the shows next door in a neighbor’s basement. But New Paltz is lucky enough to also have shows right on its very own college campus, thanks to New Paltz Music Collective (NPMC).

For their second show of the semester on Sunday, Oct. 30, they brought Brooklyn-based Infinity Girl with openers Jouska, Vanity Jones and Critical Company. NPMC Vice President Rob Piersall, a fourth-year journalism major, described the two lead bands, Infinity Girl and Jouska, as “shoegaze,” a term he said originated in the United Kingdom referring to groups playing ambient, instrumental, spacey indie music with a tendency to gaze at the floor during their performances. 

Piersall booked Sunday’s show, wanting to feature a band he’s enjoyed listening to for a long time.

“I grew up listening to a lot of indie music,” he said. “But Infinity Girl isn’t your typical indie band. They’re very experimental and chaotic and right up my alley.”

Piersall has a clear adoration for music, and it is fleshed out in the work he does and the shows he books for NPMC. 

“I really support touring bands and love that New Paltz has such a thriving music scene,” he said. “I want to keep it going and growing. It’s always important to keep the arts alive in New Paltz.”

He referenced how New Paltz’s eclectic and well-known music scene has produced recognized do-it-yourself bands such as Diet Cig and Fraternal Twin. The New Paltz scene has not only opened doors for local bands, but has allowed students the convenience of listening to the music they love right on campus, rather than driving down to New York City or Long Island, up to Albany, or across the river to Poughkeepsie.

“Music opens up this world for you to be who you are and to meet people that are likeminded,” Piersall said. 

Julia Oppedisano, a second-year art education major, came to Sunday’s show and said she went to other NPMC shows last spring. The shows on SUNY New Paltz’s campus tend to feel small and intimate with a good vibe, which is why Oppedisano enjoys going with her friends. As a drummer herself, she indulges in the fact that there is an active music scene on campus.

“You don’t have to go far to listen to good music,” she said. “You get to know the bands through their music but also through how they talk [to the audience] during their sets. It just feels more personal.” 

Sebastian Modak, drummer of Infinity Girl, said that the band loves playing on college campuses because there is always a receptive crowd and because they love to see people interested in the underground scene. Infinity Girl has previously played at colleges such as SUNY Purchase, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of New Hampshire and others located in the northeast. 

“Intimate energy permeates the space,” Modak said. “[The students] were feeling that and we were feeling it, too, and that’s what encapsulates college shows.”

NPMC has two more upcoming shows this semester scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. in the zine library in the Sojourner Truth Library, featuring Christian Holden of the Hotelier with local openers flower housewife and John Owens, known by stage name Stickerboy, as well as Thursday, Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. in SUB 100 featuring Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based band Slingshot Dakota, opened by local bands Guilt Mountain and Tiny Blue Ghost.