Quickly becoming an annual tradition at the University of Maine, the increasingly popular outdoor rock concert Rock Against Rape will return for its fifth year next Friday, thanks to the efforts of the sponsoring fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon.
“This year is probably the biggest group we’ve ever booked,” said event director Andrew Gerke, in reference to this year’s headliner, Florida-native alterna-rock band Anberlin. “Every year, we try to take it up to the next echelon.”
Indeed the event grows more popular every year, even drawing comparisons to the former outdoor concert Bumstock, which had been traditionally held in the spring before Student Entertainment canned the show last year.
Headliner Anberlin has been signed to Tooth and Nail Records since 2003 and experienced some success with their sophomore album “Never Take Friendship Personal” from which the single “Paperthin Hymn” had received decent airplay on radio stations across the country. Their driving guitar riffs and catchy melodies evoke the newest generation of alternative rock a la Fallout Boy and Story of the Year, both of whom Anberlin has been touring with this year.
Offering a hand to headliner Anberlin will be local favorites Lost on Liftoff and Massachusetts natives Violet Nine. The band members of Lost on Liftoff are no strangers to the Orono area, and Liftoff frontman Walter Craven’s former band 6gig played Rock Against Rape back in the fall of 2003.
“I chose Lost on Liftoff because their quality as a local group is excellent,” Gerke explained, citing that all four songs on their EP have made it to Portland radio station WCYY’s Top 5 in the past five months.
“I think that as strong as [Lost on Liftoff]‘s vocalist, Walter, is, they will definitely have a good push,” Gerke said.
Violet Nine, a blend of Matchbox 20 and Coldplay-style rock, will open the event with high energy, which Gerke said he hopes will build throughout the set.
Gerke, who was also Bumstock director last year, promises that Friday’s Rock Against Rape is running more smoothly than last year, when Headstart! canceled their appearance last-minute andthe event was also plagued by bad weather.
And, of course, between sets Sig Ep has brought speakers from the Safe Campus Project, Peer Education, and professor Sandy Caron, as well as Orono district representative Emily Cain.
“The event is about raising rape awareness,” Gerke said. He said that the event is especially geared towards first-year students who might not be aware of the resources they have on campus, or even the seriousness of the issue. “Because it [rape] is still happening, it’s still an issue,” he said.
Rock Against Rape will take place on the North Athletic baseball fields on Friday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. The event is funded by Sig Ep with help from its alumni association and Student Government. Admission to the event is free. Donations will be accepted, and all proceeds from the event will go towards the Spruce Run organization for women in situations of domestic violence, and the Safe Campus Project.