This morning, at 7:03am, the empty remnants of Martin Tower was imploded. The defunct build was the headquarters for the executives of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The 21-storey structure located in Bethlehem PA first opened in 1972, but has sat vacant since the company filed for bankrupcy in 2003.
Bethlehem Steel was a major supplier of ships and armaments to the U.S. military during World War II, and its steel is found in the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge as well as many other landmarks. What was once a proud symbol of steel’s building power in American cityscapes turned into a reminder of mismanagement and corporate excess (it’s cruciform building shape was designed to maximize the number of corner offices.)
Every year since it’s inception in 1984, Musikfest has celebrated the visual arts through their iconic posters. The imagery helps set the tone of the week-long event. The poster for 2019 celebrates the legacy of Bethlehem Steel and it’s workers who helped build this city and notable landmarks throughout the nation.
The digital illustration was created by fine artist and arts educator Jessica Bastidas, a Bethlehem native and graduate of Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. Her work will be incorporated in almost every element of the festival in 2019, from official Musikfest apparel to the event’s popular mugs.
“This year’s poster borrows symbols of the past as it looks to the future of our ever-progressing city and festival,” says ArtsQuest Lead Creative Juliann Masenheimer. “Jessica’s talents exceeded our expectations. As an emerging artist, she is now a part of our history and the face of the future.”
Chart-topping indie rockers Modest Mouse helped kicked off the new “Yuengling Summer Concert Series at SteelStacks” last week in front of one of the most unique concert backdrops in the nation, the former Bethlehem Steel industrial plant in Bethlehem, PA on the Levitt Pavilion.
This marked the first of many great shows coming to the SteelStacks via ArtsQuest.
The Levitt Pavilion is an outdoor music venue located at the base of the 250-foot-tall former Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces with a standing-room-only capacity of 3,000.
Saturday April 19th, on the eve of Easter, Bethlehem’s Sands Event Center was host to a unique tour. Taking Back Sunday and The Used stopped by in the home stretch of their six week co-headlining tour.
Starting the show was Sleepwave, the new project from former Underoath frontman Spencer Chamberlain. A heavy sound with hints of keyboards and some impressive drumming aside, there was little to distinguish the performance. A major factor was that the vocals seemed to be tuned a little low.
Australian pop punk band Tonight Alive took the stage next and drew heavily from their 2013 release The Other Side. They offered up an energetic performance and surely made at least a few fans in front of a new audience.
The Used was up next and came out to a stage full of discarded television sets rigged to a light system. It was a semi-apocalyptic sight that suited the music well. Things got underway in their hourlong set with “Cry” the first single off of their new album Imaginary Enemy. From there, the song selection was a lot of what one would expect/hope for with a Used show. The new songs (“Revolution” was also played) seemed to fit in nicely with the live show, indicating that much of the fairly divisive new album could find a place in concert.
Next up was Taking Back Sunday. The classic lineup reformed a few years ago and their newest album Happiness Is provided a few highlights of the evening with things starting off to “Stood A Chance”. “Flicker, Fade”, “Beat Up Car”, and “Better Homes and Gardens” were also represented. Most of set focused on recordings by this lineup (Tell All Your Friends, Self-Titled and Happiness Is). New Again was ignored completely while “A Decade Under the Influence” and the usual indispensable tracks from Louder Now were represented. Prefer whatever incarnation of the band you want, but there is something special about the chemistry this combination of talent possesses. Though they were running late, they made sure to end things with their biggest hit, “MakeDamnSure”.
The SOLD OUT show was a rousing success, proving that the two headliners, while having gone through some trials and tribulations, remain at the height of their powers.
Tegan and Sara‘s “Let’s Make Things Physical Tour” joins the 1st ever Yuengling Summer Concert Series at the Steel Stacks on June 23rd!
Fresh off the Parahoy! concert cruise with Paramore, the duo will accompany Katy Perry on the last leg of her international tour. In the meantime they’ve got a run of 21 headlining dates including a stop at Bethlehem’s Steel Stacks, and back-to-back nights in DC and Chicago in addition to some massive performances at a slew of summer festivals.
This past year was a huge one for Canadian born twin sisters, with the release of the girls’ seventh studio album, Heartthrob – which marked their highest first week charting position of all time. The band scored their first mainstream hit with “Closer” and circled the globe in support of Heartthrob which garnered the duo a total of three Juno Awards – Pop Album of the Year, Single of the Year and Group of the Year.
Right out of the gates, Manbeast launched into a frenzy of hardcore powerviolence. Opening the night off with with a set consisting of mostly brand new material, the trio (Eric, Luis & Tyler) played to a still gathering crowd of local enthusiasts.
There were two bands this evening that was calling it quits. Fake Cult was the first one and the guys played their hearts out. The crowd screamed along one last time as they said their goodbyes.
Philly’s War Emblem came to the LV and brought with them their brand of brash hardcore.
Ending the night was Slow Warm Death‘s final performance. To say the evening was an understatement. Within a year of the band’s formation, they have garnered critical praise throughout various publications (print and online), had an ever growing following and put out a much beloved LP. Sadly, everything good must come to an end as members of the band are relocating across the country.
From the band’s Facebook:
We aren’t particularly clear on here (WITH ALL THAT CAPS LOCK AND ALL), but I wanted to clear something up: I (john) am moving to the West Coast shortly after the New Year, hence why this is over for now. I’m sure, if the time is right, we’ll do this again. this has been a blast and we’re all still great friends. future collabs to come, I’m sure. Anyway, that’s all. Take care. Goodbye.
Hopefully this will not be the end of it. I suspect we’ll hear more from them or at least from various members of the band in the future.
Recent Relapse Records signees, UltraMantis Black, which features the underground professional wrestling legend UMB himself, ex- and current members of Pissed Jeans and Pilgrim Fetus played one hell of a show at Bethlehem’s Nancy Run Fire Co.
UMB is also a very strong animal rights supporter and passed out flyers during their set educating the audience on the cruelty of animals in captivity.
Their set was one of the most energetic and terrifying things I’ve ever bared witness to and I wanted more even after the final note was played.
This year might have been one of the best years for shows The Sands Event Center. Time and time again, they keep outdoing themselves with some of the most fantastic acts in music. This night, they brought fan-favorites Weezer to a sold out Bethlehem crowd.
Karl Koch, Weezer’s percussionist shared his thoughts on arriving at the venue via Weezer.com’s Karl’s Korner:
“After an all night drive down from Rama Ontario, we awoke in the pastoral Lehigh Valley, home of the once mighty original Bethlehem Steel mills. Wisely, once Bethlehem Steel folded up shop, the gigantic historic complex was cleaned up and re-purposed rather than knocked down. The Sands Casino was built on the grounds, and so here we are amongst the towering blast furnaces and old coke ovens… and slot machines. Tonight we have an opening act, Harkland, who are a local alt rock band. Were not familiar with them (yet) but its nice to have an opening act… it gets kinda lonely doing a headline show with no other bands. Also, it appears they employ a banjo at times to good effect.”
Neostar Promotions contributing photographer Jamie Heim was at the show and shares with us this fantastic night: