Fall fun under the stars Rock-N-Brews draws 300 to SVC

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BENNINGTON - Beneath the stars, music fans and home-brew fans came together for the first installment of the Rock-N-Brews concert series, held at Southern Vermont College on Saturday night.

Rock-N-Brews was presented by the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, HopRidge Farms and Anchored Media. According to one of the event organizers, Will Gardner of the Bennington Chamber Commerce, the event was only an idea for the last year.

The concert series came to fruition after the large turnout for the first Winter Wings and Homebrew Festival, said Will Gardner of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce. That event was held in March. The Chamber also hosts the 4 Corners North HomeBrew festival during the summer.

Gardner estimated that about 300 people showed up to Saturday night's event.

The college's courtyard was transformed into an outside concert venue with a stage and string lights hung across the area. Joe Frey, of Anchored Media and communications director of the Chamber of Commerce, said that they were going for an "under the stars" aesthetic with the lights.

Just beyond the concert space, the brewers were set up. Decorative lights surrounded the brewers as well, some of whom put up displays with a fall theme. Attendees mingled nearby and watched the bands with a brew in their hands.

"I have a passion for music and seeing something like this in Bennington is awesome," said Frey, who is a professional musician when he's not working for Anchored Media or the Chamber.

Frey reported seeing a number of people enjoying the music and smiling.

While students from area colleges attended the event, organizers were hoping to have drawn more.

"We want to get the local beer and music scene recognized and brought together," Gardner said. "We're also super stoked we were able to hold it at SVC."

The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce has plans to continue the series next year, with the Manchester area in mind as its next possible location.

"We're not afraid to try new things and to get people out." Gardner said.

Regional bands In Good Nature, Anyone Anyway, and Lannen performed throughout the night. Each act brought a different style of rock music to the stage, including post-hardcore, alternative, emo, and indie/pop. In Good Nature recently signed with Anchor Eighty Four Records; Lannen has opened for bands like Fall Out Boy and Third Eye Blind and has even played on the Vans Warped Tour.

Nine local brewers brought more than 30 styles of beer to the event. They included Passion Brewing Company, Lanning Brewery, Hopstead Farm Brewery, Harmon Hill Brewery, Mash Note Beer Company, Woolly Mammoth Cider, Jeremy Meerwarth, and Camp Norton Brewing. Some brewers returned from previous brew events hosted by the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.

Harmon Hill Brewery's table featured a fall and Halloween theme. A small set of orange lights embellished their table, along with a pumpkin carved with Rock-N-Brews' name and logo. The brewery had doppelbock, pumpkin spice, and Bohemian pilser available for sampling.

Aaron Longtin, one of the owners of Harmon Hill Brewery, said that they like to dabble with different kinds of traditional brews. Longtin was pleased with the turnout and happy for Saturday night's crisp, clear weather.

"My wife and I have been doing [this] for two years and we've been at all of the Chamber's brewing events," Longtin said. "I like the fact that we're up here at SVC."

Ramunto's Pizza, Taco Truck All Stars, The Chuck Wagon, and Iron Coffee Company made up the food truck and vendors.

Sponsors for the event included: Ramunto's Pizza, The Bank of Bennington, Knapps, Iron Coffee Company, and Knotty Pine Hotel. The Bennington Banner was also a sponsor.

As the headlining act, Lannen finished up the show, playing some of their older music and newer songs from their latest album "Anchor & Chain," which was released in June.

"The concert was good and I really liked the venue," Matt Wishnack, Lannen's drummer, said. "The vibe is awesome."

The group has been together for the past ten years and they aren't strangers to the Bennington area. One of the guitarists has local ties to the area, and the group has previously played at the South Street Cafe, Wishnack said.

For those not familiar with Lannen and the group's music, Wishnack described the group as "post-emo" although he acknowledged that's not really a genre. The group is influenced by Jimmy Eat World, Butch Walker, and Hey Mercedes and other forms of rock music.

"We don't really think about what we're writing," Wishnack said. "We just do what feels natural."

People chanted for an encore following Lannen's last song, but Frey, who acted as master of ceremonies, had to shut down peoples' requests as the concert could not go past an 11 p.m. curfew.


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