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Screenshot 2024-03-07 104958

Photo by Lucy Woods


Hanging on a clothesline in Stav Hall for all to see is a gray paper mache rock with the words “Rock the Hill” painted in red. The decoration advertised Concert Board’s second annual Rock the Hill on Friday, March 1 — a music festival held in the Pause showcasing Twin Cities bands. 


Concert Board Chair Member Abby Johnson ’24 coined the name “Rock the Hill”  after “Rock the Garden,” an annual summer festival organized by Walker Arts Center and Minnesota Public Radio, which ended in 2022. The event aims to bring local music to students for free. 


“Ticketing at student events is seen as a barrier, so why not make it free for all?” Johnson said in an interview with The Olaf Messenger. 


Despite Rock the Hill being a non-ticketed event, attendance seemed to be lower in comparison to its inaugural year. However, that did not stop students and performers alike from enjoying the night. 


The concert opened with an interactive, communal performance by Obi Original and Ozone Creations, a musical group composed of first-generation Americans. They were quick to build a community with the audience as their set was vibrant and filled with energetic buzz. Dancing their way to the end of their show, an encore was asked of them by the crowd. During their encore, Obi Original joined in on the audience’s energy by mixing in with them off the stage. 


The shift in energy and genre between Obi Original and the next performers, killusonline, was drastic. 


A fusion of heavy metal and rap, killusonline had one sole focus — to perform. They quickly jumped into their set, startling the audience with their loud intensity. The band went from song to song with minimal stoppage. The only exception was when lead vocalist Mory asked Pause Tech for the LED lights to be turned to red with the occasional yellow and the front lights to be dimmed. It was a visceral performance. Towards the end of the last song, Mory motioned for the audience to part in the middle, walked back, and took a running jump into the crowd where he started a mosh pit. 


Following killusonline, a more relaxed performance followed from Raffaella, a Minnesota-based indie star with a vibe similar to Masie Peters. Rock the Hill was a welcome stop on her first headline tour for her debut project “Live, Raff, LIVE!” Rafaella’s performance was a hit for indie-pop lovers — a common trait for those on the Hill. Interspersed with fun, rambling anecdotes about the inspiration behind her songs and support for weed, Rafaella’s set resonated with the audience. No doubt, her catchy songs are still stuck in attendee’s minds.


Throughout the night, performers after their set would mingle around the merch table and within the crowd, watching the other shows as well as talk to those attending. It was a fun night filled with great music, and performances that catered to all kinds of people. Rock the Hill has the potential to become a very distinctive St. Olaf tradition that celebrates the student body’s love for original, underground artists.

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