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Spelunking for Tunes at Porchfest

The history of Porchfest has defined the area for years, exhibiting all of the different sounds of Ithaca: from barbershop quartets to a punk band named after the act of exploring caves.
The Sights and Sounds of Splunk’d

Spelunking is a new band in the Ithaca punk scene that focuses on having fun rather than fitting perfectly into the punk scene, manipulating the spaces in which they perform in.

From left to right, Bella Joyner, Marshall Long, Tyler Grisafi, Eze Brown, and Lyle Setnik-King from Spelunking the band (Bec Legato/Ithaca Week)

Forming earlier this year, Spelunking marked their first performance at the end of April and has been gaining notoriety since.

Drummer Tyler Grisafi, explained their relationship with moshing, or the act of violently dancing and purposefully colliding with one another, and the culture of moshing that comes with the punk scene. 

“I think that there’s a line to balance though because we want to make music that people dance to and we also want to make music people mosh to and a lot of the time those two things can’t coexist,” Grisafi said.  “But I think that we find a way for that to happen and that’s something I enjoy about our sound.” 

Eze Brown, Spelunking’s lead singer, continued, saying that they expected there to be a divide between the locals and the college students but there was no noticeable divide between audience members.

Porchfest signs adorned every porch affiliated with the event (Bec Legato/Ithaca Week).

“The colleges and locals have this habit of gentrifying towns and I kind of was predicting some kind of split between that in the scene. It doesn’t exist. People were very kind.”

Spelunking Takes on Porchfest 

Porchfest began as a local event in 2007 as a chance for neighbors to jam with one another. The festival has grown from 20 to a little less than 200 bands, with different cities across the country starting their Porchfests as well. 

Recently, Spelunking performed at Porchfest on Gimme Coffee’s porch alongside Microbes Mostly and Cobra Cadaver. They recounted it was probably their favorite show thanks to the collaboration they had with other artists on the porch. 

“We ended up playing last…which was a little nerve wracking going after them…their energy was infectious.”

As well as featuring punk acts like Spelunking, Porchfest has exhibited a wide range of different artists. Andy Adelwitz joined the Porchfest team in 2013 as a co-organizer and spoke on the benefits that come with the large amount of genres at the festival. 

“It’s a total hodgepodge…the bigger festivals that have booked the bands that have a kind of built-in audience, and we’re going to draw some people to a larger degree than we can get.” Adelwitz said. 

Andy Adelwitz (Bass on the left) and Leslie Greene (Trumpet next to Andy) performing with Scratched Vinyl. (Bec Legato/Ithaca Week)

Despite its longstanding influence on the area, not everyone feels that Porchfest should be something that adds to the community.

Sarah Wolff, who works at Village, which is an organization that helps to educate the youth and advocates for shifts in educational methods, lives in the Downtown region and noted that certain elements of Porchfest were more of a nuisance than a source of enjoyment. 

“I think of Porchfest as a pretty self-congratulatory display. Maybe my attitude would be different if I was a musician?” Wolff said. 

A Day of Discovery 

Lesley Greene, one of the co-founders of Porchfest, recounted that she loves the chance to discover new acts. 

“What [Porchfest] leads to is this incredible variety of music from all over the world, and every genre you can think of. And that’s really fun.” 

But for people like the lead singer of Spelunking, Brown, looking back on Porchfest, that in addition to it being exciting as a performer, it was also a blast to discover some of the other acts.

“There’s so many incredible musicians who I talked to, people who I met with, and bands that I’d never even heard of before,” Brown said. “People who were completely out of my peripheral vision were just so incredible.”

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