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The UNDRGRND surfaces in Boone

Courtesy of Zach Kraught
Bad Catholics at Black Cat on February 15, 2016. Photo courtesy Zach Kraught.

Behind the scenes of most live performances are those who make the show tick. The UNDRGRND is an event planning and booking service that aims to bring a “tight-knit electronic community in the Boone area,” according to the company’s Facebook page. The UNDRGRND consists of three people who make it all happen.

Jacob Burke, a graduate of Appalachian State University with a degree in health care management, Joshua Keranovic, a junior associate of fine arts major at Caldwell Community College and Scott Rodesiler, a senior physics major at Appalachian State, formed The UNDRGRND with the intention of creating a company that provides visual effects, sound and booking services to performing artists.

A few years ago, Rodesiler produced his own show at High Country Bass, which was quite similar to the shows The UNDRGRND produces now. This sparked an interest in this field for Rodesiler. Around this same time, Burke came to Rodesiler with the idea of working together to create such shows for local artists.

When Burke received his tuition return in February 2015, he used the funds to fuel this idea. He bought lights for the visual aspect of the newborn company, and thus, The UNDRGRND was born.

In fall 2015, Keranovic approached Burke at one of the shows The UNDRGRND hosted and said that he knew many local artists and would be more than willing to help with Burke and Rodesiler’s future endeavors.

“I talked to him,” Keranovic said. “I just said, ‘Hey, man, this seems, like, really cool. Can I help you guys out?’”

Not two weeks later, Burke contacted Keranovic and a new member was added to this squad of show-producing entrepreneurs. The UNDRGRND has a unique operation, Luke Crouch, App State senior graphic arts and imaging tech major, said. Crouch is a member of Bad Catholics, a DJ duo whose homebase is in Boone.

“[The] UNDRGRND is really interesting in the way that they’re the event promotion company and the lighting company, together,” Crouch said. Because of their multifaceted operation which includes booking, lights and sound, each member of The UNDRGRND has multiple jobs.

Burke programs all of the visuals and lights and synchronizes everything in such a way that things can be controlled by either him or Keranovic. By doing this, the lights are able to be maneuvered in different patterns and rhythms which match up with the song being performed by the artist on stage.

While also helping with booking the shows for the artists The UNDRGRND works with, Rodesiler controls the sound aspects of their shows.

Keranovic handles the booking and runs cables after the equipment has been set up at the venue.

The crew members operate separately during the show, but work closely in unison while setting up. The three work together quickly and their set up time can be as short as 30 minutes.

“We all kind of pitch in and help each other out, too,” Keranovic said. “Especially when it’s time for the actual show day, we’re all in it to set up.”

Burke, Rodesiler and Keranovic said that they work off of one another. This system evolved over the course of the last year, when The UNDRGRND was formed, and they have worked as a team in order to avoid overwhelming themselves. By setting up together and feeding off of what the other team members are doing, Keranovic said that each man is able to stay “honed in and create a focused, vision-oriented show.”

The UNDRGRND undergoes creative changes constantly, and this extension does not end with their system of set up, control and break down. Their equipment has developed over the course of the past year as well.

Initially, Keranovic said, their lighting repertoire consisted of only a few smaller lights which were much more difficult to program to do what the crew wanted them to. “Now, we’ve sold our original set up and moved on,” Keranovic said.

Their lights now are “simpler, but they look better,” meaning they are more easily controlled and more streamlined. “[The new lights] can do things more in unison,” Keranovic said.

But the guys from The UNDRGRND are not dead set on having things their way. They keep their artists at the forefront of everything they do.

“They’re easy to work with,” Crouch said. “If you want something custom, they’ll do it for you. They just want to put on the best show possible and to make you happy, as well.”

Josh Stone, known by his DJ stage name Live Animals, agreed with Crouch.

Having worked with The UNDRGRND two times, Stone applauded the company for changing their visuals to accommodate the venue. Stone said that their equipment “puts them in a different league,” and added, “I’ve had other people run visuals for me on occasion, but it was basically a pre-recorded mix of visuals, as opposed to The UNDRGRND, who were manually selecting and altering the visuals live.”

When Keranovic goes to book a show for an artist who is working with The UNDRGRND “we do it like we’re a band ourselves booking there,” he said.       

For the artist working with The UNDRGRND, this means that they only need to go through one service in order to receive a booking agent, sound manager and lights and visuals technician, and The UNDRGRND offers this at a price which is affordable for musicians with a low-paying income.      

“We understand touring bands don’t get paid much, which is kind of sad, so we normally charge about $50 per band,” Keranovic said.

Artists who have worked with The UNDRGRND seem to all have kind words regarding the way they interact with and deliver for their clientele. Local acts such as Unaka Prong, Nomadic, Metaphonia, Funkelstiltskin, Pragmaddix and Spun Jobs have all worked with The UNDRGRND.

“It’s a great idea to have the two working together because when the promotion company and the lighting company are on the same page, great things can happen,” Tyler Buck, a senior music industry major and member of Bad Catholics said. “You can create a great show.”

“Having the same mind run both things can kind of consolidate all the ideas much quicker and much more efficiently,” Crouch said.

Buck agreed and said, “Plus you don’t have compromise. When it’s just one vision, working on one thing, it’s a lot clearer picture in the final.”

Scott encouraged local bands to reach out to The UNDRGRND and said they are more than willing to do lights, sound, booking and visuals for those who are interested. The UNDRGRND can be reached through their Facebook page and their email.

 Story by: Claire Brown, A&E Reporter

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