The Barn opened its doors on Apr. 20 for a night of music with friends and family as part of its first paid ticketed concert. Patrons gathered inside to order their food and drinks as the tunes of old-school tracks hung in the evening air from DJ Quiñones’ nifty playlist.
Soon enough, MC Junor Francis took over to welcome the audience into an evening of enthralling music from great performers.
Francis greeted Chris Murray onstage, the event’s opener, who quickly eased the audience into a night of dancing and sing-alongs with his acoustic guitar. Expressing their gratitude and reminiscing on being back at The Barn before their set began, Murray said, “[It’s] my pleasure to be here. [It’s] my first time here at the new Barn and thanks for having me.”
Known for focusing on the genre of ska, a music genre originating from Jamaica, Murray sang “Rock Steady” as his first track. Its foot-tapping beat along with Murray’s raspy voice created a pleasurable atmosphere.
Though there was a small turnout at the start of the event, Murray encouraged everyone to hit up the dance floor with his songs. The mood transformed into a happier setting as more people settled outside and cheered with the singer’s energetic personality.
The Barn’s lights soon flooded the night sky as thumps of drums reverberated off the ground, welcoming The Aggrolites, the night’s headliner. The dance stage became filled with excited fans that welcomed the band back to UCR. The Aggrolites had performed at the old Barn years back, and it was fulfilling to see its members rejoice in seeing the renovated venue.
“Riverside make some noise!” Jesse Wagner, the band’s lead guitarist, shouted. “How we doin’ tonight?” The audience cheered in response before Wagner thanked them for joining their night of fun.
The group’s tantalizing sounds were heard in songs like “Don’t Let Me Down” and most of all, “Countryman Fiddle,” a playful track that Wagner sang with passion and soul. Roger Rivas, the group’s pianist, shined during this track as he excellently played the fast-paced rhythm to audience members.
The Aggrolites have come a far way in their musical career, and their enigmatic “Banana” song from “Yo Gabba Gabba!” was a must-see that night. “This is for the kids out there,” Wagner said before diving into the children’s song that had all the adults swinging their hips.
The night ended with a final conjoined performance with The Aggrolites and DJ Quiñones. Quiñones’ smooth vocals in “Don’t Let Me Down” was a tranquil way to end a night of joyful music and interactive performances.
The Highlander sat down with Senior Manager, Moses Preciado, and Manager of The Barn and Events, Patricia Ramos on a previous Thursday afternoon. Preciado, who had been asked to lead the renovation of The Barn this year, explained the process of finding different artists. “In short, we are experimenting with a lot of different genres. Funk, rap, reggae and student performers. We have a talent buyer who is in tune with the local community and helps us with the selection process to invite bands,” Preciado said.
Ramos, who has been working a little over three years at The Barn expressed their desire in wanting the restaurant to evolve as a center where paid concerts could take place, both for UCR students and Riverside community members. Though both free and paid events require entry tickets, Ramos noted that the sales of this event’s tickets were being monitored a bit more as they were worried that ticket sales would be low. Fortunately, ticket sales rose the night before the event which left Ramos and Preciado satisfied with the turnout.
The Riverside community, in particular, expressed their excitement about the event after hearing that The Aggrolites would be performing once again. Preciado and Ramos explained that the band’s lead singer, Jesse Wagner, had previously performed at The Barn with various bands before finding The Aggrolites. From then on, the band performed during the 80s and 90s at The Barn, and as a way to reminisce, several community members stepped back on UCR grounds to see one of their favorite groups.
“This specific event’s biggest draw was the Riverside community,” Preciado said. Ramos further added, “Someone flew in from another state. We had another person come from Bakersfield. There was a burst of people coming and [they were] happy to see the openers and most of all, the Headliner.”
“I’d like to add beyond the events we plan on hosting, [we are] open from 11-8 P.M. for lunch and dinner. [We have a] large menu from burgers to salads to sandwiches. In addition to hosting events, we’re a restaurant too,” Preciado said.
“And the bar is open as well from 12:30-8 P.M. Monday through Friday. [There is] alcohol available to those who can partake. The UCR Citrus Beer is brewed exclusively at UCR,” Ramos added.
With no problems at all, The Barn’s first paid event was certainly one to remember. To stay in tune with more events, follow The Barn @thebarnucr on Instagram.