Live entertainment to take center stage at Communiversity


One of the hallmarks of the Communiversity ArtsFest is live entertainment.

And during the festival, non-stop music and performances will be on display for the  expected crowd of 40,000 visitors on April 28.

Communiversity ArtsFest is an arts festival that will take place at Palmer Square, Nassau Street, Witherspoon Street and the Princeton University campus from 1-6 p.m. on that last Sunday of April.

Live music and dance performances this year will consist of returning favorites and new additions to the lineup, according to officials.

“We are welcoming back a lot of Communiversity favorites. Our lineup this year is about 75% returning bands. We are also excited about the newcomers this year as well,” said Melissa Kuscin, program and marketing manager at the Arts Council of Princeton.

There are 40 performance acts set to take the stages in downtown. Some of the returning favorites include The Shaxe,  which performs danceable jam rock in the spirit of The Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers.

The band has played live in the tri-state area for roughly 26 years and at Communiversity for two decades, according to Kuscin.

“They are super fun. They always close out the day’s performances on the main stage. People know to expect them. They are a highlight,” she said.

Another returning performance is Essie, which performs high energy with powerful vocals. The group centers around rock and soul vibes with shredding guitar solos and virtuosic singing, according to Kuscin.

“They are a new act on the main stage, but a returner. Last year was there first year at Communiversity and Essie has been playing in the local area at a lot of local spots in Princeton and New Hope. We are bringing them up to the big leagues,” she said.

The event will see the return of Lisa Botalico Fiesta Flamenca. According to Kuscin, Lisa Botalico and Arts Council of Princeton Flamenco Dance students perform flamenco and regional dances from Spain.

Easha & Shravya the sister duo will be returning to Communiversity as well, according to festival officials.

“Easha & Shravya are a Princeton-based duo playing pop/rock covers and originals,” she said. “In addition to performing at Communiversity three times, the pair were finalists at the World Cafe Live Yearly Showcase in Philadelphia, and are currently staff writers at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, the hub for singer-songwriters.”

Kuscin said the duo is just fantastic.

“They played last year at the Palmer Square stage. Palmer Square is typically where we like to highlight students and high school bands. This year we are putting them on the Washington Road stage,” she said. “We are going to be throwing them into the big leagues too. They are just beautiful vocalists.”

Some of the new additions to the lineup include, Green Knuckle Material a pop rock/ rap group with dynamic vocalists and a big band sound sporting horns, keys, percussion, all on top of a rock and roll foundation.

Another new act is The Dirtee Blondes. The Dirtee Blondes are a Princeton-based rock group made up of local high-schoolers, bringing energetic and fun performances from punchy garage rock to punked-out jams, according to Kuscin.

Then there is Switch Mob, which is America’s band. A melting pot of musicians (Hispanic, Black, female, suburban white dudes) who have created a special sound, said Kuscin.

All of the performances will take place on seven stages.

“There are five stages in downtown and two stages on the Princeton University campus. When we talk about the event as a whole it is seven stages,” Kuscin said. “On the campus stages, Stanhope stage near Stanhope Hall, consists of student bands and singers and the East Pines arch at East Pyne Hall, is all ‘a capella’ student groups from Princeton University.”

She said everyone preforming on the campus stages is a university student, due to it being student programming.

“In town the main stage is a what we call the town gown stage, and is located on the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon Street, another stage is on Palmer Square green, third is on the corner of Nassau and Washington Road, then there is the corner of Nassau and Chambers Street, the fifth stage in downtown for the first time is located on Hinds Plaza,” Kuscin said.

She said there will be performances are all day.

“The first band starts at 1 p.m. and the last band ends at 6. The only breaks in performances are the 10 minutes in between each act. This is really all day. Performances never overlap, when there is a break at one stage, there is no break happening at another stage, there is always music or dance throughout the day.”

She said she estimates close to 60 acts applied to be able to preform at the event.

“This was the most applicants that I have ever faced, in recent years looking to preform at Communiversity. You just don’t get the volume of people that attend from anywhere else. This just a different scope of audience that makes preforming so appealing.”

She said Communiversity is all about the arts.

“At the heart of this event we are thinking about and celebrating and loving the arts. The fact that we are able to highlight preforming artists is just another aspect of that,” Kuscin said. “We really want to celebrate why we love music and dance. We want to share that with our community with as many performances as we can.”