The Man, The Myth, The Music: UNH Student brings local music to campus


Matthew Wissler

Mason Semaniuk

Caitlin Molloy, Staff Writer

DURHAM, NH – What started off as a basement dream for a University of New Hampshire (UNH) student has come to a reality as live concerts featuring local bands make their way to UNH campus, sponsored by the Campus Activity Board (CAB.)  

Growing up in North Andover Massachusetts, Mason Semaniuk, a second-year Recreation Management and Policy major, avoided the local music scene for much of his teen years despite his close friends playing in a local band.

“They [my friends] played at a ton of house shows, and they always wanted me to come to one, but I never really had the courage to,” said Semaniuk. “I am a very different person, now compared to then.”

Semaniuk eventually went to a basement show that was on his home block, and there bloomed a passion for live music. 

“I went, and my mind was just like, blown,” said Semaniuk. “It was just this community of people I knew, and started to get to know. It was so close knit and it was such a fun experience and that whole summer I kept going to shows where my friends played.” 

Semaniuk said when he came to college, he knew he wanted to host live music shows in a student organization sense. “I don’t have a house, so I can’t do house shows or anything like that, so let me find an outlet. So I figured out how to hold events,” said Semaniuk. 

According to Semaniuck, in order to host an event in the Memorial Union Building (MUB) or on campus, it has to be sponsored by something. 

This is why he got the UNH Honors Department to sponsor his first on-campus show in December of 2021, called Listen To Me, which featured six bands from Semaniuk’s home music scene. It was the only live music event Semaniuk organized during his first year.

“This past summer, I was dead set. Like, I am doing this.” said Semaniuk.

For Semaniuk, the most difficult part of his process was establishing CAB as the organization that would bring live, local music to campus.

SCOPE has done a fantastic job on bringing big, very well-known artists to campus and when I arrived on campus, I saw this opportunity to fill the void of a student org. bringing local music to campus,” said Semaniuk.

CAB, is a student organization at UNH that centers around planning on-campus events for the UNH community. 

“Mason actually contacted me over the summer with the idea of branching out into the live entertainment space,” said Marc Laferriere, a third-year communications major and director of CAB, “I loved the idea, and we got straight to work.”

This year, Semaniuk and his friend Eben Tobler, who is a second-year computer science major at UNH, have worked with CAB to bring the New Hampshire local music scene to UNH campus, free of charge for students. 

“Eben Tobler was really interested in it too because he also really loves the scene, so Marc brought up the idea of like, do you want to co-chair with Mason?” said Semaniuk.

Tobler said “I expressed my interest in helping him with whatever he needed, and when he said he found an org that shared our passion for putting together these events (CAB), I joined to help out.”

Together, Semaniuk and Tobler were co-chairs of the live entertainment events through CAB, and organized three live music events during this academic year. This means they took charge of events and made decisions about bands, lighting, funds and more for each of the shows, said Semaniuk.  

Everybody in CAB has been extraordinarily receptive and helpful with making the shows happen, and they truly care about making every one of their events the best it can be. The shows wouldn’t have turned out nearly as well if not for CAB,” said Tobler.

When choosing what bands Semaniuk asked to play at the shows, he said they looked for bands with a strong stage presence. 

“For future shows I’m looking to showcase more talent that’s familiar to the Durham area but also expose the music lovers to new sounds from other New England based scenes,” said Semaniuk. Having at least one band that the majority of campus knows is essential to having a good attendance for shows.”

The first show was Grøund Zero featuring the bands Modern Faces, JVK, and Rigometrics. Next was FM Power, featuring Hifi and Cozy Throne. Last but not least, the most recent show was Full Tank featuring Pink Blazer, Film-V, Bad Lab, and The Rock Dwellers. All events were held in the MUB Entertainment Center, apart from Full Tank which was outside on the Fishbowl Lawn.

“All of first semester was building out and figuring out the logistics of it… We put our heart and soul into Grøund Zero in December,” said Semaniuk. “It was really good, for the first show it was good. The thing with these shows is that it’s like alright, we did it, move on to the next.”

Around 100 students were at the event according to Laferriere. 

The next show was FM Power, which was held in collaboration with WUNH, the UNH student radio station, and Girl Up, a UNH non-profit organization that supports girls programs in developing nations. 

“With FM-Power, we really wanted to highlight female leads in music especially in a band setting because at times they definitely don’t get as much exposure as they do compared to male leads,” said Semaniuk. “We wanted to collaborate with a student organization on campus that really emphasizes those values and Girl Up was the perfect option for that.”    

WUNH was also included as a collaborator for FM Power to draw in more of the underground music crowd, per Semaniuk. “We did a collaboration for that event to help us reach that [WUNH music] audience and really be like hey, look, this is happening and you should come. And it worked beautifully. I was really happy with it,” said Semaniuk.

An estimated 150 people came to the event throughout the course of the two hour show, according to Semanick.

The final show, Full Tank, was an outdoor show and featured four bands. “We got all the bands in the local area, all like the major ones, and did an outdoor show. Cause why not,” said Semaniuk. 

The first band to perform was Film-V, followed by Bad Lab, then Pink Blazer,and finally The Rock Dwellers.

The show had the largest turnout of all the events, with over 500 students coming throughout the event. Semaniuk said “People wise, I stopped counting at 550. It’s insane that people kept coming and coming and coming. It was kind of surreal.”

David Milliken, the guitarist for The Rock Dwellers and fourth-year at UNH said “ It was great to play that show outside with so many people there.”

“That week, I had such a good feeling about it. Like a stupid good feeling,” said Semaniuk. “The best moment is where there is not much going on, there is down time, you just stand there and look and appreciate and you are like, I did that.”

Although there are no more shows planned for this semester, Semaniuk still has big plans for the upcoming years. His master plan is to continue bringing local musicians to UNH campus and hosting shows throughout his remaining time at UNH, and hopes to continue working with CAB to do so.

“It’s been such a long journey to get here but now that we’ve done a full year of it I am just so ready. I have so much planned. I am so excited,” said Semaniuk. 

Tobler did not decide to run for co-chair of Live Entertainment at CAB with Semanick for the upcoming semesters. This is due to “other commitments that demand time,”  said Tobler. Despite this, Tobler said he still wishes to contribute to the shows however he can, even if he is not as involved as he was this year. 

“[Mason Semaniuk] serves as an inspiration to other members of CAB as well to find something they love and work it into what we are doing as an organization. He is the perfect example of the fact that if you are doing what you love, it becomes easy to you, and man do Mason and Eben make it look easy,” said Laferriere.