Kyle Ennis was a freshman at Penn State University Park when he met a fellow music lover while volunteering for the school's annual Movin' On music festival.
They were watching that year's headlining act, veteran ska band Less Than Jake, and started talking about how cool it would be to start their own ska band.
Now, two years later, the two musicians and the seven other members of their band, The Wondershop Showdown, will perform at Movin' On 2012 - on the same bill as electronic, indie rock and hip-hop artists and sharing the stage with a few of the music industry's big names.
This photo from 2011’s Movin’ On festival shows the big crowd that gathered for hip-hop performer Lupe Fiasco.
"This was just a dream a year and a half ago," Ennis, 21, of Morrisville, said. "It was like a 'wouldn't it be cool one day if...,' before anything really happened with us. Now it's a reality, so we're absolutely ecstatic. It feels so unreal to be doing it this big."
Movin' On starts at 3 p.m. today off Curtin Road near Beaver Stadium on the University Park campus. The festival will feature performances from local acts Keegan Tawa and The Wondershop Showdown, along with national touring bands The David Mayfield Parade, Young the Giant, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Ludacris and headlining act The Avett Brothers. The event is free and open to the public.
Bryn Gelaro, a senior at Penn State and the Movin' On 2012 executive director, said this year's lineup is one of the most diverse of the festival's recent history.
If you go
What: Movin' On music festival
When: 3 p.m. today
Where: Off of Curtin Road near Beaver Stadium on the Penn State University Park campus.
Details: The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.movinon.org/index.shtml.
"It's very exciting this year," Gelaro, 21, of Elkridge, Md., said. "We have everything from ska and hip-hop to the folky feel of Avett [Brothers]."
The headliners have also brought along Americana/folk rock tour-mate Mayfield, who sat in to play with the band dozens of times as a backing musician before they urged him to start his own project. The David Mayfield Parade's first self-titled album was released in 2010, and he is already working on its follow-up.
"It'd always kind of been putting in all the work, and not really reaping all of the rewards," Mayfield said of his career as a backing musician and producer before setting out on his own. "It's been pretty validating to kind of be doing it and seeing the return and having people say, 'Man, you should've been doing this all along.' It's also scary as hell because all the responsibility is on me to put on a good show."
Despite this fear, Mayfield said the focus of his music has always been on entertainment. During his Movin' On set, he plans to bring vaudeville-style humor intermixed with some jaw-dropping guitar moments that show off his virtuosity on the instrument - what he calls doing the "fast and sloppy."
"It's become uncool to focus on entertaining, and it's become more cool to kind of be the tortured artist who has these precious songs that they gift to the audience," Mayfield said. "With me, I'm the hired monkey and you're turning the crank. I'm going to make you smile or laugh or cry or whatever. I'm trying to get a reaction out of people."
Though they shouldn't expect any "gimmicks or frills," Payam Doostzadeh, bassist for indie rock band Young the Giant, said the audience can expect a show that's better than any of their recordings when they take the Movin' On stage.
"It's pretty much just five dudes, a rock band, playing different styles of music," he said. "We just go up there and play and try to have fun with it. We're not trying to put on [anything] theatrical. It's just a rock concert."
Young the Giant has been playing together since 2004 in their hometown of Irvine, Calif., but the band burst onto the scene within the past year with hits like "My Body" and "Cough Syrup," heard everywhere from the radio and music festivals to the TV show "Glee." Doostzadeh said the band never thought things would take off the way they did.
"I think a lot of it has to do with timing and luck," he said. "There's a lot of bands out there that are super-talented, but just don't have a chance to garner a large fan base and kind of live the experience."
Doostzadeh said the band may also throw a cover song into their Movin' On set, and will also feature three new songs that they've been playing on tour, but have yet to record.
"We're really confident in them and we love playing them," he said of the new songs. "We like to give our fans a sneak peek of what's to come next year with the next album."
Ennis said his band is also preparing a new song to debut at Movin' On, and their set will consist of mostly originals. He added that Movin' On is a great opportunity to showcase both local and national talent.
"Movin' On really provides, from behind the stage and in front of the stage, something that not many schools can really offer," he said. "It offers a lot of great opportunities to the student body, so I think [people] should come appreciate that and hopefully come to support us and the local music here in State College."
Gelaro encourages students and community members to come to the festival - to watch both the acts they already know and the ones that they don't.
"I think it really brings everyone out for that last hurrah," she said of Movin On's proximity to the end of the Penn State school year. "Come, get to learn some new musical tastes and really enjoy it."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.