For as long as he can remember, UNC junior Aditya Surana has loved music.
During quarantine, he used that passion to start an online music discovery platform, Have U Heard?, and share the work of local musicians.
This Friday, Have U Heard? will hold its first live event, giving an opportunity for audiences to connect with local artists in real life.
"I’d say for probably 50 percent of the lineup, it’s their first time performing," Surana said. "And for I think everyone, it will be their biggest audience they’ve performed to."
Surana, a business and political science double major, said the festival will feature North Carolina-based indie and hip-hop bands, nine vendors and three food trucks. Surana organized the event alongside Shane Humphrey, digital asset manager for Red Cup Group.
Surana's vision for the event is simple — to highlight up-and-coming artists and for the audience to have fun.
“It’s supposed to be a real-life continuation of what Have U Heard? was meant to be, which is spotlighting artists,” Surana said. “It was my job to sell tickets and bring the people and their job to have the music.”
The show's headliner is Weston Estate, a band comprised mainly of college students from around the Triangle. Self-described as ‘pop with urban influences,’ this will be the band’s first live performance since 2018.
Weston Estate’s guitarist, Srikar Nanduri, said fans at the show can look forward to hearing different versions of their popular songs and one unreleased song.
Nanduri, a junior majoring in human biology and economics at N.C. State University, said the nature of the local music scene is communal, and especially so among the artists performing at Have U Heard Fest.
“Someone there will be playing something you like,” Nanduri said. “We’ve been rehearsing with these guys and everyone’s sets are so good.”
Ramsey White, IV, a sophomore business major at UNC, is known on stage as Ramsey the Fourth. He said this will be the first time his band performs live, and he will be performing a song that will be released at midnight the night before Have U Heard Fest.
When Surana asked him over Instagram DMs to perform, White said he jumped at the chance.
“My whole dream and passion is really that I want to perform live,” he said. “I think that’s peak fun and excitement.”
White said his music deals with processing the transition out of adolescence, something Weston Estate members also emphasize in their songs.
“A central theme is holding onto childlike joy as you get pressures and responsibilities,” Nanduri said. “And just being in a lot of uncertainty.”
Tanmay Joshi and Manas Panchavati, Weston Estate vocalists and juniors at UNC, said they are looking forward to more than just the performances.
Joshi said the festival represents a culmination of the work that local artists and vendors alike have put into their craft.
“I think everyone that goes will have a really cool moment, where hopefully they’ll have a fun time and see a bunch of cool local businesses, hear a bunch of great music and eat a bunch of great food," Surana said. "And then realize everything they just consumed and was entertained by was created in North Carolina and was all local.”
Surana said he hopes to make the festival an annual event.
Tickets for the festival can be bought for $20 each through Eventbrite. Tickets will also be sold for $30 at the gate, which opens at 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27. The festival itself will take place from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
According to Have U Heard’s Instagram YSB Tril, Kevin Powers, Felix Wood and Maasho are also on the festival lineup. Marco Luka, another of Weston Estate’s vocalists, will be performing sets individually and with the band.
Have U Heard Fest attendees are encouraged to bring masks and comply with all Durham County COVID-19 guidelines, Surana said.
Editor's Note: Aditya Surana was previously a staff writer for The Daily Tar Heel. DTH Design Editor Carson Elm-Picard is also in the band with Ramsey the Fourth.
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