Best of Kent Entertainment and Student Life

KentWired Staff

More Best of Kent categories: FOOD | DRINK | SPORTS 

FIRST – The Kent Stage

The Kent Stage was founded in 2002 to host and provide a spot for the Kent State Folk Festival. The Western Reserve Folk Arts Association has since made a name for the Kent Stage internationally. More than 2,000 musicians have performed at the Kent Stage, including Janis Ian, Bo Diddley and Machine Gun Kelly.

Co-owner Tom Simpson said the Kent Stage has grown over the years, creating a solid sense of tradition in Kent.

“Over the years, (The Kent Stage) grew from an occasional folk music venue to an internationally known music venue,” Simpson said. “We have presented all genres of music and performances from members of the Rock Hall, dozens of Grammy winners, Academy Award winners, members of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame, Bluegrass award winners, hip-hop acts, R&B acts and heavy metal acts from around the world.”

Mazzi Drinkwater, a sophomore psychology major, said it’s important to have a significant music venue like The Kent Stage in a college town.

“It means a lot to me because it means connecting with people in the community, even outside of campus. The Kent Stage brings a lot of people from out of town and creates diversity,” Drinkwater said. “It’s really cool having a big music venue within walking distance from where you live too.” 

Simpson expressed his gratitude for being so well-known in the Northeast Ohio area and said that his process of picking artists is tailored to meet the community’s wants.

“It’s always nice to be noticed in your hometown,” Simpson said. “Every day I receive at least a dozen requests from agents looking to book their act at The Kent Stage.”

Jacob Fresty, a sophomore psychology major, believes that a successful music venue in town is crucial for students.

“The live music at The Kent Stage provides for a great way to talk to new people and socialize. You get to meet people with your similar interests and really connect through music,” Fresty said. “You learn a lot from the environment and make new friends right in your own downtown.”

SECOND (tie) – Bar 145 + Water Street Tavern

Water Street Tavern hosts live music three times a week. “Wednesday Night Blues” consists of many different local artists and bands.

Dan Edmondson, the entertainment director for Bar 145 and manager at Water Street Tavern, said he understands the challenge and vitality of a thriving live music venue.

“Kent is very lucky to have a few good live music venues that offer a diverse selection of music. Water Street Tavern has, for a long time, been the premier place to see the area’s best blues and classic rock bands,” Edmondson said. “Bands like Armstrong Bearcats and The Numbers Band are just a couple of the area’s most decorated and well-respected bands that play there weekly every Friday.”

Bar 145 has resident DJ TG spinning different genres every Thursday and Saturday, anywhere from hip-hop to pop. A typical Friday night at Bar 145 consists of some of the Midwest’s best Top 40 Dance Cover Bands.

“Bands like Cherry on Top, Trailer Park Ninjas, Pop Rocks and Old Skool are just some of the bands that you’ll see play at Bar 145,” Edmondson said. “The turnout is normally pretty good with a lot of different people coming to enjoy the show.”

FIRST – Kesha

[Thursday, Sept. 29 | M.A.C. Center]

Kesha and PARTYNEXTDOOR hit the stage Homecoming 2016 weekend in the M.A.C. Center. The performance was the first of the year for students and provided a great turnout.

Despite coming on stage 45 minutes late, Kesha pumped up the crowd and premiered singles from her new band, Kesha and the Creepies, as a part of the their “F**k the World” tour.

Taylor Sandy, a junior finance major, went to the show.

“I thought Kesha was a pretty big name for Kent to bring here and play,” Sandy said. “It was cool because we knew a lot of the music she played because it’s been around for awhile now.”

The essence of her new band gave a harder rock vibe to her set even though Kesha still played her classic songs, including “We R Who We R” and “Your Love Is My Drug.” Kesha was sure to engage the student body with compelling statements like, “All love is equal,” even adding, “I sure do love drugs,” throughout her performance.

The Undergraduate Student Government paid Kesha $100,000 for the show.

Julia Habony, a sophomore chemistry major, also enjoyed Kesha’s performance.

“It was a great girls night out for me and my friends. We stood in line for almost two hours to ensure a good spot and it was really worth it,” Habony said. “Kesha was super fun and got the whole crowd to party with her.”

SECOND – The 1975

[Sunday, Oct. 30 | M.A.C. Center]

Students stood outside in the rain for hours, waiting for doors to open for England-based band The 1975. Matty Healy, Adam Hann, Ross MacDonald and George Daniel had the crowd swooning over their alternative rock style incorporated with telling lyrics.

“Love Me” and “The Sound” were all popular songs that the band decided to treat Kent State students to hearing at their Halloween weekend performance. 

Sophomore Dean Varie was excited about the chance to see his favorite band play at his school. 

“I never imagined that my favorite band from across the world would stop at my school and perform,” Varie said. “The line was crazy to get in. A lot of people were waiting to see them. The performance was unforgettable and I’m thankful I got to see them so close to where I live.”


[Thursday, Sept. 29 | M.A.C. Center]

PARTYNEXTDOOR is a Canadian rapper and producer who made his appearance as a co-headliner with Kesha on homecoming weekend. PARTYNEXTDOOR performed different hits like “Come and See Me,” “Run Up” and “Recognize” at the M.A.C. Center. USG paid the rapper $75,000 for the show.

Michael Szoch, a junior pre-nursing major, said he enjoyed the show for PARTYNEXTDOOR’s talent in rap and his ability to excite students before Kesha’s performance. 

“PARTYNEXTDOOR was the only rap performer of the homecoming weekend celebrations, so I made sure I went. I would say PND was the right opening act to get the crowd hyped up for Kesha’s performance and he put on a great show,” Szoch said. “I would have to say it was the best of the night.”

FIRST – Bernie Sanders

[Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 | Student Recreation and Wellness Center]


“You shouldn’t have to sit around worrying about student debt.”

“Think big, not small.”

“If we do not act boldly and begin to transform our energy system, the bad situation of today will become worse in years to come.”

SECOND – Hillary Clinton, then-Democratic presidential nominee

[Monday, Oct. 31, 2016 | Student Recreation and Wellness Center]


“When your kids and grandkids ask you what you did in 2016, when everything was on the line, I hope you will be able to say: I voted for a better, stronger, fairer America.”

“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

THIRD – Taylor Schilling and Kate Mulgrew, “Orange is the New Black” stars

[Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 | Student Center]

Highlights: “They let us out of prison for one day, to come here especially to Kent State.” (Mulgrew)

“I’m so excited to be here. I’m so happy you guys care enough to be in this room with us and talk about voting.” (Schilling)

FIRST – Homecoming 2016

[Saturday, Oct. 1]

With events ranging from the annual parade during Homecoming weekend, concert and — of course — the football game, there was something for everyone.

“No matter if you are 18 or 98 years old, it’s the one time of year everyone comes together to celebrate Kent State,” Joy Wesoloski, homecoming committee chair and assistant director of alumni relations, said.

Playing Kent State’s biggest rival, the University of Akron, along with the attendance of Kent State alumnus and former Cleveland Browns player Josh Cribbs, could certainly account for the school spirit.

The excitement, paired with a rain-free Homecoming, is what Wesoloski said made this event so popular.

“It’s exciting to know that people enjoyed being a part of Kent State’s oldest tradition,” Wesoloski said. “This is one event that brings everyone on and around campus back together, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and the surrounding community.”

Wesoloski said the planning for next year’s events and activities has already begun. The date for Homecoming 2017 has been set for Saturday, Oct. 14.

SECOND – Sex Week 2016

[Monday, Oct. 17 – Friday, Oct. 21]

Sextoberfest, ally training and a drag show secured the second place spot during Sex Week 2016.

“Sex, relationship violence and LGBTQ issues are often not talked about in society and are stigmatized,” Ryan Pasquino, vice president of the Kent Interhall Council, said. “Sex Week allows students the opportunity to talk about difficult issues in society, as well as embrace their own sexuality in a positive manner.” 

Pasquino, whose favorite event was the drag show, said Sex Week has always been one of his favorite events, so it means a lot to him that students enjoyed it.

THIRD – TEDx Kent State

[Saturday, Feb. 18 | Student Center Ballroom]

Being successful the first time you do something is always satisfying and rewarding, and that is exactly how those who participated in the TEDx Kent State conference were left feeling.

A branch of the popular TED Talk brand, the Undergraduate Student Government organized this day-long lecture event in February. 

“The speakers presented on a wide range of topics, and there really was something for everyone,” Marianne Martens, assistant professor of library and information sciences, said.

With nearly 20 speakers, presentations ranged from fan-fiction to computer coding.

“The organizers, Ariella Yager and Cliff Glowacki, put an enormous amount of effort into creating a successful event, and it showed,” Martens said.

FIRST – Kent Halloween

[Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 | Downtown Kent]

SECOND (tie) – Art in the Park + Black Squirrel Festival

[Saturday, Sept. 10 – Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 | Fred Fuller Park] 

[Friday, Sept. 9, 2016 | Risman Plaza]

FIRST – Tri-Towers

There are 25 residence halls on campus, but only a few are considered Kent State’s best. The residence hall voted as the best place to live on campus in 2017 is Tri-Towers, consisting of Leebrick, Wright and Koonce Halls.

Tri-Towers recently renovated and added a fitness center to the second floor of the Tri-Towers Rotunda.

Tri-Towers also offers Rosie’s, — a 24-hour dining service spot and market — drop-in tutoring and community laundry.

Susannah Hufford, the residence hall director of Korb and Leebrick Halls, said the main purpose of her position is to give students a sense of community. She said she is glad students rate the hall so highly.

“It feels great,” Hufford said. “For me, though, I always want to focus on that I want to do the very best that I can. I want our hall to be really inclusive, really welcoming, really make people feel at home.”

SECOND – Centennial Courts

The Centennial Courts was voted the second best hall on campus for offering bigger rooms and private bathrooms.

Daniel Braden, a sophomore digital media production major, said he chose to live in Centennial Courts for more than just a big room.

“There are such supportive RAs and everyone who lives in the Centennials is cool,” Braden said. “I feel like we all talk to each other. Everyone on my floor is friends with each other.”

He also said the bathrooms also make it easier to live in the dorms.

“Being able to control what happens in the bathroom so it won’t be gross in the morning is a plus,” Braden said.

THIRD – Stopher and Johnson Halls

These halls are reserved for Honors College students who live on campus and are known for private bathrooms, as well as quieter dorms.

Mason Lee Branham, the residence hall director of Stopher and Johnson, said his whole job revolves around creating an environment that students will want to live in.

“I want students to be able to come in to talk about anything,” Branham said. “Anything from, ‘Hey how you doing? How was spring break?’ to ‘Hey, I’m having a problem, can I close this door?'”

Branham said he wants to connect to his residents as much as possible.

“The most important aspect is the human aspect. How do you make another human feel like you are listening to them?” Branham said. “I leave my door open all the time.”

He hopes that people voted for Stopher and Johnson for more than its amenities, but rather the community that the hall creates.

“If residents feel like they learned something from living here — not just sleeping here — but feel like they learned and gained and grew while they were here, then I feel like we are doing what we are supposed to,” Branham said.

FIRST – The Province

The Province is located on Summit Street, making the complex known for its proximity to campus and downtown.

It offers several amenities for its residents, including a swimming pool, a fitness center, a tanning bed and 24-hour emergency maintenance.

With over 596 bed spaces and 246 units available, The Province is known as one of the most popular apartment complexes for off-campus living.

Aside from its close location to campus, Penny Rossi, The Province’s leasing and marketing manager, thinks the living facility is popular because of the staff’s outstanding customer service skills and consideration for resident reviews.

“We take our surveys and reviews very seriously,” Rossi said. “Listening to our residents’ comments is so important to us because it gives us the opportunity to improve more and more every year.”

The Province’s staff also encourages residents to get involved in their community.

“We are so close to Kent State’s campus that it is important to us that we stay connected in terms of community and closeness,” Rossi said. “We are a part of a huge neighborhood in Kent, but when it comes down to it, Province is its own little neighborhood too.”

For students like Mackenzie Husmann, a junior digital sciences major, finding a place that was close to campus and completely furnished was important to her.

“I initially chose to live at (The) Province because of their location and amenities. But when I found out how eco-friendly Province was, I was sold,” Husmann said. “I appreciate their efforts of encouraging residents to recycle instead of just throwing their recyclables in the trash.”

SECOND – 345 Flats

345 Flats is located within walking distance from downtown Kent on Depeyster Street.

This five-story apartment building is new to Kent’s off-campus living atmosphere and was built in 2016.

Leasing manager Lexie Baughman said 345 Flats is unique because of its new presence to the Kent community.

“What sets us apart from all the other complexes is being the newest one near Kent’s campus,” Baughman said. “The residents living here now are the first people to ever live here, so I think it is a unique asset to have as an apartment complex.”

THIRD – Eagle’s Landing

Eagle’s Landing is located directly across from Kent State’s campus. Property manager Chris Miller said its prices, room sizes and 24-hour maintenance staff are just some of the assets Eagle’s Landing provides.

“Something we take great pride in is making sure our residents are taken care of first,” Miller said. “I believe our staff is always on the ball when it comes to helping residents with any of their needs no matter what time of day it is.”

At Eagle’s Landing, all bedrooms are the same size, which makes it easy for residents to evenly split the rent.

“Something really great about only having two bedrooms per apartment is that every resident has the same amount of space,” Miller said. “I think our room equality is what makes us different from every other apartment.”

FIRST – Kent Plaza Theaters

“Checking everything at the door and being able to leave the worries behind and relax with friends at the movies — there’s a nostalgic effect,” Dillon Oliver, manager of Kent Plaza Theatres, said.

SECOND (tie) – Brewhouse Pub | Kent Lanes

“(Brewhouse Pub plays) decent music to try to appeal to the majority of people,” Imani Fields, a junior public relations major, said. “I usually end up going there to hang with friends.”

“It’s a pretty cool atmosphere,” Jim Palmer, owner of Kent Lanes, said. “We want to make everyone feel welcome.”

FIRST – The Kent Clarks

Claiming the top spot in Best of Kent’s first student organization category, the Kent Clarks is the university’s first contemporary a cappella group.

Founded in 2011 by an original member of the Vanderbilt Variations, the group of singers are well-traveled throughout the United States, performing for President Beverly Warren, the “TODAY Show” and former President Barack Obama.

“This semester, we have become so much closer as a group,” Meghan Mormino, the public relations representative for the organization, said. “The closeness helps us create even better performances and shows. Everyone in the group is passionate about this.”

Members have to audition to join the group and, if selected, will be a part of a huge family of singers and dancers. The organization is a mixture of people of all walks of life, from Greek life members to those in musical theatre — a diverse culture that they pride themselves on.

A capella singing features music sung solo or by a group without any musical accompaniment. It is commonly known as a “choir style” performance.

Every year, the group competes in the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella, a competition between the best groups in the area. In 2015, the group placed third in the ICCA quarterfinal.

Students probably know the Kent Clarks best for their singing stints throughout campus.

“We love bringing people together to form a sense of community with our music,” Mormino said. “We are all excited to be continuing our journey to the top.”

SECOND – Kent State Pokemon League

The Kent State Pokemon League accepts everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, parent, child or alum — as long as you love Pokemon, you’re in.

“We always say that we are rated E for everyone,” Harrisen Carney, a senior studio arts major and director of advertisement for the group, said. “We believe a student organization shouldn’t just be a place for students. Pokemon is known worldwide by everyone and that love should never be excluded.”

Founded in 2014, the group’s popularity didn’t surge until after the release of Pokemon Go last year, an interactive mobile phone game that requires players to get up and play.

Along with weekly Pokemon Go campus walks, members dabble in other media such as playing cards, video games and anime. 

It is also a registered league through the official Pokemon Company International, which means the group can host video and card game tournaments, as well as receive free promotional material.

“The energy inside the league is phenomenal,” Carney said. “Whether it may be battling against gym leaders, or the determination to catch a rare Pokemon, it’s fun to be with your friends and others that enjoy it too.”


Despite being an organization focused on BDSM, Kent State Is Now Kinky acts more as an educational seminar than a sex dungeon.

“College is a wild time for most people,” Alice Fretias, a sophomore psychology major and president of K.I.N.K., said. “Through our personal research and talks on consent and safety, I think we have contributed, even if it’s a small way, to safety on campus.”

Fretias, along with other board members, hold weekly meetings in Bowman Hall to debunk myths associated with BDSM while teaching members how to act appropriately and safely in bed.

FIRST – University Library

With 12 floors of space, comfortable seating and librarians ready to help in every subject, it is easy to see why the University Library is students’ favorite place to study.

“We are constantly looking for ways that we can improve our spaces, collections, services and programs, thereby to better support student success,” James Bracken, dean of University Libraries, said.

Ways to improve its space and bring students to the library include events such as Pizza for Your Thoughts, Student Appreciation Day and Late Night at the Library.

The idea for bean bag chairs, spill kits in case students make a mess eating and exercise equipment on the fourth floor, all came from student presentations at Pizza for Your Thoughts.

Bracken wants the library to be more than students’ favorite place to study.

“We also want to be regarded by students as the best place for them to connect with other students,” Bracken said.

SECOND – Tree City Coffee and Pastry

Not one to sit in the quiet and stillness of a library to work? Let the smell of brewing coffee and fresh pastries drive your studying at Tree City Coffee and Pastry.

Tree City provides a warm and inviting atmosphere to study alone or hangout with friends.

“We aim to make the space highly usable for work, meetings with friends or just simple enjoyment through atmosphere, people, food and beverage offerings,” Evan Bailey, co-owner of Tree City, said.

Tree City has seasonal menu options, breakfast sandwiches, sweet treats and even beer and wine. Just don’t forget to bring your homework.

“One of (co-owner) Mike (Beder) and my favorite aspects of owning a coffee shop is walking in and seeing the space buzzing with activity from both students and people from town,” Bailey said. “We really get a kick out of it and it’s an honor to provide a place the community can use to come together.”

THIRD – Kent Free Library

Need to get away from campus for a bit, but still have work to do? Kent Free Library is the perfect getaway to take a break from campus and still get work done.

Located right downtown, Kent Free Library gives students the chance to take a breather and walk or drive downtown before diving into their work. Apart from a change in scenery and comfortable, quiet work spaces, Adult Services Manager Melissa Ziminsky said the free items, events and hours are what should bring students in.

With a library card, anyone can access e-books, audio books, downloadable music and videos, Rosetta Stone and even a seed library to check out seed packets and start a garden.

More Best of Kent categories: FOOD | DRINK | SPORTS