If you go to the LAUNCH conference and music festival this weekend, you might see a performance from someone who has never set foot on a professional stage before, let alone performed in front of a crowd.
LAUNCH director and founder Jeremy Weiss, who also owns CI Records in downtown Lancaster, is planning the festival and conference with up-and-coming artists in mind.
“We know some people are a bit amateurish,” Weiss says. “We know other people are onto something really intriguing, but it’s not in the traditional system of writing, recording, releasing, touring.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the typical LAUNCH schedule: the festival and music conference are usually held in the spring. In 2020 the festival was canceled and in 2021 Weiss and his team put on a show in the fall.
“As soon as the 2021 campaign lights went out, because it was in the fall, we found ourselves planning this April campaign,” Weiss says. “It’s been tough and intense, but that’s what we’re here for.
This year, more than 130 artists will perform on seven stages in the city of Lancaster.
Here’s what you need to know before heading to LAUNCH this weekend.
LAUNCH Music Conference and Festival is typically a weekend-long event that features musicians of all genres performing on stages across Lancaster County. It doubles as a music conference where artists can meet industry professionals, network and get advice on their works.
This year, LAUNCH will run from Thursday to Saturday, with two shows continuing on Sunday at midnight and 12:30 a.m.
The musicians will perform on seven different stages in the city of Lancaster: Isaac’s Brewhouse, Penn Square, the Lancaster Marriott, Tellus360 and the Freedom Hall, Ballroom and Galactic halls of the Lancaster County Convention Center.
Concerts at Isaac’s and Penn Square are free. LAUNCH, in its 14 years, has always had a free component, Weiss says.
“Music floating through the air: my favorite way to hear the city of Lancaster,” says Weiss. “Go out and have fun.”
There are several other paid ways to enjoy LAUNCH.
A weekend badge grants access to all conference panels, plus standard shows (however, marquee shows cost more), for $70. A weekend VIP badge, which costs $110, includes everything mentioned above, plus a t-shirt, the ability to skip the lines at venues, and access to marquee shows .
Those interested can also purchase a day pass for Friday or Saturday, each costing $50. Tickets are available at launchmusicconference.com.
Attendees can pick up their badges in person at the Lancaster County Convention Center on Thursday from 4-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
A mix of local and national acts will perform in the city of Lancaster this weekend. Highlights, or headlining shows, include rock band Set it Off, indie/emo rapper Guardin and experimental rock/hardcore band I Set My Friends on Fire.
LAUNCH will also host a Screaming Infidelities: Emo Night, featuring nostalgic emo and pop punk tunes.
All marquee events are for all ages.
Lancaster County artists to see this weekend include My Ex Girlfriend’s Ex Boyfriend (fronted by Max Bartos, who performed on Broadway in “Sing Street”), alternative rock band Houses in the Sky, punk rock band Witch Weather, alternative rock band Pink Lemons, metal band Nailbite and more.
This year, LAUNCH continues its partnership with York College of Pennsylvania to produce some of the festival concerts. New in 2022, the festival will also partner with students from Millersville University’s Music Business Technology program for select performances.
A full performance schedule can be found at lanc.news/LAUNCH2022.
This year LAUNCH is not doing its usual Fest Friday, an outdoor show in Binns Park which featured more than a dozen performers on three separate stages last year. Weather and logistics were big factors in the decision to leave Binns Park, says Weiss.
To make up for the absence, Isaac’s Brewhouse and Tellus360 will host a few performances from LAUNCH. They had hosted LAUNCH shows before, but it’s been a few years, Weiss says.
LAUNCH will also host its first hallmark Country and American stage, as they have brought in several artists from those genres. Weiss says he’s constantly working to make sure performers are aware of LAUNCH, regardless of gender.
“It is always our responsibility to ensure that every blessed genre and subgenre is made aware of us and aware that they are welcome,” Weiss says. In recent years, LAUNCH has featured more diverse acts.
LAUNCH has also teamed up with Corey Oatman to deliver a curated hip-hop and R&B scene.
Oatman, a Lancaster-based musician who plays Corey O, has been an annual LAUNCH attendee since 2016, when he performed his very first show in front of a crowd. He therefore knows how important this type of event can be for someone who is in the making.
“It’s definitely like nothing else in the city or even in central Pennsylvania,” Oatman says. “It’s quite a festival full of knowledge from panelists from all over the United States. So many gems. It’s like every year I can make a living from what LAUNCH has taught me, in addition to being a musician .
This weekend, he and his wife, Jess Graham (who plays Jess AF), will perform separately and then together in their band called Two Broke Kids. Oatman says he can’t wait to see his wife perform alone for the first time.
“I love being a part of (LAUNCH) on the artist side,” Oatman said. But he also enjoys being involved in logistics planning.
When Oatman selected performers for the curated scene, he says he intentionally chose people who could really rock a crowd.
“We had all kinds of acts, hip hop acts from all over the country submitted to be on the show, and I had to select a handful of artists to stage,” Oatman says. “I centered it on the vibes that are going to set the stage on fire.”
For more information on LAUNCH, visit launchmusicconference.com.