Bianca Roman makes a zine for every show at The Lamp Post and she does it with Microsoft PowerPoint. She gathers content, places it on PowerPoint slides, goes to Staples with an X-Acto knife and pieces each zine together. Her method isn’t the most efficient, but it works for her. Roman is The Lamp Post’s resident publisher and the venue’s founder.
Roman rented a room on the third floor of Downtown Arts, a Wilkes-Barre church-turned-art space, and christened it The Lamp Post Chapter One in July 2013. The name itself may foreshadow future events, but Roman is contributing to the local Wilkes-Barre music scene today. That wasn’t always The Lamp Post’s intended purpose, though.
“I thought it could just be for me,” Roman said. “In those first couple months I was thinking it could be a dance studio for me and for my dancers to create new work and video stuff (Roman is a choreographer and is currently attending graduate school at Sarah Lawrence College in New York). Then maybe about a month into it I thought it could be this amazing space and it kind of grew from there. I always wanted to have a performance venue and a gallery space.”
The Lamp Post’s first show was in September 2013—it was called “Creation. Destruction. Potential.” and it featured a two-person theater group that performed a 40-minute piece about Detroit. Roman calls the acts that have performed at her space a “mixed bag.” Since The Lamp Post began holding shows, it has hosted spoken word poets, dance performances and acts that ended in sawdust-covered floors. Roman has even hosted her own sister, Hannah, who exhibited visual artwork. The Lamp Post is equal opportunity when it comes to artistic mediums, but it always comes back to music.
“There’s a million reasons why I love it and why it needs to be here, we’ve had a couple shows and now it’s becoming a thing,” Roman said. “People kind of know about it. People are coming. I got this random text on my phone from some kid who wants to book a show and never booked a show before. He’s 15. My response was, ‘that’s awesome!’ I want it to be that kind of place. I grew up going to shows and all-age venues are no more around here.”
Dana Takacs booked a show at The Lamp Post through Roman and helps friends when they use the space. Takacs goes to almost every show and sees it as a great place for people in the local scene to gather.
“It’s cool that people still do this stuff,” Takacs said. “There have been so many venues in Wilkes-Barre that closed down. It’s cool Bianca is letting us use her art space to do something like this. The venue’s the perfect size for hardcore shows, punk shows, whatever kind of show. It’s friendly, judgment free, hate free zone.”
According to Roman, her space is playing host to more hardcore and punk shows now than anything else, with the next on July 28. Roman said that’s a reflection of the local music scene in Wilkes-Barre. The fact that The Lamp Post hasn’t fallen into disrepair considering its relative size-to-circle pit ratio says something else about the scene—they know a good thing when they’ve got one.
“We had trouble getting venues to have shows at (and) she offered her space as a spot to have local shows. Ever since then we’ve been booking and going there,” Life of Reilly member John Reilly said. Fellow Life of Reilly member Tyler Kennedy summed his affection for The Lamp Post up in three ways: the vibe, the crowd and an earnest thankfulness for Roman.
The Lamp Post isn’t the most efficient venue—its ticket revenue goes to rent and upkeep, it’s on the third floor of an old church and it only fits 100 people before things get a bit claustrophobic—but it works for Wilkes-Barre’s music scene. Roman’s chapter one is the epilogue of a scene that had nowhere left to go. Now she keeps on the light by which Wilkes-Barre’s next generation of artists write their stories.
Reach Gene at [email protected] or (570) 991-6121, ext. 1302