When searching for a fun night out, most Elizabethtown College students would rather stay on campus than deal with the frustration of searching for a good time in the sleepy, surrounding area. Luckily, a cultural hot spot is within reach, even for those without an adventurous spirit. The Chameleon Club, the renowned music venue located in Lancaster City, provides a fresh, exciting experience—without breaking the bank or emptying the tank.
The 25 year-old club has put Lancaster on the map as a hub of the new, innovative band scene, recognized by sources such as Prism TV and MTV. The Chameleon Club maintains its dedication to the local and up-and-coming performers while still attracting much larger names to their stage. Just within October, they’re featuring bands like Hanson (yes, that Hanson) and Taking Back Sunday, with The Ready Set, Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto playing in November.
The Chameleon Club is certainly as diverse as its name suggests, with fantastic, if underground, shows punctuating the time between the bigger bands. There are over 200 shows there per year, an unparalleled feat for such a quaint city like Lancaster. The Club features performances of every genre, and with a convenient calendar featured on their website, students should have no trouble finding an act that suits their tastes.
The Chameleon Club isn’t only for large concerts. For smaller concerts and weekly DJs, the Lizard Lounge, located underneath the Chameleon Club, provides free entertainment almost every night of the week. The Lounge is for the 21 and over crowd, featuring events such as karaoke and dance parties. The Lizard Lounge also features a restaurant and bar.
This isn’t to say that Etown students aren’t already familiar with what the Chameleon Club has to offer. “They have some really great music there!” junior Elyse Archambeault said. “It’s nice to have something right in Lancaster too.”
It’s also worth noting that The Chameleon Club is familiar with Etown students as well. Etown Alumni have performed there, including Derek Shanely and his band, When Karma Was King. The band, formed in 2010 with their first CD dropping later the same year, have been featured at venues like The Chameleon Club as well as local radio stations, the paramount of these being 88.3 the Sound of Elizabethtown, to be sure. Shanely, on keyboard and background vocals, was the president of Vocalign for his final years at the College. The a cappella group even covered one of their songs.
“The group thought it would be different to arrange a song by a local band,” Shanely explained. “I thought it would be different to arrange ‘The Wait’, a song I co-wrote, which is on my band’s album, ‘My Small Self.’ The members of Vocalign liked it enough that it was recorded and released on the a cappella group’s first album, ‘Half Past Two’ in 2010. Most college a cappella groups tend to focus on mainstream cover songs,” he continued. “Having the opportunity to hear one of my own songs be performed in two unique ways is something I never thought I would experience as a musician. I hope Vocalign will continue to perform that song well into the future.”
When Karma Was King has toured through various places in eastern Pennsylvania, and they are hoping to add the role of professional songwriters to their resumes. The band has met with famous producer Henry Hirsch in New York. They are currently working on their second album, and while they enjoy recording, they still enjoy playing live at local venues.
Shanely expressed that the band always enjoys playing at the Chameleon Club, whether it’s opening for bands from Lancaster or from Philadelphia. “Although a small venue, the club definitely has some punch to it. I don’t think there is one genre that couldn’t be played in that place. We decided to do more of an acoustic full-band performance last time at the venue, and I was impressed by the professional mixer as well as their sound equipment,” he said. “Most concert tickets are also inexpensive, yet no matter where you stand/sit at the venue, you are close to the stage. It’s a great place to spend an evening with some of your friends.” Shanely listed many popular touring bands who played at the venue, including the Goo Goo Dolls, Weezer and Hinder. “It’s pretty amazing to say that I have performed on the same stage as John Rzeznik, lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls! Many musicians can’t say that!”