Last Thursday, the BC Art Club and the Music Guild joined forces to present the first in a series of Open Mic Nights. The event was hosted in the Vandy Cabaret Lounge, one of the more hip spots on campus (next to the Chocolate Bar, of course). Of the twelve acts, only one was a non-musical performance. (For those looking for more poetry, the next Open Mic Night, this Thursday, will also be hosted by the Laughing Medusa, which is bound to draw the BC literati to the stage.) The juxtaposition of serious musicians and amateurs just there to have fun was endearing; the evening was neither too serious nor too casual. Even those performers who missed a few lines, or whose voices were shaky with trepidation, proved that beneath all the pastels and whale-printed shorts there is genuine artistic talent in the BC community.
Despite being a small event, there were more than a few large voices. Alex Dzialo, of My Mother’s Fleabag, took the reins as emcee and the night started out strong with the Music Guild’s own VP, Chris Paterno. Brandishing a guitar and harmonica, he performed two songs off his EP, Everyday Shadows, which just so happens to drop this week. For those who did not attend, you can see Chris deliver the artistry one would expect of the Vice President of the Music Guild here.
Next up was Seán O’Rourke, who probably stole more than a few hearts with his charming Irish accent. A man of many talents, Seán is not only an actor, but apparently a poet as well. He performed two spoken-word poems, reading them off his phone without any shame. The first was an untitled love letter to a girl named Victoria. The second, titled “To My Love,” was a half-chronicle of a date that could have gone better.
Dan Lyle’s solo act, Isl∆nd, was certainly the darkest, but it was also the most mesmerizing. Maybe I’m more basic than I thought, but I couldn’t place his song, “Not You,” into one specific genre. Dan describes Isl∆nd as a “sonic world with endless possibilities” and hopes “to create genre bending music where every song exists in its own world.” He certainly succeeded in warping our brains for the few minutes he was on stage. Since Thursday, I haven’t stopped listening to all the trippy and haunting tracks on his Soundcloud—especially the EP ily.ihu.imu.
In the fifth act, Nick Diamondidis missed a few lines of “Dead Sea” by the Lumineers, but laughed it off like it was all part of the act. Next up was Chris Garcia and his solo project, the Proper. Sporting nothing but an acoustic guitar, his quiet and sensitive voice really pulled the audience in. The first song Chris performed was “For That Girl Who’s Kind of Cool” off his album, Opinions/Facts, released last August. The second was “Islands,” from his EP Whatever’nstuff, released last January.
The last six performances all showcased talented musicians, but were, for the most part, a string of covers, with Taylor Swift emerging as artist most likely to feature in a mashup. The Swift blending began with Meghan and Katie Kelleher’s “Thinking About Forever and Always,” a mix of Frank Ocean and Taylor Swift lyrics. I never thought Frank Ocean and Taylor Swift had much in common, but I was more than pleasantly surprised at how cohesively they came together. Next was Ian, Anna, and Mike with a double-Swift smoothie of “Style” and “Blank Space.”
The show ended with Dan Hwang and David Park playing three unnamed songs on their acoustic guitars. They were calm and relaxing and ended the night on a perfectly mellow note. Walking out of Vandy, I felt an appreciation for BC I hadn’t felt in a while. Events like Open Mic Night are so important because they’re ideal places to rediscover a sense of individuality and artistry in the BC community. Whenever BC begins to feel too big, or Vineyard Vines becomes too overwhelming, it’s events like these that remind us to take an active search for individuality and art. Even the most unsuspecting people have something important to say, something creative to share.