The audience at PLU’s open mic night gave a big cheer to performers both new and old Friday night, giving both performers and the audience a sense of community.
Although the open mic night had several return performers, many students had never been on stage before.
LASR, PLU’s student radio station; The Matrix, social justice magazine; and Saxifrage, the literary and art magazine all teamed up to put together an open mic event, where any student can perform on stage in front of other students.
This is the first open mic of the year and the first event for these multimedia organizations on campus.
Not only was the event an opportunity for performers, but it was an opportunity for these three organizations to get their word out and encourage new students to get involved. Many of the organizations’ staff members performed at the open mic and sent a shoutout to students encouraging them to get involved with LASR, The Matrix, or Saxifrage.
The lights dimmed in The Cave as the Emcee introduced the first performer. Green laser-lights shone upon the audience and gave the room a relaxed atmosphere.
At first, it looked like the audience wasn’t going to be very big, but as time went by, more and more students came down to The Cave to hear fellow colleagues perform. Although most of the performers were singers, several people read poetry, and one student even beat-boxed. Some students sang original songs or recited original poetry, and others performed their favorite pieces by other artists, including the Adventure Time theme song.
What’s unique about PLU’s open mic is the openness of both the audience and the performers. “You can do anything; it doesn’t just have to be singing. The audience is so open,” LASR General Manager Olivia Ash said.
She explained that it is a great place to try something new. If you’ve never performed before, it’s a welcoming atmosphere with an audience who will support you through your act.
Ash performed a song she wrote years ago and was unsure about how the audience would react to it. “It’s so cheesy,” she said onstage. The audience kindly laughed with her. She even asked the audience to whistle during part of one of her songs, and afterwards, she exclaimed how well the crowd did.
Throughout the night, many performers commented on how enthusiastic the audience was. After every performance, there was a loud cheer. The audience even gave extra encouragement to performers who were nervous or had to start over.
It was Matlock’s very first time reading her poetry out loud to anyone. She had never shared her poetry before, not even with her friends. She was quite nervous. Once she heard all the encouragement from the audience, she decided to just go for it and read her poetry. “It was a good experience. I’d do it again,” Matlock said.
Ruthie Kovanen has played at many open mics and is a somewhat established musician in the PLU community. She not only enjoyed playing at the open mic, but she enjoyed watching all the other performers.
She keeps coming back to open mic nights because she enjoys sharing the work she does by herself with others. As an audience member, she said it is very inspiring to see all of the diverse creations that people have.
“It brings the community together,” Kovanen said. “Sitting in the audience, I was thinking that it’s beautiful how different all the acts were, but how we’re still all here together. It’s a binding force.”
Kovanen also liked the aspect of how PLU’s open mic brings together different creative aspects we have on campus. LASR, The Matrix, and Saxifrage brought their creativity together in order to make this open mic happen.
Some students performed fun, light pieces, while others were a bit more serious. Caitlin Dawes read a poem about the conflict in the Gaza Strip. “Did you guys hear what happened at the Gaza Strip this summer? Well, I’m gonna tell you…” she said before she started her poem.
Samuel Ryan ended the night by playing guitar and along with a computer sequence backing track, which was something he had never done before. Although he was nervous, he played through the song with no problems.
It was Leah Mellmer’s first time going to a PLU open mic. She noticed that despite many performers’ nervousness, everyone did really well. “I think the audience had a large role in this,” Mellmer said, “The people I sat by were tapping their feet, clapping, snapping, and sometimes singing along, which was a good, encouraging attitude to have and overall made everything more enjoyable and fun.”
She also liked the laid back atmosphere of the open mic; anyone could sign up to perform at any time during the night.
The openness inspired Mellmer. “No one was judgemental and they all seemed to be very open and supportive, which is a huge confidence boost that inspired my friends and myself to create songs and prepare for the next open mic.”