Arts & Culture

January Jam features music, poetry, comedy

Seven student performers share varied artistic talents in Underground last Thursday

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Student performers took to the stage in latest installment of Underground Thursdays, a series of arts-oriented events hosted by the Student Activities Office. January Jam showcased original compositions and unique talents.

Parka-clad students shuffled about in the dim lighting of the Underground, carrying notebooks, cameras, instruments and speakers in preparation for performances at January Jam last Thursday.

Lyrics, verses and tunes floated through the air during the student performances hosted by the Student Activities Office as part of their monthly series, “Underground Thursdays.”

Performers Lydia Haile ’19, Ben Stewart ’20, Kris Cho ’22, Shivam Gandhi ’20, Bree Zhang ’22, Felipe Felix Mendez ’22 and Alp Koksal ’22 showcased a myriad of artistic talents in a clearing amid cafe tables, sofas and chairs. Audience members munched on cookies and other treats as they gathered for a night of performances from talented students set against the brick backdrop of the coffee shop.

Although many of the showcased talents happened to be musical, students were encouraged to perform poetic and comedic acts as well. After Stewart sang a variety of acoustic songs accompanied by his guitar, Cho gave a spoken word poetry performance. Cho, a member of the Brown/RISD Poetry Slam Team, read poetry for the crowd, conveying thoughtful musings on femininity and complex elements of queer identity. The compact audience sat in front of her, engrossed by the performance. With a background in speech and debate, Cho spoke about how poems are more “personal and have a different sensation of speaking from the heart.”

January Jam allowed fellow students to appreciate and showcase talents in a comfortable environment. Zhang, who performed a multitude of songs on her guzheng, a Chinese plucked string instrument, elaborated on her performance. “I just composed a new song, and I wanted to show it to people,” Zhang said. “January Jam was the perfect place (to do this) because it was intimate … and it’s a place where people who enjoy music can comfortably congregate and listen.” Zhang further reflected on how the Underground’s the familiar atmosphere enhanced the performances. Audience members were able to relate more to the performers because “you are listening to a friend. Faces in the crowd are recognizable,” she added.

Many of the audience members were aware of the Underground’s previous events; Iman Husain ’22 attended Gigs Underground last November. “It’s just really cool being able to see these students show off their unique talents,” she said.