Arts & Culture

Acoustic performances brighten the Underground

Six student performers brought raw vocals to first event in new series “Underground Thursdays”

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, November 5, 2018

“Gigs Undergound,” a continuation of last month’s festival, “Gigs on the Grass,” featured student performances with acoustic, coffee-house sounds.

Last Thursday night, the Underground brimmed with guitar chords and raw vocals as students performed acoustically at Gigs Underground, hosted by the Student Activities Office and Brown University Class Coordinating Board. The event kicked off the Student Activities Office’s new monthly “Underground Thursdays” performance-based series.

Student performers Marijke Perry ’22, Paul Abrams ’21, Belu-Olisa Sarkissian ’21, Felipe Félix Méndez ’22, Cameron McKie ’19 and Emilia Halvorsen ’19 took to the stage — a cleared space at the back of the room fitted with a mic stand and a stool — to present their diverse acoustic sounds, including original compositions and covers.

Emilia Halvorsen ’19 performed in the final slot of the event, which initially gave her reason to expect a smaller audience, she said. She found the contrary to be true — the Underground still bustled with audience members, some wandering in from the adjacent Young Arcade, pool cues still in hand.

Halvorsen played a selection of her original songs — including some that she hopes to feature on an EP that would be released this fall. One such song focused on changing relationships and autumn, a theme she explored because she sees this season as “a time for transformation — for seeing things differently as you see the leaves changing around you,” she said. Halvorsen also sang a cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” another ode to the fall season and fitting with the venue’s apple cider-laden vibes.

The event came as a continuation of last month’s Gigs on the Grass, a day-long festival featuring student performers. In the three years Gigs on the Grass has been running, this is the first time the event has been extended to a night of acoustic performances.

While Gigs on the Grass featured mostly bands and groups, Gigs Underground was distinguished by highlighting solo performances.

“We had over 60 auditions” for Gigs on the Grass, said Melissa Lee ’20, community outreach officer of Class Coordinating Board 2020. “We wanted to be able to (showcase) those musicians who obviously work very hard and are very, very talented,” she added. As such, Lee collaborated with the Student Activities Office to create an outlet to accommodate  acoustic, coffee-house sounds.

These student musicians, along with a few additions, were invited to perform at Gigs Underground, which offered the smaller, more intimate setting their sound required, said Megan Evonsion ’20, a Campus Programmer at the Student Activities Office.

Evonsion and Halvorsen commented that the event was one of few on campus that catered specifically to individual, acoustic performers.

“I feel like it is really strange that Brown doesn’t have a regular open mic for people,” Halverson said, noting that groups and ensembles are generally given more opportunities to perform on campus.

“It is really cool to be able to see who else is out there doing similar things — there are so many people with hidden talents here,” Halvorsen added. She emphasized the importance of a “space to try things out and (learn) what goes well in front of an audience, because there is no other way to learn that besides performing.”

“We’re hoping that (Gigs Underground) will encourage people, especially other students and their classmates, to see all the wonderful talents that students have,” Evonsion said.

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