Last night, SUBOG transformed the nondescript North Lobby of the Student Union into a room with jazzy coffee shop vibes. There was a stage in front of several small, round tables. Between this, a giant mural backdrop, and the lone stool centerstage, it could just as easily have been a snazzy hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in a city somewhere. The five incredible acts that performed on the stage cemented that feeling.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, acting graduate student Rob Barnes treated the crowd to a set of three songs. His first song was “Oh No I Tried” by Right Away, Great Captain. It was slow and sweet and followed an “acoustic concept” according to Barnes. His next song picked up a bit, an acoustic version of “Hey Ya!” by Outkast. The crowd couldn’t help but laugh as he called out “Hey alright now, fellas. Now what’s cooler than being cool?” in the deep, soulful way of an acoustic singer. This was even better when he reached the part of the song when the ladies had to “shake it, sh-shake it.” This rendition of “Hey Ya!” helped make his otherwise simply chill performance into something crowd-pleasingly comic. Barnes said that his last song, “Leave” from the musical Once was his favorite of the set. This fact was clear from pure feeling in his voice and his impressive display of vocal range.
Another act took Rob Barnes’ comedic approach to “Hey Ya!” one step further, with the “UConn Blues Brothers” Travis Busch and Sean Sweeney and their original song, “I Got the UConn Blues”. Written by Sweeney, but sung in a classic blues tune by Busch, the song consisted mostly of silly complaints about UConn. One great line was “The cops on campus are shutting all the parties down. I can’t turn left at Northwest, because the cops are all around.” They also sang “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz. When asked after the show, they said they hadn’t been nervous. This open mic night was not their first rodeo.
Tama, a junior, took her first shot at stand-up comedy. Her act was a hilarious collection of personal anecdotes that she dubbed “Tama Moments.” One such moment occurred way back in high school, when she woke up from a nap in an absolute panic. It was 7 o’clock and she was running late for school. With the shot of adrenaline that usually accompanies being late, she threw on some clothes and ran outside. Once outside, she saw it was actually 7 p.m. And she was locked out. She closed her act with a cheesy joke she’d come up with in class one day: “What did the banana say after he was found guilty? He appealed!” Tama said that she liked performing and that it was “something [she’d] never done, but [that she’d] always wanted to be the center of attention.” Tama said she had been “nervous the whole time,” but she was proud of how she did. “I was worried that people wouldn’t laugh at my jokes or be that they would be uncomfortable,” Tama said.
Tama was not the only stand-up comedy routine. Freshman Jack Chadwick had an exceptional one as well. Chadwick was clearly not new to the stage, and later said that it was his fourth go at stand-up comedy. His performance consisted mainly of anecdotes and crazy theories. At one point, he reflected on his tendency to jump for free stuff. Notably, one time, he gave his information to a church, because, for some reason, he felt compelled to own the free “Jesus Saves” t-shirt they were giving away. Jumping off of this, he joked that Hitler probably rose to power because everyone just wanted the sweet, free uniforms he was giving away. So he refuses to take the free sample cups from frozen yogurt shops, because he’s “not an anti-Semite.” His silly, ridiculous theories and stories kept the audience laughing until the very end. When asked if he was nervous, he said, “A little bit, yeah,” but that he would love to do it again sometime.
The fifth and final act was another acoustic singer, junior Nick DeFeudis. Like the UConn Blues Brothers, DeFeudis opened with an original song, called “Atoll.” “Atoll” was a song he had originally written as a poem for a creative writing class his senior year of high school. “I had a poem due the next day, so I used a lot of repetition and choruses to reach the word count,” DeFeudis said. When asked what the meaning behind the title was, DeFeudis claimed it was just a working title, but that he stuck with it because he liked that it “means nothing.” Interestingly enough, he later chose to sing another song with a meaningless title, “Yellow” by Coldplay. Keeping with a light, silly approach at including his audience, DeFeudis asked if anyone liked Coldplay. Just as a couple people responded with a chorus of “yeah”s, he interjected, “Yeah, me neither.” During his rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, he kept his audience engaged with a lot of similar comments. He was especially sassy when the audience didn’t join in to the chorus. His performance was definitely a fun, chill way to end the show.
SUBOG’s Open Mic night was an amazing array of talent that kept the audience laughing and swaying along. It’s was a great place for people to try standing up in front of a crowd and expressing themselves, and all five performers agreed they want to do it again the next time the event is held.
Rebecca Maher is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.