Honors Humanities and Arts Collective (HArCo) hosted an intimate “Open Mic Night” Friday in Buckley Classroom for students to get a chance to express themselves in an encouraging, communal environment. With twinkle lights, a virtual fire and all the pizza participants could eat, students braved the stage.
Since there were no more than 20 students in attendance, all of which were from the Honors Program, honors jokes were tossed around, such as joking nods of respect to the so-called “Buckley alum.”
The performances greatly varied. After fishing for a participant from the audience for a couple minutes, Emily Bretthauer broke from the ranks and sang Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.” This song kicked off the open mic with a musical flare, which was quickly followed by a pianist.
“I thought it was fun seeing people perform from the honors community and people that I’ve never known before,” Cameron Slocum, a first-semester ACES major, said.
Kurtis Duggan came prepared with his own keyboard and quickly turned his performance into a miniature recital. He played a variety of songs, touching on numerous genres with skill. He even played his own little riffs as he searched for new songs to play from “The Real Book,” joking that he had to warm up first after several minutes of performing.
“I think this will be my last one, because my fingers are getting tired,” Duggan said.
Following Duggan was the electric guitarist Dylan Gaffney whose songs, like Green Day’s “Scattered,” echoed out of the tight space of Buckley Classroom, with alternative, Lindsey-Lohan-in-“Freaky Friday” vibes. After playing a couple solo songs, he was joined by another electric guitarist Christopher Geiger, who immediately snapped his E string.
“We’re no ‘Storrs’ the band, we’re not like a group,” Gaffney said.
Bretthauer took back the stage as the guitarists fled to replace their string, singing Billie Eilish’s “idontwannabeyouanymore.” Her rendition, unaccompanied by instruments, was soft like a lullaby, making Eilish’s song somehow both soothing and melancholy.
Dramatic readings were given from the recent HArCO Zine’s conspiracy theories, including one that questioned whether or not the true purpose of the recent Student ID switch was to begin secretly tracking students. Gaffney attempted to pretend the conspiracy theory he read on gym construction was not his, trying to maintain the idea that all the theories were anonymous submissions and not made up by members of HArCO. He regarded the idea that squirrels were vessels of UConn higher-ups to control students into spending more money at the university.
While stalling for the return of the runaway guitarist, attendees were reminded that it is an open mic and anything, except STEM praise, would be welcomed. The real takeaway for the night, in addition to the incredible talent and friendliness of those in attendance, was that an unusual percentage of honors students have spare guitar strings, and that Geiger was incredibly committed to performing.
The saga of the runaway guitarist stole the night, as he thanked the audience, over an hour after he broke his string, for their patience and for the efforts of all those who helped him: Driving him across campus, giving him a new string which he accidentally broke once again and eventually lending him another guitar altogether.
“Rest in peace. I’ll miss you,” Geiger, a fifth-semester computer science and engineering major, said regarding his broken string. “Thank you Dylan, thank you Anthony, thank you Jake and yeah, thank you for all who came.”
In the end, Geiger and Gaffney’s performance lived up to the suspense, as they played riffs off each other while Gaffney sung in falsetto to “Supermassive Black Hole.” They then treated the audience to a rendition of the “Drake and Josh” theme song that would leave Drake Bell speechless.
“It was kind of wild,” Geiger said. “You know, honestly, you kind of have the most fun when things go crazy. It went how it went, hopefully people liked it.”
“So, I broke an E string,” Gaffney said after their last song, holding his now-useless guitar.
The audience dispersed shortly after Geiger and Gaffney finished, happy to have started their weekend on such a chill, supportive note.
Rebecca Maher is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.