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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Freesound reopens Bob’s Underground for open mics

A student performs at an open mic at Bob’s Underground. Photo by Elena Copell.

Student performers interested in sharing their work don’t have to rely on being cordially invited to perform at Bucksbaum’s Sebring-Lewis Hall; Freesound is hosting regular open mics at Bob’s Underground throughout the fall semester. Any and all forms of performance art are welcome at an open mic, including poetry, music and stand-up.

Freesound manager Jacey Birkenmeyer ’22 took up the role as open mic night co-host, along with her friend and creative partner Emma Schaefer, also ’22. Birkenmeyer and Schaefer played together at The Grinnellian last year and are committed to supporting other student performers by organizing open mics at Bob’s.

The rules of the open mic are simple. When they arrive at Bob’s, students who want to perform can sign up for a slot to play a song, read a poem or do a routine of their choosing. Students can sign up as many times as they wish, time allowing.

“It’s important to have a low-pressure environment where students can share their art,” said Birkenmeyer. “It’s a very casual and supportive place.”

The events can help students make connections with other performers, or anyone who enjoys listening to and experiencing performance art.

“It’s a really great place to meet people that you wouldn’t otherwise, but you meet them there because you’re both interested in performing, or interested in watching,” said Birkenmeyer.

Although Bob’s is not yet open for regular student use, open mic nights started being held in the space last year. With its cozy, casual atmosphere and walls covered in student graffiti, “It’s an inspiring space to be doing music, or poetry,” Birkenmeyer said.

For Eli Calalang-Lacroix ’21, the open mic nights at Bob’s have provided an opportunity for him to explore his interest in performing more contemporary music. He has found the open mics to be a comfortable and supportive environment to experiment and collaborate with other student artists. “It’s a nice space to just be able to perform in front of other performers. … The majority of the people in the room during an open mic … tend to also perform that evening. … It’s like you’re going to hang out with other like-minded people and just taking turns performing and doing whatever you want.”

Part of the charm of the open mics lies in the low-pressure, informal atmosphere. While some students prepare their sets beforehand, impromptu performances are equally encouraged.

“We had a great experience this past week where someone who wasn’t planning on performing at all got up and did poetry and some music and it was great,” said Calalang-Lacroix.

As co-host and organizer, Jacey Birkenmeyer ’21 is looking for ways to expand and build the program. She’s looking forward to planning partnerships with other student organizations, or even academic SEPCs. Taking the event outside of Bob’s to the spaces like the HSSC atrium or the Faulconer Gallery for a special occasion is also a possibility.

Open mics are currently scheduled for October 3, October 17, November 14, November 21 and December 5, in Bob’s Underground, located in the basement of Main Hall.

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