The evening started at the Starbucks located within the Joe. The usual crowd was there, ordering coffee, drinks or snacks. However, this night was a little different.
The typical Starbucks baristas had competition from across the cafe where the ASUN table stood with coffee, cake pops and pastries of their own. Their table was also filled with promotions for various events being held at the Joe. The smells and free food attracted many wandering students who helped fill the room.
All the chairs and seating that normally occupied the left of the Starbucks were located in the center of the room. ASUN used any remaining tables for taking photos and managing audio. The stage was nestled between the bar serving various college-aged patrons, while the barred alcove in the far left corner served the staff. The stage itself consisted of just two chairs, four mics and two speakers positioned on two stands.
The evening started with comedy acts. The night featured a variety of performances—some good, some great, some lackluster.
The ceiling lights, like artificial stars and spotlights, directed the attention to those who took the mic. The bar also made itself known by battling the stage for audio superiority with its bustle, blenders and baristas throughout the night.
Despite the many sights and sounds, eyes were focused on the stage as the acts began.
The next student to rise to the stage presented poetry. Each act had varying amounts of attention from the audience—some acts silenced most of the room and drew everyone in while others failed to maintain the audience’s focus.
The crowd was a silent and foreboding judge—if it was not pleased then the apathy could be seen, heard and felt.
The next act was announced and a singer walked onto the stage. This singer made sure to grab the crowd’s attention and did not let go until he left the stage. He may have been the third act, but as he sang, he bounced around the stage gathering cheers, arm waves and a crowd around his half of the cafe. Many singers had this same effect to varying degrees and for the most part, each singer made a positive impact with the crowd.
Several comedians took the stage as well. Among them were Vanessa Ribeiro, Vincent Rendon and Cameron Larsen from Wolf Pack Comedy Club. Another comedian not associated with Wolf Pack Comedy Club learned that vulgar and shock humor weren’t the best ways to get an audience to laugh, as he was removed from the stage around five minutes into his set for vulgar language and content.
Open Mic Night was a personal night and this was not more clear than during the poetry and spoken word acts.
Race, sexuality and other topics were presented in ways that showed what the orators struggled with and how they tried to approach these issues. Everyone had something to say regardless of how they presented it.
Open Mic Night at the Joe was very unpredictable. One act could be powerful and leave an incredible impression—only then to be followed up by an act that completely shattered the impact formed. One of the best ways to experience the night was to go to support a friend or a classmate. The night could be intimidating, but it took a lot of grit to go up and perform. While the quality of the entertainment was a gamble, the winnings could be spectacular.
Jayden Perez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @Jayden_Perez13.