On Oct. 1, the St. Olaf Music Entertainment Committee (MEC) hosted a fall open mic night. For a little over two hours, students from all different backgrounds and skill sets gathered in the cozy Pause Lair to listen to others show off their talents. The Lair was subtly decorated with orange and yellow leaves, posters, and a toddler sized skeleton chilling in the back corner of the stage. Audience members gathered on chairs, the floor, and a few lucky people got to relax and enjoy the show from couches towards the back of the room. MEC provided cookies and cider, and in between performances, the loud gurgling noise of an almost empty urn echoed across the small room.
All different types of performances were welcome at the open mic. A comedian, two poets, bands, trios, duets, and solo artists all were given 10 minutes to dazzle the audience—which they did every time. MEC member Sylvia Shutes ’24 explained that the whole point of the night was to give performers at St. Olaf a chance to express themselves in a more lowkey way. Shutes noted that “sometimes the professional atmosphere of choir and band here is intimidating, and we wanted to give people the chance to just have fun.” Performers shared their own original songs, sang covers, and depicted crazy family vacations in their unique acts.
Perhaps the best part of the event was the audience participation. A few quiet voices would sing along if they knew the songs, but the participation really came between songs. Performers would chat with the audience while they tuned their guitars or set up their mics, and not a single performance went by without laughter radiating through the room. After each performance, genuine cheers would spring from the audience from the pure joy of getting to witness someone completely and totally in their element. One piano player even got a FaceTime call from their mother in the middle of a song, and the whole room got to say hi to the unsuspecting parent. A culture of sorts was developed just in that short amount of time, and the Lair became a safe space for people to let their individuality shine through.
By the time the last band’s encore dwindled down, the Lair was full of a chaotic energy — a mix of exhaustion and exhilaration — even for those who didn’t perform. The open mic night was a success in all measures of the word, and it’s an event that hopefully even more students will have the opportunity to witness again this year. Shutes indicated that MEC wants to host more nights like this at different points throughout the year, and to those wondering if they should give it a shot.