Campus News

Bethel students ‘open’ to showcase talents

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Every Tuesday from 7 p.m. until whenever students feel like leaving, Sufficient Grounds hosts an “Open Mic Night” event for Bethel Students.
Bethel students Mike King and Josh Vale perform at Open Mic Night.
“Open mic night started as just an outlet … something for the musically talented people that don’t get an outlet,” said Campus Activities Director Reed Lyons, who is mainly responsible for putting Open Mic Night together. “We kind of opened it up to the broad idea that anything you want to perform that requires an audience you can do.” When asked why he wanted to start this event, Lyons said, “There’s a lot of talent on Bethel that we don’t necessarily see all the time … There’s a lot of people that are playing and practicing but there’s not really an audience (for them).” When one gets to Open Mic Night, they will almost immediately sense the casual atmosphere that the event carries. “I think a lot of people are nervous about the first step,” said Lyons, regarding those who are nervous about signing up. “It’s an opening, welcome environment, everybody really enjoys it, it’s your chance to put all of the talents you’ve been practicing and show it in front of an audience. The way the “stage” is currently set up is not really a stage. The front, right corner of the coffee house is filled with speakers, microphones, and audio mixers. The performer sits or stands on ground level and performs in front of a friendly, attentive audience that is usually resting casually on the couches. This setup, however, will not last long, as Sufficient moves into its new location after Thanksgiving Break. That doesn’t mean that Open Mic Night will lose its atmosphere, or go away, though. “The stage is bigger (in the new Sufficient Grounds building), and it’s going to be a lot nicer because all the audio hookups are built in (to the building) so we don’t have to bring a whole set every time we try to set it up … The space is going to be different, so it’s going to be more of a focal point than kind of shoving somebody back in the corner.” Once the infamous Indiana weather improves, there will also be another option for performers. “There’s an outdoor stage that’s going to be supposedly built under an awning, as well.” Regarding the new Sufficient Grounds Opening, Lyons is hoping to have something big in store. “The manager of the bookstore, Sufficient Grounds and I have been talking about doing some sort of grand opening event, where we get the best of the best (of the Open Mic Night performers) to come back and do sort of a bigger deal, maybe a contest or American Idol type of thing.” So how does one sign up for Open Mic Night? “When you get to Open Mic Night, there’s a sign-up sheet for students who want to perform (in the future),” said Lyons. “You can just come in and you can play if you want, but it’s not guaranteed that you’ll have a spot, whereas if you make a reservation you’re guaranteed to have a spot … People have emailed me to say ‘Hey, I’d like to reserve this time on Tuesday’, or people just come on Tuesday (and perform).” Regarding what types of acts are able to perform, Lyons says that they are not picky. “We had people that were interested in comedy, in short stories, in interpretive dance. We have other people that are interested in poetry, even freestyle rap, but the majority have been music, ranging from just vocals with a computer backing to bands.” Unfortunately, though, the sets must be limited to acoustic, mostly toned-down performances. “There were stipulations with Sufficient, where they didn’t want us to have anything other than acoustic … they were not so sure about electric guitars or full drumsets … We also don’t want to ruin it for the people that are just in the coffee house doing homework.” Open Mic Night even has the possibility to bring performers outside of Bethel to the campus. “We’ve had some members outside of the community as well say that they want to come in as well and send me emails and say that ‘We want to perform on campus, where can we do that?’ and so we’re broadening that too, maybe bringing in some local performers.”
Kelsey Bucknam and Hannah Beamer sing at an Open Mic Night at Sufficient Grounds.
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