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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Phenomenal turnout for Aggie Open Mics’ first in-person event

The organization puts on events that provide a safe and encouraging platform for artistic expression available to all Aggies

By SIERRA JIMENEZ — arts@theaggie.org


“Fetch that mic (insert name), let’s have fun tonight,” rang from Wellman 234 as the new club, Aggie Open Mics, hosted their first in-person event on Oct. 23. The room was dark, but the energy was high. From a previous turnout of about 15 people via Zoom to a remarkable 80 RSVPs for the in-person event, applause radiated from the filled seats of the small classroom.

“Bringing the volume of the energy up and having everyone work together helps build a community and builds support,” said Murshed “Mush” Qasime, a second-year biomedical engineering major and co-host of Aggie Open Mics.

“Everybody’s doing something simultaneously… Everyone fuels each other. It’s all connected,” Qasime said.

There is beauty, courage and admirability in individuals giving themselves the opportunity to perform in front of a diverse community, coming together to share their unique stories, Qasime explained. From improv poetry to electric guitar, students from all walks of life find a commonality in artistic expression.

One act in particular that brought the house down was Paulo Pareto, a first-year computer science major, with his smooth outer space-like electric seduction. Starting off with some technical difficulties—necessary to satisfy the archetypal college open mic event—he crushed his performance as the crowd went wild.

With his mullet and turquoise-blue electric guitar in hand, he surprised the audience with the classic behind-the-head guitar maneuver. But just as the crowd seemed to be at its peak excitement, he whipped out a new move by picking the guitar with his mouth. The audience screeched with exhilaration from this momentous performance. Pareto later confessed that he did not come up with his act until 3 p.m. on the day of the performance.

Only playing for about four years on and off, and performing live for the first time since his high school talent show, Pareto ignited the night with his psychedelic space-rock uniqueness.

“I like more avant garde stuff, and I want other people to start enjoying that… Less stuff that you would hear in traditional popular music,” Pareto said.

Pareto got his inspiration and desire to perform on stage after he first watched Eric Clapton’s live performance of “Layla” on YouTube. Since then, he has been expressing himself through experimental electric guitar with the hope of exposing more people to abstract music. He is currently working on a new piece for the next open mic event which will later be announced on Instagram @AggieOpenMics or on their website.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Jessica Solis, a third-year cell biology major, said. “It’s a supportive, intimate community… a safe place.”

Solis did not intend on performing that Saturday night; however, she was an active audience member supporting local artists and enjoying the crowd’s contagious energy. Astonished by the copious talent and various majors of the performers, Solis took pride in being an Aggie that night.

“[The performers] have something special they want to share with us,” she said. Solis admitted that some of the acts made her emotional from the performers’ vulnerability with the audience.

Everyone was welcome to take the spotlight and share their unique story in any form of expression, whether or not they signed up beforehand. The safety and support of the team and the audience generated an empowering energy evident throughout the night, inspiring people to take a risk and get onstage.

One of the foundations of the club is to be a safe space for expression, Qasime said. It is established from the get-go that if anyone is uncomfortable at any given point, they encourage open and honest communication in order to maintain this comfortable environment for everyone.

“[Open mic] is an opportunity to grow myself, but it was also a moment for me to step back and enjoy seeing people in that spotlight,” Qasime said. “To see them go out there and give themselves the opportunity and put themselves out there in front of other people…it’s admirable. It’s a beautiful thing.”

There is an undeniable energy welcoming everyone and encouraging people to come back. The applause, the support, the safety and the creative expression make the environment contagious. Make sure to keep an eye out for the next event, whether to perform or enjoy the stories of fellow UC Davis artists.


Written by: Sierra Jimenez — arts@theaggie.org




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