On Nov. 15, Drexel University’s Campus Activities Board hosted Drexel Unplugged, an open mic night that occurs three times a term at Saxbys on 34th Street from 7-9 p.m.
Performers of all skill levels lined up to play, lugging their acoustic guitars through the excited crowd to the makeshift stage. Even with only a couple of microphones to help amplify their music, the Drexel musicians performed their songs to a captivated audience of over 50 people while the strong aroma of coffee beans filled the “venue” from wall to wall.
Before the music even started, the audience had grown beyond the seating capacity of the coffee shop, leading students to sit on windowsills and stand anywhere they could manage to fit. Leaning against a counter by the stage was Drexel senior Aidan Toole, a CAB member who has helped run the event since its inception last year. As students continuously moved around him, reaching for cream, sugar and other coffee additives, he remarked, “It’s nice for students to relax a little with friends and enjoy the music; sing and dance.” After a pause, he jokingly backpedaled, “Well maybe not those two things.”
Indeed, not much dancing occurred; however, many students passionately sang along with the performers, at least when they were not recording the music for their Snapchat and Instagram stories. The crowd was treated to a number of well-known songs as the performers covered everything from Maroon 5 to Tom Petty.
The musicians typically kept their performances down to only a song or two, giving many Drexel students the opportunity to get up in front of a live audience, some for the first time.
Elliot Richards, a guitar player who was involuntarily signed up by his friends, was among these first timers. “I’ve never done anything live,” the junior admitted. “I’ve played in front of some friends but that’s about it.” Despite his words, his demeanor showed no sign of nervousness. The event attracted a laidback and supportive audience, with applause filling the small coffee shop after every song.
Eric Kohlenstein, a Saxbys employee and freshman at Drexel, also took part in the fun, taking a break from his shift to perform an original for the crowd. “It’s kind of the perfect location,” he reflected from behind the counter after his performance. “This was my first time performing here and it felt comfortable, which is important.”
The next Drexel Unplugged will take place Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Saxbys on 34th Street by Towers Hall. Musicians can sign up to perform on CAB’s website or simply show up with their instrument.