Under dimmed green, red and yellow lights, KCPR’s quarterly open mic event broadcasted the voices of students to the world.
Thursday night’s event brought a mix of 14 performances, including musicians, comedians, poets and other performers. The night began with Cuesta College sophomore Griff McConal singing and playing the banjo.
“This is the first time I’ve ever played a song I wrote in front of (an audience) — not a coffee shop, or just my close friends,” McConal said before beginning.
It was a night of many firsts for the performers, with several having to look back at the big audience on their own for the first time, including mechanical engineering senior Julia Hall.
“I’ve just been trying to get out of my comfort zone,” said Hall, who said she had previously performed with choirs and the Arab Music Ensemble. “But performing solo is extremely new.”
Furthermore, a few performers brought in some of their earliest works. McConal, for instance, played the first song he wrote, praising it as his personal favorite.
“It’s what I consider to be the best song I’ve written so far and the one I’m the most comfortable with,” McConal said. “And a lot of the other ones are about either like, breakups or kind of sad stuff, and I felt like there were going to be a few of those tonight already. So I decided to pick one that was more out of left field.”
And though a few sad songs were featured, there was a wide variety of material, which included both original works and covers like Hall’s rendition of “California” by Grimes.
“I listened to the album and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a great song,’” Hall said on choosing what to sing.
The event filled the room to capacity — with approximately 250-300 people watching live at any given time — and listeners occupied whatever available space they could find.
Additionally, the live-streamed broadcast on KCPR’s website brought in approximately 2,200 total views.
“It’s great exposure,” said Shoot the Mariner bassist Matt Hahn. “And, you know, you don’t really think about it (while performing).”
However, performing in such a packed setting and knowing that the world could literally be watching was rattling for some.
“I was nervous,” Hall said. “But it was a really receptive audience … it was fun, and the sound guy was really good.”
Hahn, a 2012 Cal Poly kinesiology alumnus, agreed with Hall’s sentiment that facing a crowd can be nerve-wracking.
“The audience’s eyes sort of stares into your soul, so it gets a little big daunting at times — but it’s pretty fun,” he said.
However, Hahn, who has been playing with the band since 2014, added that despite this being the largest crowd Shoot the Mariner has played for, it’s not always the audience that rattles a performer.
“I think the lights are the biggest thing to me,” Hahn said. “Just because there’s lights shining right down on you — it’s pretty tough.”