KCPR hosted their Fall Open Mic Night Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) Pavilion. People trickled into the dimly lit room and plopped down on personalized carpet cutouts surrounding the stage, ready to be entertained.
The event featured Cal Poly students, as well as alumni and residents from the San Luis Obispo area. The 11 performances included various bands, one poet and one stand-up comedian. From a song about cosmic lattes to a full-fledged mosh pit, the show was an eclectic assortment of talent.
Fall Open Mic Night was emceed by graphic communication senior Jaya Narasimhan and political science senior Kelli Normand, who have both been with the station for two years as DJs.
KCPR Event Director Will Brady was in charge of the entire event. This role involved reviewing applications to determine the performers and planning details such as the venue’s layout, audio and visuals.
“I’m hoping the audience enjoys it, maybe just forgets about school for a little bit and gets to see what [San Luis Obispo] has to offer music-wise,” recreation, parks and tourism administration senior Brady said.
Here’s a closer look at a couple acts who graced the stage:
Ben Haag, Jeff Phunmongkol and Preston Quilici used to casually “jam” together during their senior year of high school. After graduation, the three boys left their homes in the Bay Area, going their separate ways to pursue different interests. Now, nearly four years later, they have reunited in San Luis Obispo not only as housemates but also as bandmates.
Manic Expression made its debut at Shabang IX in October. KCPR’s Fall Open Mic Night was the band’s first open mic event, and they performed their new song, “She’s My Baby.”
Inspiration for the name “Manic Expression” comes from Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” and honors the concept of jamming.
“That’s how we feel you really develop musically: giving yourself the flexibility to play whatever feels best in the moment,” guitarist and vocalist Haag said.
Bassist, vocalist and construction management senior Phunmongkol, drummer and Cuesta College student Quilici and Haag practice as a group about three to four times per week in their home. As they have only been a band for one-and-a-half months, they are working on refining their musical strengths and establishing a solid set. They hope to start appearing at more local venues and to eventually open for larger acts that come to town.
Manic Expression’s music is on Soundcloud and YouTube, but the band hopes to release an album by February of next year.
Izzie Clark has spent the last few years finding her sound. In 2015, Clark began playing drums in her two-girl band Grrls. In 2016, Clark began releasing her own recordings on SoundCloud under her name. Now she’s writing and recording as Ego Sunshine, her solo indie-punk band. She released a three-song EP on Spotify with Redbull Records in August 2017.
KCPR’s Fall Open Mic was Clark’s first performance as Ego Sunshine. She sang “Alone,” a new song dedicated to her cheating ex-boyfriend.
For English freshman Clark, one of the hardest parts of forming her own band was choosing a name. After contemplating several band names, “Ego Sunshine” finally came to her.
“It’s a reflection of feeling egotistical of what you create but also the happiness it gives you when you show it to people,” Clark said.
Clark’s songwriting process usually starts with a riff paired with a feeling or message that she wants to convey. She finds inspiration by pulling from past relationships and experiences as well as whatever mood she happens to be in.
“I’m honestly just raging on my guitar and trying to get emotions out,” Clark said. “If I’m lucky, it turns into a song, and if not, I scrap it.”
Her goal is to bring “a rockist female energy” to a music scene that is traditionally dominated by males. She believes music plays an important role in social movements and wants to help change the way women and minorities are represented in the industry. Above all, she wants to encourage people to get out of their comfort zones and do what makes them happy.
“I just wanna make music that melts people’s faces off and gets them dancing,” Clark said. “I want to make people feel again.”