A crowd lined the walls and filled the floor of the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC) Thursday night as music enthusiasts near and far gathered to attend KCPR’s Fall Open Mic Night.
Bands, singers and songwriters as well as one comedian took center stage to captivate an audience of Cal Poly students, San Luis Obispo community members and even President Jeffery Armstrong.
One of the first acts to take the stage was the Blue Boonies, a new band that held their first show in Poly Canyon.
The band played an “electro-acoustic original” that ended with a short cover of “Catamaran” by Allah-Las. The Blue Boonies’ steady sound eased the audience into the groove of the night.
Favorites of the night included Nick Crossen, a singer and songwriter who brought his guitar to serenade the crowd with a cover of “Vincent” by Don McLean.
When Crossen was 15 years old, he made it into the Top 100 Guys on American Idol. That talent showed in Crossen’s smooth vocals and gentle guitar playing.
Another crowd pleaser was a band that said they had no name, performing “Entrendre,” an original song. KCPR referred to the band as AJ Absy and crew.
Written in only one night by the band, “Entrende” had the audience tapping their toes and shaking their heads to the upbeat and playful number. Contributing vocals from each band member and a lively drum solo had the audience burst into applause at the song’s end.
It was clear why the band was pardoned for a noise complaint during one of their garage band practices. The San Luis Obispo Police Department officer let them off the hook for “having a cool sound.”
When Open Mic Night was well underway, it was clear that Explode the Machine was going to be a showstopper.
Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, the band came to San Luis Obispo a few years ago after nine months on the road, carrying just $28 between the three of them.
Now with five members, Explode the Machine said their music is about accepting and loving each other and encouraging self-expression. Lead singer Don Laroche emphasized this message by describing the band’s song “Burn.”
“I don’t want you to mistake that I’m saying, like, ‘burn the world down,’” Laroche said to the crowd. “What I’m saying is, ‘Don’t let no one kill that light inside of you because inside of every one of you is a universe, man. You’re all beautiful, know that to be true.’”
Laroche got right to it, delivering fast lyrics to high energy rock instrumentals. Accompanying Laroche’s tireless and spastic dance moves was the rest of the band, head-banging along with the intense sound.
Later in the night, the crowd mellowed out to the atmospheric synth and drum beats of Rose Toumanian and got up on their feet to dance along to Up! Way Up!
KCPR’s 10th Open Mic Night proved to be several things: an eclectic night, a packed house and a hit.