With the stress of midterm season, erratic Texas weather and remaining impacts from the recent hurricanes, the month of October has been inundated with gloom. On Oct. 20, these tensions were lifted with live music, milkshakes and mosh pits, as the University Episcopal Center held its first student-run hurricane relief open mic night.
Story and photos by Francie Zenner & Andres Garcia
The night was made possible by the University of Texas at Austin students Benjamin Wyndham and Brendan Reid. With the help of friends and social media, word circulated around campus and beyond, bringing in talent from UT students, alumni and local musicians. Although Wyndham is new to Austin, he’s a veteran when it comes to hosting open mics in his hometown. “There’s this idea that only professionals can do it, but it’s not true. I’m starting it up again in Austin, but to raise money to help others instead of just for fun,” says Wyndham.
On Friday night, the Episcopal Student Center was transformed into a music venue, as students mingled around the couches and enjoyed free milkshakes and pizza. Holiday lights were strung around a makeshift stage creating a dimly-lit, mellow atmosphere. The open mic kicked off with solo acoustic performances with music ranging from original songs to covers of popular artists like John Mayer, Death Cab For Cutie and The Killers.
During intermission, everyone filled up on food, played pool and socialized. Wyndham took Polaroid photos for friends to take back with them as keepsakes. As the night progressed, the student center filled up with more people coming to enjoy music and contribute to the cause.
The second half of the night, four different bands brought their own unique energy and sounds. Austin band Albino squirrel surprised the crowd with a jazz rendition of Childish Gambino’s “Redbone.” They later took a unique turn with their cover of the map soundtrack from Mario Kart. Kidlat Punch, a band made up of UT alumni, followed and picked up the energy, which got everybody off the couches and up on their feet, singing and dancing. During American Staple’s cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in The Name, ” the audience even started a mosh pit. The final band was Alpine Aster, a group consisting of Texas A&M students. The trio performed original songs before wrapping up their set with a cover of HippoCampus’ “Suicide Saturday.”
The final song was the perfect ending to a night of great music for an even greater cause. As Kidlat Punch’s singer said earlier that night, “Hurricanes suck, but live music doesn’t. We gotta stick together and raise money for it.” Wyndham brought out his acoustic guitar asked everyone to join the stage with him. The night closed out with the entire crowd gathered around the mics and singing Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.”
The students alone raised $471, and the Episcopal Student Center matched every dollar, totaling $942 for the hurricane relief fund.
It’s never too late to contribute to the cause. Wyndham and Reid will be hosting another hurricane relief open mic night at the Episcopal Student Center on Dec. 1. You can also visit the website to find other ways to help friends, family, and cities recover from the recent hurricanes.