UTM’s Music Club held their second open mic night of the year last Tuesday. The event may have drawn more performers than audience members, but the result was a supportive and encouraging atmosphere for both new and experienced talent. The show was held in CCT 1080, which made for an informal setting.
The show, which was hosted by UMC president Jason Selvanayagam and UMC talent manager Katherine Nader, got off to a late start, but the show’s first performer, Ben Algérie, was well worth the wait. Algérie gave a soulful performance of Whitney Houston’s “All the Man that I Need”.
His performance was followed by Alice Li’s gentle rendition of “If You Love Me for Me” by Barbie. Her higher-pitched voice reminded me of a Disney princess’s voice. You know, the one they use while they’re making their own clothes or singing with their animal friends.
Following Li was an acoustic performance by Rahul Varghese on guitar and Cyra Asli on vocals. The duo performed “White Balloons” by Sick Puppies, followed by “Kings and Queens” by 30 Seconds to Mars. Varghese was clearly a skilled guitarist, alternating between plucking and riffs during their first performance and then switching to a softer sound for their second one. Asli’s clear and distinct voice worked really well with the alternative rock songs they picked.
Next up were two more duos. Vinh Nguyen and Amina Abdel Wahab, also known as Lazor Sharp, performed an original composition with both the lyrics and music written by Nguyen. The second duo was Nader and guitarist Archie, who played their rendition of Jesse J’s “Price Tag”. Stripped down to an acoustic cover, the song seemed even more authentic.
After another ballad by Algérie, “Adagio” by Lara Fabian, the audience welcomed first-years Andrew Lie and Rode for their acoustic rendition of “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé. While Rode took the lead on vocals, guitarist Lie joined in to create beautiful harmonies throughout the song. I really enjoyed listening to the two sing such an emotionally driven cover of this song.
Soloist Sean was next up for his performance of Michael Bublé’s “I’m Feeling Good”, which he played on the electric guitar. Sean’s deep voice and edgy guitar gave the song a new twist from the traditional big band sound of the original.
After a 10-minute intermission for cookies and coffee, first-year student Arlind Kadiri made hearts swoon with his rendition of “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith. Kadiri took second place during the Frosh Week talent show and is definitely a seasoned vocalist. I was in awe that Kadiri picked such a challenging song with so many high notes, yet pulled it off with ease. Nguyen was up again next, delighting the audience with a huge-sounding rendition of the holiday favourite “Christmas Canon” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on piano.
My favourite performance of the night came from Natasha Anwar and Selvanayagam, who sang a jazzy acoustic version of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie”. In my opinion, Anwar is an unmistakable star. Her versatile vocals paired with the guitar were romantic and show-stopping.
The most unique performance of the night was Erin Wang’s piece on the guitar. Wang’s piece combined soft string plucking with flicks or taps on the guitar’s body, which created an interesting beat, like a drum.
As the show wound down, Victor took to the stage to perform Ariana Grande’s “Right There” in a surprisingly high voice—high, but still in key. I was truly impressed with his range and so were his friends in the audience, who stood up to dance along.
Victoria Trotman closed the show with a grand performance of Adele’s “Don’t You Remember”, which gave me goosebumps. Sitting in the audience, you could’ve heard a pin drop.
This article has been edited from the print version. It originally implied that the year’s first UMC Open Mic was not also held in CCT1080.