Jenny Jantzen ’23 is no stranger to producing or showcasing art. She is a member of the Long Dong Arts Collective and the drummer for the Kenyon-based band Mount Vermin. She was also featured earlier this semester in the Collegian for her writing and production of her own EP in her senior year of high school. Jantzen also expresses her love for art on her Instagram, once offering to write haikus for anyone who wanted one. It was also on her Instagram that she announced she’d be hosting a virtual open mic night, hoping to bring together her friends and, in doing so, the Kenyon community as well.
The virtual open mic began on Saturday, April 11 at 9 p.m. EST. After adjusting to the clunky technology of Google Hangouts and waiting for more people to join, Jantzen provided introductions for all 16 of the guests. They were a mix of students from Kenyon as well as personal friends of Jantzen’s. She also took the time to go over the open mic’s rules, which included muting oneself during performances and applauding each one.
At about 9:15 p.m., the open mic officially began. Up first was Amelia Carnell ’23, who read a short story. Other Kenyon students featured included Sophie Wise ’23, who played a Celtic guitar solo, and Molly Fording ’23, who read a series of poems. There was also Theresa Carr ’23, who, at the last minute, signed up to perform stand-up comedy. Katya Naphtali ’23 also played two original songs with her sister, both from an EP the pair released last year under the name “The Scam Likely Band.”
Many of Jantzen’s personal friends also performed: For example, an instrumentalist named Sarah played a classical guitar piece. Maheeb, a friend Jantzen hasn’t heard sing much before, performed a rendition of “Shampoo Bottles” by the band Peach Pit. Autumn Koors Foltz, a recently published writer, read from her new poetry collection Duck Pond.
The night was filled with talent and a strong sense of community. Audience members could be seen swaying and dancing to songs, or smiling after certain lines were read from a poem or story. During the performance of Jantzen’s friend Jason, who experimented with live guitar loops, a listener said in the chat, “Maybe if we all throw our computers around we can be moshing.”
“The open mic went even better than I thought,” Jantzen said. “It was a really nice way to foster community between people, and it made me realize how much I missed my friends. It was especially rewarding to see my friends from college and high school getting along so well.”
Continuing to live through a global pandemic and the struggles of quarantine, it can be easy for people, especially college students, to feel lonely and listless. Events like Jantzen’s virtual open mic bring them together and distract from the chaos going on beyond their computer screens. Jantzen hopes to have another open mic soon, where students will be able to sign up through a link on her Instagram page @dad_hat01.