On October 4, students packed the lower level of the Horn Gallery, excited to hear acoustic sets of original music from a number of Kenyon’s own musicians. A string of lights illuminated the room, creating a comfortable atmosphere supported by the laid-back demeanor of the crowd. Despite showcasing many musicians and various genres, the acoustic nature and originality of each act unified the evening. The relaxed mood of the performances perfectly reflected environment and audience.
Josh Aberman ’20 is familiar with the Horn as both a student musician and a sound technician, but this event marked his first time organizing a show there. When he began to plan for Horn Unplugged, he had two goals in mind. On the practical side, Aberman wanted to prevent the show from becoming overbearingly loud, as the Horn can grow into an intense roar when punk bands perform with amplified instruments. His second goal was to push student musicians towards taking creative risks while bringing in a new crowd of listeners.
“I wanted an environment that would bring in people that normally might be intimidated by the loud music,” Aberman said. “I wanted to force musicians out of their comfort zone because I want to see how having to play acoustic and not having loud drums and things like that makes people give different kinds of performances.”
Modelled after other acoustic music series like MTV Unplugged and NPR’s Tiny Desk, Horn Unplugged allowed musicians to explore new interpretations of their songs in an intimate environment. Aberman noted that the concert series Sofar Sounds, which he was able to experience while abroad last year, was particularly influential in his planning for the event.
Along with hosting, Aberman performed in the show alongside drummer Benjamin Brumley ’22 as The Millennial Pinks. The night’s performances evolved from bitter break-up songs to pining love ballads to music riddled with humor. Between songs, the musicians promoted their profiles on Bandcamp and Spotify while joking with the audience. The animated, refreshing interactions between the crowd and musicians helped to develop the inviting environment Aberman had envisioned for the evening.
Katie Predella ’23, who performed several original songs, was thankful for the chance to play in front of an audience of her peers. “It gave me an opportunity to put out music that I haven’t shown to a lot of people,” Predella said. “It gave me a little bit of feedback and ideas of what I should do in the future.”
The student musicians sang an array of original songs with occasional popular covers. The music was well-performed, but the most thrilling aspect of the show was the impressive lyricism on display.
Horn Unplugged was a delightful display of student musicians supporting each other: When not performing, they joined the audience to enjoy their talented peers.
“Music is super important,” Aberman said. “It brings people together. It makes people happy.”