The Mug is usually the place to go to listen to high-energy music and dance like no one’s watching in a dark and sweaty setting. Next Saturday night, alternatively, soft accoustic music will resonate over the quiet hum of conversation in a small room lit by twinkling lights. A crowd of students will sway to the music, or meander around the room, appreciating framed photographs covering the walls. The guitarist will finish her set and a wave of appreciative snaps will fill the air.
This Saturday between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m., students looking to the Mug for a buzzing environment will find something a bit different: a quiet, intimate and dreamy concert space.
The concert, titled “Siren Songs,” will feature three female-identifying artists drawn from outside of Vassar. “Siren Songs” aims to bring wider recognition to these artists, while introducing Vassar students to their diverse and innovative styles of music and is a collaboration between Idlewild, Vassar’s all female-identifying, collaborative theater ensemble, and ViCE Jazz, which brings music events to Vassar throughout the year. “The diversity of sound is also because we chose artists based on their distinctness—we wanted them to have similarities, but to still be really different. Part of the point of this concert is to bring the outside world to Vassar, and that means showing students a variety of artists,” said Idlewild member Samantha Guss ’17.
The event organizers began looking for artists to play at the event over the summer as the plan for the concert came about. Idlewild’s artists were picked through conversations over email, as members of the group pitched different artists and narrowed down their choices. “In the end, we landed on female artists who we thought clicked with Vassar, were complementary but not repetitive and appealed to a diverse audience,” said Idlewild member Naa Nikoi ’17.
Idlewild is primarily a theater organization. That being said, this is their second foray into organizing a music event, following a coffeehouse benefit called “The Tenth Muse” last semester. And while they intend to keep their focus as an organization on theater, expanding into music keeps with the group’s broader purpose. “Females are very underrepresented in the arts in general; just look at any box office film that’s come out recently. The point of our events, including the concert, is to highlight all female-identifying persons in the arts—not just in theater,” said Alex Trunnell ‘17, a member of Idlewild. In keeping with this mission, “Siren Songs” will not only be a concert event, but also an informal art show. Idlewild wants use the concert space to showcase artwork by female artists on campus, which they hope will contribute to the event’s coffeehouse vibe.
However, concert-goers shouldn’t expect the event to be a mellow cafe hangout throughout: the variety of acts featured will also contribute to a shifting vibe throughout the concert.
“The concert will really transition throughout the night from a sort of coffeehouse environment to a non-acoustic environment. That’s partially the result of our collaboration with ViCE Jazz–the artists who we chose reflect us as a group, and during that portion of the concert you’ll hear a very acoustic sound, while the artist chosen by ViCE is more electronic, which is more of their style,” said Nikoi.
The first act, chosen by Idlewild, will be Masha Brosgol ’12, who goes by the stage name Maria Brosgol. Brosgol, a Vassar alumna, combines ukulele and guitar with clear, bright vocals to create a rich acoustic sound. She draws influence from a diverse array of genres, including jazz, modern pop and Russian folk music. Brosgol’s sound can best be compared to the melodious, folky sounds of Regina Spektor, Feist and the like.
Following Brosgol’s soft acoustic sound, the concert will transition into a more upbeat, poppy vibe with Mitski, a singer-songwriter who specializes in orchestral alt-pop with a feminist perspective. Off-beat and crackling with energy, Mitski’s music has been described as “like an aging racetrack greyhound; graceful, but still kind of sad” (Nate Thompson, allstonpudding.com).
Also chosen by Idlewild, Mitski’s sound is eclectic and reflective of both Idlewild and ViCE Jazz’s aesthetic. Guss said, “[Mitski has] a very Idlewild sound.”
The final act of the night, chosen by ViCE Jazz, will be Novelty Daughter (aka Faith Harding), a singer and guitarist who produces blooming, intricately layered electronic pieces. While Novelty Daughter’s music clearly resigns on the electro-pop side of the spectrum, it belongs to the genre of mellow, soulful, melancholy electronic music shared by artists such as Sylvan Esso and Chvrches.
“With this concert, we wanted to bring something new into Vassar—something that students haven’t really seen. Each of the artists is so unique that we feel like we accomplished that,” said Lee Anne Meeks ’17.
When it comes to the future of female-artist showcases at Vassar, Idlewild is hopeful to keep collaborating with other organizations on campus to host events. “While our main focus will always be on theater, we like having the opportunity to do more, especially through collaboration. It really adds to Idlewild’s identity, and makes us more of a presence on campus. And collaboration is really important to us as an organization, so it just makes sense,” said Nikoi.