Students Host First Open Mic Night at Azariah’s Cafe


Erin Koo

Students showed up to Azariah’s Café for the first ever Azzie’s Open Mic Night.

On Tuesday night, Azariah’s Cafe in Mudd Center was transformed— or perhaps it fulfilled a purpose it had been destined for all along. In the back corner around the piano, performers and audience members gathered for the first ever Open Mic Night at Azzie’s.

On the surface, it could be hard to see what set this event apart from other, similar ones. Upon entering the space, not much had changed from its daytoday setup. There were two microphones, one by the piano and one standing freely, the lights were on at their normal brightness, and a table was set up with hot water for tea, though the café itself wasn’t open. Upon first glance, it seemed that Azzie’s was merely a spot to host a social event that could have taken place anywhere else. But unlike other open mic events, this one wasn’t organized by the College; it was spearheaded and led by College third-year Dan Freiband. News of the event was primarily spread by word of mouth and a few student-distributed flyers, with College promotion limited to a short blurb in the Campus Digest. The network effect facilitated by word of mouth has the potential to grow attendance in the future — friends will tell friends, who will tell more friends. The location made the event distinct because Azzie’s is more central to Oberlin’s campus compared to the Cat in the Cream, which is considered the most popular venue for events of this nature.

“Azzie’s is a pretty central and comfortable place to have a creative event like this,” Freiband said.

The location of this open mic created more flexibility for how people could enjoy and partake in the event. Many spectators and performers chose to attend the entire event, but it was entirely possible for people to pop in and out. Additionally, for those who appreciated the live performance but didn’t want to commit themselves to being in the center of action, the rest of the Azzie’s seating remained open and available to anyone wanting to study.

Freiband jump-started the event with his performance, playing the piano and singing. Freiband’s act was followed by a wide variety of performance styles, including more songs accompanied by instruments including the guitar, ukulele, and accordion; poetry readings; and stand-up comedy. While, at first, the crowd seemed fairly stoic, as the night went on, the audience’s engagement and reactions increased.

Many performers remarked that this open mic in particular was unique. For some, it was their first time performing at an Oberlin open mic, and they said that they were just excited that there was a convenient opportunity to perform. Seasoned performers were also able to offer more perspective on this specific event.

College second-year Megan Beehler, who sang and played the ukulele, said that there was a “very different vibe,” noting the bright lighting, the fact that it was held on a weeknight, and just that it was in Azzie’s. Beehler said that she loved being in Azzie’s to perform and appreciated the availability of tea.

Some students took advantage of the accessibility of this event and used it as a way to promote their clubs. College third-year Hannah Belmont, head of the Oberlin Stand Up Comedy Coalition, was excited by the opportunity to perform at Oberlin and encouraged other members of Obie SUCC to do a routine. Belmont usually travels to Cleveland for most performances, but said that she was glad to show up at a local venue.

College fourth-year Theo Canter, a member of the Oberlin College Folk Music Club, also appreciated the open mic at Azzie’s.

Most of the Folk Club’s performances are held at co-ops, and while he enjoys those, he recognized that being at Azzie’s “brings exposure to a wider and different audience of people.”

While it was similar to open mics Freiband had attended in the past in terms of the types of performances, he noticed that more people were in attendance.

He also mentioned that he overall “felt more of a sense of community” amongst the audience and performers.

Freiband plans for this event to become a weekly occurrence at Azzie’s, beginning Tuesday, March 7. He is excited for the potential of this event to grow over time, and hopes to work with Azzie’s staff to keep the café open later on those nights.