Discovering Redlands Through Poetry & Music
One of my hopes when I left home for college was that I would finally be able to realize my dream of being in a band, and that dream came true with startling swiftness.
On Monday I had the privilege of being able to attend The University of Redlands’ first Bird on a Wire open mic event of the year, not only as a reporter, but as a participant. I have somehow found myself in the shoes of bassist for U of R’s newest band, “No Standards.” What began as me telling a friend that I appreciated their musicianship after seeing them play in a talent show, ended with us playing for the first time in public as a real band some two weeks later. I was brought in as the latest addition of the band to allow for a second guitarist and for all of our members to play the instrument in which they were most proficient. The band had already been practicing three songs, each one chosen by a different member of the band, by the time that I joined. I was immediately prompted to put forward my own suggestions for songs that we could learn, and we have began to learn my most-liked suggestion.
Our vocalist, Daria Pikulina, tells the story of our band’s name.
“It’s actually a really funny story. We were talking about how we needed a drummer and Jon [our guitarist] was like ‘well, what are our standards?’ and I said ‘We have no standards’ and it stuck.”
After we felt we had a good handle on a few songs, we decided it was time to find a gig. Having just moved to Redlands from Utah, I had no idea where to start on that front. My other bandmates were similarly stumped until we learned of the Bird on a Wire open mic, in which we asked permission to play nearly instantaneously after it was announced. Luckily for us, the hosts assented to having us.
What followed was probably my favorite experience since I have arrived at U of R: a very low key event in which those that wanted to were able to read poetry or prose they had written from behind the comfortability of whatever format they decided. In opening the event, hostess Julie Donahue said, “this is a space for everyone, for students, by students.”
When asked why they came to the event, a student named Chip said “I came [here] to jam and jive.” And jam and jive we did. Six individuals read something, not counting myself and No Standards. The subject matter and format of these readings ranged from a poem about the aftermath of streaming a video game for several hours –featuring a drunken man described through the extensive metaphor of being a bear– to a slam poem about alcoholism, to a more conventional poem about being baptized into the Mormon Church, to the opening of a prose story about an ethereal being and a dead child, to a sung poem, complete with an electric guitar, about an individual’s gender transition.
Each and every speaker blew me away with their writing prowess, especially since multiple of them confided that they had written their pieces a very short time before the event. Darius, the student who wrote about streaming a video game, prefaced his reading by saying, “I started writing this earlier today, so it’s a work in progress.” I was also introduced to another novelty for me, snapping in the place of clapping, so that approval and impressiveness could be conveyed without drowning out the reader.
When my band started to ready ourselves to close out the night, we were immediately met with kind hearted cheers from the audience. We ended up playing the three songs we had prepared for the night, as well as an unrehearsed fourth song as a sort of encore. During this last song the sprinklers came on and caused our audience to scramble to find shelter from the water. Knowing that the show must go on, we played on with only a bit of laughter emanating from our vocalist. After we finished playing, we were met with a scintillating round of applause as the night ended for everyone to go and dry off.
The next Bird on a Wire event will be held on October 23rd.
photos contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer Caillie Roach