On Friday, March 15 at 5:50 p.m., I found myself in a nearly empty Pause waiting for Urban Sound to start. The doors opened at 5:30 P.M. and there were less than 20 people waiting for the show to start at 6 p.m. By the middle of the first performance, the atmosphere completely shifted to a vibrant, infectious energy. Luckily, the attendance skyrocketed within minutes and it turned into a very successful event. 

To my surprise, the Pause was set up like an official concert. My group and I were expecting metal chairs to be set up like most student concerts we’ve attended in the Pause.

Instead, the organizers left the space open for audience members to stand and dance.  Tables were selling t-shirts and massive T-Rex cookies. Ads played on a huge screen before the concert started and cameras were set up all around the stage. Based on presentation alone, this event was incredibly impressive and well put together.

After brief difficulty with the audio, which opener Benny Goetting ’20 handled with humor and grace, the show was on its way. Goetting was an excellent opener, setting up the night with energy, joking with the audience and performing quality original music. For the next two hours, six student acts performed.

There were original music, covers, piano, guitar, bands, dancing and more, all squeezed into a two-hour time frame. It was one of the more unique and entertaining events I’ve attended this semester. It provided a much different music experience than the typical music performances I am used to at St. Olaf.

“Urban Sound was a great showcase of the incredible talent we have on campus. And also a lot of fun!” Michael Daly ’21 said.

Sal Alvarez ’19 was the brains behind this event – he began developing the concept of Urban Sound during his first year at St. Olaf.

“Urban Sound was an idea I came up with as a freshman the day I felt homesickness that literally made me sick. St. Olaf was so foreign to me that I felt I needed to create that sense of home again,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez decided the only way to accomplish this was to have St. Olaf students share their favorite music.

Urban Sound first premiered in 2016 with six acts. This year’s Urban Sound performance also had six acts and a similar turnout as the first.

The process of booking student artists for the production came primarily from watching students and their presence as artists on campus, rather than hold open campus-wide auditions. Alvarez met individually with various students to propose this idea to them.

“One distinguishing factor of the Urban Sound performers and production team was their ability to master three things in a short time: be professional and communicate effectively, be incredible at interacting with crowds and have an irreplaceable passion for music,” Alvarez said. 

In the midst of all the classical music at St. Olaf, Urban Sound was a breath of fresh air.

“I loved hearing all the different forms of musical expression that St. Olaf doesn’t always showcase, but to show something like a band was really cool,” Lauren Kroschel ’20 said.

The show was a whole different side of music on campus and an enjoyable event for all audience members, organizers and performers.

anders43@stolaf.edu