“When you perform in front of Columbia crowds, you can do anything because they’ll accept you for who you are.”

Big Mouth Offers Big Thrills

From event planners to performers, Columbia students from all disciplines come together to put on an exciting show at Big Mouth, Columbia’s monthly open mic.

At a particularly memorable Big Mouth in 2013, host Jayson Acevedo (BA ’16) decided to end the show with a bang. He jumped onstage, took off his shirt and promptly started dancing to a cover of “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” performed by the house band, Khameelion. But that’s only a taste of the surprises Big Mouth brings.

The free, monthly open mic is open to performers from all corners of Columbia College Chicago, whether they’re musicians, poets, actors or comedians. Performers sign up 30 minutes before the show and are chosen randomly, so there are no guaranteed results.

“We don’t have sports or anything like that, so with Big Mouth, it’s cool to see Columbia come together,” says Zach Hyman (BA ’16), a member of the Student Programming Board (SPB), which organizes the event.

The Cinema Art and Science major joined SPB as a freshman because he wanted to network. “I was really anxious to get involved somehow, and I liked how welcoming SPB seemed,” he says.

Business and Entrepreneurship major and fellow SPB member Anjel Lopez (BA ’15) agrees, and adds that putting together events with the board has given her valuable experience she can apply to her future career; after graduating, she hopes to help organize music festivals.

“[You learn] how to be quick on your feet and how to adapt to situations really fast,” Lopez says. “With Big Mouth, you don’t know what to expect, so you have to be on your toes.”

The performers get practical experience, too. Big Mouth allows them to hone their skills and make a name for themselves on campus.

Khameelion, an R&B fusion band composed almost entirely of Columbia students, frequently serves as the house band for Big Mouth, performing in between the other acts. The college scene serves as a sort of test run for the band, which is now performing around Chicago and planning to release its first EP.

“Through Big Mouth, we started to gain a fan base at the college,” says singer Kelsie Johnson (BA ’16). “I feel like now we’ve settled a certain fan base here, and it inspires us to branch out to the Chicago area.”

“With Columbia, you’re getting feedback from creative people,” adds keyboardist Drew Fridge. “You can get so many ideas and concepts because everybody’s so creative. So the feedback is great, and the love is great. It’s like a big family.”

Acevedo agrees that the atmosphere is especially supportive. A marketing major diligently working on his comedy career, his first Columbia performance came before the school year even started, during Weeks of Welcome. As a sophomore, Acevedo was asked to host Big Mouth, and he became the first student to host the event four times in a row. He says he enjoys the creative freedom he gets with the open mic.

“Columbia crowds are up for anything,” he says. “When you perform in front of Columbia crowds, you can do anything because they’ll accept you for who you are, for what you do. There’s no judgment.”

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