On the Smarties-adorned stage inside the SubCulture building on Bleecker Street, in a purple-pink haze of smoke and sweat, stood a small, huddled group. For the combined forces of college-centric streaming hub Quadio and student-run record company Tigris, it was the calm before the storm, deemed “Funhouse,” a concert that featured eight headlining student acts, seven of which were NYU musicians.
The small group, comprised of the planners and the scheduled acts, exchanged motivational sentiments and rallying cries to multiple cheers, but the final sentiment from Chief Growth Officer of Quadio Miranda Martell stood out: “This is just the beginning.”
Indeed it was, as the following hours would see hundreds of concert-goers stream into the amphitheater-style venue during its lengthy runtime from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m..
The Nov. 9 event was the culmination of over three months of planning, courting musicians to headline and a tumultuous search for a venue that nearly came down to the very last minute. For the featured artists, it was a golden chance for greater exposure and an opportunity to win over new fans.
“It’s always underrated how much it affects an artist to have somebody believe in them,” Tisch senior and performer Beth Million said. “Giving them a platform and being like, ‘We believe in you, go,’ allows you to go up there and really take yourself seriously.”
The show started off with a low key solo performance from Clive Davis sophomore Henson Popa. Being the earliest performer, Popa’s set occurred as the crowd was still growing, but her haunting, fast-paced melodies still sparked enthusiastic cheers, especially for her final and most popular song, “Perpetual.”
“I think this is probably the biggest show that I’ve ever done,” Popa told WSN.
The energy stayed high even between performances. Each gap was filled by a 15-minute dance party interlude, the speakers blasting hits like Doja Cat’s “Juicy” for a rapidly growing crowd. Every couple minutes, a fog machine propelled a fresh puff of cotton candy-colored vapor into the rapidly growing crowd. Without fail, several people would scream and jump into the fog, morphing into spasmodically moving silhouettes.
Clive Davis seniors Cecilia Gault and Jack Laboz both delivered extremely kinetic sets and after a soulful alt-rock performance from Million, the clock neared midnight. The crowd was thinning, but the concert was barely halfway through.
Performances from Columbia University student Maude Latour and NYU alt-pop trio Moon Kissed heralded the post-midnight stretch. The venue was painfully hot, stuffy and dark and the table in the corner where sponsor Recess was offering free, CBD-infused sparkling beverages was now flooded with thirsty attendees. Couples were indiscreetly making out in every corner. It was college party bliss.
Clive Davis first-year and performer Jeffrey Miller, also known by his stage name “Jeffrey Eli,” gave the crowd a second wind, an impressive feat at 1 a.m.. Before he even began, people were chanting his name. It was Miller’s first official concert and he told WSN beforehand that he was nervous, but it was easy to mistake him for a veteran from his confident performance, as well as the boisterous cheers and screams of his fans.
“He’s incredible and he has a voice of an angel,” Clive Davis first-year and concert attendee Serena Rutledge said.
Miller’s set coincided with an ominous visit from the fire department, which claimed that it was just checking to make sure the building had enough exits in case of emergency. Sparks literally flew as they cut through several metal locks. It was just the sort of oddness to liven up the crowd for the final half-hour.
Maxwell Musick ended the concert with an electro-tinged, high-energy hip-hop set. Bordering on 2 a.m., the remaining crowd moved like the concert had just begun.
“It was just carefree,” Rutledge said. “Everyone was having a good time and there was a lot of dancing.”
Miller stressed the power of the student-run event, especially at a time when the music industry can feel somewhat impenetrable to up-and-coming musicians.
“I’m realizing how messed up it is and how the control is in the wrong people’s hands,” Miller said. “We have so much to say and so much artistry that’s really important and it all comes from the people here.”
For the two organizing groups, the event marks the first chapter of an extended effort to give a platform to burgeoning performers and the two look forward to a collaborative future.
“We will do many more things with Tigris,” Martell said. “This partnership does not end here.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 print edition. Email Ethan Zack at [email protected]