Students fly solo, play music for everyone

At The Rat’s first soloist night, students perform setlists of their own songs, both personal and political. (AP Photo)

The Rathskeller came alive Friday night as a slew of performers took the stage, playing to a packed house. The lineup of musicians included campus talents such as Tom Ciccone, Brandon Schiff and Julia Malak.

Ciccone played a batch of his own songs, which varied from deeply personal to political. His last song, “Lay it on the Line,” was one of his more controversial performances. The song told the story of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American boy who was shot last year in Florida by George Zimmerman, and the ensuing media attention it garnered.

The audience was further entertained by senior mechanical engineering major Brandon Schiff’s blend of comedy and guitar.

“I feel like you have to put on a show,” Schiff said.

Schiff serenaded listeners with his mesmerizing guitar playing and soulful voice. Despite being a songwriter himself, he mostly covered songs from other bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, Dragonforce and The Killers.

Although he originally played drums in elementary school, Schiff took up guitar six years ago. For him, hearing the applause of the crowd was the best part of his performance.

“I love entertaining,” Schiff said. “If people are entertained, I enjoy it.”

The final performer of the night was sophomore communication studies major Julie Malak. Her heartfelt lyrics gave listeners an insight into her personal life.

Her songs, such as “Head Over Heels” and “Pavement,” chronicled her experiences with love and how she felt at the time. Malak’s honest, down-to-earth musical style was reminiscent of an early Taylor Swift, who is not coincidentally her musical inspiration.

This singer/songwriter draws on her life experiences to provide inspiration for her songs.  To capture what she’s feeling in a song, she writes her lyrics immediately after something happens to her. And when it comes to performing in front of a live audience, she feels completely at home.

“I love it,”Malak said. “That’s my home.”