By Grant Playter
Three student soloists belted out an eclectic mix of pop, rock and indie selections to an eager audience on Friday, Feb. 23 in the Traditions Lounge, as part of Student Soloist Night hosted by the College Union Board.
Dylan Lembo, a freshman international studies major and a member of the Manasquan-based rock band Garage Sale, kicked off the show. Lembo was cracking jokes from the minute he took the stage until his finalé, a quality that reflected his style of music.
“I play fun, upbeat, ’80s inspired rock ‘n’ roll,” Lembo said with a bright smile.
True to his word, Lembo delivered a fun and lively performance, tapping his foot in time with the strumming of his guitar. Lembo proved himself a lyricist capable of creating original songs that combined odd concepts with innovative wordplay for his entire set.
“I Could Do a Kickflip” was about Lembo wishing he could do a kickflip, while “Carrier Pigeon” was one of two songs that detailed Lembo’s fascination with Mike Tyson.
By the end of the first song of his setlist, “San Pellegrino,” audience members were already tapping their feet along with Lembo.
“He just plays very quirky, very funny songs that are unbelievably catchy,” said Jack Sofka, a sophomore English major and CUB Alt Co-Chair who helped organize the event. “(He’s) just a really entertaining performer.”
Following Lembo’s performance was Rob Birnbohm, a senior graphic design major, who opened his performance by noting that he had wanted to perform since he attended Student Soloist Night as an audience member during his freshman year.
“A lot of my feelings during this performance were based on the fact that I had put off doing this for so long,” Birnbohm said. “I had wanted to do the student soloist night for four years at this point and every time I made some kind of excuse … I had to put my foot down and tell myself that ‘Yeah, you’re gonna do it, you’re gonna do it this semester because it’s your last friggin’ chance.’”
Birnbohm performed on his guitar, adding percussion with a tambourine attached to his foot. With a wide vocal range and a strong, smooth melody, Birnbohm covered songs like Newton Faulkner’s “Dream Catch Me” and The Verve Pipe’s “The Freshmen.”
Ben Spizuco, a freshman interactive multimedia major and the sole member of Hello Whirled, closed the show. Spizuco performed a variety of original works on electric guitar.
While Spizuco’s performance was well executed, there were some technical issues between the venue’s sound equipment and Spizuco’s amp, cutting several of the songs short.
Despite the technical difficulties, Spizuco persevered. His final song, “Romantic Distance,” described the struggle of being aromantic and had an almost hypnotizing quality that reverberated through the lounge.
“(Spizuco was) also great,” Sofka said. “The writing that he does is really interesting and I always appreciate it.”
Spizuco has released 30 albums since October 2013, including the 13 albums he started working on as Hello Whirled since October 2016.
“This is all I do with my free time so I get a lot done,” Spizuco said, laughing.
All of the performers took their place on stage with a gracious attitude. Singers played through the occasionally forgotten lyric or wrong note with a smile.
“I think if there’s anything I could pass on to underclassmen, especially to those who perform and stuff, don’t take this time for granted,” Birnbohm said. “Do these performances, it doesn’t matter if you do one, two, or three or all of them. Put yourself out there.”