Hawks Coffeehouse features student, professional performers for a two-hour Homecoming concert

Sun, 2016/09/18
Reno Waswil

In the cacophony of events that lined last week’s Illinois Tech calendar in celebration of Homecoming 2016, Union Board’s second fortnightly Hawks Coffeehouse performance was among the many notable and enjoyable festivities. On Wednesday, September 14, at 7 p.m., students gathered in the MTCC Welcome Center to sit back, relax, and enjoy this week's featured performers, accompanied by a Sodexo-catered spread of hot and iced coffee and brownies. This week was, however, quite special, in that, opposed to the usual hour duration of the event, this one went on for over two hours due to the abundance of performers resulting from a last minute booking error.

This night, student spoken-word poet Sanjin Ibrahimovic, the musical stylings of a collective of students Allen White, Jazz Kalingasan, Jose (Rafita) Vera, and Myka Chang, and professional guitarist/singer-songwriter Abe Parker all provided enjoyable showings of their talents-- all creating an equally emotive and yet profoundly different atmospheres.

Up first was the absolutely wonderful poetry of Ibrahimovic, backed by some low music care of Musingineer’s album “Hiatus.” His booking was the result of a cold calling by Union Board's music and dance chair, Citlali Bueno, to the fraternity colloquially known as “Skull House.” His set began with a short summary about his poetry, which included a description of some of the outlets and places of available for other students who may wish to, themselves, write poetry, but who want some assistance. He also commented that he would be reading his poetry in chronological order of when he wrote it.

Ibrahimovic's poetry spoke to the beauties of love and loss, the concepts of cultural identification and family, his struggles with racism and immigration, and the present local and national state of politics, ignorance, and inequality. His performance was inspirational, and his fearless messages were touching and resonated with many in the audience.

Next was a grouping which was jokingly referred to as “Allen and the Allenettes.” Their set was something of a technical abnormality for such an event, with 7 microphones, a piano (lovingly provided by IIT A Cappella), and other sound equipment, but nothing Alien Sound and Lighting’s expert team couldn’t provide. Only a few of their songs featured the full collective; most of them were subsets of two or three of the members. One of their performers, Kalingasan, actually was quite late to the show as he had to finish a lab beforehand, and so it was asked by White that, when he did arrive, a hullabaloo be made.  This was accomplished and was actually initiated by Vera, who was in the middle of a song with Chang at that time of Kalingasan’s arrival.

Their set ended with an impromptu performance of an elongated song they called “Milkshake,” which involved White on keyboard doing improvised speak-singing while the rest of the collective were on backup, joining in on a chorus of just the word “milkshake” at the end. The song was a crowd favorite.

After these shenanigans, Parker, who is currently on a tour of primarily campus shows, went on to do his impressive set. He held a commanding stage presence, which included him dancing around, jamming on his guitar, and masterful use of a loop-pedal to record and loop many of his guitar riffs, allowing him to live play and sing on top of it. Despite a certain fatigue of the members of the audience who chose to stay long after all of the coffee and food had been exhausted, those that did were pleasantly surprised by the his skill.

A few of the lines in his music elicited some sympathetic response, including one about buying all of his groceries from Aldi. He even took time to commit a few communal antics of his own; after noticing some of the members of “Allen and the Allenettes” dancing in the crowd, he even invited them up to the front and asked the audience to mimic their moves, which many of them did.

As a notable feature of the night, Rahul Wadhwani, last year’s Student Government Association (SGA) President, made a surprise visit to watch the show and wished to make a statement on the TechNews record that “IIT Rocks.”

Those intrigued by this article are invited attend the next performance, which will be held on September 28 at 7 p.m. in the MTCC Welcome Center, and will feature Nelly’s Echo, care of National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC's) hit television show “The Voice,” along with coffee, apple cider, and yet another sweet treat.