Annex concerts to refocus on student musicians

A, B, and the Sea perform at the Annex last year. Photo courtesy of Union Sports Annex.

You’re at the Annex on a Friday night, chilling with a few friends. There’s a plate of fried chicken wings in front of you, and you’re devouring the savory goodies without hesitation. The thought occurs to you: Is there anything that could make this night better?

And then, a fellow student strikes up the strings of an acoustic guitar, and you know that’s exactly what the night needed.

Last year, this might have been an elaborate fantasy, but no more. Not since Christopher Porterfield, program coordinator for the Alumni Memorial Union and the Union Sports Annex, decided to make the already-existing Annex Concert Series acoustic- and student-focused this fall.

The series of concerts, hosted on weekends at 9 p.m., is now unplugged, replete with acoustic guitars, banjos and ukuleles. The new focus kicked off last week with a performance by Lady Cannon, a local acoustic artist, but Porterfield said the series will focus more on students than it has in the past.

However, to encourage students to take the stage, Porterfield said he’s willing to let bands plug back in if they don’t want the acoustic element to be a part of their performance.

“The format is wide open for anything anyone is interested in doing,” Porterfield said. “I don’t care if you are a songwriter, a DJ, poet, have an a cappella group, an improv troupe, a grindcore band, chillwave laptop project, a bluegrass revival band, whatever — you have my support.”

Though this would potentially undermine the acoustic theme, there is a method to Porterfield’s madness.

“I want the Annex to be the place on campus for students to be social and creative,” Porterfield said. “This is a big experiment, but I feel very strongly about supporting the talent on campus and creating avenues and opportunities to nurture that talent.”

Charlie Giger, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences with a penchant for playing guitar and singing, was showcased at the Annex last year, and intends to headline another concert there in the future.

“It’s a great venue because it’s right on campus and either free or affordable,” Giger said. “Lots of clubs have a 21-and-up rule, so that can make it hard for the student crowd to land gigs.”

Matt Suglich, a senior in the College of Engineering, will be the first student to headline the acoustic evenings at the Annex this Friday, Oct. 8 at 9 p.m. This will be his ninth performance at the venue since his freshman year.

Suglich said that while he plays a lot of different types of music, he will probably focus on folk, classic rock and alternative genres at the show.

“I tend to mix between playing covers and music I’ve written myself, and I try to mix it up to stay as entertaining as possible,” Suglich said. “It’s been a great experience, and I love playing at the Annex. I wish more people knew about it so more students could get involved in performing there.”

He acknowledged most people don’t know about the Annex Concert Series, but that’s all the more reason why student musicians should play there.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to get a good crowd of people there, but there have been a couple times myself and a few others I’ve played with have gotten almost a hundred people there, so it is doable,” Suglich said.

The Annex Concert Series will run weekends throughout the school year at 9 p.m. Acoustic evenings are free admission, and non-acoustic concerts in the Annex Club are free for students and $5 for the general public. Students interested in playing a show should contact Christopher Porterfield at [email protected]