The Orion

Fourth annual Chico Unplugged shows steady improvement

Chelsea Gallegos

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The eclectic second floor of Madison Bear Garden has played host once again to Chico Unplugged, the School of the Arts Productions singer-songwriter competition. An initially small crowd swelled into one much larger to support the showcase, which had its best-ever turnout according to Kaleb Sievers, the event producer.

Twelve performers played original songs for a panel of three judges in hopes of being one of the two winners selected from the first night’s showing. By the end of the three-week event six winners, two from each night, will come together to create a compilation CD of the songs they performed during their time in the limelight.

If you missed the first night, fret not dear readers, there are two more Unplugged events in the next two weeks; Thursday, Sept. 24 and Wednesday, Oct.1 will be nights two and three of the competition.

This all-acoustic event was at times drowned out by the raucous audience. By the time the third performer took the stage, the crowd had pushed its way to the central bar enveloping reporters, photographers and performers alike.

Common bar-hopping woo-girls seemed utterly uninterested in what was happening onstage and overly concerned with their vodka cranberries, yoga pants and Snapchat rainbow vomit.

Fortunately, most people realized what the event actually was and what it meant to the performers.

Chico Unplugged gives local artists a creative outlet, allowing them to showcase their talent to a crowd much different than any they may have previously performed for.

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Sophie Sanguedolce is happy to perform on stage Thursday night being part of Chico Unplugged. Photo credit: Grant Casey

Sophie Sanguedolce, whose sound was a mixture of Taylor Swift and Michelle Branch, said that she was just happy to be on stage.

“I just need to perform,” Sanguedolce said. “It’s not about winning. It’s about that nerve-wracking feeling I get when I’m singing in front of people.”

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Reggae-influenced duo Donnie (left) and Zach (right) perform together at Madison Bear Garden Thursday night during Chico Unplugged. Photo credit: Grant Casey

Other performers weren’t as innocuous in their reasoning. Donnie and Zach, a reggae duo reminiscent of The Dirty Heads, were all about the win and getting their names out there.

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Senior Brady Shaw plays the piano during Thursday's Chico Unplugged performance at Madison Bear Garden. Photo credit: Grant Casey

Even more incredible was senior Brady Shaw, a pianist with a ’90s grunge vibe comparable to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who didn’t know that Chico Unplugged was a competition at all and gave a superb performance.

In fact, all of the performing artists brought with them a distinct and definitive sound. From a guy screaming about a salamander in a salad all the way to a new-aged love-hate song from an almost-country singer, there were surely more dissimilarities than commonalities, making the judges panel a difficult position to be in.

Winners of the first night of Chico Unplugged are to be announced after all three nights of competition are complete—then work on the compilation CD will begin. The CD is set to be released toward the end of the school year, with the winners of the spring Chico Unplugged event also being featured.

There won’t be any charge for the CD, just as there was no cover charge for the Chico Unplugged event, since the pupose is to get new artists’ music heard in and out of the community.

Chelsea Gallegos can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Fourth annual Chico Unplugged shows steady improvement