Lehigh senior Ben Mundt (guitar) and junior Rob Weaver (cajon) play a song by The Flaming Lips on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2016, at the Lamberton Hall. The Flaming Lips originated in 1983 and are still active today. (Shengjun Hong/B&W Staff)

Club Corner: The Hill is alive with the sound of Music Box

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Music Box originally started as a small group of friends playing music together around seven years ago and quickly expanded to become a popular place for Lehigh students to express their passion for music and short performing art.

“We’ve definitely grown from a smaller number in previous years, but this is our best time ever, right now,” Music Box president Chris Dallao, ’18, said.

With almost 30 active members attending biweekly meetings and upwards of 100 to 150 students attending open mic nights, the club is gaining popularity rapidly.

Music Box typically hosts open mic nights once a month in Lamberton Hall, where students gather to showcase their talent and support the Lehigh music community. There is a wide variety of performers on campus, and Music Box provides a space where students can gather and listen to any short performance art acts.

“We want to be more than just a club — Music Box is really about community,” public relations chair Claire Herndon, ’18, said. “We bring people together who want to bond over their love for music.”

Aside from the Music Box club and open mic nights, students have gotten together outside of the club to practice and create music.

As more of a free-form way to share their music with the community, bands that perform at open mic nights will often hold smaller showcases off campus. Although this is not directly part of Music Box, it formed from the introduction of student musicians through the club.

Whether at an official Music Box event or casually with friends made through Music Box, “everyone is always down to jam,” Herndon said.

Although Music Box open mic nights primarily showcase musical performances such as rock and metal bands, acoustic performers and solo artists, there are also some non-musical performances as well.

“The Music Box and open mic nights are truly an arena for self expression,” club member Ileana Exaras, ’18, said.

Herndon added to the sentiment.

“Whether it be music, comedy or poetry,” she said, “all talents are welcome.”

Since the spring of 2015, Music Box has hosted its annual marquee event — Frattle of the Bands. This battle of the band-esque event invites all students — both Greek and non-Greek — to come out and perform in front of a panel of judges where they “frattle” it out to see who will take the winning title. Different Greek houses will sponsor individual acts as a way to raise money for charity.

“Frattle really stands to promote as much unity as possible,” Dallao said. “It’s a way to bring the Greek and non-Greek communities together, unifying our campus as a whole.”

Music Box advertises its events through printed posters and Facebook, but open mic events usually spread by word of mouth.

Ten-minute performing slot sign-ups are first come, first served and can be done at club meetings or through Facebook. However, as an incentive to attend biweekly meetings, in-person sign-ups guarantee set time priority.

Exaras said she found out about an open mic coming up through her friend who knew she loved to sing. She said she heard about it her sophomore year and as a music minor, she was glad Lehigh had an organization to fit her interests.

Music Box open mic nights give students the opportunity to share their passion with fellow music and art lovers they may not have previously met.

“My first performance ever was a Music Box open mic, and it just kind of ripped the band-aid off,” Herndon said. “Everyone is so friendly, and it’s really comforting to look out into the crowd and see people supporting you, regardless of whether you know them or not.”

In addition to pushing for more open mics this year, the Music Box’s new initiative focuses on trying to expand upon its student-run music lessons, recording and production services as well.

“There are so many talented students who want to learn from each other, want to play, want to collaborate, want to form bands, so we’re really trying to utilize the students to provide more opportunity for talented artists,” Dallao said.

Herndon said Music Box’s mission is to attract everyone.

“The club allows so many different people from so many different backgrounds to come together for one purpose — and that’s music,” she said.

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