Dozens of performers gathered to sing and recite poetry in Mountain View’s Youth Advisory Committee’s teen open mic on Friday.
After shutting down at the beginning of quarantine, the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, which has operated for over 25 years, is back in full swing. It recently reopened in March, hosting the first teen open mic since the start of the pandemic.
“It’s a great way to bring the community together,” parent and attendee Brett Thunstrom said. “It’s great just to get out there and see the kids doing this stuff [performing at open mics] and understanding how talented they are.”
And while the pandemic proved difficult, the isolation made such events all the more special, said Thunstrom, and had a silver lining: It prompted many teens, including several of Friday’s performers, to take up their hobbies to fill the long months of boredom.
Los Altos High junior Audrey Rechenmacher performed a cover and three original songs at the open mic, with her trusty turquoise electric guitar in hand; Rechenmacher said that she took up the electric guitar and learned piano chords from YouTube and Google during quarantine.
Mountain View High duo and juniors Julianne Lopez and Estafani Domingo similarly began pursuing their love of music during the pandemic and performed covers of various classic rock songs.
“We just got bored one day and said, ‘Hey, what if we started a band?’” Domingo said. “We just like music a lot; we wanted to start something new for fun.”
While many of the performers were nervous — some stopped mid-act to exit the stage or try again — the audience and fellow performers’ ready applause facilitated a welcoming environment.
Most performers also brought original pieces, with themes ranging from love to depression and anxiety. Artists mentioned that their performances provided an outlet to express the complicated mix of emotions they face.
“I was really just feeling things that no songs described,” Rechenmacher said. “Music is my release, so I was like, ‘If no song is going to describe me, then I have to describe it myself.’ Then I just began to write songs, learning piano chords from google, and then eventually over quarantine, I just picked up a guitar and kept going at it.”
On top of expressing themselves, Domingo said open mics also give newer artists a chance to publicize themselves and practice performing in front of an audience, which she’s been able to use to her advantage.
“I think it’s super cool that this is now a whole thing,” Domingo said. “It helps a lot of teens, especially our age and younger, to express themselves in different ways with music and poetry. [The open mic] really shows how dedicated we are to what we’re doing.”
And there’s a lot of demand for more open mics: Rechenmacher and 17-year-old musician Jayden Legeard said they feel like there aren’t enough opportunities for teens to perform, but that Mountain View’s open mic provides a convenient way to do exactly that.
“I definitely think that there aren’t enough [open mics] in the area,” Legeard said. “Of course, if you really want to, you can go to San Francisco since there are a lot [of open mics] there. But even then, it’s too far if you don’t have a car and you don’t want to take the train.”
“This community really supports this center,” House Manager Gil Gilfix said. “This is the heart and soul of Mountain View … everything in this town that’s cultured centers around the center for performing arts.”