A Closer Listen: Concert on the Quad
Written by Asa Hoffman
Gathering together with peers to enjoy live music is special because it intertwines connections and centers the focus around shared human experience. During a season in which social gatherings are tough to come by, Concert on the Quad was a breath of fresh air to the Hillsdale community. Though we had only been on campus for a couple of weeks prior to that Friday night in September, everyone felt the social toll extracted by COVID-19. Concert on the Quad helped to mend the strained social fabric of campus and did so not just by the excellence of the student performers.
I had the privilege of playing a set with other talented students and could not have asked for a better way to kick off the semester. Though there was a large crowd, it did not feel intimidating because we were all there to enjoy ourselves. When our band played the opening notes to The Weeknd’s hit “Blinding Lights,” there was audible excitement in the crowd; they were anxious to hear our take on a chart-topping song, even though we are just normal Hillsdale students like them.
It is this energy that makes Concert on the Quad a mainstay of the fall semester at Hillsdale. Freshmen and seniors alike take to the stage in a vibrant celebration of campus, and outside of home football games, it is the first time each year in which a large part of the student body is gathered. It’s always exciting for me to see new students perform because this concert is their initiation into the Hillsdale music scene, a right of passage into a bustling, yet welcoming fraternity of student musicians.
Rather than perfection, the expectation is that the performers share honestly and artfully what is important to them. To the delight of all involved, this expectation is always realized, which makes for an incredibly good time. This year, a group called Visiting Hours performed the hit Eagles song “Hotel California,” which they made even more cool by rewriting the lyrics to speak about our beloved dining hall, the Grewcock Student Union. The performance was as hilarious as it was excellent, and I don’t think there was a single person not left smiling. My group even played “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, a seemingly odd song to play on a Friday night, but that did not keep anyone from having a good time. Whether it was the warm cider, the beautiful backdrop of Christ Chapel, or the music, every aspect of the night was uplifting.
The event serves as a beacon to be looked back upon when the dreariness of life is overwhelming; when isolation threatens to steal your joy, you can recall the togetherness of the night and press forward. Though I played at my final Concert on the Quad this year, I am certain it will continue to be a font of happiness for me and those who grace the campus in the future.
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Asa Hoffman, ’21, is a proud Oregonian who studies politics and music. When he is not working on schoolwork or managing things at the radio station, he is probably formulating his next pretentious take on music. If there is a concert on campus, odds are good that he is playing at it.
Published in November 2020