Toreros try out for Homecoming

Students audition for a chance to be the opening performance at this year’s homecoming concert

Anderson Haigler | Arts&Culture Editor | The USD Vista

Last Thursday at Open Mic Night at Aromas, Toreros auditioned for the role of student opener for the upcoming concert that will happen during the Homecoming and Family Weekend on Oct. 12-15. A variety of acts showed up to showcase their talent, but several stood out as exciting options for the concert. The following students are contenders for the top spot.

Matt Fair performed his original song “Slow Motion,” playing the piano and using a synthesizer.

Matthew Fair, Senior

Matthew Fair, hailing from Philadelphia, brings a unique and energetic vibe with his music. Fair described his music as “indie rock,” and performed an original song titled “Slow Motion” off of his EP of the same name. “Slow Motion,” a synthesizer-heavy track that was backed with strong vocals and piano, showed that Fair has more than enough talent to open at homecoming. He said that his extensive musical resume of live performances, including many at the University of San Diego, makes him a good fit for homecoming.

“Starting freshman year, I’ve always been playing music at USD,” he said. “I played numerous open mics, and I played Almost Famous three years in a row. I also play at the Hopping Pig in the Gaslamp a couple times a month.”

Fair, who sings and plays guitar, piano, and bass, said that earning the role of homecoming performer would be the culmination of the hard work he has put into his music. 

“It would mean a lot for me to play at homecoming because it’s my senior year, and I’ve been working diligently in music for the last four years,” Fair said. “When I first started I was just a young singer-songwriter playing guitar, and I didn’t have any of my original songs recorded, but last fall I released my first album.”

Caption – Unknown rapped “PYT,’ his lively original song on Thursday.
Photo courtesy of Dexter Offer

Jawara Mills, aka Unknown, Senior

Jawara Mills, who goes by the rap name Unknown, brings  undeniable energy to the stage. Unknown performed his original song “PYT” at the open mic on Thursday — a bouncy, upbeat track that takes advantage of his  producing and rapping skills. He produced “PYT” himself, as he does with all of his music, and the result is a song that excited the audience as much as a rap song at a coffee-shop open mic possibly could. The entire crowd was engaged and enjoyed his music. Unknown said he plans on performing songs off of his new album “Love like Unknown” if he performs at homecoming. 

“I feel like my music would be well suited to the event,” Unknown said.  

He also added that a performance at homecoming would be a good way for him to finish his time at USD.

“I’m a senior and I’ve been working on this for a long time,” Unknown said. “I’m trying to leave my mark on USD, and I’d love to do that in a positive way with a performance at homecoming.”

Aly Vredenburgh and Michelle Wang of Vanilla performed a cover of Ariana Grande’s “Into You “ at Open Mic Night last Thursday.
Anderson Haigler/The USD Vista

Vanilla: Aly Vredenburgh and Michelle Wang, Junior, Sophomore

Perhaps the most intriguing act of Thursday’s open mic was Vanilla, a duo featuring Michelle Wang on vocals and Aly Vredenburgh on violin. The two entertained the audience with a cover of Ariana Grande’s “Into You.” Wang displayed impressive range with her singing, and Vredenburgh added a welcome twist to the song with her violin accompaniment. While both are talented musicians in their own right, they recently decided to team up to make music. 

“We’re definitely better together than apart,”  Vredenburgh said. ”I think we really add to each other.” 

The pair met through their sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, and have been performing together for only a month. Their repertoire features original songs and covers, and the duo believe that their lively music would be a good fit for the homecoming concert.

“I feel like our music is pretty upbeat, at homecoming everybody is in a really happy mood, and our music goes well with that,” Wang said. 

While all three of these artists provided an exciting option for the opener at homecoming, the decision will ultimately come down to which artist is the best fit for the concert as a whole. 

Even though the main headliner has yet to be announced, Torero Program Board Concert Coordinator Kalley Kenny offered insight into the selection process.

“At a concert there should be a good flow with each artist pumping up the crowd for the next artist leading up to the headliner,” Kenny said. “Everything should have a similar sound. There’s not really a specific vibe we are looking for, except for that the opener’s music should fit the headliner well.”

As far as revealing the headliner, Kenny offered only a hint. 

“Think throwback,” Kenny said. The headlining artist for the homecoming concert is set to be announced next week.