Students flocked Tuesday to Ackerman Grand Ballroom, Kerckhoff Coffee House and Kerckhoff Grand Salon for the fourth annual Arts in the Union festival, presented by the Student Committee for the Arts at UCLA. Though the festival appeared disorganized at times, it provided a welcome to new Bruins, familiarizing them with the plethora of talents at UCLA.
The rustic Kerckhoff Coffee House housed early festival performances by musician Lore, comedian group UCLA Rapid Fire Improv and third-year psychology and economics student Mike Li the Magician, who charmed the crowd with an extensive card trick.
As the day turned into night, however, the audience shifted to Ackerman Grand Ballroom where a cappella groups took the stage. Without any microphones, Medleys A Capella unleashed nostalgia into the air as they sang the lyrics and harmonies of classic Disney songs like “A Whole New World” and “Be Prepared.” The sense of familiarity continued with Random Voices A Capella who revisited its last Spring Sing performance in May by performing a rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”
Throughout the night, the festival atmosphere was so relaxed that it almost seemed impromptu. Many acts performed at a different time than the time published online and a few experienced technical difficulties on stage.
Despite all of that, the Kerckhoff Grand Salon provided crowd-pleasing performances. Adding variety to the night’s acoustic pop and alternative lineup, hip-hop and R&B; fusion band Westwood Village Entertainment impressed with a breathtaking cover of Kendrick Lamar and Drake’s “Poetic Justice” and their own original songs, such as “So High.”
Later, the audience was all smiles as the smooth vocals of fourth-year ethnomusicology student Elena Loper of folk duo East of Eden bounced within the Salon walls. The group performed covers of Andrew Bird, Ingrid Michaelson and a crowd-pleasing rendition of Cinderella’s “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).” Simple and raw, East of Eden’s sound was made for intimate venues such as the Kerckhoff Grand Salon.
The Eva B. Ross Foundation helped the festival reach its peak of excitement – and audience size – as the joyous crowd danced along to the energetic band’s feel good songs like “Nick’s House” and “For Now.” Although they were playing their first gig as a band, the Eva B. Ross Foundation looked like seasoned veterans on the stage.
Closing off the night were bands Like DAMN and The Wes Coast, both of which were the least crowd-pleasing. The bands’ rock sounds would have sounded better at an outdoor venue where it could thin out into the air. At the Grand Salon, their music felt constricted but nevertheless entertaining in the intimate space. The bands respectfully took control on stage as they unapologetically filled up the room with their noisy rock sounds.
Many acts wowed with their sets and the audience went home entertained. The Arts in the Union festival gave Bruins a night of live music, comedy and relaxation before the start of classes on Thursday.