Venues of the Hill
As a prospective student, I feared that sequestering myself on the Hill would squash any aspirations I had of being a musician. I was wrong. In addition to all the coursework and ensembles provided by the music department, Kenyon offers a diverse population of student musicians and plenty of venues.
Theoretically one could perform anywhere on the campus. People have performed in laundry rooms, living rooms, and elevators, but the venues that reign supreme on this campus are the Horn Gallery and the Village Inn (also known as the VI). Having played at both, I can personally attest to the quality of both performance spaces, though the two are quite different.
The VI is a restaurant/bar. Its performances tend to be more “fun” — the crowd is mostly interested in dancing. During my first year on the Hill, I played in a soul/hip-hop group that did a monthly show at the VI. We would rip through Erykah Badu, Madlib, and Asa until closing time. It doesn’t take much to really pack the room, but the space is large enough that when it’s packed, it’s packed. There’s nothing quite like playing a classic like “I Try” by Macy Gray while an overcrowded bar sings at the top of its lungs.
The Horn Gallery is a student-run performance space that uses its funding to bring bands in from all over the country. It’s a miraculous thing. With a crowd that’s always down for whatever is being played that evening, the Horn is a great place to expand yourself musically. My sophomore year, after everyone in the old group had graduated, I joined a new outfit playing mostly original material. This group wasn’t as “fun” as the old group, but we found a place at the Horn along with a few house shows.
One of the best things about getting to play at the Horn is opening up for the visiting bands. It’s super fun to hear stories from the road, and sometimes the visiting bands even turn out to be big hits (I got to open for Lake Street Dive when they played a year ago, and a few months later, they were on the cover of Rolling Stone).
For those musicians who fear not having anyone to play with, there always seems to be someone. Something as simple as blasting some music out of your dorm room can attract plenty of potential bandmates, and thanks to the newly established Kenyon Music Society, finding musicians for any project can be a snap.
In the real world, we aren’t fortunate enough to have all these performance spaces within our reach. There’s a lot more legwork to getting gigs out there, so enjoy one of the perks of being here and play as many shows as you can in your four years on the Hill.