Kresgepalooza 2023: Songwriters host harmonious house party in Kresge


The Daily Northwestern/Beatrice Villaflor

Songwriters Association at NU hosted Kresgepalooza 2023: House Party, Friday evening.

Beatrice Villaflor, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

Members of the Songwriters Association at Northwestern know how to party. The group transformed Kresge Hall’s white walls, hallways and classrooms into a house full of music during “Kresgepalooza 2023: House Party” on Friday evening. 

Based on National Public Radio’s “Tiny Desk” series, five rooms in Kresge became intimate music venues modeled after a house’s layout. 29 student acts performed covers and original pieces across the different homes. 

Lights illuminated the hallways connecting performance areas, featuring photo props and sweet treats like palachinki –– a Bulgarian crepe. 

McCormick junior Alicia Hartono performed early in the evening, opening with the theme of “Junior Un-Recital.” As a former Bienen student in vocal and opera performance, she subverted her classical music training at the beginning of her set. Each piece she performed moved further away as she explored musical theater, rock and pop songs.

Hartono said she wanted her set to start and end with Indonesian songs to showcase her heritage. She also wore a skirt that incorporated traditional batik fabric for her performance. 

“No matter what, the thing that’s been constant throughout my singing journey has been my Indonesian roots,” Hartono said. 

Some students like Bienen and Weinberg sophomore Risha Hussain drew inspiration from personal experiences to fuel her music. 

Hussain performed her original song “Shakespeare Garden,” named after the iconic campus spot. She said the song is a “blunt song of desperation,” written in October of her freshman year. 

Hussain added she used to be unable to perform the song because of how sad it made her. 

“I feel the weight of the world when I’m with you” is one lyric she sang to a somber audience. 

Hussain’s set was in The Bedroom, a darkened space with color-changing lights. She sat on a futon in front of the audience, who lounged on arm chairs or fuzzy rugs layered on the ground. 

Small spaces in Kresge allowed for easy interactions between artist and audience. Hartono said the house party theme reflected the personal significance of the songs performed –– they were doors to the respective musicians’ lives. 

“It’s very freeing to just perform in a smaller space in a more intimate setting,” she said. “It’s very chill to connect to the audience at a more intimate level.” 

While Hartono has not written any originals yet, she said it’s the next step for her as she deepens her knowledge about non-classical music.

SWAN founder and Communication senior Eddie Ko said his co-president, Bienen and Communication junior Anna Castagnaro, mentioned the idea of a “blanket and pillow concert,” which influenced Kresgepalooza 2023’s theme. 

“We thought about the rhetoric of writing songs on your bedroom floor that gets used a lot when talking about singer-songwriters, which was awesome,” Ko said. 

Weinberg junior Jane Mavis performed on her acoustic guitar in The Reading Nook, which had couches, a teepee and books lining one wall. Ripped pages hung from the ceiling. 

Mavis performed two originals, “Things Will Turn Out Fine” and “New Town Old Town Malaise.” She said the first was about the anxiety of overthinking friendships, while the second was about homesickness and growing up. 

Although many artists had stripped-down instrumentals and understated vocals, louder acts also entertained audiences in The Backyard. Weinberg junior Leslye Molina performed on an electric guitar –– supported by a drummer. 

Later on in the evening, bands like The Ghost Peppers and Los Gatos Del Norte played in a nature-themed room, which had lawn chairs and speakers twisted in fake plants. 

Reflecting on the event, Ko said he was proud and happy with how the second Kresgepalooza turned out.

“I poured so much time and love into it. It’s my baby. It’s my brainchild,” Ko said. “If you are someone interested in original music or songwriting, SWAN is your place to be. SWAN for life.” 

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Twitter: @beatricedvilla

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