Illustration Jasmine Philip

RU artists perform in pitch black

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By Jennifer Pham

Musicians@Ryerson — in collaboration with Poetic Exchange, RUCSA, and the Canadian Nation Institute for the Blind — held the third-annual Darkness Concert Thursday night in the Oakham Lounge.

“I’ve never played in the dark, ever. I just wanted to experience it. It’s a challenge,” said second-year creative industries student Charlotte Fabro.

The fundraiser saw four bands and three spoken word artists from the student groups perform in almost complete darkness to a blindfolded audience.

“You are going to literally lose a sense,” said Maricris Rivera, a fourth-year arts and contemporary studies student and member of Maricris and Victor. “As ironic as it is, it opens your eyes.”

The result was a new appreciation of sight and sound, as well as raising awareness for blind individuals. All cover charges went to the CNIB [Canadian National Institute for the Blind] which, according to its website, helps blind or partially sighted Canadians “achieve their goals and increase their independence.”

“It brings so much awareness,” said Rivera. “It’s one thing to listen to music [with your eyes closed] because you have control over whether or not you can see. But having the blindfold, and just letting all the sound come in from everywhere, it’s totally unlike anything.”

Playing their familiar sets in a new light (or rather, absence of light) was both challenging and enriching. Though each band was given a small flashlight, it was of little help; hands fumbled and missed cues were inevitable.

But the music took on a new colouring. Blindness had given the sound an almost tangible presence in the dark lounge.

“When you eliminate one of your senses, all of your other senses are going to be heightened,” said fifth-year arts and contemporary studies student Brendan Reid, a bassist for Under the Sun.

Zach Erickson, Little Boxer’s frontman and a fourth-year politics and governance student, also said he had to adjust to the new performing environment.

“I pick up things more, I can hear the notes a bit better, because you don’t have the distraction of sight. Close your eyes and really listen.”

Although each concert presents new difficulties, the musicians said support and awareness it gives to the blind community is more than worth it.

“I think it’s important to teach people how to live with their disability. Not only live with it, but embrace it, and live a normal life,” said Erickson, “In the end, it’s just another obstacle to overcome.”

You can listen to Maricris and Victor, along with Charlotte Fabro’s set here.

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