Biggest Mouth performers ‘Woo’ Metro audience

By Assistant Campus Editor

The 8th Annual Biggest Mouth competition saved the best for last this year as six-person smooth jazz and rock group Woo Park dazzled the 900 people in the audience at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., stealing the show and winning the competition.

Lead vocalist and Columbia alumna Emily Nichols sang smooth tunes with her deep, soulful voice and set the tone for the jazzy sound of Woo Park’s April 24 win over 11 other Biggest Mouth performances.

“I was so excited,” Nichols said. “We’ve been working really hard the past couple of months just trying to get it together and everything, so it’s really cool.”

Woo Park, a jazzy alternative rock band, received the $1,000 grand prize, eight hours of recording time at Classick Studios, a two-page spread in Highlight Magazine, a one-hour shoot with Ashley Osborn Photography, a feature on Chicago artist blog Do312 and a Shure audio equipment package.

Sara Buzon, junior business & entrepreneurship major and the solo electronic indie-pop artistknown as Deer Emerson, won second place, receiving $750, a discounted session at Classick Studios and a Shure prize package.

“I’m pretty stoked right now,” Buzon said. “The best part about performing was connecting with the audience. I’ve never played in front of a crowd that big in my entire life and it meant the entire world to me to have people just reacting and saying they liked it.”

The seven-person contemporary alternative R&B ensemble Khameelion won the audience choice for third place and received $500.

Drew Fridge, Khameelion’s lead keyboardist and sophomore business & entrepreneurship major, said winning third place is gratifying and he was excited to see the band’s work come to life.

“It was just a dope experience to play here at the Metro,” Fridge said. “The best part about performing was the crowd. Everybody was really hype.”

Other performers included R&B trio Ajani; Oby, a melange of clashing instruments and styles; Lucid Lives, an indie folk band; The Wild Family, an indie alternative rock ensemble; The 151s, a traditional rock group; folk-rock band Ethan Griggs; LJ III, a raw rap ensemble; fleeting rapper Nick Astro; and chunkadelic jam band Bullfights on Acid.

Allison Shuman, marketing manager of the Student Programming Board and senior business & entrepreneurship major, said the four judges who selected the first and second place winners were Chadd Kline, a Metro talent buyer; Sharod Smith, founder of Biggest Mouth; Na’el Shehade, founder of local production company Force One Seven; and Eric Muhlberger, performance organizer for Sofar Sounds. Shuman said the SPB chooses judges with a variety of backgrounds to expose performers to different industry professionals. She said talent buyers can provide students with future opportunities by promoting their work.

“A student band could play, and even if they don’t win, one of these talent buyers might really like them and approach them after the show,” Shuman said.

She said 12 performers were selected from approximately 100 bands that auditioned in February. Auditions were judged on musicality, audience appeal, originality and performance style. She said the SPB also chose a variety of genres to make the lineup engaging and refreshing.

Stephen Wilkes, sophomore theater major and a first-time Biggest Mouth attendee, said he came to support his friends in Khameelion, Bullfights on Acid, and Oby. He said he enjoyed the range of styles displayed at this year’s competition.

“Biggest Mouth was spectacular,” Wilkes said. “There were bands I didn’t know that were great and there wasn’t a terrible band out there.”