Biggest Mouth performers compete for Manifest gig, rock the Metro crowd

By Kristen Gesicki, Staff Reporter

Colored lights flashed throughout the crowd as Columbia student performers sang and played their hearts out on the Metro stage. The audience swayed together in harmony during intimate moments in performances, followed by jumping up and down and dancing together when the artists’ performances amped up.

Biggest Mouth featured 10 student performers sharing original music with the crowd and performing for the chance to be the opening act at Manifest — Columbia’s end-of-the-school-year festival. 

The Student Programming Board hosted Biggest Mouth at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Thursday, marking its in-person return after being canceled and then held online the past two years. 

Last year, Biggest Mouth’s online performances were livestreamed from the Conaway Center at 1104 S. Wabash Ave. for audiences to virtually cheer and support Columbia artists. 

With a range of musical genres represented, from folk music to R&B, indie pop and more, there was something for everyone at this year’s Biggest Mouth. A small mosh pit even formed as the band Blue Car headbanged throughout their set.

Zach Bernstein, the president of SPB and a junior film and television arts major, said while it was fun to stream the performers online last year, it was not the same as having Biggest Mouth live and in person.

“It’s just such a good time,” Bernstein said. “It’s just so fun to watch all of these extremely talented artists go head to head in this concert, in this performance and at this venue. Not many Columbia events take place at an outside and professional venue.”

Izzie Rutledge, a sophomore journalism major, kicked the show off with her band, Aisle Five.

Aisle Five also features Columbia students Cam Moen, who played guitar and keyboard; bassist Meriah Fearon; Malcom Filichia on lead guitar; and Ethan Reinbach on drums; with Rutledge handling lead vocals.

Rutledge said she and the band were excited to perform at Biggest Mouth. Although Aisle Five formed as a band just two months ago, their indie rock-style music had the crowd dancing along to their two original songs, “Stolen Candy” and “Miles Away.”

Despite Biggest Mouth being their first live performance as a band, Aisle Five was awarded third place.

“We just love to play together,” Rutledge said. “We made the band because we just want to be able to create music and share it with people. … We’re all becoming really good friends, and [Biggest Mouth] would just be a way for us to amplify that.”

Junior music major and vocalist Samuel Aaron Ellenby and his band, featuring Taylor O’Neal on drums, Max Mellor on guitar and Will Izdepski on bass, were the final act of the night and placed second.

The band, performing under the name “Samuel Aaron,” formed after they played together in class. Biggest Mouth was their second live performance.

“I started wanting to play more gigs with a band,” Aaron said. “I asked them off the cuff if they wanted to back me up and learn some of my tunes, and they’re all just really amazing people and musicians.”

Samuel Aaron played two original songs, “Anything Left” and “Been Through.”

“I was really stoked because it was totally a group effort,” Aaron said. “I’m just excited to keep playing with those guys because it just really proves what we’re capable of.”

Senior music major and solo artist Josh Trimble won the Biggest Mouth 2022 competition.

Trimble, who has been playing since he was 11 years old, said he was not expecting to win.

“This is what I was hoping [for] to get me back into the solo side coming out of the pandemic,” Trimble said. “Winning wasn’t even something I was considering. I just wanted to be a part of it; I’m just so shocked right now.”

Trimble’s original song, “Life Inside,” showcased his vocal and guitar talents. Trimble said he wrote the song around 4 to 5 years ago. His intimate performance accompanied by his use of echoes and vocal riffs had the crowd dancing along.

Trimble said he was excited to create and perform new music as the opening act at Manifest.

“I’ve got an array of different vibes. [‘Life Inside’] was a very pensive, songwriter kind of side of me, but I have a lot more funky and swanky stuff,” Trimble said. “I’m just hoping to bring it all out and put on the best show and have the best sort of shared experience with people I can.”

Trimble’s Manifest gig will take place on Friday, May 13.

The seven other energetic, impactful performances by Devin, Ethan Xander, Blue Car, Kayla Desiree, Leone Capone, Muilaert and The Society, and Emma Butterworth provided tough competition for the acts awarded first, second and third place.

“Columbia … is a really cool breeding ground for collaboration and creativity,” Aaron said. “There are so many amazing artists at Columbia, and just a handful of them last night. It was wild to see the artistry, and from such different backgrounds and so many different styles and genres.”