By Sarah Ondak
It’s a chilly Sunday night when the door of 550 Lasuen Mall opens at 8:30 p.m., letting in the shivering Stanford students who have been waiting to get inside. They walk through the bright main foyer to a smaller room with white Christmas lights hanging haphazardly from the dark wood-paneled walls. The sounds of acoustic guitars and microphone feedback drift over the ten or so audience members that arrive first and settle into the cushy blue couches strewn across the floor. Two students in loose collared shirts tune guitars, tap drums, plug in speakers, and adjust mic stands. This is Vibes ‘n Vino, a Sunday night musical showcase with humble roots that is taking over the Stanford live music scene.
The students at the front of the room are Trace Guzman ’21 and Sam Silverman ’21, a member of the band Pass By Catastrophe that will perform after Guzman finishes his acoustic renditions of Santana’s “Smooth” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” These musicians are only the latest acts in Vibes ‘n Vino’s lineup of Stanford performers. Each Sunday night, a different music talent takes the V&V stage, and acts have varied from singer-songwriters with thousands of Spotify streams to rappers that aren’t even on SoundCloud.
No matter their fame on or off-campus, Vibes gives student performers a platform to expand their audience and express themselves. For founders Hannah Scott and Gaby Goldberg, the growing size and influence of Vibes ‘n Vino is the realization of years of hard work to fill what they see as a void of live music on Stanford’s campus. The pair began Vibes one year ago in their freshman dorm and transported it to their sophomore house, 550. Now, as new artists and audience members join returning acts and regular attendees, a community is being formed on campus with music at its core.
Brad Immel ’21, a member of the rap/pop duo Tomasi, was one of the first people to perform when Vibes ‘n Vino began. “That’s where I’m most comfortable, the kind of dorm room campfire setting,” he said. “For me, performing at Vibes ‘n Vino is low stakes but that doesn’t mean I’m trying any less. I want to impress but I don’t feel pressured, so as a musician it’s a good place to explore.”
Since his first performance in Scott and Goldberg’s freshman dorm, Immel has watched as the co-founders’ dedication to reaching out to all walks of musicians transformed Vibes into an outlet for on-campus artists to connect with one another. “There’s definitely a community forming […] and the variety of artists, like trap, acoustic, I love to see that kind of diversity happening […] that kind of intersection of art is unique to Vibes,” he said.
Immel splits his time between Tomasi, another band called Acid at the Vatican and other side projects with musicians he met specifically through Vibes ‘n Vino. One of those musicians is junior Marco Lee, who is half of the hip-hop duo Marco & Cam and a member of The Reptile Room, a band which Immel has occasionally performed with. Lee grew up playing at piano recitals and singing with his all-boys Catholic school choir, but he never had the outlet to make his own music until coming to Stanford and discovering Vibes.
When Marco & Cam made their debut at Vibes ‘n Vino, it was their first time singing for an audience and the first time Lee performed hip-hop live. “It was super intimate, but there were a lot of people for a dorm room,” Lee said. “I was constantly nervous the first time we did it, and I think that showed, but it’s something where every time I did it, I was nervous less and less to a point now when I perform I don’t even think about nerves.”
After their initial performance, Marco & Cam became crowd favorites and have sung at Vibes two times since. “That kind of open environment pushes performers to keep performing and at least for me and my friends, Vibes ‘n Vino seems like a launch pad,” said Lee. “We use it as a place to connect, and a place to connect with other artists.”
For Hannah Scott and Gaby Goldberg, maintaining the current community of Vibes ‘n Vino is a responsibility they owe to not only musicians, but to students as well. Because of this, the pair have their eyes set on further expanding their lineup of artists, producing a Vibes ‘n Vino music festival during Stanford’s Spring Quarter, and even forming a student-run record label. They hope to advertise campus artists to the student body and raise funds to help groups publish music on Spotify. “Our main ethos is incubating Stanford music and art culture,” said Scott.
With those long-term plans on the agenda, Scott and Goldberg are focused on making their current shows as entertaining as possible. “It’s such an emotional rollercoaster,” said Scott, “These things stress me out so much, I think ‘Are people gonna come? I need to find a microphone in 30 minutes. This person forgot their piano.’ I’m texting people frantically. But as soon as the music starts, it just works out every time.”
“We always find each other’s eyes in the middle,” said Goldberg. “I’ll be taking video to put on the Instagram story and Hannah is always recording with her camera, so we’ll be in different parts of the room but we’ll just find each other.”
The co-founders are bringing their own live music magic for other people to experience, and the growth of Vibes ‘n Vino is confirmation that they’re doing something right. “Everyone enjoys it for the same reasons we do and the same reasons we started it,” said Goldberg. “It’s Sunday night and you want to come together with your friends.”
Contact Sarah Ondak at sondak ‘at’ stanford.edu.