UW-Eau Claire shows off student talent

From drum lines to a cappella groups all the way to Hwa-Rang-Do, Varsity Night Live captured the audience’s attention Friday evening as groups came together to perform in the traditional Homecoming talent show in Zorn Arena.

The show is held every Homecoming as a way to promote a variety of on-campus groups and to bring together the UW-Eau Claire community with laughter, entertainment and good music.

This year’s performance was hosted by comedian Eric O’Shea, straight from Hollywood.

Before the festivities began, Chancellor Jim Schmidt took the stage with his son to remind students to be safe during the Homecoming celebrations. After his son shouted “Go Blugolds!” the show officially began.

Both acts consisted of talented students at Eau Claire, mostly performing some sort of musical number.

Zac Plein, a sophomore and member of the all-male choir group The Singing Statesmen, performed with the Statesmen as the openers for Act II.

“Some of our brothers saw Statesmen first here at Varsity Night Live and then they auditioned later on, so it’s cool to have that integration in there,” Plein said.

For the Statesmen and many other groups, Varsity Night Live is a way to reach out to the audience, which is composed of mostly college students, and connect with them.

Rachel Szurek, a junior and third semester member of the all-female a cappella group Audacious, said they use their talent to promote organizations the group supports.

“We seek to empower women through music, so we sing at a lot of gigs that are supporting women … and we also select our music that way too,” Szurek said.

On Friday, the ten girls sang an arrangement of “See You Again” by Carrie Underwood.

Another group that came together based on a shared love of music are the Innocent Men, who performed in the second act of Varsity Night Live.

In order to become a member of the Innocent Men, only two things are required. Members must first be a part of the Singing Statesmen, and also, by extension, male.

“The Innocent Men have always been, in my eyes, a family of brotherhood and it’s cool to sing with six brothers,” sophomore Jeremy Steinmetz said. “These are some of my best friends.”

Sebastian Armendariz, Kaynen Harris, Eric Conner and Steinmetz, all Innocent Men, agreed their favorite part of performing at Varsity Night Live was the energy the audience produced.

“The audience loved what we were doing and we loved the audience, and we worked off each other,” Armendariz said.

While many of the performances on Friday were musical acts, there was also a martial arts student organization called Hwa-Rang-Do/Tae Soo Do, and Alpha Phi showed off their drum line.

Freshman Rebecca Hom attended the event and said the drum line was one of her favorite performances because she loved how the rhythms vibrated through her body and the entire gym. However, she said she couldn’t pick just one favorite.

“It was a really good time, and seeing everybody happy and unified was cool because we [freshman] haven’t really had a chance to see that yet,” Hom said.

Varsity Night Live has been a homecoming tradition for many years, and based on its continuing popularity, should be around for many more.