c/o Timosha White

c/o Timosha White

In years past, the University’s Tiny Shed (a play on NPR’s “Tiny Desk”) has hosted concerts in a small shed in the backyards of Fountain Avenue, providing a space for student performers to showcase their singer-songwriter chops to an intimate audience. However, earlier this semester, members of the concert collective decided that Tiny Shed was ready for a rebrand. First and foremost, the collective has a new name: The Shed.

The Shed’s student leaders, guided by coordinator Joseph Cohen ’22, are still planning on putting together performances that showcase music in a distinctive space, just not one space in particular. 

“We’re actually doing shows that are specific to a location of the artist’s choosing, and thinking about how they can interact with institutional land and maybe activate or modify spaces around campus,” Cohen said. 

The experience of space has been central for Cohen’s personal art practice in the past few months.  

“Last summer I got a grant to do some research and go out to Utah and see some earthwork sculptures that are designed for the environment that they’re based in, in the desert,” Cohen said. “I’m kind of trying to bring that back here a little bit.”

Chance Lockard ’24, who describes himself as The Shed’s intern, has a hand in rebranding the social media and redesigning the logo for the brand relaunch, in addition to generally learning the ropes at the group. Lockard said he was inspired by the pandemic-necessitated pivot to at-home concerts done by “Tiny Desk,” which allowed artists to showcase their own personal style and space, a model he believes will translate well to the University. The Shed will allow artists to cultivate their own performance spaces.

“Because a lot of the talent that we are showcasing is here on campus and isn’t obviously as well-known, and they don’t have as well-defined personalities that are so publicly known, it’s more of an immersive experience, and you get a better sense from all angles of what this artist is about and the kind of show you’re about to experience,” Lockard said. 

Abbi Abraham ’23, the videographer for The Shed, said that holding shows in locations across campus will be consistent with the collective’s counterculture brand, allowing The Shed the freedom to take risks.

“It does kind of also lend to our history, having [The Shed] in interesting locations, maybe even illicit [ones], because to be honest none of our events have ever been registered, and [Public Safety] has always come to wrap up the show,” Abraham said. “Which makes a really fun finale. I don’t think that the school and administration, based on our current status, is supportive of bands and musicians on campus, to elevate them or give them the support that they need.” 

Lockard added that another benefit of deviating from the Tiny Shed concert model has been the possibility of bringing outside performers to the University. 

“We can sample from an even broader range of voices that aren’t all coming from campus,” Lockard said. “It’s exciting for us, it’s exciting for these artists, and hopefully it’s exciting for [students] to hear people that maybe they know and love that are coming here, or maybe people they haven’t heard of.” 

Though Cohen would not share too much information about what The Shed has in store for the semester, students can look forward to a couple of in-person concerts. 

“We’re having a show with an on-campus performer in early October, and we’re currently in stages of trying to find a place that the artist specifically can resonate with,” Cohen said. “In late October we are bringing an off-campus artist who makes paintings and performances and books and music and everything in between, and they will be doing a show in the [Center for The Arts], we’ll say for now, and trying to engage the brutalist architecture and reimagine its very stern nature.”

According to Abraham, a video version of a Tiny Shed performance by student band Mother’s Friends from last spring is also in the works, to be released soon. 

Members of The Shed have exciting visions for what comes next. Abraham explained that, in years past, members of Tiny Shed recorded video and audio of performers immediately before their in-person performances. This approach created stress for film and sound crews, in addition to putting extra pressure on the bands themselves to play without a warmup. Going forward, Abraham hopes to integrate the film and performance processes. 

“I think the end goal of The Shed has always been to record with a live audience, which requires really extensive and put-together sound design as well as video recording, ’cause you’re dealing with so many sources of audio,” Abraham said. 

Lockard shared excitement about planning concerts on a larger scale. 

“As much as campus has a lovely sentimental relationship with Tiny Shed that I really cherish, it was first and foremost a venue, and it was meant to be appropriate for a bunch of artists to perform in a row,” Lockard said. “But I am really excited at how much one-on-one work we get to do to mimic more larger-scale concerts where artists are allowed more creative control, and I really enjoy how collaborative it is.” 

Cohen’s aspirations for The Shed revolve around creating a community gathering space that centers music and creativity. 

“I think my interest has always been lending a place where people can come together in an intentional way,” Cohen said. “The events that we hosted last year were the highlights of my year here, ’cause there was no partying or no fraternizing in the typical college way, and it felt so impactful to everyone, myself included, that we were coming together to appreciate something together and to make something together.”

Cohen added that The Shed hopes to incorporate fundraising for the Middletown Community Fridge and other mutual aid efforts into the concert experience. 

Though The Shed doesn’t have anything official on social media or on the calendar just yet, the co-coordinators explained that students should be on the lookout for hints about upcoming performances and videos.  

“Stay tuned, and if you hear loud noises, walk towards them,” Cohen said. 

Emma Smith can be reached at elsmith@wesleyan.edu.

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