On the evening of Feb. 22, the roaring sounds of classic rock ’n’ roll could be heard echoing out of Rediger Chapel.
A large crowd flocked to attend Nostalgia Night 2020. Students from all across campus pooled their musical talents together in bands to perform before their peers and community members.
The line-up showcased works of bands ranging from Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Queen to ABBA and a surprise performance of Rick Astley’s iconic song and internet prank “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
Every year, Nostalgia Night, put on by the Student Activities Council (SAC), features songs that were released before the birth year of the present senior class, in contrast to the fall MyGen concert, which focuses on more contemporary music. Bands audition for the members of SAC before being selected for the evening lineup.
“The auditions were really fun this year,” said sophomore Rebecca Wright, who joined SAC halfway through her freshman year. “People really embraced the theme.”
After the audition process, work kicks into high gear, as the council members move into preparations for the big event — selling tickets, building decorations out of cardboard and advertising with announcements, flyers and posters across campus. This year the advertising process included a photoshoot of performers and SAC members, with the selected portraits turned into posters designed to match the style of classic music magazines.
After weeks of preparation, the night of the show finally arrived and the performers rolled out onto stage with their instruments and costumes. One singer who was a part of Nostalgia Night for the first time this year was sophomore Delaney Strash, whose band performed “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll.”
“I love how Nostalgia Night engages many age groups,” Strash said. “My parents surprised me by coming to the show, and they loved hearing songs that were popular as they grew up. It’s always great to have everyone in the audience singing along to songs that cover multiple generations.”
One unexpected moment occurred during the performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Taylor’s Interim President Paige Cunningham made a cameo appearance in an ’80s rocker costume to bang the gong in the final moments of the song.
Cunningham joined the project after being contacted by seniors Benj Morris and Student Body President Anders Soderquist. Along with several of their floormates, they had planned since freshman year to perform what they consider the greatest rock ’n’ roll song of all time for their final senior act.
“It was awesome,” Morris said of Cunningham’s involvement. “It wasn’t a huge part, but it added so much, everyone went nuts. It was great to get to do something so unique.”
Another big surprise of the night proved to be the secretive performance of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Before intermission, after the final announced act of the first half, a pre-recorded video suddenly transitioned into a performance of Rick Astley’s 1987 worldwide hit.
The catchy ’80s tune and Astley’s trademark dance in the music video would find new life in the internet age, with the birth of the online prank known as “Rickrolling,” in which a requested link will be provided that actually leads to the Astley music video.
Wright had never heard of the song or joke before the audition process, recalling that her SAC teammates had to explain to her after the fact. However, she found it to be one of the most fun auditions, and that sense of excitement carried over to the live concert experience.
“We really just wanted to Rickroll the masses,” said senior Spencer Haeggberg, one of the members of the band.
Having played in many bands over his time at Taylor, Haeggberg enjoyed having so many of the best musicians on campus come together to make a great show for everyone.
That satisfaction of creating something to bring joy and entertainment to campus is, for Wright, the highlight of her role on SAC. Seeing the enjoyment of the crowd and receiving positive feedback afterwards makes all of the hard work and effort worth it.
For now, the Taylor community will return to more contemporary sounds. However, soon enough, it will be time for another concert, because the diligent campus musicians and members of SAC are never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down and never gonna run around and desert you.