As a fixture of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus for the last 30 years, the Lied Center for Performing Arts relies on students to fill out its shows. In celebration of its student patrons, the Lied Center will host the Big Red Lied Experience (BRLX) Sept. 12-13.
Every year, the Lied brings in an upcoming artist or group to perform a free show exclusively for UNL students. Acts from previous years include the Plain White T’s and OK Go. This year, award-winning a capella group VoicePlay will take the Lied stage for two free shows.
The BRLX program is funded in part by the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska and the Pace Woods foundation. The event will also have a pre-show fair on each night with free food, drink and activities.
BRLX’s student-focused program fits one of the Lied Center’s original goals as an element of UNL students’ education, according to Bill Stephan, executive director of the Lied Center.
"The Lied Center's vision is that every University of Nebraska-Lincoln student graduates having had at least one professional arts performance at the Lied as a part of their college experience," Stephan said in an email statement.
VoicePlay competed on the fourth season of NBC’s “The Sing-Off” in 2013, receiving sixth place. They also won “Pop Group of the Year” at the A Cappella Music Awards in Aug. 2019. The group mostly covers pop music like covers of Panic! At The Disco’s “Death of a Bachelor.” Their most recent cover was 1950s doo-wop song “Sh-Boom,” released on Aug. 28.
Continuing with the student-based theme, the concerts will be opened by UNL student a cappella groups Bathtub Dogs on Thursday and Boots & Cats on Friday. VoicePlay will also be featured in an a cappella masterclass and Q+A on Sept. 13, open to all of UNL’s student a cappella groups.
Representatives from both UNL organizations said they were approached to perform in the event over the summer and excited to open for and work with VoicePlay.
“We’re extremely excited to share the stage with VoicePlay,” Michaela Sleep, business manager, soprano and beatboxer for Boots & Cats, said. “We’ll reach an audience that we might not be meeting with some of our other gigs.”
Each student group will give about a 20-minute set, covering songs such as “Treasure” by Bruno Mars and “Love So Soft” by Kelly Clarkson before VoicePlay takes the stage.
“This is a way more formal event than what we’re used to,” Sleep said. “We’re definitely treating it a little differently in terms of our preparation and appearance.”
Both groups will also hold their fall auditions this week — Boots & Cats on Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Platte River Room South in the Nebraska Union and Bathtub Dogs on Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. in the Chimney Rock Room, also in the Union. Sleep and Sheng-Jie I. Lim, manager and tenor for Bathtub Dogs, said they both hope the concerts will increase exposure for their respective groups on the UNL campus and in the greater Lincoln community.
“This is obviously a huge marketing opportunity,” Lim said. “It’s probably one of the most public events we do. We try to be an integral part of campus culture and this really helps with our mission.”
The pre-show fair begins at 6 p.m. each night, with the shows starting at 7:30 p.m. Students can go online to reserve their free general admission ticket. Once tickets are reserved, students should bring their NCard to the Lied Center box office between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week to pick up their ticket.