Music has a knack for bringing people together regardless of the genre they like or the language they speak. Over the course of the pandemic, ASU students have capitalized on that notion.
The Album Listening Club is fairly new to the SunDevilSync roster, first formally coming together this past spring. Since its founding, the club has gained over 60 members and has become a source of relief for many of them amid the pandemic.
"The club originally started when I made a post on Reddit about it," said Frank Johnson, a sophomore majoring in business entrepreneurship and the club's president. "I was disappointed with the inactivity of many clubs on campus, so I proposed the Album Listening Club in a similar fashion to a book club."
Johnson was thrilled to find out how many students shared his same passion. He said many of the people who commented on the thread are still active members of the club. While the group had only conducted five meetings in person after officially forming in the spring semester, the club has over 150 people present on their Discord server.
"We average about 15 people per Zoom meeting and have listened to over 40 albums as a club," Johnson said. "Any member who is present at a meeting can nominate an album from a relevant genre and someone else can second that nomination, we all vote."
The group alternates between five genres: hip-hop, pop, electronic, rock and other. While the fun of meeting in person to discuss their chosen album of the week has been put on hold, virtual interactions have held a great deal of fun for members.
"Our meetings are just discussions, so that works pretty well over Zoom," said Daniel Verhagen, a senior majoring in computer science. "The Discord server has been pretty active over quarantine, so we've been able to get to know each other a lot better."
Right now, getting to know one another and developing a community has become especially important. While the club has been a place to expand their circle for some, for others, it has turned into a reminder to socialize during the pandemic.
"The club gives me an excuse to interact with others, albeit on screen," said Lauren Edmundson, a senior studying painting and art education, and head of marketing for the club. "I miss being in person and the listening parties we used to have at Hayden Library, though."
The parties haven't stopped since the virtual switch, though. Edmundson said the group has had multiple listening parties via Discord and has plans to go on club field trips once coronavirus restrictions are no longer an issue.
"Before COVID, we had plans to go to the Musical Instrument Museum, Zia Records and a lot of concerts," said William McInnes, a junior studying chemical engineering and club secretary. "But we've kept busy with online game nights and virtual concerts and things like that."
Verhagen said it's important to recognize the impact that music can have on individuals.
"People tie music to their lives and emotions in various ways," Verhagen said. "Albums are even more powerful than individual songs, too, because they're a longer experience. So, we're implicitly sharing those experiences with each other."
While the club does talk about specific genres, there's no exclusion on what they're willing to discuss from week to week.
"We do have an 'other' genre section, so people can suggest any album they want in case we missed covering it," Edmundson said. "We might do an indie rock album for rock week and so on, but it's open to what members vote for."
Verhagen said just because the club is currently on Zoom does not mean that they've restricted the open policy for new members.
"We're a pretty casual club," Verhagen said. "Come to a meeting if you're curious. We meet at 7 p.m. every Monday on Zoom."