USC Musicians Club cures Monday blues

The organization, founded in 2021, provides an outlet for musicians of all levels.

Musicians Club performs each week, and the organization prides itself on providing a low-pressure space for students to grow as musicians, allowing anyone the chance to perform anything. (USC Musicians Club)

Imagine a world where Mondays don’t actually suck. 

That world has become a reality for members of USC Musicians Club. At Tommy’s Place, a charming little stage tucked between the Office of Admission and Moreton Fig, students can find an inviting atmosphere of blue mood lighting and the rhythmic sounds of guitars and drum sets warming up every Monday night at 8 p.m.

Suddenly, a pair of drumsticks snap together loudly. “And a one, two, a one, two, three, four!” The room erupts with sound, filling every crevice of open air. Rohan Gupta, a senior majoring in computer science, rips on his electric guitar as Blink-182’s “The Rock Show” rings out.

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The club, founded in 2021 by doctoral candidate Tim Fullerton, provides a space where musicians of all levels, regardless of their major, can participate in performances in front of a live audience.

“It’s a safe space with a lot of diversity. There are all kinds of people at all kinds of levels,” Fullerton said. “We’re there to have fun, there’s no judgment. When you go to Tommy’s [Place], then you’re gonna get to go up there and play and sing and it’s a great gig.”

Every Monday, Fullerton publishes a sign-up sheet for the club’s 150 members to add songs to. 

“[The sign-up sheet is] open to everybody to contribute to,” Fullerton said. “We will look at what’s there for the following week or following weeks and rehearse that stuff. We will basically call out songs and jam with the songs.”  

The Musicians Club provides a house drummer, piano and drum set for performers to use as backup, though performers are required to bring their own instruments outside of that. They also partner with Trojan Event Services to provide lighting, equipment and a crew to help set up the stage. This is geared toward making a more accessible environment for musicians who may not have the means to perform to an audience.

The club gives students outside of Thornton the resources and opportunities that Thornton students are afforded — the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, a stage with lightning and a sound system. The club has also taken part in events outside of Tommy’s Place, with performances at the Viterbi School of Engineering and Songfest. 

The Musicians Club has made it their mission to allow opportunities to all students at USC. 

“[Fullerton] founded this club with the purpose of giving non-Thornton students a chance to express their interest in music and to perform because Thornton kids are getting performance opportunities left and right,” Gupta said. “It’s why that school exists and it’s good that they have that, but there’s not too many opportunities, at least on campus, for the non-Thornton kids to perform.” 

The Musicians Club is a place where every student, no matter their field of study, can play music, Gupta said.

“When I [first] started… I hadn’t performed in years in front of an audience,” Gupta said. “The audience at Tommy’s Place, at least, is a very welcoming audience usually and so, when I got onstage to perform for my first time in my junior year since high school, I just felt very welcomed.”

Gupta said joining the Musicians Club is a great place to improve one’s musical skills. After playing on and off during high school, Gupta performed onstage for the first time in a while last year with the Musicians Club.

“The more you get up onstage and the more you get comfortable with performing in front of people, the more comfortable you get with trying new things musically,” Gupta said. “New types of ideas come to your head and then the more you do that, the better you get as a musician, and I think more people at Tommy’s Place or whoever wants to come perform should.” 

Gupta said the club gives students room to explore new things musically and develop their skills.

“Once you [get onstage] a few times, I think you definitely get over the nervousness and everything,” Gupta said. “That’s what I hope more people knew about Tommy’s Place or about Musicians Club events at Tommy’s Place, which is that it can really be the first step to getting comfortable with performing in front of people.”

The Musicians Club creates a space for trying new things and growth as a musician. Marissa Yeh, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies and the social chair of the Musicians Club, said the community is there to support students, whether they’re seasoned musicians or haven’t touched an instrument in years.

“I like playing with them because it’s a lot lower stakes than an actual band,” Yeh said. “We just kind of jam out, do whatever we feel like in the moment, very little pressure.”

Tommy’s Place serves as a casual, lively environment, and there are usually a few time slots open in advance so everyone has a chance to perform.

“The people who run the lights and sound are on the upper end of the type of people that I’ve experienced in my career,” Fullerton said. “There’s a good crowd and it’s bright and loud, and it’s a blast. And for a lot of people, that’s the first chance you’re gonna get to experience something like that.”

The club gives students an outlet to explore their interdisciplinary interests without the pressure of getting a grade.

“My favorite part is just that I get a chance to express another part of myself, which is 

my musical side. If I didn’t have that, I’d only really be involved with pure engineering activities

or computer science activities,” Gupta said. “I get a really expressive and awesome break every Monday night … I really look forward to the weekend being over so I can jam with my friends.”

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