The After School Special event at UTM. Mari Zhou/THE VARSITY

IF THERE’S ONE thing I know about the city of Mississauga, it’s that it definitely isn’t known for having a vibrant university social scene. At UTM, students joke all the time about how Mississauga is a place where nothing happens, especially as a city living in the shadow of Toronto. The common agreement is that, sadly, UTM students don’t know how to party.

Monique Swalby, community manager of CFRE Radio — UTM’s independent broadcast station — is here to change that perception. The Blind Duck Pub in UTM’s student centre will be the venue where, in a week’s time, John River and Jazz Cartier will be shaking the walls with genre-defying rap.

They’re the double-bill comprising this year’s After School Special, the second installment of an ongoing CFRE-led concert series. Swalby hopes the series will improve the reputability of student-run radio and push Mississauga further into the light as a nexus of creativity, collaboration, and entertainment.

The premise behind the After School Special is simple: engage with the local student community by hosting a concert showcasing both rising and established talent at UTM’s Blind Duck Pub. Think of the After School Special as the campus’ equivalent to the Soho House or the Sonic Lodge — a resource-sharing music concept interested in delivering live, high calibre music at an affordable price.

Jazz Cartier’s perfomance will follow last year’s jazz-fusion outfit BADBADNOTGOOD (supported by local moody alt-rock band Morakoza); it was an immediate success.

The After School Special event at UTM. Mari Zhou/THE VARSITY

The After School Special event at UTM. Mari Zhou/THE VARSITY

According to Swalby, there’s a genuine sense of community at UTM. She feels that if you can show people you care about something, they will support you and listen to what you have to say.

This means selecting artists that are relevant, eclectic, and balanced — a selection that represents the student voice but doesn’t conform to something that’s generic or boring. In other words, don’t expect CFRE to be hosting Down With Webster anytime soon.

CFRE’s goal is to share music that they think is going to be relevant years from now, providing a platform that juxtaposes a local upcoming artist with a musician who has already found success. They don’t want to be known as your run-of-the-mill ‘indie kids’. Everything comes down to making the artist feel comfortable and the event feel accessible to the student body. According to Swalby, providing an enjoyable experience for both demographics is ultimately the only thing that matters.

So what does Swalby have planned for the future of the After School Special? With new government grants arriving in 2017, the possibilities are bright. They want to collaborate with a wider range of on-campus clubs and charity organizations and expand their outreach. Swalby feels as though now that Mississauga has earned its reputation for its untapped, thriving community, the group is uniquely positioned to formulate the community’s artistic direction in a way they feel will suit the student body.

Ultimately, Swalby wants people to walk away from university remembering The After School Special events as the events that shaped their interaction with the music scene on-campus.

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