Yale Daily News

On April 17, WYBCx Yale Radio presented Ante-Fling 2021 — the radio station’s yearly event meant to contrast with Yale’s Spring Fling, which was canceled this year — in the form of a live set by artist Mia Gladstone.

The Ante-Fling typically takes place at Toad’s Place. This year, the show was presented on YouTube and produced with the intent that it would resemble an NPR Tiny Desk concert. Over the course of the show, Gladstone was first shown getting ready with Jordan Pilant ’21, then performed her set alongside Eli Navvy, her DJ, and finally answered a Q&A series with WYBC’s general manager Eda Uzunlar ’22.

The show aired at 7 p.m. Gladstone opened with a call-and-response positive affirmation, and then played her music for 30 minutes in front of an eclectic set featuring an armless skeleton, a road sign and a rolling suitcase with a stuffed dog. Megan Briggs ’22, another one of the event’s organizers, described as Gladstone’s music “all about self-love and positivity.”

“The first cut that I saw, I was amazed, and it only got better and better and better from there,” Uzunlar said. “Because this was the music I’d been listening to in my garden pretending to do anything during the most hideous part of the pandemic. It just reached a part of me that really desperately wanted to feel happy — with less worry.”

Uzunlar listened to Gladstone while roller skating around a parking lot during the height of the pandemic. She found great solace in Gladstone’s upbeat music and realized the artist would be perfect for Ante-Fling 2021. The WYBC’s committee agreed.

In order to meet the COVID-19 safety protocols of Firehouse 12 — the venue where Gladstone played her set — WYBC staff cut down a typically four-member performance to one with Gladstone alone. The video’s lead producer, Charlie Gleberman ’22, said that the concert was edited as a video “somewhere between an NPR Tiny Desk concert and a music video.”

Gleberman added that the group used the Tiny Desk aesthetic to distance the video from concert movies or “unplugged” videos with artists lip synching and merely pretending to play their instruments. Gleberman noted that all sounds in the video were recorded live. 

“The video came together so beautifully.” Gladstone said. “Charlie, and everyone involved killed it. I am especially impressed with the lighting transitions. It definitely captured Tiny Desk vibes — it feels very cozy and I love how the set came across on camera.”

Yet, Gladstone added that she prefers performing to a live audience. When Gladstone recorded her performance, the only people present at Firehouse 12 were Navvy and five WYBC crew members. These members can be heard on the video quietly responding to Gladstone’s positive affirmations during her set.

According to Gladstone, since this performance marked the longest set she and Navvy have played together, she went to great lengths to ensure the music “flowed” and remained interesting. To that effect, Gladstone chose a mix of old, new and unreleased songs. Some of these were from her latest project called “CYCLE/S,” which she released during COVID-19 and had not performed live prior to the Ante-Fling.

The set was an eclectic agglomeration of rugs, posters, tapestries and decorations from Uzunlar and Briggs’ apartment, as well as a variety of thrifted objects. They worked over Zoom with Gladstone to plan the set, and set it up in only two hours.

Because hosting this event was significantly cheaper than past Ante-Flings, Uzunlar said the WYBC had extra funds which it was able to devote to paying those that contributed to the production. They will also use these funds to host a second, though “more low-key,” online concert next week featuring artist Sydney Gish.

Gladstone said that the intimacy of this sort of performance was daunting, but rewarding in the end.

“I pushed myself in taking on this type of gig and I feel very blessed to see it come to fruition after so much planning, time, and energy went into it from so many people. I’m so grateful.”

Gladstone will be releasing more music this summer. More information about this project and Gladstone’s work can be found on Gladstone’s instagram, @miagladstone.

Annie Radillo covers museums and visual art. She is a sophomore in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in English.