Dropping glow sticks and dropping the beat

‘Light the Night’ DJ Tom Aberman’s perspective from behind the speakers

CNU Student Tom Aberman poses wearing a T-Shirt featuring his alias ‘Grain Death.’ Charles Tyson / The Captain’s Log

By Kristen Ziccarelli

Where would Light the Night be without beat-dropping jams, raining glow sticks and a countdown to one of the most characteristically CNU moments recorded on thousands of Instagram and Snapchat stories every year? Basically nowhere.

This year and last, DJ Tom Aberman played a key role in creating the fun and lively atmosphere of Light the Night. Preparing for the eve of the first day of class, Tom worked with WCNU to create a musically fluid event.

“We did a great job last year,” Aberman said. “It’s a really challenging set to create.”

The planning process involved close collaboration between Student Assembly and WCNU.

Beginning in the middle of the summer, they coordinated musical content and logistical aspects to ensure a smooth chain of events. Aberman had to approve all of his songs before the event.

Additionally, he tried to find a diverse selection of genres that satisfied the school’s requirements, tastes of students and to some extent, his own style.

“I was trying to work out the triangle of clean, mainstream, still drops [the beat], with a secret fourth point of the triangle [being] songs that Tom actually likes,” Aberman said. “I could just play The Chainsmokers over and over but that’s not me.”

With a more eclectic music taste than mainstream listeners, Aberman had to DJ and remix songs that were outside of his interests.

“The kind of music I go to shows for is very aggressive dubstep, it’s not really Light the Night,” Aberman said. “I definitely did play a couple of the tracks that were in that style at the end when people were gone.”

Aberman attributes greater planning to a more enjoyable experience on the night of the event. “It was fun as hell, and not as stressful as last year,” Aberman said. “It was fun to see out my last semester at CNU doing what I want to do.”

Besides the planning schedule, Aberman described the enhancement of his personal talent as a differentiating factor.

“The main difference in this year’s process is that I’ve gotten a lot better at making music in the last year,” Aberman said.

Right now, he performs under the alias ‘Grain Death,’ and is working on getting a professional logo design.

Although he has performed in a diverse number of places, Light the Night features an ‘audience’ of thousands of students. Many began dancing and cheering during the event, synchronizing the glowsticks with the beats of the music.

“It was amazing, I’m still kind of running off the high,” Aberman said. “I don’t think I’ll have a crowd like that again.”

Drawing off his own experience in the audience, he derives his inspiration and refines his style from attending shows and concerts. Over the summer, he saw a British group called Shades (E Prom and Alix Perez) in a dark basement in DC. Aberman described the experience as “incredible.”

Although Light the Night is far from a dark basement, Aberman attempted to replicate the energetic concert atmosphere that radiated throughout the Great Lawn. “My plan was sort of have it be something you could only experience live,” Aberman said. “People stayed longer than I expected.”

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