From being disappointed to feeling surprisingly grateful, local DJ David Savely found a silver lining when his regular performance venue, the Ugly Tuna 2, closed due to COVID-19.
Savely, an Ohio State alumnus performing under the name “D Saves,” built a following at the Ugly Tuna 2 after he started regularly performing there in May 2019. But amid closures and social distancing, Savely found a chance to spread his name through a livestream event — an opportunity that would not have happened without the pandemic.
“If you look back a month ago, I would have never had thought any of this could have been possible for myself. And without COVID, I guess none of it would have happened,” Savely said.
Savely was able to perform a set with multiple local DJs, such as Mitch James and DJ Leek, during a May 15 livestream on Twitch held at fraternity Alpha Tau Omega on Iuka Avenue. He said the stream helped him network with people in his field and spread his sound to a larger audience.
Savely said his passion for music and repertoire of popular songs in Hip-Hop, R&B and EDM gave his friends confidence that he could become a great emcee.
“I like to think that some of my friends think I am pretty good on the aux,” Savely said.
Before becoming a familiar face on weekends at Ugly Tuna 2, Savely said he spent a lot of his time perfecting his craft through hours of practice.
“The first week, I spent at least four or five hours a day at my friend’s house just playing,” Savely said. “And I was not good by any means but, you know, practice makes perfect just like any type of video game or sport or workout regimen.”
Savely said he started performing at house parties early in his career and built confidence.
“My friends started gassing me up a little too much, I think. But I kept going with it and kept improving each day,” Savely said.
He said he decided to contact Ugly Tuna 2 after the bar changed locations in August 2019 from Ugly Tuna Saloona at the Gateway Film Center on North High Street to its current location on the corner of Chittenden Avenue and Summit Street.
“I walked in and asked the manager there for a chance at DJ-ing on any day that I possibly could,” Savely said. “I was just hungry to try and show someone besides my friends what I was capable of.”
Savely was hired on as a resident DJ after his first performance May 31.
“It was so surreal because I was doing something that I loved and I could share it with everybody. And it wasn’t just things that I enjoyed hearing, it was things that everybody enjoyed hearing, and I like to do that for people,” Savely said.
Savely said the atmosphere at Ugly Tuna 2 was full of love, and he made many friends throughout the year he spent at the bar. However, the good times came to an end earlier than expected due to COVID-19.
The pandemic shut down bars on campus and Savely said it completely altered his Ohio State experience. The shutdowns took place during Savely’s final semester at the university.
“I was just really disappointed, because it’s just the luck of the draw. We can’t control what happens our year,” Savely said. “I had everything that I was expecting for that year taken from me.”
Savely said that keeping a positive attitude and being optimistic in bad situations has helped him deal with the effects of COVID-19, as well as become a better DJ.
“The conscious decision to want to express positive energy, good feelings, love — the constant, conscious decision to do that — is what drives me to just DJ, to live,” Savely said.
Savely said that Ugly Tuna 2 has not reached out to him yet regarding a resident DJ position for 2020 and that Ugly Tuna is being cautious about live entertainment due to COVID-19 concerns.