Every first Thursday of the month, The Beanery is open later than usual. This is because of an event called First Thursday, which features activities, discounted coffee and even therapy dogs.
One part of First Thursday at the Benton that is often overlooked is the open mic, where The Beanery invites students from across UConn to share their talents. Singers, musicians, poets and even comedians can come and share their material with a supportive crowd and gain experience performing in public. Last night, several students shared their impressive skills with an excited audience.
The cafe’s setup for the event is simple – a solitary microphone stands on a raised stage, right in front of the tables and couches. It is an intimate venue, which lowers any potential intimidation performers may be feeling.
The first performer to brave the stage was John Dos Santos, who played guitar and sang Elvis covers, original songs and Justin Timberlake covers. Dos Santos added a hint of country to Timberlake’s song “Drink You Away.”
Dos Santos is no stranger to First Thursday at The Beanery, and has performed at these events before, as well at bars. Before one song, Dos Santos quipped that one member of the audience at a bar gave him some key advice for playing: “Make sure you have the chords down before you start the song.”
Dos Santos is a music and mechanical engineering double major, certainly an interesting combination. He’s been playing guitar since age 10 and has been singing since his sophomore year of high school, so he is definitely used to the stage.
The open mic also featured the exciting debut of students who have never sung in public before. Nicola Wilk sang “Helena” by My Chemical Romance, which was her first time singing in front of an audience.
“I was nervous, but just said ‘YOLO,’” Wilk said.
Her debut performance was met with applause from the audience.
Another musician who performed last night was Trane Kessler, who played an original song and also a song written by his dad. At times, his voice slipped into a strong falsetto, and his original song featured poignant lyrics such as “I just wanna run ‘till we feel young.”
The open mic wasn’t just for singers and guitarists, though. Matthew Valdes, a poet, recited one of his poems on stage. This poem flowed like a rap or hip hop song and featured impressive wordplay. Some phrases from the poem, titled “Night Decanter,” included “Liquid of sky,” “Venus kissing Mars” and “Divided nation, unconscious politicians.”
Valdes described his goal for his poetry as trying to “incorporate classical allusions into a rap kind of format.” Valdes wants to “make people think of rap/hip hop like true poetry, a high form of art.”
Overall, the open mic at The Beanery was a night full of variety and bravery from students willing to bare their souls for an audience. If you haven’t been to an open mic here before, definitely come to the next one on Dec. 5. Not only will you be impressed by the talents UConn students have to offer, but you will also be able to grab some discounted coffee while you listen.
Ben Crnic is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org