The 193 Degree Coffeehouse at the University of Rhode Island is usually a place at which to hang out and drink coffee. But last Thursday night, students came to the coffeehouse not only for coffee, but also for an open mic night.
193 Degree Coffeehouse is a student-run coffee shop that is located on the second floor of the Memorial Student Union. It often hosts music-related events, such as open mic nights.
“We usually do two per month,” said Megan Gray, a 193 employee who has been working at the coffeehouse since last year. 193 has been hosting open mic Nights for years. These events are free to attend, and as the name of the event suggests, anybody can perform. Participants can, and often do, express themselves by performing a wide variety of acts, such as singing, rapping, reading poetry or stand-up comedy.
According to Gray, open mic nights usually attract a turnout of approximately 15 to 20 people.
“Sometimes less, sometimes more,” she said.
The coffeehouse was crowded at last Thursday’s open mic night, which was the first open mic of October. Though the environment of the coffeehouse remained laid-back and relaxed, the tables filled quickly as audience members ordered their beverages and sat down to watch the event unfold. For the performers, a “stage” had been set up by the fireplace, complete with two folding chairs, speakers and a microphone. Prospective performers came prepared with their own instruments for the evening.
The event was initially scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., but it did not start immediately. For the first 15 minutes, the designated stage area remained empty as audience members waited on the edge of their seats to see who would fill the folding chairs and be the first to step up to the microphone that night.
According to Gray, the most popular act at most of the open mic nights is usually singing, which there was plenty of on Thursday night. The first act of the evening was Sidecar, a band comprised of two singers who also played the guitar and the ukulele. They covered Trent Dabbs’ “I’m Not Okay,” New Order’s “Love Vigilantes,” and Vance Joy’s “Riptide.”
After another anticipation-filled break while audience members sipped their coffee and waited for the next act, the second set of performers came onstage. The second act also involved singing, but these performers used bongo drums. They played the bongos and rapped poetry simultaneously for two songs before picking up a guitar for their next few numbers. Their next three songs were sung, rather than rapped.
After that, the performances fizzled out for a while, and the microphone stood alone. Audience members took their attention away from the stage and began talking amongst themselves. Eventually, a spontaneous sing-along broke out in the audience, complete with guitars, including a rendition of Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister.”
The next open mic night at 193 Degree Coffeehouse is scheduled for Oct. 16.