The Fall Coffeehouse was abuzz with chatter at the beginning. Performers and audience alike milled about with an excitable energy. But as the day turned into night, the frantic mic checks and lively conversation dimmed into the chill vibes that would characterize the rest of the evening. This event took place on the 24th of September at Walton Patio, closing the school week out with a vibrant and diverse beacon of Eastern pride.
Two poets and nine musicians graced the stage for one evening. Even though most of the acts were music, the musicians themselves still made up a variety of genres and tones. Three performers sang cover songs of popular hits, but most of the acts were original content. I was surprised at how cleanly the acts transitioned into each other. Poetry, pop, funky guitar, emotional ballads, high-energy rap, and even actual worship music all melded together into a delightfully diverse lineup that was hard to look away from.
I spoke with performer Caitlin Casey about the event after it happened. Caitlin performed a song of her own called “Lights” that held some delightfully similar elements to the Taylor Swift song it preceded, while still maintaining a unique flair. “I suppose I felt a little nervous, since I haven’t played in a while, but since I’ve done coffeehouses with SAB before I knew what to expect. I feel like it went well, and people enjoyed it, which is ultimately the important bit,” said Caitlin.
Caitlin also commented on the struggle performers can face with audience feedback. “It’s hard when I don’t get quite the reaction I hope from the audience, but also it’s nice to be able to do what I love and have people enjoy it.”
This statement was something I resonated with. As one of the two poets to perform that night, I was also nervous about how original content would be received. This is what made the originality of the acts even more surprising; despite the possibility of rejection, these performers put out creative energy that showcased the unique talent at Eastern.
It wasn’t just performers who had something to say about the event. Megan Schoenleb, an attendee of the event had this to say: “This was not my first coffee house, but it’s the one I’ve stayed the longest at,” said Megan. “Lance’s song about Eastern University stuck out; I thought it was fun and it was nice to see some campus pride.”
Lance Lozada’s ballad about Eastern University featured many aspects of campus that were immediately relatable, such as the creative licenses the Dining Commons takes when calling their meals food, or the ever present fear of geese that plagues the campus. Even with these light jabs at the campus, it still felt like a song about the Eastern experience, with all its ups and downs.
While Megan had comments on the event’s performers, Simon Kwilinski brought more insight to the experience as a whole. “I was pleased to see Zime was open, as a small hot chocolate was the perfect relief from the cold weather,” said Simon. I have to agree–Zime opened shortly before the performances began, and to the pleasant surprise and raucous cheers of the audience, the offer only to accept Flex Dollars was rescinded in exchange for a plan that allowed patrons to use meal swipes.
Simon also noted the energy of the crowd during certain acts. “It was fun watching Simeon perform because of how excited the crowd got,” said Simon. Indeed, there seemed to be fan favorites. Though I can’t confirm these artists have performed at previous coffeehouse events, their loud and vocal fanbases made this evident. Since the coffeehouse, I’ve noticed posters with QR codes in Sparrowk hall that link to the Spotify and Instagram of two of these fan-favorites: Unc0mm0n1 (Simeon Walther) and Saladhead (Jacob Craig). Though small artists, (>1000 streams for either artist), they have clearly established a following of some kind. The Coffeehouse is a staple of Eastern University, and I wonder if in the future it will be a launching point for artists to make it big. But for now, it’s a delightful evening full of music, energy, and meal-swipe-bought hot chocolate.