Spilled Vodka loosening up the crowd AARON SYPOSZ WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

Churchill College perhaps isn’t the first college you’d associate with a lively night of live music. Its rather harsh exterior and focus on science mean it is sometimes unfairly thought of as a bit of a soulless place far from the centre of Cambridge — where all the action is happening. Attendees of the latest iteration of Churchill’s Open Mic Night, however, came away on the penultimate Friday of term with the impression of a college with a rich, open musical scene: from classical piano to crowd-pleasing pop, music of all shapes and sounds was on display at this open-plan and free-spirited event

“Music of all shapes and sounds was on display at this free-spirited event”

Organised by Churchill’s pleasingly abbreviated music society, CHUMS, and taking place in the large buttery area off the main concourse of the college, this Lent’s Open Mic night is not the first to have taken place this year. Following a karaoke-inspired Open Mic at the beginning of term and a more pre-prepared event in Michaelmas, bar a couple of initial technical hiccups and difficulties in sourcing a grand piano (a very Cambridge problem to have), we were underway with an astounding classical piano performance of Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu from Joshua Sebastine.

Joshua’s performance was one which fully captured the audience, who listened in attentive silence. Indeed, many performances of the night commanded the full attention of the whole buttery area — no mean feat considering the constant coming and going from the main concourse and bar area which characterises Churchill’s main social space.

Joshua was followed by Ben Raddick and Heenal Shah, who gave some pleasing, pared back renditions of pop hits on guitar. Lucy Currid and David McIntosh followed up with a great rendition of Every Breath You Take by The Police: Lucy was on piano while David delivered a vocal performance with bags of charisma and pizzazz. People continued to filter in and out of the open buttery area as a range of other impressive performances followed, with many familiar faces from Churchill and other hill colleges taking to the stage. Indeed, it was great to see so many “local” acts from colleges out of the centre throughout the night; by drawing from such a nearby talent pool, the Churchill Open Mic has given itself a USP which sets it apart from similar events held in the centre of town.


Mountain View

Has video killed the Radio star?

At around 10pm, a band which had been billed in promotions took to the stage. Spilled Vodka performed funked-up versions of a range of hits as the atmosphere began to loosen up, with some dancing and boogie-ing being spotted from where I was watching by the bar. Song choices were predictable but undeniably crowd-pleasing and well-delivered as the audience was treated to renditions of Feel Good Inc, Blinded by the Lights and Afraid to Feel amongst others. The band’s stage presence, meanwhile, was simple but effective: though brief moments were taken to chat with the audience, the main focus was clearly on delivering great tunes. In terms of instruments, it was the jazzy e-piano which repeatedly shined through in Spilled Vodka’s performance, meaning this Churchill Open Mic was opened and closed by great piano-based acts.

In all, everything just seemed to come together at this latest Churchill music event. CHUMS, drawing on experience from previous events, gave us an evening which served as a hill college answer to central college Open Mic offerings. An impressive variety of talented performers made this a warm, welcoming and upbeat event in what can sometimes be seen as a rather austere and cold college environment.