Coffeehouse-themed student performance encourages celebration of arts in Geneseo

The Kinetic Gallery is typically used for art exhibits like “Fashion as Art,” but Genseo Campus Activities Board and Geneseo Late Knight teamed up for a different use of the environment on the night of Friday Nov. 9. Student organizers were able to transform the art space into an open mic event with quaint coffee shop vibes while still being surrounded by the art lining the room’s walls. 

Not only were visitors in for a treat for the student performance by Geneseo’s very own pre-economics junior Ben Schmitz, but GLK distributed free mugs to the first 75 people attending. Student concert coordinator for GCAB Megan Avenia had been searching for performers for this event since the summer. 

“We sent out a Google Form over the summer, and when we came across Ben we found out that he had done a lot of acoustic work and he just seemed like a really good fit for it,” Avenia said.

The room quickly filled up at 9 p.m. and mugs were claimed. There was a table serving hot chocolate, coffee and cookies, really bringing the coffeehouse element to the room. Schmitz took to the center of the gallery, singing and playing his electric guitar, making the space feel more like an intimate concert. 

The front row was filled with friends of Schmitz, banging their heads in support. The rest of the room filled up with other music lovers who subtly tapped their feet and sang along to the hit songs like “Scar Tissue” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

Schmitz’s song choices varied from covers of songs by Jimi Hendrix to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and somehow his voice is versatile enough to make every song work extremely well. Schmitz often asked the audience how much time he had left and every time the crowd just told him to keep playing since it was so special and enjoyable.

Schmitz has been playing guitar since he was 12 and it shows. All the songs he played required more than just proficient guitar playing. Surprisingly, Schmitz didn’t start singing until he was out of high school. Before he discovered his voice, he still wrote songs. 

“I would always create songs with just guitar,” Schmitz said. “Then I thought, why not just add lyrics?” 

Schmitz now writes original songs with guitar and lyrics, but he only ended up playing one original at the end of his performance since he only has a handful written at the moment. The performance was a treat for the audience, considering he doesn’t play shows on campus often. 

“I think I’ve only played on campus one other time,” Schmitz said. “I also play house shows.” 

If you’re lucky enough to end up at the right place at the right time, you just might be able to experience Schmitz’s music live. For those who missed the event, fear not. GCAB and GLK plan an acoustic performance once a semester, so there’s hope for the spring semester.