‘Twas the Grand Opening “The U,” and all through the place, every student was laughing with a smile on his face. Despite the chilly weather outside, quite a few students braved the cold trek to our new Ryley Room last Friday night. With enough acoustic music to satisfy almost everyone, Underwood Room’s first coffeehouse was a success. Sadiqa Farrow ’09 and Jill Kozloff’s ’09 humorous introductions, several amazing student performances and country music by special guests from Nashville, Tennessee made the “The U’s” first event an enjoyable time for everyone. Although called a “coffeehouse,” refreshments took the form of milk, apple cider and holiday cookies that the crowd munched throughout the evening. For lack of anywhere better to put them, these treats were located on top of the old Ryley trash cans. Lily Shaffer ’10 started things off by moving the audience with a song she wrote herself called “Modestly, Easily, Honestly.” Then, Lucy Bidwell ’09 and Danica Mitchell ’09 strummed their guitars and sang “Fake Plastic Trees,” good-naturedly smiling through a few technical difficulties. Avery Stone ’10 followed, and her musical talents really shone as she performed her original song, “Blush.” Veronica Faller ’09 and Kim Kuoch ’09 sang “Ever the Same” next, strong and clear. The last student act was Zox’s “Anything But Fine” by Chris Wade ’08 on the guitar and Dan Silva ’08 singing. Farrow and Kozloff then went on stage to introduce the special guest performers. Attempting to prevent the frequently occurring situation where students repeatedly drop in out of performances, they begged the audience “Please don’t leave!” They made Tennessee T’s to welcome Meg Allison and Joshua Stevens to the stage. Allison and Stevens have both been on Nashville Star, the country music version of American Idol, as well as touring colleges around the country. But, this was the first time they had ever performed at a boarding school. Both strummed their guitars and sang about 15 songs with topics ranging from serious romance to cocaine addiction. The sound crew had a few issues setting things up; the music was far too loud for the crowd members sitting near the front and the performers stopped playing after their second song because they thought the audience couldn’t hear them. Farrow explained this wasn’t the case, but they still made the sound guys come back on stage to check. Stevens made a somewhat inappropriate comment about one of the sound crew’s “orange boxers” as he attempted to fix things. “They’re [performers Allison and Stevens] so obnoxious!” exclaimed one audience member while watching this scene. Despite these low points, their music was polished and interesting. Allison played mostly serious songs about love and fitting in, whereas Josh’s sense of humor came through in his choice of music. The two contrasted each other perfectly. One of their more entertaining songs was Pepsi-Cola’s new theme song. The refrain repeated “As long as there’s rock and roll and Pepsi-Cola!” Stevens encouraged the audience to sing along, and almost everyone did. The duo tried to break up their music with stories and crowd interaction, but they tended to be too short and far between. The show felt like it went by too quickly, with Allison and Stevens just playing one song after another. Another issue was the lack of seating. This has been a problem at Ryley events before and now that Underwood has most of Ryley’s old furniture, the same problem persists. Students who arrived early enough secured seats at the tables and on the couches, but quite a few people were forced to settle down on the floor or stand on the sides or back of the room. Farrow and Kozloff’s pleas to the audience to stay for the night’s duration really worked. While a few people filtered out, the majority of the audience remained for the whole coffeehouse, getting louder and more into the music as the night progressed. By the final song, the crowd was clapping and hooting. It is obvious that Underwood will never be the same as Ryley. But, judging by the turnout at this first event, “The U” is proving to be a worthy substitute.