Music & Chess at The Edge Arts Cafe

Great Way To Spend a Friday Lunchtime! Spring Series 09/02/18 – 04/05/18

The Edge Arts’ Lunchtime Sessions at the University of Bath seem to bring out the best in everything: great music, great food and drink, and, most importantly, great company. Attendees of the penultimate session of the semester were lucky enough to experience free performances from four of the finest acts MusicSoc has to offer. First to step up to the plate was Gavin Fernando, whose intricate string-plucking and dulcet tones lent themselves well to classic ballads such as Damien Rice’s “Cannonball”. Next came the skilled guitarist and vocal powerhouse that is Michael Jones, known for his role in the band Butter the Pavement. He was followed by the four-piece rock outfit Anarchists’ Bookfair, who showcased a variety of covers, as well as the lead single from their forthcoming debut release “One Day” / “A Jilting Song”. 

The accomplished band are a well-oiled machine, and their arrangement of vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and drums lent itself surprisingly well to the café environment. To top it all off, the self-described ‘emo’ quartet Bouquet closed the proceedings with a slew of originals, punctuated by impressive harmonies and slick use of dynamic contrast. All three of the aforementioned bands had made it through to MusicSoc’s Battle of the Bands 2018 Final, which took place the following night, and so the acoustic sets were a perfect entry point for first-time listeners to get acquainted with the sounds of each band.

The music, however, is merely one aspect of the Lunchtime Session experience: the events are essentially a vessel through which an increasingly isolated and technology-dependent society can re-familiarise itself with the dwindling art of face-to-face conversation. In collaboration with the social enterprise 5asideCHESS, the Edge assemble numerous 5×6 chess boards on tables across the café during these regular Friday sessions. The boards serve as an icebreaker for conversations between attendees of all walks of life, be it university students and staff, or the people of Bath, and the environment is extremely relaxed and welcoming. 

Volunteers are on-hand should you need assistance with the game, although there is no pressure to take part if it seems too daunting. In truth, the chess boards themselves are a proxy for the real aims of the initiative: to get people talking to one another, to offer companionship, and to coax us out of our online hideaways. And that it does. If you can rewire your brain to understand a clever new twist on the much-loved rules of chess, you should have no trouble in relearning how to put your phone down. The beauty of the Lunchtime Sessions is that they’re enriching: not only can you enjoy some of Bath’s best musical talent for free, you can also make someone’s day by sparking a conversation, and vice versa. In an age of devastating superficiality, this could well be the remedy that we’ve all been looking for.

‘Like a Conversation between Two Games,’ Aran said. Look forward to being back with our 5aside table at @uniofbath soon. Chess and Music is an absolute winner. Connecting students, staff and visitors away from their phones…’  Aran Whelan from 5aside chess.  


Review by student Luke Ballance 27/04/18 BSc Hons Politics and International Relations/ Read more from Luke: OnceUponAGrime

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