On the fifth day of the On The Rocks Festival, good coffee and even greater music united for a laid-back A Cappella Sofa Sessions, hosted at Rector’s Café.

After finding a seat in the ever-busy cafe, it became clear as I observed some students burrowed away in their work, or families in deep in conversation, that a large proportion of the café’s customers were unaware about what the next hour had in store for them. The element of surprise, however, made the A Cappella society’s event even more of a success in my opinion, as people of all ages paused their conversations and closed their laptops to relish in some amazing music performed by talented singers.

Five groups from the A Cappella Society, some mixed groups and some single-sex, performed for the growing crowd. The BELLS opened the event, starting with crowd favourite ‘Blinded By Your Grace Pt. 2’, by Stormzy ft MNEK. Murmurs across the café could be heard, filled with praises of their song choices, and the quality of their vocals.

Next, The Other Guys stepped up, holding the attention of the already captivated audience. The all-male a cappella group performed four songs to the crowd, most notably an arrangement of Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’, performed in its original Spanish lyrics. Looking around, the room was filled with people tapping their feet, and singing along to the undeniably catchy chorus.

Mixed a cappella group The Alleycats followed, performing songs from a variety of genres.  A personal favourite of mine was their arrangement of some of Fleetwood Mac’s greatest hits, which was skillfully arranged and wonderfully performed.

All female a cappella group The Accidentals came fourth in the running order, entertaining the crowd with the most contemporary set of songs that afternoon.  Their mash-up of Little Mix’s ‘Wings’, with Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World (Girls)’ ended their set, ensuring the crowd was left on a high, with a message of female empowerment.

The final group that afternoon was The Hummingbirds.  In some ways the informality of the event, though one of its strengths, was also its only downfall.  The relaxed structure, in which there was no host overseeing the event, meant that the elongated pause in-between the The Accidentals and The Hummingbirds left many guests assuming the showcase was over, and so numbers began to dwindle.  This was to their loss though, as The Hummingbirds performed wonderfully.  Their arrangement of Alt-J’s ‘Dissolve Me’ was well worth the wait, and arguably was one of the most impressive performances of the entire Sofa Sessions.

Rector’s café made an ideal setting for the a cappella entertainment.  The size of the room allowed for the singer’s voices to fill the room without overpowering it, ensuring that a cosy and relaxed environment was provided.

Overall, the A Cappella Sofa Sessions was a resounding success. The rainy grey afternoon seen outside from the cosy warmth of Rector’s café only made the good coffee and high calibre of vocal talent here in St Andrews more entertaining and worthwhile of attendance.

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