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I like running and science and I have no idea what I'm doing with my life. So I'm writing a blog or something.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In which I review Hellacappella, 2011

Last night my mom and I went to Hellacappella at UC Davis, which was basically an acappella concert with groups from UCD, Cal, Stanford, and UC Santa Cruz. Overall, it was very enjoyable and showcased a lot of talent. After we got home, we tried to make a list of all the songs we heard which just proved how bad even our collective short term memory is. And it wasn't as if I only remembered my favorites. I could write down every song of a group I didn't much care for, but for my favorite group, I can only remember one song!

Anway, I should say that I tend to compare almost everything college related to Carleton, and I love Carleton, so I'm a little biased when I say our acappella groups generally put on better shows than Hellacappella. And despite there being in the audience probably more people than the Carleton student body, Carls cheer louder. Then again, it's usually more enjoyable watching people you know perform. Also, I started judging the show pretty harshly since they didn't even have all the seating set up 15 minutes after the show was supposed to start. Then again, for a remodeled building, Freeborn hall is kind of awkward. The use of Christmas lights were nice though. And there was no will-call line- we had to wait in the super long line with people who hadn't bought tickets yet. It was ridiculous. But I digress; now I'm going to break it down group by group in the order they appeared.

(Disclaimer: I may have mixed up a few of the group-song matchings, but this review is from the best of my memory)

The Spokes (female, UCD)
They sang throughout the evening as they were the hosts. Their choreography started out a little rough as they weren't well coordinated which was distracting from the music, but improved a lot by the end (choreography wise anyway). They had a nice sound and did a fun Ridin' Solo/Replay medley, but I'd have to say their best song by a landslide was their Abba medley, which was very well done. Other songs they did: Heartbreaker, King of Anything, Breathless

Stanford Fleet Street (male, Stanford)
These guys were a lot of fun and actually started their set with a song on urinal etiquette. The shortest member of the group had an incredible (and deep) voice and I was very pleasantly surprised that it came from him; I would have like to have heard him featured more. Their inter-song banter was kind of goofy, but they looked like they were having a good time. The last song they sang was a pretty awesome medley of Disney Princess songs.

Acquire (coed, UCSC)
Wearing matching green sweatshirts, they had a pretty solid set. I especially enjoyed their mash-up of Teenage Dream and Just a Dream, mainly because when it melded into Just a Dream, they got really good. They also sang Linkin Park's In the End which grew on me as they were singing it. I think this group started each of their songs a little off, but were able to pull it together and finish strong.

The California Golden Overtones (female, Cal)
There were a few members of this group who had amazing voices; I mean, they were all good, but one in particular actually stood out who soloed on U2's Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. They did a good job with California Girls (especially the Snoop Dogg rap) though some of them couldn't quite get the oooh ooh oh oh oh part (if you know the part after "now put your hands up"). Good choreography though.

Dil Se (coed, Cal)
They were stellar! All around great singers and well done choreography. They're music was, I believe, in Hindu, so I couldn't tell you what they sang, except for the one with Bruno Mar's Grenade. Definitely a different kind of acappella, and even though I generally like hearing songs I know better at an acappella concert, I thoroughly enjoyed Dil Se.

Harmonics (coed, Stanford)
They started with Soul Meets Body, and I really liked the guy's voice who started it, but when it became a duet, the girl kind of overpowered him which I didn't like as much. All around enjoyable performance though with all of their songs (in addition to Soul Meets Body they sang Dreamweaver and something else).

The Liquid Hotplates (coed, UCD)
All I remember from them was their Michael Jackson medley, which was excellent, though they needed to work a little more on when and who should stand where near the mics. Though I feel like I'm more inclined to praise acappella medleys because they tend to show more innovation than just singing a song well.

Men's Octet (male, Cal)
Easily my favorite act of the evening. Every member was very talented and their choreography was fun and diverse. I can't for the life of me remember their first two songs, but their rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody was just incredible. They really made it their own, but in a way that really honored the intensity and emotions of the original Queen version. I would love to see these guys again. (Edit: They also sang Just the Way You Are and Rock With You)

Cloud 9 (coed, UCSC)
Aside from the groan-worthy singing runs in our genes joke (they were all wearing jeans outfits), this was a very talented group. Their first song, Wine Red, was incredibly well done in my opinion. The soloist for You Gotta Be was very talented, but the choreography (and song) was repetitive. Their final song, a tribute to the Backstreet Boys (Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely) and N*SYNC (It's Gonna Be Me) was fun, but it was really their choreography that stood out there.

Artists in Resonance (coed, Cal)
I hate to say it, but I didn't really care for this group. Not because they weren't talented (all around, their singers were very, very good) but they were just kind of bland. Maybe I just didn't care for their song choice or maybe I was just tiring on acappella at this point (but that's unlikely as I just went and watched a bunch of you tube videos of Carleton acappella groups). Their Celebration medley also needed a bit more work- it didn't flow so well. I think their last song was I'll Cover You.

The MCs were pretty entertaining too even if they were a bit over the top. Their rap made me miss Ben's (a member of the Carleton Knights) incredible beatboxing. Also, while I enjoy hearing Top 40 pop hits in acappella, I kind of miss the random indie songs Carleton groups did. Maybe that's why I enjoyed Dil Se so much: they were unique and couldn't pass as just any college acappella group. One thing I did not miss from Carleton is everyone introducing themselves and their majors and year and crap.

In summary:
  • Hellacappella was very entertaining and there was a lot of talent there.
  • It's like Glee or the Sing Off without all the drama or getting to know the groups clips!
  • The Carleton acappella groups will always be better in my opinion, but then I'm biased and will still watch the Knights on youtube, as good ol' Colin Steers of Make Me a Supermodel fame has uploaded most of the concerts from when I was at Carleton.
  • Maybe if I start putting hella in front of everything I can Amy will realize how silly prefixes can be coughamerieverythingcough.
So I'm clearly not a professional music critic and if you made it this far into my post, I commend you. I pretty much wrote this so I can more or less remember the groups than for other people's enjoyment.

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