As I did two years ago, I am reviewing/recapping Hellacappella, an acappella show put on by The Spokes, a group from UCDavis. This year the show was held in the Mondavi Center and I went with my mom, sister, a cousin, and a friend. Since two years ago I had trouble remembering the songs all the groups performed, this year I brought a pen to the concert to help me keep track. At intermission I realized my pen was not working and the song titles I thought I had been scribbling down in the dark, were actually just dents in the paper. I learned in the second half that (once my pen was working) I could barely read what I wrote in the dark anyway.
And now: the music!
Well, first the emcees.
Birdstrike Theater, UCD's improv comedy troupe, started off with a little sketch about acappella that was pretty entertaining and then introduced each group with some often over the top punny jokes about the groups name.
The Spokes (female, UCDavis)
The Spokes hosted the concert, so they started and ended the show. They were overwhelmingly girly. I'm not saying that in a bad way, they just were: their outfits, their dance moves, even their song choices, just super girly. They sang a couple of songs I had seen them perform a few weeks ago, and then some new ones (to me, anyway). They did a mash up with Taylor Swift's We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and All American Reject's Gives You Hell that was kind of annoying only because I hate that T.Swift song and they had to do the dumb talking thing in the song.
Songs performed: Sweet Caroline, Us Against the World, No More I Love Yous, and a couple of other songs I can't remember the names of
UC Men's Octet (male, Cal)
Two years ago, these guys were my favorite, mostly for their excellent rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. And they did not disappoint this year. Every member was great and their choreography did not seem forced as most do to some extent. Their version of Wagon Wheel was, while lovely, a bit underwhelming, but that might be due to how much that song was played at Carleton and the associations/memories/nostalgia hearing it brings me. They really shined in singing *NSYNC, though.
Songs performed: I Want You Back, Wagon Wheel, Tearin' Up My Heart
Dil Se (coed, Cal)
They were my favorite group of the evening. They mix Hindi Film Music with western music and it is both unique and very well done. They made me enjoy a Justin Bieber song, and that takes real talent.
Songs performed: a song all in Hindu that I didn't know, a mash up with As Long as You Love Me, and a mash up of Party Rock Anthem and a Bollywood number I'm guessing is called something like I Hate Love Stories.
On the Rocks (male, University of Oregon)
These guys were fabulous in every sense! They looked like they were having a blast, their choreography was fun, and they sure could sing! Their first song was by far my favorite, which was surprising as I had never heard it before since it was country (I usually strongly prefer acappella when I know the songs the group is covering). The other two songs were great too, and they blew Bruno Mars out of the water with their version of Locked Out of Heaven, in my opinion.
Songs performed: Natural Disaster, Can't Take My Eyes off of You, Locked Out of Heaven
Liquid Hotplates (coed, UCDavis)
They only sang one song: a mash up of The Cure and Adele. It was a good thing they were mashed up, because otherwise, despite the nice singing, both songs would have gotten old before they finished.
Songs performed: Lovesong/Rolling in the Deep
DeCadence (coed, Cal)
They wore capes and were quite enjoyable. I like how they made Ain't No Mountain High Enough their own, though I bet the jab at Stanford gets a better reception at Cal. I don't care for Kimbra, but the girl who sang her song sounded great. Their real masterpiece, however, was the Ke$ha/One Direction mashup. I mean, it's Ke$ha. And One Direction. But it's acappella and I don't have to pretend to have better music taste.
Songs performed: Ain't no Mountain High Enough, Settle Down, Die Young/Live While We're Young/Good Feeling
Overtones (female, Cal)
They were pretty solid. I liked their song selection, though while Cry Me a River started out strong, the chorus sort of fell apart (and maybe it was just a bad arrangement). The main girl singing Barton Hollow really stood out though, and that song was far and away their best.
Songs performed: Eye of the Tiger, Cry Me a River, Barton Hollow
Cloud 9 (coed, UC Santa Cruz)
They dressed as tourists (like the ridiculous over-the-top-socks-and-sandals type) and did a cute bit in the middle about taking a group shot at the Mondavi Center. I didn't recognize any of their songs, except vaguely one. But they were good and had some very strong voices in the group. They utilized the entire stage for their choreography- much more so than any group except maybe Dil Se.
Songs performed: Nature Boy and two others I didn't recognize.
And that was it! All in all a very enjoyable performance with a lot of good vocal cords present. The proceeds from the show went to Teach For America. While I applaud The Spokes for the gesture and supporting education, I have mixed feelings about TFA, mainly from my sister's much more educated views on the program and why it might not be the best (though for that, you'll have to ask her over at Elementary, My Dear.)