Acappellapalooza: the show must go on

Hannah Misner

Villanova’s 10th annual Acappellapalooza met with unforeseen challenges this past Friday. First, the men’s basketball team’s greatly anticipated first-round NCAA tournament game was scheduled to begin halfway through the concert. So as not to dissuade basketball fans, the time of the show was bumped up from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m., so students would be out in time to catch the tip-off. Second, Mother Nature threw the Northeast a curve ball with sudden hail and slush, forcing the University to close early at 1:30 p.m. Nonetheless, the show did go on, and a cappella music resounded through the Villanova Room. The event showcased the talents of Villanova’s six a cappella groups: The Sirens, The Spires, The Haveners, Vocal Minority, Nothing But Treble and Supernovas.

The show opened with a performance by a mixed ensemble comprised of selected members from the different a cappella groups. A spirited rendition of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” by Paul Simon gave the crowd a taste of what was to come. It was immediately obvious this would be an enjoyable show. Many from the audience walked away humming the tunes and wishfully picturing themselves on stage since the performers looked like they were having so much fun.

The Sirens were next to take the stage. The all-girl group and newest addition to Villanova’s a cappella community managed to transform Fall Out Boy’s single “This Ain’t a Scene” into a cappella music. The piece stood out because this breed of pop-punk, synthesized-rock music seemed an unlikely choice for an a cappella concert. Nonetheless, The Sirens had dissected the many sounds of the song and successfully delivered the choppy melody.

The all-male Spires performed “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors. The energy of the feel-good song was certainly captured by the Spires as they rocked the room. In between songs, the guys performed a comedic song/skit, describing their “man love” for one another, including matching Bert and Ernie tattoos on two groupmates. This “man love” must have been what made them appear so cohesive and happy during their performance.

The Haveners, another all-female group, opened with “C’est la Vie” by the Irish pop group Bewitched in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day. The appropriateness of the song struck a chord with the audience, especially when one member performed part of an Irish step dance in the middle of the performance. Their energy spread through the room as the crowd couldn’t help but tap their toes … and wish they were Irish.

The final all-male group, Vocal Minority, transformed Linkin Park and Jay Z’s collaboration “Numb/Encore” into an interesting a cappella sound. It was interesting to see how they handled such a mixed and synthesized piece. Not only was it hilarious to hear Villanova boys shouting “Cookin’ raw with the Brooklyn boy,” but it was also impressive how they brought the song into a new dimension. It was amazing how a dozen talented vocalists can sound so much better than a synthesizer.

Nothing But Treble, the final all-female group, literally shook the microphones with its version of “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. The performance was vivacious and made me want to get up and jump around. The girls had a heartfelt classic rock performance that exuded the same emotions as AC/DC’s Brian Johnson’s lively voice. Although a girl was singing the words, they had the same impact. I think AC/DC would have been proud – surprised, yet proud.

The final group, Supernovas, brought a new dynamic to the concert because it is the only co-ed a cappella group on campus. Thus, it was able to create broader sounds with such a variety of voice tones. Fittingly, it performed a male-female duet to showcase both its male and female voices. Supernovas chose “One Love” by U2 featuring Mary J. Blige, which was a charming piece that sent a warm feeling running down the aisles.

With today’s artificial, studio-made music, Acappellapalooza was a refreshing concert that proved that people alone can make music sound incredible. It is hard to imagine the time and effort that went into the arrangements of these songs to make them sound so much like the originals. With no instruments other than their mouths, these talented groups made the audience want to laugh, cry and get up and dance … and wish they could sing that well.