Villanova A Cappella Shines at Annual Palooza

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For years now, the third weekend of March has been a hectic, yet exciting weekend on Villanova’s campus. All eyes and ears were on Jake Nevin, starting on Friday night. At 7pm, just a few hours before NOVAdance’s 12-hour dance marathon fundraiser, Villanova’s eight a capella groups gathered in Jake Nevin Fieldhouse for their own big event. A Capella Palooza, an annual showcase of some of Villanova’s finest musical talent, is always a hit with students and families alike, and this year was no exception. 

There were several stand out performances, as well as an exciting new addition to the lineup. Villanova’s newest co-ed group, Measure Up, performed at Palooza for the first time ever this year, and its arrival on-stage was highly anticipated. The group was met with huge cheers from the audience. Along with having some impressive arrangements prepared, Measure Up was a very cohesive group on-stage. From its choreography to their awesome vocals, the group radiated enthusiasm and delivered a great first Palooza performance. Its standout performance was a cover of John Legend’s “It Don’t Have to Change,” as it really seemed to exemplify the group’s overall spirit.

The returning A Cappella groups brought their own spark this year as well, and there was no song that left the audience hanging. Nothing But Treble, an all-female group, opened the night with four great performances, perhaps the most notable being Anastasia Perry’s arrangement of Khalid’s “Vertigo”. Its passionate final performance of George Michael’s “Freedom! ‘90” was also spectacular. The Haveners,’ another all-female group, gave a very well-choreographed arrangement of Hozier’s “Movement” by Hailey Clark, featuring some great solos by Amanda Atkinson and Hannah Simon and vocal percussions by Camille Smith. The group concluded their Palooza appearance with an electric performance of Aly & AJ’s “Potential Breakup Song,” arranged by Alicia Kesting and featuring solos by Hannah Snyder and Emily Sgroi. It was clearly the crowd favorite and was brought to life by some awesome choreography. By the end of the song, the audience was ecstatic and the Haveners walked off having dominated the stage.

Perhaps two of the most memorable performances of the night were Vocal Minorities’ arrangements of musical hit “The Greatest Show” and the remarkably energetic “Still feel.” The lattered featured solo performances and vocal percussions by Andrew DelDuca, Dan Timko, Scott Walczyk, Tim Celano and Kyle Garino. The all-male group appeared on stage clad in a flannel uniform, and its energy nearly blew the roof off the building. The group’s appearance certainly ended Act I of Palooza on an exciting note.

The Sirens, another all-female group, opened Act II of the night with a creative arrangement of Post Malone’s “Better Now” with solos by Bethany DeMena and Lizzy Cochrane. This was followed by a remarkable cover of Billie Eilish’s “When the Party’s Over” by Maura Ramsey and, finally, a powerhouse performance of “No Peace” by Valerie Burke and Jackie Koleyas. The Sirens were especially good at engaging with the audience throughout their appearance and, as usual, delivered a very harmonized performance. 

They were followed by the gold and black dressed Minor Problem, a co-ed group. Their set list powerfully demonstrated the range of their talent, featuring Panic! At The Disco’s “Collar Full,” Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat,” and Imagine Dragon’s “Bad Liar.” Each song was marked with some especially powerful performances by group members Anthony Finocchiaro, Madison Barella, Kristen Mahoney, Olivia Skopas and Meg Turner. Minor Problem’s appearance certainly set them as a force to be reckoned with in coming years. 

The Spires, Villanova’s oldest all-male a cappella group, seldom deliver a performance short of electrifying. They walked on-stage dressed in their typical uniform: business professional. “Villanova’s premier fraternity,” as they were introduced by Palooza host Jack Evan, kicked off their set list a spirited arrangement of “Electricity,” originally performed by Dua Lipa and Silk City. 

The solos by Brooks Jalbert and Ned McMann had the audience wanting to sing along all the way through. Their next cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” featured an amazing solo by the Spires’ Joe Verga, and his intensity had every person in the audience on the edge of their seats. The group concluded their Palooza set list with a simple yet stylistic arrangement of Charlie Puth’s “Through It All,” with Tom Sangiorgio on the solo on top of a Continued from 8 great beatbox performance,solo by Joe Verga. Despite the anticipation behind their arrival this year, The Spires did not disappoint, and will undoubtedly continue to be one of the most talented musical presences at Villanova for the foreseeable future.

The Supernovas, a co-ed group, served as the grand finale for the night, and wasted little time on-stage before kicking off with a creative arrangement of Tom Morello’s “Every Step That I Take”. The song had several stand out moments, and group member Claire Gautier’s powerful solo prompted constant applause from the audience throughout. A dramatic duet between students Allison LeBlanc and Julian Bernas to The Fray’s “You Found Me” was one of the most impactful moments of the group’s appearance. Finally, Supernovas member Melissa Molter stunned the audience with an incredible solo to Florence and the Machine’s “End of Love”. The harmonized performance was a perfect conclusion to this year’s concert

As the night drew to a close, A Cappella members made their off-stage into the crowd, greeted by friends and family alike to celebrate a year of hard work. Plenty of pictures were taken and it seemed to be an unspoken agreement that A Cappella Palooza 2019 had been yet another success for one of Villanova’s most lively communities. The crowd was quickly replaced by members of NOVAdance flooding into Jake Nevin, ready to prepare the venue for yet another 12 hours of music and festivity.