‘Let’s get it started!’ an A Cappella Palooza review

Elliot Williams

The line stretched from the door of Jake Nevin, went around the curb and down the sidewalk of Lancaster Ave. Yet, this is nothing new. Palooza has always drawn huge crowds of students from every class. 

On Friday, March 18, what made A Cappella Palooza such a spectacle were the added elements of dance, personal microphones for each performer and comedic music videos and skits featuring talented senior hosts Thomas Rodriguez and Alissa Foti.

Months of preparation paid off for the seven student-run a cappella groups with a night full of power performances that left songs stuck in students’ heads for all of Easter break.

The personal microphones allowed groups to be more dynamic and engaged with the audience.

“Having personal mics was a total game changer,” said Meghan Travers of the Sirens. “All the groups had choreography which added a new visual element to the performances, and the sound was on a whole new level. Not to mention, I felt like a rock star.”

Other groups felt the same but added that there was a new pressure to perform more precisely than in past years.

“Preparation was a bit scarier than usual because every voice was going to be amplified,” said senior Tatum Murray, president of the Supernovas co-ed a cappella group. “We would hold water bottles or our phones during rehearsals just to get used to that. But we knew the sound was going to be so much better, and I just thought it made for a more entertaining show.”

The experience was bittersweet, says Murray, who was excited to perform what she calls one of the Supernovas’ best sets since she joined the group freshman year, but it also represented one of her last a cappella performances at Villanova. 

“Let’s get it started, HA! Let’s get it started in HERE!” sang the seniors during their energetic opening song, a mash up of the Black Eyed Peas’ ’03 hit and “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys. This song translated into the energy that carried on throughout the event, which drew a crowd of over 1,200.

“The senior song was incredibly fun to perform because it’s about bringing all the groups together,” Travers said. “I’ll definitely be nostalgic at some point, but Friday night was all about having fun and enjoying all the performances.”

Each group pulled from different genres, subject matters and generations of music. Highlights from the all-female groups were the Sirens’ soulful “Roses/Love Yourself” mash up, the Haveners’ sassy rendition of “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” by Shania Twain and Adele’s “Water Under the Bridge,” performed by Nothing But Treble.

Jake Nevin felt like a great night at Kelly’s when co-ed group  Minor Problem  performed an amped up version of Flo Rida’s, “Club Can’t Handle Me.” The Supernovas’ beautiful cover of “Runnin’ (Lose It All)” would have made Queen Bey very proud. 

The fellas brought the swag this year, rapping and singing songs like “Trap Queen,” covered by the Spires, and a killer performance of “Can’t Hold Us” by Minor Problem. All were impressed by the ability of these groups to utilize the stage and deliver tongue-twisting bars.

Experience wasn’t the most important factor, because freshmen and new members were as integral to each group’s performances as the veterans were. 10 of the 22 performances featured one or more freshmen soloists.

Sure, each set had a few hiccups here and there – occasionally, there was loud feedback from the mics getting too close to speakers – but most mistakes were hardly noticeable and didn’t distract from the overall strength of the concert.

Palooza had a special element of charity this year, as Rodriguez and Foti gave a presentation for SREHUP, the Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia, which helps shelter people experiencing homelessness. SREHUP accepted donations before, during and after Palooza, and received $361 in total, showcasing the positive influence of the arts and student-run organizations on our campus.