Acatoberfest presents adept a cappella
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 20:10
Last Sunday, Starving Artists, one of 14 a cappella groups on campus, hosted four a cappella groups at the second-annual Acatoberfest, a fall-themed concert held in the Slosberg Recital Hall. The visiting groups came from several different Boston-area schools, including the Sirens from Simmons College; the Clark Bars from Clark University; Common Sound, a semi-professional Boston-based group and S-Factor from Tufts University.
Each visiting group sang approximately three songs that varied from hip-hop and R&B to gospel, pop and rock. There was a good balance of song genre, with an appropriate emphasis on more recent tunes. Including Starving Artists, there were three mixed-gender groups, while the S-Factor featured solely male singers and the Sirens only female singers. The audience included mostly the visiting groups themselves, although a lot of Brandeis students came out to support their classmates and a surprising number of parents attended the show.
The auditorium was full as Starving Artist senior Abby Armstrong ’13 stepped forward to welcome the audience and introduce the program. Starving Artists began by performing Demian 5’s “When I Am King” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” before visiting groups took the stage.
Armstrong classified the Starving Artists’ rendition of the King’s famous hit as having “a twist.” The students’ bodies swayed as their voices focused on specific notes for a protracted sound, making the song slower and more melodic than the original verson.
The Simmons Sirens were next, warming the crowd up with slower songs before concluding with “Forget You.” The crowd laughed as the lead singer replaced the explicit title of Cee Lo Green’s original song with the censored one in the final verse. The energy in the audience was high but not as noticeable as when the Clark Bars took the stage. The singers’ vocal quality matched the crowd’s reaction of smiles and approving yells.
When contacted via email, Starving Artists member Marlee Rosenthal ’14, who helped organize Acatoberfest, said that this year’s event was similar to last year’s with a main exception: “What made this year’s concert even more special was that ‘Common Sound’, a Semi-pro a cappella group, performed. Common Sound includes three Brandeis alumni—one of them being Andrew Litwin ’12, who was the Starving Artists’ music director ’08-’11!” It was clear when Common Sound took the stage that Rosenthal wasn’t the only one happy to have Brandeis singers back on campus. The Starving Artists playfully introduced the alumni individually and the crowd cheered.
Each group sang at least one mainstream song and took visible efforts to get the audience members involved. At one point, a majority of the audience was waving their hands back and forth to the beat of “Big Poppa,” a song originally by The Notorious B.I.G, performed by S-Factor. A Clark Bars singer urged the audience to “join me” before he hit the chorus of the Mumford & Sons song “The Cave.” In addition, there seemed to be no lack of Adele’s influence in the a cappella song choices. Three different groups, including Starving Artists, performed her popular hits including “Set Fire to the Rain” and “Someone Like You.”
The Starving Artists closed the hour-and-a-half long performance the same way they opened it—in song.
Although this only marks Acatoberfest’s second year, the tradition seems to be lively and likely to survive. Rosenthal says that planning in advance is essential, and it is all worth it. “Once reservations are in place, it’s all about advertising—creating a Facebook event, updating Twitter, publicizing around campus with flyers, etc.”
Rosenthal worked with Starving Artists’ events coordinator Alex Kwatcher ’14 and business manager Armstrong to make the show run smoothly. Aside from a few minor and brief technical difficulties faced by visiting groups, like microphone detachments, the evening ran rather smoothly.
So what will we do now that the lights have dimmed and the curtains closed?
“Count down to 3rd Annual Acatoberfest—364 days!” Rosenthal told the Justice.