College and High School A Capella Groups Juxtaposed

The Bare Necessities’ motto is: “Try on a pair of our suspenders, and you’ll never want to take them off.” This past Friday, Phillips Academy a cappella groups Azure and the Yorkies hosted Brown University’s a capella group Bare Necessities and Middlebury College’s Dissipated 8. Anticipation in the air, the lobby of Kemper was full half an hour early with a disproportionately large number of female students crowding the door. Emcee Jane Shin ’08 first made efforts to calm down the excited audience before introducing Azure. Andover’s all-female a cappella group opened the show with a Grasshopper Night favorite, Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman.” Next, Allie Parr ’08 took the lead with Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am,” and Carrie St. Louis ’08 finished the set with a stirring rendition of “Life is a Highway.” Azure was met with raucous applause—which was only stopped by the entrance of a certain male a cappella group. The Yorkies entered Kemper and, clad in wife-beaters, began to sing “I’m Into Something Good.” The group followed up with “For the Longest Time,” a Billy Joel classic sung primarily by Will Burke ’09, and closed their performance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Snow (Hey Oh).” The Bare Necessities followed, jogging into Kemper wearing collegiate button-downs and suspenders. The lead singer suavely slipped on a pair of sunglasses before launching into Tom Petty’s “American Girl.” They transitioned from jazz numbers to “Tempted by the Fruit of Another” and onwards to a medley of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “My Cherie Amour,” and “Superstition,” with a dash of ’N Sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.” Perhaps the most enthusiastic and positive audience response of the night occurred when the Bare Necessities began to sing “The Circle of Life,” complete with interpretive dance—including a riveting scene in which the a cappella group produced a small, stuffed Simba from their ranks. A group of college students clad in suits and ties entered Kemper in sharp contrast to the jokesters that had preceded them. In quintessential prep school seriousness, Middlebury College’s Dissipated 8 began a captivating performance of “I Want to Hold You by the Hand.” Middlebury’s all-male a cappella group was founded in 1952 and has a long tradition and broad repertoire. From U2’s “Running to Stand Still” to the Googoo Dolls’ “Black Balloon,” the Dissipated 8 definitely kept the audience on their toes, especially when the lead singer serenaded Sophie Fourteau ’10, professing his love with “Blue Moon.” “I thought it was really cool that they chose two different groups. The Brown group was sort of relaxed and funny with their suspenders, and the [Middlebury] group was very pristine and their songs and their tone were all… obviously very strongly rehearsed. Both groups had good voices,” said Anneke Heher ’10. Duncan Crystal ’10 and Reid Mosquera ’09, two members of the Yorkies, expressed how beneficial sharing a stage with the two groups was for them. Crystal was impressed with the stage presence of Bare Necessities and Dissipated 8. “I’m a beat-boxer,” said Mosquera ’09. “I talked to [the beat-boxer from the Bare Necessities] afterwards—he gave me a bunch of really cool tips.” “Our group does a lot of New England boarding schools, and we do on campus performances four to five times a year,” said Dan Harburg, a senior member of Middlebury’s a cappella group. The Dissipated 8 performed at Andover’s A Cappella Fest three years ago. “I basically pestered Cindy Efinger until the Student Activities Coordinator slotted the group to perform at Phillips Academy again,” said Dissipated 8’s business manager, Peyton Coles. “We tried to pick songs that the kids would know,” he continued, adding that the song choice is ultimately up to the group’s music director. The a cappella group usually plays at weddings, high schools, retirement homes, elementary schools and events on the Middlebury campus. “We’re proud of the fact that we can entertain a wide spectrum of audiences,” said Dissipated 8 member Roberto Ellis. The Bare Necessities don’t regularly perform at high schools, limiting their performances to once or twice a month. They’re kept busy with shows on the Brown campus as well as at weddings and elementary schools. “Our repertoire is probably four times what we showed you tonight,” said business manager Matt Bauman. The Bare Necessities recently returned from a Spring Break trip to Montreal, where they entertained a whole new audience with their inspired antics and trademark suspenders. When choosing their wardrobes, the Bare Necessities tried fedoras, cummerbunds and cowboy hats, but “when we got to suspenders, we’d found our match,” said Bauman. CDs by the Bare Necessities and the Dissipated 8 are available from the groups’ respective websites. The Dissipated 8 CD can also be purchased from the Middlebury Bookstore.