A Capella Fest: A Night Of Unaccompanied Music

This past Saturday, PA’s a cappella groups, Azure and the Yorkies, acted as openers for the guest four-person a cappella group, Blue Jupiter. Barefoot and clad in blue dresses, Azure pranced onto the Kemper stage as the opening act for the A Capella Fest with a beautiful, slightly melancholy version of “Mr. Sandman.” Lily Shaffer ’10, a member of Azure, said, “Nailing Sandman was my favorite part because we were working on it for so long – we worked on it for weeks and weeks. There are really hard harmonies, and it was just really satisfying to get it done.” Shaffer added that the night “was a great chance for us to do some performing. We [constantly] look for more [opportunities].” Azure then launched into two upbeat Mika tunes, Happy Ending and Grace Kelly. Though the groups are usually provided mics, there were no mics at this event, so the solos were drowned out by the background harmony. “Usually we have [a mic],” said Shaffer. Alex Gottfried ’09, a member of the Yorkies, added that the performers were only told right before the performances that they would not have mics. He said, “That made the solos hard to hear, especially mine, since it was in a low register.” Nevertheless, the night was “delightful.” Ellie DiBerardino ’09, co-head of Azure, said, “I’m very proud of our girls and I think they did a wonderful performance.” DiBeradino gushed that she “loved not wearing shoes, that’s how I prefer to perform anyway.” The Seniors concluded Azure’s performance with a moving interpretation of Mika’s “Happy Ending” before the Yorkies came onstage – changing up the mood with a smooth and hilarious transition from Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl.” Each song was accompanied by energetic gesticulation and snapping. Because Faiyad Ahmad ’10 was unable to attend the performance, Duncan Crystal ’10 stepped in for his solo and delivered a vigorous, playful interpretation of “Stand By Me.” “Duncan also stepped it up big by filling in for Faiyad,” Gottfried said. “And it was cool to get a shout-out from Blue Jupiter about my solo.” The Blue Jupiter entrance was stunning when the group came crashing into the scene with “Life is a Highway.” Blue Jupiter toured in China for a few months, playing 200 shows in six weeks. The group won the Oreo theme song contest with their impressive musical flair. “They’re not a capella!” audience member Micere Johnson ’10 said, her eyebrows arching up her forehead. It was hard to believe –Marty Gasper’s beat boxing could have easily been mistaken for a hidden back track. Amazingly, Blue Jupiter was “100 percent live – no tricks, no tracks – just four mouths and four mics.” Gottfried said, “The beat boxer was absolutely unreal.” “The beat boxer,” said Crystal, “was the most entertaining part of the act…but I was disappointed with the song selection and some of their gimmicks.” Song after song was astonishing. “Hey Mr. Pantstripe Suit,” was especially catchy, with its upbeat swing. It was funny but a little corny when they pretended their mics were instruments, tapping on their faux-tubas and banging on the air as if playing an invisible drumset. Their giddy performance of Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten” had everyone on the edges of their seats, clapping to the beat. Calista Small ’10 waved her arms around enthusiastically and let out a loud whoop. Everyone on stage left and Gasper was left alone for his solo. Not only is he an amazing beat boxer but he’s also a comedian. “He reminds me a bit of Jim Gaffigan,” Small proclaimed. He went from doing the Jaws theme song to acting like a chicken to having the entire audience mimic his “ts ts ts” technique. The girl behind me let out a shriek of “holy crap and a half!” and burst into a fit of giggles. The entire group danced back onstage to receive their well-deserved standing ovation. At the end of the performance, Jane Thomas ’10 said, “All I could think about throughout Marty’s performance was how annoying it must have been for his mother [before he became famous)]– I mean, you can take drums away from a kid but not his mouth!”