B.A.C.E.S. Concert: A Night for the Books

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The weather may be below zero, but things were getting hot in the Campus Theater this past Friday evening. Beyond Unison, The Silhouettes, The Bison Chips, The Offbeats, and Two Past Midnight all performed various arrangements of pieces both modern and classic. With a line pouring out the door and seats filled almost completely, it was definitely the place to be. That being said, I do have mixed reviews upon each group that performed. Let’s dive into it.

The Offbeats

They opened the concert with an endearing classic, “You’re All I Need To Get By,” originally sung by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. While it was sweet and heart warming, it was incredibly somber and did not necessarily carry out much passion that is expected of an a cappella group’s rendition of a ballad. They moved on with popular hits, “Feel Again” by One Republic and “Roar” by Katy Perry. Both pieces picked up the pace and reengaged the audience, pulling in strong vibrato and crescendo, one of the most advantageous effects of an a cappella groups. They ended with “Team” by Lorde, which carried great dynamic sound and a strong lead, but lacked in background percussion. Overall, mildly disconnected but with some redeeming qualities.

Beyond Unison

Wow. Just wow. I was left absolutely breathless by the end of their performance, longing for more of the entire ensemble. They were bone chilling, heart warming, fluid, and unified, a fitting name I suppose. They started out with “Below My Feet” by Mumford and Sons, mesmerizing the crowd with their unbelievable trio. The harmonization alone was unparalleled. Constant goose bumps. They moved on to a lighter, comedic rendition of “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus. What an arrangement; lead vocals were strong, maintaining an amazing range, while the background percussions added significant layers. What came next was easily the biggest plot twist I’ve encountered in my 19 years. A petite Alli Aaron takes front and center to perform “Bottom of the River” originally by Delta Rae. Good god, the voice that emerged was beyond my wildest expectations. A powerhouse if I’ve ever seen one, she has it all: range, vibrato, DYNAMICS, passion, fire, and the ability to make Chuck Norris cry at the sheer beauty that is her vocal ability. Wow.

Two Past Midnight

While they had a tough act to follow, they absolutely held their own. Mary Oluokon started out with “Treasure” by Bruno Mars, bringing soulfulness, fluidity and passion to the forefront of their arrangement. She channeled Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera in her undertones, all the while making it her own. They moved onto “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus, melodically matching her, but uprooting better range and dynamics. It was soft when it needed to be, but they pulled through with unmatched crescendos. A musical rollercoaster, for sure. They ended with “Pompeii” by Bastille. It was nearly identical to the original, if not better with a strong background beat box and all around pervasive percussion. It was breathy and expressive, with pillow-y harmonies. Bravo, guys.

The Silhouettes

I am certainly one to enjoy mash-ups in all of their creative, seamless glory. However when The Sils opened up with a “Rolling in the Deep/Crazy” mash-up I was left feeling unimpressed with the soloists and their inability to take advantage of this potential stunner. Regardless, their beat boxer is unreal. I mean someone seriously sign her, she killed it, both this song and the rest of their performance. The followed with “Royals” by Lorde, which, both fortunately and unfortunately, was heavily dominated with beat boxing. It veiled the soloist’s capability to have any sort of dynamic. Good vibrato, though. Finally, they ended on a redeeming note, with a mash-up of Beyonce’s “Countdown/Survivor”. All hail Queen Bey and The Silhouette’s for this one, it was truly reflective of their talent as a unified whole. It featured soloists who not only channeled Bey on this one, but also carried out strong vibrato and key changes. Hair was absolutely standing on edge after this one. Overall, the performance slightly lackluster and an underuse of talent.

The Bison Chips

As classic as your grandfather’s gin & tonic. These fine gents glided onto stage with clad in navy blazer and fire in their eyes, grabbing the hearts of damn near everyone in the audience. They started out with “Hodja” by Todd Rundgren, conjuring up images of classic barbershop quartets, only with eleven voices instead of a measly four. It was both dynamic and endearing. Next, they jumped right in with “My Girl” by The Temptations. The soloist’s voice was rich and smooth like molten dark chocolate, with supportive background tones. Unreal. Switching gears, they jumped into Red Hot Chili Pepper’s classic “The Other Side”. With a voice as fiery as his hair, soloist Justin Honigstein kills it, paying homage to the tune all the while making it his own. Melodic and fierce, with subtle undertones of Dave Matthews and Ed Helms and perhaps a little Darius Rucker even. A powerful refrain and overall crowd appeal. Next, Tommy Kroszner took front and center to sing “Up The Ladder To The Roof”, which was surprisingly charming and mystifying all at the same time. Unreal key changes. This piece frames the talent of the entire group and their ability to harmoniously unify themselves. In true Chips fashion, they left the concert on a comedic note with their signature “Coney Island Baby”.

Needless to say, it was a night to remember, featuring some of the best talent we have right in our very own backyard.