As a freshman in the Bison Chips, I was not prepared for the painstaking effort that would go into preparing for and promoting CHIPFEST, nor the hours upon hours of late-night rehearsals and days filled with exhaustion that would signal the imminent arrival of the event. We hurried to advertise the event, putting up posters of our own, and we even tabled in the LC Mall, in full Chips attire, to spread the word of the concert that would be taking place Saturday, April 9th in Trout Auditorium at 7:00 PM.
On the day of the event, I was filled with energy and anxiety, eager to take part in this annual event that is the hallmark of the Chips’ presence on campus. We finished soundcheck and left the venue as doors opened at 6:30 to prepare ourselves. At 7:10, the show began with an intro video produced by freshman Andrew Gray:
As the words “CHIPFEST 2016” hit the screen, the twelve of us rushed into the venue to a bout of applause and took the stage. We settled on stage, took a few sips of water, cleared our throats, and dove into our setlist, beginning with “Renegades” by X Ambassadors, featuring sophomore Will Frost.
The end of the song was met with a wave of rowdy applause, and there was nothing more valuable to us on stage than hearing the audience receive our first song with such energy. Fueled by this, we continued onward with a performance of “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz, arranged by Will Frost and featuring junior Rodney West, who directed his entire performance of the love song to a lucky lady in the first row. Next was our rendition of “Time of the Season” by The Zombies, featuring freshman Nick Talbot who took it upon himself to create the arrangement for the piece. Nick’s incredible stage presence was evocative of the showmanship that the Chips are known for, and the audience was mesmerized by the tenor section’s vocal percussion that completed the song’s smoky tone.
Next, the group performed a medley of Maroon 5 pieces which featured all but a few of our members on solos; it was a crowd pleaser, and our group dynamic really shone through as we rotated around the stage, changing rhythm, tempo, and key many times throughout the piece before finishing the song with a strong staccato beat. We then slowed down to sing “Lullaby” by Josh Groban, a heartfelt tune arranged by our own Sam Cohen and featuring me, Tyler DiBartolo. This song, with its melancholy and riveting harmonies, soothed the audience, and was a perfect transition into the well-known and beloved folk piece “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver, featuring our leader, senior Robbie Johnson, with accompaniment by Sam Cohen and Tom Kroszner. The song ended with a vamped, open-ended chorus where the audience was invited to clap along; Robbie riffed away as he so aptly does, and the rest of the group had free reign to harmonize as their hearts desired, and as the piece ended, the audience exploded, providing the group a moment to take well-deserved 5-minute intermission.
When the Chips returned, we continued with “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, featuring our popular soloist Brendan Trybus. Building on his notoriety gained last year for his heart-melting rendition of “Latch” by Disclosure, Trybus once again received countless oohs and aahhs from the audience. Robbie Johnson then delivered a watertight performance of “Feeling Good” originally by Nina Simone and made famous by Michael Buble.
Then, following Chips tradition, we invited our alumni in the audience to join us on stage to perform our traditional closers, taught to all Chips. We first sang the choral song “Irish Blessing.” We then closed CHIPFEST 2016 with our beloved “Coney Island Baby,” a fun, barbershop-style piece with ample opportunities to entertain onstage. The alumni brought power to the performance, and the audience enjoyed their addition to the event almost as much as we did; we received a grand round of applause, and concluded CHIPFEST 2016.
We were incredibly pleased with the audience turnout, and it put smiles on all of our faces to hear from people that this was a CHIPFEST to be remembered. This being my first CHIPFEST, I know that I will surely remember it forever, and I am glad to have shared it with two inspiring senior members of the group, Robbie Johnson and Tom Kroszner, and the other great guys that made up the 2015-16 Bison Chips.
The Bison Chips are Bucknell University’s premier all-male A Cappella group, pillared by their combination of youthful and charismatic soloists and their zeugmatic ability to sing as an exuberant entity. The group has exuded a harmonious aura of awe-inspiring proclivities at Bucknell University for over 40 years. Info on the group can be found at their website here. They can be also contacted and followed on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.