By Jay Marks HMC ‘19
On Monday, Sept. 7, over 200 students packed into the basement of Marks Hall on the Claremont McKenna campus for the first of three a cappella sampler concerts. These concerts exist as the first opportunity for the eight groups on campus to perform. Not only that, first years are able to research the various groups and decide which ones they may want to audition for. The basement was full of upperclassmen who expressed eagerness to see their friends perform, as well as first years gathered near the front, appearing excited for their first taste of the collegiate a cappella experience.
The Monday concert began with Midnight Echo’s performances of “Runaway” by Bruno Mars and Beyoncé’s “If I Were A Boy.” The soloists had steady, full voices, and the final chord of “If I Were A Boy rang out,” causing a moment of pause before applause. The Ninth Street Hooligans, dressed in purple and black, took the floor next. With the soloist’s first few words of Sam Smith’s “I Know I’m Not the Only One,” a collective gasp spread across the room. Strong vocal percussion was prominent throughout the two songs. The Hooligans ended their set with a jazzy, sensual cover of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend.” Mood Swing wrapped up as the final group of the night, performing Lorde’s “Team,” “A Change In My Life” by Rockapella and “East of Eden” by Zella Day. The group had a full, rounded sound, making the performances strong.
Tuesday brought a change to the a cappella scene as students instead gathered on the steps outside Frary Dining Hall at Pomona. The concert kicked off with an instrumental song done by KChords. They followed up the song with an arrangement of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Claremont Shades was hot on their heels with captivating performances of “Sing About It” by The Wood Brothers and “Say You Love Me” by Jessie Ware. Though the smallest group among the eight on campus, Shades had a powerful tone and great musicality. The final performers of the night on Tuesday were the After School Specials, more commonly referred to as ASS. Strong musicality and top-notch vocal percussion were present throughout their covers of Laura Welsh’s “Break The Fall” and “Nirvana” by Sam Smith.
Wednesday night brought the final a cappella sampler concert of the week, kicking it off with Men’s Blue and White covering “Black & Gold” by Sam Sparro. This was followed by an energetic performance of “Enormous Penis” by the Singing Eye Dogs that led to giggles throughout the audience. Women’s Blue & White reigned the audience back in with a captivating cover of “Wisely & Slow” by The Staves. The group ended their set with Sia’s “Elastic Heart,” featuring a soloist with a quality of voice not unlike a clearer Sia.The night was wrapped up with additional appearances of Mood Swing and Midnight Echo, performing the same pieces they had on the Monday concert.
All groups encouraged students to audition on Saturday, Sept. 12, to fill the spots left by graduated seniors.