Acappellooza 2013 hits the perfect chord

By Jenny Rae

Shaina Mishkin/Collegian

Opened by The Vocal Suspects to a packed Bowker Auditorium, Acappellooza 2013 packed a punch from the very beginning. The event, hosted by Jarrod Stein and Jesse Carrillo of the group, brought the University of Massachusetts’ many a cappella groups together last Wednesday night for a very special night of music.

Wicked Pitch, who took to the stage for the first full performance of the night in green attire, began its performance with Phil Rosario leading the ensemble in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” mashed up with John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.” The set became all the more enthralling when the comedic bunch sang Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” mixed with Kanye West’s “Heartless,” complete with a hilarious skit mocking West’s invasion of the stage at the 2009 “MTV Video Music Awards,” when Swift accepted the award for “Best Female Video.”

Up next was S#arp Attitude, the “most groovy all-female a cappella group,” according to the hosts. The fierce females opened by sitting on the edge of the stage, sharing a calm intimacy with those in the crowd, while senior Storie Libbey, emulating Anna Kendrick in the 2012 hit movie “Pitch Perfect,” hit the ground with a cup to provide the backbeat to a gentle cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.” With flowers behind their ears, singing beautiful harmonies, the girls provided a soothing buoy in a sea of amped-up energetic songs. Next came the group’s version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” with beatboxer Melinda Packer providing vocal percussion. Other highlights included the group’s electrifying rendition of” Lady Marmalade,” invoking a ripple of applause for the “13 chicks with attitude.”

The UMass Dynamics took to the stage next. Dressed in attention-grabbing red and black, the Dynamics charmed the crowd with foot-stomping, beatboxing and “shhh”ing, empowering the group’s atmospheric assortment of songs ranging from Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River,” to a snippet of “Wade in the Water,” to Lupe Fiasco’s “Daydreamin’.” Music director Katrina Turner’s voice especially radiated through the power of the chorus.

After a 10 minute intermission, the hosts exclaimed, “Suspects assemble!” prompting The Vocal Suspects to congregate on the stage in superhero poses. With a sultry stare to the audience, soloist Emily Henriksen sang a stunning version of Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl.” Mike Mosca then led the emotionally charged performance of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris.” Prompting tears and collective cheering, the floppy haired crooner’s smooth tones tugged at the heartstrings.

Moving on swiftly, all-male YouTube sensations The Doo Wop Shop – who have earned more than 3.5 million views with “Disney Medley” – entered the stage to raucous applause. The members different colored ties shined like an a cappella rainbow. Following a swoon-worthy interpretation of “My Girl,” dedicated to a lady in the audience with a boy band medley, the group was met by a standing ovation and floated with fluid, perfect harmonies. The medley was a tremendous success, especially senior Ronald Vorce’s comedic dancing during the group’s rendition of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.” Following the set, Facebook page UMass Flirts sizzled with ladies hoping to get their hands on these a cappella kings.

Packer, who had performed with S#arp Attitude, made a second appearance with the arrival of UMass’ premier Jewish a cappella group, Kolot. The two guys and seven girls hushed the audience with their beautifully arranged covers of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” as well as more traditional Jewish hymns, one of which they sang in Hebrew.

UMass’ newest a cappella group, The Hexachords, sprang into action toward the end of the show with Karmin’s “Brokenhearted,” led by Anna Morsillo. In the words of the hosts, these five guys and two girls proved that “good things do in fact come in small packages.” Bounding around, bursting with energy, they followed this with Jessie J’s “Who You Are,” and then a mash-up of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” with the refrain of Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” With their voices blending together brilliantly, stomping and fists in the air, the group members exuberated years and years of experience, defying their new-ness.

Carrillo concluded this part of the show with a heartfelt soliloquy about the role of music in uplifting people despite personal tragedies. Describing it as “the messenger of love and peace,” he illustrated the healing and happiness potential that music has in the face of adversity.
The finale then brought every UMass a cappella group together to sing Earth, Wind and Fire’s upbeat “September.” Acappellooza brought together a union of singer and viewer, freshman and senior, old and modern, into a stunning harmony that left everyone moved by the experience.

For those that couldn’t make it, a plethora of individual concerts are happening this week, as well as albums being released in the near future. Check the respective Facebook pages of the groups for more details.

Jenny Rae can be reached at [email protected]