Last Saturday marked the 11th annual “Monsters of a cappella” concert. The show featured a unique blend of talent from various Midwestern universities. Gathered together to raise money for the Ozone House, a home for troubled teens in Ann Arbor, five groups provided the audience with a night of musical antics that were both fun and philanthropic.
The show opened with The Friars, an animated all-male ensemble. From their rather “monstrous” version of Dion”s “Runaround Sue” to a cover of Neil Diamond”s “Sweet Caroline,” The Friars were upbeat and humorous throughout the show. These men do not only sing, but dance as well. Their version of the Motown classic “Ain”t Too Proud” was lively and energetic, highlighting the many talents of these performers. Their sound is incredibly strong, and they successfully create a wonderful blend of their voices throughout their performance. Especially notable was the piece “Lonesome Road.” Its tone was beautiful and melancholy, and the featured soloist was excellent. The Friars proved that they truly are “the best seven-member octet around.”
The Harmonettes, the University”s only all-female a cappella group, premiered next. These chic ladies made for a fun and upbeat performance as well. Their songs allowed the talents of a number of singers to stand out, and their diverse musical repertoire highlighted the unique talents of each singer. The song “Our Children” featured a crisp blend of harmonies, as did “The Storm is Passing Over.” Their cover of “Breathless,” a recent hit by The Coors, was extremely good, featuring an impressive solo performance.
The Acafellas, an outstanding male ensemble from Michigan State University performed next. Beginning their performance with an upbeat version of the song “Celebrate,” these suit-clad gentlemen certainly looked like ones that any girl would want to bring home to her mother. Their musical repertoire is incredibly diverse, and each song allowed the incredible talents of these singers to be showcased. Their rendition of Bruce Springsteen”s “Secret Garden” was sweet, yet incredibly beautiful, highlighting the strong, clear sound of the group. Their animated cover of David Lee Roth”s “Just a Gigolo” brought the house down, and the song entitled “The Tale of Tommy and Gina in ballad form,” (Bon Jovi”s “Living on a Prayer”), was absolutely hysterical. Although they are Spartans, their performance more than made up for this fact.
The next group featured was the Ripcords, a female group from the University of Illinois. These girls are also invited to become honorary Wolverines, and their performance was excellent. Clad in black and white striped apparel, their version of Madonna”s “Vogue” resembled a dancing scene out of the movie “Austin Powers.” They performed a powerful rendition of “Witness,” by Sarah McLachlan, highlighting their incredible solo skills. The girls claim their final number, a version of the Beatles” “Yesterday,” as their theme song. The song featured strong, clear harmonies and crisp, precise rhythms. Although they were not performing on their own turf, these girls definitely shined in Ann Arbor.
The final group to perform was Amazin” Blue, the University”s oldest a cappella group. They live up to their name, because they truly are amazing. Their performance featured the song “Cowboy Take Me Away,” an Amazin” Blue classic, and a favorite among their fans. The song “She,” an upbeat, almost Rent-like song, highlighted both the animated and the professional style of the group. Most notable, however, were the songs “Why Should I Cry for you” (a Sting cover) and “Forgiveness” (originally sung by Patty Griffin). Both songs featured outstanding soloists, and the accompaniment voices were well-blended and strong. Their final number, however, could simply not be topped: “N*Sync”s “Bye Bye Bye,” complete with the dance from the music video. Their rendition was as good, if not better, than the original version, and the featured soloist could certainly pass for a member of “N*Sync any day. Overall, their performance was excellent, and made for an enjoyable and fun experience.
The “Monsters of a cappella” was a wonderful show, featuring the diverse talents of a number of musicians. The performances proved to be interesting and exciting from beginning to end, an overall successful night of fun and philanthropy to all in attendance.