Id (technomonkey) wrote,

A Cappella week

Last weekend, self and I went to see an a cappella concert in Santa Barbara.  (Tried contacting some of you as we drove past, but nobody answered their phones)  Two groups performed: UCSB's Naked Voices and Yale's Society of Orpheus and Baccus (who, despite having been around for 68 years, don't seem to have an online presence).  Managed to convince Tiffany to join us for the concert (no clue how that worked - one minute she was telling me how tired she was, the next she was on her way.  Somehow I won, but I don't think I could recreate it if I tried).  As it turns out, it wasn't a great concert, and started at 9 when we were expecting it to start at 8.  Good experience for the company, though.

The SOBs (strangely, that's actually how the Yale group got their name in the first place, so they don't take any offense to being referred to that way) opened with a jazz piece that I liked quite a bit - very clean, tight harmonies, strong soloists jumping back and forth, etc.  If they had a CD with them that had that one on it, I'd have bought it on the spot.  Most of their other songs were disappointing after that opener, though - pretty straightforward, with their soloists being a mixed bag.  Their background vocals were well done, but lacked energy.  For the most part, they were in their box and didn't step out of it.  Straightforward arrangements of straightforward music - mostly religious in nature but not all.  In their second set, however, they did a Tenacious D song that came out of nowhere and was great.  Then went directly back in their box.  On the whole, I'm glad I saw them but not saddened that I didn't walk away with any CDs.

Naked Voices' biggest problem was their sound guy.  Somebody needs to tell him that just because there are three people holding microphones, that doesn't necessarily mean there are only three people making sound.  For the most part, all that was audible was the vocal percussionist, the bass (except for that one song where he wasn't too sure of his part) and the soloist.  I got the impression that they had good arrangements, but had no evidence to back that impression up.  There also seemed to be some sync issues that probably stemmed from them hearing each other as well as the audience could hear them.  Similarly, there wasn't a whole lot of energy behind songs that really needed it (Bring Me To Life, for example), and their expression didn't always fit the music they were singing.  They were obviously having fun, though, and that mood is really infectious, so it was enjoyable.  I'd show you pictures, but the lighting was too dark for any of them to come out.

Tonight, Jen and I went to see UCLA Awaken A Cappella's winter concert, with a guest group from Drew University, On A Different Note.  OADN opened, which was a little unfortunate for them, since they were the ones to discover the dead microphone -- by having a silent soloist for half their first song.  When your set is only three songs long, that's pretty harsh.  Also, they seem to have seven members on tour out of a group with 14 or so members, so their sound is probably significantly different here than it would be back in New Jersey.  Still, the sound they managed to produce was good enough to justify picking up a CD or four (and a cassette they wouldn't let me walk away without handing to me for free, despite their assurance that I don't want it because it was made in '92 and they've improved significantly since then)... but I haven't had a chance to listen to any of them yet.  (Yes, my car has a cassette player, so I will be able to hear that one as well.  Which I just discovered has Leave It!  That's one of my favorite Yes tunes, and was my first venture into the world of arranging several years back, so I'm glad I got the tape - so far.  That may change once I listen, though...)  I'll let you know what I think when I get that far.  Meanwhile, here's what they looked like once one of the backup vocalists handed the soloist her mic:

Tonight's Awaken performance  was brought to you by the letter P, which can either stand for Plague or Pneumonia.  Several members of Awaken were coughing through the concert, and the illnesses had major effects on their sound and energy.  They were trying, but they weren't the group they are capable of being - songs we'd heard them do at ICCAs a month ago fell short of expectations this time around.  Still, there were good things going on all around, and I was glad we went.  Here's a glance at Awaken:

I feel like I was slacking tonight.  I only took 53 pics of OADN and 398 of Awaken.  =)  If anybody from either group wants the pics, let me know - you're welcome to 'em!

Tomorrow (technically later today - I should finish this post and go to bed!) we're going to Northern CA for Saturday's ICCA semifinals.  Next Tuesday we're hitting USC for Reverse Osmosis' hooray-for-the-Stanford-experience concert.  April 1 is the Harmony Sweepstakes LA competition, although we haven't gotten tickets yet.  April 8 is Absolut A Cappella at USC.  All of these should be good shows.  And only one or two of 'em cost anything, which is nice.  =)

Hopefully I'll have something of more value to say sometime soon.  But at least people now know I'm still alive...
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