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ACA is pitch perfect

| Sunday, April 6, 2014

ACA_pitch_perfect_WEBMaria Massa
On Saturday, students, parents and prospective students flocked to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center for ACA, “A Collegiate A Capella” Showcase. The show was hosted by the Undertones, Notre Dame’s premier (and only) male a capella group. Since the show featured a capella groups from all over the country, tickets were more expensive than usual, presumably to help cover travel costs. The audience had high expectations. They were not disappointed.

The University of Michigan’s G-Men set the bar high for the night, nailing Lady Gaga’s “Applause” and Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown.” Though their soccer jerseys gave off a jock vibe, they were arguably the most musically talented group in the first half. Their choreography, full of body-rolls and provocative poses, was humorous and impressively synchronized.

The G-Men rounded out pop numbers with Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love,” which soon became a crowd favorite — it was the only individual song to receive a standing ovation. Their soloist exuded confidence as he let his voice explore the extremities of his range without losing control. The ensemble crescendoed with him until the stage swam with their voices. Throughout the piece, the group often paused, allowing the audience to hear the echoes reverberate into silence. Their original dynamics showed audience members that silence can be as powerful as overwhelming sound.

Next up was Indiana University’s Another Round. Wearing suits and snapping their fingers, Another Round crooned old favorites such as Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” and the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from my Friends.” Though most of their songs were serious, they switched it up with their last song, which was a parody about loving their dry campus.

The Vanderbilt Melodores, who deserve props for coming up from Nashville, mounted the stage with a rocking country tune. They finished the first act with a Backstreet Boys mash-up —possibly the best one that’s ever been performed, which is saying a lot since so many groups try to create their own B-Boy mix.

After intermission, Tuft’s Beelzebubs brought Spanish flavor with “Bailamos!” Their soloist nailed every note and delivered the lines with sass and a convincing Spanish accent.

Notre Dame freshman a capella enthusiast Abby Balmert commented, “The Beelzebubs commanded the audience’s attention. They are the most experienced group, and they know it.”

The Beelzebubs are known for having their recordings appear on “Glee,” but the group admitted that Tufts is not so well known for its athletic prowess. So, to humorously prove his strength and agility, one member succeeded in going through one of his friends’ legs without touching the floor. Amusing? Yes. Will jocks flock to Tufts? Probably not, though anyone who enjoys watching boys in suits dance à la “Single Ladies” probably will after seeing the Beelzebub’s rendition of Destiny’s Child “Jumpin’ Jumpin’.”

Finally, it was Notre Dame’s time to shine. Some audience members were concerned that the Undertones had to follow groups who had placed in national championships and recorded songs for television. However, they had no reason to fear.

The Undertones not only proved they can sing and dance — they also proved they can rap with the Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started.” Junior Brendan Evans’s rendition of The Killers’s “Read My Mind” was one of the best numbers of the night. Soloists junior Jamie Towey and senior Andrew Cloetingh were incredible as well.

Notre Dame, unlike many of the other universities represented at ACA, does not have a nationally renowned voice or theatre program. None of the Undertones are even voice majors. However, the Undertones were just as good, if not better, than the other extremely talented and well-known groups.

Overall, the night was a rousing success, and senior Billy Raseman, president of the Undertones, deserves major props for putting it together. Best of all, the concert was put on in conjunction with the Boys and Girl’s Club of St. Joseph County, and seven local kids came on stage and got to greet the audience. All were members of the local choir and hope to perform on the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center stage one day.

In a sentence: the ACA was the male version of Pitch Perfect, but with better music, dancing and meaning.

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About Erin Thomassen

I am a freshman double majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and French. PLS (aka the Notre Dame Book Club) is the history of ideas through literature, philosophy, math and science. It was the perfect major for me, because I couldn't possibly choose one subject and hurt the other subjects' feelings. French was also a natural pick, since I have been prancing around my house under the pretense of performing ballet for eighteen years. If someone asks me what I do in my free time, I will tell them that I run and read. What I actually do is eat cartons of strawberries and knit lumpy scarves. If you give me fresh fruit, we will be friends. If we become friends, I will knit you a scarf for Christmas. It may be lumpy, but it will be in your favorite color. And if enough people become my friend, lumpy scarves might just become a trend.

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