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Acatoberfest celebrates musical community

October 15, 2015

LEON SANTHAKUMAR /Photography Editor Duke University’s Speak of The Devil performed alongside four Hopkins groups and three visiting groups.


The second annual Acatoberfest, a combined a cappella concert with the Vocal Chords, Mental Notes, AllNighters, Sirens and four groups from other colleges, brought about 300 people to the SDS room in the Mattin Center on Saturday.

With audience members sitting on the floor, standing in the back of the room or even watching from the hallway outside, the energy in the room was tangible, helping the singers connect with the crowd.

“The show itself is awesome because of the intimate nature of the venue and the setup,” sophomore Hansel Romero, a member of the Vocal Chords, said. “We try to make everyone feel like they’re a part of the event and really feed off of their energy.”

Senior Jackie Choi and sophomore Dan Smillie, both from the Mental Notes, served as emcees for the evening. They played off the full room by cracking jokes about emergencies and encouraging the audience to trample each other for the exit to see who can get there first.

The four visiting groups that performed included two all-female groups, the Chordials from the University of Connecticut and Reveille from The College of William and Mary, as well as two all-male groups, Elizabethtown College’s Phalanx and Duke University’s Speak of the Devil.

“It was really nice to spend time with the students from the other a cappella groups and compare experiences — hopefully we will get to perform with them in the future,” freshman Rachel Underweiser, a member of the Mental Notes, wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “It was so cool to see the different arrangements the groups did and how it expressed their personalities.”

The groups impressed the Hopkins crowd, most notably with Reveille’s compilation of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” and “National Anthem.”

Audience members roared with laughter for Speak of the Devil’s Disney medley. They started with The Lion King’s ubiquitous “The Circle of Life,” complete with the soloist being lifted into the air as Simba and other singers pretending to be various animals in the kingdom. Then they moved into “A Whole New World” and “Kiss the Girl,” during which the group brought a Hopkins couple on stage and made them kiss.

This hilarity broke up the passionate, somewhat serious songs that other groups sang.

“The crowd always loves seeing the groups at their best and goes wild for their good moments,” Romero said. “The feeling of performing in front of people who are as into it as we are is unparalleled.”

As the first of the Hopkins groups to perform, the Mental Notes sang two songs in their signature Hawaiian shirts. One was a risqué parody song about unprotected sex and a man’s unwillingness to put on a condom, which elicited many uneasy giggles from the audience.

The AllNighters, Hopkins’ all-male group, brought lots of energy with their rousing rendition of Andy Grammer’s “Honey, I’m Good.” They then excitedly announced senior tenor Ari Messenger’s engagement and the release of their new single, a cover of “Miracle” by Kimbra. The link to download the single can be found on the AllNighters Facebook page.

The Sirens, Hopkins’ all-female group, started off with “Bluebird” by Sara Bareilles with soloist Katharine Gross. It was a complicated and mesmerizing lyrical story. The audience also responded favorably to their energetic rendition of HAIM’s “The Wire.”

The Vwocal Chords wrapped up the night with a moving cover of “Creep” by Radiohead, featuring Romero as the soloist.

The passion and hard work behind each word and note was tangible.

“[“Creep” was] my favorite song was by far because those lyrics in themselves are so evocative,” sophomore Lily Kairis said. “[The] level of depth put into the performance made it so moving. You could tell there was a personal connection behind each of those words. That made being a part of the audience feel so intimate, emotional and real.”

Overall the show was very well-received. At the end no one stampeded towards the exit as the emcees predicted; Rather, they stayed behind to congratulate the singers, gushing about favorite harmonies and songs.

“Acatoberfest has been such a great time over the past couple of years,” Romero said. “It’s always so cool to meet other a cappella groups and see how they work and how their personalities jive.”

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