Review: Student a Cappella Groups Perform at 14th Annual SCAMFest

I joined over 1,000 members of the 5-C community flooding through the doors of Pomona’s Big Bridges Auditorium last Friday. Like everyone else in that throng, I was anticipating the 14th annual Southern California a Cappella Music Festival (SCAMFest); I, and I suspect most of the other attendees, were certainly not disappointed.This year’s concert featured ten collegiate a cappella groups from the Los Angeles region, and the seven groups from the 5Cs were all accounted for. They were, in alphabetical order: After School Specials, the Claremont Shades, Kosher Chords, Men’s Blue and White, Midnight Echo, MoodSwing, and Women’s Blue and White. In addition, the 5-C groups were joined by three visiting acts: UCLA’s ScatterTones, USC’s Reverse Osmosis, and USC’s SoCal Vocals.SCAMFest kicked off with a performance by the Claremont Shades. Besides showcasing their vocal talents, the Shades established a strong stage presence with an energetic, personable performance, putting the audience in a cheerful and attentive mood.All of the following acts kept up with the opening both in the standard of quality and in the level of energy. Throughout the two hours, I found myself constantly looking forward to whatever came next.On occasion, however, the backing vocals overpowered the lead singer with their volume, while other times, the voices mixed in a garbled manner that made the words hard to decipher.When the vocals were clear and blended beautifully, the groups’ performances demonstrated the time and effort invested in working and practicing together to achieve that harmony.I enjoyed the assortment of song styles presented by the various groups. There varied tempos spanned catchy, upbeat tunes to sweeping power ballads. Though most of the songs performed were pop music, the selections featured other genres as well. From After School Specials’ 90’s pop medley, to Men’s Blue and White’s cover of Tenacious D’s comedy number, “Tribute,” to Kosher Chords’ traditional melodies, each group brought a unique element to the concert.Though the concert spanned two hours, there was little repetition or overlap between the groups. Each group selected songs that brought out their strengths and styles. Choosing a favorite was nearly impossible; each group had its own individual and memorable flavor.Performance execution aside, the atmosphere of the show was up to par. The a capella groups’ choices in attire were just stylish enough to be visually pleasing without being flashy and distracting. The onstage lighting complemented both the singers’ costumes and the mood of the songs; occasional spotlighting added dramatic effect.The festival itself was very well run; I was impressed by how smoothly and effortlessly the show progressed. No interruptions, no breaks in the flow, no technical difficulties—logistically, the concert was a definite success.Between acts, various members of the Claremont Shades would introduce the next group through dialogues which typically played upon the name of the following act. Though not all of these exchanges were equally witty or effective and occasionally dragged on, in general, the introductions were pithy enough not to detract from the audience’s attention to the performances.If time were not an issue, I would probably have enjoyed a brief overview of each groups’ history and styles, as well as their current projects, as part of the group introductions; though that information was available in the program, restating it live would have added an extra feeling of coherence and completeness to the performances.Perhaps the fact that I wished I could have learned more about the groups reflects SCAMFest’s success. The concert has led me to view a capella with more interest, and I have found myself wanting to know more about each group’s musical development and maturation. And luckily, I will have that opportunity—this year’s SCAMFest has already got me looking forward to the next installment of this wonderful annual tradition.

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply