The pressure was
As the ten members of the Claremont
Shades prepared for their performance at SCAMFest 2014, they learned that they’d
be singing in front of 2,000 people.
SCAMFest, or the 19th Annual Southern California A Cappella Music Festival, took place Nov. 13 at Pomona College’s Bridges Auditorium, a stage that has hosted a number of distinguished guests, from American jazz vocalist Ella
Fitzgerald to politician Hillary Clinton to Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
The lineup included a number of impressive a cappella groups, who have performed everywhere
from The Today Show to the Miami Heat court to the international a
cappella championships. And, as the host of the event and
the first co-ed a cappella group on campus, The Claremont Shades had a
reputation to uphold.
“SCAMFest is the biggest event of
the year for all a cappella groups,” Shades President Zane
MacFarlane PO ’17 said. “There’s so much rehearsing and preparation that goes into
it, and it’s nerve-wracking to do it in front of an audience for the first
time. You get the craziest rush from performing onstage.”
The performance is one of the most
highly anticipated events in the region, featuring a cappella groups from all over Southern
California. In addition to The Claremont Shades, a number of other groups from the 5Cs performed, including Midnight Echo, K* Chords, Men’s Blue & White, 9th Street Hooligans, Mood Swing, Women’s Blue & White and the After School Specials. UCLA brought their premiere co-ed group, The Scattertones, and the all-male group Bruin Harmony. UC Davis sent The Spokes, an all-female group, and SoCal Vocals came from USC.
The show consisted of a variety of songs,
from older standards to newer pop ballads.
The Claremont Shades began the night
with an unique take on the Arthur
theme song by Chance the Rapper and Social Experiment, arranged by David Wych
CM ’15. Midnight Echo followed with rousing renditions of Sam Smith’s hit
single, “Stay With Me,” and Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby.” Next up, The Spokes performed ZZ Ward’s powerful
“Move Like You Stole It” and “More.” The K* Chords, a formerly all-Jewish group, performed Gotye’s 2012 hit, “Somebody That I Used to
Know,” as well as “Take a Walk.” Men’s
Blue & White performed Italian singer Andrea Bocelli’s “Con Te Partiro” and
Founded in 2009, the 9th Street Hooligans, brought forth a light and peppy vibe with pop anthems “Boyfriend” and “All About That
The UCLA Scattertones, who have performed
everywhere from the White House to Taylor Swift concerts, sang “Stop This
Train” and “Crazy in Love/Déjá Vu.”
During intermission, members of the
Claremont Shades checked YikYak to see the eager responses from their fans. They
were also reassured to receive encouraging messages from their friends.
“The part that means the most to me
is when I hear my friends, who aren’t necessarily musical or into a cappella,
talk about SCAMFest and how much they liked it,” MacFarlane said.
The second half of the night did not disappoint, featuring crowd favorites like Mood Swing, which has been performing since 2004. The group opened with “Say Something” and “Lonely Boy.” Bruin
Harmony then performed “Slow Dance” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.”
Women’s Blue & White, the 5C’s second
oldest group, performed “Reflections” and the
Pussycat Dolls’ “Stickwitu”; while The After School Specials, who donned hats
bearing their initials and wearing various shades of green, performed “If I Go”
“All the groups that performed on Friday were great, but I especially liked Women’s Blue and White and the After School Specials.” Abi MacCumber SC ’17 said. “They chose songs I’d never heard before, but even so, I knew their performances definitely matched up to the original version, if not better.”
The SoCal Vocals continued to impress, performing “Wayfaring Stranger” and Jessie J’s explosive “Bang Bang.” The popular group has toured
across the country, and many of its alumni have gone on to perform
The Shades ended the night with a
Fleetwood Mac medley arranged by MacFarlane.
While the groups seemed to pull off
their performances with ease, the rehearsal process was intense.
“The Claremont Shades is one of the
most hardworking groups I have ever been in, and we take music seriously,” member Dina Aluzri CM ’17 said. “Every individual voice has a place in the songs we sing.”
The Shades went on tour in Los
Angeles during the week prior to SCAMFest, performing around the city and rehearsing for
many hours during the day. Despite their busy schedules and heavy academic workload, they also squeezed in extra rehearsals during the week of
both vocals and choreography.
The singers of Midnight Echo were
also committed lots of time to preparing for the event. This year’s SCAMFest came much earlier than last year’s, and
the singers were afraid they wouldn’t get their performance ready in time.
“We weren’t sure if we could put in
all the little nuances that make a cappella amazing,” said Leanna
Namovic SC ’17 said, who has been in the group since coming to Claremont. “However, we
worked really hard and put in extra hours. All the groups really stepped it up
this year, and I think we put on an excellent performance.”
The groups weren’t just worried about themselves, however; they enjoyed watching each
other perform from offstage. Since a cappella is a group activity, teamwork is
necessary for the show to succeed.
“What I cherish most about SCAMFest
is how much fun we had onstage as a group,” said MacFarlane. “The Shades are
very close, and being able to perform like that together, in front of such a
huge crowd—even for just two songs—is something I may never experience in
my life after college.”
“We’re such a connected, yet
focused, group,” added Aluzri.
Just as a cappella brings together various
voices, SCAMFest brought together a diverse audience. While some students came to
support their friends, others came to listen to the tremendous amount of talent
onstage. SCAMFest was a hit among old and new fans alike and proves to be a prominent
tradition in Southern California.
“Our community can bring joy to a
large part of the Claremont community,” MacFarlane said. “And it reassures me why I do a cappella in the first place.”