Pomona College’s Big Bridges Auditorium was alive with the sound of music on Nov. 7 as a cappella groups took the stage at the 20th annual Southern California A Cappella Music Festival, also known as SCAMFest. Hosted by the Claremont Shades since its inception in 1995, SCAMfest is one of the most anticipated and well-attended events on campus. The entire event is a student-led production from organization, advertising and bringing in off-campus groups to sound, lighting and, of course, singing.
Repeating 2014’s successful lineup, this year’s SCAMfest featured all eight of Claremont’s a cappella groups as well as University of California, Los Angeles’ Bruin Harmony and Scattertones, University of California, Davis’ Spokes and University of Southern California’s four-time International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella champions, the SoCal VoCals. Bringing in talented groups from outside, some of whom have released albums, added to the quality and star power of this already exciting celebration of music.
As the hosts and organizers of the event, the Claremont Shades, Claremont’s co-ed group, are traditionally the first and last group to sing. The other featured a capella groups brought in a variety of genres, creative props and everything in between. As the only event that brings together all of Claremont’s a cappella groups, SCAMFest brings out a desire to give the best possible performance.
Unlike at the more routine snack concerts, which focus primarily on vocals, SCAMFest is more of a theatrical production. Every group brought in different elements of singing, dancing, humming, beatboxing and, in one notable performance by Men’s Blue and White, an aerial hoop.
“SCAMFest is different from every other concert that a cappella groups do on campus because it’s a little bit less about the fine tuning of the music and more about the overall performance,” co-president of Claremont’s Mood Swing Alyssa Yoshino CM ‘16 said. “It’s a big stage so you can’t hear every little thing, but maybe you do some cool choreo and people love it.”
The songs chosen spanned across years and genres, including current pop hits like Nick Jonas’ “Levels,” jazz standards like Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good” and perennial favorites by Beyoncé. Yoshino’s Mood Swing co-president Victoria Monticello SC ’16 described the care and consideration behind choosing songs for SCAMFest.
“Which one seems like it would be the best at SCAMFest?” Monticello said. “Which one is the most ready? Which would be great with choreo? Which would be a crowd-pleaser?”
Adding to the pressure of SCAMFest is the sheer size of the audience. The auditorium was filled to capacity with 2,000 people in attendance. SCAMFest is regularly one of the most popular events at the Claremont Colleges, but this year tickets sold out even faster than usual with the decision to introduce Venmo as a payment method.
On a campus where athletics don’t bring in the huge student crowds that exist at schools with bigger sports cultures, many students love SCAMFest for its scale. “I think SCAMFest really brought a new vibe to Claremont. There isn’t really much of that ‘Let’s have a big event,’ and that was really nice to have for once. It felt like a community brought together by music,” Maria Vides PO ’18 said.
President of the Claremont Shades Dina Aluzri CM ‘17, who led the organization of the event, explained SCAMFest’s popularity as a manifestation of the sense of community at the colleges. “People are so supportive and accepting of everyone in the groups,” Aluzri said. “So many people know people in groups. That’s why SCAMFest is so highly anticipated—people want to see their friends perform. People love talent. People love to hear people sing.”
While certainly thrilling for those in attendance, SCAMFest is also truly a special day for the performers. For many of Claremont’s close-knit a cappella groups, SCAMFest is a chance for performers to showcase their hard work and do something they love. Monticello described the sense of community leading up to the evening of the performance.
“You come together as a group and you do soundcheck together and you get a feel for the space and how you sound,” she said. “Everyone’s getting hyped up together, and then in the hours before you’re getting ready, you have dinner together.”
Others agreed that there was nothing like the exhilaration of being on stage.
“You look over at someone make eye contact and smile and you’re just in the moment and feeling how special it is to be performing not just on your own, but with your family,” Monticello said.