The love for a capella is infectious across college campuses. Every year, newcomers get their first taste of Claremont Colleges a capella on the steps of the Frary dining hall. And this Saturday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m., Pomona College’s Bridges Auditorium will be packed with some of the best collegiate a capella groups in Southern California.
The Southern California Acapella Music Festival (SCAMFest) is the biggest performance of the year for many of the a cappella groups on campus. As the annual hosts of SCAMFest, the Claremont Shades – a 5C a cappella group distinguished by their ox blood attire – traditionally open and close the show. This year, however, the After School Specials – known for their green and white signature hats emblazoned with the letters “ASS” – will finish with a rendition of Labrinth’s “Jealous”.
The Claremont Shades has been organizing SCAMFest since its inception in 1995. The same a capella groups are invited every year, including all eight groups from the Claremont Colleges and the SoCal VoCals, four-time winners of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, from University of Southern California. The show will also feature returning performances from The Spokes of University of California, Davis, and two groups from University of California, Los Angeles: Bruin Harmony and The Scattertones.
At SCAMFest, the a capella groups put on audiovisual performances with professional stage lighting and sounds. All groups have a two-song set, and most have prepared their songs especially for this show. “It’s only this time of year we get to bust out our moves,” said Saif Saigol CM ‘19, president of the Claremont Shades. With such a big stage, dance choreography livens up the show, making SCAMFest one of the most popular events of the entire year.
For many a capella group members, singing comes easy, but dancing proves to be more difficult. The main concern for many of the groups performing is memorizing their dance choreography before SCAMFest.
When asked about preparing for this year’s SCAMFest, After School Specials’ music director Perrin York SC ‘19 explained that the group performed at the USC-hosted SweeTARTS Acapellooza on Oct. 10, which delayed their arrangements for SCAMFest. However, York said that the group has added extra rehearsals to make sure they are ready for the big event.
“This year was interesting because we took seven new members, which is probably one of the biggest amounts of new members in our group’s history,” York said. Members of the Claremont Shades and One Night Stanza, another 5C a capella group, echoed this sentiment, as both groups have grown to becoming the biggest collectives they have ever been.
Many of these 5C a capella groups have a tight-knit friendship beyond singing. With a base time commitment of around five hours a week with additional time for special gigs and leadership roles, the members of these groups spend a lot of time together. “It’s been a nice community to be able to join,” said Eliana Kaplan PO ‘19, who is in her first year on the Claremont Shades.
Amberlee Baugus HM ‘18, president of One Night Stanza, is nervous about her solo this year.
“Of course, the normal fear,” Baugus said, explaining that this will be her last SCAMFest as a senior. The group will be performing “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men and “Omen” by Sam Smith.
SCAMFest is an exciting event for off-campus groups as well. “It was cool to connect with people who do a capella and sing and love music just as passionately as everybody else,” said Anusha Suresh ‘18, co-president of the all-female a capella group The Spokes. They will be performing “Radar” by AudioDamn! which is – according to Suresh – a “funky, electronic, techno” tune, and will also be premiering a brand new song.
The Spokes was founded in 2004 by country star Cameron Ochs and has grown to 16 members. Although all-female groups sometimes struggle with reaching low-range sounds, the Spokes is proud of their strong bass and rhythmic sections.
As the oldest of nine a capella groups at USC, the SoCal VoCals have released many albums that can be heard on Spotify. Notable alumni from the group include singer Scott Hoying of Pentatonix.
The SoCal VoCals group has performed all over the world, but SCAMFest is still one of their favorite events of the year.
“SCAMFest is a good opportunity to … get to know new people that are outside of USC and build those intercollege acapella relationships,” said Aaron Jung ‘18, business manager of the group, who said they will be singing the popular song “Attention” by Charlie Puth.
A capella groups performing at SCAMFest have been working hard over the past week. In past years, almost 2,000 people have packed the auditorium, including friends coming for support and community members enjoying the exciting celebration of a capella.
What should audience members take away from these performances?
“We hope they enjoy themselves as much as we’re enjoying ourselves onstage,” said Felipe Sant’Anna CM ‘19, vice president of Claremont Shades. SCAMFest also attracts many students to audition for the a capella groups they had seen perform the previous year. All of the 5C a capella groups hold auditions in the fall, and some groups hold spring auditions as well.
SCAMFest has consistently sold out in the past few years. Prices are $9 for students and $15 for everyone else. Tickets can be purchased at Pomona’s Big Bridges box office or outside dining halls during lunch and dinner until Nov. 10.
The groups that will be performing include:
After School Specials
One Night Stanza
Ninth Street Hooligans
Women’s Blue & White
The Scattertones (UCLA)
Bruin Harmony (UCLA)
SoCal Vocals (USC)
The Spokes (UC Davis)
Jaimie Ding SC ’21 is from Vancouver, Washington.