Not a scam: SCAMFest 2019 wows audience with strong vocals and performances

The Claremont Colleges’ a cappella group Midnight Echo wows audience with their rendition of “Breathin” by Ariana Grande at SCAMFest on Nov. 9, which was held at Pomona College’s Bridges Auditorium. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

Audience members who didn’t expect to get Rickrolled were in for a pleasant surprise at this year’s Southern California A Capella Music Festival.

The Claremont Colleges’ a cappella group Ninth Street Hooligans closed out this year’s SCAMFest at Pomona College’s Bridges Auditorium with a performance of what started off as the unassuming “Riptide” by Vance Joy and quickly morphed into Rick Astley’s infamous song, “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

The Nov. 9 lineup included Claremont’s very own The Claremont Shades, One Night Stanza, The After School Specials, Womxn’s Blue and White, Midnight Echo and Mood Swing, as well as off-campus a cappella groups, like The Spokes from UC Davis, Bruin Harmony and the ScatterTones from UCLA and five-time International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella champions SoCal VoCals from the University of Southern California.

Ninth Street Hooligans closed out SCAMFest with “Riptide” by Vance Joy, and Rickrolled the audience by transitioning to Rick Astley’s infamous song, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

“[Our group] is the funny one, I’d like to say,” Ninth Street Hooligans member Devon Overbey HM ’23 said. “We have a lot of different colors of personalities in our group, and I think that’s a lot of fun to have.”

The hosting group, The Claremont Shades, started off the night with Billie Eilish’s “When the Party’s Over,” a popular song for a cappella that has seen millions of hits on YouTube cover videos.

The Spokes followed, singing in their signature bright pink attire and surprising the crowd with Chinese verses of “Cinderella” by The Cheetah Girls. 

Midnight Echo’s brother-sister duo Zayn Singh SC ’20 and Isha Singh SC ’23 pulled off songs “Stupid Deep” by Jon Bellion and “Breathin” by Ariana Grande, respectively.

As a ballroom dancer, attendee Ignacio Lista HM ’22 said he appreciated the performance value of SCAMFest and felt “[the groups] were kind of something to look up to … for that performance level.”

At the intermission, Groove Nation entertained with a succession of dance performances that had people staying put in their seats. 

The dance crew has performed at past ICCA events, as the ICCA West Quarterfinals have been held at Pomona in the last few years, but this was its first time performing at SCAMFest.

Rose Gelfand SC ’21, one of four Groove Nation captains, said the group only had one week to prepare their set. 

“I think we managed to pull it off well,” Gelfand said. “ … It was the first real show with our new members this year, so it was fun to get to do that with them.”  

Bruin Harmony opened the second half of the show with the suave “I Got You” by Seramic and followed with a heartfelt rendition of “Fix You” by Coldplay. They ditched their usual blue-themed suit look for a more casual style, wearing jackets and hoodies with pants from shades of mustard yellow to gray.

The After School Specials delivered a powerful cover of “Bad Religion” by Frank Ocean. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

The After School Specials only performed one song due to missing members, but their rendition of “Bad Religion” by Frank Ocean was powerful and full of rich chords that resonated throughout the auditorium. 

In the second-to-last act of the night, Tabon Ward of SoCal Vocals had the audience swooning from the very first note of John Legend’s “Ordinary People.”

This year’s performances showed stronger vocal performances than years past from almost all of the groups.

“The best songs were ‘Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing’ and ‘Fix You,’” Vanessa Lincoln SC ’21 said via message, “and the Ninth Street Hooligans’ performance was a highlight and a great ending because it was so clever and funny.”

Simran Sachdeva contributed reporting.

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