Sitting in the 2,500 seater Bridges Auditorium on Nov. 10, I braced myself for the a cappella music festival everyone had been talking about. The audience filled every seat, and the room buzzed with excitement.
Being a British exchange student, the closest thing I know to a cappella is the TV show “Glee” and my own screeching — I mean singing — in the shower every morning. However, judging by the giddy whispers before the show, I knew I was in for a treat.
The hosts of the Southern California A Cappella Music Festival, the 5Cs’ very own Claremont Shades, kicked off the show. They started off with the dream pop sounds of Lorde’s “Liability Reprise,” followed by a rendition of “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, before ending with an audacious performance of “Curious” by Swayday.
Having toured across the country, the Claremont Shades are the oldest co-ed a cappella group at the 5Cs. With the grace and candor of a well-oiled machine, they set the tone for a series of amazing performances.
Following the Shades, The Spokes, University of California, Davis’ all-female a cappella group, gave a spine-tingling performance of “Hurt” by Christina Aguilera. The croons of “I hurt myself by hurting you” could make anyone in the audience regret a bad relationship they’d ever had.
Midnight Echo, a 5C group, followed, and their delivery of “Disney Love Medley” by Voctave took the audience into a land of glitter and sunshine, in the way only Disney songs can.
“My favorite part of the show was feeling the group’s adrenaline and excitement,” said Minica Casbara PZ ’21, a member of Midnight Echo. “Everyone was hugging, and I loved experiencing this rush with our group. We’re just like a little family.”
True to their name, Mood Swing, who performed next, changed the vibe with an outstanding performance of “Escape” by Kehlani, with the energetic soloist Esi Igyan SC ’22 doing the pop princess justice with her vocals.
UCLA’s ScatterTones took the audience on yet another musical journey, bringing the unique sounds of Panic! At the Disco to the stage. Having opened for Obama; accompanied Taylor Swift; and performed at Spring Sing, the ICCAs, and the Hollywood Bowl, it was no surprise that the ScatterTones gave a rousing performance.
Intermission gave me time to catch my breath, let the goosebumps simmer down and take in the magnitude of the audience. I could not help but be impressed by SCAMFest. In its 23rd year, it truly lived up to its aim of showcasing the best of collegiate a cappella music.
The only all-male a cappella group of the night, UCLA’s Bruin Harmony, graced the stage next, with a memorable performance of Troye Sivan’s “My My My.” Soloist Justin Baker’s energy was infectious, and his dance moves were a highlight of the evening.
Claremont’s own co-ed a cappella group, One Night Stanza, gave a fun performance of “Genius” by Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo with the soloists Jane Watts HM ’20 and Yasmine Razzak SC ’21 bringing sass and a dash of girl power to their duet.
Formed in the early 1980s, Women’s Blue and White is Claremont’s only all-women a cappella group. Their emotive rendition of “First Burn” by Lin Manuel Miranda was storytelling at its best. Evoking gasps from the audience with a beautiful mix of voices led by soloists Emma Elliott SC ’19, Mia Kania SC ’20, and Maya Lu SC ’22, the Women’s Blue and White gave one of this year’s most memorable performances.
Soloist Min Andy PO ’21 then brought smooth R&B sounds and moves in the After School Specials’ rendition of “Karma” by Years and Years. The whole arrangement was reminiscent of a scene from Glee — minus all the drama — with wonderful choreography and teamwork from the whole group.
The audience was not prepared for what was to follow. Dressed in purple, The Ninth Street Hooligans jumped and skipped onto the stage. Their joyful performances of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and The Jonas Brothers’ “Year 3000” brightened the mood and showed that amidst powerful vocals, there was room for light-hearted fun.
Ever the reserved Brit, each performance was met on my part with a smile and clap, albeit a loud one. However, the SoCal VoCals’ last performance had me hollering and snapchatting, as I was absolutely mesmerised. Soloist Conner Pearl gave an outstanding performance of Shawn Mendes’ “Lost in Japan,” and I won’t forget the high notes he hit any time soon. Also, Mr. Pearl, if you ever read this, I would love for you to sing at my wedding.
The SoCal VoCals gave SCAMFest 2018 a befitting end, and left this little British girl with a big smile on her face.