Summer Camp Cafe Offers A ‘Dynamic’ Mix Of Talent

Per tradition, the Dynamics close their spring cafes with a rendition of “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life,” from Dirty Dancing. Alumni of the a cappella group are invited to the stage (or perhaps, more appropriately, the front of the classroom) for this number. Founded in 1998, the co-ed music group has done a fair bit of growing over the years, and by all appearances, learning the lyrics to “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” has never especially been a part of the Dynamics’ tradition. It’s a bewildering spectacle, proud alumni surfacing from the crowd to join in the song, with no one too sure of the order of things. It’s goofy and fun, and the audience is encouraged to sing along.

Those who don’t know the group well enough might consider Saturday’s closing number a gaffe, and with the intensity of Boston College’s a cappella culture, such a lighthearted performance is offensive to what most other groups consider themselves to be. But to understand this bizarre closing is to gain an important insight into who the Dynamics are-there’s no easy way to stage a successful alumni number, and without being able to update the arrangement from year to year, the Dynamics are left with this mangled mess of a song. Either they pass down the song or scrap it. Inevitably, the tradition is kept-the Dynamics aren’t looking to prove anything. The group is deep enough in talent to know that when these cafes roll around, they can be comfortable with themselves.

Saturday’s Summer Camp Cafe in McGuinn 121 was marked by a Dynamic sense of humor. The performance was divided by short film clips, telling the story of a bunch of misfits brought together at summer camp. The strange characters presented in these film clips barely resembled the polished performers featured on Saturday night-the group dressed in white, formal attire and worked with a diverse, sophisticated selection of songs. Again, this speaks to the dual identity of the group. Musically, the Dynamics were impeccable-save, of course, for the show’s wild conclusion-but at heart, they are that group of misfits, and Saturday’s cafe was all about the big personalities behind the big voices.

The show opened with a rendition of Christina Aguilera’s “Come On Over,” with a Beyonce Easter egg in the mix. Freshman Meghan Linehan, CSOM ’17, was featured in the performance. The song showed her off as a powerful addition to the group, her colorful voice making her an ideal lead for the number. The Dynamics generally perform with more minimalistic, tighter vocal arrangements-this placed added importance on the work of the evening’s soloists.

While the Dynamics took on a few numbers off the top 40-notably, Bruno Mars’ “Treasure”-Saturday’s show was characterized by deep cuts. The Dynamics have a stronger indie influence than most a cappella groups on campus, and many of the voices within the group lend themselves well to less conventional numbers. Luisa Lange, A&S ’16, stood out in the first half of the cafe with her solo work with Lianne La Havas’ “Don’t Wake Me Up.” Lange’s voice was well matched with the work of the English singer-songwriter. The intimate harmonies of the group, too, made sense with the number, which in La Havas’ original recording includes an a cappella intro.

The second half of the cafe was highlighted by a performance of The Neighborhood’s “Sweater Weather” by freshman crooner Ryan MacDonald, A&S ’17. MacDonald, with an impressive balance and range to his vocals, actually out-sang the original recording, turning the traditionally understated alternative rock song into a showstopper. “Sweater Weather” was followed by two medleys, Lorde and Mumford & Sons, respectively, and while a lot of the emotional appeal of the cafe was packed into the group’s lesser-known repertoire, these familiar medleys were certainly welcome pieces of the performance. The Dynamics did particularly well balancing more experimental, coffee shop-style songs with popular selections. The cafe stayed relevant, without pandering to the crowd.

Ellery Spencer, CSON ’15, and Ryan Galvin, A&S ’14, came together in the later part of the show for a duet performance of The Frames’ “Falling Slowly.” One of the more tender parts of the night, the number was visibly emotional for Galvin, a senior. The lyric, “We’ve still got time,” added a stinging irony to the piece, which was placed near the close of the show.

Cassie Dragone, LSOE ’16, was impeccable with her impersonation of Estelle in The Dynamics’ performance of the British hip-hop vocalist’s “American Boy,” while Hans Friedl, A&S ’16, gave his own, more comedic take on the Kanye West rap verse featured in the song.

The Dynamics’ Summer Camp Cafe was all about good laughs and good music-vocally, the Dynamics were quite a talented collective. Behind the music, however, was a fabric of personalities that held the group together. The lighthearted “summer camp” video reels showed off a group of performers very much at home with each other.


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John Wiley was the Editor-in-Chief of The Heights in 2015. Follow him on Twitter @johnjaywiley.