The Bostonians and Acoustics met in the Vanderslice Cabaret Room for their annual Stix & Stones concert Friday night, and thankfully, no bones were broken. The groups and their prospective audience had hoped that they could hold the event in a place Boston College students unequivocally love-outside Lower, next to the mythical Beans, Creams, and Dreams. But alas, rain ruined that hope, and so the event relocated to a packed Cabaret Room. The groups traded two song sets for about an hour and even came together at the halfway point and finale for two songs. The Bostonians were clad in their usual black and The Acoustics in a colorful array. It’s easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of a cappella events. But more than any other, Stix & Stones is about fostering community within groups.
The Bostonians got things started with pop and campus sensation “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Sam Park, A&S ’16, took the solo, backed by a tightly wound arrangement. “Happy” is a song that will be sung in a cappella performances for the next 20 years, and The Bostonians brought more than enough energy in their opener to make up for the dampened hopes of the audience. They followed with Connor Hutchison, A&S ’14, performing Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.” The song had a quieter feel that fit the world-weary expression of its Friday afternoon audience.
After two songs, The Bostonians ceded the stage to The Acoustics. The Acoustics brought some country flavor to the event, covering Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova.” Soloist Megan Gladden, A&S ’15, brought some bright energy to the performance and was aided in some deft harmonies from her companions. They followed with a duet between Sean O’Hara, A&S ’14, and Dominique Alba, CSOM ’17, performing old time show tune “The Lady is a Tramp.” It was a bold choice to move away from the pop classics that usually dominate a cappella events, but as ever The Acoustics proved they are a colorful, versatile bunch.
Closing their first set of the event, The Acoustics invited The Bostonians back on stage to perform a song together, as Stix & Stones tradition calls for. The groups melded together more than amicably and performed a staple from The Bostonians’ repertoire “Brave / Roar.” The medley brought both groups and both pop anthems together in unison, with Keely Bartram, A&S ’16, taking the solo. The arrangement moved from “Brave” to “Roar” without a hitch as Bartram handled the roaring refrains with ease. The combined sound of The Acoustics and The Bostonians gave the song a fuller depth and filled the room more than any other arrangement.
The Bostonians stayed on stage for their final set. Haley Paret, CSON ’15, performed Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” with an assist from Bartram, who handled the song’s rapping. The song is less relevant than it was a year ago given Pitch Perfect‘s slow slide from popularity, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. The performance was pure, playful spunk.
The Bostonians followed that demonstration of spunk with a beautiful rendition of Eva Cassidy’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Soloist Rebecca Nelson, LSOE ’14, and her accompaniment took a quiet approach to thesong. Nelson sung with a measured pace that rose and fell along with the movements of the arrangement. The head bobbing that overtook the audience for “No Diggity” rolled into a collective stillness. The performance was a nice contrast to the thundering “Brave / Roar” and the rambunctious “No Diggity.”
The Acoustics then shuffled onto the stage in good cheer for their last set. They brought more playfulness to the event with a parading rendition of Trey Songz’ “Bottoms Up.” Featuring a rotating cast of soloists, The Acoustics spread the fun around. Perhaps the performance didn’t turn the cabaret room into the bumping club that The Acoustics hoped it might, but the song brought the energy to spur the event through its final set.
The Acoustics closed their set with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ “Paris.” Soloist Lauren DeVito, A&S ’15, and her accompaniment came together in perfect unison for the joyously catchy refrain of ooh la las. The song lends itself well to an a cappella cover with so many harmonies present beyond the primary vocals.
For the final song of the event, the groups came together one more time to send the audience out into the night. The groups took a page from The Acoustics’ repertoire as soloist Matt Michienzie, A&S ’17, took the stage to perform Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are the Best Thing.” Again, the combined forces of both groups gave the performance a much fuller sound. Michienzie used his deep, yet smooth voice to roll through the celebratory tune.
It was a fine note to end the event. While a cappella has become known for battles and showdowns, Stix & Stones brings a cappella back to what it really is all about-just a group of people singing together