Devlin 008—one of Boston College’s largest lecture halls—is an intimidating space, to say the least. It’s hard to entertain and even harder to fill. Yet well before the start of The Heightsmen Fall Cafe at 6:30 p.m. Friday, the room was already packed. The crowd anxiously chatted as free Heightsmen stickers circulated the room, waiting for the performance to start. A collective roar of cheers and yells rose from the hall’s seating as the Heightsmen filed in and launched straight into a rendition of Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling,” featuring soloist Brian Murphy, MCAS ’16.
After a short introduction by group President Sean Spata, MCAS ’16, in which he reminded the audience that The Heightsmen is BC’s best all male a cappella group (by default of being the only one), the boys began a cover of ’50s classic “Earth Angel” by The Penguins. Junior Owen Lyons, MCAS ’17, led the rendition, with Michael Mastellone, CSOM ’18, joining him on the mic to contribute rich harmonies. Lyons’ impressive lower range captivated the audience, eliciting cheers from all around the room. After Lyons and the rest of the boys sang “Earth Angel’s” final notes, the group performed their first contemporary song of the evening—The Weeknd’s “Earned It.” Sophomore Patrick Fei, MCAS ’18, wooed the audience with a range that challenged even that of The Weeknd’s famous sultry heights. Putting a doo-wop spin on an R&B track, the group’s accompaniment was equally as impressive. During the final song before a short break, David Goebel, MCAS ’16, invited girlfriend Emma McCabe to join him on stage. Serenading her with The Temptations’ “My Girl,” Goebel won the award for boyfriend of the year.
The Heightsmen returned to the stage with a short skit, written by Spata. The scene was set as an Heightsmen Alumni reunion weekend, where past greats came to the BC campus to relive their glory days. There were a few surprise guests, though—namely, Doug Flutie, Dr. Ben Carson, and even founding fathers Paul Revere and Samuel Adams. Flutie stated that his days with The Heightsmen were his single best memories at BC, as “current” members incredulously looked at the football under his arm. Revere and Adams were less impressed with the club, however, disappointed by the fact that T-Pain was not a nickname for their good friend Thomas Paine. But the current and past members of The Heightsmen were able to find common ground in their motive for joining the club—“We do it for the girls,” Patrick Fei told Samuel Adams. “Well, then,” he responded, “I never should’ve doubted you!”
Following the skit, the group launched into another wave of all-male vocals. This set was kicked off by soloist Lyons, who led the group in an energetic rendition of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.” After the pop-rock anthem concluded, Kamau Burton, MCAS ’17, started crooning the lyrics to “How Deep is Your Love,” not by Calvin Harris, but the classic by The Bee Gees.
The evening took another surprising turn with the iconic start of a more recent, country classic—“Your Man,” by Josh Turner. Murphy returned to take on the challenging solo, executing the wide range changes perfectly with only a slight hiccup in the lyrics marring his excellent performance. The group stuck to the modern theme with their next song, as well, inviting Goebel back to the microphone to perform T-Pain’s “Buy U a Drank.” With slight changes in the lyrics to promote The Heightsmen, the performance was witty and even raunchy, as Goebel shed his jacket on stage and threw money from his pockets. The highlight of the song was undoubtedly when freshman Greg Gao, CSOM ’19, stepped up to rap the bridge—a feat that would take some guts for any Heightsmen, and much more a freshman member. Granted, that took nothing compared to the confidence required for the show’s next segment.
Sean Spata introduced the next act by calling it “the only reason that anyone comes to this show, anyway.” While he underestimated how much the audience loved all the other performances, he was definitely correct in predicting the enthusiasm for the “Freshmen Dance.” The Heightsmen’s two freshmen, Gao and Joseph Lin, MCAS ’19, took to the stage to perform a choreographed dance to, of course, a Justin Bieber medley. Imitating the dance moves from the viral “Sorry” video and shedding a few layers of clothing, the performance was hilarious, and surprisingly showed a high quality of dancing. While the crowd nursed their split sides after the performance, The Heightsmen took another quick break to gather themselves for their final set.
Fei returned to the mic for the group’s first song, belting Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You” to a swooning audience. With Mastellone and Goebel contributing harmonies, their performance sounded arguably better than the original. Spata took to the microphone next, choosing to sing a Sinatra classic (and continue the group’s heart-melting setlist). His rendition of “The Way You Look Tonight” sounded uncannily like that of the Sultan of Swoon, making him the perfect choice for the song’s soloist. Succeeding Spata was Burton, returning to the group’s front to perform R. Kelly’s “Remix to Ignition,” much to the delight of the crowd. Also featuring Goebel, the performance allowed The Heightsmen to show just how much fun they were having putting on the Fall Cafe for such an enthusiastic audience.
Before their final song, The Heightsmen took a break from their set list to take care of some personal business—singing “Happy Birthday” to the freshly faced and now 19 Lin, with the help of the audience, of course. Then, Spata returned to the microphone to lead the group in their finale, Brenda Lee’s “Good Old Acappella.” As the song came to its final notes, Devlin 008 erupted into cheers and whoops for the performers. The performance of over an hour had flown by in what felt like minutes, keeping the audience constantly laughing, crying, and honestly, crushing on the group’s members. The Fall Cafe was the perfect end to The Heightsmen’s fall season, and the BC community will be anxiously waiting for them to return in the spring.
Featured Images By Jake Evans