Bostonians, BEATS, and Others Coalesce in Captivating ‘A Cappella Showcase’

Boston College’s annual Arts Festival continued on Saturday at O’Neill Plaza with an A Cappella Showcase: Critic’s Choice concert. The show featured a number of a cappella groups and their diverse array of musical styles, which gave the crowd a sampling of the talented a cappella presence on campus, and offered an entertaining concert that captivated all of its viewers.

The Heightsmen, BC’s only all-male a cappella group, opened the show with an entertaining display, part of which consisted of their entertaining 1980s-themed medley. With everything from their spirited rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” to their easy-going cover of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” the group showcased their notable versatility and harmonious quality while performing crowd-pleasing throwbacks. The group’s continuation of the medley with the Eurythmics’ classic “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” helped round out the new wave and rock-themed performance, and the enjoyable display presented a well-crafted start to the show.

The next group was Black Experience in America Through Song (BEATS), featuring R&B and Soul music that has shaped the black community in the United States. The group performed a bold cover of Carl Carlton’s “She’s a Bad Mama Jama,” that exuded life and personality. The song saw a magnetic energy from all of the singers, and the upbeat presentation paid tribute to the ’80s hit. Along with their other songs, which featured impressive rap solos and soulful, smooth vocals, the group had the crowd clapping in time.

After BEATS came the BC Dynamics, complete with their belted-out vocals and well-known song choices everyone in the crowd loved. One of their picks was Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young,” which was an upbeat and cheerfully performed song. The group followed  its Billy Joel cover with a handful of other songs, including Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and Martha and the Vandella’s “Dancing in the Street.” This medley was entertaining not only because of the group’s harmonious interpretations of the songs, but also due to their artful progression of songs from a substantially different era in music. The Dynamics compellingly wove together their songs in a fresh way.

The Bostonians continued the concert with their lively performances, which included their rendition of Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey”. The song featured warm and intense vocals that really highlighted the talents of the whole group as a result of their musically-nuanced cover. The Bostonians also covered The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside,” which was performed with a mixture of fun and angst, and served as an immensely enjoyable take on the song. The group’s presentation maintained the song’s catchy beat while giving an engaging performance, which was an impressive endeavor. Performing a rock song a cappella without losing the energy or edginess of the original song is probably not the easiest feat, and the group fully delivered on their ambitious selection with their captivating energy.

The show closed with performances from the Acoustics, which began with the folksy song, “Barton Hollow” by the Civil Wars. The song featured powerful vocals and a heartfelt intensity that featured the group’s unique and memorable sound. The cover artfully oscillated between harmonious softness and a roaring chorus, which created an intriguing and mesmerizing quality to the whole song. The Acoustics continued their set with a cover of Willy Moon’s “Railroad Track,” a brilliant reinterpretation of the edgy song, along with sharply gritty vocals that delivered the song’s entertainingly jarring quality.

After that off-the-beaten-path choice, the group finished its performance with a classic crowd pleaser, Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” which contained fun and personable vocals and an energy from the whole group that aptly closed the concert.

Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor