The world of collegiate a cappella is quirky, fun, and a little out there. In the celebration of these qualities, we take a look at ways of making a cappella even unique, outlandish, and—well—absurd. We claim no responsibility for the results of actually trying anything we suggest here.
This time we discuss the benefits of using pyro.
Setting the Stage: From rock and roll concerts to big league sporting events to major motion pictures, there is one technological advance without peer in inspiring excitement and creating a moment worth remembering. It’s loud, it’s bright and it’s the next big thing coming to collegiate a cappella—it’s pyrotechnics.
Song Selection: Pyrotechnics don’t make sense for just any song—just about any of those John Mayer or Ingrid Michaelson tunes in your repertoire aren’t going to be a good fit. No, you want to save pyro for songs that you want to pop. It could be a matter of simulating fire and brimstone in ACDC’s “Highway to Hell” or adding a little extra spark to your medley of Jackson 5 stunners. Whatever case, you need to remember that pyro is all about popping a crowd, and should be used to complement music of the same ilk.
Setting: You have to be very careful about the setting for a show that’s going to involve pyrotechnics as you’ll want a thorough understanding of fire codes, emergency evacuation procedures, and the route to the nearest hospital should things go awry. Outdoor shows may be your best bet here.
Choreography: You’ll want to arrange your staging such that the pyro can yield it’s maximum effect (after all, such visuals aren’t cheap—you want to get the most bang for your buck (pun quite clearly intended)). And so, arrange the visual presentation such that pyro is clear to see, and also going off at a safe enough distance to minimize the chance of serious injury. Beyond that, consider just how bright the pyro might be, perhaps casting enough light to present your group in shadows and silhouettes. This can create a wonderful ghostly/monstrous/otherwise-badass image for your group that you can capitalize upon with a killer bassline and slow motion walk toward your audience.
Other Notes: Given the costs and risks of pyro, you’ll probably only want to use it once a great while. Choose wisely, putting it into place for a big end of the year show or something of the like, and make sure to have your cameras rolling because this is a great opportunity to become the next YouTube sensation.