Dave Samuels is a Ph.D. candidate and graduate student at the University of Georgia. He is the director of the co-ed group at UGA, Ecotones. This is his first review for The A Cappella Blog.
Greetings from the historic Morton Theater in downtown Athens, GA, site of the second ICCA South quarterfinal. Before I begin to discuss the event, I’d like to throw out a few quick facts to help frame the review. From my seat in the orchestra pit, I had a prime view of all of the performers…from the waist up. Any awesome footwork from these groups pulled off went completely unnoticed by me. This seat allowed me to hear all of the singers well, even in the “spread out across the ENTIRE stage” choreo formations that several groups used. People who had to rely on the condenser mics to pick up sound may not have had the same sonic experience. Finally, as a member of the UGA a cappella community, I’ve got a dog in tonight’s race. While I’m going to try to keep this review dispassionate, I may not be entirely successful in that endeavor.
The show started with an opening number by host group UGA Noteworthy. Their catchy Destiny’s Child mash-up of “Bugaboo/Survivor” got the packed house ready for a night full of great music.
Kicking off the show was the co-ed Beltones from Belmont University. I’m going to give this group a lot of credit for coming out and competing, despite being founded less than 3 years ago! The ladies of this 19-member group took the stage in black dresses accented with a red flower while the guys were in white shirts with red and black ties. The jitters seemed apparent when they started VV Brown’s “Shark in the Water,” but they quickly settled down quickly and found their groove. There was some pretty neat choreo throughout the song, highlighted by the backs “playing” air trumpets and trombones under the choruses and a nice group move coming into the final chorus. Lady Antebellum’s “Just a Kiss” showcased powerful onstage chemistry between the two leads. The two soloists seemed completely lost in each other, highlighting the meaning of the song. Their last song—La Roux’s “Bulletproof”—featured a breakdown which allowed their VP to take center stage; he did not disappoint. Taking part in competitions like this will surely help this group establish itself as a solid group in the region.