On Friday, October 7, 2011, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) played host to its first Sing-Off-based competition, appropriately titled The RIT Sing Off.
The event featured three competing groups. Before we get to the review, a quick summary:
RIT Vocal Accent
RIT Brick City Singers
RIT Eight Beat Measure
Mary Beth Cooper
When I arrived at RIT for the event, I was surprised to see how full the venue was. Granted, this was a free event for faculty, staff, and students, but without much promotion, the show drew in approximately 400 people. I showed up a little on the later side, but was able to see the stage without a problem thanks to Ingle Auditorium’s stadium seating. In addition, I’d like to point out that this event was unique to me in that it was the first a cappella competition I’ve attended that was interpreted for the hearing impaired. Methinks this is because RIT has the world’s largest technical college for deaf students (NTID).
The first group to take the stage was Vocal Accent. The group was comprised of thirteen females wearing a mixture of black and purple apparel. They began their set with “King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles, which I think was a really good song choice to be sung a cappella, especially for an all-female group. Group members formed a small semicircle around the soloist and swayed their shoulders, hips, and knees to the beat. The soloist was simply OK. There were some parts that were a bit out of tune and I thought the vocals in general could have been a little louder. However, this could have been the result of many possible factors.
Vocal Accent’s second song choice was Jordin Sparks’ “One Step at a Time.” Again, this was an appropriate selection for the group. The arrangement of group members and general movements throughout the song did not change much from the first song. However, the backing vocals were much fuller this time and the vocal percussion was well executed. Unfortunately, I still felt like the soloist could have been a little more pronounced.
For their final song, the group sang Sublime’s “What I Got.” While normally I don’t advocate that single-gender a cappella groups choose songs that are traditionally sung by the opposite gender, Vocal Accent pulled it together and gave what I believe to be their best performance of the night. There were two soloists throughout the song, both of which were in tune and easy to hear. The vocal percussionist was extremely into the song and delivered a strong performance. The group concluded their set by collectively and vibrantly singing the chorus of the song – all in all, a good way to start off the competition.
Mickey said the group brought him into the story, but to make sure they bring everyone in by increasing the energy level.
Mary Beth said she loved the lavender colors the group was wearing. She thought the soloists could have been a little louder and offered up a tip to hold the microphone closer to their mouths. She also mentioned that it’s tough to be the first group to perform, and working through the sound issues is, in part, why. Lastly, she agreed with Mickey that the energy levels could have been raised to enhance their performance.
Katie said the group’s sopranos were fantastic. She also said that the first song was a little rushed and that the group should make sure to take their time. Along with that tip, she, like the other two judges, recommended that the girls exude more energy.
Next up were the RIT Brick City Singers (BCS). This group of fourteen males arrived on stage looking like what one judge described as a bunch of Crayola crayons. The guys had on black shoes, slacks, and ties, as well each with a uniquely-colored button-down shirt. Personally, I like uniformity without uniformity, and this seemed to fit the bill.