Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

12 Nov 2001, 17:39 p.m.

Notes from the a cappella concert on Friday night: Women can…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Notes from the a cappella concert on Friday night:

  • Women can do Michael Jackson's "Beat It" as well as, or better than, Michael Jackson. At least, UCLA's Random Forces (a women's group) can.
  • All-women's groups tend to overuse trilling, perhaps to conceal unimpressive singing.
  • "People Change," which Random Forces sang, had rather typical lyrics that touched me anyway.
  • On the Rocks, a men's group from the University of Oregon, just shone. The men of On The Rocks are what the UC Men's Octet used to be. They made "For the Longest Time," an a cappella standard, break into new life. "Need to Know" became entertaining. They sang Guster's "Center of Attention" and I fell in love with the song instantly. They sang some lovely ditty about insomnia -- containing the nice rhyme, "I've tried everything from Aristotle/ to Dramamine and the whiskey bottle" -- and made "A Demon Cannot be Heard," a UC Golden Overtones standard, their own. Absolutely terrific voices, choreography, and arrangements. Five stars.
  • The Cal Jazz Choir performed excellently, as usual, although an effortlessly captivating superstar from previous years wasn't there (perhaps she graduated) and sometimes the singers scatted. Scat always bothers me. I just don't get scat. It doesn't mean anything! Am I supposed to pretend that it does? What's it for? I like words; so sue me.
  • The Golden Overtones (a women's group) bored me such that I began a To-Do list. [Argh, it's Monday night and I'm not halfway through. Argh.]

    "Since You Been Gone" seemed lackluster. I began sleeping through the second half of every song, awakening only to applaud.

  • The UC Men's Octet, while not as outstanding as in previous years (gosh, it was great my sophomore year), still impressed me. I hear Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" for the first time and liked it. I'd never really listened to Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence" before the Men's Octet performed it, quite beautifully. (Dan once told me that, in his younger days, he'd related to the song quite personally. Now I do too.) Some reggae joke passed me by, but I loved "Paperback Writer" and the Beatles-Gang-of-Four choreography parody it contained.

    I really don't listen to much contemporary music. The Men's Octet usually closes its set with some humorous revamp of a popular tune. Two years ago, it reliably brought down the house with its rendition of "Hit Me Baby One More Time." On Friday night, it did what I think of as "That One Moulin Rouge Song/Lady Marmalade" and I would have loved it more if I, you know, had heard the song more than twice or so.

  • The Men's Octet and Golden Overtones came out for the encore, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Rather nice.
It was good, I imagine, the concert. I kind of wanted to go home. It was late. I didn't want to be too tired to enjoy A Prairie Home Companion the next night.

I am such a square.