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Friday, Jun 21, 2024

Bobolinks and Stuck in the Middle Sustain Campus A Cappella Craze

Author: Eliza Hulme

Last Saturday students poured into Mead Chapel to hear the Bobolinks, one of Middlebury College's two coed a cappella groups, give their spring concert. The turnout was impressive, and the enthusiasm of the audience was palpable, a sign that a cappella's draw remains strong.

Some make comparisons between a cappella groups and sports teams. In recent years, a cappella groups have become staples on college campuses, participants in national competitions and sources of school pride. Encompassing many styles of music as well as providing ample visual entertainment, a cappella performances are popular, as the attendance at Mead Chapel proved last Saturday.

The evening began with an energetic opening act: the newly formed group Stuck in the Middle (SIM). All men, the group was clearly excited to perform, and they elicited a warm reception from the audience. Though the vocals lacked a bit in terms of power, this was more a matter of acoustics than ability. The three songs chosen by the group were all executed beautifully, and the talented soloists were ably backed by their fellow singers.

SIM was followed by the main attraction of the evening, the Bobolinks. Walking down the middle of the aisle, the group was preceded by their two newest members who were clad as a sumo wrestler and a Viking. After a brief skit that seemed to recall the World Wrestling Foundation, the group launched into their first song, an intriguing arrangement of "Ready To Go" by Republica. The soloist, Lauryn Nicasio '05, performed very well, though occasionally the volume of the group was too strong and her words were lost. Her costume seemed to distract her as well, but being dressed as a sumo wrestler while performing might challenge anyone's poise.

The performance continued, with pieces ranging from U2's "Into the Wild" to "Wonderland" by John Mayer and "Here With Me" by Dido. The selection of pieces was interesting and the result was a pleasantly varied presentation. The songs were also interspersed with skits involving various members of the group and, during pauses between songs, members of the group made tributes to departing seniors.

Certain songs worked better than others. One of the most stunning moments of the evening was the group's rendition of "Don't Cry" by Seal. David Bernay '04 sang beautifully and emotionally, and the balance between soloist and group was perfect. Dido's "Here With Me" was another high point, the arrangement of the piece eerily capturing the electronic and spacey feel of the song.

Especially considering the evening's rough start, the concert was a success. The show was 30 minutes late beginning due to technical difficulties with the card swiper being used to charge admission Unfortunately, the lights also caused problems and so SIM ended up singing their first song in the near darkness.

However, once things got started, the evening went well, and the Bobolinks gave a very accomplished concert. The only recurring problems seemed to be related to balance, and one is forced to wonder if it might not have had more to do with the space than the performance itself. As an audience member, however, I found myself wishing that the idea of skits had been left out. While amusing for a few minutes, the skits seemed to break the concentration of both performers and audience members. Nevertheless, the evening was fun for all involved, affirming the bright future of a cappella here at Middlebury. Between the strong performance of the Bobolinks and the excitement of SIM, one was not left wondering why a cappella has taken such a strong hold at campuses across the nation.