No Instruments Aloud showcases a cappella groups

Co-ed a cappella group Soundbytes performed an energetic rendition of The Police's "Roxanne." (credit: David Chang/) Co-ed a cappella group Soundbytes performed an energetic rendition of The Police's "Roxanne." (credit: David Chang/)

Students streamed into McConomy Auditorium on Saturday to listen to No Instruments Aloud, one of the largest a cappella concerts of the year. The Originals, the oldest a cappella group at Carnegie Mellon, hosted the event, which also featured the groups Treblemakers, Counterpoint, Soundbytes, and Joyful Noise.

Senior chemical engineering major Bryan Spencer, former member of The Originals, served as Master of Ceremonies for the night. He provided transitions between performances with lighthearted jokes and facts on the different a cappella groups.

The Originals, an all-male group, started the night off with a rendition of The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men,” complete with feather boa accessories. This allowed the show to begin on a fun note, building excitement in the audience for the rest of the performances. The mood in the room took a change, however, as the men performed Stephen Sondheim’s “I Remember” from Evening Primrose. The auditorium fell completely silent as the men’s voices swelled and stopped in perfect unison, performing the piece with captivating dynamics.

The group members showed off their personalities with their quirky performance of Jonathan Coulton’s “Code Monkey” — complete with a nerdy reference to Coulton’s song “Still Alive” from the video game Portal. The audience laughed and cheered at the obscure song choices, and Spencer dubbed the Originals “the coolest nerds on campus.”

The Treblemakers performed next, showcasing their versatility with a setlist containing a variety of genres, including a laid-back mash-up of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and the classic “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Their rendition of “Feeling Good” reflected the classy and confident demeanor of Michael Bublé, who brought the jazzy song into the mainstream.

Counterpoint, Carnegie Mellon’s only (and therefore, “the best,” joked Spencer) all-female a cappella group, performed with energy and enthusiasm. The group looked and sounded cohesive on stage, singing hits such as Jordin Sparks’ “Battlefield” and Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts.”

After a short intermission, Soundbytes came on stage. Starting off their setlist with an energetic cover of The Police’s “Roxanne,” the Soundbytes’ enthusiasm carried throughout their performance. As Carnegie Mellon’s first co-ed a cappella group, the Soundbytes took full advantage of the range of its singers with song choices like “Supermassive Black Hole,” which featured female soprano voices to imitate Muse’s lead singer’s trademark high voice.

The Christian co-ed a cappella group Joyful Noise performed a range of songs, from traditional hymns to pop rock choices. The members gave a short explanation of how Christianity helped them through rough patches in their lives, and that they use music as a way to express their love for what religion provided them.

Lastly, The Originals came back to perform for a second time with their award-winning International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella setlist. The arrangements of their songs were stunningly unique, with one piece featuring a mash-up of 26 hit songs. A more emotional performance of Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt” showcased the softer side of the group, which then contrasted with an energy-fueled performance of Journey’s “Separate Ways.”

Just when the audience thought the show was over, however, The Originals returned with guest singer Salim Peshawaria, a senior information systems major, to perform perhaps the best song of the night: The Lonely Island’s “I Just Had Sex.” Peshawaria sang the chorus with The Originals backing him up and rapping.

“The Originals’ second part was so good,” said Alanna Libbrecht, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. “The acting, the ... fun atmosphere of it — they put on a whole show.”

The audience members enjoyed the show, but the music groups involved had a great time as well. Junior linguistics major and Soundbytes President Enrica Rosato said that performing for a big show like this is “really fun because we get to hang out with these people all the time, and work really hard. And then finally you have a performance to look forward to, and the energy gets really, really high.”

The Originals did a fantastic job organizing the event to showcase the multitude of talent. As Rosato said, “All the other groups are amazing, and The Originals got a huge turnout to show up.... I think this is the most people I’ve ever seen at an a cappella show, and everybody had so much fun.”