It was quite at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night in Mudge. The last dewey drops of the afternoon rain were settling into the cobble stone flooring around the koi pond, and the grass took on a lustrous sheen that glowed under the dim light being thrown from street lamps around the courtyard. The printer was attended to a couple times, and I sat with my camera to my right and a little potted plant to my left, on the damp steps down to the courtyard, because I seemed to know what was coming better than the unsuspecting residents of the mansion.
As the time approached a quarter to nine, muffled voices began to fill the air, along with the shuffling of footsteps. First-years all around began to take note of the congregation developing in the lobby and moving into the courtyard, and shifted their attention to finding seats or good places to stand.
“What’s going on?” I heard a voice whisper behind me.
“I think these are the a cappella groups,” another responded.
I tapped my fingers on my knees in excitement and steadied my hand on my camera ready to listen, as Counterpoint took center stage and introduced themselves.
As the first years pour in, so do their chances of getting involved in the Carnegie Mellon community. With activities fair this Wednesday, and over 150 organizations present to pull people in, picking activities that will shape your college career can be a daunting experience. Thus, to alleviate some of the confusion, groups around campus find other ways to reach out and find students, and spark intrigue where it may have not been expected.
One of these events is now the famous and highly attended Dorm Storming event hosted by the various a cappella groups around campus. Dorm Storming takes place in freshman dorms the night before activities fair, and constitutes many short performances by the a cappella groups around campus. I had the opportunity to sit in on the Mudge wave, which was the first in the Morewood Avenue leg of the group’s tour.
The groups in attendance, as well as the songs they sang over in the Mudge courtyard, were as follows:
C# (a soulful co-ed a cappella group with a choir counterpart known as Db)
Song Performed: Super Smash Bros Theme Medley
Highlight: Definitely the song choice, with lyrics in Latin.
Saans (An all female South Asian group that performs upbeat fusion mash ups, bringing the west and the east together)
Song Performed: Mashup of Nagada Sang Dhol (from the Bollywood movie Ram Leela) and Here by Alessia Ciara
Highlight: What made this mashup work so well was the ease with which the both the songs and the leads’ voices melted into one another.
Soundbytes (A co-ed group with wonderful spunk and deep, jazzy vocals)
Song Performed: Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye
Highlight: Catherine Mondoa’s incredibly smooth lead vocals and the liquid chocolate lull of the rest of the groups backing vocals. Always a treat to listen to the Soundbytes.
Counterpoint (An all female group that continuously prove what a powerhouse they are)
Song Performed: What You Don’t Do by Lianne La Havas
Highlight: Seeing Kristen Smith move away from vocal percussion and flaunt her stellar pipes. I also want to acknowledge the beautiful smiles that Counterpoint always dons while making great eye contact with each other and the audience.
Joyful Noise (The co-ed Christian group on campus, with chilling sets and glorious chemistry)
Song Performed: Bleeding love by Leona Lewis
Highlight: This entire song. I remember hearing it for the first time at almost midnight a cappella last year and squealed when I heard the first few seconds this time. Phenomenal from all angles.
Deewane (The all-male South Asian group that pulls in singers and music lovers of all ethnicities to indulge in some good old-fashioned Bollywood serenading)
Song Performed: Mashup of What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction and Subha Hone Na De (from the Bollywood movie Desi Boys)
Highlight: Deewane’s incredible energy is always infectious, and I would like to apologize here for being the only one to clap incredibly off-beat during the What Makes Your Beautiful segment of the mash up. Everyone in the audience was bobbing their heads and singing along where they could. Great atmosphere.
Treblemakers (Co-ed and polished, always full of surprises)
Song Performed: I’m on a Boat by The Lonely Island
Highlight: Sunglasses and attitude. The Lonely Island never really gets the credit it deserves, and I appreciate this rendition of one of my middle school favorites a little more everytime I see it.
Originals (The runners up from the 2016 ICCA’s, this all male group is full of finesse)
Song Performed: I Can’t Feel My Face by The Weekend
Highlight: The Originals use their voices and body language to bring a whole new layer to all the songs they do. At times it felt like I was listening to something that had been digitally manipulated, and as always I felt goosebumps running down my arms.
A cappella is, and will be for many years to come, a very integral part of our community here at Carnegie Mellon. Whether it’s the Soundbytes singing at the Hillary Clinton rally late last academic year, the Originals making their way to the ICCA finals in New York or even Almost Midnight Acapella, with all the groups around campus, the music and vibes that linger in the air long after the last bar is sung are always memorable.
It is with this in mind that I was drawn back to my freshman dorm once again, and hopefully Tuesday night was an opportunity for many future a cappella sings to find a group they connected with and want to audition for.