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All A Cappella Live

Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College

Sunday, Mar. 11, 2007

This past Sunday afternoon, a cappella fans crowded into the beautifully restored Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College, and tuned in to WERS 88.9 to listen to four Boston area a cappella groups compete at the All A Cappella Live competition. The four groups were selected as some of the best in the area and included the MIT Logarhythms along with the Brandeis Voicemale, Harvard Low Keys, and the Tufts Beelzebubs ("Bubs"). While this competition had judges, they only provided comments; it was the live audience of 1200 that would actually decide the afternoon's winner.

The first group to come on stage was the Brandeis Voicemales. This eight member all-male group is a bit small for a typical a cappella group, and it came through in their singing, which lacked the depth compared to the other groups. However, this was a minor flaw that could have been overlooked had the group chosen different songs and exhibited more energy on stage. Three of their six songs can best be described as a cappella clichés of hackneyed love songs. While the singing was in tune for all of the songs, the only piece worth mentioning is their rendition of OK Go's "Here It Goes Again." With unique choreography and excess energy, the Voicemales showed that this fast-paced modern tune does not need treadmills to be enjoyable.

After the Voicemales were the Harvard Low Keys, the only co-ed group in this otherwise male-dominated competition. As befitting their name, they sang low key songs such as "California Dreaming" (Mamas and the Papas) and "Sunny Came Home" (Shawn Colvin). The lead vocals of the former were impressive as the young singer sang with soul and control. The lead for the latter piece had a beautifully toned voice, but she was so quiet that I often had to strain to hear her over the background. As with the previous group, I wished the Low Keys had more energy. However, unlike with the previous group, I actually agreed with the judges when they described the group as being "real smooth" with "such good blend."

Although the first two groups were fine with technically sound performances, when the MIT Logs came on after a short intermission, they stole the show. Singing some of their classics, including Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" (James N. Pacella '07 and Tyson C. McNulty '08, who is a Tech Arts staff writer) and Damien Rice's "The Blower's Daughter (Matthew S. Schoeneck '07), along with two new pieces that they'll "officially" premier at their spring concert, the Logs showed off their vocal range and a well-developed ability to entertain and engage an audience. While they had a few difficulties with one of the newer songs, they sealed their position at number one with their amazing rendition of the Gorillaz "Feel Good, Inc" (Michael R. Miller '09 with Stephen B. Nicholson '08 and Michael J. Fitzgerald '07) and the now famous "windmills." The audience loved the performance so much that the group received a standing ovation. One of the judges commented that you "can't grade [them] on a normal scale" to which I respond you have to grade them on the "Log" scale (sorry, I couldn't resist a good math pun). Either way, they showed that MIT isn't just good at engineering.

Unfortunately for the Tufts Dubs, they had to follow the Logs. The prestigious Dubs gave it their all with a range of songs, including a hilarious version of Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back" that involved synchronized removal of clothes. The audience loved the performance, and the judges predicted they would win, but some off-key notes in Guster's "Ruby Falls" and MIT's dazzling performance kept Tufts from the afternoon's top spot so that MIT walked away with the title.

All of the performers did a good job, and the afternoon was an enjoyable one. MIT winning was just the icing on the cake (though very sweet icing). So check out the Logs whenever you can as they now officially hold the title of Boston's best.