By Julia Chin, Staff Writer
“Tonight,” Lauren Hand ‘20 began like a ringmaster at the grand opening of a circus, “you get the rare chance to see all four a capella groups in one concert.” On Saturday, October 13, the Attic was already packed by 7:00 p.m. with students who had come out to Acatoberfest, a musical spin on Oktoberfest. Like the traditional German holiday, this event featured food, fun, and alcohol for the college’s upperclassmen; however, the musicians at Acatoberfest didn’t bring any instruments, just their voices.
If anyone was uncertain as to who the a capella groups were on campus, they definitely got their clarification after this event, which featured the college’s four music groups that sing covers of songs using only the human voice. But in case you missed it and are still confused about who’s who on the a capella scene, let’s start with the basics. Beatboxer, break it down.
After the introduction by the four presidents of each group, Upscale set the stage with “Dancing Queen,” a girls’ night anthem that’s recently regained a lot of popularity due to the film adaptation of Mamma Mia!, a jukebox musical based on the songs of 70s Swedish pop group ABBA. After the release of the highly anticipated film sequel this summer, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, anyone and everyone has been humming the catchy tunes around campus.
Thus, the Gettysburg College populace spoke, and Upscale answered. Setting a fun and vibrant mood for the rest of the night, the all-female group proved that everyone can dance and everyone can jive. Upscale brought their second song back to 2018 with a passionate rendition of a pop hit closer to present day, “Attention.” Soloist Lelia Gilhool ‘19 elicited a round of cheers for her powerful belting take on Charlie Puth’s chart-topper.
But beyond the iconic songs and power ballads, there were other reasons for students to come out to the Attic Saturday night.
“I came out because I’ve always enjoyed the a capella groups on campus, and I know various people in each group,” Laura Fodale ‘19 commented. “So I came out to support them…And it’s host provider.”
Fair enough, but back to the performances!
The women of Upscale were followed by the men of Drop the Octave, more casually known as DTO. Yes, this abbreviation of their name plus their suave suits and charming personalities does make them every bit the heartthrob boy band you would imagine, minus the guitars.
Soloist Noah Guy-Mozenter ‘21 began their set with a cover of Shawn Mendes’ “Lost in Japan,” before doubling as the beatboxer for the next two songs.
The next song performed was not a song at all, but two songs. DTO fans got two for the price of one in an undeniably catchy mashup of Lauv’s “I Like Me Better” and The Chainsmokers’ “Closer.”
Everyone loved the tenor tones of Robby Napoli ‘19 and Sean Thompson ‘21 on the first solo, but music also speaks where words fail. And what I mean by that is, “Can we please talk about that instrumental solo?” Imagine the catchy synthesized vibes of the chorus from “Closer.” Now imagine Noah Malamut ‘19 singing that. Can’t get it out of your head now? Neither could we, but we’re not really upset about it.
Finally, Drop the Octave ended with their traditional concert-closer, “Good Old A Capella,” adding Cameron Thompson ‘19 onto the train of previous soloists Noah Guy-Mozenter and Robby Napoli.
The penultimate performance of the night was led by Four Scores, Gettysburg’s co-ed a capella group. Formed in 1997, Four Scores opened with their theme song “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder. After that, they performed a mashup of three fantastic songs with three fantastic soloists. The medley included The Beatles’ “In My Life,” Natalie Merchant’s “Kind and Generous,” and Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True,” sung by Cat Schnarr ’21, Michael Preston ‘19, and Liz Clark ‘18 respectively. Typically known for soulful and moving sets, Four Scores did not disappoint.
And last but not least, The Spark Notes finished with a finale of four songs. The most miniature of Gettysburg’s a capella groups, The Spark Notes are comprised of a tight-knit quintet plus a beatboxer, making for a grand total of six Sparks.
Now seems like a good time to mention that I also am a vocalist in this group to avoid the awkward, continued use of the third-person. We kicked off our set with “Come and Get Your Love,” our anthem as evidenced by the title lyrics written across the back of our t-shirts beneath our blazers. Our president, Lauren Hand, likes to think of it as a “sass manifesto,” and I couldn’t agree more.
The next few songs were of an eclectic scope, ranging from the mellow “Maddy Brown” by My Brothers and I (solo by Sam Langston ‘21) to the Backstreet Boys classic “I Want It That Way,” and finally wrapping up the concert with “Gaims,” a jocund song by hip-hop artist Kamau that admittedly has a lot of spelling errors but also some great lyrics about a boy who just can’t seem to get the girl.
“I’m really glad all of the groups were finally able to get together for something like this,” Drop the Octave member Robby Napoli says of Acatoberfest on a whole. “We’ve tried in the past, but finally getting it done has been really fun. It was great to be able to see what the other groups are doing and to be able to be here to support them.”
After the end of the concert, students slowly exited the Attic with smiles on their faces and songs stuck in their heads. Each of the four groups brought their own style and voice to the stage, setting the bar high for any Acatoberfest to come in future years of Gettysburg College. No one could deny: it was an aca-awesome night.