By Megan Ioannides, Opinion Sub-Editor
Stepping into the Anson Rooms for the Best of the Southwest (BOSW) Acapella Showcase, I didn’t know what to expect. Any knowledge I had about acapella beforehand came from, what I had imagined to be a particularly inaccurate Pitch Perfect franchise. However, after Saturday night, I can see that at least the extravagance of the films is reflected in real life.
The annual event, hosted by the University of Bristol’s A Capella Society, showcases some of the best university acapella groups from the Southwest in a jam-packed night of performances. With 17 groups from Bristol, Exeter, Cardiff, and Bath involved, it wasn’t just the vocal range and in-sync dance moves that impressed me, but the sheer passion that came from a room of people doing what they love. As I arrived and joined the queue of people eager to enter, I noticed a number of the groups, in fantastically coordinated outfits, preparing their voices and calming their nerves before they stepped on stage. In fact, it was the matching velvet blazers I spotted that made me realise I was in for a treat.
The show itself hosted a range of talent, with some groups more harmonious than others and some song choices better, but it was the excitement in the room that showcased exactly what acapella is about -and this didn’t just emanate from those performing. What I witnessed, was a full house – amazingly, the biggest audience the event has seen yet, apparently – of parents, grandparents, and friends ready to cheer on their loved ones. In fact, I also think the girls behind me were big Bristol Uni acapella fans because I definitely overheard a “get them on my camera roll” as the Tone Rangers took to the stage.
As the night went on, and the crowd got drunker, the enthusiasm grew. There were chants for crowd favourites Academy and Pitch Fight, which were met with the groups’ fantastic performances of a well-choreographed rendition of ABBA’s Waterloo and the powerful Dream On by Aerosmith respectively. I also had never in my wildest dreams expected to see a mosh pit at an acapella show but it seems that this is a surprisingly regular occurrence when Brizzle Box take to the stage. The beatboxing group rustled up the energy of the crowd to something you’re likely to see at Leeds Fest, not the Richmond Building.
The organisation of the event, on the whole, was impressive and so a big well done must be given to the society’s committee. Whilst nearly three hours of performances may have been slightly too much for me for my first time as an acapella audience member, the regulars and family members loved it. If I was to make one significant criticism it would be that the pre-written ‘burns’ and jokes the hosts dished out didn’t always land and instead were often just harsh. “Show some love” the girls behind me again voiced in response – show some love indeed, as that’s what the audience was doing regardless.
Featured image: Megan Ioannides
Have you seen any other Acapella Society shows? What did you think?