After an incredibly successful month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Alleycats brought their performance Gap Year! to the Bubble for a one-off performance. While my own knowledge of a cappella is limited to quoting Pitch Perfect and singing off-key to the radio, the Alleycats gave me the backstory and influence for their latest concert.
Gap Year! follows a variety of ludicrous characters travelling the globe desperately trying to find themselves. From a couples’ cruise gone disastrously wrong to a sensual journey of self-awakening to a debauched party in paradise to a shamelessly naive do-gooder doing good, each experience is set against a backdrop of top-class a cappella. Musical stylings ranged from Barry Manilow to Justin Timberlake, from The Beatles to Beyoncé. The characters themselves were creations of the group based on their own travel experiences and gap years, satirising the nature of modern travel and the stereotypical ‘gap year’ had by so many St Andreans.
In recent years, a cappella has skyrocketed in popularity, as can be seen from the sheer number of groups found in St Andrews and performing this year at the Fringe. When asked what inspired Gap Year!, Alleycats member Gus Haynes explained that they “needed to come up with a show which marked [them] out from the other groups and made [their] run unique.” Escaping the usually monotonous parade of song after song, the Alleycats interjected their show with satire and comedy through hilarious monologues and ad-interludes, including some minor wardrobe malfunctions.
Some of the most notable arrangements spanned various genres and had me close to tears from laughing so hard, including a reimagined duet by Alleycats Jenni and Joe, who performed a harrowing tale of love lost with “If I Were a Boy,” set in the ever-romantic Magaluf. Watching the group perform Joe Revell’s rewritten rap for “Fancy” left the audience screaming with laughter. This suit was followed during the performances of “Afternoon Delight,” “Love Yourself,” “Rehab,” and “The Sound of Silence,” a setlist that provided an impressive mix of classics and current hits.
I may be biased when I say that the final song, Max Kelleher’s rewritten version of Toto’s “Africa,” was the highlight of the show, but that’s because it is arguably the greatest song in history [pure fact]. This performance also served as the first show for many of the new cats, who did a phenomenal job on stage. For those students who weren’t lucky enough to make it to the Fringe to catch the Alleycats this past summer, the final performance of Gap Year! was a cracking success, and it was definitely not to be missed. Congratulations to the Alleycats for putting on a smashing performance – we’ll all be on the look out for your next show this year.