I can’t say I would describe myself as a fan of the Pitch Perfect movies. That’s not to say that I disliked them, I saw the first one when it came out and enjoyed it but not enough to make my way to the theaters when the other two appeared on the scene nor enough to bother to hit play on Netflix when they show up in my suggested items. I attended the a cappella Christmas concert my first year to support a friend and, taking a leave of absence from it due to timing conflicts and the graduation of said friend for the intervening two years, found myself seated on the floor of the Buchanan lecture theater, preparing to watch the Christmas concert once more for my fourth year.
The Buchanan Lecture theater, a building that can sit 367 people, was packed. Arriving five minutes before show time, I was too late to realize, was a mistake. My friends and I found ourselves quickly hustled to spots on the floor in front of the Buchanan door (you can’t imagine how unstable that was to lean up against) and told to get ready because the show was going to begin soon. Surprisingly, the discomfort of our seating arrangement only seemed to add to the excitement that was already abounding in the room. Students and adults alike were dressed in festive holiday sweaters, or removing layers of coats while they chatted with friends, giving me a glimpse into an energized Buchanan that my IR lectures had never seen all throughout sub-honours. However, as soon as the lights went down and our MCs for the evening, a boy and girl walked on stage, the chatter quieted and the evening was underway.
While memories of my first year’s Christmas concert are haunted by the uncomfortable silences that followed the attempted jokes by the MCs, this year’s concert will have no such thing. The MCs were blissfully brief in their introductions and, with one quick quip, were already introducing the first act. From here the show proceeded without a hitch. While the Buchanan was hardly dressed up for the holiday season, the singers were. Each group seemed to have chosen a different theme that perfectly matched their group’s style and vibe. Christmas sweaters, hot pink bomber jackets, the crowd ate it all up, clapping loudly at the end of each set. Thankfully for my awkward seating arrangement, the MCs kept the periods in between each of the seven groups brief and quick with no intermission to make the show feel as if it was dragging along.
I cannot commend each group enough as each one brought something special and unique to the evening. Outstanding choreography, fun festive tunes, and overall fantastic singing were holiday gifts from every group to the audience. I very much regret not having gone in second and third year since, seating or no seating, it really was a great event. However, this being said, for the purposes of this article I was tasked with naming the three groups that I enjoyed the most, so while everyone really was amazing, I’ve written my top three below.
This a large all male a cappella group is a group hailing all the way from Dublin. An instant crowd pleaser, dressed in warm sweaters and offering a unique energy, their performance was one filled with jokes about each other, incredible arrangements and the picture perfect image of a group of friends having fun. The first two songs were incredible, a country song followed by a more well known tune and a Stevie Wonder guitar solo. While I would have loved to place this group higher on my list, I found their third song, an arrangement of a classic Christmas tune, to have lost the beauty the other two had possessed. Their last song, was, granted, good, but still not as strong as the first two, making it hard for me to rank them higher on my list.
#2 The Alleycats
Every single singer in their group was outstanding. Their choreography was fun, well executed and absolutely on the mark. Christmas sweaters already on, they concluded their set with the throwing of fake snow in the air, much to the delight of the audience. Their outfits were, by far, the most creative with sweaters reading things like “Prosecco Ho-Ho” and a girl dressed in a Ms. Claus’ outfit, and they also seemed to be having fun themselves. I was genuinely blown away by each of the performances from the singers and really enjoyed the entire set. There was little, if anything, to critique and I would happily have given them #1 had BELLS hadn’t already stolen my heart.
I really tried to keep an open mind after BELLS finished their set but, I must say, they made that very hard. Dressed the least Christmas-y of the lot but still in coordinated maroon and black colours, they opened the set with one line of a Christmas song only to immediately transition into a reworked pop song, choosing not to visit another holiday line until the medley at the very end. They chose instead to fill their set with a Spanish song (the only foreign language heard throughout the concert), two reworked songs and a last song that brought each previous song together in a mix that shouldn’t have worked but somehow did. Each singer’s singing was jaw dropping (and my friends and I actually did drop our jaws) good, hitting each note and hum with an apparent ease. While each soloist deserves a shoutout I was particularly impressed with the two that ended the song, the girl with pinkish hair and the boy with the scarf, that blended so well, they managed to ensure that the ending of the performance matched the quality of the overall set. Despite the fact that their lacking of holiday specific music should probably have removed them from my list all together, they did something unique that forced me to place them at the top. In a concert full of holly jollys and happy Christmas well wishings, BELLS’ set was the one that most summoned the warm feeling that the holidays are supposed to bring. Their beautiful voices and medleys lived up to the group’s named and seemed to chime and ring perfectly. It was a sound that it almost seemed wrong not to accompany with a cold winter’s evening, a warm blanket, a cup of hot cocoa, and a good book. Long after their set had finished and the names of each group’s songs had left me, it was this feeling that I kept with me.