Join the Jamboree

The Colgate Thirteen/Swinging ‘Gates Spring Jamboree concert was this past weekend, and my, it was a true-blue bang-for-your-buck experience. It was a real, heartfelt (and bellyfelt for that matter) performance. Both a cappella groups have a significant number of graduating seniors, and this was the seniors’ final performance with their groups. It was a bittersweet symphony, so to speak. In this writer’s point of view, they could not have gone out on a better note and there could not have been a more enthusiastic farewell from the audience.

The concert opened with The Swinging ‘Gates performing. Their first song was a creative pseudo-improvised introduction number with musical descriptions of each singer’s role in the group as a whole. The melody was right on track. Of course, there was no soloist on this song.

Now before I go on, let me say that I really wish I knew the names of all the singers in both the groups, but the truth is I don’t. I wish I could talk about them personally, because they were each very good.

Anyway. The first soloist was a senior, who began with a shoutout to her mother. I just wanted to burst out clapping right then. I didn’t and that’s that. But anyway, her voice was very warm and full. She was the Les Paul of the ‘Gates. The second soloist introduced the next song as a Swinging ‘Gates classic. But of course, no one mentioned the name of the song itself. I don’t know enough pop music to identify all the songs that were performed, but I’m comforted by the fact that most of them were probably originals.

At this point, I really started wishing that the soloist’s mic was louder. That was the biggest complaint I had with the performance. But otherwise it was quite an experience. The beat-boxing was energetic & fast which is always a plus. The soloists themselves had voices that ranged from a twangy Fender Stratocaster sound to a deep piercing Ibanez sound. After the fourth song I ran out of guitars to compare them to.

The ‘Gates have been working on an album for the past two years and it officially went on sale on the night of the performance. Get your copies, they’re really good.

The ‘Gates wrapped up their performance with a soulful rendition of (finally a song I recognized) “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” I loved the guitar imitation. Slash, the lead guitarist of Guns ‘n Roses, would’ve been proud.

The Thirteen came out to boisterous cheering and wolf-whistles. They had a lot of fun on stage and throughout their performance there was this intense connection between the entire audience and every single singer on stage. They gave a very impressive performance. If I had to sum up their performance in one word, it would be “rangeful.”

I tried to think of parallels between musical artists and the singers. But The Thirteen had such a rich range and tone that I found myself thinking of a ridiculous motley of singers from ridiculously different genres and eras. There was a Neil Young in The Thirteen that night. There was a John Lennon. A Steve Winwood. A Jason Mraz. An Elvis Presley. Oh my god. The list goes on.

Two of the singers surprised us all with the really really really long sustained notes they hit in their solo performances. There was one song that seemed slightly out of tune though, and again, maybe I should blame that on the soloist’s mic. But I loved the rest of the songs. There was a hilarious goodbye song in the end which served as a nice foil to the ‘Gates’ introductory number. Take a bow guys. Your baseball skit was the perfect icing to your performance.

So. That was the end of the concert that night. And I wished I had heard more.