I have come to expect mainstream pop and college a capella groups to go hand-in-hand. It is something I have made relative peace with. Bearing this in mind, I was not particularly excited when I saw that The Morning After Hours show on Friday, April 15 would be opening with Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Setting my mainstream grievances aside, I was pleasantly surprised by the vocals and stage presence of sophomore soloist Natalia Wannon. The creepy and almost robotic movements of the group combined with dramatic red lights and fog really kicked the show off to a good start.
While I did find “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry and “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz enjoyable, it was the more indie tracks that I found to be most successful. The cover of Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” was a welcome departure from the norm, with spot-on harmonies and the group floating along dreamily in the background.
The arrangement of “Mad World” by Tears for Fears was another pleasant addition. The song began with one voice and slowly grew to include the whole group. This slow track, along with their alumni song, really highlighted the group’s tight harmonies and unity.
The love I have expressed for the slower paced songs is not meant to discount the validity of their more upbeat tracks. Of particular note was the cover of Sara Bareilles’ summer hit “King of Anything.” Before starting, sophomore and soloist Alaina Sawyer requested the audience’s help with the chorus and patiently taught us the clapping pattern we were to perform. This piece was well done, but its success cannot be touted without noting the audience’s intense enthusiasm.
Normally it takes crowds a little while to warm up to performers, but these spectators really got into the concert. There was a kind of feel-good energy exuding from the stage during the rendition of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” which made it impossible to look away.
The show featured a special guest, The Cornell CallbaXX. Overall, the group performed well, but it seemed like it took them halfway through a song to really hit their stride. Their most upbeat and arguably their best number was their opener, “Fuck You” by Cee-Lo Green. The CallbaXX had a much quieter energy than After Hours did, so it was hard to transition from one group to the next and really get into the CallbaXX sound.
After Hours is losing four of its senior members this year: Caitlin Cavanagh, Jonathan Chester, Michael Tichenor and Dan Wang. The senior send-offs were incredibly emotional. You could tell the other members of the group are going to miss the four of them very much.
The four senior songs featured covers of Ingrid Michaelson, The Beatles, The Script and Jason Mraz. I can imagine the group dynamic next year may change significantly without these seniors — especially with the loss of Chester — whose bass notes seem unparalleled, but the group will likely find a slew of new freshman next year to fill the void.
The videos that accompanied the performance were certainly humorous but not the highlight of the show by any means. There were some technical difficulties throughout them, which made it a bit hard to hear the dialogue at times, but the physical comedy and sheer ridiculous nature of the films made them enjoyable, whether or not we could actually hear exactly what they what was being said.
The evening finished with a slideshow of fictitious shenanigans, and the group left the stage only to have the audience joining them in an impromptu dance party.
My next statement may seem over-the-top, but I am willing to put myself out there and say it: Honestly, if After Hours were a religion, this concert would have converted me. I was bowled over by the group’s honest appreciation for the audience.
Their energy on stage was imbued with genuine excitement and passion for their craft of a cappella singing. I left the auditorium feeling like I had been given a gift, but perhaps what made that night so special was the fact that After Hours seemed to feel like the audience had given them a gift as well.
Williamson is a member of the class of 2013.