Trebellious, the only a cappella group at UR not recognized by the Student Association hosted its annual Fall Show in the Interfaith Chapel to an audience of approximately 40 students on Saturday, Dec. 1. Trebellious has progressed since it was founded in 2009 and is clearly aiming to be recognized on the same level as the other on-campus a cappella groups. In this uphill battle, they seem to be slowly inching closer to their goal.
Trebellious’ show, sporting a “Snow and Magic” theme, made good use of the group’s vocal talent. Though none of the soloists stood out among the pack, they all performed well. Sophomore John DeCourcey provided a fitting example — his solo in a mash-up of the Beatles’ classics “Blackbird” and “Dear Prudence” was remarkable, but did not outshine the work of the other soloists.
Despite their vocal aptitude, Trebellious struggled at times in their performance due to issues with balance between the different sections in many of their songs. It definitely didn’t help that there were only four males compared to eight females in the group, and very few of their songs seemed to try to make up for this vocal disparity. “Medicine Man,” a Trebellious cover of The Hush Sound, is an example of this, as it was undone by a lack of bass and an uneven tenor part. Trebellious tried to compensate for this on some songs by bringing in Rick Thomas, a Rochester Institute of Technology graduate student, to act as an additional bass or vocal percussionist and, though it helped, their balance definitely was the most noticeable weakness in their performance.
In spite of this, Trebellious truly showed that it is developing as a group. The overall quality of the show was greater than that of their spring show, helped in part by stronger numbers and a greater diversity in song choice. Though other a cappella groups on campus have been trending to performing predominantly popular modern numbers, more than half of Trebellious’ covers were of indie songs from the 2000s. Also featured were songs by Whitney Houston (“How Will I Know”), Ray Charles (“Hit the Road Jack”) and even the 1920s Gershwin classic “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Though some of their song choices seemed odd, the group made up for it with strong performances, such as a creative mash-up of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night,” allowing the group to end its first act on a very positive note.
Some of the best songs in the show, however, were not sung by the actual group itself. The strongest number turned out to be a quartet of four Trebellious members — DeCourcey, sophomore Ashwini Mandalika, junior Sam Butler and sophomore Andrea Obah — who performed a cover of Regina Spektor’s “The Call.” The strength of the arrangement and the balance between each part was phenomenal. Additionally, the alumni song — Billy Pilgrim’s “Insomniac” — was one of the finest numbers of the whole show, predominantly due to the strong male presence among the alumni that helped the group achieve perfectly balanced background vocals. One of the few exceptions to this was a cover of Anna Nalick’s “Breathe,” a beautiful performance which featured brilliant choral harmonies and a fantastic solo from senior Sophie Esquier.
After Trebellious’ first set, the Brick City Singers, an all-male a cappella group from RIT, performed a high-energy set that seemed to surprise and delight the audience. Though a smaller group of 10 men with a sound not as strong or well-developed as UR’s YellowJackets or Midnight Ramblers, the creativity of the Brick City Singers was admirable and their blend often impeccable. Particularly, their renditions of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” and “Every Time We Touch” stood out due to quality arrangements and their entertaining stage presence.
It is always unfortunate that so few people attend the free performances provided by some of UR’s performance groups, for on many occasions the entertainment value is far greater than the hour or two of free time you are sacrificing to attend. If Trebellious continues to improve at its current rate, it should undoubtedly start drawing a larger audience and fan base, and hopefully gain enough support to finally gain the SA recognition and funding it truly deserves.
Pascutoi is a member of the class of 2015.