Bradley Halpern/ Senior StaffSuave. Talent. Charisma. Cue the YellowJackets’ entrance onto Strong Auditorium’s stage, donned in their characteristic, yellow blazers, greeted by the cheers of fans and supporters who fill the theater. The multicolored lights blazed and flashed as the a cappella group began its first number. It’s easy to see that as a group, they are organized and prepared, as well as individually talented. Clearly having a blast on stage, the YellowJackets performed song after song, each with the same energy as before. They continually blew the audience away with their strong and incredible voices. Clapping and singing along, the audience contributed to the excitement and success of the show. Audience members, were constantly smiling and able to identify many of their songs, but also surprising was the selection of unfamiliar tunes, proving the group’s versatility when it comes to range of repertoire.

The YellowJackets proved not only their versatility, but also their ability to surprise and keep their audience anxiously waiting for what would come next. They were able to change it up, not simply performing song after song. A largely popular and entertaining number proved to be the quartet “Flown All the Way from Singapore.”

Naturally, I thought it would be another guest group, but soon junior Aden Brooks, senior Galen Dole, junior Chris Urquiaga, and junior Matthew Carlin strolled on stage and performed a Beach Boys song in a barbershop quartet style. It was funny, entertaining, and enjoyable. The biggest surprise of their show was left up to their audience, however. In the first half of the show, audience members could put money into three different boxes, each representing a song they could sing. After intermission, the song chosen depended on whichever box held the most donations. This not only got us cheering for our song of choice, but also helped collect more money for Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance. After intermission, much to the audience’s delight, they YellowJackets performed a Disney medley. Another fun aspect of their show was when they would come down into the audience, interacting with and singing to certain people.

The men of the YellowJackets were also able to show their more emotional side when it came time to present the seniors of the group: Galen Dole, Ross Pederson, Jordan Fontheim, and Michael Pittman. For each senior, an underclassman gave a little story and background for the audience to better understand each man’s contribution not only to the performing group, but to the guys themselves. Needless to say, this was an emotional time for everyone in the group, knowing that this was the seniors’ last performance. After each short speech, each senior performed a song that held personal value to them. I was particularly blown away by Jordan Fontheim’s beatboxing abilities. I was left literally speechless after he demonstrated how he could make sounds with his mouth that actually sounded computerized. His other song, “Lean On Me,” was performed beautifully with harmonizing and strength from everyone in the group. I also loved Michael Pittman’s dramatic and accurate performance of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Galen Dole elicited “aww”s from the crowd by performing the song he used to audition for the YellowJackets four years ago while Ross Pedersen wowed us with his impressive voice in a Billy Joel number.

Also regarding emotion, we shouldn’t forget that the concert itself was a benefit, the “Concert for a Cure,” partnering with Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), an organization dedicated to research on Friedreich’s Ataxia, a severely debilitating disease. The disease itself hits home for senior Galen Dole, whose sister is currently battling the disease. He recognized that the disease goes largely unheard of and decided that he would make a difference for his sister and all others who suffer from the disease, either themselves or through family members. In fact, through online donations alone, they were able to raise over $11,000. So needless to say everyone who attended the concert is now aware of FA, as well as the attempts being made to battle it.

Another incredible part of the YellowJackets’ show was their guest performance by UR Bhangra. Their performance, that seemed to go on forever, never lost my attention. I could only imagine how exhausting all that could have been, constantly dancing and jumping around. Their use of different props was also entertaining, showing off multiple aspects of this entertaining Indian dance. It looked like everyone up there was having fun, making me want to join the group myself, until I remembered how awfully exhausting it must be. But nevertheless, these performers never lost their gusto, maintaining smiles throughout the whole number.

Overall, the Concert for a Cure was a great success in all aspects, talent performance, fundraising, and collective enjoyment. This having been my first YellowJackets concert, I’m happy to say it was fun and entertaining enough to convince me to go to their other shows in these next few years. I definitely encourage anyone who hasn’t been to a show, or even any acappella show, to attend one as soon as possible. It’s so much fun, you’re really missing out on the performing arts side of this University.

Perez is a member of the class of 2016



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