The International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Semi-Finals took over the Great Hall last Saturday, seeing three of our own groups competing and the Techtonics placing fourth.
Throughout the evening, nine different student a cappella groups preformed in the Great Hall, which was completely packed to the rafters. Teams had traveled from all over the country to perform, including one from St Andrews University in the north of Scotland and two teams from Exeter in the south.
Each team had 12 minutes to perform their set, with many groups performing three or more songs whilst on stage, many also doing a mash-up of songs by various different artists.
The Techtonics opened the show, with Ezra Kitson, first year Biologist, kicking the evening off as lead vocalist for their first song, Best of You, made famous by the Foo Fighters. The Techtonics were followed by the all-male group from Trinity College, Dublin, known as the Trinitones, and the Accidentals, an all-female group from the University of St Andrews. The Accidentals came in third place.
All the King’s Men were next up, who won last year’s Semi-Finals, and made it to Boston for the Final in 2014. This all-male group from King’s College London won Outstanding Arrangment for their set, alongside placing first.
After the interval, The Scopes and the Imperielles, Imperial’s own mixed and all-female groups respectively, also performed, with Tammy Huggins, a second year Biochemist, later winning Outstanding Soloist. The Scopes delivered an impressive mash-up of top 90’s hits, whilst the Imperielles’ set included exceptional renditions of Sia’s Chandelier and a mash up of Massive Attack’s Teardrop and Lorde’s Royals.
Exeter’s all-male group, Semi-Toned, delivered a brilliant rendition of Disney’s I’ll Make a Man Out of You and won the prize for Outstanding Choreography for their entire set, along with placing second. Meanwhile, Durham University’s mixed group, the Northern Lights, won the award for Outstanding Vocal Percussion for their entire set.
The MC’s for the evening were the Son of Pitches, a former student a cappella group from Birmingham University. They have since gone professional after getting to the ICCA Finals a few years ago.
Whilst the judges deliberated, they entertained the audience with a half-hour set of their top hits, including an improvised song about a “bobsleighing manatee” in the style of reggae-opera. Sadly, a second promised improvisation about “erotic protractors” was scrapped as the judges returned to announce the results.
They did manage to squeeze in a performance of their latest single with backings from a gospel choir known as Sound, which featured a Techtonics alumni (and Felix centrefold star), Conrad Godfrey.
The Techtonics spoke to Felix after the event. Peter Noden, the President said: “The evening was an amazing experience for the group, performing to a home crowd (who were incredible!) and a chance to meet up with old friends from other groups. Afterwards we discovered we actually placed fourth overall - just missing out on the top three.
“But the group is not dwelling on the outcome as we have a very busy year ahead, with a second studio album in production and a summer tour to look forward to!”
The Imperielles also spoke to Felix, and told us how much fun they had on the night. “Although the ICCAs was a competition, the atmosphere was extremely supportive, and it felt more like a celebration of the immense talent within UK a cappella.
“Performing to such a large audience was really exciting, as Imperial’s Great Hall was packed to full capacity. The Imperielles are particularly proud to have won the award for Outstanding Soloist which went to Tammy. Imperielles are soon to be making a music video, so keep an eye out for that too!”
The competition, hosted by the international organisation known as Varsity Vocals, is now in its 20th year. All the King’s Men will be travelling to New York to compete in the Finals in April. It is not yet known who they will be competing against as other groups have yet to advance from their Regionals.
Felix spoke to Matt Shirer, the International Producer of Varsity Vocals, about the event, and how he thought it went. Shirer told us how he was impressed with the high standard the groups performing, and also just how smoothly the event went on the night.
Said Shirer: “Over the years, I have seen groups elevate their level of musical excellence and performance to truly incredible levels, and I certainly expect we will see that in the groups competing next year!
“While it took quite a bit of effort, seeing and hearing the reactions from everyone at the show easily justified everything that went into it.”
George Rolls, from All The King’s Men, said “I would say we are particularly happy as Saturday night was the culmination of a few weeks of particularly hard work. We had lots of nice comments from alumni who had performed with us at our 5th anniversary concert in October. We would also like to pass our thanks to the Tectonics, and Henry Harrod, who did a great job of organising the event and hosting us all!
“We are starting a fundraising campaign, as we would love to go to the finals in New York, but it is a considerable task to get the money to go, so we are all expecting to work very hard over the next 2 months!“
The Scopes said “The Scopes consider their performance a success and intend to celebrate by eating a lot of cake and, in some cases, a lot of cheese.
“This has been their biggest performance to date and they are thrilled to have participated in such a momentous and spectacular event.”
Planning for the Semi-Final began in May last year, and has already begun for Semi-Final in 2016.