Most University students consider the Academical Village People to be the most outrageous of the wide selection of University a cappella groups; in fact, some may write them off as the goofballs of the choral community. But the all-male group’s most recent concert, Baracktoberfest II: The Ultimitt Showdown! made short work of any misconceptions about the AVP’s legitimacy. In addition to their standard good showmanship, they demonstrated vocal talent and a new complexity of composition at their concert last month.
The allure of AVP rests in its members’ pro-party attitude and unwavering enthusiasm. Not ones to shy away from a challenge, musical director “Claymate” (fourth-year College student Clay Pulsipher) and the guys have ventured into the uncharted territory of dubstep a cappella.
“I was definitely nervous about how we’d recreate the dubstep feel, but the human voice is an incredible thing, and I think we were able to accomplish that,” Pulsipher said after Screech’s (third-year Engineering student Doug Henderson) mind-blowing rendition of Alex Clare’s “Too Close.”
If he didn’t already, Screech almost certainly has a female following after that performance, if the hoards of screaming first years nearly obscuring his dulcet tones were any indication.
“A lot of guys got really excited about [covering Avicii’s ‘Fade into Darkness’] because of the high energy and overall epic potential,” Pulsipher said. Having performed it two semesters in a row, Hebrew Hammer (second-year College student Tal Benatar) threw down the gauntlet despite the lack of auto-tune. The boys also included some Academical classics such as The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” performed by Weapon Z (second-year College student Kevin Zeithaml) with heart-wrenching clarity.
The guys proved themselves to be multi-faceted entertainers with their traditional skit and video. They handled the obligatory political theme well, balancing the skit evenly between parties and infusing pop culture references — everyone needs to visit the land of Romnia at least once, where apparently Honey Boo Boo and Aslan coexist.
They continued to showcase their sense of humor while providing a more intimate look into the members’ personalities in the cinematic triumph “AVP goes to Therapy.” The short video emphasized the group’s irrefutable goofiness, one of the primary traits they look for in new guys.
“A lot of [the process of choosing new members] boils down to getting a feel for how their personalities are,” Pulsipher said. “It’s a big decision to make when you’re deciding to bring someone in [who] could very well be a part of AVP for four years.”
The Academical Villagers pulled out all the stops between their crooning collaborations, laudable acting and phenomenal dance moves. By far, the highlight of the show came in the encore, when Screech sprang onto stage donning a red floor-length cape to perform the recent epic “Gangnam Style” with AVP President The Situasian (third-year College student Charles Kang). The crowd instantly jumped up and joined in the frolicking, epitomizing what AVP is all about: engaging the audience with its infectious energy.
We have plenty to expect from the Academical Village People in the spring, including their newest studio album, Sorry for the Noise, and their 20th Anniversary Concert at the Paramount Theater Saturday, April 6. You should come for the party — and stay for the performance.