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The Flying V’s deliver “The Verdict” at their spring concert

The University’s “premier rockapella group” rocked out at their courtroom-themed concert

Chalk sketches of electric guitars, music notes and the Flying V’s logo graced the board behind the stage.
Chalk sketches of electric guitars, music notes and the Flying V’s logo graced the board behind the stage.

In the midst of a busy concert season, a hidden gem of the University’s a cappella scene rocked out in Room 402 of the Chemistry Building. Twenty performers dressed in red and black sang for a warm audience of family, friends and fans who filled an impressive number of seats in the sprawling lecture hall. Each song in their set received thunderous applause, from the electric opener, “Red Desert,” to the closing number, “Shine a Little Light.”

Founded in 2009, the Flying Virginians — abbreviated as the Flying V’s — bill themselves as a “rockappella” group and perform covers of music “from Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana, the Four Seasons, and Aerosmith to The Killers, Paramore, Hozier and Maroon 5,” according to their website. And they do it all without a drum kit, keys or a single electric guitar.

Chalk sketches of electric guitars, music notes and the Flying V’s logo graced the board behind the stage Friday evening. Before the concert, tracks from the group’s studio album “Seeing Red” pumped in through speakers. One audience member whistled the melody to “Breakeven” to herself as she found her seat. Then the lights dimmed, and a cheer rose from the crowd.

To set up their alliterative concert theme — “The Verdict” — the V’s opened the show with a pre-recorded skit that parodied courtroom dramas like “Law and Order.” The video ended, the Flying V’s filed in and red light flooded the stage.

The V’s delivered an electric set with one crowd-pleasing arrangement after the other. Five of the group’s eight graduating fourth-year members performed “senior solos” after touching, often tearful tributes from their fellow members that recounted stories of the soon-to-be graduates’ time in the V’s.

Fourth-year College student Hunter Carleton’s bright tenor shone on his arrangement of “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty. Supported by smooth harmonies from fourth-year College student Maddy Martin, fourth-year College student Kevin Poole and fourth-year College student Stephanie Ricker, Carleton’s light falsetto riffs floated over accompaniment from the arc.

Fourth-year McIntire student Vivian Chen gave the next senior solo, singing “Hey, Jude” by the Beatles in a rich, dark alto. The V’s looped their arms over each others’ shoulders, swaying back and forth as they sang. Third-year College student Kate Tran called watching Chen graduate from the group a “bittersweet blessing” in her address to her friend, speaking highly of Chen’s ability to welcome new members of the group.

Ricker followed with an energetic rendition of “Beggin’” by Måneskin, which opened with a haunting, throaty solo and showcased her commanding stage presence and vocal growls. “Beggin’” would be one of two solos by Ricker in the set, with her senior performance later in the night.

After an intermission performance by Ektaal, the University’s South Asian fusion a cappella group, the V’s returned to the stage. The second half of their set spoke to the experience of moving on, letting go, and starting a new life chapter — themes that resonated as three more fourth-years gave their final solo performances on the University stage.

In an arrangement of “Bruised” by Jack’s Mannequin, fourth-year College student Maddy Martin belted out powerful, chillingly relevant lyrics.

“I had to give it away, had to give you away,” she sang. “Can you make this last?”

Fourth-year College student Kevin Duan read an emotional message for the similarly-named fourth-year College student Kevin Poole, reminiscing on a road trip the pair had gone on during their first year with three other new members. Poole fittingly followed this address with “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts, harmonizing with the original road trip V’s.

“God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you,” Poole crooned, smiling at his groupmates and friends.

For the last senior solo, Ricker took center stage once more to sing “Blaze of Glory” by Jon Bon Jovi. She dedicated the performance to her mother, whom Ricker said originally owned the red dress Ricker wore for the concert.

“She told me, ‘Go out in a blaze of glory,’” Ricker told the audience with a sure, knowing smile. “And that’s what I’m gonna do.”

The jury’s out, and the Flying V’s won this case. 


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