A Capella 11.23.19

Rocktavo performs during A Capella Night at the Nebraska Union on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In the small, toasty Nebraska Union Ballroom, an audience was ready to experience the performance of six of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s student a cappella groups which were ready to show their skills and give the audience a great show for “A Capella Night,” put on by the University Program Council Nebraska. 

The first group to take the stage was the formally dressed, newly formed all-women group, Take Note. The group sang songs such as “Sledgehammer” by Fifth Harmony and “No Tears Left to Cry” by Ariana Grande — all of which touched on female empowerment. The group, overall, was decent. Even though the singers were slightly stiff with their bodies, their voices were powerful and worked well together. 

Next up was the all-male group Rocktavo, which consisted of 11 newly-inducted members out of the total 13. Adorned in matching black suits and red ties, the group began its very short set on a soft note and ended it by serenading the audience with “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith. This group mostly had the same problems as Take Note — while the singers’ voices were acceptable, they didn’t move much and sometimes the group harmony overpowered the main vocalist, which made it difficult to hear the lead melody. 

The first co-ed group of the night, The Red Keys, was greeted by ecstatic applause from the crowd, beginning its set on an energetic note with “I Need Your Love” by Calvin Harris, featuring Ellie Goulding. The group then performed other well-known hits and deeper cuts such as “Be Alright” by Dean Lewis and “Good Things Fall Apart” by ILLENIUM, featuring Jon Bellion. The group closed its set on a blissful note by singing the first and only Christmas song of the night, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” This group had much more energy than the others — the voices sounded balanced and the background performers were always smiling and moving, making it much more interesting to watch and listen.

The second co-ed group of the night, Pitch Please, took an alternative pop route with its set. With songs such as “No Roots” by Alice Merton, “Lost In Japan” by Shawn Mendes and “If It Ain't Love" by Jason Derulo, the audience was able to stay attentive to the group as it filled its set with well-known songs. 

The night wasn’t done yet, however, as the other all-female group, Boots and Cats, took to the stage with an exuberant applause from the audience. The theme of the group’s set seemed to be love, as it sang romantic songs such as “Coloring Outside The Lines” by MisterWives and a medley of “Love So Soft” by Kelly Clarkson and “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Throughout the set, the crowd’s energy was high, as the audience couldn’t help but hoot and holler as the solo vocalist hit the high, concluding note of the final song, “How To Be a Heartbreaker” by Marina and the Diamonds. Consistently during the performance, the women used every inch of the limited stage and kept their bodies moving. 

The all-male group Bathtub Dogs provided a closing set filled with unexpected humor and charisma. After starting the set with a hilarious, informational introduction, the men gave an energetic performance. With songs like “still feel.” by half•alive, "Accidentally Cute" by Sam Burchfield, “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers and “Pinball Wizard” by The Who, the group furthered its set by adding attitude to their voices and expressive body movements. They were given a grand applause from the audience and ended the night with a satisfying performance.

Overall, the event seemed like a great way to showcase all of UNL’s talented groups. Each performance was subjected to a tiny, limiting stage, which made it difficult for the bigger groups to give truly engaging performances. However, all the groups had fantastic voices, even though some of the sets were more passionate. Some groups also tended to sing songs many people might not know, which could make it difficult to stay engaged with the performers. Even on the crowded stage of the small ballroom, the singers gave their all in their performances and showcased their hard work justly.