Modern Hits, Golden Oldies Garner Standing Ovation at Obertones Show

Clara Shannon

Established in 1984, the Obertones are the oldest a cappella group on campus, and they seem comfortable with their standing. While their cockiness can be irritating, they are known for being stellar performers, and their exciting Finney Chapel concert last Saturday night only confirmed the validity of that assertion. The all-male a cappella ensemble gave an hour-and-a-half performance to a visibly entertained audience, and, in a move that distinguished them from similar groups on campus, also supplemented their show with skits and dancing.

The 11 Obertones opened the show with each member ina different costume, joking that they would explain later. A sultry performance of D’Angelo’s “Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes of Mine” started things off, featuring soloists Eoin Mullaney and Sam White, both College sophomores. The rest of the group swayed back and forth and provided vocal backing, giving the soloists the support they needed to rock the highest notes of the song. The third song of the night was Justin Timberlake’s Grammy award-winning “My Love,” an instant crowd pleaser — during the first few bars, the audience erupted into screams and applause. White committed wholeheartedly to the solo, hitting the high notes with ease, and College sophomore Colin Seikel rappedwhile the other singers kept the number visually interesting by bobbing up and down to the beat.

To keep things light, the group soon introduced theatrical elements into the performance in the form of a zany time-travelthemed skit. In the skit, a pair of confused Obertones met doubledegree first-year Khalid Taylor, dressed in a lab coat, who explained that he was a Time Lord with the ability to travel back in time, which would allow them to save the members of the Obertones who had become lost in the thread of time. In order to save their friends, the group had to sing the perfect harmony, which they dispatched neatly, causing the lights to flash all over Finney and the trio to travel back to theMedieval age. There, they found more Obertones tied up and, after some convincing, managed to persuade them to return to the group.

After the Obertones rescued other members from a classic face-off in the Wild West, the show returned to music, with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire, ” featuring a solo by College senior Dan Bloch. Dressed appropriately in a cowboy hat, Bloch gave a heavy, nuanced performance that the crowd received appreciatively. The group followed with amusing performances of Owl City’s “When Can I See You Again?” and Jónsi’s “Sticks and Stones.”

While there was no bad number of the night, “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix brought the housedown. Seikel proved a musical powerhouse with his fiery passion and undeniable charisma. A surprise appearance by Oberlin’s tap group Vibe Tap brought things over the top. Dancers dressed in sparkly blue and yellow perfectly complemented the upbeat and fun energy of the song; while the Obertones sang pleasant harmonies, each of the tap dancers soloed along to the music.

The next stop on the Obertones’ time travel itinerary was a safari, where they found two of their friends in yet another match to the death, before making a foray into the future. A lone Obertone stranded in the year 2016 explained that all humans were turning into robots. Frightened by this revelation, the singers traveled back to 2003, where they jammed to the classic party anthem “Hey Ya!” by Outkast.

After recovering all of its lost a cappella mates, the group decided to officially invite time lord extraordinaire Taylor to join the group. After Taylor agreed, he soloed on Bastille’s “Pompeii,” garnering a standing ovation from the crowd. The group closed the night with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and, for the encore, a rendition of the Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way.”

It’s no wonder that the Obertones have maintained such popularity. They have proven time and time again to be a favorite student group on campus, with massive support from their peers. They make entertaining the audience their priority, be it through music or through other performance aspects, and unless they start to slip, the other a cappella groups on campus will have to step it up to unseat the reigning champions.