WEB EXTRA: Spring Fling recap

The rain certainly dampened the 2007 Program Board Spring Fling held Saturday in the Smith Center. Inclement weather forced the annual festival indoors for the second year in a row, providing a less than festive aura.

The day dragged from the very beginning. The doors did not open until a half an hour after they were supposed to, weeding out a lot of students who were just there for a free T-shirt and hot dog.

As a matter of course, a barrage of a cappella groups greeted concert-goers. The first in a long line was Emocapella who treated to the audience to a solid show. The audience, however, was not very receptive to their gift. As people filtered into the auditorium, students barely paid the group any mind, a shame considering the quality of the music going on behind their conversations.

The Vibes took the stage (or, more accurately, the tarp) to deliver a mild performance at best. But the audience met their lukewarm performance with a warmer reception, as more and more people began to pay attention to the group. There was one moment of their set that truly shined. The visibly nervous (and understandably so) singers decided to perform Regina Spektor’s “Us.” The pop-star had gotten wind of this before the show, and came out to watch a new take on her work. This special moment breathed some life into a generally lackluster set.

If the crowd wasn’t focused at this point, Capitol Funk demanded everyone’s undivided attention with a fantastic performance. If any of them were nervous, they certainly didn’t show it, as every member appeared completely relaxed and in control. Their perfect mix of professionalism, skill, and showmanship commanded respect and attention, and the audience was more than happy to oblige.

The Sons of Pitch delivered a solid performance of their own, but the audience appeared to be growing tired of a capella at that point. In order to real them back in, Freshman Rob Dettore led the group in a rousing version of “Dick in a Box”; mission accomplished.

While Balance’s ballet performance was executed very well, it felt awkward lumped in between a sea of a capella sets, which is no fault of theirs. They did their best, and brought a modern spin to their signature classic beauty.

The hail of a capella resumed with the Sirens, who definitely blared on Saturday. The group has never sounded tighter, and the beat-boxing has dramatically improved. The Sirens certainly delivered the most red-hot a capella performance of the day.

The Troubadours took the mic to wrap things up on the a capella front. The group was uncharacteristically rigid, and weren’t as tight as they usually are. However, they did warm up, and by the last song, they were back into form for a stellar version of “Killing Me Softly” to close things out.

Soon enough, the tarp stage was no more, as the audience fixed their attention on the main stage for the first GW performance of Bottles/Cans, a band comprised of sophomore Kevin Eskowitz, senior Zach Pentel, and junior Brendan Polmer. Pentel is the Program Board Concert Chair and Polmer is a paid contributing editor at the Hatchet.

Following Bottles/Cans was Jukebox the Ghost, the senior group that never fails to deliver. Ben Thornewill joked that they were nervous about sharing the same stage that once hosted the great Whoopie Goldberg. But if the boys in Jukebox were nervous, they certainly didn’t let on. No one on Saturday looked more like they were having more fun at Spring Fling.

The transition between the student groups and the hired acts was far less fluid. The DJ’s from Thievery Corporation were late, apparently stuck in traffic of some sort. By the time they eventually took the stage, they were met with overall confusion, as the audience wasn’t quite sure if the two men on stage were DJ’s or just the road crew. After a short set, calls of “was that really Thievery Corporation?” filled the Smith Center.

Regina’s road companion, who tours under the name Only Son, took the stage armed with just an acoustic guitar and an iPod. His homemade backing tracks supported his less than stellar songwriting, in what proved to be a completely uninteresting set. If he and Regina weren’t a package deal, there is no way that he would have been up on that stage.

Thievery Corp. came back to compensate for lost time. They completely made up for a sub-par first set with their signature complex beats and musical ingenuity. It was a far better showing of their actual skill set. The second time around, the audience had a better idea of who exactly they were, and for those who didn’t know at the beginning walked away having learned a lot.

By the time Regina Spektor came on, the Smith Center was bustling. The little Russian-American with the big voice came on to do yet another a capella number, demonstrating her singing chops. However, for the most part, the audience was left waiting for that special something that never came. The crowd was hanging on to her music by a thread, and she often lost them, as was apparent in the plethora of conversations being had over her music. Almost no one knew any of her lyrics, other than her hit “Fidelity.” Jukebox seemed to have a more loyal fanbase. To be fair, as a performer, she was definitely on. Her vocals were impressive, she played piano well, and something must be said for anyone who feels confident enough to get up all by herself and perform in front of hundreds of college students. She seemed very comfortable, but the quirky singer was simply in over her head.

On a cold, dreary day, the hired acts were all wet at this year’s Spring Fling. While the student groups shined on, the pros couldn’t really brighten the day inside the Smith Center.

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