Arts, Music, On Campus

Heightsmen Serenade With Upbeat, Intricate Harmonies

Formed in 1990, the Heightsmen of Boston College are the University’s only all-male a capella group. They are known for their diversity of sound and impressive repertoire of styles and genres, whether hip hop, R&B, doo-wop, or Frank Sinatra.

The group of 12 drew quite a crowd to Devlin 008 for its Fall Cafe, although most attendees would agree that it felt strange to attend a concert in a lecture hall. The line to get in went all the way up the stairs to the main lobby of Devlin, and once everyone was inside there was a significant number of eager of students crammed in the back without seats. Family members and friends of the Heightsmen made up much of the audience, but the vocal group had an impressive amount of fans from the BC student body.

“One of my friends from class mentioned he was part of the Heightsmen, and I wanted to come support and see them perform,” said Claire Madden, MCAS ’20.

The Fall Cafe started off with a medley of songs from the ’80s, complete with Toto’s “Africa,” Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” This energetic mix of songs set the scene for the rest of the night—it created a lighthearted and upbeat environment, a mood perfect for the Friday before Thanksgiving Break.

After the ’80s medley to kick off the show, the Heightsmen performed The Temptations’ “My Girl,” during which one of the members’ mothers was pulled from the audience and serenaded onstage. “My Girl” flowed into Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” which had the audience singing along. “Somebody to Love” was particularly impressive because of the skill it takes to perform the difficult harmonies, cadence switches, and high notes without instruments. The original version of this song is an instrumental, vocal, and lyrical masterpiece which beautifully translated into a capella.

Next up was the Heightsmen Dance—a tradition in which the new members of the group perform a choreographed dance together, mostly for comedic value. Members of the audience took Snapchats as the group of four danced to a Britney Spears medley. The performance was longer than anticipated—“Toxic,” “…Baby One More Time,” “Circus,” “Oops I Did it Again,” and “Womanizer” were all part of the intricately choreographed set. The dance was racy in the most uncomfortable and awkward way possible, which was both endearing and laugh-inducing.

The Heightsmen then performed Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls,” followed by “Whatcha Say,” Jason Derulo’s 2010 hit. This song was given a unique new sound because the synthetic beat sounded completely different when replaced with voices. They continued this pop section of the night with “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel. An a capella classic, “Uptown Girl” was happy and upbeat, and was performed with clear and spectacular harmonies.

After a comedic interlude by Sexual Chocolate, BC’s all-male step team, the Heightsmen entered the last section of the night. It started off with an interesting rendition of Hunter Hayes’ “I Want Crazy,” a country hit with dramatic and exciting string instrumental action. It was an unexpected, but also a unique song to perform a capella. The last song of the night was an idiosyncratic take on Bing Crosby’s “Pennies from Heaven.” It was touching and sweet, which was a perfect way to close the night, but not before singing “Good Ole A Capella,” a song by The Nylons which was performed alongside Heightsmen alumni who were in the audience.

“Soul to soul, brother to brother, a capella sounds good to me,” they sang, celebrating a successful 27 years of excellent music and brotherhood.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

November 19, 2017

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