A large group of dedicated a cappella fans flooded Higgins 300 on Friday to attend the Winter Show of Black Experience in America Through Song (BEATS). The buzzing crowd erupted into cheers when the artist “Destiny’s Child” strutted into the room, and welcomed “Usher” into the building (he seemed hilariously squeamish and darted out the door), before bringing BEATS into the room to open the show. Drawing on everything from R&B to rap, the BEATS concert created an infectious energy for everyone in attendance.
The audience rose from their seats for the concert’s opening song, BEATS’s rendition of “Lift every Voice and Sing”, which is also known as the “Black National Anthem.” The song’s lyrics voice the need to “ring with the harmonies of Liberty,” while remembering the “gloomy past” of black Americans, and maintaining the intention to “march on till victory won.” The performance was a sobering reminder of the difficult experiences of black Americans, and effectively established a core aspect of BEATS’s identity as a campus group.
Transitioning into an easygoing, emotional track, the group sang Usher’s “U Remind Me,” a crowd favorite that presented the personal grief that accompanies the inability to “get with” anyone that reminds you of a terrible ex. The group exuded the sassy sensitivity required of any Usher cover, and garnered the sympathy of the audience over “how unfair” the situation is to its singer. Complete with meandering, powerful notes to convey the outpouring of the song’s emotion, the audience enjoyed the candid honesty of the track’s lyrics, while grooving along with the smooth R&B performance.
Next, BEATS covered “Shadow Man” by Noname, portraying an effortless demeanor while rapping through haunting reflections on mortality. The group complemented the talented rappers with melodic surges of falsetto notes, building into a full-bodied chorus that carried off a harmonious execution of the song. The group proceeded to cover a song by The Weeknd, but an older one that one member explained, “if you’re not a real fan, you’re not gonna know it.” Busting out the acoustic guitar, a duo sang “Wicked Games”, a reflective track detailing the emotional heaviness of a doomed romance. The acoustic cover of the song brought out the vulnerability of the lyrics, and gave the song a soft treatment that drew in the listener.
BEATS got the audience riled up for its performance of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)”, the room clapping along and cheering for the vocalists belting out the upbeat lyrics. The group captured the energy and heart that enlivens the popular track, and BEATS’s talented vocalists moved together while their voices meshed into a glorious display of Wonder’s trademark spirit. At this point in the show, the concert briefly paused to accommodate the influx of students standing by the door, vying for a place in the lecture hall and filling the aisles.
The next song shifted gears into a more intimate, heartbreaking tone with another duo covering “All I Want” by Kodaline. The audience was mesmerized by the acoustic performance, listening to sensitive lyrics such as, “If I could see your face once more/ I could die a happy man I’m sure,” and “If you loved me, why’d you leave me?” The vocalists didn’t shy away from a single note of the song, instead leaning into all of them and creating a gripping performance while a total hush fell over the room.
Following up with “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes, the group crafted the nostalgia of the ʼ60s throwback track with its sweet melodies and crisp arrangement. In a similar vein, the group performed “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” by Four Tops, with a call and response format for the chorus that brought the song’s cheerful, soulful nature to life.
The show closed with a sassy rendition of “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child, a crowd-pleasing track that captured the bold, confident attitude of the performers. Since meeting “Destiny’s Child” at the start of the show, the audience had been awaiting their appearance in the concert, and reveled in the intricate vocals and unbridled intensity of the cover.
Featured Image by Katie Genirs / Heights Staff