Last Saturday, Notes Over Storrs, a UConn a cappella group, hosted A Cachella — a groovy showcase inspired by the upcoming Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The event followed the heels of UCONNIC 2022, run by the Student Board of Governors. The event was headlined by actor and musician Dominic Fike, and it featured a myriad of activities from food trucks to a mechanical bull and a silent disco run by UConn Club Swift.
Coachella, in contrast, is known for its big stars, unique outfits and outdoor setting, mirroring the style of older festivals like Woodstock.
A Cachella was first sketched out two years ago. But the idea was put on hiatus after COVID-19 forced all ten groups under the UConn A Cappella Association to perform virtually. This year, however, groups have been able to sing in-person again; thus, A Cachella was retrieved from the vault.
“The UCACA works to plan the semesterly rush concerts, facilitate the audition and callback process and act as a liaison between USG and the groups for funding. I did not work at all with Notes Over Storrs on organizing A Cachella, this was all them,” said Zachary Kenney, president of the UConn A Cappella Association.
“IT IS ALWAYS JUST GREAT TO BE ABLE TO COME TOGETHER AS AN ORGANIZATION AND SHARE OUR MUSIC WITH ONE ANOTHER. FOR THE MOST PART, GROUPS FUNCTION PRETTY INDEPENDENTLY BESIDES EVENTS SUCH AS THESE AND DURING RUSH, SO WE DON’T ALWAYS GET TO SEE WHAT EACH GROUP IS UP TO THROUGHOUT THE SEMESTER.”Zachary Kenney
Notes Over Storrs originally planned to hold the festival on the Student Union Terrace, encouraging students and guests to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Unfortunately, April showers put a damper on the plan, forcing the show to relocate to the Storrs Congregational Church. While the setting didn’t quite emulate Coachella, the singers’ outfits certainly captured the essence of music festival fashion. Funky colors, flowy pants and fun sunglasses all made an appearance on stage.
Seven out of the ten a cappella groups on-campus performed at A Cachella. Songs came from one all-male group, A Completely Different Note; two all-female groups, Rubyfruit and Drop the Bass; and four co-ed groups, those being A Minor, Rolling Tones, Extreme Measures and Notes Over Storrs. Missing from the show were the UConn Chordials, the Conn-Men and Husky Hungama.
“It is always just great to be able to come together as an organization and share our music with one another. For the most part, groups function pretty independently besides events such as these and during rush, so we don’t always get to see what each group is up to throughout the semester,” said Kenney, who is also the assistant music director of Rolling Tones.
A Cachella will be an annually running program, functioning as an opportunity for every group to come together — similar to the Halloween showcase Spookappella. Groups typically operate individually, but those with close relationships sometimes partner up for performances. At A Cachella, Rubyfruit and A Completely Different Note collaborated to sing Daniel Caesar ft. H.E.R.’s “Best Part.”
“THE UCACA WORKS TO PLAN the semesterly rush concerts, facilitate the audition and callback process and act as a liaison between usg and the groups for funding. i did not work at all with notes over storrs on organizing a cachella, this was all them.”Zachary Kenney
“When it comes to events like this, we choose our songs based on the theme, who can attend from our group, and on if we are prepared to sing new songs from our repertoire or not,” said Elyze Amora, an eight-semester nursing major, in an email before the event. “We are looking forward to showcasing our newest songs and getting to watch all the other groups share their talent and passion for music,” the Rubyfruit president continued.
Every song is drawn from a group’s repertoire, which is chosen at the start of each semester.
“Typically song setlist decisions are up to the group; it’s a shared decision,” said Noah Frank, music director of the Conn-Men. “As music director, I lead rehearsals for the Conn-Men, arrange our music and grow our music selection. The role allows me to harness both my leadership skills and my love for music in a way that keeps the group moving along,” the eight-semester political science and economics major explained.
“We typically try to perform different repertoire throughout the semester, so we look at gigs we have done recently and cross off songs that people may have heard already,” said Kenney.
A Completely Different Note had the crowd in laughter with their wild rendition of Silk Sonic’s “Smokin Out the Window” and “Fly As Me.” Dressed in Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses, the group added a bit of rap to the A Cachella lineup.
A Minor took a different approach, sending chills down the audience’s spines with their apocalyptic performance of Demi Lovato’s “Dancing with the Devil” and Phoebe Bridgers’ “I Know the End.” The eerie screams that concluded their set left an unsettling yet inspirational feeling echoing across the room.
“TYPICALLY SONG SETLIS DECISIONS ARE UP TO THE GROUP; IT’S A SHARED DECISION. AS MUSIC DIRECTOR, I LEAD REHEARSALS FOR THE CONN-MEN, ARRANGE OUR MUSIC AND GROW OUR MUSIC SELECTION. THE ROLE ALLOWS ME TO HARNESS BOTH MY leadership skills and My love for music in a way that keeps the group moving along.”Noah Frank
Drop the Bass, meanwhile, brought both confidence and sass to the table, with Lianne La Havas’ “What You Don’t Do” and Taylor Swift’s “No Body, No Crime.” Rolling Tones sang an upbeat rendition of COIN’s “Talk Too Much” and Couch’s “Still Feeling You.”
The UConn A Cappella Association heads the ten on-campus a cappella groups, but UConn’s talent by no means stops there. UConn Hus-keys is a regional a cappella group based in Hartford, but open to students from any branch. They will be hosting their spring concert, “Oh What A Night!” at Infinity Music Hall on April 11. Admission is free and five Storrs-based a cappella groups will also be making an appearance at the event.
Notes Over Storrs has had a busy semester thus far; last week the group performed at HuskyTHON, and mere hours after A Cachella, they placed second at a competition run by the Woodbury Bethlehem Community Music Foundation. Competitions and concerts are not the only things UConn a cappella groups are up to. Every few years, most groups come out with a professionally-recorded album. Earlier this year, Notes Over Storrs released “Wings,” a nine-song album, on all streaming platforms.
While the semester is winding down for the UConn A Cappella Association, anyone interested in joining a group should keep an eye out for next fall’s rush concert: a performance that highlights each group and details the audition process. You can learn more at each group’s website or social media pages.