Coachella weekend five continued this past Saturday, May 3, as VocalMotion–University of California, Santa Barbara’s one and only all-female a cappella group–hosted its third annual Gauchella Festival in the Theater and Dance Courtyard. The event was a sundrenched afternoon spent celebrating student dancers, musicians, and singers.
Performer booths lined the grassy Theater and Dance courtyard, offering students and community members engaging conversations about student-run organizations. Groups also offered everything from DIY a cappella albums to underwear–the case for all-male a cappella group Brothas From Otha Mothas, who had printed bold, green-on-black letters “B.F.O.M.” on undies. In the spirit of Coachella, some student performers and audience members donned yellow daisy flower crowns.
The day began just after noon with FLK Dance Crew’s versatile mash-up performance, which featured songs ranging from Bruno Mars’ “Treasure You” to New Boyz’s “FM$.” Five FLK dancers filled the space of the courtyard’s outdoor stage and put on a kick-ass show. They used chairs as props in one number, surprising the audience when they literally kicked the chairs to the floor mid-performance.
Next, Urban Dance Company entered the stage. Some 30 boys and girls clad in hip-hop style jerseys and flannels energetically opened with Nelly’s beloved 2010 hit “Grillz.” The number was a much-appreciated blast from the past for spectators, and it looked like it was for the company as well. Despite their size, Urban Dance Company grooved in fluid unison to well transitioning mixes, which included classics like J.T.’s “Rock Your Body,” Desiny’s Child’s “Say My Name,” and Lil Jon and Ying Yang Twins’ “Get Low.” It almost felt like a middle school dance, but with far more talented dancers.
We then migrated inside for VocalMotion, the first of three a cappella groups in the lineup. VocalMotion, which has evolved in 11 years since its 1980s inspired neon roots, had 14 charming female members perform. The group opened with a rendition of En Vogue’s harmonic “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” and harmonized to a cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” However, VocalMotion’ version was far more melodic, layered, and soulful than Cyrus’; it was definitely an audience favorite.
InterVals, UCSB’s newest co-ed a cappella group formed in 2011, opened with Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” and continued with a fire motif mash-up, including songs like Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire.” Their voices filled the theater like a choir would have in an ancient cathedral. For their final song, one member was resourceful and created a drum beat with the lecture podium onstage.
The last group to sing were the dashing gents of Brothas From Otha Mothas. Their cover of Death Cab For Cuties’ “I Will Follow You into the Dark” was an innovative and refreshing step into the acoustic indie-rock genre, which lends itself well to a cappella. For their final piece, BFOM serenaded an audience volunteer with The Temptations’ smooth and suave “My Girl”–only they changed the lyrics to “I guess you’d say / what can make me feel this way? / Toothpaste, toothpaste,” because the audience volunteer was holding a tube of toothpaste “for her friend.” Someone cracked the inevitable “that’s what they all say” in response.
Continuing the festivities, Medical Music played an arrangement of classical pieces and jazz with bass and trumpet. The non-profit, which meets Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in Music 1213, is dedicated to bringing music to hospitals and retirement homes as a form of therapy and offers a platform for musicians and vocalists of any experience level to share their light with others.
Andrew Manos, an insanely talented College of Creative Studies music composition student, brought the afternoon of music to a close with a performance of songs from his recently released album “Hope for Happiness.” Manos played the keyboard and was accompanied by Nick Diamantides on drums. Notably, his tracks “Misconception” and “Valiant” sound like a lyrical rising and falling of the weightless body–the sort of soundtrack imaginable in a movie montage. Manos’ album is available on Spotify and iTunes.
Ultimately, the third annual Gauchella was smoothly run and full of good vibes, providing a rare merging of dance, music, and a cappella for the UCSB and Isla Vista community.