“A Cappella Palooza” successfully debuts at Agganis

A review of "A Cappella Palooza" at Agganis Arena on April 29, 2012

, Managing Editor

There’s no question that the popularity of a cappella has been sharply on the rise in the past few years thanks to shows like Fox’s “Glee” and NBC’s singing competition “The Sing-Off”. Sunday night at Agganis Arena, the first annual “A Cappella Palooza” proved the genre’s power as it was used to raise funds for the Mass General Cancer Center.

Normally on “The Sing-Off”, former 98 Degrees star Nick Lachey plays host, but it was Ben Folds, who serves as a judge on the show, taking on that duty in Boston. Folds introduced the groups, all of whom have appeared on the show, and added some of his quirky humor and musical insight as he does frequently while behind the judges table.

What made this show great (just as it does on “The Sing-Off”) was the variety that the performers provided. Groups like surprise guests from Tufts University, The Beezelbubs, and season three runners up The Dartmouth Aires, supplied pop numbers by the likes of Katy Perry, Flo Rida and the Black Eyed Peas.

The older guys in North Shore showed the kids how it’s done, adding their street-corner sound to Bruno Mars’ “Lazy Song” and also owning classics “Run Around Sue” and “My Girl”.

Delilah, the only girl group to perform, made sure the ladies were well represented with an exceptional Alicia Keys medley, before showing off their rocker side as they brought fans to their feet with Aerosmith’s “Dream On”.

Pentatonix, season three winners, were one of the smallest groups  but they had one of the thickest sounds thanks to brilliant beatmakers Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola. The duo supplied spacey arrangements for “Video Killed the Radio Star” and Katy Perry’s “E.T.” that made it easy to see what separated this group from the rest of season three’s participants.

Breaking away from the a cappella format, Ben Folds wowed the audience with his impressive piano playing during a short solo set that included “Zak and Sara”, “Fred Jones Part 2” and “One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces’. After Aerosmith’s Tom Hamilton enlightened the audience with the story of his bought with cancer and successful treatment from Mass General, Folds was joined by all the a cappella groups for “Not The Same” in a grand finale which found Folds conducting the audience through the harmonies.

With such positive energy and an even greater cause at the center of the first annual “A Cappella Palooza”, it’s likely that if this show is to continue on, just like a cappella itself, its success will surely be on the rise.

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