From Comic Con to Emerson Auditorium, the Aristocats are charging ahead
Comic Con came to St. Louis two weekends ago, bringing TV stars such as Michael Rooker (“The Walking Dead”) and Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”) alongside its usual slate of cosplay, superheroes and video game enthusiasts. However, a slightly more unconventional guest also made an appearance: the Aristocats, Washington University’s Disney-themed a cappella group, who performed four 30-minute sets over the course of the weekend.
The gig, which included three performances on Saturday, April 8 and one on Sunday, April 9, allowed the group to sing for an audience largely unfamiliar with the collegiate performing staple. Where other a cappella groups tend to find paying gigs at weddings or private events, the Aristocats wanted to venture out and try something different, putting their self-described “irreverent Disney a cappella” to the test.
“I think it’s definitely very rewarding for the group members,” group coordinator and sophomore Jennifer Wu said of the experience. “Just having that experience, having that responsibility of performing well in front of this new audience because we have this responsibility to the people who asked for the gig.”
Performing a mix of classic Disney hits, like “Aladdin’s” “Friend like Me” and newer popular songs like “Frozen’s” “Love is an Open Door,” the group was able to grab the attention of more than a few Comic Con fans, but especially delighted at the kids’ stage.
“We did a kids’ stage, which was definitely a smaller audience, but it was really cool because there were a lot of people dressed up like Disney characters who were there enjoying our music,” junior and group member Michelle Zhang said.
Following the all-expenses-paid trip, the group has been gearing up for its annual spring concert, this year themed after the popular TV show “The Bachelor.” While not the first group to tackle the reality dating show behemoth—the Mosaic Whispers had a Bachelorette-themed show the same weekend as Comic Con—the Artistocats hope that their specific group dynamic can put a different spin on the idea.
More than just being creative with a tried-and-true theme, the Aristocats are excited for the opportunity to expand their spring concert past what it has ever done before. Moving into a new venue (Emerson Auditorium) with a new setup (a video instead of trivia or a skit) and plenty of new group members, the Aristocats have a whole lot of firsts on their hands.
“We have all of these wonderful new arrangements and wonderful new members that definitely change the way that our group sounds just from these past two semesters,” Wu said. “We definitely hope new crowds come and watch our concert and see us as not just the classic Disney group but a group that can be very versatile even within this genre.”
It’s that last point, versatility, that has characterized the Aristocats in 2017. Not wanting to be pigeonholed as simply the Disney group or those people who do the Valentine’s Day singing grams, the group has definitely taken on a more ambitious gig schedule this year.
“Especially this semester, we took on a lot of performances and gig requests, and it was like, ‘Wow, more people want to hear our sound,’ which was exciting, and we kind of overbooked ourselves,” Wu said, explaining how the group came to add so many firsts.
But despite their ambition and new additions to their concert, the Aristocats still want to honor tradition and the people who helped get the group to where it is today.
“With tradition, we are also having a senior song. So our graduating seniors and one of our members who’s transferring, they’re organizing a performance together,” Zhang said. “We don’t know what it is yet because we’re not supposed to know, but that should be a surprise for everyone involved and should be really fun.”
The Aristocats will be performing “Beauty and the Bachelor” Saturday, April 22 at 7:00 p.m. in Emerson Auditorium. Tickets can be bought today and tomorrow in the DUC from 11 a.m.-2p.m. and BD from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.