On The Stereotypes
If you’ve ever attended an a cappella event, concert or hangout, you know that the people in the community are typically pretty bubbly and enthusiastic. The performers all seem to invest their personality into the a cappella scene, and some outsiders would go so far as to say that they can “just tell” when they know someone is an a cappella member. Similarly, we can see this characterization in the “theater kid” persona. Why is this? How are certain groups of performing people pinned with stereotypes and tropes?
Last Thursday, I attended my first ever a cappella performance here on campus. I’ve experienced other a cappella groups before, but there are obviously some differences between high school, college and professional groups. I was so excited to get a glimpse into the a cappella scene, which I have always admired from afar, and The Stereotypes made for an inviting atmosphere of music lovers.
Of course, The Stereotypes (one of WashU’s all-male a cappella groups) provided an amazing show. They sang three distinctly different songs to display their broad scope of talent, ending with an impressive and intense rendition of “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. During their second song, “It Might Be Over Soon” by Bon Iver, it started raining, which was an issue considering we were in Bowles Plaza. If you have ever heard the song before, you would understand how ironic this is. The track starts out with whooshing storm sounds and ends “after the storm” with chirping birds and harmonious chords.
While getting soaked by the rain wasn’t my favorite experience of the night, I have to admit: It ended up teaching me just how supportive the a cappella community is. Despite being drenched halfway through the show, everyone stayed. We sat through the rainshower, and the group sang through it. Eventually, we moved under the arch on the north side of the plaza to get some shelter, and the crowd’s energy only grew.
This performance really brought to light where the stereotypes of a cappella members come from. The energy of the members is matched by the crowd that is constantly praising the singers. Other a cappella groups attended this performance and brought nothing less than the best hype-people. They would cheer on the performers throughout the show and share an overwhelming applause at the end. The crowd was dancing; we were involved in the show. We truly felt the energy that the group possessed and couldn’t help but match their passion.
Conveniently, the rain stopped just as everyone headed back to their respective homes. Walking back gave me time to reflect and really appreciate the community that is created around the common appreciation of good music. This is where the stereotypes are rooted. The students involved in a cappella on campus obviously have a passion for the art, but it can’t just stop at their own group. They acknowledge the talent, regardless of where it comes from. The crowd support was astounding and truly made this experience riveting.