Pikers celebrate 30 years of entertainment on campus
“The story is that The Pikers were founded over a pitcher of beer, and that’s true,” the group’s president, senior Rishub Keelara, said.
This past weekend, the oldest a cappella group on Washington University’s campus celebrated its 30th anniversary with bagpipes, 50 Cent melodies and fireworks greeting viewers at the exit of Jammin’ Toast, The Pikers’ biggest concert of the year.
“From the alumni to our current members, the core of our group remains in being an entertainer. We put the audience first,” Keelara said. He said that while musicality and sound is of course a priority for all a cappella groups, giving the audience a good time and an unforgettable experience to bring home is what The Pikers are all about.
These roots in entertainment tie back to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. The Fair filled the city with rides, concessions and entertainers, who gathered to share their marvelous abilities with an eager and excited audience at “The Pike,” located just North of Lindell Boulevard, which would later serve as The Pikers’ namesake.
“[In the beginning], we were labeled a drinking group with a singing problem. But as a cappella became more popular and competition increased, they put down the beer and started singing for real. The sense of hilarity and the lead role of comedy in the concerts is still true,” Keelara said.
The desire to push boundaries is what has given The Pikers such a large fan base on campus, and they certainly didn’t disappoint fans this year.
“The Pikers are the only group I’ve gone to all four years, and this was by far their best,” senior Julie Iles said.
As one might expect, The Pikers have not always gotten along well with the administration, which has had to deal with damage incurred from the rambunctious group’s performances.
James Wall, the head of public relations for the group, recalled that last semester a performer got so into his song that he shattered the glass on a desk in Brown Hall. “I remember I couldn’t really see the soloist, but I saw these girls in the front row with the biggest reaction and some of the other Pikers flinching at the broken glass coming their way,” Wall said.
“One year, we flooded a bathroom in Green [Hall]. Another year, the alumni decided to bring a live fish on stage, a member drank raw eggs on stage and there may have been a blowup doll at one point,” Keelara said, quick to jump in with his memories of the last three years.
Only pride and nostalgia could be seen on their faces as they shared the memories of the past years with the group.
“Sure, we get in trouble, but that makes it exciting, and that makes it being a Piker. If in 30 more years we aren’t putting on a good show and poking fun at the school’s strict administration, I will be disappointed,” Keelara said.