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A Cappella Show Review: They Just Sang the Cup Song Over and Over Again


Photos, with edits, by The Daily Pennsylvanian, Freeform

Based on the number of tables full of rowdy former theater kids that have been pitched on Locust Walk for the past few weeks, it is officially performance season at Penn. This means that all 34 ½ of Penn’s various premier a cappella groups have crammed into any room on campus that could feasibly be considered a performance venue in order to show off their semester’s work to an adoring audience of family, extended family, and extremely supportive friends. 

While the a cappella scene on campus continues to annoyingly reject the use of instruments as well as any semblance of meaning for the word ‘premier’, we at Under the Button as the arbiters of all that is cool and/or socially valuable still felt it was our duty to attend one of these shows and provide a review.

The results were surprising, to say the least. The audience was immediately put on edge when the group's members entered the auditorium by doing the Camp Rock March up the center aisle to the stage, chanting and clapping in unison as Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers did in "Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam" (2010). 

Things only got stranger from there. It appears that, in an attempt to connect with their audience’s only prior experience with a cappella, one group went a little too far. The set started out with the famed Cup Song from the first Pitch Perfect movie. At first, this seemed as if it could be a fun little crowd pleaser before the real show began, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the movie that all college a cappella groups are now forever associated with. One soloist sang, while one member of the group played the titular cup and the rest of the group stood silently. When the song ended, the soloist was switched out with another member. Instead of singing a different song, however, the Cup Song began again. The only difference was that another cup was added in the background. The rest of the show went on this way, with each new version of the song adding a new cup in the background, as well as occasional harmonizing. 

By the end of the first act, all polite applause had ceased. The audience was visibly uncomfortable and some questioned whether to stick around after intermission. The most disconcerting part of the performance came in the second act, when the 11th person to solo the song somehow forgot the words. Additionally, there were many moments throughout the show when the background cup-playing was out of sync and, defying all logic, out of tune. 

Still, after the show was over most of the audience congratulated their child on a job well done. While the experience is something no one wants to ever live through again, we at UTB have to at least applaud the group for their bold experimentation (even though a cup still does not qualify as an instrument, which is disappointing to say the least).