Two Thumbs Up for ‘Straight No Chaser’
I went to a show last night in Eisenhower Auditorium that provided one of the best evenings of entertainment I’ve seen in a long time. Straight No Chaser—a 10-man a capella group with its roots at Indiana University—did a terrific concert for an enthusiastic Penn State audience.
You may have seen their lively mash-up of “The 12 Days of Christmas” on YouTube—it has garnered more than 11 million views to date and was the viral video that made Straight No Chaser a minor national sensation. Since then, they’ve signed a record contract, released a couple of CDs, and done several national tours. (The dates on the current tour are here.)
Their repertoire ranges from Motown to rock: Last night’s set list included songs like “Joy to the World” (the Three Dog Night version, not the Christmas carol), “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” and a mash-up of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl,” among others. They did a lovely rendition of the Cold Play song “Fix You,” a Red Hot Chili Peppers song called “Under the Bridge,” and a hilarious send-up of Lady Gaga.
And they did it all with absolutely no accompaniment. At one point I was convinced that they had a percussion track playing under them, but apparently not—it’s nothing more than the astounding stuff they can do with their voices.
Besides being funny and well-choreographed—and, of course, having amazing voices—they also know how to engage their audience. Early in the show, one of the band members stepped forward and said, “I’ve always wanted to do this …” then shouted, “WE ARE!” To which, of course, the crowd immediately roared: “PENN STATE!”
Then the band guy pointed out that, actually, the correct answer should be “THE AUDIENCE AT A STRAIGHT NO CHASER SHOW!” and he said, “So let’s try it again. WE ARE!”
And the crowed immediately roared: “PENN STATE!”
When the show was over, the encore, of course, was their comically brilliant version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” But after that was over, the crowd just kept applauding like crazy—I can’t remember a time when I saw a more enthusiastic audience. And so the group came back for a second encore, this time coming out to the very edge of the Eisenhower stage and singing, with absolutely no amplification, “In the Still of the Night.” Just very sweet.
I was able to take photos throughout the entire show, which is a rarity. At the beginning of the concert the group announced that photography and even shooting video would be just fine throughout the performance—after all, they pointed out, it was a fan’s homemade video on YouTube that brought them to where they are today. You can see about 20 photos I took last night on the magazine’s Facebook page.
Tina Hay, editor
P.S. Some of the group’s members stopped by the Berkey Creamery before the show—check out this photo that one of them posted on their website.
Entry filed under: Campus events, Concerts, University Park campus. Tags: "Fix You", "Heard It Through the Grapevine", "In the Still of the Night", "Twelve Days of Christmas", "Under the Bridge", Eisenhower Auditorium, Straight No Chaser.