Correction: Acquirefest is in its 6th year, not 4th as was originally reported.
It takes a special kind of courage to sing on stage, especially without music to back you up. For a cappella singing groups, music and vocals are one and the same. On May 4 and 5, this year’s Acquirefest concert will give numerous Santa Cruz singing groups the chance to display their talent.
The sixth annual Acquirefest, a concert hosted by student-run Acquire A Cappella at UC Santa Cruz, features a panoply of voice-only musical groups, including representatives from UC Berkeley, UC Davis and University of Oregon.
Erick Porras, second-year music student and member of Acquire A Cappella, was part of the team responsible for organizing the event, hosted this year in the Stevenson Event Center.
“All the groups have really stepped it up this year,” Porras said.
Acquire performs a cappella covers of popular songs, often creatively reimagined or mashed up.
“My personal favorite is our mashup of ‘Seven Nation Army’ [by the White Stripes] and ‘Sweet Dreams’ [by Eurythmics],” Porras said.
Acquirefest was founded in 2007, said Mitch Allen, fourth-year UCSC astrophysics student and Acquire A Cappella’s musical director.
This year’s Acquirefest concert doubles as a premiere for Acquire A Cappella’s first album, a recording of the group’s lineup of covers.
“We just wanted something that reflected who we are as a group,” Allen said. “We got the equipment together at a friend’s place and recorded part by part. It took us about a year fixing and mastering and making it sound like a good, natural a cappella album, and I think that’s what we have.”
Copies of the album will be available for $5 at the concert.
The CD is not the only creative project that the group has undertaken. Acquire regularly performs in downtown Santa Cruz and hosts concerts in venues across the UCSC campus. They have created several music videos, including their popular viral cover of The Lonely Island’s “I’m On A Boat.”
Sophia Rocco, a second-year physics major and self-proclaimed Acquire A Cappella fan, said she is looking forward to Acquirefest.
“[Acquire] brings a little bit of excitement and happiness to the lives of college students,” Rocco said. “I’m always impressed by people who can perform on stage in front of hundreds of people.”
Acquire A Cappella director Allen is proud of the tradition that Acquirefest has created.
“Every year that we’ve done it, Acquirefest continues to be the largest a cappella festival in Santa Cruz. We’re pretty proud of that fact, and we strive to improve it,” Allen said. “It’s totally one of the most fun things we do all year, and we love to share that with anyone that wants to come.”
Acquire A Cappella members have been practicing hard to ensure that this year’s Acquirefest is memorable, Porras said.
“We hope that everybody has a good time,” he said. “We’ve been working really hard, and it’ll be nice to get a crowd to come see us and the other groups.”
Groups performing include UCSC groups Acquire, Isang Hming, Cloud 9, and the Hightones; UC Berkeley groups Dil Se and Decadence; UC Davis groups Spokes and Liquid Hotplates; Stanford University groups Fleet Street and Harmonics; and University of Oregon groups Divisi and On The Rocks.
“Acquirefest shows that UCSC is on par with the rest of the [UC] system, as far as singing goes,” Rocco said. “It’s something we can be proud of on our campus.”