Riffing off familiar tunes with OU’s a cappella group Gold Vibrations

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Gold Vibrations a cappella group perform at the Student Program Board’s Riff Off. The group is planning another OU concert for April.

By Kevin Teller

While many styles of music come and go, a cappella seems to be one that is here to stay. OU proved just that last Monday, Jan. 26, when the Student Program Board hosted a “Riff Off.”

The concert features OU’s own a cappella group, Gold Vibrations, as well as Canadian recording artists Eh440.

Gold Vibrations kicked off the night’s entertainment with a dramatic interpretation of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down,” which rose in intensity with each passing bar.

Ultimately erupting in a crescendo of harmony and beatboxing, the song set a tone indicative of the rest of the night’s set.

Concert attendee Noel Kucharczyk said, “I really liked when they sang ‘Say Something’ by A Great Big World. I thought their arrangement was good.”

Kucharczyk was at the concert to support a friend of hers who sings in Gold Vibrations. She was also intrigued by the fact that there was a riff off, just like in the movie “Pitch Perfect.”

Eh440 (a pun on “A440,” the pitch to which one tunes to) also gave a riveting performance, featuring something that caught many off guard: a beatbox solo.

It was around the middle of the set when the group’s beatboxer took to the stage alone and proceeded to put forward a percussive onslaught. He sounded identical to a DJ spinning at a club, bouncing back and forth between beats seamlessly.

After both groups had performed, they took to the stage once more for an epic “riff off,” or battle. During each round of the riff off, the groups went back and forth singing songs that pertained to a certain topic.

This was a reference to “Pitch Perfect,” which features a scene with a similar exchange between a cappella groups.

“We didn’t actually know about the riff off portion of the event until we got there,” said Gold Vibrations secretary, Elise Selberg. “So all the songs we ended up doing were totally impromptu and spontaneous.”

This is Selberg’s third year singing in Gold Vibrations. She also said that, although the riff off was spontaneous, she had fun doing it.

The group is considering embellishing upon the songs that they pulled out to perform them in the next performance at OU.

All together, Gold Vibrations and Eh440 sang 13 songs about sex, eight about “big booties,” and 10 about breakups.

It was a fittingly energetic end to the night. It was the point in the night that got the loudest and most boisterous audience reaction, which practically erupted into an all out party.

Gold Vibrations’ music director, Christopher Brody, calls a cappella a “beautiful invention of modern music.”

He said, “It allows performers to express themselves by paying homage to tunes in a modern medium while reinventing the very songs that have inspired them.”

Currently, Gold Vibrations is planning its next OU concert, which may be sometime in April.

Another performance that they are excited for is at Carnegie Melon in Pennsylvania where they will compete in the International Championship of A Cappella.