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Off the Beat practice for their upcoming show Credit: Gregory Boyek , Gregory Boyek

Until "Pitch Perfect 2" comes out, there's another a cappella group to keep Penn entertained. 

On Jan. 31, Penn's premiere modern rock a cappella group Off the Beat came in first place during the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella quarterfinals. Along with this honor, the group also received a special award for Outstanding Choreography as well as Outstanding Arrangement for Sia's “Elastic Heart.” After coming this far, the group is now working hard to prepare for their next hurdle — the mid-Atlantic semifinals on March 28. 

Having never before participated in this competition, the group was initially apprehensive about their preparedness. “A couple weeks before the actual competition, we were not in a place we needed to be,” College freshman Brian Park said. 

The twelve-minute semifinal set will feature three songs, which according to Park are “very much in [their] niche.” The tentative setlist for the competition is a cover of Beyoncé’s "Fifty Shades of Grey" version of “Crazy in Love” and Walk the Moon’s “Iscariot.” They will also reprise their well-received cover of “Elastic Heart.” 

While these are the same songs they performed during the quarterfinals, Off the Beat has been working on strengthening their set by responding to critiques of previous judges. “We actually worked with one of the lead choreographers of Strictly Funk, the dance group, and we … asked him to enhance our choreography," Park said. Ultimately, he said, they want make the performance more complex. “We know exactly what we want to fix and change,” Off the Beat President and College senior Jordyn Feingold said.

The members’ strong dancing skills came as an initial shock. “None of the guys here were dancers so … it was kind of done in the spur of the moment,” Park said. 

Feingold was similarly surprised. “We’re discovering all of these strengths that we have as a group that we didn’t know we had before," she said. "Choreography came really naturally to a lot of us.”

Nonetheless, the group has had to make sacrifices in order to fit this competition into their schedules. “I think for the group, the biggest challenge was that people did not really expect it to be this much of a time commitment … we have our six hours of rehearsal regularly, we added three hours of dance rehearsal, plus everyone was under pressure to make their own time to learn the music and the dances," Wharton junior and Musical Director Jasmine Barksdale said. 

“It’s been challenging to accomplish everything we normally accomplish in a semester … We have to give on the end of our typical concert repertoire,” Feingold added. Whereas they normally perform 12 songs in their spring concert in April, the group will be narrowing that down to six or seven songs.

Yet, the group is confident that their hard work is worth the effort. “Actually having this level of performance for us is super invigorating and makes us want to keep going because we all love being on stage," Feingold said. “We are such a niche group … with our rock genre and our really hardcore backgrounds and very intricate backgrounds … we are just excited to show everyone that we’re in it to win it."

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