Penn’s singing groups may be large in number, but one sound in particular has begun to separate itself from the noise.
Last weekend, Off the Beat — Penn’s modern rock a cappella group — covered works by artists such as Ellie Goulding, Muse and Elle King in Harrison Auditorium. The performance featured songs from Audio Eden, the group’s most recent EP.
The album’s release marks the culmination of what has been a big year for Off the Beat, which made a name for itself at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, placing ninth out of over 300 recognized groups.
“I think that we bring an intensity and a rawness that a lot of the other groups don’t really capture,” College junior and Off the Beat co-president Emily Fisher said. “I really think that sets us apart.”
While the group did not advance to the actual final round, Off the Beat finished third in both the Mid-Atlantic semifinal and the Wildcard semifinal, translating into its overall ninth place finish.
According to music director and Wharton senior Jasmine Barksdale, much of Off the Beat’s success can be attributed to two factors: group dynamic and legacy influence.
“There’s definitely rehearsals that you don’t want to go to because something else is happening in your life, but at the end of the rehearsal, for whatever reason, you feel better,” Barksdale said. “You’re around people that you like, and you’re creating something special.”
“We’re all such good friends,” Fisher added. “Part of it is because we make such great music together, and part of the reason that we make such great music is that we are friends.”
That pride and unity ensures that even after members graduate and move on, they retain a special bond to their college singing group.
Currently in its 29th year of existence, Off the Beat boasts numerous nationally recognized singers such as Broadway actor and 2008 College graduate Jonah Platt as former members, many of which serve as guiding lights for the group and offer constant feedback for improvement.
The name for the Audio Eden EP emerged out of one of those alumni connections. While the show theme had been tossed around for a while, it was the effort of 2015 Engineering graduate Kobie Mensah-Brown that finally turned the concept into a tangible production.
“It conjures up the idea of really beautiful, full sounds,” Fisher said. “It really captures and reflects the bliss that we feel when we sing together as a group.”
As the year comes to a close, the group already has its eyes set on the next, the self-proclaimed goal being a first place finish in the ICCA. With the debut of the new album, however, Off the Beat claims to be striving for something even greater than a trophy, an escape from the mundanities of everyday life.
“Music becomes this thing that transcends the rest of your life,” Barksdale said. “It lifts you out of whatever drudgery and stupidity Penn throws at you.”Comments powered by Disqus
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