UMN Singers Are (Acapell)-Off the Chain

The singer-students in the university’s acapella scene are harmonious on stage and off.

Illustrator: Katie Heywood

A soon-to-be audience fizzled and popped outside of Coffman’s theater on the first Friday of November, anxiously awaiting this year’s Acapell-Off competition.

When the theater’s 402-seat capacity was properly strained, the singers took the stage. The acapella groups Urban Sound, Basses Wild, 7 Days Acapella, the Enchantments, and Vocal U competed at this year’s Acapell-Off, all skillfully blending energetic throwbacks with stone cold modern .

The winning group, U Sound, purred with noticeable teamwork. The group was buoyed by delicate harmonic precision across the scale, and anchored by impressive vocal percussion by the group’s music composer, Justin Bain.

Caden Potapenko and Matthew Przeslicke balanced parts in two competing acapella groups, Basses Wild and U Sound, with no conflict of interest. Capitalizing on the typical friendly spirit of Minnesota rivalry, Przeslicke said, “No one has bad blood except maybe a little passive-aggressively.”

Speaking to the importance of intergroup harmony, Przeslicke said that in acapella singing, the group is only as strong as its weakest member.

Capitalizing on the typical friendly spirit of Minnesota rivalry, Przeslicke said, “No one has bad blood except maybe a little passive-aggressively.”

“We’re really responsible for our own parts for the sake of others,” Przeslicke said.

Potapenko kicked off his freshman acapella debut with a velvety bass solo in Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” for Basses Wild, and ended on a high note, also singing with the final (and victorious) group, U Sound. The humble first-year said he enjoys the energy of Basses Wild, and the difficulty of Vocal U.

“You just have to bring your A-game to both groups,” Potapenko said.

Grace Hausker from 7 Days said that being in acapella is like being in a family. Complementing the group’s syrupy solos in “Take on Me” by A-ha and Demi Lovato’s “Stone Cold,” 7 Days fed the audience’s appetite for more with an encore performance while the judges scored the final results.

“Everyone’s really supportive [of each other], and it shows in the music,” Hausker said.