Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Hullabahoos: The Guys in Robes

On the surface, the Hullabahoos looked like the typical “band” that emerged when Rock n Roll became Rock. The group consists of all males, and male bonding was readily evident among the members with their interactions throughout the performance. During songs, the singers would dance and sway with each other and display encouraging gestures towards the soloist. Their bonding had a frat boy feel to it but with a musical twist. Like rock bands, the Hullabahoos have their so-called female “groupies.” Not one song went by without adoring female fans professing their love (in excruciatingly high-pitched voices) for the particular soloist. But other than this visual image of an all-male band, the Hullabahoos aren’t the typical male group from the Rock era. Its ethnic make-up is very diverse, consisting of members of Asian, African American and Afghani descent. Also, being an a cappella group, the band only covered songs but that most certainly did not take away from the group’s raw talent.
Many of the songs in their set list were examples of crossover. Their rendition of Kanye West’s Heartless is an instance of rap music crossing over to the pop charts. The soloist who rapped Kanye’s part in the song did an amazing job, and the group transitioned a rap song into a cappella very well. They also sang Brass Bed by Josh Gracin; this is an example of a country song crossing over to pop. The ‘bahoos really chose a set list with an extensive range of genre and time. They did a great cover of one of Bill Wither’s classic R&B songs, Ain’t No Sunshine. They also sang their versions of recent popular songs such as Matt Nathanson’s Come on Get Higher and Jason Derulo’s Whatcha Say.
A cappella performances never cease to amaze me because, with the exception of microphones, these singers use nothing but their voices to create the harmonies, melodies, beats, and rhythms of the songs. The beatboxers in the group were very skilled in producing the purely vocal percussions, effectively imitating the work of a drum. There was never a need for musical instruments during the performance because the voices of the Hullabahoos were more than sufficient in recreating the music, as evidenced by the audience’s enthusiastic cheers and sing-a-longs with the group.
One of the most enjoyable (though non-musical) parts of the show was the Hullabahoos’ sense of humor. Their choice of attire was very distinct. Along with the typical UVa gentleman uniform of a shirt, tie and khakis, each member of the group sported a robe with different loud colors and patterns. This uniqueness has become a signature Hullabahoos style. Also, the group is known for showing a comedic video during the intermission. They didn’t disappoint this past concert. The newly joined Hullabahoos were put against UVa varsity athletes, amusingly competing against one another in the respective sports.
The show also featured a guest performance by an all-female a cappella group, The Sil’hooettes. The Sils are also ethnically diverse and performed gender through their attire and song selections. The girls in the group were dressed in all black with silver or gold jewelry and all the members wore pants and heels. They projected a feminine image but of a strong, independent type. In addition to their attire, their song choices such as Jazmine Sullivan’s Bust Your Window furthered the feminine theme. The soloist, though small in stature, had such a big voice that expressed the passion behind the lyrics of Bust Your Window, which portrayed a woman who had been cheated on and was seeking revenge.
Though only a student performance, the concert showcased such raw talent and musical abilities. For those interested, there are videos of the concert online at

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