Every other November, a cappella group Straight No Chaser comes to Houston to riff on classics like “I Want You Back” and “Kiss From a Rose,” giving crowds a fever whose only prescription is an auditory injection of the crooners’ melodious voices. The ensemble’s ten YouTube-famous members—credited with inspiring box office hit Pitch Perfect—hold audiences in thrall with their instrument-free renditions of classic pop, rap and Christmas songs.
But Straight No Chaser should be only part of the entertainment. In Houston, college a cappella groups treat SNC shows as an opportunity to convene and challenge each other to fierce, spontaneous riff-offs. Since this year’s show is at UH, we decided to call up a couple of the university’s a cappella groups, who will be front and center at the show, and gin up a little smack talk.
We first got in touch with Jose Castejon, director of mixed a cappella group Rhapsody. It’s going to be some kind of showdown, we asked, no? “No, not really,” he said. “There’s not really a rivalry, but the only competition that happens is when we’re recruiting members. It’s all in good fun.”
Darn it. Okay. We rang up Jake Woodson, assistant director of Men of Moores. He had to have some dirt on the other guys. Right? “It’s never really about who can win, because it’s more about the celebration of a cappella.” No way. “Yeah, it is. It’s so cool to get together to see what others are doing and what we can improve on.”
The only rivalry seemed to be who could be more polite. Here’s hoping the claws come out a little, all the same.