For all those students running low on swipes, Bruin Harmony will hold a pudding eating contest today as one of the many ways this performance-driven a cappella group tries to keep their audience entertained during their fall concert.
This evening in the Charles E. Young Grand Salon, UCLA’s all-male a cappella group, Bruin Harmony, will perform their annual fall concert featuring the Scattertones.
Because the concert is independently produced by Bruin Harmony, it gives the group members a rare opportunity to be completely autonomous with their set lists while showcasing their senses of humor in a way that most of their gigs don’t give leeway for. “We only have the opportunity once a quarter to perform for all our fans and friends and really put our repertoire out there,” said fourth-year anthropology student and Bruin Harmony’s music director Andrew Olsen. “Most of the time, we’re singing two to three songs at a time of a lot of the same kind of music. You can’t get super funny or silly when you’re doing a professional gig, but that’s something we can do when we’re having our concert.”
Flaunting its comedic side is something this a cappella group certainly doesn’t struggle with as they sashayed around Ackerman Union during rehearsal performing Nicki Minaj’s “Starships,” one of the songs in their setlist, wearing a Minaj-inspired pink wig.
“I think Bruin Harmony separates itself from other performance groups because our concerts are actually a show,” said Jackson McNeil, a law student and the group’s business manager. “There are usually games, there are costumes, there’s audience participation, there are prizes and most importantly there’s good music.”
The group has a few secret surprises up their sleeves to reveal to the audience on the day of the concert, including a special musical guest who will be revealed during intermission, prizes for audience members and ridiculous costumes among the group members.
“We’re doing a Secret Santa within the group,” McNeil said. “So everyone is supposed to buy another member of the group a costume, and for the second half we’re going to reveal what we got the other member, and they’re going to have to wear it for the second half of the concert. Hopefully, it will be sufficiently stupid to be hilarious.”
Some of the other songs that make up Bruin Harmony’s set list include Macklemore’s “And We Danced,” “Awake my Soul” by Mumford and Sons, “Mary Jane” by Rick James and a smorgasbord of other classics, pop, country and Christmas songs.
“I feel like as a group, we embody what every song means in different ways,” said third-year theater student Alex Vergel. “They are songs that mean something to us ““ we don’t just pick the songs out of anywhere. I enjoy doing all of them.”
The Bruin Harmony members emphasized their desire to merely perform to enjoy themselves and have fellow UCLA students enjoy their work too.
“I think what defines Bruin Harmony is that we’re entertaining,” McNeil said. “We’re a solid a cappella group that knows how to perform. You go to another concert and you could hear some of the best a cappella in the nation, but you’re not going to see costumes, you’re not going to see a pudding eating contest.”
Vergel described Bruin Harmony’s performance mantra as a few pillars that explain the breakdown of the group’s performance goals.
“It’s the hype (and) the class,” Vergel said. “The hype is where we appeal to everyone ““ our friends, you know, the guys in the audience, the people who are there drunk watching and enjoying us. The class is where we sing “Beyond the Sea” so you know we can be serious: We can bring good music and quality production.”
Aside from trying to realize their dream, the Bruin Harmony members just want their friends and fans to show up and have a good time.
“All we hope is that if you come, you’ll enjoy it,” McNeil said. “That’s ultimately the bottom line ““ come ready to get weird and loud.”