An a capella afternoon with SeaNote
The quintet gives new life to pop standards during a Music at Noon performance. | Brooks Ginnan/THE CHIMES
My Wednesday afternoon would have been quite uneventful if not for a free concert that occurred at 12:30 p.m.
Newest Performance Installment
Biola’s Conservatory of Music hosted their newest installment in a semester-spanning series of musical performances called Music at Noon, showcasing an a cappella band called SeaNote. Hailing from Seattle, Wash. the quintet have gained notoriety through their award-winning performances and enduring conviction to “put a fresh and unique spin on new and old top 40 hits,” according to their Facebook page.
As someone admittedly unschooled on a cappella music, I was not sure what to expect from SeaNote. My experience clarified why they have received so much acclaim.
Tone & Dynamics
SeaNote took the stage with considerable applause from their audience of roughly 150 people. Their relaxed mannerisms contrasted naturally with their color-coded attire, balancing out their professionalism with friendliness. The quintet’s control of tone and dynamics appeared from the opening moments of their performance. Beatboxer and rapper Shaheer Aftab simulated an electronic pulse with his baritone voice, proceeding to wake up his bandmates as though they were robots booting up. From here, the quintet dropped into an amalgamation of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” and Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee).”
This song was a compositional highlight of SeaNote’s set. Complementing the atmospheric groove of the former song with the propulsive europop of the latter, each member provided exactly what the song needed to reach its potential. Alto Amanda Tran, baritone Isaiah Lin, and soprano Lucy Liu juxtapositioned unique harmonic sensibilities with familiar melodies over Aftab’s command of rhythm and the low end backbone bass of Michael Kibbe.
Genuine Love for Music
SeaNote’s genuine love for music abounded throughout their set. Each individual musician played off the rest, evidencing cohesiveness within the band. This was evidenced by the seamless way Kibbe transitioned from a harmonic emphasis to one of rhythm and how he and Tran took over beatboxing duties while Aftap rapped, Their mannerisms exuded joy and emotional connection with not only their music, but with one another. Resonating with the resulting positivity, I became emotionally invested in what I heard.
“Fight/Roar” was another potent example of the quintet's abilities. Tran gave a short introduction before the song began, expressing her desire to enhance the quality of the original songs by rearranging them and bringing their best qualities into the spotlight to create something compelling and exciting. “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Fight” by Rachel Platten transcended their simplicity in the hands of SeaNote. Complete with syncopated rhythm and harmonic density, this medley solidified the fact that these five vocalists could sing life into any material they decided to work with.
Regardless of the amount of pop songs the group performed, SeaNote is far from a one trick pony. In addition to multiple hip-hop interludes, the band explored country and R&B through a rendition of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” and one of John Legend’s “All of Me.”
Take Advantage of the Opportunity
After experiencing such a talented performance, I was left to wonder why so much of Biola’s student body does not take advantage of Music at Noon. With Biola’s music program giving free showcases of such talented people, taking advantage of such things seems like a no-brainer. Those who are interested can Music at Noon concerts every Wednesday at 12:30 in the Crowell Music Conservatory. Next week’s performance will feature baritone and composer Joel David Balzun accompanied by pianist Dr. Kevin Garnica.