The Fall auditions for 2005 resulted in exactly one new member for the VoCals: Lucy Jackson. During the retreat at Big Bear, the VoCals discovered that she couldn’t sing bass, bari and tenor while holding down her mezzo and soprano parts, so they held a second set of auditions. Donald Webber, Jr. had auditioned in the first round, but wasn’t able to make callbacks, so he was given a “free” callback during the second round. The group accepted Donald along with Matt Pollard and Scott Johnson.
Fall of 2005 included gigs that were becoming long-standing traditions: a Halloween concert in costume (with RO, but without a special name at this point), SCAMfest at Pomona, Save Tommy Night, and a Christmas concert.
Then, the VoCals decided to push their limits. It was time to step back on to the competitive stage after a 3-year hiatus from the ICCA’s. Along with ambitions to finally get the VoCals to New York for Finals, the group began to put their blood and sweat into an amazing new album: Get In. Rock. Get Out.
Of course, they also rushed off to weddings and business conferences (now averaging over $1000 per gig) to get the album paid for.
That semester, the VoCal House sheltered eight VoCals as tenants and when you put that many VoCals in an enclosed space, some very interesting things happen. The 2005-2006 VoCals were thrilled to be the first generation to live in this dream!
Before they even fully recovered from their New Years hangovers, the diaspora of VoCals on Christmas break boarded planes, hitched rides down from the Bay, or maybe, just rolled out of bed at the VoCal house in preparation for another radtacular semester at 1146 W. 27th Street. This was going to be one of the most momentous semesters in the group’s already legendary history.
The first order of business was the infamous and dreaded ICCA. Armed with new basses (Scott and Matt) and a black dude (Donald) from late semester auditions in 2005, the VoCals felt more ready than ever to win despite it being their first attempt since 2003. The group put together and organized a set that would be unlike anything the ICCA had ever seen before. Choreographed by Brittany McDonald and featuring music from Paula Abdul (Cold Hearted), Starland Vocal Band a la Anchorman (Afternoon Delight), The Beatles a la En Vogue (Yesterday) and Styx a la VoCals (Styx Medley), the VoCals’ quarterfinal performance on February 11 was truly a sight to see.
The VoCals strutted on stage with supreme confidence, ridiculously hideous mismatching outfits and gobs of eyeliner. They sang, with unparalleled conviction, a set of songs that left the audience asking themselves, “what just happened?” They partied on stage. With patented VoCal bravado, they knew they had won the night…until R.O. swept the awards and first place.
But all was not lost. Perhaps confused by the VoCals’ criminal good looks (Matt Pollard), the judges named them the runners-up and gave the group a shot at redemption — a shot that was scheduled for March 18th in the Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford.
With a little over a month and the judges’ scathing reviews in hand, the VoCals went back to the drawing board. The group ditched the clown suits and streamlined the set. With truncated versions of Cold Hearted and Styx Medley still on board, the VoCals again dared to think outside the box and opened with a Power Ballad by Heart (Alone). Under the musical direction of Dan Payson-Lewis, they worked even harder. They even cut their spring breaks short to go up to Los Altos for some extra rehearsal. This was a big step for a group whose singing ability was only exceeded by their partying ability.
They stayed at member Janel Healy’s house, rocked out during an impromptu jam session with her Dad, and had an epic wheel-y chair race around an abandoned office space (dpl says he won…despite what anyone else may claim). Oh, and of course they experienced FREEDOM! In between all this extremely important stuff, the group found time to rehearse. When March 18th finally rolled around, they were ready.
This time a more restrained version of the VoCals took stage and delivered 12 minutes of music that any a cappella group in the country would have been proud to call their own. Compared with their quarterfinal performance in February, it was night and day. The group had a coherent set of songs that focused on musicality and precise movement. They looked sharp and coordinated in matching outfits. They weren’t even THAT cocky.
With their job on stage done just before intermission, the group left the competition to get their drink on at a nearby Stanford watering hole. After a few pitchers, they decided it might be a good idea to go back for the end of the show and the awards. They returned just in time to hear Vocal Point (BYU) absolutely destroy the rest of the competition in the show’s closing set. With Vocal Point taking most of the drama out of the placement ceremony, the VoCals were mildly surprised to hear that USC’s Reverse Osmosis (R.O.) still somehow managed to beat them for the runner-up position. The official story: since one of the judges was not seated when R.O. began their set, the scoring was potentially flawed, so the judges decided to send R.O. to finals along with Vocal Point.
Once the VoCals returned to USC, their focus changed to finishing their next studio album: “Get In. Rock. Get Out.” Once again, led by Brittany McDonald, the group spent hours and hours holed up at Asylum, recording, mixing, and occasionally auto-tuning their next masterpiece. Gabriel Mann even made a few guest appearances behind the mix board to complain about a cappella, remind everyone how much cooler real instruments are, or sometimes just to flat-out make fun of Rakita (this was before he discovered and settled on making fun of Kenton). The album wouldn’t officially be released until the Fall, but the group put some serious work in during the Spring of 2006.
The VoCals performed in their usual combination of gigs and concerts. They opened for The 88, sang with visiting groups, and even sang while little kids searched for Easter eggs.
As the end of the semester approached, so too did the reality that the group would be losing seven incredibly talented singers: 3 girls, 3 boys, and Al Rahn. So the group did the only thing they knew how to do in times like these — they held auditions for even better ones!
From March 27-29th the VoCals put the contingent of VoCal hopefuls through the ringer. When all was said and done, only four remained. On March 30th, the group decided to play a little prank on these 4 future VoCals. That night, Joe Sofranko, Will Harris, Catherine Ricafort and Katie Lovejoy were all invited back to the VoCal house for what they thought was going to be a dreaded second callback. Just after they were accused of being “disappointing” in their callbacks, but a few moments before Joe peed himself from nervousness, the VoCals dropped the ruse and exploded in an unintelligible chorus of excitement as they rushed their now rightfully terrified newbies on the couch (special shout-out to David Patton for being particularly unintelligible).
Eventually, the newbie excitement wore off and the group had to deal with the fact that they would soon say goodbye to seven graduating seniors.
On May 1st, 2006, in a jam-packed Ground Zero, the VoCals took the stage one last time with their wonderful seniors: Katie Coleman, Mike Hoy, Geoff Lind, Brittany McDonald, Rebekah Melocik, David Patton and Al Rahn. It was a wonderful night, highlighted by epic solos from each of the graduates. From Al’s manic performance of “Underground” to Geoff’s powerhouse delivery of “To The Wire” each senior truly shined. The group sent them all off with kind words, gifts, and in one case…an impromptu sing-a-long. To say that this concert was epic would be an understatement.
Clearly the spring of 2006 was a banner semester for the VoCals. They worked themselves to the bone, competed at a high level in the ICCA, recorded an album, and brought on four awesome newbies. The best part is that they had so much fun in the process that they didn’t remember most of it until many years later.