By this time, Fall membership dues were up to $150.
2006 was the beginning of the VoCalloween tradition. We didn’t sleep. We watched the sun rise together. It was the first time the house was fully transformed and the beginning of garnering the HUGEST Halloween party crowd on campus.
The Gut Check of Fall 2006: a major turning point.
The Spring of 2007 started like most others for the VoCals: on-campus promotional concerts followed by auditions. Ben Bram and David Morgenthaler were accepted and thrown in to fend for themselves without a retreat. There were a few typical events like Wednesday lunchtime performances on campus, Ground Zero shows and Absolut A Cappella, but this year’s Absolut was anything but typical.
Fresh off the heels of R.O. going to the ICCA finals, the VoCals had tended to their bruised egos, held a big gut-check, and refocused. Since it was a touring year and, therefore, an off-year for ICCA, Absolut was the only chance to prove that the VoCals were still the best group on their home turf. “We needed to get some of our swagger back,” explains Joe Sofranko.
For the VoCals, Absolut A Cappella did just that, and as such, it was a significant event and turning point for the group. They competed with a fun, actually (somewhat) musically clean version of the “Footloose Medley.” But the showstopper, the reason they won, was their version of “Feeling Good”, featuring an incredible performance by David Rakita supported by an all-star arrangement from Dan Payson-Lewis. “Feeling Good” was the first time the group had really felt good about singing and about making music together for quite some time. One other important change occurred for Absolut, and that was the welcoming of now-honorary VoCal, Lili Fuller, as choreographer. She wasn’t an honorary VoCal yet, but basically just Joe Sofranko’s girlfriend who happened to be very good at choreography, especially for non-dancers. In the past, the choreographic style for the VoCals had been a bit more like cheerleading with focus on formations and unison gestures. Jumping in with less than a week to go before Absolut, Lili brought a sense of story-telling combined with pedestrian movements. This unique movement style as well as the re-focused musicality helped the VoCals take home that bottle of Absolut that glorious night. More importantly, it helped them regain confidence. It also began a relationship between the VoCals and Lili Fuller that still prospers in 2011. And in some ways, this win at Absolut was the first small victory on the road to winning the ICCAs just one year later.
Spring 2007 saw the rise of several new traditions: The SoCal VoCals and Friends facebook page, the very first VoCalentine’s Day party, VoCaliente (the Cinco de Mayo sendoff party got a new, catchy name), the La Barca Challenge, and the A Cappella Olympics.
Conceived by David Patton (DP), the first annual A Cappella Olympics was intended to unite the different a cappella groups through friendly, non-musical competition…and to have an excuse to play football and beer pong with friends. In short, the A Cappella Olympics were epic. Participants included the VoCals, RO, Troytones and a combination of Trojan Men and Sirens – four co-ed teams in all. During this two-day competition, the groups spent the day facing off in friendly matches of outdoor sports like football, capture the flag, basketball and dodgeball. The evening events included a beer pong tournament and a relay (flipcup, quarters, ten-second keg stand, 12-oz beer chug, and beer shotgun). They ended up feeling a little bad that they won every single event because the point was just to bond with the other groups and have fun. But, as it turned out, the VoCals just couldn’t help it.
The VoCals had the honor of singing at the Rose Bowl for the bright and early Opening Ceremonies of Race for the Cure, followed by a gig at a USC home baseball game. They were invited to sing at the brand new Galen Center, sparkling home of USC’s basketball and volleyball programs, and apparently, THE place to impress prospective students.
After playing host to Brandeis Voicemale on their California tour, it was the VoCals’ turn to hit the road. Singing in such chilly historic places such as Boston’s Fanueil Hall, New York’s Times Square, and DPL’s high school, the VoCals took their West-Coast style and schooled a part of the country that thought it knew everything there was to know about a cappella.
Back at home, The VoCals hosted the Stanford Harmonics and Oxford Belles, sang for “Eggster” again, performed as non-competitors at Songfest, appeared at the LGBT & Ally Commencement Ceremony, and pitched a reality TV show with a shoot at the VoCal house. Yes, there were lots of pitches that went nowhere.
As the semester wound to a close, the group was still in full swing with money-making gigs and big plans for what would become the most critically-acclaimed VoCal album to date. But they slowed down for an evening at the intimate Village Gate Theater to send off Scott Johnson, the only graduating senior, in style.