STUSA2016 Blog 18: The End is Nigh

We boarded our ‘tour bus’ at 10am after a lovely night with The Girls Next Door. The plush leather seats and blue LED lighting made us feel like rockstars, and when ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ came on the radio, the transformation was complete. One constant among all the places we have at stayed on tour so far have been the waffle machines. Pour in the liquid, wait two minutes and you have some tasty, warm cholesterol for breakfast. England need to follow suit.

The Danbury Palace theatre was like nowhere we had ever performed before. A previously 2,000 seater venue had been damaged by damp decades earlier and as a result, the main theatre had been split into two; a wall partitioning two halves of the stage. The smaller, sweatier conditions reminded us of the Edinburgh Fringe but it provided a great, intimate atmosphere. Ten minutes before the show began, Rob decided to announce that he had left his black performance trousers at the hotel, (a ten minute drive in itself from the venue). But fear not. He returned on time and we bundled onto the stage after a beautiful set by Martini Glass A Cappella.

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Sam leading The Chain during the encore

The audience was varied. Sat about half-way down the almost full house was a hen party which made for excellent encouragement during our upbeat numbers. The bride-to-be thoroughly enjoyed the attentions of Ed Jillings during Bump & Grind after she had been brought to the stage for serenading. We then headed to a local bar/restaurant with the girls after the show before being driven to a frat house where the evening began to blur slightly.

The night finished in the most extraordinary way. Making small talk with the Uber driver on the way home, he turned around and said, ‘I went to this really great concert this evening; there were 14 guys singing without instruments. Do you want to hear some?’ The driver proceeded to play our first EP, instantly recognising Ed Jillings’ solo on Cheating. When Sylvan let him in on the little secret he brought the car to an abrupt halt. ‘NO WAAAAY!’ An extraordinary coincidence to finish the day.

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We rise at 8am tomorrow for our final show in Valhalla at Westchester Community College.

R x

STUSA2016 Blog 15: UN-believable day in NYC

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Trump tower

After everyone was watered and fed,
(a struggle for some to leave their bed),
We rode the metro several stations,
Until we arrived at the United Nations.
Oh! What a sight it was to behold!
Next door, Trump tower (not solid gold)
The former building was the best,
And 183 flags with different crests
Were flying in the breeze.

Inside and out were gifts galore,
Presents from nations which covered the floor,
We met our tour guide, (a lovely man),
And we followed him and his pre-set plan.
The Security Council was first port of call,
A delightful chamber but pretty small
In comparison to the rest.13016453_10157009239525105_2109639425_o
The general assembly was definitely best.
Sad not to see the Chamber of Secrets,
We visited the other chambers in sequence
Before heading to the shop.

In their own post office we were allowed
To have our passports stamped, and through the crowd
We went to receive the unique print,
A proposition which made Ashley’s eye glint.
From there we split into different groups;
One party went to Macy’s (oops),
Whilst the others took a moving trip
To ground zero, before taking a smallish ship
To see the Statue of Liberty.

Word got leaked that dear old Bernie13016781_10157011216855105_1683188708_o
Was not too far, so another journey
Was made to Washington Square Park.
By the time he emerged it was almost dark,
But the boys stood on benches and heard him speak
Henry so excited he let out a squeak.
We all convened at Columbia University
A beautiful campus highlighting diversity
In New York’s concrete jungle.

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We met Non-Sequitur for a second year running,
A lovely bunch of people. Singing? Stunning.
We sang some songs and did some drinking,
Before time caught up with us and we went off slinking
Back to our apartment for another busy day awaits.

The end.

STUSA2016 Blog 9: Virginia Arts Festival? Norfolk ‘n way!

After a lovely evening with the Ladies in Red, (and probably our nicest meal on tour thus far), we headed off at a leisurely 9:30am on our latest Greyhound coach adventure. During the two hour delay which followed, Charlie Rockall seized the initiative, masterminding a mass Dominos order. It proved to be a very wise decision and the more frugal in the group who decided to ‘man up’ were left with their stomachs grumbling for the rest of the day. A conversation regarding the higher quality of English Dominos ensued, and a consensus was reached that Exeter needed a greater number of low-budget pizza outlets.

The scenery as we approached Norfolk was beautiful. The sunset was amazing and the coastal drive provided light relief from the motorways we had been on for the previous six hours.  A short drive from the coach station took us to the lovely Sheraton hotel just after 7pm. Rob and Ashley were lucky enough to have a room overlooking a huge battleship (see top photo), but all the rooms were in top nick and Sam Harper was once again licking his lips at the prospect of a Fitness Center.

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Beautiful surroundings

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Ashley enjoying said surroundings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bags dropped, we were soon off in search of dinner. We made our way to the top of a nearby shopping mall containing a plethora different outlets, (the easiest way to appease everyone in the group). The majority chose Chinese, but Sam Harper seemed to feel vindicated in his decision to get Sushi. Ashley’s fortune cookie provided favourable omens, and apparently ‘a sound financial investment beckons’. We wait with baited breath.

En route home, Henry was eager to tell us about the WWII battleships moored in the harbour, whilst Ed Jillings provided his own, completely fictitious history of the U.S.S. Wisconsin. Ed has the uncanny ability of being able to confuse fact and fiction with alarming ease, but always with much hilarity involved. Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day with the opening of the Virginia Arts Festival in the evening, but in the morning we all have a chance to explore more of the beautiful city.

R x

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Focussed on the task at hand

STUSA2016 Blog 5: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Tone

It still doesn’t feel entirely real. Just over a week ago we were finishing essays and lab reports in the library and now we’re in Orlando where the thermostat is pushing 30 °C.

Oh, and we went to Universal Studios.

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Ashley, Jamie and Henry with the sickeningly sweet Butterbeer

We bundled into our Ubers and made the short journey to the huge theme park that houses rides for classics such as Harry Potter, Minions and Men In Black. We opted against the Islands of Adventure and decided on the Studios instead, heading straight to Diagon Alley at the far end of the park. Henry and Duncan were keen to taste Butterbeer, whilst Rob had heard about the amazing value fixed-rate ISAs which Gringotts were offering.

With the clock ticking, (we were due to meet FSU all-female group KeyHarmony in the evening), we headed en masse to the Harry Potter ride. Ashley and Jamie were tentatively refreshing the England cricket score in the queue and their cries of; “surely not leg before?” and, “fantastic heave to cow-corner”, must have sounded like absolute Quidditch to whoever was listening. Having saved Harry and co. from dungeon trolls and Lord Voldemort, the team split up and headed in different directions. Over the course of the day we essentially covered the same ground, however. Most of the rides and experiences were 3 or 4D based, with amazing simulations and CGI leaving you breathless even though you wouldn’t leave the room. They were essentially conning your body into feeling certain emotions, but it worked incredibly effectively.

‘Men In Black’ was a shoot ’em up game, and the unexpected nous and killer instinct of Michael Luya came up trumps as a scored a massive 147,000 points. Needless to say, we’ll be keeping our distance from Michael for the rest of the tour. The only proper roller coaster was called the ‘rip-ride rocket’ – a thrilling ride which Tommy couldn’t get enough of. It started with a vertical incline, before dips, dives and corkscrews took you to the end in the flashest of flashes.

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Sam Harper looks like he’s enjoying himself

A favourite for many was ‘Revenge of the Mummy’. This included Ted, who was particularly complementary about it as the ‘best all-round experience’. I was lucky enough to catch him for a quick interview; “At first I was a bit put off by the hackneyed special effects, but the physical effects of smoke and fire were particularly impressive.” We thank Mr. Bartram for his time.

In the blink of an eye it was 6:30pm, and Ed Jillings was looking very rouge. We headed to the beautiful UCF campus to meet up with KeyHarmony. For American groups it is normal to book a classroom and sing to your peers and close friends, a trend which we would love to encourage back home. We alternated the singing, with each group doing two sets of three songs. The girls were amazing; stunning soloists and heart-wrenching slowies were the order of the day, with a hilarious arrangement of ‘Push It’ by Salt-N-Pepa thrown in for good measure.

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Group photo with KeyHarmony after our gig!

 

Heading to a local pizzeria by the name of ‘Lazy Moon’ (where a huge slice of pizza and a pint of lager was only $5), gave us a time to sit down properly and hear more about UCF life. It was great to get to know KeyHarmony a bit better and drinks at one of their houses was a great end to a fantastic day.

R x

STUSA2016 Blog 2: It’s show time!

It was democratically decided that we needed a lie-in after yesterday’s long day of travelling. Sam Harper used this free time to flex his muscles in the hotel’s gym whilst Tom Broadbent took the more relaxed option, rolling up his trousers and paddling in the pool. Any initial morning tiredness was quickly overcome by fervent excitement and anticipation at what tonight was to hold; an opening show in front of almost 1,200 people.

We left the hotel with Sylvan’s snazzy suit holders in hand and ventured out into the Carribean-esque weather. Jamie Blencowe sensibly applied suncream to his pale neck, whilst the tracksuit brigade of Cross and co were left ruing their decision to wear cotton ‘pants’. An early highlight was undoubtedly the annual reappearance of Ashley’s sunglasses. Thankfully, he has finally acknowledged that he needs to upgrade. Needless to say, we Brits couldn’t stand out more if we tried.

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Wesley Snipes called. He wants his glasses back.

As we walked past frat houses on the way to campus, Sylvan was left contemplating a change of university and what might have been if he had completed his SATs. After a couple of hours rehearsing in a room far too small for 14 men, we arrived at the gorgeous Ruby Diamond Hall right at the heart of the Florida State Uni Campus. Not dissimilar to excitable Labradors, the chaps set about exploring their beautiful new environment, taking photos and selfies a plenty. Thankfully, ‘Splashley’ refrained from marking his territory.

IMG_9102Mike, the aptly named sound-technician, was incredibly patient with us. He worked wonders behind the scenes as we raced through our two hour soundcheck. With a few hours of downtime afterwards, Messrs Edwards, Bartram and Rackham promptly went searching for sunbathing spots in the glorious Florida sunshine. We then met up with our two incredibly talented opening acts, All-Night Yahtzee and the Acabelles and ate as a collective before the show. Indeed on our tour last year, one of the things we enjoyed most was meeting new groups and both groups made us feel incredibly welcome.

We loved every minute of the show from the moment the first curtain rose. In arguably our sweatiest performance ever, my personal highlight was the reception we received after singing the Star-Spangled Banner. Seeing the whole audience on their feet was a real honour, and we could not have wished for a more generous first crowd. Speaking with audience members after the show was a real pleasure, and a few even apologised profusely for Mr. Trump!

After showering at the hotel, we then ‘Ubered’ to the house of a couple of the members of All-Night Yahtzee, who were kind enough to host a small gathering for us. Everyone enjoyed themselves greatly, new friends were made and it was a fantastic end to our first proper day on tour. PicMonkey Collage

R x

Voice Festival UK

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve been invited by The Voice Festival UK to the Semi-Finals of their National University Competition!

Even better, our fantastic female friends the Sweet Nothings have nabbed a spot in the Semi-Finals too, as have the awesome Aquapella Bath Uni and the brilliant The Bristol Suspensions, so massive congratulations to them and all the groups who made it through! Looks like the South-West is the new home of UK A Cappella!

Check out the rest of the line-up for the event below

http://thevoicefestival.co.uk/events/university-competition-semi-finals-2015/