The sound of six harmonizing voices filled the Olmsted Center last Wednesday evening. Unlike many bands brought to Drake University’s campus, these musicians performed without accompaniment, imitating the sounds of instruments with their voices.
At 9 p.m., the members of Sonos, an a cappella group from Los Angeles, made a stop by Drake to perform cover songs from their first album, “SonoSings.” Drake students heard compiled renditions of songs including “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness and audience-favorite “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Drake Student Activities Board sponsored the event.
Ben McLain, Jessica Freedman, Chris Harrison, Rachel Bearer, Paul Peglar and Kathy Hoye make up the six-member ensemble that perform as Sonos. The three women provide lead vocals, while the three men provide back-up singing and beat boxing, with a few songs as exceptions. Combine these roles, and the audience hears a full range of sound effects and vocal arrangements, providing the illusion of instruments on the stage.
Michael Riebel, Student Activities Board bands co-chair, thinks an a cappella group is a nice change of pace for Drake students.
“This year, we are bringing different sounds we haven’t brought to campus,” Riebel said. “We [try to book] different types of music that appeals to everyone.”
While their music may appeal to college students, the college audience appeals to the members of Sonos. Bearer, one of the three female vocalists, agrees.
“The crowd is different [at colleges],” Bearer said. “The audience is just less reserved.”
The young-adult audience is not a new experience for Sonos. Over the past six months, the members have toured the country performing at colleges and select high schools.
Freedman, another female vocalist, said she and the other band members like to cater the performance to the audience before appearing on stage.
“We pick and choose what we will sing,” Freedman said. “We use the same presentation for all audiences, just change up the song selection.”
At the end of the performance, Peglar, one of three male vocalists, mentioned the items for sale at their merchandise table. He encouraged the audience members to pick up a copy of their current CD, but added that he was a college student once.
“I know one of you will buy a copy and you’ll give it to all your friends to burn,” Peglar said. “That’s just how it goes when you have little money to spend.” The other band members nodded and smiled in agreement.
The table, complete with CDs, shirts and tote bags, was the main attraction after the event. A line of students waited to purchase merchandise and speak with the band members personally, some asking for autographs.
Sonos will release its next album, a compilation of holiday songs titled “December Songs,” Nov. 9. Copies of the album were sold early at Wednesday’s performance, but can also be purchased on Amazon.com.
Sonos will end its college tour with its performance at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., on Tuesday.
SAB’s next band, Nathan Angelo, is this Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Pomerantz Stage.
Photo: Jessica Hamilton