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2012-366 Day 337 – Straight No Chaser

And here we start with everyone reading the title and going, “Wait, he doesn’t drink.” That’s true, but here’s where I tell you the title refers to a group, and not my drink of choice (maybe it is, actually, I don’t know, I’ve never tried it). Jess and I went out on a date Friday night to go see a group called Straight No Chaser at the Pantages in what has got to be a record for planning ahead for me, since I bought the tickets in May (dinner plans, not so far in advance, but we found a Mediterranean place – Chicken Dijon – across the street that was pretty good). Straight No Chaser is an a cappella group from Indiana that does versions of popular songs as well as Christmas songs. How did we find out about them? Well, that deserves a new paragraph.

As I mentioned, the group is known for their Christmas songs, especially their, how shall we say, unique take on them. Jess was listening to her Christmas Pandora station when the 12 Days of Christmas came on sung by an a cappella group. It sounded nice enough, and she didn’t think much of it . . . until the days started getting a little compressed and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer showed up. Confused, so was she (and apparently, they), but she had to pay attention now. After a veritable Christmas cornucopia in one song, she tracked them down on Youtube and sent me the link. We were both instantly hooked, and I went out and found them on Amazon. Oh, I’m sorry did you want to see what I’m talking about?

So when we heard that they were coming out to Los Angeles at the beginning of the Christmas season, we had to go. I found some decent but not too expensive seats, ordered the tickets, received them, and then waited. And waited. And waited. We actually lost the tickets for a few days at some point since, if you remember, I ordered them six months ahead of time.

Suddenly, though, it was time and the day had sprung upon us. Since it had been raining that day, we headed down early to make sure we had a time buffer and got down there with an hour and a half to spare, so it was time to eat. Oh, I will mention here that I’m sad my usual Pantages parking lot has been bulldozed over to make way for shops and living space (okay, that’s pretty good for everyone else though) and we tried a different lot that did stack parking, which turned out to be a minor mistake when we tried to leave at the end of the night and we had to wait in line. It normally wouldn’t have been a big deal, but my legs were really hurting and achy from a major stretching session the night before in karate and then standing while teaching for three hours, followed by a lot of sitting. It was kind of annoying is what I’m trying to say.

Anyway, about this group. Originally they were a club at Indiana University from 1996 to 1998. They graduated and went their separate ways, figuring that this chapter had closed in their life. In the meantime, someone went and popularized the Internet, World Wide Web, and Youtube. So when the group was going to get together for a ten year reunion, one of the members digitized and uploaded one of their performances (the Youtube video embedded above) and, as these things are wont to do, it went viral. One of the people who wound up seeing happened to be the President of Atlantic Records. He tracked down the group member who posted it on Youtube and asked if they would consider getting back together and putting out an album. Of course, they said yes. After making two Christmas albums, they started branching out into covering popular songs, and have three albums and two LPs out now. Their next album comes out in February and has them covering some more popular music.

I suppose I should get to the actual concert now. Our seats were in the second row of the second section of the balcony on one end, and they turned out pretty well. Jess had slight obstruction issues with the lady in front of her, so she had to look around her at times but in general was okay. I was behind the taller guy, but since I’m taller than he was, could see over him fine. The first half of the concert was their covers of popular music, most of which we weren’t familiar with but all of which was pretty awesome. Some of it was off the album that comes out next year and most was from their third album and LPs. When they started off with an a cappella version of “Some Nights” by Fun, I knew we’d made a good call. I wish I could describe the whole thing to you, but I know I’d miss some things and we’d be here all night (or at least I would be, and I’m writing it, so I’m trying to keep it shorter. Notice I’m failing). They had a lot of fun with the audience, including taunting the late people, which I always enjoy. They also played a short video at the beginning of the show that made fun of how hard it was to get ten guys to decide on anything, especially since they were all on the road together (and apparently have to all eat the same thing out of band unity). In a refreshing change of pace, they also encouraged people to take pictures and video during the performance, since they recognize the value of free advertising. Jess asked if I was going to record anything, and initially I said no, but decided I should have something of a more permanent memory while I had the chance. When they announced that their last song before intermission was going to be a medley where they put lyrics to famous movie themes, well I had to get in on that.

WARNING: Cell phone video ahead, probably best to just listen, but you can watch too if you want.

The second half opened with the part of the show featuring Christmas music, which was what we had come for in the first place. It did not disappoint, starting off with the classic Twelve Days of Christmas fiasco . . . I mean medley, and moving through many favorites (the Mission Impossible opening to We Three Kings nearly made me fall out of my seat) before wrapping up with the Christmas Can Can, which we actually heard for the first time on the XM Holiday Station on the way home from our Thanksgiving vacation last week. A couple more songs, three encores (including the final, final song which they did without their microphones like they would have rehearsing back when they started, that was particularly moving), and three standing ovations later, and the night had swiftly come to an end. I have never had time fly by so quickly at an event before.

We let everyone kind of filter out ahead of us, but, as I mentioned earlier, my legs were hurting and I was looking to head home. Sadly this meant that we had to forgo an opportunity to meet and greet with the band, which I now regret missing since Jess got her Tweet (did I mention that they encourage Tweeting and Facebooking during a certain portion of the show?) replied to by one of the group members a little bit after the show.

In all it was a great concert and one I would recommend to anyone who likes a cappella singing and a great time. I laughed, I was moved, and I got into the Holiday spirit. I don’t know what else you can ask.

Weight: 222 Loss: 18 lbs – Running Yearly Mileage: 358.7 miles
Fitocracy Level: 26 ID: disciplev1

Posted in Matt 2012-366, Matt General. Tagged with , , , , , .

One Response

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  1. The whole concert was hilarious and awesome. I am partial to their “Carole of the Bells” which gave me chills (okay, it is my favorite song but that doesn’t mean every does it well) and the “unplugged” version of “O Holy Night” had me near tears. Simply gorgeous.

    Truthfully, I love the story of this group almost more than their music. Think about it. You have this crazy awesome chapter of your life, doing what you love with your best friends for 4 years, but it has a natural ending (graduation). I’m sure that they missed it and mourned that time being over each in their own way, but they all move on their separate ways. Then 10 years later, God says “No, that chapter was not over, it was only on hiatus.” and brings back that dream 10 fold. A Record deal, national tours, etc… That’s just crazy!

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