17th Annual Beatlemore Skidmania: Trippy and Loud
In what seems like a whirlwind, Beatlemore Skidmania has come and gone as the weekend of Nov. 17 comes to an end. Every year, Skidmore students and the Saratoga community come together to celebrate a certain era of The Beatles. The 17th annual show celebrated Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, as well as the transcendent single “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The show included 16 performers; a mash up of Skidmore groups and student bands.
The show started off with the fan-favorite Funkin’ Donuts who, in their bright pink logo t-shirts, did a jazzy mash-up of the album’s title track and “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” Funkin’ Donuts lost a few key characters at graduation last year, but proved they are not only flexible, but just as impressive as ever. The song choices showcased the new lead singer, with dazzling red hair, and the band’s camaraderie. Ultimately, Funkin’ Donuts was the perfect opening act -- complete with band-Alumni handing out donuts for the crowd during the instrumental break.
In true Beatlemore nature, the next performance following a complete band was one of Skidmore’s acapella group, Dynamics. The change in dynamics created a more personal atmosphere. And the group covered “With A Little Help From My Friends,” complete with a sweet skit between two group members, ending with a sneak-attack kiss from the female solo.
Compared to last year, the student interludes between sets were actually played off well. Because of the complex nature of Beatlemore -- full bands compared to acapella groups compared to acoustic sit-downs -- audience members have to allot time in between acts for transitions to take place. Usually these sections are tedious, but the Beatlemore sound crew and students worked swiftly to provide seamless transitions -- only getting stuck a few times.
After Dynamics, a group of cellos performed a cover of “When I’m 64,” a classic written by Paul McCartney. It was interesting to watch an instrumental rendition as always, and later in the show another group, Jefferson Plastic Company covered the song with a soulful, and at the sametime folky, rendition. This -- the same song being covered more than once -- happened about twice in the show. While repeating songs lacked diversity, it was interesting as an audience member to see how other groups approached such classics. The other song repeatedly covered was “She’s Leaving Home.” First covered by Bugs in the Tall Grass, a band named after the height differences inherent in the group, and then by Lena Schwartz.
Rim Joe and the Boys covered “Penny Lane” in the first performance to truly showcase the stylistic adventures of Beatlemore’s light crew. Overall, the group delivered an incredibly impressive and professional rendition. The instrumental break showcased the lead guitarist’s raw talent, and got everyone in the audience feeling the musical genius at the core of “Penny Lane.”
Following the rock-out that was “Penny Lane,” an acoustic performance of “Getting Better” by The Brunettes (actually two blonde singers) brought the audience back to Earth. They were followed by Skidmore’s only all-male acapella group The Bandersnatchers; who sang a rendition of “Fixing A Hole,” complete with a tap break. Two members were seemingly dressed as John Lennon -- I’m still unsure why, but the costumes just added to the fun of Beatlemore.
In perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, Drobakid and Skidmore Circus Club teamed up for a “trippy and loud” rendition of “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!” As the music escalated, silks dropped down from the ceiling for two circus members to swing on until the end of the song. A performer on stilts juggled across stage and a kite flew to the beat of the song to finish off the first half of Beatlemore.
The show resumed with Skidmore’s Klezmer Band performing a -- in their words -- more Jewish version of "Penny Lane." Their rendition showcased the diversity at play among Skidmore’s musical groups, celebrating the transcendence of The Beatles’ music. After, the Drastic Measures, another Skidmore acapella group, performed the song that everyone -- or at least, I -- was waiting for: “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The acapella rendition actually provided an eerie atmosphere that closely matched the song’s vibe.
After two stripped down performances, Campo took over with a cover of “I Am the Walrus,” which perfectly showcased the lead singer’s vocal range. The group played with some experimental exterior sounds to truly convey the tripped-out atmosphere this song is known for. The rocking band was followed by the last acapella performance, done by the Accents who covered “The Fool On The Hill.” The group’s harmonies were lovely, and gave the performance a “jazz club” vibe.
The acapella group basically closed out the show, since the next performance was The Rust Brothers -- a band composed of professors who end Beatlemore every year. Every act that performed before joined the brothers on stage for a mash-up of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” and “A Day In The Life. The group asked audience members to participate in a huge crescendo for their second song; which brought the audience together as a musical instrument, allowing total collaboration for the finale. Everyone on stage squatted at the first measure, building both in sound and height until the cut off at measure 24.
The show ended with a collaborative rendition of “All You Need Is Love,” which brought the whole audience up on their feet to sing and dance along. Following was a lovely tribute to Professor Thompson -- the man behind Beatlemore, who is retiring this year after many years of devoted service to the music department. With the final notes of “All You Need Is Love” still ringing in the ears of audience members as we listened to stories of friendship and growth, Beatlemore accomplished what it originally set out to do 17 years ago: bring a diverse community together through the power of music and, most importantly, a mutual love and respect for one another.
Click to activate the Beatlemore Skidmania Gallery! (Photos provided by Olivia Berson '21)