Groovestand means “business” at annual Fall Invitational

Groovestand means "business" at annual Fall Invitational

The a cappella group performed upbeat tunes and moving ballads to raise money and awareness for local non-profits at their business casual concert.
Published: November 15, 2019 | Updated: November 17th, 2019 at 8:45 pm
Freshman Jeffrey Castellano gave a stand-out performance as the lead vocalist in Groovestand’s cover of “HIM” by Sam Smith.
Groovestand covers Sam Smith's song "HIM" at their annual Fall Invitational Friday night. Freshman Jeffrey Castellano gave a stand-out performance as the song's lead vocalist.

Student a cappella group Groovestand performed a mix of fun bops and powerful ballads Friday night for their annual Fall Invitational in Hendricks Chapel. The co-ed group donned blazers and dresses to go along with this year’s Business Casual theme.

This year, the concert was free to attend. In lieu of paying for admission, the group asked audience members to consider donating to any of the three non-profit organizations they spent the night raising awareness for: We Rise Above the Streets, The Onondaga Environmental Institute and HumaneCNY.

Bernie Kellman, a broadcast and digital journalism senior, attended the event to show support for the singers. “I really appreciate the arts on campus, and I wanted to come out and support the group,” Kellman said.

The Invitational kicked off shortly after 8 p.m. with Groovestand covering Vulfpeck’s “Business Casual.” At the song’s end, Groovestand president Morgan Eaton, a sophomore and the night’s emcee, grabbed the mic to thank the audience for coming. He welcomed the night’s special guests, University of Rochester a cappella group After Hours and a fellow SU a cappella group, The Mandarins. He also introduced the non-profits they hoped to raise money for. “We think it’s really important that these non-profits have a platform and are exposed to you students,” Eaton said.

Before the night’s regularly scheduled programming continued, Eaton acknowledged the bias incidents that have plagued campus this past week and praised the student protestors for standing up for what’s right. “On behalf of Groovestand, we condemn these actions of hate speech on our campus, and we hope that tonight we can bring some light in what may feel so dark,” he said.

He also shared that members of Groovestand were going to join the protestors in the Barnes Center after the concert to show solidarity for their fellow SU students.

After acknowledging the incidents and protests, Eaton introduced Al-amin Muhammad to talk about the non-profit he founded, We Rise Above the Streets. Muhammad briefly discussed his history of gang involvement and homelessness, then encouraged audience members to get involved with his organization’s Sandwich Saturdays and had them repeat his inspirational mantra: “I am somebody, and I can change the world.”

After Muhammad’s brief speech, Eaton welcomed After Hours, the University of Rochester’s oldest co-ed a cappella group, to the stage. After Hours covered two modern hits, Shawn Mendes’s “Lost in Japan” and Billie Eilish’s “bellyache.”

Once After Hours finished their short set, Eaton introduced Amy Samuels, the education and outreach coordinator for the Onondaga Environmental Institute. Samuels discussed how OEI allows her to work on her “secret evil plots” that include getting middle and high school students outdoors to study science and encouraging the youth to be more involved with discussions on climate change.

Groovestand sang a fun rendition of “Happy Together” by The Turtles.
Groovestand sings a fun rendition of “Happy Together” by The Turtles.

Groovestand performed again after Samuels finished speaking. They sang “FourFiveSeconds” by Kanye West, Paul McCartney and Rihanna onstage. Then, the group took to the floor to sing a powerful rendition of “HIM” by Sam Smith, with stunning lead vocals by freshman Jeffrey Castellano.

The group interrupted their set for Groovestand member Josh Horwitz to share non-profit HumaneCNY’s mission to provide no-kill animal shelters and be advocates of homeless cats and dogs. Horwitz even shared that he recently adopted a cat from a HumaneCNY shelter and encouraged the audience to consider adopting as well. The group followed Horwitz’s short speech with a silly, upbeat rendition of “Happy Together” by The Turtles.

Groovestand started the second half of the show with a coordinated costume change and a strong performance of Katy Perry’s hit song “Never Really Over.” The group then handed it off to their second special guest, the all-female campus a cappella group The Mandarins. The Mandarins slowed things down with gentle, almost ethereal vocals in their covers of Dan + Shay’s hit “Speechless” and Julia Michaels’ “Issues.”

After The Mandarins finished their two-song set, Groovestand once again took the stage and performed “Stop Your Crying” by Lake Street Dive and Thirdstory’s power ballad, “Still In Love.”

Groovestand’s penultimate song was a powerful cover of Thirdstory’s “Still In Love.” The strong performance was rewarded by a standing ovation from the audience.
Groovestand sings their penultimate number, a powerful cover of Thirdstory’s “Still In Love.” The strong performance was rewarded by a standing ovation from the audience.

After the group finished “Still In Love,” Groovestand president Eaton announced that in light of recent campus events, the group decided to change their closing number last minute. “We want to close with a song of peace, and we want you guys to focus on the good because not everyone may have it so good,” he said.

After Eaton’s brief closing speech, the group sang a moving rendition of “A Song About Peace” and received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Michael Larkin, a junior television, radio and film major and Groovestand member who opted out of performing in the Invitational this semester, had glowing reviews for his fellow group members. “I loved the show. They really did that, they sounded awesome,” Larkin said.

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is a digital producer for The NewsHouse.