Great chemistry strikes a chord

Beyond borders

Great chemistry strikes a chord

The stage was set — 15 microphones were spread across it, waiting to capture the voices of the talented members of Penn Masala, the world’s first South Asian cappella group, comprising 11 students of the University of Pennsylvania.

In the country for a four-city tour across various branches of Hard Rock Café, they performed an energetic hour-long set, which was probably all that their throats could manage after their previous back-to-back shows.

A lot of their classic, fan favourites were sung — the multi-lingual rendition of Aicha, Woh Lamhe, Tu Aashiqui Hai and mash-ups of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ with Ishq from Taal, O Re Piya with ‘Maroon 5’s ‘She Will Be Loved’ and their latest — Viva La Vida with Jashn-e-Bahara. They even debuted their cover of KK’s Maajhi, which they had never before performed in front of a live audience.

Despite the lack of instruments, they proved to one and all that a lot more can be done with the vocal chords than just talking. Some of them beat-boxed while others simply contributed to the melody. Harmonies were heard amid the lyrics, and the bass they created was enough to make you want to dance.

“As we got more into it, the crowd kept getting into it,” says Chetan Khanna, a member of the group. “Though all the shows on this tour have been good, it was great fun performing in Bangalore because of the sheer number of people here and their enthusiasm,” he adds with a smile.

The audience cheered them on, sang along and even danced to Aap Jaisa Koi, a popular Hindi song. They jumped to grab CDs which the band threw into the crowd and they called for an encore, which the band conceded to.

Still, not everyone was completely satisfied with the performance. For Sanjay, who attended the concert, the members of the band were talented for their age, but not exceptional. “It was good, but for some reason, it was better on Youtube. The chemistry is tangible to a listener, but I feel they needed to test the acoustics better,” he notes.
Deepika, another member of the audience, was more appreciative of the group.

“They are a creative bunch and you have to give them credit for trying out something as different as a cappella. It was a good opportunity for people here to listen to such a unique genre of music,” she concludes.

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