Mosaic / Music / Reviews / May 6, 2010

The Other Guys mix pop music with geeky chic

The Other Guys is, perhaps, an appropriate name for a group that brings with it the capacity to stand out from all other male singing groups.

An a capella group from the University of Illinois that performs to raise money for various charities, the ensemble visited Knox this past weekend and brought to their music a unique sense of humor that was overshadowed only by their music. The appreciation of the audience, which drew from both the Knox and larger Galesburg community, cannot be overstated.

Describing their music as “hardly off-key,” the all-male a capella group quite literally leapt onto the stage. Dressed in blue sweater vests embroidered with gold “I’s,” the ensemble’s energy was infectious from the moment they entered Kresge Recital Hall to the end of the last song.

Playing off the audience’s laughter and enthusiasm, The Other Guys worked hard to project a sense of geeky humor, using almost slapstick humor and chorography that fit quite literally with their songs of choice. Making Superman capes out of their sweaters, using their bodies to spell out words, running around the stage and pretending to pull out their hearts created an easy-to-follow performance that was appropriate and entertaining for all ages.

The group’s connection with the audience was also assisted by their choice of songs, which largely consisted of covers of mainstream bands. Singing works from such groups as U2, Jason Mraz, John Mayer and a compilation of Beetles songs, The Other Guys offered an interesting re-interpretation of traditionally hard-rock songs, bringing a new style to the music without losing any of the original energy or artistry.

Although most songs included a display of the group’s humor, a few, such as a cover of U2’s “A Sort of Homecoming,” can only be described as haunting, causing the audience’s laughter to give way to ardent listening and loud applause.

For most of the show, however, humor was the dominant theme. The group gave each member a chance to shine, taking turns with the solos of various songs rather than having one main singer. With each solo, each musician brought their own brand of comedy. When a brief misstep caused two people to be in the wrong places, one singer joked, “We actually do rehearse — we’re just funny.”

When the time came to sing a Jason Mraz song, one irate member complained that he had written the song in collaboration with Mraz in an effort to get the attention of a girl. He succeeded, but Mraz escaped with all the musical credit.

Although all college undergraduates, The Other Guys displayed strong musical skills, offering a depth of emotion and technical mastery that was well worth the admission price.

At times the non-stop use of over-the-top humor could have been balanced more effectively by including less slapstick (which grew repetitive and went on a bit too long) and more pure music, but, overall, the performance provided entertainment and a night of good music.

Katy Sutcliffe

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