HomeConcert Review: Hyannis Sound 20th Anniversary

jessica.chen's picture

Saturday, August 2nd marked the annual Hyannis Sound alumni reunion concert in Barnstable, MA. This has been an ongoing event for quite some time, but this year is particularly special because it marks the 20th anniversary since the group was formed in 1994. The format has varied slightly from year to year, but previous Hyannis Sound alumni shows usually consisted of a short set featuring the current group, a short set featuring members from a previous lineup, and several songs involving all members and alumni to close out the show. This year was a little different - the original lineup of each year performed one song from their set that year, in chronological order, to give the audience a chance to see how the group has evolved over time. As an introduction to the show, they even started off with a slideshow of photos starting with the current year and a clip of a song they sang that year playing, worked backwards to 1994. Check out the full setlist and the concert highlights below!

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As the slideshow ended, the very first Hyannis Sound line-up from 1994 kicked off the show with the ever so appropriate “Good Old Acapella,” featuring various soloists and a great vibe to begin the night. The group from the summer of 1995 performed “Everything She Wants” by Wham! Although they had a bit of trouble starting off the song - understandable considering it’s been almost 20 years since they were doing this regularly - once they got into the groove it sounded great.

Next was 1996 who performed “Crazy” by Seal. I was impressed that the soloist Mike Barnicle seemed to have no trouble belting the high A flats and B flats consistently, and really enjoyed this song. The 1997 group took had one of the most entertaining sets of the night with “The Lonely Goatherd” from The Sound of Music. It was definitely theatrical and entertaining - goofy but very fun to watch and it was clear that the audience got a kick out of it. The singers from 1998 chose “I Can’t Go For That” by Hall & Oates, featuring some very solid vocal percussion and a superb solo from Nate Altimari.

The group from 1999 performed the first slower song of the evening, and it was a beautiful one. Their simple arrangement of “Washing of the Water” by Peter Gabriel and sung by James Caran really showed off their blending ability and it was pretty to listen to. The song choice of “Dancing Nancies” by Dave Matthews Band from the summer of 2000 was also clearly a popular one, and I thought the song choice was interesting and unique for this group. Samrat Chakrabarti as a soloist was mesmerizing and it was a great performance to watch.

We were given a warning by Jason Taylor prior to the 2001 group’s performance, as they were planning to do “Pinball Wizard” by the Who and were nervous about how it would turn out. In my opinion, they had nothing to worry about - Jason killed it and this song got some of the loudest cheers of the night!

The group from 2002 slowed it down a bit again, performing a short but sweet “Fields of Glory” by Sting and sung by Matt Henderson. It was very pretty and clear to me that they enjoyed singing this one. And finally, the last song of the first setLove Train” by The O’Jays, originally done in the summer of 2003 and sang by Victor Sandman and Micah Christian. Both soloists are such powerful singers, with soulful voices and great riffs to play off one another, and it was a great, energetic way to close the first half of the show.

After a brief intermission, the 2004 group brought us back with “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley - a solid throwback delivered well by Eric Fosbury and a very fitting choice for the Cape Cod’s boys of summer. It’s also worth noting that Paul Toms gave us his best turkey impression during the bridge of this song. Next, the group from 2005 chose “Get Set” by Taxiride, and Matty Labak had some solid high notes throughout the song. It was short but sounds great even after all this time, and had lots of energy. “Easy” by the Commodores was the song of choice for 2006, which was a relaxing song with a catchy groove and featured some solid vibrato and an overall enjoyable solo from Cooper Cerulo.

The group from the summer of 2007 was particularly special to me as this was the first year I was introduced to the Hyannis Sound, and they definitely did not disappoint. Micah Christian delivered a heartbreaking rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. As a soloist his voice is effortless, and I love Micah’s ability to tell a story using just his face and voice and no other movement. They received the first standing ovation of the night and it was well-deserved.

The group from 2008 sang “Heart of the Matter” by Don Henley. I loved Phil Landry’s honest and heartfelt solo, and he was well-supported with a beautiful arrangement. The 2009 group picked up the tempo with “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” originally by Whitney Houston and sung by Nate Tao. Unsurprisingly he absolutely rocked the solo - he’s a natural on stage, and his impossibly high belted notes and effortless riffs are always a crowd pleaser.

2010 featured “We All Need Saving” by Jon McLaughlin which was another beautiful slow song, and the gorgeous piece provides an excellent canvas for Kevin Pidgeon’s rich voice. “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons was one of the most popular songs of 2010 into 2011, and it was also perfectly suited to Joe Whitney’s powerhouse vocals as done originally in 2011. His well-projected vocals really carried it and led the bridge of the song to build to a huge intensity.

The group of 2012 picked another popular song of that year - “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. This has also been a fairly heavily covered song by a cappella groups...but most of those groups don’t have a soloist as talented as Colin Egan. It was beautifully arranged and even more beautifully sung, with some color tones in the chords to spice it up from the original and a powerful trio to bring the bridge into the last chorus.

Although I love a good ballad, the group of 2013 definitely brought some energy with “It’s Raining Men.” It was sassy, funny, and incredibly entertaining, but also features some seriously high notes and impressive vocals from the three soloists Liam Fennecken, Andy Degan, and Jared Suresky. It was refreshing and their performance was great, and I thought their singing in unison at the end before breaking into the final chords was very effective.

Last but not least was the current group from this summer, 2014. Rather than choosing a more current song from their repertoire they performed “Feelin’ Good” which was sung by Jon Smith and a great interpretation of a classic. It felt fresh even though it’s been covered many times, and there was no faltering in the two key changes which were well-received by the audience.

As is tradition for these Hyannis Sound alumni shows, all of the 75 men who made it this summer came on stage to do a few group songs together, including the choral classic “Shenandoah,” “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and lastly an Irish Parting Blessing to close out the evening. Overall, it was an incredibly entertaining and well-organized show that everyone loved. It was amazing to see that almost all the alumni were able to make it back for this milestone, and it really felt like going back in time with the various throwbacks. In 20 years the Hyannis Sound has evolved so much, the talent and music remains strong as ever, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for the group for the hopefully many more years to come!

Read the "where are they now" article

About the writer:
As a musician Jessica started at an early age, playing piano and flute throughout her childhood, but she discovered singing and a cappella during high school and was immediately hooked. In college she sang with and directed the Boston University Allegrettos, doing most of the arranging as well as producing an album, and sang with friends in her hometown during the summers in Henry Fonda & the Falsettos. As a post-grad she has continued to arrange for various collegiate and high school groups. Some of her other interests include Boston sports and all dogs, ever.