Obertones to Rock Both OCs
This Saturday, ten students will come together in harmony to kick off their spring break tour in California. The Obertones, Oberlin’s all-male a capella singing group, will perform for the entire week, including two substantial performances in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.
“This is a preparatory concert for our tour so we can get used to [performing] and see what it feels like in the performance setting,” said sophomore Rick Lawrence.
The Obertones plan to perform 11 shows in seven days. However, they are likely to include last-minute additions and street performances in their tour as well. The Los Angeles and San Francisco performances, which are open to the public, will be the first two paid concerts that the group has given on tour. Though this is the group’s fifth time touring California, this spring break’s big performances offer a new perspective.
“We thought it’d be cool to go to a place where people don’t normally hear music like ours... We’re reaching out a lot more instead of waiting for people [to come to us],” said senior Peter Sherman. “We just want to be rock stars.”
A greater number of performances this semester intend to fulfill this goal for outreach for the group, which includes Sherman, Lawrence, first-years Christopher Dice and Nikrad Mahdi, sophomores Samuel Alfiler, David Bogorad and Alex Paik and juniors Benjamin Whatley, Scott Grogan and Nick Aszling.
“We lacked visibility last semester, so we’re doing more performances now, for example working with the Alumni Association and at the Oberlin High School,” said Sherman. “We want to promote our group on campus as well as our tour.”
In addition to increased visibility in Oberlin, the Obertones will expand even farther by singing the National Anthem at the Lorain County Speedway on Saturday, April 8. They intend to give away five free tickets for the event during Saturday’s performance.
However, the Obertones want to reach out beyond Ohio and even California. Their main short term goal is to tour Eastern Europe for two weeks next January. They consider this to be a good opportunity for the group and for the College as well, as it will expose a new audience to Oberlin.
“We want to reach out to people [in Europe],” said Sherman. “There is a pool of untapped resources that the College doesn’t have the time to go after, so sometimes we’re the first view that people get of Oberlin.”
This view, according to the group, is a very diverse one. Its members speak ten languages among them and come from varying backgrounds and interests. In order to focus on the College community, the group includes few Conservatory students but an eclectic mix of College students.
This diversity, however, extends beyond the actual singers and into the group itself. By incorporating skits and dances into their performances, the Obertones seek a more offbeat image than traditional a capella groups.
“We’re the black sheep of a capella,” said Sherman.
They even incorporate humor to challenge previous impressions.
“We tend to make fun of ourselves while we perform or make fun of the image,” said Lawrence. “We try to break the Oberlin mold and expose people to politically incorrect things, for example our reality TV show skit that featured stereotypical characters.”
It is with this light-hearted attitude that the Obertones will leave for their upcoming California tour.
The kickoff concert is on March 18 at 7 p.m. in Fairchild Chapel. The Los Angeles show is in Studio City, CA at the Aura Night Club at 8 p.m. The San Francisco show is a $5 Alumni Event, which will be on Thursday, March 30 at 8 p.m. in Oakland, Calif., at the College Avenue Presbyterian Church.
You can buy tickets online for these two shows on the Alumni Website until
Friday, March 24.