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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Alternotive A Capella

The Oxford Alternotives

Genre: A Cappella

Venue: C Chambers Street


Low Down

Infectious, enthusiastic singing from eight guys and six girls in a fifty minute set of popular tunes, skilfully reworked into some pleasing and, at times, quite complex harmonie


There seems to be a certain formula to Fringe a capella, especially that involving the numerous university groups that seem to sprout up like mushrooms at this time every year. Once upon a time there were just a couple of established names trotting out arrangements in multi-harmonies but now a plethora of ensembles are competing for an audience in this space.

Something must be working, though. Here we were, on a sunny Sunday afternoon and C’s top floor venue was packed with an audience of all shapes, sizes and ages, including the family of one of the singers occupying a prime spot in the centre of the front row. Cue entrance of a bunch of good looking, young, musical, intelligent, well-drilled singers in matching T-shirts and with an excellent grasp of close harmony singing.

Alternotive A Capella do, however, offer suitably alternative fare to the usual stuff trotted out on these occasions and a mix of the big and brash with more tender numbers ensured that the set was clearly differentiated. Spending a bit of time early on in the show explaining to the audience how this stuff is put together was a very nice touch as well as giving this never less than energetic and enthusiastic group the chance to show off their musical ability as they mashed six tunes into one and still made the music (and lyrics) understandable.

They worked really well as an ensemble; vocal percussion was excellent, clever musical dynamics brought passion and expression to tunes not generally associated with those adjectives and some impressively tight choreography added to the polished look and flow about the set.

They also coped well with some appalling noise leakage from another venue which threatened to derail a couple of the slower numbers (C Venues should look at how they might correct that) and finished with a rousing, foot-stomping rendition of “It’s Raining Men” that had their audience stomping their feet in appreciation.

Getting the balance right in these sort of groups is always a challenge and perhaps this one would benefit from more at the bass end, especially given that there were eight guys and only six girls. And some of the soloists’ voices were rather lost in the general melee but, again, that’s always going to be an issue in any ensemble – you need voices that blend and harmonise nicely but these aren’t always necessarily going to be voices that can hit the back of the hall on their own.

That aside, it was a pleasant fifty minutes of entertainment that is clearly pulling the punters in. Worth a look for anyone who likes close harmony singing.