Review: Songtourage’s ‘Dumb Song Night’

Songtourage's latest offering redeems a cappella's fusty reputation

Photo: Conor Bateman Photo: Conor Bateman

The performance genre of a cappella is notorious for cheesy step-touching, key changes, and shit beat-boxing. When I was asked to review Songtourage, a five piece a cappella group from Sydney, I was cringing at the prospect of an hour of Top 40 hits and out-of-key ‘ba ba bas’.

As I sat in the audience of Songtourage’s ‘Dumb Song Night’, a Sydney Comedy Festival special, I was undeniably sceptical that five men could challenge my cynical views. Yet, as the quintet entered the room, met by an enthusiastic cheer from the sold-out, full audience, it became very clear that they may well prove the impossible. Could a cappella be … cool?

As it turns out, yes. Absolutely yes. Surprisingly hilarious, also. With songs about accidentally walking into ‘Cool Mum Cafés’, and a beautiful parody of ‘Hotline Bling’ that reminisced about talking to your crush on the landline (Mum, hang up pls), Songtourage beautifully captured the highs and lows of the millennial experience. Songtourage didn’t need the matching blazers and choreographed hand gestures to put on a show. Their lyrics, stage presence, and offering of beer and cider to audience members was quality entertainment enough .

There were two clear standout moments from the evening. The first was a sombre ode to the marginalised bin chicken — the acoustic, heartfelt recount of a father ibis facing discrimination was tearjerking. For a second, I forgot that I was an avid Taste-goer and I actually empathised with the bin chicken. Terrible.

The second standout was when we were asked to check under our seats. Expecting to find a Mercedes, the unfortunate victim  revealed a family-sized packet of Twisties and was challenged to scoff the packet; this all happened whilst the group sang about sad middle-aged men eating Twistie-dinners. It was, by far, the most creative instance of audience-member humiliation I had ever seen.

From a musical standpoint, their harmonies were on point. The blend of barbershop-baritone with impressively high-hitting, soprano tones was executed seamlessly. Further, the setlist comprised of both original songs, as well as parodies of popular songs, providing the perfect balance between intrigue and familiarity. They were funny, they were talented, and just all-round impressive.

So despite looking like millennial Wiggles, decked out in coloured tees, skinny jeans, and R. M. Williams, Songtourage didn’t need the cheesy moves. Miraculously, Songtourage made a cappella cool, and for that, I can only sing their praise.

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