SoundWave A Cappella are pitch perfect at ICCA

SoundWave performs five songs during their ICCA set.

Courtesy of SoundWave

SoundWave performs five songs during their ICCA set.

by Huy Huynh, Contributor

SoundWave, San Diego State’s first and only coed a cappella group, recently competed in the ICCA (International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella), placing first in the virtual Southwest Quarterfinals on March 5, and third in the Semifinals that occurred in Phoenix, Arizona at the Herberger Theater Center on March 19. As seen in John Legend’s show “Sing It On” and the book “Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory,” the ICCA showcases a cappella groups from all over the country, as well as the United Kingdom.

Currently consisting of 18 group members, SoundWave was originally established in 2012 as an R&B group, but only started competing in 2020. 

Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic’s burdens, SoundWave’s president Julia Pearl discussed the group’s journey and finally competing in the tournament. 

“SoundWave competed for the first time ever in 2020 and qualified for semifinals, but the competition was cut short due to COVID-19. Finally making it to Phoenix two years later was such a full-circle moment for everyone that was in the group in 2020,” Pearl said.

The ICCA requires each group to perform a 10-to-12-minute performance showcasing the group’s strengths with the main focus being on musical performance, but also scoring on presentation. Because of this, choreography is common among these performances, as shown through SoundWave’s set and their use of intricate blocking and even dance choreography one would see in an actual dance group.

Known primarily for being the group’s beatboxer and was awarded “Outstanding Vocal Percussion for Entire Set,” Mario Fong further elaborated on the preparation process.

“After many nights of setting dynamics, blocking formations, and getting to know one another much too well, we not only came out in the end with an award-winning ICCA set, but more importantly a performance that we can all be proud of,” Fong said.“The lengthy process of preparing and practicing for such a large-scale performance was a challenge for sure, but incredibly rewarding nonetheless.” 

In their 10-minute set, the group performed five songs, including “Hypotheticals” by Lake Street Dive, “Making Bad Decisions” by Bea Miller, and, most notably, “Stupid Deep” by Jon Bellion, as they won “Outstanding Arrangement” for the song cover. 

Describing the bonds created during the competition with other a cappella groups, Brandon Bartosh, SoundWave’s business manager, affirmed the positive lessons learned from this experience. 

“We all cheered each other on as the groups came backstage one by one after their performances. Along with being there to perform, the best part for me was learning from other groups…learning how they developed their set and how they ran their rehearsals,” Bartosh said. “It was an uplifting community for sure!”

Despite the connections made in Phoenix, Pearl summed up the experience by saying SoundWave’s own comradery will most likely stick the most for the group. 

“After working tirelessly on our competition set for nearly six months, there really is nothing like the feeling of performing on a stage with 17 of your best friends,” Pearl said. 

With an event as prolific as the ICCA, the a cappella group is starting to make waves, and they urge their fellow students to jump on it. 

“If you haven’t heard of SoundWave yet, come to our performance…we’re really good, for real,” Fong said.

SoundWave’s next two performances will be on April 30 and May 30, with the first one occurring at the Heart of a Child benefit concert, and the following one in La Jolla at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. Tickets for the La Jolla concert are currently available online at the La Jolla Music Society website and include dinner as well.