The Stereotypes, one of Washington University in St. Louis' 11 a cappella groups, perform during the Mr. Stereotype pageant on campus in 2012.
Ask junior Kevin Vondrak what makes Washington University in St. Louis rock and he’ll tell you the high ratio of a cappella groups to students.
“I’m not exactly sure why there are so many of us, but it’s great,” said Vondrak, who is studying music theory in Arts & Sciences. “It can’t be a bad thing to have more people singing.”
Vondrak is music director of the Stereotypes, one of 11 WUSTL a cappella organizations. This weekend, the Stereotypes will perform two shows — the Mr. Stereotype pageant at Simon Hall's May Auditorium on Friday, Dec. 6, and a full-length concert at Graham Chapel on Saturday, Dec. 7. The band also will debut its new four-song extended-play (EP) Tiebreaker
, which features the hits “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, “Locked out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars, “Some Nights” by Fun as well as the traditional song “Wayfaring Stranger.”
The Record asked Vondrak, also known as “the starving artist,” about the ensemble’s repertoire, chemistry and cool ties.
Who are the Stereotypes?
We have 18 members from every school and every year. Some of us are music majors, but a lot of our members are studying medicine, engineering and other topics. What brings us all together is a love of music. We call ourselves the Stereotypes because we want to go beyond the stereotypical idea of what is a cappella. There’s also the musical pun: “Stereo” - types.
I see what you did there. Nice. How do you decide what songs to perform?
Our repertoire reflects the musical tastes of our members. A member of the group may play a song as we’re driving to rehearsal, and if enough momentum gets behind a song, someone will arrange it and we’ll learn it. There is also a choreography committee. We’re always thinking about how to perform a song to its fullest, whether that means breaking out into silly choreography or choreographing a full 12-minute set for competition.
It appears from your videos that the band has real chemistry. Is that for real or just for show?
It is real! During auditions, we look for people who we think will gel with the group. We spend six hours a week rehearsing together, but that’s not all that we do. A bunch of us live together. You can find us in the DUC (Danforth University Center) every day having lunch together. We spontaneously burst out into song in class or on our way to rehearsal. When you’re singing with your best friends, it just brings that much more energy to your performance. A lot of us see it as one of the defining experiences of our time at Washington University.
So what do you have planned this weekend?
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 6
Where: Simon Hall, May Auditorium
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 7
Where: Graham Chapel
Tickets are $12, $8 for WUSTL students. Tickets are on sale from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the DUC and from 6-8 p.m. at the Bear’s Den.
Each night will have its own feel. The Friday show is not just a concert. We bill it as the only all-male a cappella pageant. Each member has his own stereotype — “the nice Jewish boy,” “the indie Indian, “the starving artist.” Each member will compete for the title of “Mr. Stereotype.” Not only does that come with the glory, but the winner also gets a tiara.
So there will be baton twirling and swimsuits?
Not exactly, but there will definitely be some wacky events. The audience gets to text in their favorites during intermission, and then the five finalists will compete in a final round which, rumor has it, will be acting out movie scenes. The winner is ultimately picked by how loud the crowd is.
And what about Saturday?
The really special thing about Saturday will be the production. It won’t be all of us standing around a microphone singing. Instead we’ll each have a microphone which will allow us to take control of the stage. We’ll also have lights. It will be a stunning spectacle to have these lights play off these big stained glass windows.
The Stereotypes definitely own their look. Where do you get your cool outfits?
We actually get our ties from the website solidcolorneckties.com.