Ashley Huizinga and Harrison Burns—Staff Writers Enter a captionAshley Huizinga and Harrison Burns—Staff Writers
The 2018 NCDC Semifinals held at Northwestern College kicked off with a bang on April 12, having been pushed forward a day for safety’s sake as snowstorms loomed over the weekend.
Performers included six Northwestern acts and six Dordt groups, making for an almost 3-hour-long evening of singing, button-pressing, technical difficulties and story-telling about camels in the desert.
The acts began with a soulful rendition of Casting Crowns’ “Praise You in This Storm” by NW’s Matthew and Sam. As the final note rang, the two judges took the mic to offer feedback and criticism—with a night-long emphasis on criticism. Many audience members were displeased with the harshness of the critiques.
“I would take negative comments from judges that were actually qualified to judge,” said Dordt sophomore and Paraguayan Jazmin Mendieta. “If you’re not qualified, then don’t try to tell comments that go beyond your understanding of music.”
Next to take the stage was the Dordt band The Aircraft. Technical problems at this point were primarily due to “a faulty keyboard and lack of equipment… and bad batteries in the battery boxes,” according to NW junior Jaaziel “Jaz” Meribole. Earlier in the week, the NW worship team had taken possession of the mics and instruments for the weekend. But NW’s Tech Services took the trouble in stride and did their best with the equipment that Dordt had to offer.
Other NW acts ranged from Suresh Portillo with a lonely and heartfelt Spanish ballad, to a submitted video of Nick Heider singing a surprisingly acoustic guitar version of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”
More technical difficulties brought on cheers from the Dordt attendees as Dordt junior Elayne Apol took the stage, wielding her Tech Services knowledge to assist with something technical. After a moment or two, Meribole and Apol succeeded in their mission, and their exit was followed by an upbeat piano-and-DJ controller version of Michael Jackson’s “PYT”—a song that performer Casey Perez noted as being a big part of her childhood. Perez was admirably unfazed by the tech issues.
Despite faulty tech, intensely critical judges and what was often a lukewarm audience, all groups of both NW and Dordt performers put their skills to the test with twists on both golden oldies and indie obscurities.
This included Dordt senior Brett Randolph as kingfinch singing to the Lumineers’ “Angela” in a harsh, husky tone that rivalled the quality of the original track. Other fan favorites seemed to be Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” by “The Keychangers” (featuring senior and Diamond managing editor Danny Mooers on piano, junior Brian Oh on guitar, and seniors Sarah Bos and David Lee with vocals), and Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” by five-person band “Black and Yellow” (featuring seniors Daniel Amin, Benjie Lee, Michel Gomes, Ariel Gomes and junior Ray Badudu). “The Keychangers” especially drew cheers for Lee’s and Bos’ interweaving voices as they flipped effortlessly between variations in vocal keys.
The NCDC finals were hosted at Dordt’s campus on April 21, making for an exciting and packed Saturday evening as both Dordt and Northwestern students flooded the B.J. Haan auditorium to cheer on the final six groups in the competition. The event ended just before 11:00 p.m. when 1st place was awarded to Dordt’s student band “Black and Yellow,” after a particularly powerful performance of “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith.
A short line had already formed outside by the time the doors opened at 8:30 p.m. In only minutes, the lobby contained a crush of people cramming inside to snatch good seats. The audience was immediately treated with blasting pump-up music and hundreds of glow sticks as they waited for the show to begin.
The competition opened with an internet meme-themed video of senior Austen Scammon and junior Rachel Roerig, the emcees for the night, before they bounded onstage in flashy-soled shoes to kick off the show. The majority of the audience seemed to get the jokes—although some convincing photos and a borrowed wedding dress from the Costume Shop assured that many were left wondering by the end of the night whether Scammon and Roerig were “just friends” or not.
The three Dordt and three Northwestern finalists each performed two songs during this round of the competition. The night’s performances added up to a total of twelve songs that allowed each group to show off differing ranges of music and a variety of different styles. From a somber, acoustic version of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” performed by NW’s Nick Heider to an uplifting recreation of “My Heart Will Go” by “The Keychangers” (which inspired the first standing ovation of the evening), the night was filled with unique spins on familiar songs.
After all the groups had played, the audience voted for their favorites by texting the appropriate code, similar to American Idol type singing competitions. This year, judge votes counted for the equivalent of 25 individual votes. As the tallies were being counted, eight audience members were selected by raffle to compete for a prize of Beats headphones in Minute to Win It-style activities.
Finally, “The Keychangers” were announced as second-place winners taking home $250, preceding the announcement of the $500 prize going to champions “Black and Yellow.” In the second round, the band received a standing ovation for their electrifying rendition of “Lay Me Down.”
“Someone said they’d never seen me express as much as when I raised my hands when we won,” said bassist and tambourinist Michel Gomes, who surprised the audience by manifesting a tambourine from behind his cajon for a few significant notes of the performance. “I guess I broke my stoic character.”
“I was really glad that we won, but I honestly would’ve been satisfied whether we won or not because I felt that our live performance really portrayed the hours of practice we put into the songs,” said drummer Benjie Lee. “Before the show, we joked about how this will be the peak of our musical careers and it will be all downhill from here, so we should really enjoy the stage when we have it.”
Dordt and Northwestern students exited the auditorium after the winners were announced, looking forward to next year and the renewal of this annual music event.