NC/DC: Back in black and yellow

Teresa Taylor — Staff writer

Dordt University’s “Chopsticks ‘n’ Soup” won first place and $650 at the NC/DC finals at Northwestern College’s Christ Chapel on Feb. 17. The band consisted of Siena Rose as vocalist, Ivana Harsono on piano, Emma McGaughey on tenor saxophone, Victor Mwila on electric, David Condor on bass, and James Kamstra on drums.

As Dordt students arrived early for the 9 p.m. event, they formed a crowd in the chapel’s lobby after learning the doors to the chapel were still locked while the bands finished their sound checks. When the doors opened at 8:50 p.m., students from both colleges pushed their way in and claimed their seats in the pews.

The pre-show flashing lights caused some to hold their heads in their hands as the lights overwhelmed them. Music intended to hype played over the speakers until the lights went down and the crowd silenced.

The opening video featured Northwestern students Emily Kraft and Alyssa Feeley as they attempted to displace Dordt as #1 in student engagement by staging proposals across campus. After the yearlong montage, they learned Dordt was still in first.

When Kraft and Feeley took the stage, they introduced themselves as elementary education majors, resident assistants, and athletes. Throughout the show, they told jokes to introduce bands and asked them questions following the performances, including “What’s your favorite toe?” and “What’s your favorite flavor of toothpaste?” They wore white powdered wigs when they asked a Northwestern band who their favorite Founding Father was.

Dordt director of production arts Alex Priore sat as the Dordt judge, Northwestern graduate and Dordt theatre department production manager and costumer Becky Donahue sat as the neutral judge, and Northwestern director of bands and instrumental music education Dr. Angela Holt sat as the Northwestern judge.

The six bands played two songs each, one before the ten-minute intermission and one after. After every performance before intermission, Northwestern’s Student Activity Council (SAC) carried a couch onto the stage for the band to sit on during the judges’ comments and the hosts’ two questions. When the band stood, SAC removed the couch from the stage.

“It hurts my back watching them,” Northwestern student Luke Jeltema said.

Northwestern had planned the event to be two hours, according to director of student programs Lucas Heiberger. When they realized how much time the couch and questions took, they limited the hosts to one question per band and chose to leave the couch offstage. Despite the alterations, the event went half an hour past the two-hour mark.

The time bands spent arranging before their sets also added to the overall time, and technical difficulties slowed the process. Similar issues affected the bands’ performances, particularly the sound balance. While the bands gave input for their lighting designs in the BJ Haan Auditorium, they did not receive that option for Christ Chapel, and flashing lights often blinded the audience.

After the last song, the crowd voted for the winner via text. The judges had 25 points each to give to the team of their choice. The hosts informed the crowd before intermission they would announce first place first, then second, then third. When they came onstage to announce the winners, however, they corrected themselves and told the crowd they would announce third, second, and then first.

The hosts asked for a drumroll before declaring Northwestern’s “Women in Stem and the Other Guys” for third place, Northwestern’s “Just Jazz Combo” in second, and Dordt’s “Chopsticks ‘n’ Soup” in first.

NC/DC was “Chopsticks ‘n’ Soup” members Emma McGaughey and James Kamstra’s third performance of the day. After their Wind Symphony concert at 6 p.m. for the high school honor band students, McGaughey and Kamstra, as well as NC/DC band “Covergirls” Annika Rynders and Emily Zuidema, immediately drove to the Fruited Plain for a jazz combo gig. Lael Bervig, also of the “Covergirls,” began the event at 6:30 p.m. on the piano while the rest of the combo finished their concert.

“Chopsticks ‘n’ Soup” members Siena Rose, Ivana Harsono, and Victor Mwila spent the following day performing at the Cultural Fair in the Grille.

“I find joy when I am performing for people, not just for myself, and sharing those talents,” Rose said. “It’s more fulfilling than just doing it for my sake.”

Following their semi-finals mashup of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” and Bruno Mars’s “Treasure,” “Chopsticks ‘n’ Soup” decided they needed to amp the hype for finals.

“There were a lot of really strong groups from Dordt and Northwestern that I thought were good rivals for us that definitely gave us a challenge,” McGaughey said.

The band chose to perform Michael Jackson’s “Love Never Felt So Good” and Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger.” They wore 70s-inspired sunglasses and sequined jackets from the costume shop.

During their first song, “Chopsticks ‘n’ Soup” brought Dordt international student Melanie Saavedra and Northwestern international students Lisa Li and Shion Lee onto the stage for a dance battle.

“I just like the concept of collaborating in art,” Rose said, and the judges praised the band for bringing the schools together.

Rose will graduate next spring after a semester in Chicago, and McGaughey will graduate this May. The remaining members of the band plan on performing next year.

“You can see parts of ‘Chopsticks ‘n’ Soup’ playing together,” McGaughey said, “but I don’t know if there will be a time when we all come together again.”

Contributed photo

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