USA Tour 2012

  • Day 13: Rochester‚ JFK‚ London

    And then it was all but over. We awoke at a more reasonable, yet still early hour to get ready for the long trip back to JFK and then home. Juli and Andy once more excelled as hosts, providing us with a lovely breakfast while we ran around hoping to leave as few belongings as possible in the States. With Shirley and Hank packed full, we said some emotional goodbyes to our AMAZING host families.

    –At this point, I‚Äôd just like to thank anyone and everyone that put us up while we were on tour; without you, it simply would not have been possible, and you really made the tour for us. It goes without saying that if any of you are ever in London, we will return the favour with spare beds/sofas/chairs/floors and a good night to go with it.–

    The driving rain outside the cars seemed to reflect the mood of the tourists as we headed back south towards NYC; this was reflected by the fact that I was able to sleep in the back of Hank without being shaken awake by the bass from the sub that joins 2 passengers in the back seats. Stopping only twice and briefly (for some more artery clogging Wendy’s and for snacks in a dodgy Redneck service station), we made good time and were saying our goodbyes to empty and clean versions of Shirley and Hank at the rent-a-car drop off area.

    We reached the terminal and checked in without major incident, and reflected on the amazing week-and-a-half we’d had whilst enjoying our last hours in America. We were readily preparing ourselves for a 9pm flight (eat loads at 8pm ready for the sugar low to carry you through the flight appeared to be the best plan), only for the flight to be delayed continually until it eventually left at 1:30 am. This resulted in a fairly productive evening: amongst other things, we used the few minutes of leftover camera battery we had to shoot a low-budget music video for ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ in the airport (at time of writing, this is nearly edited and will hit the internet soon after) and we also allocated tour awards (sadly this was not deemed publishable, but some cleaner highlights included the ‘Dela-where? Award’ (see day 4/5), the ‘trying-to-get-into-Canada-without-a-passport Award’ (see day 12) amongst others).

    Finally, the plane returned from maintenance and we were on our way home. Enjoying a shallow, broken sleep punctuated by average aeroplane food and laughing at Zain’s salivary malfunctions, the flight went by in no time, and before we knew it we were touched down at LHR. This was a very sad moment for us, as this meant that several of our tour party were leaving us: Niall Smith and Ayman Osman our returning alumni, amazing soloist David Verhoeven, former MD Zain Khawaja and group founder Eugene Chang. We will miss them all so much, and the continuing group owes so much to them. I’m sure they will keep in contact, and I’ll hopefully be able to go on at least one more TTs tour with some of them at least.

    This concludes our written online documentation of our tour. We’ve certainly learned the dedication and organisation it takes to run thorough social media coverage (though you can barely call our coverage thorough at times). We have grown so much on this tour, and we will do our best to continue our growth into next year and beyond. I’d also like to take the chance to wish incoming musical director Mike Ronan all the best, and to thank everyone for putting up with me over the last year.

    Lots and lots of TTs love,

    James Hayward

    Outgoing MD and blog editor

  • Day 12: Rochester‚ Canada‚ Rochester

    The Techtonics love Mondays.

    Nothing could make us happier than a bright early start every Monday morning during term time, starting each academic week with our famous 7:00am vocal ‘bum bum’ warmups at the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park opposite the world renowned Royal Albert Hall, a mere stone’s throw away from our university. We normally undertake at least an hour of these vocal exercises each Monday amidst the leafy surroundings of Kensington Gardens before dining on three raw eggs per person and then starting our 9am class lectures.**

    This particular Monday, deprived of our normal London habitat, we sought to carry out our usual Monday ‘bum bum’ exercises at a small local water feature somewhere between America and Canada. We kicked off the day at 6:15, bleary eyed and waiting for the stragglers to get out of bed (James and David V claimed they were too stupid to work a phone alarm… Ed: I think you‚Äôll find we admitted no such thing, and in fact managed to blame someone else for something that was clearly our fault). Two of the group chose to explore their bedsheets more carefully, so the remaining ten of us, accompanied by our wonderful host Juli, set off on the 90 minute journey for the aforementioned water feature in Niagara.

    It was ten minutes in to our car journey that the discussion first turned to passports. It gradually dawned on me, driving Hank to the border, that I’d left my passport safely tucked in to my suitcase back at Juli’s house. I informed Juli and she was a little concerned although she mentioned that as an American she’d managed to navigate the USA-Canada border in the past without that vital document. The last few days of touring had made me rather foolhardy and I proudly proclaimed that the immigration officers at the border would fall under the spell of my UK driving licence and my charming public school British accent, like the many Americans I’d met over the last few days.

    Wrong.

    Trouble loomed as we crossed the no-mans land bridge around 8:15. A mere shrubbery away from a bona fide Canadian road, we entered Canadian immigration. The immigration officer was pleasant enough at first but asked the entire car-load including all passport-bearers to return to USA, and that all the passport bearers would have to cross the border again on foot. Happy to comply, we were waiting a few group members who’d just popped to the Canadian border rest-rooms to ‘drop the kids at the pool’. This was not a great idea as the officer became quickly convinced we were up to no good… it turns out that taking a number two at immigration when your co-passengers are illegally in Canadian territory is not a great idea and leads to threatening action at border control.

    Nonetheless, most of the group managed to spend a beautiful hour on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, whilst myself, David V and Ayman (who similarly left passports at home) walked around the American side of the Falls, crossing to Goat Island and enjoying the equally wonderful view of the Horseshoe Falls (yes I really wasn’t jealous).

    Then came a visit to the wonderful School of the Arts, Rochester, a local performing arts public school blessed with wonderful drama and arts facilities, devoted teachers and plenty of talented kids. We did a rapid soundcheck in one of their THREE performance spaces, courtesy of Techtonics sound man Max, before performing a 30 minute set to a discerning audience of mostly voice majors. They were fantastic to perform to, and we were asked to perform Gotye’s ‘Somebody that I Used to Know’ as an encore. We jammed this song, thankful of our one prior rehearsal in Leman Manhattan last week and this brought the house down. I found myself autographing bits of trigonometry homework after the concert (good practice for if I become a school maths teacher!), and it was wonderful to chat with some of the students after the concert and hear their feedback! After that we were given a quick tour of the school by Assistant Principal Alan Tirre, who shared the wonderful ethos of the school with us, and opened our eyes to some of the amazing artistic talent on the rise from Rochester!

    Back in Juli’s house and some final preparations were in place for the final official concert of the tour – a community open air concert in Juli’s back garden for all those living in the neighbourhood. We were given a real treat in American hospitality, as each neighbour brought a scrumptious dessert to share! Sagging under the weight of all the goodies, the garden table was a sight to behold; all that awaited now was the appearance of 12 silhouettes lit by Juli’s kitchen lights for the final 40 minutes of song of our wonderful USA tour.

    The concert was a beautiful, relaxed affair that was the perfect way to round-off our tour. It had a special meaning to several of us (Zain, Ayman, David V and myself) as it was our final concert with the Techtonics. It has been a roller coaster adventure with the group these last 4 years, and I had to hold back the tears somewhat as I sang the last notes to the final song, and endured a few minutes of James bidding us an emotional farewell. We presented all our lovely hosts with wine and our CDs, and we promptly lit some Chinese lanterns in the back yard to mark the conclusion of our amazing USA tour. The evening finished with music and laughter aplenty in the household: Juli and Andy set up a Skype call with their daughter Corinne and we performed ‘I’m a Believer’ to her over live video chat, which was the first ever Techtonics on-air video conference performance (and hopefully won’t be the last)!

    Eugene

    ** there may be some fiction involved here…

  • Day 11: Rochester, Sled Dog Studios

    Mike’s unparalleled ability to sleep deeply and untroubled by external disturbances filled the Techtonics (and Yellowjackets) with plentiful amusement this morning. Twelve ravenous TTs (and a bunch of Yellowjackets, feeling equally morning-after-the-night-before) were bundled into the cars after a customary slow start, enroute to today’s destination: a brunch generously hosted at David Longo’s Sled Dog Studios.

    Jo Vinson told us “I just want everyone to feel really, really full!” – and she held true to her word. In a scene not unlike Jesus’ Feeding of the Five Thousand, an apparently bottomless brunch of (amongst others) the finest home-cooked bagels, cupcakes, American bacon, muffins, scrambled eggs and waffles that we’d had all tour left the Techtonics and Yellowjackets, joined by Rochester Institute of Technology’s 8 Beat Measure and Musae, in need of a long digestive nap.

    But the nap never came, as Dave whisked us downstairs to the basement for a tour of his state-of-the-art, brand new recording studios. The more tech-inclined amongst us struggled to avoid drooling all over all the fantastic gear and acoustically treated rooms, whilst the musicians contented themselves with listening to an extract from RIT’s new album on the studio’s speakers and David Maguire found himself unable to resist drawing a large Union Flag-cum-Techtonics logo on a wall of the basement in coloured marker pens.

    To compensate for what must have seemed like a small nation invading the quiet suburbia near Rochester, we performed a quick rendition of “I’m a Believer” to Sled Dog’s neighbours, then bid goodbye to the studios before driving over to RIT’s campus to sing a joint outdoor gig in their quad. We were about to head over to our next port of call on the other side of Rochester, but the Sled Dog team very generously invited us all back over to a barbeque dinner. A fantastic afternoon ensued, including several hilarious games of “Cards Against Humanity” and relaxing in the studios listening to a cappella groups on vinyl, picking the Sled Dog producers’ brains on a cappella engineering. Jo yet again delivered in her trademark style – with dinner in not only quantity but quality – huge amounts of quality steak, spicy chicken, macaroni cheese, and beer [for those over 21] left us amazed at SD’s kindness and goodwill!

    But all good things must come to an end. Thankfully, the following stop was no step down in quality – with our fantastic hosts Juli and Andy; Miriam and Rich; Pam, Libby and Caitlin, and Gary and Chris welcoming us as if we were long-lost relatives. We stayed up for a couple of hours, made our introductions (after which Juli and Andy were peer-pressured into guessing all our ages) – and, after nights of sleeping on floors and couches, we were all very glad to get back to warm beds!

    Max

  • Day 10: Syracuse – Rochester

    Saturday 15th September 2012

    ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Techtonics enjoyed another slow morning whilst in Syracuse, waking in the houses of our wonderful hosts Gabby and Abbey (all except one of us who will remain anonymous). We split up for breakfast, some choosing to eat at the trippy rainbow paint-job waffle house on the university campus where waffles were large and the queue was immobile; while the remaining TTs elected for a traditional American diner, Mom’s, to eat pancakes slathered in syrup and omelettes like nothing you’ve seen before. The mountain of leftover pancakes was sacrificed to three particularly ravenous TTs.

                    Today was game day (American Football) at Syracuse Uni, for which warm-up activities were in abundance on campus. We enjoyed a wall of sound from Syracuse University marching band, flag dancing and a lovely lady in a sequinned leotard throwing her baton in the air and catching it. The US Marines Officer Corps Careers Service gave us an opportunity to show them that Niall could do nine whole pull-ups and General Motors gave us hats in the hope that we would one day buy a Chevrolet from them. Some TTs also ran into some acquaintances they made the previous night that were there to support their team.

                    Next up, a 1.5 hour car trip to nearby Rochester where we met the University of Rochester Yellowjackets. On arrival, we were treated us to a free meal in an all-you-can-eat buffet style cafeteria to the delight of many of the TTs. This was followed by a short rehearsal in a small auditorium for both groups, giving them a chance to hear each other, before taking the car to the Drama House (an ex frat house) to perform a joint concert.

    ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The concert was a great success and we were awed by the energetic performance of the Yellowjackets, it was an honour to sing alongside them in our TTs wifebeaters (see day 3). After the concert we went to a celebration hosted by the Yellowjackets in a couple of their flats in the senior dorms; we want to thank the Yellowjackets for looking after us and giving the Techtonics such an amazing and …memorable… night.

    Much TT love,

    Mike

  • Day 9: Manhattan‚ Brooklyn – Syracuse

    When deciding what time to stay up until, it is a good idea to factor in the time you must awaken the following morning. Some members of the Techtonics failed to do this, leading to dreary eyes and a short jog through Lower Manhattan after getting up for the 7.00am meet time at Leman. Once all belongings and singers had been crammed into the cars the drive to Brooklyn, and Poly Prep School, began.

    Having soon parked up in the beautiful grounds of the school, we made our way through the campus to our green room, where we found a wonderful, and much needed, breakfast laid out for us. Our first concert was a short set for the High School. In the audience were the school’s own recently founded a cappella group, and judging by the reception we were given, appetite for the genre at the school is huge. We had loads of fun performing for students who were dancing along to Earthquake, and who mobbed us for photographs after the show. The students were keen to find out more about the group (some a little too keen) and had many questions for us. Hopefully they weren’t all late for their classes! We also performed in a separate theatre venue for their middle school students, which was also well received and very enjoyable.

    We then had an early lunch in the school dinner hall. The layout was a surreal experience for those members of the group that remembered school dinners from their younger days. Not many schools have a soup de jour or chocolate milk on tap. This also gave us a chance to meet a lot of the high school students properly following the gig, including impromptu dub-appella demonstrations and overall a very good time.

    Thus began the long drive to Syracuse, where at short notice we were to have a performance and be put up by members of the a cappella community there. Half of group having arrived early, we made our way to Varsity, a diner where we were to meet the rest of the Techtonics. Well fed and much wetter after a sudden downpour, we returned to Main Squeeze’s Abby’s house to prepare for singing. The location of the gig turned out to be the attic of the house, but with party lighting and a bar this was no ordinary attic. It was in fact one of a long list of incredible performance venues (of all types) that we experienced during the tour. We were lucky enough to ‚Äòheadline‚Äô the event, singing 2 mini-sets of 3, and also sharing the stage with 4 other a cappella groups from Syracuse.

    Following the concert, the venue transformed immediately into the ultimate house party setting. As such, the Techtonics were happy to oblige, and spent the night making new friends, singing, drinking, being denied new friends, and teaching the students of Syracuse University to have a good time. Eventually the group parted to get a good night’s sleep before the following day.

    Chris

  • Day 8: Leman School, NYC

    Lazy beams of dawn sunlight danced through the panoramic windows of the thirtieth storey penthouse, awakening me from a deep slumber. The sizzling scent of frying eggs welcomingly put an end to my weariness and brought me through the corridors adorned with plush carpets and into the dining room. It was here that I was pleasantly presented with a plate by a grinning Jack of six years who informed me with pride that he cracked and fried the eggs himself, with no help from his mother Minky or his older brother James. This provided me with the necessary energy to push through the demanding day that lay ahead. (Sorry, I can’t be bothered to write like this anymore…)

    The Techtonics arrived excitedly at Léman Manhattan Preparatory School at nine am to conduct a vocal workshop for middle school students between the ages of eleven and fourteen. The children were tremendously enthusiastic and learned the music quickly. After, the high school students of ages between fourteen and eighteen joined us for a similar workshop. They were also enthusiastic and we experimented with a cappella style changes such as reggae and dubstep. The kids were so much fun and cheerful and some of the brave ones even joined us for lunch in the school cafeteria. Here is a link of the workshop video posted on the school’s website:

    https://www.lemanmanhattan.org/podium/default.aspx?t=52562&a=164670&rc=1

    After lunch the group had a few hours off to explore lower Manhattan. The first adventure was to make our way to the coast to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, but it was slightly too far away to take a decent photo. There was a street dancing group performing on the way back that we watched with amazement as they flipped and span in an unimaginable manner. They needed a volunteer, so naturally they chose Maggie to front-flip flawlessly over. A video will follow with the footage.

    After this feat, some select TTs chatted with some final year students interested in applying to university in the UK. They were very bright and keen to hear about the social and cultural differences between the US and UK. We had a bit of time before sound-check for the concert that night, so we went to the Ground Zero Memorial Site and felt humbled to view the massive fountains in the spaces where the Towers once stood.

    The concert was so much fun, the audience of students, parents and teachers was energetic and enthusiastic. It was a great pleasure to sing for them. Post-concert we felt like celebrities as we autographed CDs and took photos. Then we all split up to explore the nightlife of NYC. What an amazing day.

    David V

  • Day 7: NYC

    Wednesday 12th September: NYC

    After a long discussion on the relative merits of car parking locations, we left the rooms where we’d stayed the night and we headed out to get some breakfast with our gracious and bubbly host, Eliana. In true New York style she took us to a café with incredible bagels and we sat in the sun making our plans for the day and feeling very cosmopolitan. Our next ‘engagement’ was a dinner party in the evening so we effectively had a full day of sightseeing and running around the city to look forward to!

    Since some of us had never visited New York (or America) before, we were moist keen to visit the main landmarks, so we took the metro to Times Square to begin our tour of the Big Apple.  We walked down Broadway to Madison Square Gardens, and wandered in and around Macy’s for a while, before leaving James, Chris, Eug and Elianna, who headed off to see Once, an 8 time Tony award winning musical. Those of us with any taste (Ed: I’m going to leave this in despite being clearly untrue) continued on to the Empire State Building, then up 5th avenue to the Rockefeller centre where we spotted Mary Steenburgen. She was bitchin’ hot. Mike, David and Maggie went for a look at St Patrick’s Cathedral and met the others in the Apple Store at the corner of Central Park. The place was buzzing after the announcement of the iPhone 5 [PRODUCT PLACEMENT] just a few hours earlier, so we ventured into the park and set up camp to chill for a while beside the pond.

    Later than anticipated, we rushed back to meet the others and take them downtown. Then, while we were desperately trying to hail a taxi, a miracle occurred on 59th street. Ayman, who‚Äôd been walking a little way behind, ran up to us and said ‚ÄòGuys… that was Bobby Mcferrin!‚Äô

    Zain gleefully sprinted back to him and by the time the rest of the group had caught up, he’d already explained who we were and asked for a photo. Then something even better happened: he asked us to sing for him. After a short, hushed discussion we realised we had the exact parts to perform Jessie J’s Domino. David sang the solo incredibly well under the pressure of performing in front of one of the legends of a cappella. It was a surreal experience, and afterwards he was very kind, telling us we were “wonderful” and that our performance was a “real gift”. We gave him a CD, then after thanking him a hundred times, walked away completely starstruck.

    We called ahead to the others downtown, and by the time we got there, they were slightly skeptical about our chance meeting. However, after producing proof in the form of photos and video footage (see Facebook), their looks of disbelief changed to shock and utter, crushing disappointment that they hadn’t been present (hope the musical was worth it guys).

    (Ed: the musical was actually awesome too, but nothing on meeting such a huge idol. They are adding salt to the wound at every opportunity…)

    Luckily, their spirits were raised by the sight of the huge spread that the hosts of the barbecue, the lovely Irene and Steven provided for us at their home in downtown Manhattan. Stuffed full of burgers, grilled halloumi, the first proper fruit and veg we’d had in days, some delicious chocolate treats and some very nice wine (award winning, from their family’s own vineyard), we each headed off to the families who were putting us up for the evening, content after an amazing (and very long!) day.

    Maggie and Pete

  • Day 5/6: Philadelphia and NYC

    Monday 10th September: An Evening in Philly

    Our surprise for the evening turned out not to be much of a secret in the end, with more than half the group having wheedled it of those in the know. For those that didn’t know it turned out to be an evening of entertainment by winners of the Sing Off, the Pentatonix. The warm-up act was an incorrigible self-publicist and occasional acoustic guitar player/singer. This being America he got a warm reception but we were all really waiting for the vocal styling’s of Scott, Mitch, Kirsty, Avi and Kevin. They opened with a medley of favourites from their time from the Sing Off and quickly had everyone up on their feet and punching the air. The buzz continued for the next hour and a half with some lucky audience members being serenaded to happy birthday and Let’s Get it On. Still on a high, several of our number ran like screaming girls to get photos with their heroes, with Mike being chuffed to bits at a mugshot of him and Avi. Having palmed a copy of our album to PTX with a small hope that they might listen, love and tweet we went back to our hosts from Temple for a night of drunken debauchery on a roof with a view of downtown Philly.

    Tuesday 11th September: Philadelphia to NYC

    A good night’s sleep can be hard to come by on tour. Your bed may be a floor or a too-short couch; there are snorers and possibly a man spooning you. Tiredness and long journeys in cars, which you may or may not be driving, can lead to homicidal thoughts. A fun game can be how best to dispatch of the others in the car: a flesh-eating gerbil perhaps or maybe just a quick and clean swipe to the head with a battle-axe. Now you really don’t want to be decapitating your fellow singers, it tends to leave a dark mark on the tour, so you have to grab opportunities for a good night sleep with both hands and just go for it. I could tell you stories about what nameless people did for a good night’s sleep but I am bound by a dark and evil voodoo spell which stops me from divulging. What goes on tour stays on tour my friends.

    Our morning in Philadelphia was a bright and sunny one. With a clear sky and uh, clear heads, we headed out to get a taste of the city before we moved on. This involved a trip with our hosts to South Street and the famous Jim’s Steaks for an even more famous Philly cheesesteak. As with many American foodstuffs this was not a meal for the health conscious: a delicious heart attack would describe it well. Your basic PCS consists of a foot-long roll stuffed with pulped steak meat and your choice of American, Provalone or Whizz cheese. Despite it’s resemblance to bile, you have to go for the Whizz. It is seriously good stuff.

    Loaded up with calories it was time for a bit of exercise; so across town to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, not for culture but to recreate some cinema history and do the Rocky run. Sans shoes and “Gonna Fly Now” we raced up the steps. Unfortunately I had confused my sport-themed movies and ended up running to Chariots of Fire.

    Thus ended our time in Philadelphia and it was time to head back to New York. Coming in to the city I spent a lovely half hour in a moving car park. I thought that tunnel would never end but it did and we pulled up to Columbia University managing to find a cheap parking space, which in New York is a big deal. Our host for the evening was the delightful Eliana, business manager to the Clefhangers, who had arranged for an outdoor concert on Columbia’s beautiful campus. Our idiosyncratically British style of singing went down a treat and it was time to experience a real New York night out. This consisted of going to a bar, ordering a couple drinks and then realizing you were suddenly $20 the poorer and that because you are such a poor and miserly student if you really want to get drunk in New York you should really get some beers and throw yourself a house party. But hey, it’s New York, what did you expect!

    Ryan

  • Day 4/5 – Providence to DC/Georgetown

    Sunday September 9th 2012

    Do you like driving? You should have been there on that day. Prising our eyes open and pounding the life back into bodies stiff from sleeping on the floor, we came to in the hazy light of a cloudy Rhode Island morning. Fighting back tears, we took leave of the Brown Derbies and began the drive to Washington which would last all day.

    Since I was driving, I will now relate the driving conditions on the Interstate 95 that morning. First, all the vehicles are much bigger than in Europe. Cars, buses, trucks, all big. Second, everyone drives very close together. The result: the cars cover the road like a carpet. Thirdly, the speed of the cars in one lane is not related to that lane’s position on the highway. People don’t go slow in the inside lane and fast in the outside lane, you just pick your favourite lane and stay in it for as long as you feel like.

    At the other end of a twisty turny route over many bridges etc. in the New York area was Eugene Chang at JFK airport, mastermind of the Techtonic movements. We got him straight in the car and it felt good. The next step was to get out of there again; five hours ahead till DC at this point. Now there were two drivers in each car: Niall and David in the Death Star/Shirley, and Ryan joined by Eugene in the Enterprise/Hank. We held it together till the first services on the New Jersey Turnpike. We then headed swiftly to Georgetown; or at least Hank did… a navigational mishap in Shirley involved ignoring Delaware and therefore arriving more than an hour and a half later. We then met our lovely hosts and got some much needed sleep in.

     

    Monday September 10th 2012

    The Techtonics love Mondays. As we wanted as much Monday as we could get, we kicked each other out of bed bang on 8 am for eggs. Thank you Gill, Stephen and Jasmine for the excellent hospitality and night’s rest. Only 45 minutes behind schedule, we made our way to Georgetown Day School to sing and dance for the great kids and super nice teachers. We were even lucky enough to hear some of the school’s own a cappella talent and to humbly offer our thoughts on where they could take their performance.

    There is a diner in Georgetown called ‘Steak and Egg’. If you need a hearty lunch for 12 hungry boys in no time at all, you go there. They fix everything just behind the counter while you watch the meat sizzling on the hot plate and the waitress passing down the line of customers like a tornado; knives and forks, drinks, plates flying out in all directions.

    On the road with DC behind us, we convoyed back up the Interstate 95 through Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, forests and rivers flying past and the city of Philadelphia coming up at us like a rock in the ocean. This was base for one night, the home of Philly cheese steaks and also of our hosts, The Broad Street Line. An a cappella group of tremendous ability and generosity, these boys gave us, among other things, the run of their roof terrace and a jolly good time.

    In the first part of the evening, we did a secret activity which I can’t tell you anything about. Suffice it to say that there was singing involved¬†by the Pentatonix of American TV show The Sing Off where we were part of a paying audience in a music venue. Evidence of us meeting them after the show and the joy thence derived¬†can be found in the facebook.

    In the second part of the evening, we went back to the Broad Street Line house and had a party. We were hella lucky that Tom, Nick and the boys sorted out some bang tasty beers and got round their hella cool friends. It was night now and from the roof, the lights of the city watched down as we sang and drank the night away. Yo ho ho.

    Niall

  • Day 3 – Yale to Brown

    Having left New Haven, we drove to Providence, Rhode Island for our visit to Brown University.¬† On arrival, we met up with our friends, the Brown Derbies, and house-sat for them whilst they went for a gig. Having hosted them for 2 days in London in January during their UK tour, we had met them before so it was great to see them again.¬†Whilst they were away, the TTs caught up on the sleep they had missed due to the previous night’s excursions.

    When the Derbies returned, we accompanied them to watch them sing for freshman in the evening. We were fortunate enough to share the spotlight with the Derbies, joining them for their performance of the George Michael cover Faith, which they taught us in 5 minutes at a prior rehearsal. Additionally,  we caught glimpses of the more obscure end of the a cappella spectrum at Brown and watched some pirate-themed a cappella (arrr-cappella (A), a cappell-arrr (B), or arr-carr-ppell-arrr (C)? Vote option A, B or C, send to techtonics@ic.ac.uk. Preliminary poll results showed a significantly high desire to ban any more a cappella-related puns in future blogposts). Despite managing to fit 10 TTs under one umbrella, pandemonium ensued when the heavens opened upon us. The joke was on the less appropriately prepared for this type of climate (the select idiots who decided to wear the new TTs standard-issue sleeveless vests (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wife-beater)).

    Still moist, evening antics resumed in a similar fashion to those enjoyed at Yale with another great house party hosted by the Derbies. Notable absentees at the end of the party (3) were welcomed back into the ‘Haus with some mimed renditions of a Lonely Island (ft. Akon) classic. Scavenging any nook and cranny we could find for sleep/shelter, we collapsed, collectively drained by yet another fantastic night.¬† We left the next morning at 10 to drive back to New York and pick Eugene from JFK airport, bidding farewell to our epic hosts, the Derbies. We must thank them for putting us up and we hope that we continue this budding friendship for years to come.

    Zain