Overboard is perhaps best known for their Free Track Tuesdays where, every week for a year, the group released a free download of a newly arranged and recorded track. Several of those tracks remain staples in my a cappella collection. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to see the group perform live when they were on their midwest tour this past week. I must admit that, as a fan of their recorded work including tracks like Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter, I was some what doubtful about the live performance that this group would put on. I was pleasantly surprised.

First, Uncommon Ground (on Clark in Wrigleyville) has a great personal feel to their performance room and great food and drinks. I would definitely recommend it for either a nice dinner or a show.

Now for Overboard

For those of you unfamiliar with the current version of Overboard, the members that performed on this stop of the tour were founder Nicholas Girard, Hyannis Sound alum Alfredo “Fredo” Austin III, hilarious Bari-tenor Caleb Whelden, local deep bass Donovan Davis, and the newest member of the group, Alex Margarite. Each of these guys was amazingly talented and I’m now convinced that being a member of Overboard requires you to have a massive range. I’m not 100% sure on these pitches, but I’m pretty sure I heard Nick sing a low E and a high B in full voice – not too mention his awesome VP solo.

The set list contained everything from a mashup of a majority of the top 40 hits of the past 5 years, to lesser known (but better) tracks like Skullcrusher Mountain by Jonathan Coulton (if you don’t know him, check him out), to a song sung entirely in Icelandic. The balance of the set was great for non-a cappella fans, and the different takes on well known songs kept it more than interesting for those of us who have heard a million versions of You Give Love a Bad Name. (By the way, if you want your group to massively expand your repertoire, learn a song a week for a year.) Most of the set was sung with mics, although my favorite pieces were done au natural. This photo is of the group performing “Freebird” as their encore.

Overboard performing “Freebird” live in Chicago.

The soloists of Overboard are truly impressive and that is what really made the evening. At times the bass and vp (by virtue of the mixing) overpowered some of the intricate backgrounds, but their soloists really took control of the room. Alex has some amazing talent and is a great pick up by Overboard. His duet with Nick (who sang bass and played his body as a drum set) on Watching You Watch Him by Eric Hutchinson was one of the best moments of the evening. See a youtube video of it here. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Fredo’s series of incredible solos, including rapping some Ludacris on How Low early in the show.

It was a great night of fantastic music and if Overboard ever comes to your town, don’t miss an opportunity to see these guys perform. Also, check out their tracks on iTunes. Their all-Beatles album “Help!” is one that should be apart of every Beatle and a cappella fans collection alike.