The Harvard Kroks in Hong Kong

Yesterday, after work, I stopped into the Kowloon Shangri-La to hear a free concert by the Harvard Kroks. I’ll admit it openly, I am a converted acappella geek so I had to go see what Harvard’s group could put up. To my surprise, I found more of a barbershop group than anything. They have well-rehearsed (perhaps a little too much) ‘schtick complete with bad jokes, male-male dancing, lots of snapping, swaying, and jazz hands. Normally, I love this style partially because it’s so cheesy but somehow it failed to make sense in the setting of the hotel lobby. Not that there wasn’t any Chinese people around but I don’t think the Chinese really get the barbershop style. It fails to provide enough entertainment value nor is it time-honored classical. The Kroks perform in tuxedos. Now, I would applaud anyone who takes things seriously by dressing up but in this case it was a bit jarring for me to see an acappella group (synonymous with casual laid-back fun) in such constrictive clothing. Then again, at least they stuck to a particular style. Sound-wise, the group is quite satisfactory but is nothing special. Good solos, good background but no outstanding elements. Ultimately, I think the Kroks have a something going for them: they have a style, they know what it is, and they do it well. However, anything that deviates from their more conservative old-time style really doesn’t turn out well. They are good musicians that need to find something that takes their music one step further past just good.