Day 9 – Berkeley

The morning of day 9 was never going to be that nice after a big a rave as a band camp party, and waking up to at least half the group strewn across a lounge floor was now becoming the norm. As was becoming a running theme of the tour, someone wasn’t to be seen, this time being Hugh Benson. Having finally identified him in the mesh of bodies we set off to catch the train to Berkeley where we enjoyed the delicacy of bagels and cream cheese prepared on top of Angus’s work. Angus was not happy…

After the relatively short train journey we arrived in Berkeley clad in full AtKM gear including hoodies. This brilliant idea was quickly snubbed as many of, myself included, immediately broke into a quite unforgiving sweat on our walk to our accommodation led by the event organiser, Karen.

We dropped our stuff off and Tom H had given us all an interpretation of plainsong we headed towards the beautiful campus of Berkeley to promote the evening concert with the Berkeley group The Overtones by performing a couple of our songs. If was here where probably the best line of the tour so far was said, when a certain James Way, whilst introducing our final piece, slightly confused the name of the concert “A cappella against Aids” with “Aids against A cappella” bringing slightly more laughs than Henry Southern’s “You can take us home if you want….if you buy our CD for £10!”.

After this performance we had the rare privilege of having a few hours off. Another rarity was having our first salad of tour, the shock of which left some of the group needing a sleep in the basking sun. The rest of us headed toward The Campanile (the 3rd tallest bell and clock tower in the world) in order to see the stunning views from the top. We were not disappointed, especially for the photographers of our group who took some quite stunning pictures of the entire bay area with the mist-clad Golden Gate Bridge in the far distance. After that I retreated to a cafe to do some long overdue work whilst others went to buy Berkeley memorabilia which we were told expressively not to wear in Stanford the next day.

We later reconvened at 5pm in order to give ourselves more than enough time to head back to our accommodation and get changed in time for our upcoming concert. The slight problem, however, was that we had the wrong set of keys which led to an impromptu performance of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” outside the house, accompanied by the barking of the neighbour’s dog, whilst we waited for the right set of keys . Particular thanks must go to Cameron who, having run to find the keys, then preceded to iron not one, but all our blue shirts when we eventually got into the house which left him being awarded the title of Most Domesticated Member.

Having just had a few hours off and already having one performance under our belts, all of us were a bit tired and restless whilst in our changing room before our performance. Luckily, however, Henry Southern was on hand to produce another inspirational team talk and with an extra loud rendition of Rubber Chicken we were ready to perform. In the concert itself we had the privilege of not only performing first but also having front row seats. It was another demonstration of the exceptionally high standards of the American a cappella scene with all the groups showing their own unique style. Congratulations must go to Karen and her team for pulling off a fantastic concert for such a brilliant cause.

Some of us had chosen to sleep in a house over a Co-op thinking that it was the supermarket as such my group headed back to our accommodation to change before heading to the after party. The Co-op, it turned out, was not a supermarket and in fact boasted a hot tub that, by the time my group had got to the party, half of all the king’s men were already in with Josh Darley serenading Karen with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”. The rest of us found ourselves drawn towards the classic game of Connect 4 as we proceeded to trounce our US a cappella compatriots.

As the day drew to a close, we headed back to the house whilst conversing about such topics as the rivalry between Berkley and Stamford and why you would need pockets in your shoes…

The evening ended especially well for one of our members with a romantic setting equipped with lit candles, a comfy bed, a rose petal and a giant cuddly toy lion named Francois. It was the perfect finish to a perfect day.

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