In my experience on this planet so far, there are two types of people. Those who enjoy a cappella music and those who can't stand it. Okay, okay, huge generalization. But it does tend to be at least as divisive as say, nuts in your brownies or the tv show "Girls". Personally, I enjoy a good a cappella group. Last year I saw the very fun Cinq de Coeur at the Carré Belle Feuille in Boulogne and it was one of my favorite concerts of the year.
The Cinq de Coeur (obligatory a-cappella-group pun: the name translate to 'five of hearts', but 'coeur' is also a homonym for 'choir' in French) was composed of three women and two men singing everything from Ravel to Donna Summer. Les Cinq put as much thought into their colorful costumes and clever choreography as the musical arrangements. They also had the very smart of creating a narrative through line (five strangers trapped in a metro station together) so that the song choices furthered the story in classic musical-comedy fashion. By the end of the evening, you cared as much about the characters as the quality of the singing.
So on Friday night, when my friend invited me to hear Têtes de Chien, another 5-person a cappella concert at the same theater, my mind and ears were pretty open. Compared to the Cinq de Coeur, Têtes de Chien is a much more sober affair. The group features five men in dark suits on a dark stage with only five chairs as props and minimal choreography. Their specialty is traditional music from the French provinces, not a genre I'm particularly familiar with (I only recognized one song, the children's lullaby "A la claire fontaine").
The five men have each had strong, distinct voices that blended beautifully and managed to give the impression there was actual musical accompaniment where there was none. They also did a fine job of making the songs accessible without overly modernizing them or resorting to parody. Not that the show was without humor. The five Têtes don't seem to take themselves too seriously and purposefully played with the melodramatic tone of certain songs, pushing it to the point of goofiness. And while an hour and a half (including the two encores) was a bit long for me, if you are a fan of high-quality a cappella singing and/or traditional French music, they are debuting a new show at the Lucernaire next week.
I will be over here watching "Girls" and eating nut-free brownies.