The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper

Arts and Entertainment

Hookslide/Universal Performers Variety Show

By: Kevin Chen


Voices arose from the Little Theatre, as the Hookslide/Universal Performers (UP) Variety Show began at 6 pm on the evening of Jan. 25, 2014.

The UP Variety Show has been held annually for the past few years and offers MSJ students a chance to showcase their talents in front of an audience. Auditions this year were held on January 6 and 7, open to performers of any kind. In the end, ten acts were given the opportunity to display their skills on the stage of the Little Theatre.

The show began with senior Alex Hancock on his electric bass playing a song titled “Sarajevo” that he had written himself. His performance brought a hearty round of applause from the audience and warmed them up for the next act, with juniors Ipsita Chatterjee, Gelsey Plaza, and Cristen Berger singing an arrangement of “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine. Other highlights of the night included freshman Ashlesha Sathe singing “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera, and Joshua Roundy, John Roundy, and senior Daniel Zopfi performing the  Axis of Awesome’s song “4 Chords”, a clever tune that shows how numerous pop songs utilize the same four chords.

Transitions between each act were handled by the two hosts, Chatterjee and junior Keerthana Muthukrishnan, who kept the audience amused with purposefully obvious puns.

A brief intermission followed the last act, and when the audience returned to their seats they were greeted by Hookslide, a “hard rockin’ cool groovin’ four man vocal revolution” as stated on their Facebook page.   The a capella group has been performing at MSJ every year for the past five years, and the highly energetic team of performers strongly believes in keeping the audience entertained every second of the show. Beatboxer Jon Pilat provides underlying bass lines and percussion, while George Hoffman, Paul Anderson, and MSJ alumnus Mayank Thanawala provide vocals.

A majority of their repertoire consisted of vocal arrangements of songs from the 80’s, although a performance of “Titanium” by David Guetta was more familiar to younger ears. Other notable acts were Pilat’s beatboxing solo, which garnered enormous audience approval, and Hoffman’s toddler son who wandered on stage and was subjected to a serenade by all four members.

For the last song, students who performed at the variety show were invited on stage while the audience was herded into a jumbled mosh pit. The Little Theatre filled with energy as Anderson led everyone in singing a final tune that even had some students hopping with excitement. After the show ended, the four members remained to give autographs and answer questions.

Overall, the night was an excellent opportunity for MSJ students to display their talents as well as enjoy creative music from an incredible group. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to UP and assist the Performing Arts Department in its functions.

Hookslide will next be performing in Redwood City on Feb. 9, 2014. On March 1 they will also have the privilege of opening for comedy legend and icon Joan Rivers. Check out their Facebook page at


Photos: Kevin Chen

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