Straight No Chaser, the IU-born a cappella group, will return to the IU Auditorium at 8 p.m. Dec. 13 for the bicentennial celebration. Along with the unveiling of an official bicentennial song commissioned by IU, the nine-man group will feature its newly released EP.
The five-track release, titled “Open Bar” and released Nov. 15, includes cover songs such as “All Star” by Smash Mouth and “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money.
“The EP kind of centers around songs that we thought people would sing along to if they came on in a bar,” group member Charlie Mechling said. “It’s just so much fun when we look out and half the audience is at least mouthing the words.”
The recent release is under SNC’s new record label: SNC Records. They plan on releasing all future albums through this label, but it remains under the same parent company as Atlantic Records, Warner Music.
“We were coming to the end of our contract and we’ve always kind of wanted to have control and be able to sign other artists,” Mechling said. “We have an amicable relationship with Atlantic (Records) and we’re still in contact with them.”
Mechling expressed the group’s hope to reach out to smaller musical groups that may not receive much publicity. In addition, they shared that the label will not feature exclusively a cappella groups but rather focuses on individuality.
“We’re looking for something kind of different,” Mechling said. “Something that’s interesting to us that we think might get overlooked by a major record label.”
In the ensemble’s now 23-year career, the group has visited Bloomington dozens of times. This show stands out for its commemoration of the Bicentennial celebration, but the group is eager to share holiday classics as well.
“We always try to mix it up,” Mechling said. “That can be hard because every audience member that’s seen us before wants to hear certain songs, but we’re just trying to keep it fresh every year.”
Mechling, who was born and raised in Bloomington, shared his excitement to be home whenever he has a chance, including for shows.
“We never get to have enough time,” Mechling said. “It’s hard to pack all of Bloomington in a trip,and we only have one day.”
Many of the group's members have families. Mechling explained that their busy time of the year usually falls on the holiday season, but the group makes time for their loved ones when home.
“We have gotten kind of used to it,” Mechling said. “We know that this is our busy time and we’ll be away, but in January we get to be home for a couple of months just being husbands and dads.”
Tickets for the Friday concert can be purchased on the auditorium website at iuauditorium.com. Prices range from $33 to $63 for students and $53 to $78 for adults.