The Maccabeats sing to a packed crowd

Almost a dozen musical groups are performing in the Washington Jewish Musical Festival from June 9 -26.  But one group has always stood out on the event’s brochure:  The Maccabeats.

The Maccabeats sang last night for approximately an hour to a crowd of several hundred Jews at the Carnegie Institution for Science.   And yes, they did include their two most famous songs: The Purim Song (898,000 YouTube hits) and — after an encore pleading from the crowd – Candlelight (which now has over 5.3 million hits).

As told by the singers between numbers, the last few months have been a whirlwind adventure for the Maccabeats — they’ve played in venues across the globe (and they have upcoming performances in South Africa and London), and they recently performed at the White House and AIPAC’s annual policy conference.  The crowning glory of the group’s adventures, however, was undoubtedly their interview with Gather the Jews.

I enjoyed hearing some of the Maccabeats less famous songs, and I liked the group even more upon learning a bit about them — they’re fairly normal and likeable young guys who just happen to sing really well.  I also really liked the introductory lesson to beatboxing and harmonization that they offered.

But I will say that I had expected… a little more…

Maybe it’s because their YouTube version of Candelight is just so darn good.  Maybe it’s because the Maccabeats stood still last night and I was spoiled by the impressive choreo that I witnessed two months ago at Adas Israel’s Jewish a cappella competition (see, e.g. the first song from Kol Sasson of UMD).  Or maybe it’s because the Maccabeats seemed to be catering primarily to the under 15 audience (who were there in droves).

Nonetheless, it was a very good time, and the crowd definitely seemed to enjoy it (although GTJ staff member Sheryl Burstein was the only one who stood up and started dancing).

To learn more about the Maccabeats, you can go here.  To get the schedule for the remaining performances in the Washington Jewish Music Festival (and there are many!), go here.

Stephen Richer is a co-founder and director of Gather the Jews.