He doesn't always star in promotional videos for the Octaves' Spring Fever a cappella concert, but when he does, senior Bennie DeSalvo is dubbed by his fellow group members as the most interesting Octave in the world.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of Spring Fever on March 28, the Octaves titled their concert "Dos Equis," and opened their set with a video of their search for a high-caliber addition to the group.
The characters in the video found that addition in DeSalvo, but his impact on the Octaves ranged beyond a video made in jest.
"Bennie is a leader on stage," Oliver Lee, sophomore Octave, said. "We can record a song and make it sound good, but the way you sell out Booker [Hall] two years in a row is by putting on a good performance. Bennie does that by making sure we have the choreography down and leading our energy."
DeSalvo's leadership in showmanship was evident during the performance as he was often standing in the front or center of the formation onstage, leading as a soloist or dancing with other members. DeSalvo rapped solos in three songs, including a rendition of "Talk Dirty To Me" by Jason Derulo, which the group performed as an encore to close the night.
Though DeSalvo was the visible spice to the group, there was another leader onstage, quietly conducting with slight hand gestures that could be overlooked when focusing on the main man in the spotlight.
That leader was senior Jared Feinman, the outgoing music director for the Octaves. As music director, Feinman not only sang in all Octaves performances, he was also in charge of running rehearsals, arranging music and choosing performance set lists.
"Bennie has a bigger role than me," Feinman said when talking about the Dos Equis video, in which he played an auditionee who donned sunglasses and lip-synched to Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles."
To the audience, Feinman's review might be true, but behind the scenes, he was an indispensable part of the Octaves' success at Spring Fever and over the last four years, Lee said.
"Jared has a role you don't see unless you're in the group, but within the group it's the most important role there is," Lee said. "The thing about Jared that's different from the others is that he's willing to step back and put himself in the background so that the whole group can shine. He's very selfless in that way. When it comes down to it, he wants the success of this group more than anyone else."
Feinman and the other three senior singers, DeSalvo, Sam Raab and Jackson Taylor were honored for that success and their four years of contributions to the group during a break in the set when another group member made a short speech about each senior.
The four seniors followed with an emotional performance of "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" by Boyz II Men, and the concert that DeSalvo described as "the last big one" was nearing an end.
"Every year when we have Spring Fever I always say, wow that was the most incredible concert I've ever been a part of," DeSalvo said. "And I always say that again when the next Spring Fever comes."
Though there won't be a next year for the four seniors, they will leave their legacy with the group. "It's kind of scary because you don't think anyone could put in as much work as [the seniors] did, especially Jared," Lee said. "It's going to be a big loss. I'm not sure how we're going to fill it, but Bennie told me after the show that he has faith in me and in us to do it."
Contact staff writer Erin Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org