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Home Free wows crowd at the home show

Austin Brown (from left), Rob Lundquist, Tim Foust and Chris Rupp perform with the a cappella group Home Free at the Arrowhead Home & Builders Show on Friday afternoon at the DECC in Duluth. The group won the singing competition on the latest season of the TV show “The Sing-Off.” (Photos by Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)1 / 2
Rob Lundquist, singing with Home Free on Friday afternoon at the DECC, is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)2 / 2

Adam Rupp is a record, scratched at by a DJ. He’s a robot with a dead battery. He’s the thump of a dance club at 2 a.m.

The beat-boxer behind Home Free provided the equivalent of a drum solo during the group’s afternoon set Friday at the Arrowhead Home & Builders Show.

He skipped and skittered and bounced and he did it all with his mouth during a 40-minute show on a stage in the middle of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Arena.

Rupp is the percussionist for the Minneapolis-based a cappella singers who won over the likes of Jewel and Ben Folds — before ultimately winning the grand prize during Season 4 of the NBC talent show “The Sing-Off.”

The fivesome performs daily through Sunday.

The group — which also performs original tunes — stuck to the nationally tested cover songs for its quick and charming performance.

They kicked immediately into “Cruise” then sang Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” both with Austin Brown taking lead vocals.

Just Brown has a sort of rock ’n’ roll star presence — a mess of hair ripe for mid-song swipes and a solid understanding of how skinny jeans work.

The rest of the group seems friendly and accessible, like trusted members of the Glee Club.

Tim Foust was soloist for a cover of Josh Turner’s “Your Man,” a song made so wholesome that when he sang “Baby lock the door and turn the lights down low” it sounded like an invitation to make nothing more than shadow puppets.

The song was interrupted for some vocal play that had Foust going so low you thought the soles of your shoes would vibrate.

Rupp’s “drum solo” came mid-show, and seemed like a feat for more than one mouth. It bumped like a disco-tech with all the humor and wackiness of Mork from Ork.

The group plopped to bench-level and Rob Lundquist took the lead on Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather.” The University of Minnesota Duluth graduate sang it with such earnestness that you could believe he had encountered the curse of the gypsy soul.

The group closed out with “Life is a Highway” and a shock of energy that took them to the edge of the stage.

Fans sat at balcony level in the arena or leaned against display kitchens near the stage. Afterward, a meet-and-greet line extended as far as the Solatube Innovative Daylighting booth.

MaKayla Johnson and Roxanna Stene, teenagers from Grand Rapids, braved the weather to go to the show. They watched episodes of “The Sing-Off” during choir, they said.

Both bought T-shirts and had the white cases of their smartphones signed by the members of the group.

If you go

Who: Home Free, the a cappella group from the TV show “The Sing-Off”

When: 9 p.m. today, 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Arena

Tickets: $9, adult admission to Arrowhead Home & Builders Show, $6, ages 6-17, free for 5 and younger

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