2023 Percussion Independent A Class Finalist Review

2023 Percussion Independent A Class Finalist Review

By Kellie Finch

Congratulations to all of our 2023 Independent A class finalists!  Review their productions below in order of Finals placement.

Modulation Z

(96.050) 1st

Modulation Z drew the audience into a thriller, last-man-standing movie with their production, entitled “Survivor.” Performers began the show laying on a grassy tarp, looking scared and discouraged. As the show progressed, the battery ran, hit the ground, and interacted with one another using pole props that glowed blue. The performance became a quest to find life’s true value, showcasing strong themes of perseverance as “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child accompanied the ensemble. As the story came to a close, one sole performer outlasted the others, finding his place and becoming the true survivor.

St. Martin Independent

(94.025) 2nd

Do you ever wish you could just rewind? If we could, we would go back and watch St. Martin Independent’s show at least one more time. Their production, “Retrospect,” explored the stress and anxiety that comes with the passing of time, setting the stage with a tarp designed to look like a cassette tape. Spinning props mimicked the tape’s rewinding, accompanied by reflective glasses that the performers took on and off throughout the show. Time slowed down and then sped up once more, showcasing the strengths of the entire ensemble in their adaptability to quick changes, before settling into a sense of acceptance at the end of the show, realizing maybe nothing needed to change after all.

North Star Independent

(91.900) 3rd

“This is my voice.” Only a brief statement, but entirely powerful – enough to produce a quality performance for North Star Independent, with their show entitled “Sound Of My Voice.” Sound waves found themselves on everything from uniforms to props to the tarp, as performers communicated with one another happily on the floor. The entire performance was the epitome of fun, as there were multiple dance breaks and a section devoted to beatboxing. “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid made an appearance as well, bringing in a well-known tale into such a powerful theme about change and consequence. Performers fed into the power and receptiveness of the crowd, building in volume until the end – where an impactful “This is our voice” was spoken.

Charles Towne Percussion

(89.813) 4th

The audience in UD Arena took a journey to a mysterious abandoned forest as Charles Towne Percussion took the floor for their show, entitled “Broken.”. A cracked stone floor and cobblestone walls encapsulated the theme of the show, particularly a pillar that appeared to have a window missing. The entire duration of the show explored hope and disappointment as performers searched high and low for the missing pieces of the pillar, featuring snippets of “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zepplin, “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls, and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan. As piece by piece made its way into the pillar, the ensemble built in intensity, eventually reaching the climax of the show as the final piece fit perfectly into place, lighting up the floor – and the faces of the performers on it.

Pi Percussion Inc.

(89.800) 5th

Pi Percussion expanded upon the tenderness of being human in their show entitled “Human, In Nature.” Vines full of leaves and flowers scattered the floor and the battery’s drums, with a tree at one of the tarp’s corners. Performers, dressed in white, floated across the floor, connecting with each other on a deep emotional level. Moments of isolation allowed the pit to shine as the battery danced, reaching their arms out to one another. The performance concluded with a powerful moment between two performers at the tree, producing a sense of breathlessness, and leaving the audience in awe.

Huron Valley Percussion

(89.388) 6th

From “Start To Finish,” Huron Valley Percussion put on an exceptional performance in UD Arena. In both a marathon and a sprint at the same time, performers explored themes of desire and perseverance. Intensive sections built up energy, then slowed, signifying the never-ending feeling of running a race. Performers learned to change their mindset and strive for things they never deemed possible, featuring each section of the ensemble individually to feed off of each other’s energy and keep trekking toward the finish line. The performance energy was incredible, closing out the show with a medal around each performer’s neck – and a spot in PIA finals. 


(88.438) 7th

With a seemingly simplistic show theme, Revelation’s performance of “Lines” proved that complexity wasn’t necessary in theme for them, only in execution. Moving in a wide variety of intricate lines, fitting very closely to their theme, performers left any deeper meaning of the theme up for audience interpretation. The battery was held together by pieces of ribbon as they circled around one another, showcasing emotion through their connections and embraces. The ensemble’s transitions and fun, groove sections showed their talents and enjoyment, returning once more to a line formation at the end to come full circle – or rather, full line. 

Vortex Percussion

(86.225) 8th

Vortex Percussion will not be silenced – not in sound, not in expression. Turning UD Arena into a slam poetry festival, performers chanted to the audience that their freedom would not be taken away. Two mic’d speakers provided the background vocals at the front of the floor, as the remainder of the ensemble explored the back-and-forth tenderness and power that words can hold. A standout moment of the performance was a slapstick feature, where nearly every performer joined in on the fun. Their show, entitled “Vox,” ended with each member chanting, “Can you hear us yet?” followed by a scream, releasing any and all emotion the performance may have built up.

Crystal Lake Thunder

(86.063) 9th

Crystal Lake Thunder took the audience through an expedition in space to find their place in the universe, and as it turns out, that place is UD arena for PIA finals. In their show, entitled “This Is Us,” performers discovered their love for the planet we live on, traveling through time to where we are today, despite all odds. An emotional performance was brought to life through the twinkling of the stars, provided by the pit, and the intensity of the turmoil faced in the Earth’s journey, encapsulated by the battery. A mellophone soloist acted as a shooting star, providing incomparable magic to the performance as the ensemble embraced one another at the end, saying, “This is home. This is us.”

St. Ambrose University Indoor

(83.925) 10th

They say a penny saved is a penny earned, and judging by just how many cents St. Ambrose had in their show, it’s no wonder they earned their rightful spot in PIA finals. Their show, “Penny For Your Thoughts,” encouraged audience members to do more listening, using a common phrase to explore an entire monetary theme, full of copper colors and stacks of pennies that performers sat and stood on throughout the performance. Thoughtful moments of calmness and serenity from the pit allowed the show’s true meaning to sink in, while the battery embraced the power that listening holds, teaching the audience a really nice lesson by the end.

Kannapolis Independent

(81.850) 11th

A construction site came to life in UD Arena when Kannapolis Independent took the floor. Their show, entitled “Sledgehammer,” left nothing up for interpretation. Performers wore hard hats and yellow vests, with hammer and wheelbarrow props scattering the floor. Unique methods of drumming were incorporated throughout the performance to achieve an authentic construction site feel, as performers drummed on shovels and barrels, even taking part in an impressive bass drum feature where the performers played while laying in wheelbarrows. The show ended with two performers throwing hammers to each other, excited for another hectic day at the construction site.

Quad City Percussion

(81.550) 12th

Quad City Percussion explored the true meaning of time as a construct in their 2023 show entitled “Timeless.” Performers explored different emotions and relationships that exist alongside the concept of time, showcasing their true acting skills with mentions of love and grief. A large metronome prop lurked in the background as a constant reminder of time’s continuous ticking, as performers switched between intensive hits and reflective moments of near silence. Eventually, everything went still, allowing the emotions to resonate with both performers and the audience.

Fruitport Independent Percussion

(79.950) 13th

Fruitport Independent Percussion took audience members on a physical and emotional journey with their 2023 show, entitled “Into Thin Air.” A mountain prop was the focal point, being climbed by multiple brave souls throughout the show. Guard members and the pit mimicked the soft twinkling of snow falling, while the battery emphasized the strength and perseverance necessary to make such a journey. At times of doubt throughout the show, the hikers persevered, utilizing Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” as a soundtrack to their impressive quest, teaching the audience that they’re stronger than they ever thought capable.

Groove Pursuit

(78.950) 14th

Groove Pursuit taught the audience about the unexplored magic of steel in their 2023 production, entitled “When Steel Sings.” Exploring all of the different sounds steel can produce, the show began with a triangle playing, using other steel instruments in the pit to produce a rhythmic flair before the battery came in. Props spun and moved across the floor as performers drummed on them, incorporating fun glasses and battery trust falls into the overall show experience. 


(68.800) 15th

Despite the name of their show, Shockwave HS produced a performance that was nothing but “Predictable” in UD Arena. Black and white lines covered the floor and performers’ uniforms, providing a taste of simplicity to match the theme being conveyed. “Where is that sense of adventure?” was asked, as performers questioned why they partook in the “same old, same old” day after day. Deciding to go against the predictions and choose their own path, the remainder of the performance housed an exciting and upbeat rendition of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” proving that predictable is not a word in Shockwave HS’s vocabulary.