One of my favorite percussion pieces last year was Third Coast Percussion's Torched and Wrecked, by member David Skimore. In my own music, I'm struggling to find something missing, and that piece feels like what I'm seeking. So it was with great anticipation that Hiro and I went to see the group's recent performance alongside fellow Chicago ensemble, Hubbard Street Dance.
The first half featured dance and live percussion and the second half was dance to recorded music. Everything was very well done -- Third Coast is tight and the dancers are amazing -- but I was less moved than I should have been. I think I was stuck listening as a struggling composer... searching for what I might want to use, rather than viewing the performance on its own terms. I felt distracted by the collaboration; when focused on the dance it felt like I was missing the drumming, and vice versa. I enjoyed the dance of the second half better, perhaps because it was unaccompanied. I didn't love the theatrical elements employed for Third Coast -- instruments staged apart from one other to allow for purposeful walking, instrument sets on rolling carts, a somber, serious mood. I'm likely sensitive to this formality as I try to escape the taiko version of this "performed formality". I longed for the risk and immediacy of the hip-hop battle.
Other audience members were better able to appreciate the performance than me and gave a rousing standing ovation at the concert's completion. I look forward to trying again, seeing these ensembles together or separately.