At center stage sat a lone figure in a black armchair. A recorded voice boomed over the sound system, saying, “And so it was decreed that each year, the various districts of Panem would offer up in tribute one young man and woman to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage and sacrifice.”
Recognizing the sound bite from the film The Hunger Games, audience members raised their right arms in the iconic three-finger salute. The figure rose and walked to the front of the stage as spotlights revealed two other performers in the isles.
The trio pantomimed the reaping scene from The Hunger Games to a mashup of audio clips from the film. When the clips fell silent, the first performer lifted a microphone to his mouth and began to beatbox. The other two then launched into a dramatized dance routine mimicking combat sequences from The Hunger Games.
This was the opening of Triple C’s performance at the 2014 SPU Talent Show on Friday. Their dynamic showmanship and unique synthesis of beatboxing, acting and dancing brought them a standing ovation as well as first place in both the judges’ and the people’s choice categories.
In between acts, hosts junior Hannah Schuerman and junior John Jarman cracked jokes and engaged in tongue-in-cheek stage banter.
Another dance group called A Bit of Ballroom blended a variety of dance styles with a dramatic flair. After the first song, the duo stripped to their undershirts for an athletic, salsa-influenced number. The audience cheered at their twists, dips and catches.
Second place went to sophomore Austin Harris, who dazzled the spectators at Royal Brougham with his skillful fire dancing. Harris spun two torches in mesmerizing circles, his face flickering in the orange glow.
An electronic beat pounded over the speakers, building to a crescendo. At the drop, the torches quickened to a frenzy. The trails of light appeared to run together into a continuous circle, which Harris swung around his body, and even between his legs. He then dropped to one knee, spinning the torches perpendicular to his body. He leaned back, the flames passing mere inches from his chest. The audience roared. Before the song was over, the fires flickered and dimmed. Harris took a bow and left the stage to another standing ovation.
The 007ths, a 10-person, all male a cappella group, placed third. They opened with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which turned into a pop medley centered on “Royals” by Lorde. The group members wore matching tuxedos and stood in a semicircle for the length of the first number.
But for the second number, they grabbed the microphones from the stands and delivered a choreographed rendition of “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. At the bridge, the group huddled around the lead singer, blocking him from view. Out of sight of the audience, he changed out of his tuxedo and burst out of the huddle clad in Miley’s signature denim vest and skinny jeans.
The evening’s lineup also included many traditional bands. One of these was River and Reeds, which performed two original songs. A funky bass line kicked off “Rabbit Hole,” an energetic number punctuated by groovy drum fills. Their second song, “Magnoliophyta,” took a more contemplative approach. The harp added an ethereal edge to the spacious electric guitar progression. The melancholy pulse soared at times with rich vocal harmonies.
The crowd surged to the front of for a retro rock trio called White Lighting. The group performed fun, danceable classics such as Bill Withers’ “Aint No Sunshine.” White Lighting’s crunchy grooves and tuneful guitar solos energized the audience. One of the judges even went crowd surfing.
Terry Pete and the Croony Crony Misfits, a quirky indie sextet, performed covers of Frank Ocean’s “Forest Gump,” and Alt-J’s “Breezeblocks.” Their sound displayed two-piece female harmonies and sparse but catchy percussion. The cello player, clad in overalls and a horse mask, added a rich texture to their arrangement. The guitarist and drummer wore wigs and fake mustaches.
A flannel-clad string band called Six Kings (named for Sixth Hill) jammed a bluesy original which incorporated violin, banjo, bass and guitar solos. The group then delivered their own rendition of the classic folk ballad “Dirk’s Song.” The harmonies were honey sweet as all five members crooned, “Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.”
Audience members again flocked to the front for talent show veterans S.O.U.L. The rap rock group performed their energetic originals, accompanied by drums, keyboards and saxophone. Their lyrics were spiritual in theme.
The evening also featured a spoken-word performance by Erik Lund. The poet struggled with his first piece, “Tug,” breaking off in the middle without finishing. However, he recovered with “Broken and Bare,” which he recited to a backing beat. The subject matter was introspective and highly spiritualized, closing with the line, “Lord, I am yours. Amen.”