Tag Archives: West Michigan

Local Winter Color Guard Programs Dazzle at Jenison High School

Five teams representing 4 winter color guard programs put on an exhibition of their skills on Saturday night at Jenison High School.

The first routine of the night was run by Jenison High School Junior Varsity. The squad performed to a cover of Whitney Houston’s “I wanna dance with somebody” recorded by the artist Ben Rector. They put on an excellent show with members of the team ranging from 6th graders to seniors in high school.

The second team to take the floor was Kent City High School. Audible gasps of awe were heard throughout the gymnasium when the team unfurled their extravagant and colorful sky themed mat, which contained all the splendor and color of a sunset on Lake Michigan. Their performance dazzled and shined just as brightly with their heartfelt performance to Lauren Daigle‚Äôs hit song, “You Say.” Despite having a team of just twelve, the Eagles managed to fill the mat with soaring flag tosses, rifle spins, acrobatics and contemporary dance working together for a wonderfully choreographed performance.

Hudsonville High School took the floor next and the colorful spectacle continued. Hudsonville performed, donned in vibrant spiral body suits. Their production in 2021 is titled “What’s Going On?” and seeks to represent the duality of our public and personal lives to the tune of a medley of Adagio for Strings and Axel F. The performance was spectacular and an absolute tour de force that filled the mat from edge to edge with movement, color and artistry.

Things quickly took a turn towards the dark side when the Jenison High School varsity color guard team took the floor in black hooded robes and incorporating black masks in a way that came across equal parts pandemic prophylactic and consummate costume. The thirteen member team brought all the attitude and drama that one would expect for a program titled, “The Witching Hour.” The tension continued to build, behind the soundtrack of work produced by Peter Gundry, until the climactic moment that a plume of smoke fired from the cauldron at the center of the mat and a performer arose from the bubbling brew clad in all white as part of a stunning quick change maneuver.

The swan song for the evening was brought courtesy of Caledonia Independent, a conglomerate representing multiple schools in West Michigan. Their 2021 program is titled “Rococo,” an ode to the late Baroque period in the 18th century, which has become an important era of influence among artists and musicians in recent years. They performed in black and gold attire with designs akin to the Baroque style that set their scene along with music by Camille Saint Sans. While they had the tough job of following the entire series of splendid performances, they were up to the task and ended the evening with a beautiful and well produced routine.

All teams seemed overjoyed to be performing after a year of cancellations and disappointment. No matter the theme or experience, every routine could be felt by those in attendance as each squad poured their heart and soul into the exhibition of their talents.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Wows in Grand Rapids

As if they planned their performance down to even the weather, Trans-Siberian Orchestra arrived in Grand Rapids as soft blankets of snow covered the city sidewalks and trees lining the way to Van Andel Arena.

TSO has entered its 21st consecutive year of touring and cornered the Christmas Metal market. Perhaps such a niche was once so small that it seems almost reasonable that such an achievement would appear unimpressive. However, two decades and over 17 million tickets later, TSO proves that carving out their own space in the saturated Christmas scene is as much a result of finding a unique presentation to grab hold as it is their quest to present a truly remarkable show in its own right.

Part rock opera and part classic metal concert, TSO provides a show that appeals to all ages and manages to even engage audiences one might not expect to entertain the idea of attending a metal spectacle of screaming guitars, howling vocals and a laser-light show that is second to none.

The audience in attendance runs the gamut from 5 to 85 and everything in between. You might even believe you are arriving for a classical ballet production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with gentle acoustic guitar, piano and Christmas bells laying the soundtrack for packed rows filing to their seats.

You might believe that notion correct as a narrator arrives on stage to set the story outlining the first half of the show and laying the bedrock of a few unique tunes brought to the stage this year. A man in a long overcoat and scarf approaches the microphone with a deep barreling voice made even silkier by the gentle neon glow lighting his performance as the stage transforms into the set of “The Old City Bar.”

What follows is a show that manages to pull off the improbable: a two and a half hour rock show without an opening act, intermission or pause that isn’t planned or efficient in creating an experience as much as a concert.

The show ranges stylistically between traditional Christmas music, Beethoven’s Requiem, arena ballads and more brought alive with dueling guitars, shredding violin and incredible vocal talent that echos stylistic characteristics of 80’s metal bands such as Queensryche and the Scorpions. The show manages to provide auditory and visual breaks with soft acoustic ballads lit only by a spotlight and an arena full of camera flashlights swaying to the music.

These breaks are worked in so seamlessly that the show is bereft of a single moment that quantifies “a good time to slip out” for concessions or a bathroom break. The shows is worth seeing from start to finish.

Two and a half hours later when TSO begins their final medley, Wish Liszt/Requiem/Sarajevo Finale, the audience is snapped out of the trance that managed to move them with such pace that the time has quite literally passed in an instant. The finale did not disappoint as the presentation reaches new peaks and shows TSO at its absolute best with lights beaming, fire shooting and music rocking at full force until the climactic end.

As the band prepared to take their final bow, they brought a young boy up on stage and presented him with one of their guitars from the performance as the boy held the guitar high above his head the band took a bow, the lights came on and the crowds of the most diverse metal audience you could expect funneled out of Van Andel Arena.

Christmas season is officially kicked off in West Michigan.

Kent City Eagles Survive in Season-Opening Clash with White Cloud

Wednesday night was a showcase of Junior talent for the Kent City Eagles as they met the White Cloud Indians in their season openers in Kent City, Michigan.

The Eagles wasted no time and jumped out in front of the Indians in each of the first two sets. Fans at The Nest watched with breath held tight, however, as the White Cloud varsity volleyball team dropped an absolute hammer on Kent City in the third.

After gaining the 2-0 set advantage, Kent City struggled to break the Indian’s serving momentum in the third and allowed the Indians to make a dominant run on route to a 20+ point margin over the Eagles to bring the match to 2-1.

The Eagles bounced back in the fourth set, battling back and forth in what became a very close contest and seemed to showcase a more accurate representation of how the two squads were matched. Juniors Erica Bull (MH) and Jenna Harrison (S) managed to keep the set close through a combination of well-targeted attacks, though White Cloud would go on to win the fourth set.

The Eagles found themselves falling behind again in the fifth, trailing 11-6 with little momentum on their side. However, things started to shift behind the back line as Harrison and fellow Junior, Jasmine Weeks, gave White Cloud’s serve receive fits and managed to gain the advantage several times as the Indian’s fell out of system or were met by blocking pressure at the net.

The tide really began to shift as Junior outside hitter, Hannah Vander Lugt, got hot from the outside, driving several consecutive balls at the White Cloud defense and applied consistent pressure that had been missing the previous two sets.

Kent City gained the lead on a wild volley that relied on several quick reactions as they seemingly willed themselves to reach balls to keep the play alive. They did not look back.

The Eagles pushed the game to 14-13 before ending the game at 15-13, giving the hometown fans the satisfaction of a full night of volleyball and a hard-fought win. The relief was palpable as Kent City dodged a bullet in the opener and pulled out a scrappy victory before tensions released into celebration near mid-court.

Stay tuned for more CSAA coverage this season.