REVIEW: Groove Robs the Louvre

I admire Groove’s creativity.

On the night that the Groove declared that they will rob the Louvre(!), the Michigan theater where the viewers would be the witness this exciting heist was filled up with the crowd. The performance was highly enjoyable because, fundamentally, the performances sounded so good! Groove is a student organization known to create amazing beats out of untraditional percussion instruments such as trash cans, plastic buckets, or anything they can beat! It was amazing how the Groove used different percussion that did not sound the same – each has a different pitch, so instead of the sounds crumbling altogether, they came together to create an exciting harmony.

Yeah, everyone knows that Groove sounds amazing, but I was wondering from my prior experience from watching their shows consisting of short performances focused solely on sounds about how they will link diverse percussion performances into a 2-hour show with theme and storyline. As always, Groove’s creativity was way ahead of me. The general storyline was that Groove had decided to rob the Louvre as a bonding activity, and each performance represented what happened during the planning of the heist, the incident they had on France, and how they finally went through all the challenges and stole Monariza. As for the story, short dialogues were inserted between shows while the stage settings were being changed. This was a smart, strategic choice not only because it prevented the audience from being bored during the pause but also because it overcame the percussion performance’s difficulty to convey the story due to the lack of lyrics in the music.

The show was well structured: as the story unfolded, the scope of their performance became wider as well. The performance started with purely percussion sounds – the ones we would expect from a typical groove performance(wait, groove performance is never typical!). Also, the performance offered interesting visual scenes while the percussion was being played – my personal favorite was where they were making music in a kitchen scene where the icebox was used as the main beat while other small kitchen utensils and cooking process, including the popping of the egg as the highlight, were added on top of it. Both visually humorous and sonically exciting, this scene was truly enjoyable. Then the wider range of performances joined on top of the beat, such as dancing or the display of talents of the members including receiving a jelly thrown across the stage by the mouth. Then, the range of instruments widened to include strings and horns, returning to percussion performance in the end. This not only showed how talented each individual of Groove is but also proved that Groove’s ability to coordinate music is not bounded to percussion.

Alas, I almost forgot to mention the incredible stage design! Stage made out of iron bars that had fake Monariza on it definitely highlighted the ‘Louvre’ part while going so well with the exciting, raw vibe of Groove’s music. In all, I really appreciated the pure creativity that Groove had enchanted us with during the two-hour show.

PREVIEW: Groove Robs The Louvre: A Percussive Heist

A great beat and an action-packed story of a heist have a commonality – it brings the thrill to the listener.

This combination, already promising excitement by the choice of word combination itself, will be performed as a percussion/dance show at the Michigan Theater, this Friday, April 1st, at 7:30 PM. The performance is designed by U of M’s student percussion-and-dance group, Groove. They have proudly stated that this show will be their “most action-packed, drum-tacular performance yet“. I’ve been to some of their shows, and they truly put the listener into a trance when they beat their non-traditional instruments-on the events that I attended, they used buckets, garbage cans, and metal drum cans. I’m really excited to check out how they had integrated their amazing beat with a thrilling story. Plus, It’ll be April fool’s day. I don’t mind getting tongue-tied at some great beats!

U of M students could get free entry to the show when they have a Passport to the Arts. Where to find them can be found in this link.


Groove’s Facebook event cover photo

Who: Groove
What: Groove presents #TRASHTAG
When: December 6, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Michigan Theater
Cost: $5 for students, $8 for adults. Tickets available at the door.

Groove, campus’s premier percussion group, will be taking the Michigan Theater to a technological and technical level Friday night for their fall show #TRASHTAG. The performers are known for using a variety of surfaces to capture and uniformly create percussion beats. This show will be an opportunity to showcase their talents on a wide scale, and it will be interesting to see how their viral, hashtagged, techy theme plays out.

RSVP to the event on Facebook, visit their official website, or check out some of their performers on their YouTube channel.





On Friday night, the student group Groove put on an energetic, fast paced performance in the Michigan Theater. The bi-annual event has a different theme each year and this season the subtitle was “Innocent Until Groovin’ Guilty.” The evening opened with a spoof film of a criminal case in which Groove members were prosecuted for making too much noise. The convicts were detained in a cell and when they were finally freed, they sprang forth from the silver screen onto the stage and began drumming with spirit. Using non-traditional instruments, such as garbage cans, bicycles, ladders, umbrellas, newspaper, and more, the show turned regular objects on their heads and made them entertaining in a whole new way. The performers also demonstrated their talent with traditional instruments, like guitar, drum set, electric violin, and keyboard. Each scene told a story using a variety of wild costumes and lots of bold singing and acting. One of the funniest sketches was a rap battle between two sections of a middle school band in which the lyrics spoofed off of popular rap songs but using lyrics associated with pre-pubescence and the terrible awkwardness of middle school. Another memorable sketch was a play on the James Bond theme, where some Groove members were taken hostage while others came to the rescue, all the while hammering away a beat.

The audience was totally packed and seemed to love every second of the show. It takes a lot for a student group to pack a full house at the Michigan Theater!  Some fans were also there to support to opening acts, EnCore and Rhythm student dance groups, as well as interluding musicians James Cornelison and Julian Allen.  The exciting evening concluded with a sentimental- albeit comedic- farewell to the senior Groovers as well as an audience shout out from a large sum of Groove alumni who had returned to Ann Arbor for the special event. It was a totally energetic evening, full of comedy, musical talent, and pure entertainment.

Review: So Percussion

So Percussion (2007 New York performance of Steve Reich’s “Music for Pieces of Wood”)
So Percussion (2007 New York performance of Steve Reich’s “Music for Pieces of Wood”)

So, this post is pretty delayed. There is no real excuse.  We all talk about how busy we are. Since we are all busy, it is boring to talk about. I won’t bother.

The background on this one is that I am generally pretty skeptical of what can only be described as “weird shit”.  Obviously, the presentation of weird shit stretches across all art forms, across all sectors of life.  Damien Hirst-weird shit. Philosophy- weird shit.  Unicycles- weird shit.  The list goes on. I expected weird from So because they planned to play a set of only Steve Reich. Of course, “shit” may be weird to me and not so weird to you. However, although I can’t be certain, I would guess that there is some consensus to the fact that the work of composer Steve Reich is pretty weird.  Reich, they say, is a composer of contemporary classical music- or, is that classical contemporary?  He works in the realm of minimalism, art broken down to its most fundamental aspects.

First off, the UMMA space was a really great space for this performance.  The apse, in the old part of the museum, had rows and rows of chairs set up and the upstairs had seating around the railing overlooking the main floor.  We sat upstairs to catch a view all of the instruments as well as the audience.  In an improvement from past performances at UMMA, the stage did not have a curtain- it was just an elevated platform at the end of the hall.  We were truly in a museum- even museum security! (Why do I get the impression that museum security guards are pretty square?  Maybe art museums should look into hiring security guards that are interested in art in order that they can also act as guides or helps in the galleries.  Or maybe it’s just the uniform and the mandatory cold glares that make me think they are squares- easily changeable characteristics).  One particularly cool only-in-an-art-museum moment was during the “Mallet Quartet” piece, you could see the shadows and reflections of the percussionists movements on the art and the walls in bright golds and oranges and, well, normal shadows.

And, the music was weird. Definitely. Especially the piece that was not percussion instrument based- “Four Organs” (in which, a UofM music student played the maraca part for 15 minutes.  A crazy show of endurance.  Listen to the song below and think about this kid keeping that exact maraca rhythm for 15 minutes.  You just wanted to cry for the kid and his forearms.  Absurd).  However, despite its experimental force, the pieces found ways to connect with me, rather easily.  In the excerpt from ‘Drumming’, I could hear the United States’ history with Africa, and a US battle march played with all four percussionists on a line of six (yes? I think, six.) drums and their interconnections and intricacies.  In every piece, really, I could find something to latch onto, something to think about and study.  The pieces they played are in the playlist below (except for the newest piece, “Mallet Quatet”, which they were playing for just the second time in the states.  It is a Reich piece commissioned for So Percussion (and a few other percussion groups).

I had the opportunity to talk to these guys for a bit at the Eve after party- a really fun time hearing these young dudes philosophize and tell stories in the hip bar atmosphere.  But, at one point, one of the guys, Adam, was talking about what he has seen from being on tour and playing around the country.  He said that people are trying, again, to understand what is true American culture- like, what is ours and what is theirs? And, perhaps slightly biased, but nonetheless, he got the sense that rhythm and percussion just made sense to people in terms of helping to define American culture.  That, although the Reich pieces were pretty out, people could find ways to relate to their patterns and rhythms.

Great night.  The dudes are working on an album with Matmos for this summer. Matmos always seems to be doing pretty cray cray thangs- so definitely watch out for that.

Booyah, Bennett