Guest percussionists impress with comedic performance

Recycled Percussion, a group of artists who specialize in “junk rock,” performed in Wadsworth Auditorium on Sept. 22 for Limelight and Accents’ first show of the season. They used metal pots as instruments, performed comical skits and interacted with the audience to create a hilarious and intriguing show (Sophie Yeomans/staff photographer).

Lights dimmed and upbeat music played as anticipation spread throughout the audience. Once the four performers took their places, the auditorium exploded with colorful lights and eclectic drumming. 

Geneseo students and their family members gathered in Wadsworth Auditorium for an electric performance by Recycled Percussion on Saturday Sept. 22. Presented by Geneseo Limelight and Accents Performing Arts Series, the event provided a fantastic night of entertainment for those visiting the college during Family Weekend.

Known as “junk rock,” Recycled Percussion’s sound comes from drums with metal pots attached to them and making rhythms with any elements they find on-stage. While the band creates sounds and rhythms from anything, their humor shined through their performance.

Founder Justin Spencer took the stage after their opening number to introduce his band to the audience where he playfully called out late audience members. This informal relationship with the audience set the tone for the rest of the show: light-hearted, comical and eccentric. 

Spencer and his band followed their opening act with a comedic musical skit that took famous songs and interpreted them literally. For example, in one “punny” representation, a band member jogged out to A Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran” in a costume of the country Iran.

After some interesting beats, moves and break dances from the band, they invited random audience members to join them on stage for an interactive performance. All the audience volunteers stood on the stage in monkey masks and performed silly tasks like a dance-off or copycat with the band. 

Following a “totally random cookie time” where Recycled Percussion members handed out free cookies to lucky spectators, Spencer invited an eight-year-old audience member to the stage for a small interview. 

Spencer asked the child about his favorite toy. From there, the band segued into another elaborate skit where they made different tunes and beats from various late 1990s and early 2000s children’s toys.

An elaborate performance with ladders marked the night’s highlight. Spencer and another member accompanied the rest of the band from a ladder with drumsticks. They climbed up the ladders in synchronization, even jumping from a high height while they dragged the sticks down the ladder to present an awesome sound and brilliant stunt.

The night concluded with a performance of the band’s favorite songs as they rocked out to hits ranging from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” all the way to the grand finale—their favorite song—Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” 

Recycled Percussion was formed by Spencer in 1995. The band went on to perform in “America’s Got Talent” in 2009 and later on “Carson Daly,” “The Today Show,” “China’s Got Talent” and the Latin Grammy Awards, according to the band’s website.

Many students regressed out of the crowded auditorium after an elaborate performance. Applied mathematics major junior James Canning found the show intriguing but wished it had involved more drumming rather than antics.

“I liked it, it was fun,” Canning said. “I liked when they were drumming, I was looking for the percussion. When they were doing the drumming it was awesome; the ladders were crazy. Combining acrobatics with interesting rhythms was awesome.”

The general reception of the event was an overall positive one, according to Limelight & Accents co-coordinator junior Leah Sherman.

“Hearing everyone walk out, everyone had a great time,” Sherman said. “They did a great job connecting with the audience which leaves a lasting impact.”

The Recycled Percussion show was the first show of the Limelight season—the 50th anniversary season of series. Sherman and Limelight & Accents co-coordinator junior Jane Baranello happened upon the band at a conference in January where they instantly fell in love with them. 

They specifically chose the band for the first performance during Family Weekend for their captivating allure.

“I thought it had a little bit for everyone,” Baranello said. “It had a couple of older jokes that connected to that crowd, but also had a bunch of jokes and entertainment that a younger kid could enjoy. I think it was the perfect act for a family weekend-type production.”

Coming up next for Limelight and Accents is Step Afrika! on Nov. 10 in Wadsworth Auditorium. 

“We have a very exciting series,” Sherman said. “We kicked it off with energy and we have a little bit of culture in between.”