After watching percussion trio Identity Cubed, you may never see percussion the same way again. The group plays everything from a standard drum set to table tops in their shows.
“We actually spent a lot of time in the hardware—in Lowe’s, I believe it was—knocking on different pieces of wood to get the exact sound that we wanted,” says percussionist Andre Dowell.
He and the other members of Identity Cubed, Xavier Verna and Brian Young, will perform in Sturgis Saturday night. Unlike STOMP or Blue Man Group, Identity Cubed plays works from contemporary artists as well as classical composers like Bach.
“We’ve had comments such as 'I didn’t know a marimba could do that,’ Dowell says. "Which a marimba is a melodic instrument. But, you know, it’s something as simple as that type of statement that makes my day when I hear that they didn’t know a marimba could do that—marimba could play Bach or percussionists just bringing that type of music to your ear.”
The trio also does some more avant-garde pieces with every day things, like music boxes. Identity’s own Brian Young is currently working on a piece with antique wrist watches called "Vintage Clock Patterns."
“And throughout this piece, what you will hear is this overall theme," Dowell explains. "And kind of hear the ticking of a clock and the winding up of all of these older-type watches where, you know, you have to use the wind up and you hear this clicking sound. And you hear this constant metronome throughout the entire piece as well.”
“We like to put the audience in a different place on every piece,” Xavier Verna says.
Dowell says the group puts a lot of effort into the details.
"So, for example, when we talk about table music, we wear white shirts and we put up a white background behind us so that people can bring the focus and attention to our hands,” sayd Dowell.
One of the trio’s goals is to challenge people’s perception of percussion. Verna says percussion can be so much more than just a set of drums.
“In a way, we want to educate the audience about percussion," he says. "And what we do is just as awesome and exciting as people like Blue Man Group or STOMP or even drummers who are playing in awesome bands out there.”
You can catch Identity Cubed’s performance at the Sturges-Young Auditorium in Sturgis Saturday night at 8 p.m.