STOMP It Out at the Straz!

So there’s something you all need to know about me. I…was a band geek. Yep!

I started out in 6th grade playing the baritone. I didn’t choose that instrument. I’d scored a perfect 100 on my musical aptitude test, which I’d thought would get me my pick of any instrument in the room. No dice.
When my teacher came to me and asked what I wanted to play, I’d told her I wanted the flute.
“I’m sorry… Your lips are too big. You’ll never get the right embouchure”, she said apologetically. 
So there I was, a new baritone player. 
I eventually moved up to the tuba in 7th grade because my teacher thought I wasn’t being challenged enough. I loved it. Sure, I wasn’t a cutesy flute player, but I could thunder out some bass. 
Because of playing a foundational instrument, rather than one that carries the melody, I became fast friends with my classmates in the percussion section. I even remember a few times where they tried to teach me a little bit of snare drum and xylophone. It was hard! My respect for those guys was immense.
Whenever our band teacher was absent for the day, she’d give our substitute a video for us to watch. Can you guess what it was?
It was STOMP!
I remember being so into it. I would stomp along, clap along, and even stand up and dance at certain times. Hey, my teacher wasn’t there and I was just appreciating the music! Little did I know that I would see this group live more than a decade later.
Fast forward to Wednesday night, and my family walked up the path to the Straz. We could hear clips of musicals playing over speakers so smoothly you’d think it was a live show. This only pumped us up more. 

Once we got our tickets from will call, we made our way over to the Carol Morsani Hall. The last time I’d been to the Straz Center was back in my elementary school days, so I was seeing everything through new eyes. I liked what I saw!
I need to interject here that we were running late. After some logistical problems we managed to get there a little ways into the show. I was upset about that, but as soon as the orchestra doors opened, all of that went away.
We were directed to where our seats would be by a friendly usher who checked our tickets and showed us right to them. I was a little distracted as we sat down. The show was already in full swing and I was ready to get into it!
    Picture courtesy of the Straz
The show doesn’t have a huge cast. That being said, I was even more impressed with the rhythms they pulled off. With quick timing and musical skill, the ensemble played fully orchestrated pieces with items you’d find on any normal street.
Most of the songs would start with a main comedic character who set the stage for the rhythm. With a swish of newspaper here, or a clang on a grocery cart there, you could hear the music building up from these ordinary things. It was magical. 
Other songs were loud and proud right from the get go, catching my attention with heart-pounding bass and the clash of sticks and metal. I could literally feel the music, and it was incredible. It was also very primal. 
    Picture courtesy of the Straz
Music is something that we can all relate to, and a beat resembles the beating of our own heart. That night the audience was treated to beats and sounds that you’d never suspect STOMP’s “instruments” could perform.
I have to say my favorite part was the crowd interaction. As certain points we, as an audience, were cued to clap or stomp to a certain rhythm. For the most part we were actually clapping in time! Hearing the whole hall clapping and stomping in unison was a unifying experience. 
The creativity and choreography I saw in STOMP was brilliant, with sights and sounds that resonate with the human condition. At the end of the day we’re just people, trying to work with what we’ve got. STOMP acknowledges that, and takes it to a whole new level.
STOMP will be performing at the Straz Center until May 3rd. If you’re looking for flavorful beats with some urban grit, you will definitely enjoy this show! 
*As a member of the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was given 4 complimentary tickets in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way. The opinions shared here are my own.

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