by Matthew Shepherd, ’19

On Sept. 2, a portion of the Upper Arlington drumline, which includes me, were given the opportunity to go to and play at Breakaway Music Festival. The festival, which hosts many different hip-hop and electronic dance music, or EDM, artists, was held at Mapfre Stadium on Sept. 1 and 2. While these types of music are not typically my taste, the offer to go was one which I could not refuse.

Upon entering the venue and placing our drums in the staff tent, we walked out to enjoy some of the music. We were immediately greeted by the booming speakers of the Prime Stage, playing a remixed “Mr. Brightside”. Initially, I was put off by the music, but I was soon drawn in by the song, and the way the artist had subtly changed it to make the song sound different, yet still be recognizable.

After a few minutes enjoying ourselves at the Prime Stage, we made our way to the Main Stage, where I really began to enjoy myself. While I didn’t recognize the music which was being sung, the artist himself was charismatic and fun to listen to, cracking jokes and interacting with the audience like an old friend telling an exaggerated story. Sadly, I was unable to catch this singer’s name, nor could I find the name of his band. After he left the stage, the drumline and I continued to listen to more hip-hop and EDM music for the next few hours.

At around seven in the evening, we hurried back to the staff tent, and put on our band uniforms. Everyone placed their drums on their harnesses, me with my large bass drum, and we strolled out to the sounds of our cadences, namely “Steve’s” and “Blacktop”. As we crossed the entrance to the venue, a small crowd began to congregate as we moved to the sounds of our own cadences. As we made our way to a spot far enough from either stage as to not interrupt the music, we stopped cycling “Steve’s” and “Blacktop”. For the next 15 minutes, we played through every cadence we knew and had practiced, and the crowd gathered, some of whom were seeking refuge from the light rain under a nearby tent.

For me, this was one of the most surreal moment of the night, if not my entire life. Although I had played in front of the large student section during third quarter of nearly every home football game, never before had I played in front of a crowd of complete strangers. Luckily for us, the crowd seemed to unanimously enjoy our performance, and we received a large amount of applause and cheers.

No matter what happens throughout my life, or how old I grow, these brief moments are ones that I will never forget. The excitement of getting to show off what I had practiced for an entire year, the rush which flowed through me with each boom of the base drum, and the applause and appreciation coursing all around us.