Bands perform for state title

South Carolina's marching season came to an end Saturday, as bands across the state put their best foot forward to try to be the Palmetto State's best.

Though it's not a sport, there's still plenty of team spirit in marching bands as the 4A and 2A schools competing in the band state championship at Batesburg-Leesville High School proved.

Thousands of classmates, friends and family gathered to watch shows inspired by "Risk," winged critters and even math.

Among the five Midlands high schools that earned a place in the finals was Ridge View, whose "X-Factor" show was inspired by the movie "A Beautiful Mind" and math. Other Midlands schools that participated were Batesburg-Leesville, Blythewood, Mid-Carolina, Orangeburg-Wilkinson and White Knoll.

Early clouds gave way to sun and a touch of humidity by mid-afternoon, a sign, the stadium announcer said, that "God doesn't let it rain on South Carolina marching band."

Ridge View senior trumpeter Kristian Ortiz, freshman saxophonist Leland Williams and freshman baritone Andrew Greene agreed Saturday was the band's strongest performance of its five competitions this year.

"We were pumped," Williams said as they hung out after their performance.

"That was the best we've ever done," Ortiz added.

Ridge View's show included music from the movie, as well as music inspired by math. Math symbols were prominent in both the band formations and on the flag team's pennants.

Bands are judged based on musical effort, percussion, the flag team and visual performance - such as formations and toe height while marching. Those scores are combined to determine the winner.

In their "On The Wings Of" show, Charleston's West Ashley High School used large squares of fabric as picnic blankets for a show about a day outdoors interrupted by bumblebees. The squares were then flipped over to reveal butterfly wings during a second movement.

North Augusta High School chose a lime, magenta and orange color scheme for its show about "Risk." Musicians stood on orange chairs - playing while balancing on one foot - as a visual demonstration.

Most of the performances are not possible without the help of many volunteers. Crews of parents and students load and unload instruments, props and other materials necessary for each band's show.

Among those helping Blythewood were Dave and Beckie Davis, parents of junior percussionist Brennan Davis.

Blythewood's show was called "Mechanism," inspired by robotics, gears and factories, and the Davises helped hold up 8-foot by 10-foot screen prints behind the band.

"They sounded great," joked Beckie Davis, who could not see the show from behind the prop.

Like many parents, the Davises spend many hours from mid-summer until the end of the season building props, organizing events and traveling to and from practice and performances - a dozen hours a week for many bands.

The end of the season, they said, is bittersweet.

"There is no other life during marching band season," Dave Davis laughed.