#Thisshowissick: Behind Portage Northern Marching Band’s show “Patient Zero”


Madelyn Conklin, Entertainment Editor

“Kids here want to work and they want to work hard and they want to work for a common goal,” said Josh Bartz, director of the Portage Northern Marching Band. There is no doubt that this band has been working hard for this season, and it shows. This year, the marching band has chosen a dark, creepy, and realistic show called Patient Zero. “This will be a show unlike anything I have seen the PNMB put on the field,” said Carol Corey, band operations coordinator.

“Patient Zero centers around this idea that in a future, not unlike today, we have as a human race perfected, or what we think is perfected, humankind, but in actuality all we’ve done is we think we’ve cured all sickness and disease,” said Bartz. He continues on to describe the show’s theme, saying, “The show centers around the idea that humans are flawed and that even though we can make great statements, sometimes that isn’t how things pan out.” With this, one can see that this year’s show is exceptionally different from past years. “This year, [the show] is entirely different, there’s no narrative, there’s a lot more sound effects, and it’s a lot more intense than the past couple years when it’s been more kid-friendly,” said drum major Evan Brown (12).

Along with the show being different than past years, there is an increased difficulty not only regarding the music, but also regarding the marching. “It’s kind of hard sprinting with a sousaphone,” said Jeffrey McKenzie (9). Through the show, audiences will see multiple large instruments running, which is difficult for the players. Regardless of the obstacles, the band has been going strong. “I think everyone, especially the freshmen, have been keeping up really well, and I think, compared to past years, it has improved,” said Jenna Ahmed (12), color guard member. When asked about how the season has been going thus far, Ezer Gill (11), drum major, said, “All of the rehearsals are running really smoothly; we’ve never had a legitimately bad rehearsal all season, and it’s just been really easy to lead the band.”

With a strong season ahead of them, the marching band is looking forward to many events in the season. “I’m looking forward to the Jenison competition because that has always been our favorite competition for many years now,” said Gill. The competition at Jenison High School is one of the biggest competitions of the marching band season, aside from state finals. “Jenison is really the deciding factor that either we peak there and things are kind of stale or [it] gives us energy to just tighten that screw that much harder and throw us energy-wise into finals,” said Bartz. Although the Jenison competition is significantly important, the most important event in the marching band season is the state finals at Ford Field. “I’m excited about all of the competitions, but mostly marching on Ford Field,” said Sammy Wagner (12), bass drummer.

In regards to State Finals, the marching band has a whole new goal for this year. “[Our biggest goal is] to get into the top 3 at States,” said drum major Reid Randall (11). Two years ago, the band made it into State Finals for the first time in several years, and last year, they had a major success of getting fourth place in the state. Even though this is a huge goal to work for, it is not the only goal the band has. “I think having a spectacular performance at the end of the season that we can be proud of, and that the judges reward for how well it’s executed is always my goal,” said Bartz. In the same regards, Cole Hoard (12), brass area chair, said, “You are only as good as your weakest player and that kind of prospect, that kind of idea brings us together more as a group, and what we look for when we do marching band is to engage off of these skills and build off of that and become better people through the act of learning marching band.”

With all that this band has to offer, audiences can expect the season to be very successful and entertaining. So far, the band has already received a first place victory at Otsego High School on September 26th. At the same competition, they also received an award for Best Marching and Grand Champion. This season is going to be one you won’t want to miss, so make sure to come out and support your marching band. Come and see the Marching Huskies in competition at Belding on Saturday, October 17th, Jenison on Saturday, October 24th, Rockford on Saturday, October 31st, or at any Portage Northern home football game. “Marching band isn’t what it used to be, and so come out, check out what we do, and see all of the hard work that goes into having this polished product and kind of give it a look for yourself,” said Bartz. Come see for yourselves, Huskies. This show is sick.