The most impressive aspect of Grains of Time, NC State's premier all-male a cappella group, is certainly their love for performing. Their concert in Jones Auditorium, presented by Arts NC State, proved this. A primarily student-led group, Grains of Time performed repertoire ranging from current popular hits to older a cappella standards.
Rather dramatically, the men of Grains of Time began their first set with the song "Holy Grail," processing down the aisles of the auditorium, with only the soloist in a spotlight onstage. Even when all members were onstage, they remained solemn until the heavy beat of the song began. Increasingly complex and active choreography was featured, and the set transitioned to the song "Sail," featuring a seemingly electronic and dubstep-like beat. However, all sounds were produced solely by the singers – an echo filter was often added to the microphones, but that was the only difference.
With their performance of the currently very popular song "Cruise," Grains of Time showcased how completely comfortable they were onstage. There was no self-consciousness present as the singers played air guitar and made dramatic motions that mimicked the lyrics of the song. Similarly, Grains of Time showed no shame with their choice of repertoire, with selections by Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, for example, featured in the program.
The members of Grains of Time created a more intimate atmosphere with their casual introductions of each student. The members gave their names, majors, and a fun fact – the very low bass singer's fun fact was that he "can't sing above middle c," and another member stated jokingly that he "loves long walks on the beach." Other interludes similar to this, when the men talked about the group's social media outlets or gave away raffled prizes, involved the audience. Photography and videography of the concert was encouraged, as long as "#grainsoftime" was used in a post on social media.
Only one Christmas song, "All I Want for Christmas Is You," was included in the program, but its singularity made this song a highlight of the night. After clearing the stage, most of the performers came out wearing Santa hats or reindeer antlers. The soloist at the beginning sang dramatically, attempting to mimic the original performer of the song, Mariah Carey. Particularly impressive were the various rhythmic styles used in different sections of the song. For example, the traditional beat, similar to the rhythm of jingle bells, transitioned to a contemporary hip-hop beat for a section. These changes kept the full audience on their toes for the entirety of the performance.
In the second half of the program, Grains of Time showcased their tonal focus with very chord-oriented songs such as "Some Nights" and "Somebody to Love." With these performances, it was apparent that every singer was listening to and focused on one another in order to sing such full chords. This focus is another clear testament to the love for performing upheld by Grains of Time.
The concluding set was a whirlwind mash-up of many songs. Humorously, several of the songs' nouns were simply replaced with the word "grain," resulting in phrases such as "this grain is on fire." With the transition to each new song, the group sang with increasing tempo and volume. At the end, a disco ball spun lights around the entire auditorium, adding to the fun of a very memorable concert.