Time is running out for the Chesnee High School Marching Band this season — at least, thematically.

Akeem Downs returns for his second year as the band’s director to lead the 68-member band for this season's show, titled “Borrowed Time.”

While Downs feels the band did well during the 2017-2018 season, placing eighth in the Upper State competition and thirteenth at state, he anticipates that this year will be a lot better than last year. Downs came to Chesnee High last year with eight years of experience, having directed the bands at Chapman, Lakeview, Newberry, and Laurens high schools.

“Last year was my first year here, and this year, I think the kids kind of know the expectations and systems,” Downs said. “We’re running a little better, they’re a little more confident and comfortable this year, so I think this year will be a good year for us.”

Downs explained that this year’s show is about time and the finite nature of life. Despite the heavy subject matter, the show will have a positive tone — it is meant to fire up the crowd after all.

“The basic message of the story is to live your life to the fullest because you just never know when it’s up,” Downs said.

Downs said a number of props would be used in the show, including a giant clock that will be placed on the field and a digital countdown display that will run through the entire performance to emphasize the show’s theme. However, his favorite part of this season’s show is the music, written by South Carolina composers, Josh Hinkel and Aaron Railey.

“It’s loosely based off of 'Kaleidoscope of Mathematics' (from the film 'A Beautiful Mind') and Shostakovich’s 10th symphony,” Downs said. “The second movement is probably my favorite part of the show. It’s just beautiful music, beautifully written, and the kids play it beautifully already.”

Downs felt that audiences would enjoy the straightforward message of the show and judges would see the thought and planning put into the performance’s design.

“(Audiences) will get the concept from the beginning. They’ll be able to see the clock, see the countdown, and it’ll make sense from beginning to end,” Downs said.

The band began practicing on July 18 this year, in anticipation of the first Friday night football game of 2018 on Aug. 17. Drum major Bayley Hutchinson, a rising junior in her fifth year of band, was optimistic about the coming year and the band’s chances in this season’s competitions.

“I’m very excited,” Hutchinson said. “I love the music and the stamina from the band is just outstanding, it’s been really good so far.”

Hutchinson and Downs both noted that the new recruits were acclimating quickly.

“We’ve had a really good group of rookies come in, and they just hopped right in and are following everybody else,” Hutchinson enthused. “They’re doing great.”

The band’s first big competition will be the Boiling Springs Festival of Bands on Sept. 22.

One of the band’s rookies, Ava Hall, a flutist and rising senior, said she’s looking forward to competing and seeing if the band will place higher than last year.

“People have been trying to get me to join for so long, and I guess I never really knew how fun it was,” Hall said. “I really like how we’ve been working hard as a team and how far we’ve gotten.”