When you’ve been asked “so, what do you do?” one too many times, you may wish you could steal Anıl Hepyücel’s resume as an Argentine Tango dancer, DJ, and pyrotechnic choreographer, or professional fireworks show designer.
Alas, you can’t borrow his CV, but you can see his work, along with two other international pyrotechnicians’ shows, at PyroJam, a fireworks competition coming to St. Leonard, Maryland (a little over an hour from DC) on May 28. The festival is hosted by southern Maryland-based company Innovative Pyrotechnic Concepts, and will feature six different fireworks shows, including three by competitors from Turkey, the Philippines, and Germany.
Participants were chosen as the top three from a pool of more than 100 submissions, as part of a contest hosted by Finale 3D, a fireworks choreography software company (yes, apparently that’s a real thing that exists). The colorful explosions will be accompanied by music to create what the pyrotechnics industry calls a “pyromusical,” with the fireworks synchronized down to the hundredth of a second to match the melody.
Audience members can vote for their favorite, which will be announced as the “People’s Choice” winner—the official winner will be determined by a panel of judges based on criteria like design originality, synchronization, and soundtrack quality. In addition to the contest performances, festivalgoers will likely see fireworks accompanying the national anthem, and opening and closing ceremonies. The shows will also include some “gasoline fireballs,” which front-row watchers will be able to feel as well as see, according to PyroJam’s public relations rep Rochelle Brandvein. She described them as “a little frightening, but amazing.”
Outside of the competing “concerts in the sky,” PyroJam will also feature more conventional live music. Three different cover bands—Uncle Jesse, Kevin Mac & the Homies, and the Reagan Years—will perform back-to-back shows before the fireworks start at 8:30. The festival opens at 3, with more than 20 food trucks and an interactive Kids Zone, featuring an inflatable ax-throwing station, carnival games, and slides, opening up.
This piece has been edited since its original posting.