Drum Corps International (or DCI as they are commonly called) was formed in 1972 as the non-profit governing body for drum and bugle corps in the U.S. and Canada (DCI is international much like how Major League Baseball's championship is the World Series though it only ever includes a tiny percentage of the planet). Every summer DCI hosts competitions throughout the United States, which concludes in August with the week-long DCI World Championship. For many years now the start of the season has begun in Indianapolis. Fathom Events hosted a live viewing of this competition last night in movie theaters across the country. My wife and I attended.
The wife is a fan. She was in band all through high school and college. I was not. I know marching band as the nerdy kids in high school who used to get me out of class for regular pep rallies by making a loud racket down the halls. Not that I was some cool kid hating on band kids; it just wasn't my scene. I won’t say I was completely won over by watching this competition, but I was definitely impressed.
DCI is divided into various classes - the top being World Class which was on performance this night. The World Class consists of 23 different teams, six of which competed for the opener. Each team puts on a show consisting of several songs, lasting just over ten minutes in total. Each performance is like the marching band at your local college, but blown up to about ten sizes larger. The performances are scored in three general categories by multiple judges which are combined for a total possible score of 100.
The teams competing last night were the Bluecoats, Carolina Crown, The Cavliers, The Cadets, The Blue Stars, and Crossmen. In descending order, that’s how they placed as well.
As noted, I am a total newbie to this competition so if you are looking for a detailed analysis, you will need to look elsewhere. As someone who has never watched this sort of thing before, I can say, without hesitation: these kids are awesome. Each performance is an intense display of both individual excellence and a true ability to work within a team. I don’t know how many people are in a team, but it's a lot. There are the color guard dancing with fake rifles, swords, and flags. There is an entire brass section, keyboardists, sometimes singers, and of course, lots of drummers.
They not only perform a concert of songs but move in synchronized motions, move large props across the field, march in time, and tell unique stories while doing so. The amount of planning, practice, and skill to put on these shows is pretty amazing.
My wife notes that over the years they have incorporated more and more not-so classical marching band elements into the performance. Indeed one group had a full choir singing with them, and many used various technological enhancements to makes their shows unique. My wife is not all that thrilled with these advancements, but I thought they were pretty cool.
DCI will be touring across the country all summer long. You can see the full schedule on their website. Many of the shows will be streaming live as well so if you can’t go to a performance, you can watch it in the comfort of your own home.
My wife and I lived in Indiana for many years. She regularly planned to go to this event live in Indianapolis but for one reason or another we never made it. It's kind of cool that we finally made it now that we’ve moved hundreds of miles away thanks to Fathom Events. To see more live events courtesy of Fathom, please visit their website.