I scored a few tickets to see the Drum Corps International Quarterfinals yesterday through work.

Super premium tickets to see the  Drum Corps International Quarterfinals.

I figured it was a swell chance to get inside Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time and who doesn’t love marching bands?

I called my neighbor to see if she wanted to go with me. “HI, Tiffany? You see, I have these SUPER PREMIUM tickets to go see the Drum Corps International “marching music’s major league” quarterfinals this afternoon DO YOU WANT TO GO?”

Before I even spoke the last syllable Tiffany was geeking out on the other end of the line.


This is when I realized Tiffany not only knew what DCI was, she spoke their language.

You see dear friends, Tiffany was a band geek. A drum major in Ohio to be specific. She wore hats with plumes and polyester suits. She even went to drum major camp. In addition to band camp.

at the start of our seven hour band geek tour.

I pick my friends well.

Without Tiffany there I may have stayed for about an hour, long enough to see about four performances. However with Tiffany in tow we stayed ALL SEVEN HOURS. (and this just in! Apparently people go to movie theaters to watch ALL SEVEN HOURS!)

Now before I get into the pictures, I’ve learned from twitter that DCI is something to be revered, honored and respected. To those of you about to march? I salute you. Because I could never EVER do what these guys did. I can’t play an instrument, I can barely walk when I have all my senses about me so to mash the two together? Utter and epic fail.

Thankfully Tiffany was there to explain to me the finer nuances of DCI, drum corps traditions and history, because as a marching music layperson? The rifles and sabers started to become really silly.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with drum corps culture, each group has a sort of “theme” to their performance with traditional props that their color guard uses, including flags, banners, sabers, and rifles. With each theme I pictured the color guard director sitting around plotting the greatest performance ever -for example- South Carolina did a Peter Pan/Emerald City theme. At some point the color guard director had to think about when to work in rifles into the whole Peter Pan/Wizard of Oz story.

South Carolina and their Peter Pan/Wizard of Oz/West Side Story theme. (With rifles.) on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Cloud/Umbrella/LightBulb/Idea/Imagine theme (with rifles.) on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
The Caveliers and their Mountain Climbing Theme. (with rifles.) on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
The Red Violin Theme (with rifles.) on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Red Violin/Rifles. A natural fit. on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Quick Answer
Adam and Eve with big brother flags, the apple and rifles. on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Awkward DCI photo. on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Sweatshop Theme, with rifles. on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Blizzard/Skiing theme. With rifles. on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Calvery and Indian theme. With rifles (aktually ur doin it rite.) on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
my hot dot, no rifles. on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Nacho Libre theme, with rifles. on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
So yeah, the nation’s top marching bands with themes featuring Nacho Libre, Adam and Eve, Tinkerbell, skiing, mountain climbing, sailing, Pocahontas, World War II, sweatshops and the movie The Red Violin? Drum corps are awesome.
Who wants to go with me next year?
With the State Fair (starts today!), Gen-Con (starts next week!), the Indy 500 and now DCI (ends tomorrow!) I may live in the most painfully awesome yet unfairly underrated city EVER.
Seriously, your city has nothing on mine. Even you New York.


  1. That.Is.Awesome. I love DCI – being a very geeky band-o in my youth and all :)

  2. Do you know how freaking ENVIOUS I am?! I *heart* DCI like you would not believe! Marched in high school and worked with bands until the past two years or so…I LOVE it (and yes, I’m the ultimate band geek). I’m happy you had a good time and found someone to go with who appreciates it! :-)

  3. Once again, I love that you’re bringing light to how awesome Indy can be.

  4. In high school I was a band geek. Nuff said.

  5. Today is Band Day at the State Fair – you can catch all those band geeks in training! Several high school bands compete all day for the coveted (oh, yes, I was there!) Sweet 16 spots for tonight’s show.

  6. Rockford High School Marching Band, Clarinet Section Leader, reporting for duty.

    Watching drum lines and eating deep-friend oreos and seeing Storm Troopers march downtown? August in Indianapolis is IT.

  7. I love stuff like this. When something may SEEM geeky on the outside but once you get into it, the awesome is unleashed. Like the National Spelling Bee. I’M ADDICTED. You may have just turned me on to DCI :-)

  8. While looking for DCI scores on twitter, I saw your post, and I loved it! Welcome to DCI!

    …Just one teeny, tiny thing. ^_^ Marching bands have woodwinds, drum corps don’t. I promise there were NO marching bands last night. (Former Marching Members are very picky about this.)

  9. I was one of those flag and rifle twirlers in high school!! Loved the color guard!

    I didn’t know DCI was going on – drove by Lucas this a.m. (it was awesome inside wasn’t it?!) and saw lots of practicing going on . . . brought back memories!

  10. Okay, I have to totally geek out on you right now!!

    I was in DCI when I was 16. I had THE BEST SUMMER EVER!! Imagine a bunch of teenagers touring the country, dancing and playing music and watching incredibly talented “kids” do their thing? Oh it was amazing!

    Thanks for the pictures. Brings back awesome memories.

  11. So I was a band geek in high school. We performed in the Nationals competition every year in your fair city. It was held in the Hoosier Dome. (When I went to Indy for work with the 49ers, I regaled all the football players with the fact that my first time on the turf at the Hoosier Dome was with a MARCHING BAND.)

    The Cavaliers are THE BEST! They are from Illinois and as I told you on Twitter this morning, a lot of the dudes from my HS band would end up playing with them.

    Drum Corps are so awesome!

    Man, I just totally Band Geeked out right there.

  12. INdy ROCKS!

    My hubs works GenCon. True Dungeon, specifically. He’s a Dungeon Director. Doesn’t get any cooler than that. Right?

    I’m boycotting Opening Day of the Fair today. No hot air balloons on Opening Day?? Blasphemy!!

  13. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE drum corps! I’m not coordinated enough by a long shot, but my sister marched Phantom Regiment (rifle line!)and spent many summers on busses and practicing in the sweltering heat. Our summer trips were planned around which shows we could drive to. One of my favorite summer memories was our 2005 trip to Bostom so we could see her perform her age-out show at finals. *tears*

  14. Man, I miss Indy. I miss it sooo much. For all the marching band glory, and a downtown that people actually LIVE IN. Good thing I’m coming for a visit soon.

    And, JEALOUS. I was also a band nerd. I geeked out just looking at the photos.

  15. I sat for 4 hours watching the Crossmen PRACTICE on our home football field,, cause i’m a dork like that!! But I was surrounded by my former band geek friends, so so blissful:)
    Who would of known all the geeks you’d attract by this post!! lol
    And twitters(twits?!?) you can follow most of the DCI corps on twitter.. fo’ realz:)

    Tiffany Reply:

    @Tiffany, oh and Casey if you ate that hotdog I CANNOT wait to see what you eat at the State Fair;)I got indigestion just looking at it!!

  16. Oh my gosh. Go to GenCon. Don’t pay for tickets, just show up at the convention center like you know what you’re doing, and take pictures of people walking around. So. Much. Fun. I did this a couple years ago and met countless storm troopers, a couple Ghostbusters, and a few unidentifiable monsters. I’ll come with you if you want.

    Maybe I’m just a geek.

  17. Oh, this is just painful for me. I was a marching band slave my freshman year of high school (before my mom cruelly moved me away) and I loved it deeply.

    There’s just something so incredible about moving in unison with that many people. Practicing for hours and hours late into the night, dreaming your marks and moves, losing the hearing in one ear because you’re standing in front of the horns…PURE MAGIC.

    Best feeling in the world.

  18. Scoreboard shot conjures up images of Blades of Glory

    Glad you had fun!

  19. so I passed on the DCI night (which was a huge mistake because my evening was totally craptastic) but please let’s go to genCon and the fair together? it’s a date?

  20. I’m so there…if they get all sassy and Drumline-esque. Maybe I’m silly but I so heart that movie at least the performances and band stuff. It made me want to re-do high school and become a sassy band geekdiva

  21. When I lived in Indy, I worked downtown in one of the hotel/office buildings, so I went to Gen Con twice, and also you forgot to mention that the STAR WARS conventions keep being held there (except the last one which was in too-expensive LA, thanks a lot george lucas), which I also attended twice and it rocked.

    Also, uhazahotdog.

    Also, marching band was HUGE in my school. We had 1200 kids in our school; 800+ were in the various music programs (orchestra, band, choir) which made them eligible for marching band, and of those, about 600 were actually in the band. I tried out for it [flag corps] my senior year (dunno what I waited for) and I practiced and practiced and practiced until I could nail the routine, and the stupid drunk ass ho band director cut me and gave the excuse that I looked too nervous during the damn audition.

    They fired her about 3 weeks into that school year because she was a drunk ass ho. At school.

    Pardon my french, I may be a teensy bit bitter, 11 years later. So I never got to be a flagette, but I always wanted to. Sigh. DCI looks awesome.

  22. zOMG!! You were at the DCI finals?!? What did you think of Phantom Regiment? Did the Madison Scouts make it (they were never top tier, but I always liked their uniforms)? What about Santa Clara Vanguard?

    I’ve never been to the finals, but I’ve been to shows when I was younger and marched myself (not DCI, just local marching band). That must have been awesome.

    Sugar Jones Reply:

    @SciFi Dad, OMG, Santa Clara!! I was a Blue Devs fan. ALMOST marched for them… but I got grounded. DAMN!

  23. i was/am a band girl too, drum corp is awesome. My friend and I made it a girl’s weekend a couple years ago, need to do that again!

  24. I had no idea.

    I was a majorette in high school, LOVE marching bands, and this seems like it would be soooo very cool to watch.

    I am so proud to say I’m teaching the next generation of this, the color guard at least. My BFF and I teach a twirling group!

    AND we just marched in our last parade of the season, the County Fair parade! So fun!

  25. Angie B. says:

    I’m a indy transplant too! It took me awhile, but i’m starting to dig it now. It’s like an overgrown small town. I think you have talked me into taking a day off next year to go watch this drum/rifle show! (closet band geek)

  26. *raising hand* I was a band geek in high school. AND college. I LOVED band camp.

    So yeah. I loved this post. (and the graphics as well- well explained! Good noms too.)

  27. I have to admit that I was a band geek too. I was in the marching band in high school – hey, we did get to go on some pretty awesome trips!

  28. Wow, your readers are a bunch of geeks!

    I wouldn’t go sit and watch Drum Corps if I was paid a thousand dollars to do so.

    Sugar Jones Reply:

    @Avitable, Oh, Avitable… we wouldn’t have you anyway. ;-) BUT we had some really cool shirts you’d be jealous of.

  29. And now? I miss Indy again. I LOVE DCI (also a band geek here). I love GenCon. I miss the Colts. I miss my office and friends and Trader Joe’s and sitting on the Circle at lunch. (sob)

  30. Jess Pf. says:

    First time commenter. DCI brought me out of the woodwork. My husband and I are both long-time band geeks. We’ve even marched Senior Drum Corps as adults! Anyway, glad you liked DCI. There are usually several regional shows earlier in the summer and they are very kid friendly.

  31. Phantom Regiment WOOOOO

  32. So my stepson is in marching band, so we had our first taste of competitions last year. They were really amazing, but thge question that we kept asking was “WHY THE RIFLES?????” They made no sense in the “story”. Did you find out why?

    Cathie Reply:

    @Suzy Voices,

    The rifles are a traditional piece of guard equipment. The first drum and bugle corps were started by veterans organizations like the VFW, etc and were originally made up of veterans…it was only later that VFW’s started corps for youth.

    The original color guard…did exactly that, they guarded the colors (ie the flag)…So it was someone carrying the American Flag, and then someone one either side with a saber on one side and a rifle on the other. As time went on, the color guard went from guarding THE flag to carrying and spinning flags and the equipment they originally carried…rifles and sabers.

    Hope that helps.

    member of Cadets ’86 – ’90

    Suzy Voices Reply:


    Hi Cathie! That definitely helps! I’m all for tradition. But one thing that confuses me is that the programs have developed over time to these wonderful productions, which I would call far from the old tradition of the VFW. I mean, Nacho Libre? That’s about as modern as you can get. So why don’t they modernize the props (sorry if I’m using the wrong word, don’t mean to offend.) and incorporate new ones that go along with the program?

    Like for Nacho Libre, the color guard could be spinning and throwing wooden jalapeños. I think that would be awesome! Because I assume that the Nacho Libre program has to be a bit tongue-in-cheek.And I’m focusing on Nacho Libre because I like to say it in my mind a lot and roll my R’s.

    And I’m pretty sure there weren’t rifles during Adam and Eve’s time, so how about spinning wooden serpents? That? Would be awesome.

    I think these corps folks should hire me to do a prop makeover. ;-)

    Casey Reply:

    @Suzy Voices, Actually the Red Violin Piece had an actual loong red violin that they flipped around.

    Suzy Voices Reply:


    Ooh, now that’s really cool! See, that’s what I’m taking about! :)

    Cathie Reply:

    @Suzy Voices,

    They do modernize “props” and make them work for the show, but the flags, rifles and sabers aren’t considered props, they’re considered the color guard’s equipment (just as the brass player’s equipment is their horn).

    If they didn’t use this equipment in the show….their scores would be much lower. Sometimes they can modify their equipment so that it thematically fits the show (ie the violins they were spinning were actually modified rifles, that looked like half violins) but sometimes, they can’t. Throwing jalapenos in the air just isn’t the same level of difficulty .

    Guards have actually progressed quite a bit from the old VFW days. They do a lot less equipment work than they use to. Now they integrate dance, use of props and even character acting in with all their equipment work….they’re very talented performers who are required to wear many hats!

    Cathie Reply:

    @Suzy Voices,

    Sorry, I used brackets with the word smile between them to show humor…..but forgot about HTML not showing them….without them, my post looks like I’m annoyed and I’m not :)

    Just trying to explain how it all works :)


    Suzy Voices Reply:

    @Suzy Voices, I really am interested in this! See, now when I go to my stepson’s competitions, I’ll be the person who is all IN THE KNOW, impressing everyone. I had no idea that if they don’t use rifles or other proper equipment they’ll get points deducted. Your comment, “Throwing jalapenos in the air just isn’t the same level of difficulty” made me laugh out loud.

    And I love, love, love the guard. You’re right, they are very talented people. I could do the dance part, but not the throwing of the equipment. I’d end up with multiple concussions. I especially love it when there are male guard members. I admire the courage it must take for a guy to get out there and do it. And most of the males I’ve seen are REALLY good. OK, I’m rambling now. I’ll stop. :)

  33. I would so love to have gone. One of my biggest regrets is not continuing in band in high school. I was mad at the band director and thought I wouldn’t miss marching band. but I did. Looks like a great time!

  34. As a former plume-wearing, back-bending drum major I’ve always thought that band geeks don’t get enough credit. Those long, hot days in the sun memorizing those shows WHILE using all of your breath to play instruments? Not easy! Though it’s an incredibly rewarding experience!

    Sounds like a fun show to see!

  35. Welcome to my world! :) We moved from Oregon to Texas in 2007, and we had NO idea what we were getting into with band! Our daughter started marching band last year and holy smokes – Texas takes band (because by association it’s linked with football, and everyone knows football is king in Texas) VERY SERIOUSLY. Now in her second year marching, I’m amazed at what my 15yo can do. They build their marchers into some tough cookies here. Glad you got to go to DCI (I won’t tell my daughter, she would be SO jealous). :)

  36. I can’t believe you had a friend that knew about this stuff – that must have made it so much more intersting – although I’m a sucker for a good marching band!

  37. Oh…the band geek inside of me is seething with jealousy!

  38. Um, that “Super Fan” awkward dude?! It totally looks like Jon Heder. Instead of “Blades of Glory”, perhaps it’s the band version?! I’m glad you’re digging Indy. I miss it, so much so that I’m packing up the kids specifically to go to the Fair.

  39. Tiny Gramma says:

    I think Indy is awesome – never would have thunk it before actually going there, but I have to say I’m a little jealous of all the activities and the parks and stuff. Here we have nothing but green chiles…now roasting BTW!!

    I did find it interesting that one of the corps had a church theme: Calvery, which I think is really Calvary which I think is REALLY Cavalry. Carry on soldier.

  40. I’m very upset I didn’t get to take advantage of those tickets myself. I even had to turn down suite tickets for Friday night as well. Double-EPIC-FAIL! I’ll be heading to the Bands of America championships in November though.

  41. NERD! I was in orchestra which I think is actually less cool than band and that’s hard to do. :-)

  42. Yeah, that’s right. Indy IS awesome. For me its and Indians game tonight (free tickets from work whoo-hoo) and free entry into the State Fair on Wednesday with kiddo thanks to the Indy Star (another whoo-hoo).

  43. Another former marching band member here! And DCI fan (I played flute so no chance of being IN a drum corp).

    And I’m an Indy fan. I’m always happy, although a little apprehensive, when someone else from one of the more glamerous areas of the country becomes a fan. Do you have any idea how many former Californians are living here(Hint: that’s why Trader Joe’s put two of their first locations in the east here)? I have probably a good two dozen friends I know well that moved here from either coast–and LOVE it. Just not sure I want the word getting out any further, because then everyone will want to move here…

    Just had Shakespeare on the Canal, which was great…Much Ado About Nothing…free…and in a couple of weeks there’s Shakespeare in the Park, Twelfth Night, free, by a different group…the Fringe is going on now, but most things aren’t kid-friendly.

    And just went wandering down the streets and Monon Trail in Broad Ripple and had a sort of meandering meal: appetizers at one place (overlooking the canal), main course somewhere else, again overlooking the canal; dessert yet a third place, overlooking the trail. Windowshopping and peoplewatching as we walked between restaurants.

    I have to wonder if what Indy now has isn’t akin to the kidn of ambience and attractiveness that made New York such a magnet 150 years ago: culture and bustling activity, yet with the friendliness and relative safety of a small town. Just bigger.

  44. I LOVE DCI! Would have gone if the event wasn’t going on smack-dab in the middle of my daughter’s wedding prep and ceremony. Maybe next year!