Speed Read: DCI’s DrumLine Battle

Get snared by this month’s banging free competition, part of the Drum Corps International World Championships.
DCI Drumline Battle
Imagine West Side Story if Tony and Bernardo had been wielding drumsticks instead of knives. That’s what you can expect from the DrumLine Battle taking over Georgia Street and Pan Am Plaza on August 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a day of total percussion warfare.

1. Part of the DCI World Championships, the series of head-to-head competitions is “serious drumming with a lot of fun,” says DCI’s John DeNovi, who modeled the event after the 2002 movie Drumline. Since Indianapolis hosted the first battle three years ago, DCI has taken the spectacle to 15 other countries.

2. The drumming blitzkrieg features some 20 teams from around the world facing off in pairs on Pan Am Plaza and the Georgia Street Boardwalk, with the winner advancing to the next round. Spectators crowd the edges of the performance spaces, standing for the two-minute battles and mingling between bouts.  There’s a festival area on Pan Am Plaza and plenty of spots to grab lunch.

3. The action is easy to find: Just follow the thunder reverberating through the streets south of Circle Centre.

4. You might stumble across a drumline practicing in a parking lot or on the steps of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Stop to watch these unofficial private shows.

5. Pay attention to the kids from Center Grove High School. Last year, these underdogs beat college teams and internationally ranked drum corps. Another drumline to watch is last year’s champs, the Oregon Crusaders, who wowed the crowd with their synchronization and precision.

Pan Am Plaza hosts competitions, a festival, and displays of drums from around the world.

6. In the bracket-style, single-elimination tournament, the drumlines alternate playing two sets each per battle, usually with as much swagger as power. Expect acrobatics, stunts, skits, and a lot of stare-downs.

7. Cheer loud and proud. Audience reaction factors into the judges’ score

8. The best drumlines mix percussion skill, audience interaction, and creative stunts. But the judges also want to see something different. Last year, the Jersey Surf competed in lifeguard uniforms and simulated a rescue mission.

9. For prime viewing, take advantage of the parking garage next to Mikado. The upper levels overlook the Georgia Street stage. For audio only, stake out a spot on the Kilroy’s deck.

10. The DrumLine Battle is one of the best uses of the Georgia Street Boardwalk since the Super Bowl. The city envisioned the boulevard hosting more events than it has in the last four years. But late summer is high season on Georgia, with Workout Wednesday fitness classes, Thursday happy hours, Food Truck Fridays continuing throughout the month, and Colts tailgates starting August 22. Find a calendar of events at georgiastreetindy.com.