Awesome to the corps

By Phil Plait | October 29, 2009 4:00 pm

When I was in high school I was a marching band dork. Shocker, I know. But let me tell you something: we were good. Very good. We won a lot of competitions, and we hosted a drum and bugle corps competition at our school that pulled in the best from around the country. To this day, all these decades later, it’s still the loudest thing I have ever heard.

We humans have incredible talents: imagination, cleverness, dexterity, and musical abilities that are truly astonishing. Don’t believe me? Then behold:

Un. Flipping. Believable.

Those guys have major talent. Watch the bit from 4:50 to 5:10 again, and call those guys dorks. Holy mackerel, they rock.

Tip o’ the chapeau to Fark.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Miscellaneous
MORE ABOUT: drum corps, music

Comments (56)

  1. Pathology

    That was more than awesome.

  2. I’m afraid to ask what instrument you played. And how could you lay a revelation like that on us without at least a picture?

  3. Sarah

    Has to be cello.

    That is indeed some awesome drumming!

  4. vanderleun

    Please, please, tell us it was the triangle.

  5. Hey, I played trumpet in Marching Band! :)

  6. Oh well, makes sense – they have the LHC too…

  7. Excellent! Best marching band I’ve seen. Blogged!

  8. OK, I’m officially proud to be Swiss…at least for now… oh wait, we did get two IgNobel peace prizes in a row too (link in French): I wonder, do these things add up somehow? 😉

  9. Gary Ansorge

    Hmmm. Not bad, though it would look better if half were female.

    As I recall, Mickey Hart got HIS start as a rudimental drummer, winning many awards, even beating his father, who was a national champ in that. Then, of course, he moved on to a higher level of play,,,

    I never played in a high school band. I just play for the fun of it and it’s all contrapuntal, polyrhythmic, improvisational drumming, though once or twice I’ve been financially compensated, I don’t consider myself a professional, just a talented amateur.

    Care to jam some time?

    GAry 7

  10. nancy

    My daughter was in drumline in high school. I would spend hours on the bleachers watching & listening to them practice, and loved to go to competitions and football games. Those kids made me so proud with how hard they worked and what gracious winners and losers they were in competition. I can think of quite a few adult athletes that could take lessons from those kids… I was quite sad when she graduated and I realized I couldn’t be the “drumline mom” anymore.

  11. DustPuppyOI

    I first saw these guys from footage from the 2006 Edinburgh Tattoo. I couldn’t believe that these guys are doing these in addition to doing their daily jobs.

    On a slightly more silly side from the same Edinburgh show, here’s the New Zealand Army Band.

  12. Monsignor Henry Clay

    I want these cats to do an exhibition with Grambling State.

    We shall call it Swiss Chocolate Thunder.

  13. I'd rather be fishin'

    I love the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo. I wasn’t a band geek in school, but I can recognize a drum in a room full of tubas. I was an army brat and grew up with the sights and sounds of pipes, drums and marching. Sgt. Dad always made such a deal about Sunday dinners.

  14. bigjohn756

    Holy carp!
    Come on people, I could do that with a broken chopstick and a tin can. Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit.
    Holy carp those guys are good! What fun to watch and hear.

  15. Scott G.

    I was in marching band and drum corps, too (Reading Buccaneers!). Best. Time. Of. My. Life.

    These guys are pure magic. Thanks for the link, Phil! Off to watch their other videos.

  16. Brian S

    Wow, some of those guys were really cute too. Cute and talented!

  17. Keith Harwood

    I saw them IRL a couple of years ago when the Edinburgh Tattoo came to Sydney. Yes, awesome.

  18. Pete

    As a former drumline geek, all I can say is

    W O W.

  19. Flip

    Group think theatrics.

    A great parallel to group think religious fantasies.

  20. NewEnglandBob

    Oh My Dog!

    I especially liked when they each played three drums.

    I wonder if they practiced beforehand or was that all ad lib. 😉

  21. BigBadSis

    Romeo Vitelli asked for pictures. Oh can I?!? Please, Phil, oh PLEASE??

  22. Derek

    Just got back this weekend from the Colorado Bandmasters Association State Marching Championships. My band (I’m a director) did not place, but we saw some amazing stuff.

    My absolute favorite show from the competition was right up your alley, in fact, Phil.

    Just up the road from you, the PRIDE OF WINDSOR MARCHING BAND did a show with four movements: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo 1, and Apollo 11. It. Was. Incredible. Unfortunately, they fell short of first place.

    If I lived in Boulder, (And I don’t, I live in Durango,) and I was a big ol’ space exploration and marching band geek, I would look at the Windsor Wizards football schedule and make a point of getting up there soon… I hope their last performance wasn’t at state. I kid you not- see if you can catch a performance.

    If the snow doesn’t cancel all events, that is. And if you missed it live, I’d see if the directors at Windsor have a recording you could view.

  23. Nerds, Dorks, Geeks etc are TEH HAWT!

    If I remember my Jonathan Coulton facts correctly, he himself was this type of dork in High School.

    One of my favourite movies is Drumline. It blows my freaking mind.

  24. Now I know where Neil Peart has been lately: he was abducted and cloned by the Swiss!

  25. Wayne

    That was absolutely incredible!

    (laughing at Adam H’s comment)

  26. Egaeus

    I’m pretty sure that the loudest thing that you’ve ever heard is the launch of a space shuttle, unless you were around for a Saturn launch. :)

  27. llamawoot

    Check this out. Sort of a small indoor marching band, and one of my favorite marching band songs. The sound quality here blows my mind….that’s some pretty good brass…

  28. Thomas Siefert

    Big cheeks, long arms, BA must be a trombone player 😀

  29. Jessica

    I was in marching band too! Drum line. Now I like you even more!

  30. Brett S

    no discussion of drumlines and drum corps can possibly leave out Drum Corps International (DCI).

    For a great brass feature:

    And for clean as crap drumming:

    Drum Corps don’t get much better than DCI World Class/Division I groups. Check out their videos and see if there are any groups from your area that you can support!

  31. Radwaste

    DCI, unfortunately, has made some unfortunate changes to the FL high-school scene, in that no band appearing with the 22.5″ “chop step” has a chance to place in a contest. Me, I find it sad to see everybody walking.

    In central Florida, there was a swell of support for music programs in the ’70s. Now, what I read about is squabbling over money – which never reaches the classroom – and poor attendance at Friday games.

    Oh, Phil – here’s a gratuitous mention of George Hrab for ya (pro percussionist, among many other things!)

  32. Phil, were we separated at birth?

    I was in the drum section in the CU Marching band in the 1970s, Mr. Spacewriter played tuba and taught high-school band for a few years. We got into watching Drum Corps at the annual Drums along the Rockies competition held each year at the old Mile High Stadium.

    If you want to see some corp-style entertainment that’ll blow you away, go see BLAST: The Show, a traveling corps show based on the Star of Indiana Drum Corps. Their website is www dot blasttheshow dot com… right now they’re traveling in Japan, but you can watch some samples on their site. We’ve seen ’em twice and were amazed each time we did.

  33. Silje

    As a norwegian, I have to brag a little about the King’s guard:

    These guys (and gals, though for girls military service is not mandatory) serves their one year service practicing for and participating in military tattoos and shows all around the world. I think they’re awesome, especially considering it’s different people each year. :)

  34. DLC

    Ha! I quit the footbal squad because I didn’t want to wreck my knees any worse than I already had. Nerds!

  35. MadScientist

    “To this day, all these decades later, it’s still the loudest thing I have ever heard.”

    I would suggest going to the track to see some F1 motor car action. I’d recommend some time on an aircraft carrier or on the tarmac at an airport with heavy lifters around, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to get the opportunities to be in such places. Then there’s the Kennedy Space Center but I don’t know if you’re allowed close enough to appreciate how loud those large rockets are.

  36. DLC

    (and besides, I didn’t have the talent for band )

    Oh and. . . they were damn cool. As drum corps goes those guys turn it up to 11.

  37. Melanie

    Tap Dogs with drums and feathers! Very Cool

  38. Just me

    Wow. The choreography of that performance blew me away. I just don’t get how people can think up stuff like that?!!?

    This reminds me of when Radiohead performed their song 15 Steps at the Grammy’s last year. They were backed up by the USC(?) marching band. Though not all marchy and technically sophisticated like this clip, the performance was still incredible.

    BTW. I was also in the high school marching band. We were just a little less cool than that. 😉

  39. Yeebok Shu'in

    That’s just awesome. I had to watch it twice, the first time it just blew me away, and the second time to enjoy it. Thanks Phil.

  40. Jim Ernst

    Going back a ways, here’s a traditional USA marching band. I’m in there somewhere.

    Phil, thanks for prompting me to go find this thing.

  41. Nigel Depledge

    Adam H (24) said:

    Now I know where Neil Peart has been lately: he was abducted and cloned by the Swiss!


    I used to think Neil Peart was about the best drummer ever.

    Then I saw Dragonforce perform live.

    Seriously, check them out – it’s the only time I’ve ever seen a drum kit held together with scaffolding (it almost formed a cage that the drummer sat in … hmmm, I wonder if that was deliberate).

  42. Nigel Depledge

    When I worked in Scotland, I attended a conference in Glasgow where they had a pipes & drums band for entertainment one evening. But it was raining so they performed indoors. That was loud. Probably the loudest sound I’ve ever heard that did not involve electricity, petrol or high explosives.

  43. TimPote

    If you like that you might get a kick out of this:

    I tried to find the whole show but to no avail. Oh and yes, those are people in the middle that they’re jumping over.

  44. Sweet, I was also a band dork, for seven years (high school and college). I miss it a lot, and watching these guys just brings it all back 😀 Thanks for the link!!

  45. alfaniner

    I’m lucky enough to still be participating in a high school Alumni Band that’s been going for about 30 years. I never played in high school but joined them about 10 years ago. Not as disciplined or precise, but we sure have a lot of fun!

  46. It figures that my first comment on this site (…I think?) would be band-related, heh. I have to co-sign the other comments asking what you (Phil) played! It’s sort of the band equivalent of asking “What’s your sign?” only better, for obvious reasons. 😉 Cheers from a tuba player!

  47. Bouch

    Fantastic! (Although I will admit I thought there would be some horns in a “drum and bugle corps”.)

    BTW – if you like Neil Peart, Look for Mike Portnoy from Dream Theatre on youtube. The guy’s awesome. Here’s a pic/description one of his drum kits:

  48. John Baxter

    There are times I wish I had talent. Any talent.


  49. Been there, seen that (didn’t get the t-shirt). Still gives me chills!

    Our marching band used to pick on the football team! They would stay out at halftime to see what winners looked like!

  50. Charlie Young

    That’s funny! It’s like our local high school. The football team can’t win, but the band does.

  51. Markus

    I *strongly* recommend visiting the Wikipedia article for “Top Secret Drum Corps” and following the link at the bottom to the video of them at – different performance, more of the same awesomeness. These guys just rock, I found myself involuntarily clapping my hands at the end of the performance, sitting all alone in the room.

  52. Don Gisselbeck

    youtube “kunstrad” for some more mindblowing talent

  53. drewski

    hehehe dorks

    As a drummer, though, I’ll just say…wow.

  54. Bill Nettles

    You can’t always play football. You can always make music.

  55. Thespis

    DCI. Star of Indiana, Phantom Regiment. Word. Late to the conversation, but I HAVE to mention Blast! and that there are Blast! clips at And the Famous Battery Battle is at

  56. Sili

    I used to love the Edinburgh Tattoo as a kid. Haven’t seen it in years.

    Harry Lime, put a sock in it.

    You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.


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