August 10, 2023

Marching music’s “major league” takes over downtown Indy

Submitted Photo

Submitted Photo

Three months, 12-hour rehearsal days or longer, cross-country travel, and it all comes down to 12 minutes on a football field.

DCI World Championships are this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium, bringing hundreds of musicians and thousands of fans to the city.  One of those performers is Zoe Scott, originally from Greenwood, now a student at IU-Indianapolis.  This is her third summer marching with the Boston Crusaders – one of the groups in contention for the top spot at this weekend’s competition.  “I would always go to Indy finals, and it really inspired me to want to audition for this place,” the Center Grove High School graduate told me during a break in rehearsals.

DCI stands for Drum Corps International.  You might describe it as marching band on steroids.  The organization calls itself “marching music’s major leagues.”  “The reason I chose Boston is I really like the style and choreography,” Scott told me, and choreography may be an understatement.  The corps of DCI – both those playing instruments and the guard…and even the drum majors - are as athletic as any athletes in any sport you’ll see on a field. In addition, they are playing some of the most difficult music you can imagine at the same time.

DCI has been headquartered in Indianapolis since 2008, and their World Championships have been held at Lucas Oil Stadium ever since.  “We love the distinction that Lucas Oil Stadium is the only stadium in the world that hosts the state, national and international championships in the marching arts, “ said Matt Carter, VP and Chief Destination Development Officer with Visit Indy.  He personally helped recruit DCI to the city.

While Lucas Oil was definitely built for football, marching music was also part of its design.  “As Lucas Oil Stadium was contemplated, there were a couple of things that were considered. One is a pre-staging area required for bands, which used to be in our convention center and are now in exhibit halls built to the north half of Lucas Oil Stadium,” Carter said.  “The second part was – and this is actually attributed to Bill Cook with Cook Medical – he suggested we should treat it like a theater and create a black curtain backdrop and treat it more like a theater than a stadium.”

The Boston Crusaders are ranked third coming into DCI World Championships, based on recent scores from other competitions this summer, less than a point behind the top ranked corps and defending World Champions, the Blue Devils.  For Zoe Scott, winning would be great, but getting to come home for her final competition of the season is just as cool.  “Now, I can just get to perform and get to enjoy the crowd and enjoy how big the space is and take everything in, as opposed to freaking out the entire time.  You have 85 days of hard work, and you get to finally show off what you’ve been doing for the past three months of your life, which is really special.

DCI World Championships runs through Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, and DCI’s Soundsport International Music and Food Festival outside the stadium and on South Street downtown is all day Saturday. Information is available at

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