Denton’s C.H. Collins Athletic Complex played host to some of the best marching bands from around the country Thursday night in the annual Red River Thunder event.
Students from just about every corner of the country converged in Denton to test their marching and musical mettle against the best of the best.
“People from all over the world come to do this activity,” said Vivian Perez, a performer from the University of Texas at El Paso. “We start at the end of May and it ends on Aug. 10. We drive by night, sleep on gym floors and take community showers.”
The summer experience is a grueling one for hundreds of performers who get little sleep crossing the country, all for a love of the brass on the 2013 Drum Corps International Tour.
“We haven’t gotten to see Denton at all. We just get to see different bugs and grass,” Perez said with a laugh.
Despite the constant travel and little leisure time, the performers are pumped up for the remaining portion of their nationwide tour, including a big upcoming tournament in San Antonio.
“I just love the activity. I love marching, playing music. I love performing,” said Kevin Sticht, a percussion performance major at California State University, Fullerton.
Band members, in this case the Sacramento Mandarins, stressed that band performances are much more intense than your average high school halftime show.
“This kind of drum corps is a lot more discipline. A lot of people compare it to the army,” Perez said. “People who come out are going to be seeing a lot of uniformity and performance. We practice the exact same things every day to make it perfect. It’s very detailed.”
Groups also encourage the public to come out to see the unique story lines of their performances.
“Our group is really Chinese-oriented, so we have a lot of Taiko drum stuff,” Sticht said. “Our group was actually founded in Sacramento when the Chinese emigrated, which our show is based on this year. It’s our 50th anniversary. We have really deep roots in the Chinese community, so we keep that in our core.”
Despite the intense training and army-like atmosphere, band members are encouraged by the friendly environment, bringing them back year after year.
“That’s the cool thing about this,” said Jonathan Calderon, a San Diego State University student. “Even though you have rivalries and competitions, it’s always love, friendship, family-oriented — everyone is nice and supportive to other groups.”