There’s a brisk chill in the air that almost penetrates the warmth of your sweatshirt. The smell of the concession stands mingles with numerous colognes and perfumes of other spectators, and the excitement of the crowd is palpable. What overwhelms your senses the most, however, are the sights and sounds of the marching band. The instruments polished to a gleaming shine, the deafening drums, the sparkles of the dancers’ fringed outfits, and the clear blares of scores of horns across the many rows of seats almost makes you forget that you’re sitting in a concert hall far from a football field.
DRUMLine: Live is a multi-media show full of what makes halftime the most exciting part of an HBCU (Historically Black College & University) football game. In addition to all of the marching band greatness, the cast of DRUMLine: Live presents the history of the band’s traditions with tributes to African drummers, gospel choirs, and Motown legends. The performers are full of energy, bounding up the aisles in theMusic Center at Strathmore and personally engaging the audience in the spectacle. A few of the drummers even let some kids try their little hands at percussion every child’s eyes lit up after successfully mimicking a few notes.
I was amazed by all of the talent concentrated into the cast, especially Aheisha Duke, who played the trumpet in the marching band and sang her butt off during the musical legend and church portions of the program. The crowd got on its feet when she shouted “Baby!” in an uncanny impression of Margie Hendricks during Ray Charles’ “(Night Time is) The Right Time” and she was not the only cast member who almost stole the show from the instruments. One performed the Moonwalk as if he had been doing it since birth and another channeled the spirit of James Brown in his enthusiastic yells and furious foot shuffling. The most unexpected act was a bit called “Midnight Magic,” which featured four drummers in LED costumes having a good glow-in-the-dark time. The younger audience members adored this; in fact, DRUMLine: Live is generally very family friendly. The dancers are occasionally scantily clad, but their dance moves are toned down enough for them not to seem lewd.
All in all, it was a fun evening with these former marching band members/singers/dancers/actors. I had a chance to learn about the specific parts of a Drum Major’s ensemble and see the synchronized high stepping up close. However, the show still felt lacking. It wasn’t until the actual drumline showed up that I realized that this is all so much better with the GAME. The competition and raucous cheers of the crowd changes the whole vibe of the music and that was definitely missing. But aside from the absence of a scoreboard and the disjointed organization of the show, there was nothing to complain about. GO TEAM!