Pounding drums, piercing sound and precision lines will permeate Haskell Stadium Wednesday night when some of the nation's best drum and bugle corps take the field in competition.
Eight of these elite groups will air their pageantry and showmanship in Lawrence as part of the fifth annual Mission Drums competition.
"If they like halftime shows, they'll love this," said Billy Toepel, a performer in The Colts and son of one of the event's organizers.
The Toepels have practically made drum and bugle corps a family business since Billy joined the Dubuque, Iowa-based Colts in 1997.
Toepel's mother, Joanne, had played cymbals with the same group in 1967 and 1968.
"This show is a relatively unique opportunity to see musical entertainers of this caliber," said Toepel's father, Art, who got his commercial driver's license to drive one of the corps' buses.
These groups of 80 to 128 musicians, usually college aged, tour the country all summer competing first regionally and then nationally.
The corps might be compared to a college marching band, but most drum and bugle members would take that as an insult.
"They march and play their horns, but we live it," Billy Toepel said. "It's what we do every day."
Following the military tradition, drum and bugle corps feature brass, percussion and a colorguard, but never woodwinds.
Then in their 12-minute shows these groups take on the music of Broadway plays and classical symphonies to march to.
For example, the Madison (Wis.) Scouts chose "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Tickets for the show, sponsored by the Kansas City, Kan.-based Rainbow Boosters and Drum Corps Midwest, range from $7 to $25 and can be bought at the gate.
-- Josh Funk's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.