Thunder in Boise Competition 

With temperatures reaching 104 degrees, the last thing you think anyone would want to do is don a 100 percent wool uniform, hat and shoes and lug a heavy brass instrument around a field. But that's what hundreds of young people did at Boise State's"Thunder in Boise" competition.

Drum and bugle corps from all over the Northwest and as far away as Illinois marched on the blue turf, weaving in and out of abstract formations, with color guard members whipping flags, tossing mock rifles and thrusting swords in time with the music.

For those of us whose usual exposure to live music tends toward brooding indie rockers in ironic T-shirts and eyewear, drum and bugle corps members seem impossibly earnest. This is probably one of the few places where grown men and women in sequined sashes and one-foot plumes of feathers extending from their hats are taken very, very seriously.

Even more impressive is the talent involved: These people are very good at what they do, and there are a lot of them. The formations are precise, even hypnotic, and the music tight. Unlike an indie rock band on a stage, drum and bugle corps become more than horn players and drummers playing together. Together they form a giant continuously morphing organism. It adds another fascinating dimension to music, one you can find only on a large field, and one that can't be captured well on film or compact disc. Hope that this competition comes back to Boise, and don't miss it next year.

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