The Story of Lot Riot

If you’ve been to a Marching Arts event in the last several years, odds are you’ve passed by someone wearing a Lot Riot shirt. From subtle nod’s to the marching arts to more vibrant tie-die tee’s, Lot Riot’s apparel lineup has blurred the lines between “another band t-shirt” and modern streetwear.

Origin Story

Matt Verburg, founder of the Marching Percussion inspired apparel company, got his start in music like many. The local band program put on a demonstration of various instruments at Matt’s elementary school, including several percussion instruments. From that point forward, Matt was hooked. “The requirement to become a middle school percussionist was to rub your belly and pat your head at the same time. When I showed The Director I could do it like 8 different ways with different hands and different rotations, he let me into the percussion section.”

At around the same time Verburg was learning how to hold a stick, His older sister (an oboe player) joined the Front Ensemble in her high school’s marching band, where she would eventually join the Bass line.

“I would go to band rehearsals, football games, and just listen to the drum instructors talk about rolling your toes and keeping your heels off when you’re crabbing - I thought it was the weirdest, coolest thing.” 

Matt went on to spend 4 years on the school’s snareline, followed by 4 summer’s on snare with Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps during their years in Kentucky. He even performed at Disney World as a Toy Solider, among other casted roles.

Lot Riot Founder Matt Verburg - Performing on the Southwind Snareline

Lot Riot Founder Matt Verburg - Performing on the Southwind Snareline

Verburg performing at Disney World as a Toy Soldier

Verburg performing at Disney World as a Toy Soldier

ONWARD

While pursuing both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Entrepreneurship, Matt Verburg stayed plugged into the percussion community through teaching for a number of years. From Southwind and Madison Scouts, Verburg eventually went onto create “The Creek” Independent Percussion Ensemble. The Creek debuted in WGI’s Independent A Class in 2008, only to work their way up to Independent World Finals by the end of the season. After 4 successful seasons with the Creek, Matt began to discover where his love for the activity really came from.

“The cultural element was the real hidden treasure. Everyone's seen a Marching Band. Not too many people know what goes into it, or know what kind of people are building that culture and experience”

WHATS MISSING

As he was finishing a masters degree in Entrepreneurship, Verburg was searching for ways to stay involved beyond teaching. Focused on the culture of the percussion ensembles he was working with, Matt begin to notice something. Students would show up to practice in their band shirts, and change into something else the instant they got out of rehearsal. That’s when the lightbulb moment came.

Much in the same way skaters, surfers, and athletes of all kinds have brands that represent them, he saw an opportunity for musicians to be represented in a similar fashion. “What we do is not only physically and mentally challenging, but it’s artistic as well, and has scholastic benefits. What we do is as much of a lifestyle as many of these activities.”

“I don’t consider myself an artist, but I’ve always had a passion for print and graphics. At some point I just presented a book of pencil sketches to the Southwind souvenir manager, and thats when it started.” Southwind went on to produce a few of Matt’s designs that summer.

an early design for The Creek Percussion Ensemble

an early design for The Creek Percussion Ensemble

ON Art and business

“I want desperately for this activity to get the light shined on it. But even more important than that, I want the people of this activity to feel respected. It’s never just been about building a sustainable business. It has 100% been about combining something I’m passionate about, along with something that could lift up a ton of people in the process.”

While Matt is the sole owner and full-time employee of Lot Riot, there is a core team of crew members that help setup and run the booth at shows. Much like a performance ensemble, the Lot Riot crew has a goal to be towards the top of the activity in terms of their designs, garment quality, and in the interactions they have with performers and parents at shows.

Running a business, no matter how many people are involved, is no easy task. Verburg compares it to his experiences participating in the activity: “I feel like as a performer, things are asked of you that you don’t always want to do. When you roll off a bus in Kansas at 3AM, they don’t ask for a show of hands of who wants to put in 100% the following day.”

His time as a teacher helped him learn how to ask for that effort of others. “I’ve learned all of these lessons through being in the marching arts.”

The Lot Riot Booth at WGI Finals in Dayton, Ohio

The Lot Riot Booth at WGI Finals in Dayton, Ohio

THE NAME

The name “Lot Riot” of course pays tribute to the parking lots where drumlines warm up, rehearse, and bond after shows.

“The parking lot is where a lot of us grew up in our skills, and developed into being performers. We’re not talking about the stadium where you’re seeing the finished product, we’re talking about the gritty, dirty, metronome beeping life that is the parking lot.”

“Riot” came naturally as a term to depict musicians hanging out and having fun in the lot. The initials “LR” also certainly worked in favor of a percussion focused brand.

A “Lot Riot” at WGI Championships in Dayton, Ohio. 2019

A “Lot Riot” at WGI Championships in Dayton, Ohio. 2019

Instead of focusing on the uniformed, finished production you see on a field or floor, Lot Riot is more interested in shining a light on what happens in the lot both after school and before a show. As Verburg puts it, the “shared sacrifice, shared misery. and shared glory” that unites every drummer who has picked up a pair of sticks.

“We want to shake the hands of every single person that sweats in that parking lot. Thats what we hope Lot Riot does. “

WGI2019_LotRiot_Zashcraft (14 of 34).jpg

You can check out Lot Riot’s collection of quality merchandise on their website, or at the following DCI Show’s this summer:

  • July 18th - Denton, Texas

  • July 20th - San Antonio, Texas

  • July 22nd - Mesquite, Texas

  • July 26th - Murfreesboro, Tennessee

  • July 27th - Atlanta, Georgia

  • Aug. 8-10th - Indianapolis - DCI Championships


DCI Evansville Recap

DCI’s “Drums On the Ohio” took place at F.J. Reitz High School this week, overlooking the Ohio River. Situated in the midst of a quaint Evansville neighborhood, the historic Reitz Bowl has been a fixture of the town since 1921.

The Spirit of Atlanta Hornline warming up prior to their performance

Corps arrived and unloaded for the show on the streets of the neighborhood below the field

The stands were packed, and the audience was incredibly responsive to every corps that took the field. The steep stadium bleachers and lack of a track made for an intimate experience for the performers and audience members, something that can be lost in larger venues throughout tour.

FIRST UP - THE RIVER BRASS YOUTH BAND

The local River Brass Youth Band opened the show with a wonderful performance of several classic concert band tunes. The set started with John Philip Sousa’s “The Liberty Bell” march. This group is made up of 7-12th Graders from the community, and put out a professional and polished sound throughout each piece.

MUSIC CITY DRUM & BUGLE CORPS

Music City was the first corps to take the field with their 2019 program “Of Mice and Music.” Evansville marked their first competitive show of the season, and you could feel the excitement coming from the performers as they stepped in front of a DCI crowd for the first time.

Their new uniforms have a sleek, classic look to them, with a subtle nod to the show title in the form of a braided tail on each members jacket.

SPIRIT OF ATLANTA

Following a brief rain delay, Spirit took the field for their first show of 2019 as well. Their 2019 program “Neon Underground” literally picks up where the 2018 show “Knock” left off, with a knock on the door coming from the front ensemble.

While Neon Underground certainly picks up the momentum from last years show and runs with it, it offers something unique as well, especially from a visual standpoint. The full corps goes through 3 looks throughout the program, each more bright and vibrant than the last.

PHANTOM REGIMENT

Seeing Phantom Regiment take the field in all black along with their iconic helmets is a bit like stepping into a time machine. It’s a look that hasn’t seen the field since 1999, and today it feels as timeless as ever. The corps ends up in tan halfway through the show, another callback to the corps uniforms of the early 2000’s, this time with a modern and show specific take.

The colorguard costumes compliment both the corps and the show “I Am Joan” perfectly.

Musically, the show sounds like classic Phantom Regiment. “O Fortuna” feels right at home on the drum corps field, and “Fire of Eternal Glory” sounds as beautiful as it did in 1993.

CROSSMEN

The Crossmen take the field in fashion, adorned as Vikings for their show “Valkyrie.” (Learn more about the show here)

This is a much more character driven show than in years past, and The Crossmen embody that character perfectly. One of the most entertaining moments of this show comes close to the halfway point, as they invite the entire audience to join them in a chant. Its an ambitious idea, though the rhythm is a simple enough “boom boom clap” a-la Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” It should be fun to watch this evolve and unfold throughout the season as audiences become more aware of it.

BLUE STARS

The Blue Stars answer the “Call of the Wild” in 2019, with one of their most ambitious shows to date. Thematic material aside, there are several moments of incredibly high-velocity and close-quarters drill that Kevin Ford is so well known for.

Though quite different from last seasons Carpenter show, this show is still very much character driven. Every member of the corps from the Colorguard to the Front Ensemble has a chance to personify an explorer. The performers are tasked with conveying a very broad range of emotions, and it really helps drive home the story arc of the show.

Bonus: there are dogs on the flags

CAROLINA CROWN

Standing in front of the high brass for the opening statement of “Beneath the Surface” proved to be a good decision. In addition the incredible quality of sound the Carolina Crown Hornline has become known for, the volume this year is equally impressive. Seriously, they’re loud.

Though based on the idea of Spiritual Mathematics, this year’s show concept is fairly abstract, with no obvious story or characters to follow throughout. This is one of the things I love about this current era of the Drum Corps activity, the variety in show concepts keeps each event from feeling mundane or repetitive.

Crown presents a number of unique visual themes including transparent boards, which seem to tie-in with some of the translucent uniform elements.

BOSTON CRUSADERS

Finishing the night in Evansville with their show “Goliath” was The Boston Crusaders.

The shows Boston has put on the field in recent years have been very accessible from an audience standpoint, and this year is no exception. The corps uniforms are striking, taking on the look of a Philistine soldier, while the guard takes on the role of David.

Props are once again integrated very well, allowing the performers different stages to interact with throughout the show.

One thing to watch for towards the closer is an interplay between the hornline members and sabre line. There is some impressive partner work on display, and it gives the hornline a chance to interact with last years Zingali-winning colorguard in a very unique way.

For more of our favorite images from DCI Evansville, keep an eye on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook Pages! Tonight we’ll head to Hamilton, Ohio for another round of shows. Keep an eye out for a recap this week!