As I mentioned yesterday, I attended a live broadcast of the 2005 Drum Corps International Quarter finals last night at a movie theater by Perimeter mall. For those of you unfamiliar with DCI, I’ll explain, briefly: Drum & Bugle Corps are private, non-profit, marching bands made up of members 22-years-old or younger who tour the country during the summer competing with each other under the DCI umbrella. The season culminates in August during what is called finals week. Quarter-finals last night (Top 24), semis tonight (Top 17), finals tomorrow night (Top 12). Most groups start organizing for the summer in November with weekend camps and all-days and then they crank it up when school gets out in May/June and go full blast all summer.
I have a choppy history with drum corps that involves never actually getting to complete a season. I went out for Spirit of Atlanta in 1992 and made the tenor line, but I bailed before the season really got going because I was only 14 and I found the whole thing to be totally overwhelming. I went back in 1993 when Glen Carter had taken over Spirit’s drumline. At the first camp he announced that, in addition to practice all day every Saturday from January-June, the snares and tenors would be getting together every Monday and Wednesday as well. I said, “Oh HAIL no.” I went back out in 1994 and made the snare line, again under Glen Carter. We did the monthly camps and Saturday practices and, I must say, the snare line was killing it. Then, in late spring, everyone got a letter in the mail stating that Spirit was folding for financial reasons. That was it. I went to college the following year and never thought about performing in a corps again.
In the spirit of finals week, I offer the following brief commentary on some of last night’s performances.
Blue Knights: Tilted snare drums are for dweebs. That includes this year’s Redcoats if they follow through with the rumors I’ve heard that they’re tilting their drums. Also, you march like roosters and that’s why you never win.
Santa Clara Vanguard: As you were coming on the field I thought, “I’m sure their performance is going to rule and I’ll see that their wicked low ranking is a fluke.” Unfortunately, you played like a 10th place corps. The execution was round around the edges and the overall performance was uninspired. Only 6 Snares and they’re playing matched again? Knock it off. You’re better than that.
Carolina Crown: Your horn line sounds great. Unfortunately, your butter-colored uniforms make me wish you were dead.
Phantom Regiment: The camera man screwed you twice. The first was when that girl dropped the sabre toss while she was front and center and one of the only ones on the screen. The second was during the percussion feature. The snares played their lick, and, upon completion, pointed at the tenors who proceeded to nail their lick. Unfortunately, the camera stayed on the snares the whole time. Sorry, tenors.
Madison Scouts: One of the cleanest snare lines of the night. Not a shitload of notes, but very clean. Even cleaner than the Blue Devils. Yeah, I said it. Also, nice work adding a girl.
Blue Devils: Dudes. What? Your weird-ass dance contest-themed show aside, DON’T THROW THAT DIRT AT ME! I’ve seen pictures of Ann Coulter’s face that have less fuzz on them that your snare licks. Let’s clean it up out there. You might play three times as many notes as the Scouts, but that doesn’t do any good if you don’t play them at the same time.
Cavaliers: What is that? Are … is that … are you guys rocking? That’s not what Cavaliers do! STAND STILL! The Blue Devils can get away with spreading their feet and rocking out to their mad beats, but when you guys do it, it just looks like … like a Young Life twit going to a NOFX show because “jesus was a punk.” You’re not fooling anyone.
Cadets: You guys will probably win for the 40th time because all the judges are afraid you’ll kick their asses if they give you less than a 98. You are truly the Yankees of Drum Corps. I will grant you the fact that your battery owned everyone’s asses last night. But, since you march on the right foot (read: backwards) I will never like you.