Me at the Alamodome
I got the chance to attend a show outside of California that wasn't during Nats week. That's the first time since I aged-out oh, so many years ago (ok, it's only been six years). This show could have been finals, though. All the contenders for the show on August 11 in Buffalo were in attendance. It was the first time this season that all of last year's Division I finalists were in direct competition. And, it's the closest to California that that many corps have been since 1991.
When I first arrived, the heat and the humidity slapped me in the face. In case anyone is unaware, Texas is very warm in July, even at night - the sun goes away, but the temperature remains the same. Fortunately, everyone got to perform in the air-conditioned Alamodome. Unfortunately, everyone had to warm-up in the heat. For those in the four corps that had to perform twice, fatigue must have been waiting to envelope them. Not that fatigue was apparent on the field. Members of every corps know that the first regional performance must be the best show to date. Regionals have a way of predicting the outcome of Championship Week.
Many corps had been in hotter and more humid weather than what San Antonio gave them. According to the Blue Knights Colorguard staff, the member of their corps were excited that the weather was so cool. The Blue Knights had been in Tulsa, then Dallas.
This was my first indoor competition. I enjoyed sitting in air-conditioning watching my favorite corps; however, I would have preferred the outdoors (with a huge tarp blocking the sun). Music scores were down across the board because the enclosed facility produced reverberations, which many members had difficulty interpreting. This was less noticeable in the evening show because the stands had filled up. A large bonus, however: the colorguards were able to perform without being affected by the elements - rare for drum corps.
I walked around a lot in San Antonio. I talked to many people; I even listened to what people had to say. The following statements are comments I heard repeatedly. Being "Blue" myself, I am of course biased. I think The Blue Devils are the best drum corps out there and deserve to win every caption. So, here are some opinions (mixed in with my own commentary).
Madison Scouts (who had no problem bringing the crowd to their feet) definitely received a lower placement than they deserved. While their book might not be that difficult, it's clean. The Blue Knights are having some show design issues. I was quite surprised at their placement in San Antonio. Others did not seem as surprised. I did not hear much about the Colts or the Bluecoats. The former is a rival of another Iowa corps with whom I happened to march and the latter is a corps that I did march with, so once again, my opinion would be biased.
Glassmen slipping past Phantom Regiment and Crossmen seemed to be the upset of the evening (if you don't count the tie). The Cadets, SCV and the Cavaliers are all lumped together. California corps need to stick together outside of our state, so let's hope that SCV pulls ahead. They have a great opener. One of my partners in crime pointed out that the last time SCV won, they had an incredible opener - it kept people amazed for the rest of their show. Of the top four corps, SCV also has the most room for improvement, so it is likely that they will pull ahead.
I - and I know many people agree with me - do not understand all of these ties. Are they even statistically possible in the quantity that they have been occurring? Another partner in crime said, "Someone is clearly better than the other. There should not be any ties." At least DCI has come up with new rules to avoid a tie for first place at Nats. Maybe we also need a third decimal place for the scores. Or maybe we need to spread out the scores more - use the lower scores more.
And, with the first 90 of the season (91.00 to be exact) The BLUE DEVILS! The staff came off the field very happy with the performance. The Blue Devils took all the captions, except Colorguard. I thought this was a rip-off. I think BD's Colorguard is amazing, exciting, and fun to watch. The opening flag work says it all. The flag line had a beautiful toss with their ending flags - the yellow and white ones. Everyone was perfect! Many people were very impressed with the Cavaliers Colorguard - very innovative.
In just two-and-a-half weeks we'll know how well this competition predicted Championship week. Good luck to all the corps!
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