Each of the last five days leading up to the DCI Tour Premiere presented by DeMoulin Bros. and Co. on June 21 in Detroit, Drum Corps International will be taking a look at where each of its World, Open and International Class corps stand competitively and artistically entering the 2018 campaign.
Concluding with DCI’s Northern California, Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain corps, here's the final installment in a five-part series previewing the upcoming DCI Summer Tour.
THE BATTALION | Salt Lake City, Utah
*The Battalion followed an abbreviated regional tour in 2016 and 2017, wrapping up both seasons in mid-July.
2018 Program: “Seeing Red”
A Taste of the Music: The Battalion’s opening piece in 2018, “Gymnopédie No. 1” — the first in a set of three piano compositions by Erik Satie — has been featured in the past decade by the Blue Stars (2008) and the Blue Devils (2012).
Competitive Refresh: In 2017, The Battalion competed at six events between July 7 and July 15. In that short period of time, the Utah corps saw its score improve by six points. The Battalion’s main competition last season came from the Columbians, another young Open Class corps from the Pacific Northwest. The two corps split six head-to-head meetings, but The Battalion closed its 2017 tour with a two-point advantage on its nearby foe.
Trending: The Battalion has just two shortened seasons under its belt, but has seen rapid improvement during that time. 2017’s final score of 59.100 marked a nearly 10-point improvement from the corps' inaugural season in 2016. In 2018, The Battalion will embark on a longer tour, which will feature 10 performances over a span of two and a half weeks.
BLUE DEVILS | Concord, California
2018 Program: “Dreams and Nighthawks”
A Taste of the Music: This year, Blue Devils will open their production with Carole King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” While the Concord corps commonly uses music in King’s style, this will be its first time performing her works.
Competitive Refresh: After finishing second in 2016, the Blue Devils regained their spot atop the DCI universe with 2017’s “Metamorph,” a colorful program that encapsulated the corps’ rich history while pointing toward a bright future. In winning their third championship in four years — and their 18th overall — with a final score of 98.563, the Blue Devils entered their next campaign fresh off of an undefeated run in 2017. The defending champions earned top marks for general effect and total visual to go along with last year’s title.
Trending: The Blue Devils have broken 97 points each of past five seasons, with their top score in that stretch being a record-breaking 99.650 in 2014. With three gold medals and two silver medals over that span, the Blue Devils’ impeccable consistency is a key trend to follow entering the 2018 season.
BLUE DEVILS B | Concord, California
*Blue Devils B won Open Class championship titles in 2014 and 2016.
2018 Program: “The Other Side”
A Taste of the Music: While “Hello” by Adele and “Come Together” by The Beatles may be the most widely-recognizable pieces on Blue Devils B’s diverse list of selections, avid drum corps fans will recognize Nino Rota’s “A Time for Us” from recent productions like Phantom Regiment’s “Juliet” in 2011.
Competitive Refresh: After opening the 2017 season with a lead of more than two full points on the Vanguard Cadets, Blue Devils B ended up falling to second place in the Open Class division. However, the corps still earned its fifth consecutive Top-20 overall finish, the longest such streak of any Open Class organization.
Trending: This season, Blue Devils B will be looking to make it three consecutive even-numbered years with an Open Class gold medal, having earned such honors in 2014 and 2016. Since “three-peating” from 2009-2011, BDB — like its "A" corps — has earned a top-two spot in the Open Class every season. The Bay Area corps has also come dangerously close to a World Championship Finals bid twice in the past five seasons; in 2016, Blue Devils B finished just over three points from the Top-12 cut-off.
BLUE DEVILS C | Concord, California
*-Blue Devils C has followed an abbreviated regional tour each of the last five years. Its 2013 score was recorded before Open Class corps were judged on the World Class scale for the full season — until 2014, Open and World Class corps only shared the same rubric at World Championship events.
2018 Program: “Candyland: Part Blue”
A Taste of the Music: Blue Devils C will be the first corps to perform the music of Fall out Boy since Jersey Surf did so in 2008, when it features “Sugar, We’re Going Down” this season.
Competitive Refresh: In 2017, Blue Devils C saw nearly a four-point improvement in its score from start to finish of its abbreviated tour. The corps’ season consisted of seven performances throughout California, the last of which saw Blue Devils C max out its score at a 48.100.
Trending: Blue Devils C’s 2017 season saw more than a point’s worth of improvement from each of the two seasons prior. Blue Devils C’s 48.100 at the end of last year’s tour was the corps’ highest mark since Open and World Class first started being combined on the same scale.
BLUE KNIGHTS | Denver, Colorado
2018 Program: “The Fall and Rise”
A Taste of the Music: Aside from Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” Blue Knights’ music selections all come from rather popular 20th- and 21st-century artists. The Beatles’ “Sun King” is the oldest of that bunch, and will mark the second time the Denver corps has performed music by the Fab Four in the past five years. 2015’s Blue Knights production, “Because,” featured The Beatles’ song with the same title.
Competitive Refresh: Blue Knights spent the entirety of 2017 locked in an airtight battle for position with Phantom Regiment in the eighth- and ninth-place positions. After jockeying back-and-forth, the Denver corps scraped its way across the 90-point threshold for an eighth-place finish, led by a sixth-place percussion caption.
Trending: Following back-to-back 10th-place finishes in 2012 and 2013, the Blue Knights rose all the way into the top six by 2015. Since then, the corps’ rankings have leveled off a bit — to the tune of seventh place in 2016 and eighth in 2017 — but its four straight years scoring above 90 points are the longest such stretch in the corps' history.
COLUMBIANS | Tri Cities, Washington
*Columbians followed an abbreviated regional tour in 2016 and 2017, wrapping up both seasons in mid-July.
2018 Program: “Danzon”
A Taste of the Music: “Bailando,” which features Enrique Iglesias, will be one of four pieces performed by the Columbians in 2018. The Washington corps will be one of the first to use Iglesias’ music in DCI competition.
Competitive Refresh: Columbians’ main competition in 2017 was The Battalion; the two faced six times during their shortened tours. While The Battalion ultimately won out at the two corps’ final meeting, the Columbians won three meetings with the Utah corps, including one by more than half a point in Auburn, Washington.
Trending: In each of its two active seasons, the Washington-based corps has completed its tour with a score of 57.100. However, Columbians’ 57.500 in Boise, Idaho, in July 2017 remains the corps’ highest score to date.
MANDARINS | Sacramento, California
2018 Program: “Life Rite After”
A Taste of the Music: For their 2018 program, the Mandarins will perform “True Colors,” a popular song made famous by Cyndi Lauper, written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. “True Colors” was also performed in 2012 by Pacific Crest.
Competitive Refresh: 2017 was a breakout season for the Mandarins, who rose all the way to 13th place with their highest score of all time. For a portion of the summer, in July, Mandarins held a Top 12 position, but ultimately fell just short of the cutoff for the DCI World Championship Finals by less than a point.
Trending: A standard-raising season in 2017 saw Mandarins jump more than four positions in the rankings from the year prior, not to mention seven spots from 2015’s 20th-place finish. Prior to 2017, Mandarins had finished higher than 17th just once, in 2001.
OREGON CRUSADERS | Portland, Oregon
2018 Program: "REDRUM"
A Taste of the Music: For 2018, the Oregon Crusaders will include Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited” — a song used by Genesis in 2016 and Madison Scouts in 2007 — in their production.
Competitive Refresh: The Oregon Crusaders spent most of their season battling back and forth with Pacific Crest, winning eight of 12 head-to-head matchups, including, most importantly, the last. At the DCI World Championship Semifinals, the Portland corps held a lead of slightly more than one point over its Southern Californian foe.
Trending: The Oregon Crusaders have finished in the top 20 every year including each of the last four years since joining the World Class ranks in 2013. The Portland corps has not broken 80 points since 2014, despite coming considerably close on a couple of occasions.
SANTA CLARA VANGUARD | Santa Clara, California
2018 Program: “Babylon”
A Taste of the Music: Santa Clara Vanguard will be bringing a very unique style of music to the field in 2018 when it performs “Club Sounds,” an electronic piece by Gents and Jawns.
Competitive Refresh: 2017 saw a heated battle at the top between two Bay Area corps — Blue Devils and Santa Clara Vanguard. Despite never defeating its neighbors from Concord, Vanguard spent the majority of the season within a point of first place, ultimately earning a silver medal as well as the George Zingali Award for Best Color Guard and the Fred Sanford Award for Best Percussion.
Trending: While Santa Clara Vanguard has earned top-five finishes every year since 2012, 2017 was the corps’ first time in a medalist position since taking bronze in 2004. Last season was also the corps’ first top-two finish — as well as its highest score — since its most recent championship in 1999.
SEATTLE CASCADES | Seattle, Washington
2018 Program: “What Goes Around”
A Taste of the Music: With Justin Timberlake having featured marching performers in his Super Bowl LII halftime show, Seattle Cascades will be returning the favor in 2018 when they become the first DCI corps to perform his music since Teal Sound did so in 2009. The Cascades will perform “What Goes Around… Comes Around” this season.
Competitive Refresh: Throughout 2017, the Seattle Cascades found themselves within striking distance of the Oregon Crusaders and Pacific Crest on a handful of occasions. At season’s end, the Cascades finished just over two tenths of a point behind Spartans for the last spot in the DCI World Championship Semifinals.
Trending: The Seattle Cascades have earned spots in the DCI World Championship Semifinals twice in the past five years, while also finishing just one position outside the Top 25 on two other occasions in that span. The Cascades’ 2016 season remains their best in terms of score and placement since 2007.
TROOPERS | Casper, Wyoming
2018 Program: “The New Road West”
A Taste of the Music: A well known song by the alternative rock group My Chemical Romance, “Welcome to the Black Parade” will be performed in DCI for the first time as part of Troopers’ 2018 program.
Competitive Refresh: The Troopers spent the duration of 2017 battling neck-and-neck with Colts. While the Casper corps won a handful of such head-to-head matchups down the stretch, ultimately it was the Colts who pulled away at the DCI World Championships. Vanguard Cadets, 2017’s Open Class champions, also overtook the Troopers in Indianapolis by a slim margin.
Trending: Outside of 2017’s 17th-place finish, the Troopers have spent the majority of recent years ranked just outside the Top 12, with finishes in either 13th or 14th place every year but one since 2011. In 2013, their highest scoring season since 2009 — which was the last year Troopers earned a finalist spot — the Troopers finished just a tenth and a half out of the Top 12.
VANGUARD CADETS | Santa Clara, California
*Vanguard Cadets won Open Class championship titles in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
2018 Program: “Off the Wall”
A Taste of the Music: Eric Whitacre’s music has grown very popular in drum corps, with at least one corps using one of his works every year since 2010. “Fly to Paradise,” which will be performed by Vanguard Cadets in 2018, was featured by both Crossmen and Blue Knights in 2015, as well as Seattle Cascades in 2017.
Competitive Refresh: Despite starting the 2017 season nearly three points behind Blue Devils B, Vanguard Cadets climbed their way all the way back into first place in Open Class by the time the DCI World Championships rolled around. After winning Open Class gold, Vanguard Cadets’ success carried over into Indianapolis, where the corps matched its best overall finish and broke its highest all-time score.
Trending: Each odd-numbered year out of the last half-decade has seen Vanguard Cadets take home the Open Class World Championship title, with 16th-place overall finishes coming in both 2015 and 2017. The former of those two years was the closest the corps has come to the Top 12, as Vanguard Cadets finished just over four points from the last finalist position.