Drum Corps International
24 Hours: On tour with the champions

24 Hours: On tour with the champions

by Christina Mavroudis

Pre-show talk They looked like one corps, but when asked, they related their allegiance to multiple ones. It was the Santa Clara Vanguard and Cavaliers' front ensembles in a mutual admiration session. "Write this down," said Cavalier Andrew Paul, 20, with a grin. "With a score of 99.99, Vanguard wins "Cutest pit." Andrew adds, however, that the Cavaliers have the most adoring fans. Later, after the show, Jack Mizutani, a second-year SCV pit member, countered, "Cavies have the best pit ever." There really is a mutual love going on with genuine props being given out by both corps. Trobronco "Brant" Wills, 21, a third-year member with SCV, said, "I think it's nice that on this Tour of Champions you have a chance to hang out, it's not competitive. It's been different. We were sad after finals, but now we have this second chance." And then there's the discussion on the possibility of "Pit Extreme Games." They laugh and insist there is nothing extreme about being in the pit and begin shouting out alternative pit 'extremes' – "Extreme sun-tanning!" "Extreme mallet playing!" "Extreme truck loading!" The latter elicits a groan from everyone. Andrew recalls the last 24 hours as leisurely. "We watched "Bourne Supremacy" with the SCV pit. Left at 11 p.m. and got here about 9 a.m. We watched "Run Lola Run" on the bus. Oh and played Texas Hold 'Em." Huei Pan, 21, is a first-year member of the Cavaliers' pit, although he has two years on snare. "Garrett refers to it as an upgrade," jokes Pan. "But I'm really the liaison between the pit and battery. I thought the pit always hung out, that they were lazy. But I soon realized it's a lot of hard work." Back with Andrew ... "We got up at 10:30 a.m. "One hour sleep?" "Oh, well we got sleep on the bus, but just one hour down time on a floor," corrected Andrew. "We ended up sleeping in classroom modules -- 25 per room. That was tight! Then we had rehearsal from 12 to 1:15. We left around 2:45 to get here, but got lost and arrived late." When asked about the Cavies' pit hype, they all answer in unison, "Selling it!" They also referred to the Vince Vaughn movie "Swingers." "We've adopted a lot of quotes from that movie," said Pan. The Cavies are housed with the other 'all-male' corps, the Madison Scouts, while SCV is housed with the Phantom Regiment, and the Blue Devils are paired up with the Cadets. Needing to get started back, dressed, and ready for the show, the Cavaliers made their thanks and head out.
Post-show talk It was announced as an evening of "No judges, no rules, no penalties! Just you and them! Out of the box and a little raw." There may have been trepidation with this experiment, but spotting SCV Director Rick Venezuela in the upper decks after the show, he was a new convert. "Seeing these six corps in uniform, watching the contras hi-five each other, I'm impressed. We get caught up in the chores of tour this year. It's been the first time where we didn't have time to snack with another corps. That was disappointing. But now, we're housed with Phantom this week, and the members are having a great time getting to know each other." Some of those 'getting to know each other' moments came not on the field or even in rehearsal, but at dinner time. In Utah, the cook 'wagons' circled up and had a corps version of Iron Chef. The winner that night – serving up their own secret recipe version of pork chops – were the Blue Devils with SCV in a close second. Talking with Trobronco again, he said, "Rehearsals haven't been as tight as we're used to, but we are getting in those rehearsals. It's been fun to be able to hang out." When asked if they were feeling left out of the proceedings as only a select number of pit folks were used for the finale, Trobronco is quick to counter any pessimism. "We appreciate the fact some of us will be representing the corps. Plus, since we're not learning special pieces, it gives us a chance to hang out some more." And how was that night's program? "Being able to perform without pressure, playing just for the audience is great," said Trobronco. Andrea Venet, 21, a three-year member with the SCV pit, said, "I slept with no A/C and gum in my back. But then we got to hang out with the Cavies. It's nice that we can see and recall them now." "This tour feels weird," Venet continued. "We gave everything on finals night – that's what we're supposed to do." It was noted that the age-outs in SCV continued to wear their green feathers, while the pit wears theirs under their star, having no aussies to properly display it. Mizutani said, "All season we've seen the Cavalier pit and said 'hi' to them, but it's only been now that we've gotten to know them." Their time is limited, however. Seven out of ten SCV's front ensemble performers are age-outs. In the parking lot near the buses after the show, a large group of young people gathered around a small drum ensemble-turned-jam session. Started by SCV and Cavie guys just in the mood to jam, it quickly gained momentum as Phantom and Blue Devil men entered the fray. After a good 20 minutes, many of the originals had to pack up their stuff to leave. With the groove now out of their systems, and applause from the remaining audience, the impromptu group took a breather. Left to chill, the remaining four BD gentlemen included Mike Laird and John Supnick, both 19-year-old rookie bass drummers, Marco Nicola, a 20-year-old second-year bass, and tenor age-out Pete Lucero. "Yeah, we crashed the party," said Laird. "We tend to do that," Marco laughed. For Supnick, this tour has taken on a strangeness. "It's been like a dream." Pete concurred, "We were done with tour. Said our good-byes. We were done, but now it's been postponed. It's been very surreal." Marco – "Really cool feeling. No long bus rides." John – "Yeah, the last two years have been very long bus rides home. This is nice." Kelly Wanner, a 22-year old age-out with four years in the Blue Devils guard, talked about the Guard Olympics. She laughed recalling one of their instructors saying, "We didn't go home empty-handed!" referring to the Iron Chef win. Though the Cavies won the guard games, Wanner said it was all fun. She explained that the corps guards were brought together to 'compete' in such unique events as:
  • Pole balancing
  • Tape toss
  • 2-man flag relay (holding a flag between them but no grip)
  • Glove toss
  • Captain relay (while holding guard equipment) The games were followed by a dance party and an even greater chance to hang out and mix it up with fellow performers.