DETROIT, Mich. — By a margin of just three tenths of a point, the Bluecoats topped a group of six returning finalists, Thursday night at the DCI Tour Premiere presented by DeMoulin Bros. & Co. for the second consecutive season.
The Canton corps earned a score of 70.300, while also taking top honors in the Brass, Total General Effect, and Total Visual scoring captions.
According to executive director David Glasgow, the corps’ brand new program, “Session 44,” follows the journey of a budding recording artist, looking “through the lens” of the stories of musicians like Billie Holiday and Joni Mitchell to create a dazzling and energetic production.
“Man, I felt last year’s finals performance was almost the best show I’ve ever had, but this show might have topped it,” Bluecoats drum major Samuel Crawford said. “This corps can balance its energy and precision like I’ve never seen before.”
As has been the case for the Bluecoats for now the past three seasons, Thursday night’s season opener was the world’s first look at the corps’ new uniforms, as well as its vast arsenal of chairs — in all shapes and sizes — staged throughout the field.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Glasgow, in regards to the corps’ secrecy. “It’s kind of become our thing, and I think the members especially have really come to enjoy that excitement of walking out to the field the first time, and it’s always interesting to see the audience response, because they have no idea what to expect.”
Carolina Crown (2nd, 70.000), which finished just a hair out of first place, finished atop the leaderboard in the Percussion and Total Music captions. Its biggest gap from Bluecoats — a 0.4-point discrepancy — came in General Effect; the two tied in Total Visual.
“That was awesome,” Carolina Crown euphonium David Altman said. “I think that was one of the better crowds that we’ve had for the DCI Tour Premiere and we just had a really great run tonight.”
With a colorful production called “On Madness and Creativity,” The Cavaliers earned top marks in the Color Guard caption, as well as second place in percussion, ultimately earning third overall with a score of 69.350.
“It’s the best first show I’ve seen out of this drum corps in several years,” corps director Joe Roach said. “The last several years with our design team, it’s all about entertainment value and our design team just keeps pushing that, and our membership can’t wait to get a hold of it and run even further. We started right where we left off.”
Fresh off of a breakout season, Boston Crusaders brought the fire once again with a fourth-place finish and a score of 67.300. With a second-place color guard leading the way for Boston, the Crusaders debuted “S.O.S.,” which featured a brand-new magenta and neon green costume.
“I’m ecstatic, that was just so incredible,” drum major Kaitlin Oresky said about the corps’ performance. “I didn’t know how that would feel, and it was just so fun the entire time. I didn’t realize how big this place was going to be, and walking in, it was just so exciting, it feels like the real deal, the big audience, the big venue.”
With a score of 64.200, Phantom Regiment took fifth place, edging Blue Stars (6th, 62.000) by two full points. At the end of 2017, Regiment held a lead of just under two tenths of a point over its foe from Wisconsin.
As assistant conductor Taylor Brownfield attested, the Rockford corps’ 2018 program “This New World,” is an exciting new direction for an organization that has finished in the Top 12 every year since 1974.
“It was phenomenal,” Brownfield said. “It’s wonderful, because we get to do something that’s different for the Phantom Regiment.”
Blue Stars unveiled a bold new look of their own for their program, “The Once and Future Carpenter.” Using several pieces of music by The Carpenters, the La Crosse, Wisconsin corps donned overalls and work boots, with prop hammers, wood blocks and saw horses placed throughout the field.
“We first put on the uniforms a few days ago,” drum major Taylor Smith said. “As soon as we did that, it all kind of came together in our minds, like what the show was meant to be. It gave us a really good perspective on how to perform it well, too.”
This pack of six corps will split up heading into the upcoming weekend. Carolina Crown, Bluecoats and Phantom Regiment will head toward Akron, Ohio — which can be viewed live on FloMarching.com on June 23 — while the remainder of Thursday’s field will perform next in Whitewater, Wisconsin on Saturday.