Blue Devils
The DCI Southwestern Series presented by Jupiter Band Instruments continued Friday, July 17, with exciting performances from 11 World Class corps during the second night of the DCI Houston, presented by THE exSIGHTment OF SOUND event. The undefeated Blue Devils continued their winning streak at the event, again recording the highest score of the season, a 91.70, and maintaining their undefeated status. The Cavaliers (90.30) gained ground on the Devils, narrowing the gap in scores between the two from 1.75 on Thursday to 1.4 on Friday. Santa Clara Vanguard completed the top three with a score of 86.65. "Today we had a lot of energy," said Blue Devils drum major Brian Howard. "The stadium with its second lip had a weird echo, but where I was, you could really feel the energy. It just came back right at me and you could feel how tight the drum corps was."
Howard said being undefeated "feels pretty good," but that the corps members' sights are set on Aug. 8, the day of the World Championship Finals. "That's all we're worried about," he said. "No matter what happens, we're pushing though to Aug. 8. That's our priority right now."

The Bluecoats (4th, 86.05) came out ahead of the Blue Knights (5th, 82.45), while the Colts (6th, 78.45) and the Troopers (7th, 78.20) battled it out, ending up only a few tenths of a point apart. Eighth place went to the Madison Scouts (76.40) with the Academy (9th, 74.90) close behind. Pioneer earned 10th place (69.00), followed by the Cascades (11th, 65.85). Gulf Coast Sound represented the all-age division in their home state with an exhibition performance, playing "Texas Suite," a fitting show for the venue. Corps proved throughout the night that no circumstance can disrupt the intense focus they have been honing since the start of the 2009 DCI Tour some four weeks ago. The Madison Scouts went through the beginning of their show in partial light thanks to an electrical problem that took out some of the stadium lights before their performance, and members of the Academy also mentioned dealing with an unusual sound reverb in Berry Athletic Complex due to its multiple levels of seating. Ryan Johnson, a euphonium player and horn sergeant for the Academy, said his corps uses any challenge they face as an opportunity for growth. "Every show is a learning experience with something new to figure out. It's really an exercise in focus—how one group can be focused for an entire 11 minutes without anything going wrong or being different from any other rehearsal," he said.

The Academy
"There were some parts in our show that were just great, better than ever before," Johnson continued. "Our ballad hit—that's what I'm going to remember from this show, it was awesome. The closer had more energy than any other show this year, which is a fantastic feeling." The DCI Houston event hosted a large and enthusiastic crowd that could often be heard clapping and yelling in response to all the energy the corps presented. Lance Powell, who is "the umbrella guy" and color guard captain with the Bluecoats, said interacting with the audience members and seeing their reactions, especially in his solo sections, is a fun part of performing. "We changed about a minute of the ending in the last two days. The show changed drastically from yesterday to today. It was interesting to get to perform that and it was really cool to see a different audience's perspective on the show. It was a really good performance overall," said Powell, who will be finishing up his sixth and final year with the Bluecoats this season. Friday's events in Houston and Dallas are the continuation of the DCI Southwestern Series. The series concludes tomorrow in San Antonio where 21 of the 22 World Class corps will go head to head for the very first time this season. One will ultimately be named the Southwestern Series Champion. Fans not heading to the Alamodome can still catch all the action by logging into a live Webcast of the competition through the DCI Fan Network. The first corps steps off on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. Learn more about this live Fan Network broadcast.