Drum Corps International
Dark skies give way to strong Sunshine State performances
Carolina Crown took top honors in Saturday night's rain-delayed Orlando event.Photo by: T. McCourt, DCI.org

Dark skies give way to strong Sunshine State performances

by Jeff Griffith

Following a half-hour delay due to weather, Carolina Crown finished atop a field of seven World Class corps, in the DCI Tour's first return to Orlando since 2012.

Crown, which recently added a new ending to its visually and musically complex show about deconstructivism, “It Is,” finished with a score of 81.900 at Camping World Stadium, while sweeping all captions and subcaptions aside from percussion.

“It was awesome, and the fans were crazy,” Crown drum major Ross Werner said. “We work all week for Saturday night, and I think our performance tonight really showed that off.”

Crown's strong lead from Friday night's event in Columbia, South Carolina — a commanding 2.3 points — stayed intact, with the corps once again finishing more than two points above the field.

The Cadets

Following that sizable gap, there was once again a tight battle for second place between The Cavaliers and The Cadets. Having topped their Allentown-based foes Friday night in Columbia by just two tenths, The Cavaliers re-built their lead, scoring a 79.850 to The Cadets' 78.450.

The strength on the judges' sheets for the Green Machine was in the general effect caption, in which they defeated The Cadets by a full point.

“We're feeling pretty good about that run,” said Cavaliers director Joe Roach. “Especially with all things considered — lots of rain today and the last couple of days coming out of South Carolina, but it's the first time we've been down in Florida since 2012 and we lit the place up tonight.”

The Boston Crusaders kept their fourth-place position from Friday night, while also breaking 75 points for the first time this season with a score of 77.000.

Boston's show, “Wicked Games,” brought the energy with high-octane music centered around a dark, intriguing storyline based on the Salem Witch Trials.

In Saturday's run, the Crusaders revealed a stunning new addition to their closer, which saw a member of the color guard disappear behind a fiery display of lights and flowing fabrics on one of the corps' front-field sets.

Boston Crusaders

“It just puts the icing on the cake,” said Michael Townsend, Boston's lead visual designer. “The energy is clearly obvious, the performers are so into what they're doing and they understand their role and their character within the show. They're just having a blast out there.”

Further down the World Class standings, Colts finished in fifth place with a score of 67.650, more than doubling its lead over Spirit of Atlanta (6th, 65.350) compared to the two corps' last meeting Monday night in Cranston, Rhode Island.

For the Colts, Saturday marked the largest venue the corps has performed in to date and the first competitive run of a brand new ending, both of which added up to a strong showing in the eyes of drum major Noah Perkins.

“We added an entirely new last minute of the show and I think it was incredible,” he said. “The corps has been progressing really well and keeping a great attitude, I'm really proud of all the work that's been going on.”

With a score of 57.000, Jersey Surf rounded out the World Class competition in seventh place in the corps' return to Florida.

Heat Wave

The only Open Class corps in Saturday's event, Florida's own Heat Wave made the debut of its production “Project Apollo” in front of a hometown crowd. The corps scored 50.600.

“Starting off our season in front of this crowd in this venue is amazing, it's absolutely amazing,” said Jordon Pinchback, Heat Wave's drum major. “A bunch of family and friends came out, and seeing them here was absolutely incredible.”

Two SoundSport teams from Orlando — IMPACT Drum and Bugle Corps and the Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Color Guard — each took part in Saturday's festivities, adding a home-grown flair to the performances that opened the night.

Aside from Carolina Crown, which has five full days without a competition following its win Saturday, this pack of World Class corps will compete twice more in the coming days, in Jupiter, Florida (Monday, July 10) and Atlanta, Georgia (Wednesday, July 12).