Ten years removed from their 2007 World Championship victory in Pasadena, the Blue Devils took home first place in the same venue Saturday night, as the winners of Drum Corps at the Rose Bowl presented by Pacific Crest Youth Arts Organization and Lone Star Percussion.
With a top score of 74.500, the Devils took first in color guard, as well as the overall general effect and visual captions. Despite the win, the Concord corps saw its lead over Santa Clara Vanguard drop by three tenths of a point from the two corps' last meeting nearly a week ago on June 25 in Stanford.
“It's always a magical experience being here, especially in California where we have so much support from so many alumni,” said Christian Lopez, a member of the Blue Devils' mellophone section. “It's definitely unlike anywhere else, just the vibe and feel, everything on and off the field.”
The Blue Devils' show, “Metamorph,” uses a variety of white staircase props throughout the field and features a surprising uniform change from the corps' familiar royal blue to a sleeveless pink and blue suit.
With the recurring melody of Bernard Ighner's “Everything Must Change” and several diamond references in honor of the corps' 60th (diamond) anniversary, the show embraces the constant of change within the drum corps activity.
“It's the past, the present and the future,” said John Meehan, the corps' brass caption head. “You'll see echoes to the past of drum corps and the Blue Devils.”
Santa Clara Vanguard
Vanguard, which defeated its northern California rival in brass, percussion and color guard in the corps' last meeting in Stanford, finished with a 73.850 at Rose Bowl Stadium.
Performing a musically challenging and complex production, “Ouroboros,” which includes several circular props used for a variety of effects, the defending Fred Sanford award winners took top honors once again in percussion as well as brass.
“Ultimately, it's a culture that we develop so that members typically stay in for a little while and hand off generation to generation,” said Paul Rennick, Vanguard's percussion caption head. “In the last couple of years, we've had a full line of players who all had experience. That counts for a lot.”
Finishing in third place were the Blue Knights, with a score of 69.700. The Denver corps once again held a solid lead over Phantom Regiment, which finished in fourth with a score of 68.300, after having finished within 1.05 of the Knights Friday in Oceanside.
Just over two points behind Phantom Regiment were the Mandarins (5th, 66.200), who continued to hold an advantage over The Academy (6th, 64.300).
The major strength for the Sacramento corps continues to be its visual program, a caption in which the Mandarins bested their Arizona foes by 1.3 in Saturday night's competition. The corps' color guard also scored a 14.3, good for third place above Phantom Regiment and the Blue Knights.
According to Mandarins program coordinator Ike Jackson, this year's show, “Inside the Ink,” is something completely unique to the corps.
“We tried to be a bit different this year and move in a different direction of where Mandarins had been before,” Jackson said. “We wanted to change up some things and kind of change the dichotomy of what the Mandarins are.”
As for Pacific Crest, the corps put on a strong performance of “Golden State of Mind,” earning a 62.600 to finish in seventh place.
With Drum Corps at the Rose Bowl being Pacific Crest's quintessential “home show,” the corps' executive director Stuart Pompel said the supportive crowd made a world of difference.
“It's awesome, we have more than 8,000 people here tonight and just to hear the roar of the crowd for Pacific Crest makes everybody here feel great,” Pompel said. “It's a really great feeling that so many people are happy to see us.”
The top of the Open Class standings flipped from Friday night's results in Oceanside, with Golden Empire (1st, 53.700) topping Gold (2nd, 53.350). Golden Empire took slim leads in total general effect and visual on the judges' sheets, while finishing tied with Gold in the total music caption.
“It feels pretty awesome,” said Rigoberto Enciso, Golden Empire's horn sergeant. “Since the Rose Bowl is one of the larger venues we perform in, there was a lot of hype for the members before the rehearsal and in the lot.”
Rounding out the Open Class competition was a trio of California corps that included Watchmen (3rd, 48.800), Impulse (4th, 44.950) and Incognito (5th, 42.600). The three finished in the same order Saturday as they had Friday night in Oceanside.
“It was my first Rose Bowl performance and it's been my dream to perform here,” said Impulse color guard member Hannah Hetrick. “It felt really good coming off the field.”
Following Saturday's events at Rose Bowl Stadium, this group of 12 corps will have a quick turnaround before meeting again in Riverside, California on Sunday for the Western Corps Connection.