It’s tough to get a clear answer on what was more exciting for Jersey Surf — performing its debut show on July 2 at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, or sitting on the brass bus afterwards.
Okay, they weren’t exactly sitting. Not for long, at least.
Away from the 82,000-seat behemoth venue in the corps’ home state, the brass bus frantically started shaking, rumbling back and forth out of nowhere.
The culprit? Someone read the show scores aloud to the bus.
Jersey Surf. 63.950.
“You should have been on the brass bus when we heard the score,” said third-year mellophone section leader Evan Chown. “It was deafening. We lost our minds. We didn’t get that close to that score until like six or seven shows in last year. To get that right out of the gate is pretty exciting for what’s to come.”
It was the highest debut score for Jersey Surf since 2009 and nearly a seven-point bump from their first show of 2018. In its four events since then, Surf has worked its way to a high score of 67.600 — recorded July 9 in Hochston, Georgia — which is a little over two points shy of the corps’ final score from 2018.
A 67-or-better didn’t cross the scoresheets next to Surf’s name last year until July 25. Even a 63, in 2018, wasn’t popping up for the New Jersey corps until July 15.
So, yeah, there was plenty of reason to be excited — both on the field and on the brass bus.
“We haven’t done this well starting off a season for a long time,” said trumpet section leader Will Kelley. “It’s only my second year here but you can tell from some of the older veterans, there’s a lot of hype with this season compared to the past few years.”
Last season, Jersey Surf finished 30th at the DCI World Championship Prelims. The year before, they were 27th. The Camden County, New Jersey corps hasn’t made it to the second day of World Championships since 2014.
That said, the corps’ torrid start hasn’t caused anyone in The Garden State to start re-writing any of Jersey Surf’s goals for the season. It just further magnifies what’s possible.
“Obviously we would like to make the Semifinals,” Kelley said. “But at the end we would like to, one, know that everybody put their heart out and knew that they performed the best they could. Two, getting some more recognition. A 42-person horn line, a lot of people don’t see that and expect the sound that we put out.”
Recognition is on the horizon. It’s the fulfillment of the hard work Jersey Surf put in during a rainy spring training. Working around the weather, they had the entire show staged on the field incredibly quick.
“We were going hard,” he said.
The finished product is Jersey Surf’s 2019 production, “Fantasea,” an ocean-themed show that transitions from a serious beginning to more of a fun and energetic ending. So far, it’s been a winning combination that will likely see Jersey Surf shoot up the standings.
“What I’m most looking forward to is how we can show that a corps that placed back in the 27, 30 range can really pop off this season and show, ‘Hey, we’ve been working our butts off and this is why we do what we do and perform with this corps,” Chown said.
For Jersey Surf, though, scores and standings are merely a byproduct of their hard work and improvement. The DCI World Championships are weeks away; things can change between now and then. For now Surf seems more focused on just being the best version of themselves.
“Obviously increasing scores is one thing,” Kelley said. “But, again, further than scores we want to be the best iteration of Jersey Surf in all ways. From the general attitude of the corps to how we do in performances. Just improving.”
Added Chow, “I’ll define success this season walking off the field in Indy knowing I and everyone else who was with me did the best that they could.”