OCEANSIDE, Calif. — West Coast action on the DCI Tour made its way south on Friday night, as Pacific Crest and six Open Class corps made their season-opening deuts in front of a packed house at El Camino High School’s Herb Meyer Stadium.
With a complete caption sweep and a score of 75.550, Santa Clara Vanguard took home top honors.
“That run was fantastic,” drum major Carl Huang said about Vanguard’s performance at the Corps at the Crest San Diego DCI Tour event. “It’s honestly everything I could have asked for in a first run of this weekend. From the step-off to the very end of the show, everybody brought the focus, the energy, the excitement that we all were striving for today.”
Having recently tacked on the final movement of its 2018 production, “Babylon,” during rehearsals this week, Vanguard performed its complete program for the first time in Oceanside.
“For this weekend, we’ve added our closer to the mix of our show,” Huang added. “For us, it doesn’t change our mindset, from the beginning of the season, we’ve always been about performing, whether it was complete or not.”
After seeing what had been a three-point lead shrink to six tenths, Blue Knights (3rd, 69.250) pushed its advantage over Mandarins (4th, 68.000) back over a point, thanks in large part to a 1.4-point stronghold in the music caption.
Mandarins’ performance of “Life Rite After” included some flashy new effects that led to a well-engaged audience for the streaking Sacramento corps.
“I feel really good,” drum major Jesus Alberto Muniz said. “We’ve been really working for the last few days now, just putting some extra little things into the show.”
In its 2018 debut, Pacific Crest (5th, 62.350) finished within striking distance of the Troopers (4th, 63.000), marking the closest the two have been since 2012, the last time Pacific Crest defeated the Casper, Wyoming corps.
While Troopers held close leads in the visual and music captions, the two finished tied in general effect, with Pacific Crest also leapfrogging the Troopers in brass.
“It was spectacular,” Pacific Crest drum major Andrew Fresquez said. “These guys have been working their butts off for the past few weeks, and tonight was a perfect showcase of all the hard work we put in.”
Gold opened up its 2018 season with a score of 55.750, to take top honors among the six Open Class corps at Friday night’s event. Also breaking 50 points for a second-place finish, Golden Empire kicked off its fifth-anniversary tour with a score of 51.800.
“This is the strongest we’ve been at this point in the season,” Golden Empire director Tim Heasley said. “The first show has come up pretty quickly even though we’ve had an extra week [for rehearsal], but it’s been good so far.”
In its first-ever performance, DCI’s newest Open Class corps Vessel impressed with a score of 48.350 to finish third. The brand-new southern California corps earned second-place marks in the percussion caption.
“It’s definitely really emotional for us,” drum major Sofia Vaidez said. “It’s been a long journey starting with literally no people and getting an 80-person corps out there. It’s really exciting. I think we showed everyone what we’re made of.”
Not far behind its newest competition, Impulse earned fourth place with a score of 47.900. With a young corps in 2018, first-year corps director Aaron Zeilinger was pleased with the corps’ opening performance.
“There was some nervous energy,” Zeilinger said. “We’re a young corps this year, but I think we hit the field with the usual excitement our gold and black comes with.”
Watchmen finished within close range of Impulse, ultimately taking fifth place with a score of 46.800, while defeating Impulse in brass. In sixth place, Incognito rounded out the Open Class lineup with a score of 42.300.
All 12 of Friday night’s performing ensembles will head up the pacific coast, where they’ll join Blue Devils and The Academy at one of the world’s most iconic stadiums, Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, for Saturday’s Drum Corps at the Rose Bowl event.