A previously scheduled event at Denver’s INVESCO Field at Mile High meant that the 2004 Drum Corps International World Championships were scheduled a week earlier than normal.

In a new addition to the DCI rulebook, 2004 marked the first year corps were permitted to utilize electronic amplification, allowing for percussion instruments and vocals to be better heard. Also new this year, a second percussion judge meant scores would be taken out to three decimals.

The Cavaliers managed to win the corps’ sixth DCI title, edging the second-place Blue Devils by just 0.175 points in the Finals competition, just one week after the two corps met for the first time that summer. The fourth-place Cadets featured a baton twirler as part of their production and local fans welcomed the Blue Knights back into Finals after the corps placed 14th, 13th, and 13th the prior three years.

 

The Cavaliers stayed on top in the Prelims, Semifinals and Finals with their production “007,” inspired by the cool demeanor of Ian Fleming’s fictional M16 special agent, the suave and debonair James Bond. The production of movie melodies marked a departure of three years of all-original music by staff composers that brought the corps two DCI titles and one second-place finish. But this wasn’t a typical drum corps excursion into the celluloid halls of Hollywood.

Watch The Cavaliers' "007" on DVD

During the season, Cavaliers program coordinator Scott Koter said: “The show should seem like you’ve seen it before, as it follows the script of every James Bond movie ever made. Every Bond movie follows a classic theater arc, a constant rise followed by a small decay and an even bigger point. Despite the tension, he always wins. Our show is not intended to have any deep meaning, taking the energy of five pieces of Bond music. We go in to every Bond movie rooting for the hero, but we know Bond will prevail at the end despite all the turmoil in the middle. The audience knows what to expect from Bond—and from drum corps—and gets it.”

To that end, “007” was like a mini-Bond movie; full of attitude and intrigue. The show opened with a brief quote of “Main Theme” from the 1995 film “GoldenEye,” written by U2’s Bono and The Edge, which is the first of four movies in the series to star Pierce Brosnan as Bond. The opening measures blended into Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme,” written for “Dr. No” of 1962.

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Amplified finger snapping from the front ensemble percussion section led into the drill evolution of a series of boxes closing and opening, akin to the gun aperture seen in Bond films’ opening credits. At this point the color guard performers picked up white, black, and red flags emblazoned with the image of the gun barrel through which the villain stares at Bond in most of the films.

During “Hovercraft Chase” from “Die Another Day,” characters appeared to be running from some unknown assailants, a motif carried throughout the show. Spinning flags of silhouetted women inferred the element of seduction that is prevelant across the film series.

Original music by staff composers accompanied a rotating circle of drums intruding upon an undulating horn block, sucking up horns into the perimeter and gently disgorging them back into the block. This alluded to what corps members referred to as “Bond in a bubble,” like an underwater vessel floating up on a beach. It wasn’t something directly from a movie, but rather was something Bond might do, as not everything in the show was taken literally from the film franchise.

 

This led into David Arnold’s hot and screaming salsa-flavored “Welcome to Cuba” from “Die Another Day.” The 2002 film was the final Bond film to star Brosnan. Filled martini glasses were seen on the color guard flags in this segment that in true Bond fashion were no doubt shaken, not stirred.

Next The Cavaliers played the haunting ballad, “Paris and Bond,” which was composed by Arnold for the 1997 film, “Tomorrow Never Dies.” Setting up one of the most iconic visual moments of the show, the horns meshed together seemingly fuzzy and random forms to bring into focus a “OO7” formation across the field.

A short brass fugue based on the main James Bond theme led into a drum break that brought the color guard members forward with rifles into a giant wedge, intercepting and passing through another giant block of horns, before ending with the rifles menacingly pointing into the stands.

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“Whiteout” from the film “Die Another Day” inspired the calypso-themed closer, with musical quotes incorporated from “Welcome to Cuba” and Paul and Linda McCartney’s theme to “Live and Let Die.” A blistering series of rapid drill evolutions with lines collapsing on each other was said to represent the end credits, bringing the show to a rousing conclusion.

Upon the end of the show, horn players turned to the side and put their right hands up to their lips, as if they were blowing on their gun barrels to cool them down after one final volley of gunfire established Bond’s everlasting dominance over evil.