Competition was tight among the top three corps heading into the 2008 Drum Corps International Open Class World Championship Finals.
In the end, Vanguard Cadets won its second championship title by just five hundredths of a point over Blue Devils B, also taking the caption awards for best brass performance, best visual performance and best percussion performance.
But there was also another corps in the hunt. Jersey Surf had bested the Vanguard Cadets at the two corps' first meeting of the summer in Dayton, Ohio. When World Championship competition kicked off in Michigan City and Bloomington, Indiana, Jersey Surf hung tight within tenths of a point of the eventual champion.
The title of Jersey Surf's bronze medal-winning production was self-referential; "The Jersey Surf So Far." As the corps was founded 18 years earlier in the winter of 1990, 2008 was the year the corps was truly coming of age.
Surf's 2008 production opened with "How Far We've Come" by alternative rock band, Matchbox Twenty. The song was released in 2007 as the first track off the band's compilation album, "Exile on Mainstream."
An opening fanfare commenced with corps members tightly compressed against the left few yards of the field, leading into a series of humorous whistle sound effects that introduced the jazzy melody. Flags of a variety of magenta hues matching short-sleeved hoodies worn by color guard members added to the happy nature of the music.
The next tune featured "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel, off his "So" album of 1986. Gabriel rose to fame as the flautist and original lead singer for the popular rock band Genesis, which he left in 1975. The song was a bit overshadowed as it came off the same album that introduced the highly successful hit, "Sledgehammer," which won nine MTV Music Awards in 1987.
Jersey Surf percussionists laid down a persistent groove that was highlighted by ethnic Latin percussion instruments that permeated the beginning and end of the piece.
Next the corps slowed things down for its ballad, "One Day I'll Fly Away." Will Jennings and Joe Sample co-wrote the song for American jazz singer Randy Crawford, who performed it on her 1980 album, "Now We May Begin." While being Crawford's highest charting song, it may have received its widest exposure when sung by Nicole Kidman as she portrayed the character Satine in the 2001 movie, "Moulin Rouge!"
A stationary moment let Jersey Surf brass players demonstrate that they could still offer up tenderness with a side of power, while the color guard members expressed the emotion of the piece with some modern dance moves.
Incorporating another tune that had a ton of airplay by the summer of 2008, Jersey Surf brought Fall Out Boy's "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" to the field as its closer. The selection, off the band's third studio album, "Infinity on High," became the group's highest charting single.
The corps' treatment of the popular tune was pure drum corps, loud and joyful, with a driving percussion score that included a drum break that offered the most rudimental moments of the show.
Color guard members introduced flags of additional shades of magenta, matching the tops they wore earlier in the show. Many also spun sabers and rifles until all picked up flags and filled the field with color as the brass players cut loose for the final moments of the show.
2008 marked Jersey Surf's final season as an Open Class corps. The Camden County, New Jersey corps transitioned to Drum Corps International's World Class in 2009.
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than 35 years and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Indiana.