STANFORD, Calif. – The summer of 2007 was the last time the DCI World Championships were held outside of the state of Indiana. That June, Apple released the very first iPhone.
It was also the last time Santa Clara Vanguard picked up a head-to-head win over the Blue Devils. After falling by a slim margin on June 20, 2007 in Bakersfield, the Devils went on a win streak against their neighbors from the Bay Area that ultimately spanned 11 years and almost 200 events.
Saturday night at DCI West, that streak was snapped. Vanguard, with a score of 72.700, defeated its fellow Bay Area corps by just over half a point. Having spent the entirety of 2017 just inches behind the Blue Devils, Saturday night’s win was worth the wait.
“Really, Vanguard brought it tonight,” director Shaun Gallant said. “The drum corps is very special this year. Everyone from the design team to the education team to to the membership to the volunteers, everyone is all on the bus together and firing on all cylinders. It’s just a very exciting time for Vanguard.”
Vanguard drum major Carl Huang said that the corps had been laser focused since having the opportunity to rehearse inside Stanford Stadium earlier in the day. “We all wanted to do better than we did yesterday,” he said. “For us it’s always all about improving from the night before.”
Santa Clara officially debuted its new uniforms for Saturday night’s performance of the corps’ production “Babylon,” an off-white ensemble with a barcode design down the right leg and stylized “V” on the chest.
While the Blue Devils (2nd, 72.100) saw the end of their overall undefeated streak dating back to the beginning of the 2017 season, the Concord corps still earned top marks in the color guard caption and saw a 1.4-point improvement from Friday night in Clovis, California.
Blue Knights (3rd, 67.050) kept a solid advantage over Mandarins (4th, 64.750), with the Sacramento corps continuing an early surge with third-place finishes in the color guard and visual analysis captions.
The Academy (5th, 63.200) saw a near two-point improvement from its Friday night output in Clovis. While the Arizona corps didn’t gain any ground on Mandarins from Friday, it did pick up fourth-place finishes in percussion and brass.
Troopers (6th, 60.100) also improved by more than two points, and eclipsed 60 points for the first time this season. The Casper corps’ 2018 production, “The New Road West,” celebrates the corps’ 60th anniversary with a diverse selection of music.
Even with a contemporary piece like “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, director Fred Morris says that there are plenty of historic and iconic moments for Troopers fans to enjoy.
“We have put quite a bit of throwback into the show in the music and drill,” Morris said. “There’ll be two sunburst formations, one ‘old school’ in the beginning and one ‘new school’ at the end. The corps members love it, and I think the crowd is going to dig it too.”
In Open Class competition, Blue Devils B (1st, 56.100) continued to hold a firm lead over the Vanguard Cadets (2nd, 54.550).
After trading victories throughout the 2017 DCI Tour and ultimately falling behind Vanguard at the Open Class World Championship Finals, the more than three-point gap between the two corps on Friday in Clovis is the largest margin of victory Blue Devils B has seen over its fellow California competitor since the beginning of last summer’s campaign.
“It’s a brand new season,” Blue Devils B corps director Becky Terry said. “We’re positive and we’re being very proactive about how we teach the corps members. We’re very competitive but with ourselves. We’ve been pushing the performers to ask themselves, “How was your rep? Was it your personal best?’ Nothing else affects you but what you do, because that’s all that we can control.”
Blue Devils C rounded out the Open Class competition on Sunday night with a score of 37.750.
Catering to less experienced performers, the youngest member in this year’s “C” corps is just six years old. Director Rick Odello says that this is one of the biggest corps to take the field in some time, with membership numbers up about 25 percent over last year.
Saturday night’s lineup of corps will continue its tour of northern California with a stop in Sacramento on Sunday for the Moonlight Classic, before heading south for next weekend’s big event at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena.
Contributing to this report: Christina Mavroudis.