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LIVE BLOG: DCI World Championship Finals

LIVE BLOG: DCI World Championship Finals
Photo: Zach Ashcraft
It is time! The pinnacle of Drum Corps International's 2017 season has finally arrived. One last round of performances to determine the 2017 DCI World Championship. And we will have all the action covered through our live blog.

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4:55 p.m. -- Welcome

5:05 p.m. -- Open Class Champion - Vanguard Cadets

Taking the field are this year's Open Class champions, the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets. While the open class corps hasn't been around for as long, the A corps, the Santa Clara Vanguard, is currently celebrating their 50th anniversary! So much history within this organization. So cool that DCI allows the open class champions to perform at DCI finals. What a great opportunity for the members. The pink flags coming out from behind the white props is such a great visual moment drawing your attention all around the field. What a great solo from the mellophone and trumpet. Love this drill, with the corps separating and allowing the drumline to slide up through the middle. Unique patch underneath that last front ensemble bit really changed the soundscape for a moment. Cool addition to the cymbal and snare features with the addition of the kick bass drums on the props. Can you hear the timpani in this bit?! WOW! Really bringing this moment to a new level. Sweet bass lick from the drumline up through that low bit. The visual lined up withe the trombone slide is so much fun! You can tell the performers are giving this their all. It is their last performance of the season, after all! That rotating block at the end! Congratulations on a stellar season, Vanguard Cadets.

5:22 p.m. -- Acknowledge SoundSport and DrumLine Battle Award Recipients
5:27 p.m. -- Dr. Baggs Leadership Award
5:30 p.m. -- INpact Indiana's Future Band
5:42 p.m. -- Sponsor Recognition
5:55 p.m. -- U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps
6:18 p.m. -- National Anthem

6:30 p.m. -- Madison Scouts - Madison, WI

Starting us off tonight are the men of the Madison Scouts! Lots of props for them to set up to bring us into the world they're setting up. And here they come out of the tunnel, headdresses and all. Check out the headdress on the drum major! SO many feathers. Nice performance from that concert bass drummer up front. Really setting the tone for everyone. That trombone sounds almost like a siren the way it's playing. THAT BIG FULL FRONT MOMENT. The front ensemble performers are SO selling this show. What a killer performance. And here comes the ballad and the gas mask with oxygen. Check out that hornline moving! That snare feature! So good. That bass break was such a good transition into the next bit here. A great lead in. Even getting the colorguard in on this drum feature! They get to play drums too. Incredible run, front ensemble. A beautiful moment as the high brass lays down for that visual. And there's the fleur-de-lis! A classic set everyone always looks for from Madison. All of a sudden things are getting more aggressive and violent. There's clearly a struggle going on here. The timpani really setting the mood here. Great strong ending, Madison! Clearly bringing it all home for the last one of the year. Congratulations on an excellent year.

6:47 p.m. -- Crossmen - San Antonio, TX

And here come the Crossmen, with their show. They open in a question mark. And the drumline immediately takes off across the front side of the field. A strong moment from the corps and the colorguard on the back half behind the props. Speaking of the props, they move so well around the field. Love how the flags look between them in this set in particular. A nice transition from the front ensemble, as usual. And the horns pause and point towards the quads for a stellar feature. And here come the snares for their feature too, led off again by the trumpets. Some super cool drill as the brass moves through this complicated prop layout. Loving the melodic portion of this part of the show. So catchy! And they come up to the front of side one really give them a show. The guard is pulling at the strings in the props, to make them more like doors. Crazy unique. And here we go with the ending! We set it up with the neon uniformed guard girl and bring it into the middle for a big and colorful ending. Bravo! Congratulations on an excellent season, Crossmen!

7:04 p.m. -- Blue Stars - La Crosse, WI

Setting up in long diagonals across the field, the Blue Stars are here for their final performance of the season. Shakespeare in the middle, narrating the beginning of his own famous tale of 'Romeo & Juliet' which leads off this show. A classic tale of, you guessed it, star-crossed lovers. After the romance begins, some drum beats come in. What a struggle between both sides. We have that echoing in the back and forth from the high and low brass, the percussion, everyone. The clever way they've done the colorguard with it being a 50/50 split of male and female members so that they can do more partner work is so clever. If it's not the entire guard, it's at least fairly close. And we all know how the story ends, with the death of them both. And we begin a ballad of Daisy and Gatsby. The typewriter effect helps to take you back to that era, too. Kicking off this movement with a blast from the high brass rips. Front ensemble bringing the energy in this bit, too! Some cool moves coming into this diamond block set. And the colorguard showing us some work on side two. And the hornline takes off for some more drill moments, leading up to their star set! Thank you, and congratulations, Blue Stars!

7:21 p.m. -- Phantom Regiment - Rockford, IL

The long dark robes in the colorguard are really setting a tone here for the dark show about to get put on. Up front the hornline is reaching up towards the lone colorguard soloist already out of the black cloak. The cloaks allow the colorguard to do some unique work with them, almost treating them like an extra flag. Lots of circles on the field right now, matching the designs on the flags. Can you believe that this guard can toss and catch with those masks over their faces?! Incredible amounts of work went into getting used to that. Did you hear that front ensemble run leading into this big hit?! INSANE. And the colorguard was upfront just giving us every ounce of energy there. Wow. They never stop moving in this show! And out comes one of the cloaks again! Breaking open the horn block and taking control off more of the members. And now the guard masks are off! The dissonance is really bringing us to a dark place here! The hornline is moving off into pods for the beginning of the ballad, with the light returning here with a colorguard member in a white robe instead of a black one. The corps proper is returning to white helmets. The white returns with all of the colorguard in the white skirts with huge white flags so we can come to our triumphant ending. Thank you, Phantom, for an incredible show and incredible season.

7:38 p.m. -- Blue Knights - Denver, Colorado

The colorguard is starting in the side one front corner surrounding the prop. Again, there are visual performers on the podiums with the drum majors adding an additional element up front. The corps is playing backfield to help keep the dynamic down. The pit is throwing down in this beginning bit, showing us just a bit of what we have in store. Love a good cymbal roll to build up into the first big hit. So much tension is built up in that. The white pants really help the corps to pop off the field that much more than normal. Love these side to side hornline groups. So difficult to time well. The colorguard isn't missing a beat in the back either! These funky flags with the colorful zigs and zags are so eye-catching. So is all of this neon orange on the field. Another front ensemble break for us into another transition. We're finally at the synthesized snare drum bit. Gets us every single time. So cool. Mirrors, no matter how small, always add another dimension to the field. A fun set with some body work up on side two for the horns. Here's the synth sound again, but on a mellophone this time. Love this color within this big set here. Always something great to watch. Drumline is so driving us to the end here! Relentless in the back. Thank you so much, Blue Knights, and congratulations on a great season.

7:55 p.m. -- The Cadets - Allentown, PA

The Cadets are already setting up in their cross in prep for their show. The props are set, and so are the pews. Let's get ready to rock! And Mass has begun! Lots of intense circling at the beginning of this show. And the church bells ring! So much gold on the field from this colorguard. The colorguard slowly kneeling to pray over on side one. There's the fish, an unmistakable symbol. The vocal ensemble, especially the soloist, is so incredibly talented. This visual moment in particular really showcases how well these uniforms move on the field. Sweet lick, drumline. This colorguard is absolutely moving, just like the front ensembles hands! WOAH. That tempo was incredibly difficult. The sound from the trombone feature really adds a new tone here. Great addition to the sound. Quad feature! Snares too! And Holy Bass taking the feature at the end. There's the maroon and cream we all know and love! Check out the hornline snaking back out from the pews. And all of sudden, there's chaos. And out of that chaos, comes some peace. The drumline is making a cross here, too. So much symbolism! These flags are matching the stained glass windows in the props. And the props change over to more big crosses! With more matching flags! What a powerful addition! That last hit went on for so long! Incredible. Thank you, Cadets! And congratulations on an excellent season.

8:12 p.m. -- Intermission (17 Min.)

8:29 p.m. -- Boston Crusaders - Boston, MA

Here come the Giants of DCI, the Boston Crusaders! The soundscape sends us into the forest, with some eerie music coming out of the front ensemble. A focus on the colorguard in the star made of rifles. And the corps forms the star, too. The drumline is setting the tempo here up at the front, and here come the horns to start here. Slowly increasing in dynamic up to the first big moment. Loving this big moment wth the full corps straight at the front of the field. The corps ends with pointing towards that front stage. A colorguard visual there leads the eye to follow the corps back away. Something going on visually at every single platform right now. They're reading off the names of the accused, so intense! Every type of colorguard work on the field right now. This drum break! Leading right into another front ensemble moment. WOW. And there she is, caught. The witch! The vocal soloist is actually a colorguard performer, that puts on her microphone in the middle of the show! The breathy quality of her voice really suits the vibe of this show. It's a very mature sound, too. Did you see the wand she was holding that whole section? It's the Elder Wand, straight out of Harry Potter. The movement using the plumes as a visual aid is so cool! And the end of the beautiful ballad is ended in dissonance. What an intense movement! Now she's up on the stage. And now, she's GUILTY. And out comes the smoke! Another pentagram! And THE FIRE! WOW. One of the best GE moments of the year. Bravo, Boston! ANd congratulations on an incredible season.

8:46 p.m. -- The Cavaliers - Rosemont, IL

Now the Cavaliers have taken to the field! And the men start coming out of the woodwork! From behind and inside every single prop. Some beautiful work going on in the front ensemble to set this tone. Can you hear that low brass sound! SO good. And the snareline splits that rim click! Did you see the bass drummers keeping time across the field? Well done, basses! Boy, those tiny props sure do move quick around the field. The bass in this moment, setting the tempo. It's almost a tribal beat. "And then, man spoke." They have jokes, ladies and gentlemen! There go the prop covers, and the front ensemble throws some more tasty music at us. The spinning quad drums get us every single time. So many jokes in this bit. Wow, so much coming from the front ensemble here an check out that drill they're marching! They are MOVING back there. A beautiful mellophone feature coming from the center of the field. What a moment from the colorguard! What a rifle toss. More sounds getting mixed coming out of the microphones on the stage! So cool we can do that mid show now. So intense with that drumline coming straight through the corps like that. And what an ending right on front, too! Congratulations on an excellent season, Cavaliers. 

9:03 p.m. -- Bluecoats - Canton, OH

You know who's on when they start BLOOING! Here come the Bluecoats. Some high notes from the trumpets as the bassline blasts right out from under the stage. Now the colorguard is up front, they have the space now that the front ensemble isn't entirely together in one spot on the front sideline. What a powerful horn moment with everyone on top of that stage. Suddenly more come out of the woodwork. They march straight through the prop as if it isn't even there. That one colorguard performer completely killed her dance solo on the stage! Can you hear that triangle in the front ensemble? A fun color. Boy are they MOVING. Straight through the prop and up front. Now the horns are starting to play backfield! They turned around again. But they're still backing away into that back corner. The front ensemble takes the opportunity with the brass focus to move their marimbas forward and out of the way of the performers. Again, the hornline disappears inside the prop only to emerge seemingly out of nowhere. The colorguard comes up front and moves the boards back! Here comes the tempo bump! Some more synthed up horn sounds! AND THE HORNLINE PLAYING AND ruNNING DOWN THE RAMP! Incredible. So different from anything else on the field right now. Incredible, Bluecoats. Congratulations on a great season. 

9:20 p.m. -- Carolina Crown - Ft. Mill, SC

What a fun start to this show. And then the drums and low brass kick in to end off the beginning. And they're already messing with the field. They've already moved a few yard lines. Did you hear that bass feature? This drumline is just so good. Some beautiful work from the Crown guard here. A full corps hit as they run into this form. They scatter into pods as we move into the ballad. This vocalist is incredibly talented. Such an iconic song. She's just an additional talent to this group, another instrument added. Notice how her stage moves up and down the whole time. Check out the use of the steel pan up front. The flag work during this section is so crazy. The colorguard is moving the props from the front sideline to be used by the drumline in their feature. The green makes them blend almost completely in with the grass field. The lines mess with your idea visual of what is where so much! The front ensemble has been going crazy this whole section. SO much cymbal work. Back to the center the podium goes, relinquishing her shako. And now insanity breaks loose. They rip up pieces of the field, toss around zeroes. It very much messes with perspective. Congratulations, Crown, on an incredible season and performance. 

9:37 p.m. -- Santa Clara Vanguard - Santa Clara, CA

And here comes the Santa Clara Vanguard! The soundscape is starting, so here we go! That guard soloist nailed that first toss! Those twelve horn players in the middle are each dedicated to a single prop. Nice horn visual to end that moment. Sweet catch right off of the prop! Can you see the horn players in the props! And the colorguard riding in them too! Some amazing drumline moments here. Every section threw down HARD. The Vanguard cymbal line is in it to impress up front! So classic and so good! LOVE this moment! All of the props in a line! And they take off in a ripple with the colorguard rifle toss. Did you catch that theremin moment! Another unique instrument adding to the tone. How does that performer not get dizzy! This colorguard is so talented! Balancing on props and tossing! Insane. A beautiful baritone solo leading off the ballad. The flags rip apart! This drill up front is insane. It ends in a simple block, but what they did to get there! That snake move straight up the 50! Another snake visual through these props. THIS COLORGUARD MOMENT! The flag work is so coordinated. And they take off in the props across the field! They changed the tarps! INCREDIBLE. WHAT A RUN Santa Clara! Good luck, tonight and congratulations on an incredible season. 

9:54 p.m. -- The Blue Devils - Concord, CA

Our final performers tonight, the Blue Devils! An insane moment watching them come from "The Starting Line" as they would have 60 years ago when the corps began. Some truly unique visual moments coming from that element. They essentially have two snare lines right now. Crazy! Here comes the first big hit, and the brass sounds just as excellent as ever. What a rifle moment in the back for the Blue Devils colorguard. Flight of the Bumblebee... Such an impressive piece to be playing. So many notes requires a lot of control. The quads are back in action! The drumline in intact. The front ensemble's shot at the tune was no less excellent than the rest of the corps. So well done! And now the signature Blue Devils uniforms in the colorguard are out. So much color. They've moved the stairs to create so much more staging now. A killer trumpet solo, very reminiscent of older Blue Devils shows. This is an anniversary show after all. The colorguard's feature is beyond great. Killer feature, drumline! So many trumpets on the field! And all playing at such a high level. Here come the trombones for their own feature! The colorguard dancing! WOW! The members running in and out of the mirrored props messes with the eyes so much! SO MANY SCREAMERS! What an ending from the Blue Devils! Thank you so much for an incredible season. 

10:19 p.m. -- Retreat/Awards Ceremony

Some great looking blocks out there tonight! Congratulations to all finalists and to all performers this weekend! 

And there you have it folks! Our new champion has been crowned, The Blue Devils! This is the group's 18th world championship! How incredible. Certainly a major tradition of excellence for this organization. Congratulations!

10:50 p.m. -- World Champion Encore
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