LIVE BLOG: DCI World Championship Prelims

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8:30 a.m. -- Stadium gates open

8:50 a.m. -- Welcome and National Anthem

Good morning everyone and welcome to DCI's World Championship Prelims! We'll be live blogging along all day with every single show and hope you're as excited for a full day of drum corps as we are! Let's get right into it:

9:00 a.m. -- Les Stentors - Sherbrooke, QC

Les Stentors were ready to start our day off softly with a beginning full of movement from every performer. And finally we pick up the pace with the introduction of the drums from behind the props. After a strong second movement, we move into a ballad. Great use of the fabric stretching around the corps! The drums come back in again, especially in the front ensemble. Once again we have the full corps out on the field pushing through for a great ending. Great job, Les Stentors!

9:17 a.m. -- Impulse - Buena Park, CA

Loving the Impulse uniforms. That yellow is unlike almost any other corps in DCI and really helps them to pop off the field. Nice work from the timpani in the beginning! A great lick from the drumline brings us back down to end the movement with a flag solo. A soloist opens up their ballad before it turns into a full corps moment with standing choreography during the big hits! Wow! The center marimba kicked off this movement with another fast lick. It takes a lot of chops to do that; nice work! A strong energy and finish across the board! Thank you, Impulse!

9:34 a.m. -- Colt Cadets - Dubuque, IA

Next up, Colt Cadets. Loving the colorguard uniforms, the blue is such a beautiful color. The bass drum in the front ensemble has such a full sound, it's making a huge different in these full corps hits. It really makes the impacts! A nice high brass feature as they move back up to being front and center. Very nice snares! It's difficult to have a low dynamic feature like that. A great performance from the front ensemble with that movement. Constantly moving and playing all around their boards, but smiles the whole time. And a big, full-corps ending. What a performance!

9:51 a.m. -- Shadow - Oregon, WI

Really intriguing story for Shadow's show, "Atreyu." And just as the samples end, a big full brass moment hits you in the face. Wow! Impressive start! And soon the darkness takes over everyone and a black fabric covers nearly all of the performers and the field. And an even bigger surprise to hear them playing from underneath! After a brief, but triumphant return, the entire corps is forced up front into the darkness yet again, only to return with white drop sashes. They have emerged triumphant in their story!

10:08 a.m. -- Raiders - Burlington, NJ

Starting off strong, the Raiders impress and then ask the crowd to join in clapping before launching into their show full of pop favorites. They even through in some choreography in MJ's style! Very nice. The ballad is brought in by a choir of french horns and a flugelhorn soloist, who is continually featured throughout the movement. The star flags for this closer look they're straight off of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It's unmistakeable that they're trying to get you into that mindset of being a star. They are stars today! Thank you, Raiders.

10:25 a.m. -- River City Rhythm - Anoka, MN

Great start with choreography from the corps. That coordination isn't easy. This front ensemble is even getting in on some movement at the beginning of the second movement. Lots of poses, making for a great performance and presence. Some unique flag poles in the colorguard here, a twisted green shape. That has to be hard to spin! More poses across the board! Always brings a different dimension to the field. The same can be said for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as a ballad. It's not expected, but it works. The quad feature up front is a nice touch. SO much energy in the end. Well done, River City!

10:42 a.m. - Intermission (17 Min.)

10:59 a.m. -- Guardians - Houston, TX

And we're back and ready to go with the Guardians! Lots of electronics and samples at the intro, but it's no mistaking what they're going after. The show is almost entirely "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" by Kanye West, with a few other musical bits thrown in. The performers just look like they're having an amazing time. Boy the corps is moving, here. And a seamless move into the two middlemost yard lines. A classic move. As the show moves forward, we get more and more color out on the field. The colorguard ditches their grey, black and green duds for some new multicolored ones, similar to that of the colorguard soloist in the beginning. That final movement so so energetic and different. It was refreshing and so much fun to watch. Bravo, Guardians.

11:16 a.m. -- Southwind - Mobile, AL

As mentioned in the last liveblog from Open Class Finals, this is the corps' first appearance in world championships since 2007! Good luck to them! And boy are they back, beginning with a small brass choir and moving to some full corps moments. A classic start. Love the staging choice of the corps moving away from the trombones during the feature and turning around to join. Another unique repertoire choice from the corps when playing Britney Spears's "Toxic" as ballad. But it was arranged in a way that you'd never know that it was originally a hit pop song. What a great ending. Here's to hoping that Southwind will be able to join us here at World Championships for many years to come.

11:33 a.m. -- 7th Regiment - New London, CT

We start 7th's show with very Middle Eastern inspired music, dance, and chanting. It's clear they're representing the sun, with all of the props facing forward and the orange flags reflecting that choice, too. The moon makes its first appearance and you instantly see a reflection in the dynamic contrast for the show. We're immediately transported into a ballad situation. Soft music can always use a sabre feature and that's exactly what we're getting from the colorguard, beautiful! And suddenly out of nowhere, we get some huge power, with 7th showing us their brass chops. Finally, the sun and the moon get to be together but only briefly... And soon the moon runs off the field and into the tunnel.

11:50 a.m. -- The Company - Chesterfield, UK

Joining us from the United Kingdom, we have the Company! They have such power across the board in every section. They may be a bit smaller than many other corps competing today, but they make up for it in energy. The tempos are quick and they're ready to put on a show at every corner. The props continue to be a great addition to the show, helping to create artificial boundaries on the field for visual purposes. Very cool choreography from the hornline during that trumpet duet! Wow! A strong push to the end up front from the colorguard. Beautiful! 

12:07 p.m. -- Gold - Oceanside, CA

The front ensemble gives us a nice intro to start off our seed as we follow it's growth through Gold's show. We then transition into the ballad with beautiful pink flower flags all over the field. Tarps reflecting the growth of the tree are pulled out onto the field so it's no mistaking where we are in the seed's journey. The bass line moves straight to the 50 yard line for a feature moment with the drumline before the quads move up for a solo moment, too! All the while, the hornline silently does drill in the back, jazz running from yardline to yardline. Again, the fully growth tree is pulled out from the side and we're fully grown as the show comes to a close. 

12:24 p.m. - Intermission (34 Min.)

12:58 p.m. -- Louisiana Stars - Lafayette, LA

The colorguard uniforms immediately evoke the idea of birds, when you add the big blue flags, it makes a huge difference. And we start the ballad with a baritone soloist, bringing us the sadness of a caged bird, just as the colrogard exists within the confines of the corps drill. We then get an interlude of singing from the hornline! And the horns come back and the front ensemble takes over for a quick transitional feature. Then the colorguard "escapes" and starts their journey as a free bird. Well done closer that everyone knows the words to. So much fun, too. What a treat, Louisiana Stars! 

1:15 p.m. -- Spartans - Nashua, NH

The show focuses on connections and the compelling beginning reminds us that there's a connection in all of us. We start with the voiceover which explains the Earth in the center of the field. The orange flags stand out so well against the white and black uniforms and really pop to show the guard's skill. The ropes are an additional fun prop and they're able to connect using clips! A fun additional connection. The Tuba feature was well done and slowed the transition down into the ballad. And a beautiful ballad is interrupted by a sample of all sorts of technological sounds. That dubstep dance interlude?! WOAH! Thank you, Spartans!

1:32 p.m. -- Music City - Nashville, TN

Starting with the beating bass drums in the front ensemble. Timing across a group like that isn't easy! Especially at the start of a show. Well done. The performance overall from this front ensemble is off the charts, too! So many small visuals and moments that you won't notice unless that's your only focus. Unison guard features with their equipment! So intimidating. What a visual moment! The field split in half wth a flag feature on one side and all of the horns on the other! And the streamers representing a fire, a beautiful way to do so. And even more flags full of flame to close the show out! In a big feature encompassing the entire field. "To go far, you must go with the tribe." What a powerful ending! 

1:49 p.m. -- Legends - Kalamazoo, MI

Their first horn sounds are played to the side making the first impact that much more unexpected when they turn around! Very nice rifles! Unison catch. The baritone solo to start this ballad is just so rich, it makes for a great lead-off point. That trust fall off of the "signal" makes you hold your breath for a moment. But executed with care, every single time! Love this drill, with the high brass actually behind the low brass. And a different shape too! And right when you expect there to be a big resolution chord, they catch you with a dissonant chord, before heading towards their triumphant ending, complete with a fully lit prop. 

2:06 p.m. -- Blue Devils B - Concord, CA

Interesting start to the show with the kalimba starting with the melody of "Pure Imagination" up front. But just after that we get a lick thrown straight at us by the snareline. As per usual, the colorguard is decked out in vibrant colors, matching the cubes all over the trees. All of a sudden it feels like we lose all control. The guard is throwing equipment, there's all sorts of electronic sirens and samples, but at the end of the section, they calmly come back together and blow us away with the control they are able to have. The corps ditches their shakos, and do some body work before launching into beautiful closing horn chords. 

2:23 p.m. -- Vanguard Cadets - Santa Clara, CA

Now on the field are this year's Open Class champions, the Vanguard Cadets! Nice opening vocal bit, always nice to have different use of the human voice in drum corps. The colorguard walking out from behind props or in and then out gives a really cool visual effect. The same came be said for the whole corps coming out from behind the props. Using drum set bass drums with the snares on the stage for the drum feature is a unique bit. That has to be difficult to coordinate! What an ending to that movement, a portion o the crowd was already standing! And it continues to the end! So well done, Vanguard Cadets. 

2:40 p.m. - Intermission (34 Min.)

3:14 p.m. - Pioneer - Milwaukee, WI

Pioneer kicks off their Les Miserables show with a lot of energy. It's clear that the performers love the show and are having a blast performing. The juggling and the trombone are a fun added touch to this comic relief song in the middle of the musical. It also allows the performers to add a little but of personality into the show. The vocalist is so incredibly talented and added a new depth to the ballad that would have been missing without her. The props get tilted down and end up creating a REAL barricade! And, of course, they end with 'One Day More' the most iconic Les Mis song. 

3:31 p.m. - Jersey Surf - Camden County, NJ

Jersey Surf opens with a fun version of 'Shofukan' by Snarky Puppy. Another show where the members clearly are having a great time performing. They even get to let loose a few times. Great use of the fabric around the fountain as water. Special shout out to the synth player for that solo. Sounds like a lot of work went into it and it makes all of the difference when the corps is doing that choreography. Going into the closer, the corps adds yellow plumes and turns around the props, bringing more color to the field than previously. Just barely in front of the soloist microphones you can see a "Will Play for Cash" sign. Well, they may not be playing for cash tonight. However they had a GREAT performance. Thank you, Jersey Surf!

3:48 p.m. - Seattle Cascades - Seattle, WA

The pre-show organ chords really set the tone as we're going into the show. The bird cage makes for great staging in that trumpet feature. People hanging off of the cage and all. Back in the cage again, we have a small brass trio moment. The colorguard flags look like wings and the way they hold them up in a v shape looks again, very much like they would on a bird. Yet another small brass choir in the cage. You could say that the cage almost functions as a stage in the case of this show as well. Loving this brass moment and drill on side one. Thinking that voice is just a sample? No way! A colorguard performer has moved to singing in the front ensemble! That's multi-talented! It's impossible for your eyes to not flock directly towards the bird wings on top of the cage. They're such show stoppers. Nice job, Cascades!

4:05 p.m. - Genesis - Austin, TX

Genesis is opening with Imogen Heap's "Hide & Seek" but they're not hiding any of their talent. It's right out there on the field. Even within the first minute or so of the show, they're going through so many different dynamics and skill sets. Oh my goodness, did you see that rotating drill just now?! INSANE. The low brass pods juxtaposed against the yellow and bright guard uniforms was a nice contrast before we magically ended up in a large full brass form. Beautiful. And some dissonance in the front ensemble takes us out of the moment here and into a percussion break. A beautiful and very colorful ending. 

4:22 p.m. - Oregon Crusaders - Portland, OR

Right off the bat, the front ensemble members communicate so incredibly well with each other. They're all incredibly in synch all the time! Did you hear the bass lick in the middle of that feature?! Some tasty stuff from the other battery members in there too. There's just something about those translucent flags that just draws the eye straight to them and on top of a beautiful cut off, some great flag work, too. What a reveal on these last flags too. They came out at the most impeccable time in the music. And right before the final push, they create a compass rose which also happens to be their corps logo. Clever use of that as a staging for the cymbals as well! Great show, OC!

4:39 p.m. - Pacific Crest - Diamond Bar, CA

With gold compasses adorning the field, Pacific Crest is taking us on a journey of what it means to be Golden. Loving the colorguard body within the blocks of horn members doing choreography on side two. That drum feature with full corps body was pretty sweet, too. And the colorguard begins a quick uniform change during a slower portion of the ballad featuring a soloist. Changes like this are more difficult than they look. They form a compass around the center stage compass. The guard ends pointing up, keeping their eyes and hopes up and headed "North". 

4:56 p.m. - Spirit of Atlanta - Atlanta, GA

We're only a few minutes in and we've already had a major change in colorguard uniform, tied to the color of the light rods inside of the props. Meanwhile, the corps has been throwing us plenty of classic, well executed drill moves and sweet horn hits. Again, another change, into a blue top, from the white pants, now matching more with the corps proper. And now all of the props are lighting up blue. The flags are featuring two outstretched hands. The vocal sample used at the beginning of this movement almost sounds like drum speak, just sped up quite a bit, but it lends itself to some interesting choreography within the corps, including some chanting and fists in the air. The drill brings us back to the last prop, with purple lights. Does this tune sound familiar? If it does it's because it's the same one that Jersey Surf played earlier for their opener! Each corps throws their own flair into it so they're very distinct on their own. Especially this ending bit. Love the unique touch! Thank you, Spirit! 

5:13 p.m. - Troopers - Casper, WY

While most corps use certain types of marching sabres, the Troopers are using sabres more tailored to fencing or actual sword fights! The front ensemble moments in this particular moment let this front shine, especially listen to the xylophone playing in the lower dynamic ranges. That is so incredibly difficult.  Another unique bit about this show is how they incorporated a tango into the ballad. And America's Corps impresses as usual. As soon as they're over the crowd is on their feet. There as something for just about everyone in that show. Bravo!

5:30 p.m. - Intermission (50 Min.)

6:20 p.m. - U.S. Army Band Performance
6:30 p.m. - Big, Loud & Live 14 broadcast begins, FloMarching stream comes to a close

6:40 p.m. - Colts - Dubuque, IA

 And we're back after our dinner break to welcome The Colts! Opening with a big flag feature on side one! Classic. Notice how the corps acts in certain ways around each prop. While the focus is around the right brain, there's much more artistic, organic movement. With the left brain, they're much more regimented. Just like your left and right brain. You could see the same thing in the transformation of the colorguard uniforms throughout the show. And when both halves come together, something amazing happens! A great ending, Colts!

6:57 p.m. - The Academy - Tempe, AZ

On the field we have rabbits, hunters, and the corps. Very cute introduction to the rabbits by having them coming out of their rabbit holes. Please note that the hunters have rifles, too! Another small bit, there's a sign up behind the front ensemble that said 'Duck Season' on it that has now been switched to say 'Rabbit Season' like a classic Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny cartoon. There's an unbelievable amount of humor, with dummy chickens and sound effects and more! NICE CATCH Hunter in the middle! Check out this snare break, quickly turning into a full battery break! And kicks from the full corps! And... That's All Folks! 

7:14 p.m. - Mandarins - Sacramento, CA

Intriguing start with some off-putting dancing in the center of the field. It's meant to put you on edge. This group is ready to go right off the bat. The front ensemble way playing some killer runs before the big brass hit and were ready to support it with cymbal work and of course the drumline is bringing the fire in the back. The spandex red and black uniforms create a much different visual element than anything else we've seen today. They require a whole other type of movement. Did you see that three person guard visual in the middle!? Check out the flag feature on side one! And on side two, we have some tasty ballad beats from the drumline stretched between the fountain pens. This bass and cymbal feature! As it moves over to the middle of the tarp they just pulled out, too! That final flag feature on the tarp before everyone moved out for the hornline to move back in... wow! 

7:31 p.m. - Madison Scouts - Madison, WI

These guys are in character from the SECOND they take the field. You can already see it all over their faces and stances. Lots of dissonance in this first bit, matching the set, props, and uniforms. Something we haven't seen yet today until now is that they're actually marching trombones rather than having them only on the sidelines as soloist instruments. And NAILED that sabre toss! Check out that last set, so condensed up front, but it makes the corps almost look bigger. Did you hear that front ensemble run too? All of the horn players taking a knee and facing front, a cool visual. Thank you for a great ending, Madison Scouts!

7:48 p.m. - Blue Stars - La Crosse, WI

Now, in stark contrast to what we just watched, a show about star-crossed lovers from the Blue Stars. The story of Romeo & Juliet is so well known that it doesn't need much description for you to know exactly what it is. We see the two sides of the corps facing off, we see different colors for different families. We even get to see the tragic ending, with Juliet taking a dagger (or in this case, a sabre) to herself. Loving that full brass sound from this hornline! They have made so many changes to this closer since the beginning of the season, including upping the tempo. It makes a huge difference in feel! They formed a huge star set at the end for the Blue Stars and their star-crossed lovers as the love interests stare longingly at each other from across the field. 

8:05 p.m. - Crossmen - San Antonio, TX

Check out these props for Crossmen. The colorguard members are so still they look like statues. And the drumline and front ensemble aren't messing around, starting with a strong percussion moment to lead off the show. This bass moment front and center. Who doesn't love a good bass break! This center pod, it kept growing and growing as each section added in until it was the entire horn section, condensed into one small area. And they blended seamlessly each time. In an interesting use of the field, Crossmen brass BLAST the side one bottom left with sound at the end of that movement! I'm sure that end of the stadium loved getting some love. A beautiful horn solo leading into the next big brass hit in the ballad. All of those props turning by themselves is so eerie in a way, but it lent itself to a colorful ending and freed up the colorguard for that fabric work and collection in the center. 

8:22 p.m. - Intermission (20 Min.)

8:42 p.m. - Phantom Regiment - Rockford, IL

Talk about eeire, the corps hasn't even been announced yet and the guard's red masks and slow movements are giving everyone chills! Very nice fade out roll from the snare drums up front. That up front flag feature from the Phantomettes! Always absolutely on fire! And now the transition to the white helmets to close out the show. This set just flat out looks pretty. A nice showing from the flugelhorn soloist, too!  Beautiful finish, Phantom! Complete with a company front that anyone can love. 

8:59 p.m. - Blue Knights - Denver, CO

The Blue Knights drum majors start with members doing handstands on their podium. It's turned into lots of hand gestures and movements. Yet another front ensemble throwing down some runs leading into a big first full corps moment. Very sweet drum feature, loving the white hardware on the green drums too. It really helps them to pop. The split corps brass moment is incredible, timing from that far apart is so incredibly difficult. This snare solo with the adjusted sound is just a peek into some of the cool electronic things that corps are starting to do. So hand hand cymbals in the front ensemble! Great showing from the Blue Knights! 

9:16 p.m. - The Cadets - Allentown, PA

Looks like the Cadets vocal ensemble has a change in uniform for finals week. They changed from something similar to the front ensemble to these longer white robes withe red trim. Take a look at how the front ensemble is set up. Each member has a marimba and a vibraphone! It's a lot of equipment but gives them more options for orchestration. Another unique addition is the set up of church bells on the side two front sideline. Check out that set, it might look familiar to you. The red robes of the hornline flow so well on the field. The trombone feature over the the side one pews is blasting sound at the audience. Definitely adding additional texture. The drumline just tore the house down with that feature. They're not messing around tonight. One of the biggest endings of the night so far. A company front, lots of crash cymbals, and a drumline absolutely throwing down in the back! What else could you ask for?!

9:33 p.m. - Boston Crusaders - Boston, MA

The front ensemble sets the tone again this time with some samples of children laughing and some tasteful runs. This first giant moment helps to show Boston's true prowess after this year's major staff change. Sweet tenor feature over on the side two front stage. GUILTY! After that killer flag feature, the corps points at the vocalist is found to be guilty of witchcraft! The colorguard made some amazing sabre tosses on the side one front sideline prop! WOW! And up in flames the witches go! Guilty as charged.

9:50 p.m. - The Cavaliers - Rosemont, IL

Those flag tosses from behind the props! Beautifully executed. That bass drum work, across the field like that is almost solely relying on their eyes! Crazy hard to line up from 35+ yards away. Another instance of live mixing on the field from electronics tonight. Modified the sound. Nice spinning quads, Cavaliers! Boy that hornline is moving right now! Here comes the drumline, back again with a bass feature on the circle stage. The ending went crazy! Throwing things everywhere, intensity from the hornline. Just so much going on! Incredible! 

10:07 p.m. - Bluecoats - Canton, OH

So cool that they play from inside of the Jagged Line. The edge is so seamlessly blended into the drill it's almost as if it isn't even there. The members march straight through it! If you look quickly, you will notice that they put their horns down right before entering, though, but they're right back to horns up when they come out. Moving quick from that back corner back in. Blink and you'll have missed it! And here comes another trombone choir on top of the Jagged Line. Colorguard nailing every move too. From canes, to hats, to flags and rifles, they are at work on the field. And watch the low brass come running down that ramp with their horns up! Loud and proud!

10:24 p.m. - Carolina Crown - Ft. Mill, SC

Can you see them putting some tarps down over the 'Indianapolis' in the end zone? I wonder what those are for... Only a few more minutes until we get to see! Of course we start with the ever so popular Carolina Crown high brass feature. And the drums come in with the low brass to power us up and into the first big moment! Slowly deconstructing the yard lines. It really messes with you when you look to quick at the lines. Very cool rifle bit up front colorguard. Another beautiful ballad tonight with a talented vocalist. Some nice color from the front ensemble, adding new textures. That colorguard is absolutely MOVING. Wow. What a crazy move ripping numbers off of the field and with the endzone too! An unexpected surprise at the end. 

10:41 p.m. - Santa Clara Vanguard - Santa Clara, CA

And a big start from Santa Clara. A big rifle toss ending with the first big hit. Love how the props can move around the field, rolling upwards. And so many people hiding behind each one. Vanguard's colorguard is absolutely nailing every move so far. Did you see that rifle ripple up within the props? Wow, that soloist rolling around in the prop. As always, the cymbal line keeps catching my eye. Again, the colorguard in such unison with the flags together. The drumline jamming on side two. Always a pleasure to watch. Thank you, Santa Clara! 

10:58 p.m. - Blue Devils - Concord, CA

Alright, here we go with the last show of the night! The Blue Devils are ready to go! Such an old school start on the "starting line" over on side one. And the snare line absolutely killing it up front, with what looks like entire drumline on snares. Brass showing some chops with 'Flight of the Bumblebee' The front ensemble throwing their hat into that ring too! Some unison sabre work across the entire colorguard! And so many soloists! Absolutely insane trumpet feature going on right now. Loving how the drumset just helped to lead in that transition. The visual work at the end, running in and out of props with the mirrors especially made you think about who was where and when. An excellent finish to a great night. 

11:23 p.m. - Scores Announced

Thanks to everyone following along tonight. We'll be back again with more live blogging tomorrow at DCI World Championship Semifinals! 

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