A few head-scratching moments in drum corps

by Adam Burdett, DCW staff

Over the years, both DCI and DCA have had many results that leave the fans and paying customers wondering, “Did the judges really get it right?” While there are hundreds of these instances for every placement each and every summer, I did my best to think of a pseudo top-ten moments where fans still wonder, to this day, if the right decision was made.

10 — 2000 DCI Cavaliers vs. The Cadets. The end result was a tie, the secondnd in a row for DCI Finals. It is hard to say whether the fans were disappointed with the outcome more because it was a tie or because they felt one of the two was robbed. The Cadets won both the quarterfinals and semifinals show in 2000, only to be tied at finals by The Cavaliers. Many think this was a title The Cadets should have had to themselves, but it still goes in the record books as the last tie at DCI Finals.

9 — 2006 DCA Finals Top Four. The short story is that the Reading Buccaneers won their second straight title with a slim margin over the hometown Empire Statesmen. However, fans of these two corps — and also the Bushwackers and Hawthorne Caballeros — will tell you this was a four-way race that could’ve gone in many directions. All of the corps were exciting, but many think this should be the only speed bump the Bucs have incurred over the last five years.

8 — 1993 DCI Colts vs. Velvet Knights.   The Colts had never made semifinals, let alone finals, and the Velvet Knights seemed primed to make a return trip to the top 12. The story goes that instead of practicing, the Colts went to see a movie, their usual semifinals day ritual, a day they have never been a competitor in. What took place was astonishing. The Colts were the only corps of 17 to rise in score from quarterfinals and, in turn, bump the crowd-favorite Velvet Knights from the Saturday night show, much to the chagrin of many loyal fans.

7 — 1994 DCI Boston Crusaders vs. Colts. The Boston Crusaders had never made DCI Finals to this point, but with the show in their hometown and a 12th-place quarterfinals finish, it seemed the dream would be realized. The Colts had other plans and performed an inspired show at semifinals that was enough to bump Boston from the Saturday show.

6 — 2008 DCI Phantom Regiment vs. Blue Devils. Simply put, many say emotion was the reason why the Phantom Regiment prevented the Blue Devils from finishing an undefeated season in 2008 and by the narrowest of margins — 0.025. The Regiment was good, so were the Blue Devils, but many think the crowd got to the judges on that fateful night in 2008, propelling the Phantom Regiment to their first solo DCI title.

5 — 1997 DCA Brigadiers vs. Empire Statesmen. The Statesmen were undefeated heading into Labor Day weekend. In a bizarre turn of events, they found themselves third following the prelims competition, behind the Brigadiers and the Hawthorne Caballeros. When the dust settled on Sunday, the Brigs and Statesmen tied for the title. Many today still say the performance of the Empire Statesmen at that title show is one of the best ever, but still had to settle for a tie.

4 — 1989 DCI Santa Clara Vanguard vs. Phantom Regiment. Who would think the best score ever, to that point, would still have people doubting the legitimacy of the title. That’s what happened when the Santa Clara Vanguard scored a 98.8 with their “Phantom of the Opera” production, besting the Regiment by 0.4, and still had naysayers stating that Phantom was robbed. Either way you look at it, people still discuss this one in chat rooms today.

3 — 1996 DCA Westshoremen vs. Hawthorne Caballeros. The Cabs seemed to be on cruise control late in the 1996 season, avenging some early-season defeats at the hands of the Westshoremen. A convincing win at prelims set the stage for a Cabs victory. Nobody told the Harrisburg troop, though. ’Shore rode their percussion to an improbably 0.1 victory in one of the most stunning outcomes in the history of DCA Finals.

2 — 1993 DCI Star of Indiana vs. Cadets. The Cadets were a machine, while Star was giving us a show idea like we’d never seen before. It was an odd pair of productions, but two that clearly set themselves apart from the field. In the end, it was the execution of The Cadets that narrowly defeated the innovation of Star for a 0.1 victory on finals night. Many said Star picked up their toys and left following that season, but today, we see with “BLAST!” that it was never the case. They had also already decided to leave the activity by signing a contract with the Canadian Brass to put a summer show together beginning in 1994 called “Brass Theater,” the predecessor of “BLAST!”

1 — 1987 DCI Santa Clara Vanguard vs. Garfield Cadets. Perhaps one of the greatest clash of the titans of all time, what makes this show interesting is not the 0.1 Cadets victory as much as how they achieved it. The Cadets basically needed a perfect 10 in percussion execution, ensemble and effect to win the crown. People today still claim to have “found a mistake” in The Cadets’ performance, negating perfection, but regardless, the record books say it’s a win for Garfield.