Every so often, the stars and planets align just right where drum corps fans are treated to a season full of magical, unforgettable programs and iconic performances supporting some of the most innovative designs the activity has ever seen. The quality of the programs drum corps provided in 2018 is certainly no exception.
This past season brought about a change in drum corps. For years now, the color guard nearly held sole responsibility of playing the character roles on the field. Now we are starting to see a transition to where the entire corps plays a larger role where everyone is asked to do more to tell a story.
Santa Clara Vanguard, like the Bluecoats in 2016, raised the bar to a whole new level that will forever define what drum corps is from this point on. Their program, Babylon, set an entirely new standard for the activity. No longer can a corps trot out on the field without depth, meaning and careful construction of the overall design of their shows. It is always refreshing to see a group take distinct musical elements and use them to create visual brilliance. The use of their multi-level “skyscrapers” around the field was a master class in staging and design. If you were not absolutely stunned and completely mesmerized by what that corps accomplished on the field this year, you clearly have no soul. To go on record, once again, Babylon was the greatest show any corps has ever put on the field in the history of the activity.
The admiration for Babylon doesn’t mean that no other corps were also impressive this past season. The Blue Devils used a number of props to recreate the famous Nighthawks painting by Edward Hopper. The Bluecoats allowed invoked Billy Holiday’s spirit in Session 44 with a rousing rendition of God Bless the Child. We witnessed poor souls being saved from a deserted island by the Boston Crusaders while the Blue Knights took us to ancient Egypt. The Blue Stars brought us the carpenters, both literally and figuratively, while the Mandarins brought a dancer back to life on their path to their first appearance as a DCI finalist.
You can find the final rankings with scores here.
2018 was a good year, like 2016, to be a fan of drum corps. Most of these corps really went out of their way this year to push the envelope, raise individual performance levels and created plenty of memories that fans will be replaying in their heads on an infinite loop.
That is until the 2019 season kicks off about ten months from now.