Fresh Starts and Accomplishments

I'm surrounded by a variety of fresh starts and accomplishments lately. Let us start with the very best one, shall we?

Those kids over my shoulder are getting married! Yay for E & L! And when you read "Yay!" it should sound a little something like the first 10 seconds of this:

That exciting development came fresh on the heels of another accomplishment for the pair. Andrew and I drove up to Rochester, NY to watch Minnesota Brass compete in the DCA championship. They went into the final night of the tournament in first place—their first time in the first place position at the championship.

Usually this would be an exciting position, but rain threatened all night and there was no room in the schedule for rain delays. A rain delay would mean that the previous night's scores would hold; a win for Minnesota Brass, but a win with an asterisk. Nobody wants their first win accompanied by an asterisk.

I'm not terribly knowledgeable about drum corps. If you don't tell my friends, I'll even admit that as recently as a few years ago, I was a bit of a drum corps hater. I'm a woodwind, and they specifically decided there's no place for me and my kind in their little group. They don't apologize to me for disallowing my kin; I don't apologize for liking keys, rejecting their disgusting spit valves, and thinking their sound lacks a certain mellow depth that reeds and flutes can provide.

Because my knowledge was shallow, I followed the #dca hashtag on Twitter from my phone, with the hope of gaining added insight into the performances. I know what I like, but I don't know what the judges like. There was one guy, @kevingamin, tweeting about each performance. Given his credentials (Managing Editor, Drum Corps Planet), I put a lot of stock in his 140 characters.

That's why my heart sank after this tweet:

See that little bit at the bottom? Reading Buccaneers are the defending champions—they've won the last six years in a row. Andrew actually went to a few of their rehearsals when he moved out to Philly, but the commute was unreasonable. They are a legitimate, hard-won powerhouse.

Minnesota Brass has been creeping up in the standings each year, finishing second last year. After having known E for an age (gosh, twelve years at this point; far more if you count the fact that E and I went to the same band camp as 9th graders), I can feel what he's thinking. He wanted this win, more than even the previous years.

I read @kevingamin's tweet and my stomach twisted up in a way that had nothing to do with my supper of mozzarella sticks and questionable tomato-in-a-cup.

The rain held off as Minnesota Brass took the field with their Valhalla show. It was clear from the first downbeat that these vikings had arrived to claim their loot. The show was as tight as I've ever seen and it had what I desperately want all field shows to have: a legitimate through-line, a compelling story that fits the music and moves in an arc from a beginning, on to a climax, and ultimately a resolution. Our viking warrior came, he conquered, he died, he was reborn.

I know not all shows drive a guard presentation as literal as this one, but I loved it...and the crowd loved it!

I agree, @kevingamin!

After Brass, the winner of the small ensemble competition plays while the judges tally their results. Star United, an ensemble of about 20, left me absolutely gobsmacked with the precision in their playing. They were borg, it's the only way to explain their absolute unity of rhythm. Star United indeed.

Even more amazing, though, was the weather—not 60 seconds after Star United finished, the clouds opened, giving us everything that they had. Absolute buckets, my friends! I suspect the weather gods took Brass's viking horn as a challenge. Thankfully, we had our rain suits with us (coat and pants! It helps to be engaged to an outdoorsman), so we were able to stick it out for the ceremony.

You'd think, seeing as how about a 1000 people were standing on a field in heavy uniforms, and that many of them were holding oversized, metal objects (including poles), that it would be incumbent upon the master of ceremonies to speed up the production. If so, we shaved only seconds off the event, friends. We heard from a handful of government officials; we watched a retrospective video; we heard messages from our sponsors. I'll admit to a bit of swearing for comedic effect.

And finally, finally! The scores! Friends, they won! Minnesota Brass won, and they took best colorguard! I deeply desired that added win for L!

The drama of the rain meant that Minnesota Brass's encore was canceled, but never mind. E & L celebrated in another, more lasting way.

Did I mention they're getting married? Yay!

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And now for something I never thought I'd do: I'm going to link to a drum corps video. Andrew used to play seemlingly endless drum corps videos for me.

This one is good, but I wish you could see it from the perspective I had. An overhead view of the forms adds a lot. They were tight, precise, and they drove the story forward.

I wish you could see it from the perspective I had: a nervous friend, wanting nothing but success for two dear people that she only sees a couple of times a year but thinks about daily. I love you guys, and I don't hate drum corps anymore.