Rex, Stan and I were among the thousands of current and former marching band members who attended today's Drum Corps International championship at the Rose Bowl.
All three of us were high school band geeks. I played snare drum and was drum major. Rex played clarinet and saxophone. Stan, who is an accomplished pianist, played base drum and saxophone.
Drum Corps are marching bands that are formed each summer from the most talented members of high school and college marching bands across the country. I've followed drum corps for years and always dreamed of going to the championship.
The Cavaliers of Rosemont, Ill., were among my favorites (partly because of an amazing color guard), finishing in third place just behind the first-place Blue Devils of Concord, Calif. (the home state crowd favorites) and the second-place Cadets of Allentown, Pa., who put on a spectacular show but created a stir by incorporating annoying on-field narration.
My long-time favorite corps, Phantom Regiment from Rockford, Ill., finished fourth with a beautiful show titled "On Air," which featured a mix of old and new symphonic selections including Stravinsky's "Firebird."
I also liked sixth-place finisher Carolina Crown's horse racing-themed show, which was one of the most beautiful in terms of music.
All of the 12 corps in the finals gathered on the field after their performances to hear the judging results.
The drum majors gathered on the edge of the field.
Members of the Blue Devils held hands while waiting for the inevitable. There was no element of suspense as the California corps easily won its 12th championship since 1976, and first since 2003.