Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I Like Circles

Pacific Procession
Monday, June 26, 2017
Santa Clara High School
Santa Clara, CA

Ah, a day to sleep in for a bit!  Bro and I opted for breakfast downstairs in the hotel lobby, just something small because we knew where we'd be eating for lunch.  Bro's bestie, Chun, arrived and we checked out of the hotel before heading to Bro's favorite Thai restaurant: Thai Basil.  I had their Chicken Basil and was happy.  Their food is flavorful and when they say mild spicy, they actually mean it.  It's no wonder why we go there whenever we have time in Santa Clara.  Chun wanted us to try a Taiwanese dessert, so we went to Meet Fresh in Cupertino.  We shared Taro Ball #2, which contained shaved ice, taro balls, sweet potato, barley, boba, and rice.  I enjoyed the syrup, which was probably from the boba, and wasn't too sweet.  In fact, the whole dish wasn't very sweet, but it was tasty.


We still had some time before going to the high school, so we spent it looking for an Ouroboros ring.  Yes, I've lost my mind and really want one now.  We went to Valley Fair mall and were unsuccessful.  So I'm now on a quest, and might just be buying it from Amazon.  We had asked the ladies at the SCV Souvie Booth about it at Stanford, and they said it would be a good idea, and that I should talk to Annette.  I don't know who that is, though.

Chun brought us back to the hotel to get our car, and we said our goodbyes.  We then went to the high school and picked up our VIP wristbands.  Yes, it's fancy time again!  Snacks and drinks were available for us, and we got to sit in the premium seating area with a view of the 50-yard line.  
Holding my Doritos with my VIP wristband

We arrived too late to sit in our seats prior to SCVC's rehearsal, but we were able to watch Phregiment and SCV do run-throughs.  I purchased a polo shirt from the Phregiment souvie stand and went to the car to put it away so I could also get my blanket.  It was getting chilly in the shade.  We also got seat cushions as part of our VIP treatment.  Nice!  

As VIPs, we were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour.  I was hoping that meant that I would get to sit on one of the props, but no such luck.  Instead, Executive Director Charles Frost walked with us to the place where Vanguard's vehicles were parked, and told us a little bit about each one.  He said that his favorite part of the backstage area was Miss Amana, SCV's food truck.  He told us about feeding 180 people in a span of 20 minutes, and we witnessed the atmosphere there as it was dinner time for the kids.  This evening, Phregiment was joining SCV and SCVC for dinner, so they were feeding about 500 people.  SCV has been and continues to have the best reputation for the food they provide, and this year, they have their own chef, whom, in the first two weeks of the season, did not repeat a menu.  That's quite a feat when you're feeding so many people at once.  Someone asked when the corps staff starts thinking about the next year's show, and he said they started at the end of August last year.  Someone shares an idea that they'd like to see, but sometimes it's just a concept, like "I like circles", sometimes it's a song someone wants to arrange.  There's no set rule, but they gather somewhere in August and throw ideas on the table and see what sounds interesting to everyone.  The tour ended when it came time for Charlie to perform with the Santa Clara Big Band, whom provided entertainment to the crowd before the show began.  Bro bought a SCV bucket hat, and a new rally towel, soon to be displayed at the back of his car.  Volunteer Norm gave us more drinks and chips as needed, except to me, because he didn't hear me when I asked for chips.

This shield, signed by whomever,
 was gone when we returned from our tour.

Tonight's show was not judged.

Panorama view from our seats

Bro noticed that they have new drums.  I don't know why the bass drums were still covered, though.  Their screens are colored in back, but we haven't seen the last part yet, so I guess those will be shown in the final song.  It looks like have all of their flags now.  Shiny!

Vocal Percussion Intro Trio

Kick Drum Feature

One of the ensembles in front of each screen

I think they have pieces of stylized chevrons on their flags.  You can see the stylized chevron on the big bass drum.  That solo sounds flat to me.  Every.  Night.  It makes me so crazy that I asked Bro if I was hearing it wrong.  No, it's flat, like it's not tuned with everyone else's instrument.  I've decided that I don't like how the Finlandia is being played.  Bro says it's the arrangement.  I don't understand why the pianist has to play something that sounds like a marimba when they have them RIGHT THERE.

Bass Drum during rehearsal

See the upside-down Chevron?

How about in these flags?

Putting on the White Helmet

Bro asked if the color guard also has the snake design on their uniforms.  I thought so when I saw them in the bathroom, but now I'm second-guessing myself.  The Vanguard yell will most likely be during the silence right after the color guard is in the block at center field.  

Drum Major Salute

Horn Player at a Tilt

A Bunch of Folks

Own it!

We were then treated to an encore by the horn lines of all three corps present:

"Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral" -- Phregiment's corps song, conducted by their drum major

"Send in the Clowns" - SCV's corps song, conducted by drum major Chris

I was annoyed because, just as they were lining up to play, a volunteer kid decided it was time to take down the VIP sign with pliers that he didn't know how to use, close to Bro so I couldn't get a panorama of all of them because his head was in the way.  I was, like, "Really, Kid?"  Maybe sit down and wait until it's over?  Who told him to do that now? 

We left immediately afterward and headed for our hotel in Gilroy.  We stopped at a KFC/A&W first, and they didn't have what I initially wanted.  Then we were asked to park our car out front.  Then the lady that took our order came outside to tell Bro that they didn't have what he wanted, either.  As we waited for our second choice orders, we might have seen shady stuff going down, but we're not sure.  We went to the Hilton Garden Inn and noted that they must all have the same layout because we felt like we'd been there before, but hadn't.  Bedtime, and a day without a drum corps show tomorrow.

Next up:  DCI on the SoCal Coast

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fancy Day at DCI West

DCI West
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Stanford Stadium
Palo Alto, CA

Bro and I went to breakfast at Starbucks before heading out to Palo Alto.  Their tables had phone chargers in them, so I put mine there because I could, even though mine was already at 100%.  At Stanford, we saw that a race was occurring, so there were a lot of people on campus.  We had a VIP Pass because we were being fancy, and were directed to the lot next to the stadium.  We saw the SCV Horn line doing some stretching and Bro parked the car pretty much right there.  As we waited for check-in, I realized that we didn't have a picture of his new shoes beside his license plate, so we did that.  

Old shoe, new shoe, license plate

We watched the horn line warm up, and Bro wanted the same shorts as the baritone section wore.  I kept hearing the announcer at the race nearby and it confused me when he talked at the same time that the horn instructor was talking, because I couldn't hear the horn guy.  I'm glad SCV was able to focus on him.  

Horn Line

We saw SCV's props and I wanted to sit on them, but that wasn't going to happen.  We walked into the stadium with our Ourobos badges and they let us sit wherever we wanted.  We sat in the top row of the bottom section and enjoyed watching rehearsal with the other VIP donors.  
No uniforms this afternoon!

Rehearsal is fun for people like us because we get to see the inner workings of the show.  I felt bad for the kids every time they reset the props because they're so big, and they worked on a few parts multiple times, which entailed moving the props around.  This show is very fluid, so the props move around A LOT.  The director encouraged the corps to drive the horns so the judges could feel from way up at the top of the stadium.  So far, they had been playing in small venues, so this was a change for them.  I kept focusing on one guy in the color guard that wouldn't hit his spot on the field.  Bro eventually thought that maybe he wasn't meant to be where I wanted him to be, but then he moved over at one point.  I'm picky about lines, if you haven't noticed yet.  We also got to hear the director tell some folks in the small ensemble to play different notes the next time.  As an alto that had to do this all of the time, I smiled knowingly, however, they didn't have music in their hands to read.  Instead, they had "dot books" at their waists which show them the different spots on the field where they should be at certain times.  I decided that I want to have a dot book at work and that I'd ask the staff to raise their hands to acknowledge that they're listening, just like the kids do when the director (from the top of the stadium) asks for their attention.  
Love these flags

Under the Prop

Between takes, corps director Charlie talked to us a little bit and had the drum majors say a quick hello.  We got to see a full run-through of the show at the end and then left so the Blue Devils could start their rehearsal time.  We weren't invited to that one.  

Bro and I shopped at the souvenir stands and bought stuff from SCV.  Since the car was nearby, we placed our stuff inside (very neatly like he was making a store display), and walked to the nearby shopping/eating center.  We knew we would have BBQ at 2:30, so we had a snack from Mayfield Bakery and Jamba Juice.  I asked Bro if Bananaman was in Jamba Juice, but he was not.

On our way back to the stadium, some of the SCV staff saw Bro's new SCV shirt and we also showed them his shoes.  I wasn't looking at them and didn't realize that they were bigwig staff.  We walked around to find a restroom before going to the BBQ, which hadn't started yet.  A whole slew of kids from a school got in line in front of us and I wondered if they were at the right BBQ until Bro told me they were in a band.  The line went very quickly and we were able to finish our meal before SCV started to play.  During BD's performance, two of the auction winners conducted the corps on their F-Tuning and Space Chords niftiness.  

I thought that I could buy a shirt from the BD booth, but they had put their clearance stuff away, which was weird.  Maybe I'm not buying anything from them this year.  I do have stuff planned for most of the other corps, though.

We went to our seats...in the Skybox!  I told you we were fancy.  The seats were very comfy and padded and had the Stanford "S" on them.  We were seated in Skybox Level 2, Section 2, row B, seats 18-19, on the right 20-yard line.  Bro gave me his seat because he knows I prefer that number.  Thanks, Bro!  They had snacks (chips, crackers, Oreos) and drinks available.  Yes, there were Doritos!
On the way to the Skybox

View from our seats

Richard and Diane, whom we sat with at the gala, ended up seated next to us.  Diane asked if we were stalking them.  Bro told them that they were stalking us because we got there first.  They're such nice people.  We didn't have programs, so Bro told Richard the title of each show as the corps entered the field.

Those kids from the BBQ, the Alisal Drum Line, played during the pre-show, as did the Freelancers Alumni Corps.

David Smith of the Blue Devils performed the Star-Spangled Banner.  We were annoyed by the speakers because they caused an echo.  I felt like I was listening to a round, like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".  Somebody from the Skybox audience went looking for someone to fix that. 

I like how they dance to the syncopation of the word "yesterday" during "Someday I'll Fly Away".  The song itself still needs work, though.  Bro thinks maybe it's the arrangement that's off.  I don't know, but it is a difficult song to play anyway.


One of the CG girls dances around during the pre-show, acting as if she is looking for something.  We decided she was looking for the sound engineer to fix the electronics.  Well, they've fixed them.  Bro thinks that's all they practiced after Friday's debacle, and we joked about them resetting to measure zero in their dot books all day.  They have narration throughout the show, though I couldn't really hear it from our vantage point, nor did I want to do so.  The drum feature got big applause.

Legs in the Air

Sounds like there are microphones were working on all of the kick drums this time.  Nice sound from all of the corps.  I like the iridescense on the flags.  That color guard is PINK.

I like the shadows on the background

Nice job, drums!  The little girl on the right side platform is adorable, like Miss O.  Great solo on "Staying Alive"!

Bro and I wandered around the Skybox section, which wasn't very big, and there wasn't really anything to see.  I did want the chairs with an "S" on them for my office, though.  I wish the concession stands had been open in the Skybox, because I didn't feel like going anywhere else to get food.  Also, we didn't have that much time before the next corps.

They did not have that gold thing the other day, nor did they have the color guard uniforms. Did they form the PC logo?  I'm waiting to see if they form the shape of California.  They showed much more emotion this time.

The CG faces aren't covered anymore and they're more sparkly now.  Bro thinks maybe the judges thought it was too creepy before.  But I like the darkness of the creepy.  I would like one of each of color rifle, please.  Somebody's plume fell off.  Or it's an ink spot.  You decide.  They beat the hell out of those drums at the end of the show.  

Ink Meet

Oh, the rabbits end up tying the hunters' hands!  I get it.  I like when the corps does the high kicks.  Cool that the props nest into each other like Russian nesting dolls, as Bro pointed out to me the other day.  A couple of the flags look like a piece of the Looney Tunes logo.

Gun Flags

I like show more now.  Bro said he'd be obsessed with it soon.  I like when the brass trades off runs when the CG is using the spiral props.  They spell out "Who Sees Me?", then later "hide" in backwards letters, like the reflection inside our eyes before the brain turns it around.  Whoa.  We're starting to understand the show.  Like those yellow spirals:  I told Bro that one of my colleagues saw a woman's eyes briefly turn yellow when a client changed from one personality to another, and the corps does go a bit insane.  I didn't notice the blinking eye's eyeball shift back and forth until now.  Creepy.  

I like the white robes.  I still wish there was more "Finlandia" at the end.  I guess I wish the Shostakovich would end sooner to give more time for that.  I mean, it is referenced throughout the show, but I guess I want more of a happy ending.  I guess that's not what they were going for.  Oh.
Corps helping with mask removal

They enter the field in a serpentine line.  When the CG follows each other with their flags to form a snake, I wonder if it represents the shedding of the skin.  They sure listened when the director told them to drive their horns to play up to the top fo the stands!  Great transition from one formation to another.  It is crazy good.  The intensity of this show overwhelms me and I'm exhausted now.  This was such a good vantage point for formations that I took a bunch of pictures.

Oh, that's a diamond formation to symbolize their 60th anniversary! I feel like I can see their closets under the stairways because that is where they hang their jackets.  When they march to the backfield after they take off their jackets, the flaps on the sides look like little wings.  

Blue Diamond

While the next performance was being set up, the scores were announced.  It was the quickest turnaround of end of show to scores ever.


Open Class

4) 44.10 - BD-C
3) 50.10 - GE
2) 56.80 - SCVC
1) 58.15 - BD-B

World Class

7) 60.65 - PC
6) 63.35 - Academy
5) 64.30 - Mandarins
4) 66.70 - Phregiment
3) 67.85 - BK
2) 71.05 - SCV
1) 72.00 - BD

Then Brandt Crocker announced that we were in for a treat.

Repertoire:  "Send In The Memories"

Selections included themes from corps members' favorite shows, including
  • Pictures at an Exhibition
  • Great Gate of Kiev
  • Festive Overture
  • Les Miserables
  • Appalachian Spring / Ballet for Martha
  • Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
  • The Canyon
  • Scheherazade
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Fiddler on the Roof

That's right!  I got to see the Bottle Dance!  

This evening's performance was a standstill for the corps, but they will be marching around at Semifinals night!  I was really excited about each song, and I know I'm going to lose my mind on Semifinals.  People in the Skybox went nuts.  People in the stands went nuts.  I was on the verge of tears already, so you know that night is going to be very emotional.

Richard and Diane were going to take Lyft back to the hotel, but we offered to drive them, since we were staying in the same place.  We later found out they were on the same floor, in the same hallway.  They WERE stalking us!  We won't be seeing them anymore this week (or so they say), but hope to see them at future events.

Next up:  Pacific Procession

Sunday, June 25, 2017

SCV Golden Gala

Santa Clara Vanguard 50th Anniversary Gala
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Hyatt Regency
Santa Clara, CA

Bro and I had hotel breakfast and he told me a leprechaun story.  We then drove to Cupertino to meet up with his friend Chun for lunch at Islands.  I had the sliders.  They were yum.  We then went to our hotel and Bro found the perfect parking space:  right next to the SCV souvenir trailer.  
The Fan's Car and The Souvie Trailer

After we checked in and put away our bags, we picked up our early registration materials for the gala.  I was totally digging the tickets showing our meal choice.

Veggie, Beef, Fish, Chicken

Bro and Chun went to BevMo! for bourbon while I unpacked and did my nails.  When they returned, they drank their bourbon and did Bro/Chun stuff while I finished my blog from yesterday before getting ready for the gala.

SCV celebrated their 50th year by holding a gala.  Blue Devils is celebrating their 60th year, and they also held a gala!  We went downstairs and they had balloons.  I volunteered to take pictures with these!  Clearly, I love this corps and risked my sanity by standing by these things even though they kept hitting my head.

I somehow survived this moment.

 We took a look at the memorabilia from both corps.  My favorite items were the color guard uniform from SCV's 1989 Phantom of the Opera show, and my favorite BD flag: the horse head from their 2006 Godfather: Part Blue show.
SCV Flag

1989 Color Guard Uniform
That's a lot of championship rings, yo.

We went inside the ballroom and I bought champagne and shared a few laughs with BD's ScoJo, BD's percussion caption head.  We checked out the auction items, which included a whole bunch of stuff.  I wanted the wine purse, but since it didn't have anything SCV on it, I was able to resist.  I also wanted the wine refrigerator (which came with wine!), but it was beyond my price range already due to online bidding.  I did not want the NBA Golden State Warriors stuff, which was auctioned off live during BD's banquet.  Bro and I took pics with the cool logo backgrounds, which I have yet to figure out how to obtain.  Photographer Phil told us they were free, so I'm hoping we get a note from SCV soon so I can share them.  

When it was time for dinner, SCV and BD split up into adjoining rooms for our separate celebrations.  For everything we had that was red, we wondered if BD had the equivalent in blue.  We loved the table centerpiece topped with an Aussie, SCV's traditional headwear...which they're not wearing this year, so that's kinda weird if you think about it.  We each received a personalized program which included our name and bidding number. 

We were lucky and Voice of DCI Brandt Crocker was our MC.  Speakers included someone from the very first SCV; Rose Parade President Brad Ratliffe; Corps Director Charles Frost; local dignitaries; and the current SCV and SCVC drum majors.  We also saw some videos showing off the new uniforms and snippets of folks talking about the impact of the SCV Experience on their lives.  I liked hearing about how SCV came to be so well known for their class, which started because of someone in SCV being criticized for not having any class due to breaking the Anaheim Kingsmen ranks.  Oops.  Since then, though, SCV's classy reputation endures.  Mr. Frost's presentation included the status of the capital campaign for the new Miss Amana, their nickname for the food truck, as well as the new music facility.  He quickly obtained more donations from folks in attendance, and was happily surprised with the response.  When BD was finally quieted down and ready ("Hush!" Charles said to BD from our side of the wall, rolling his eyes.  "Always."  We all knowingly laughed.  We know he loves them, too), the walls were put away and each side cheered and waved at the other.

The current corps played for their supporters, which was really cool.  The highlights for me, were, of course, Vanguard.  They played "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" and part of "The Canyon".  BD, ever supportive, allowed SCV to finish the evening with "Send in the Clowns."  My video of my favorite portions is of the drum majors, because they were righ next to us, and the corps was around the perimeter of the room and I couldn't get a good view of them without blocking others'.  

I went to the other side for a bit so I could get a picture of all of their championship trophies.

Wow.  That's a lot of trophies.

Then The Tommy Igoe Band started to play.  I saw SCV drum major Chris wandering around, and walked up to him to congratulate him on his performance.  He said thank you and hugged me.  As Bro and I were leaving, we saw Brad Ratliffe and said hello.  I told him how much I enjoyed seeing him participate with all of the bands at Bandfest this year, and thanked him for being at the gala.  He was thrilled to be there because he loves Vanguard.  We were given goodie bags and I was happy with its contents, especially the stemless wine glass (with both anniversary logos), a Zildjian Cymbal pin, a 50 magnet with the SCV shield, and M&Ms with the 50th logo.

We had a great time.  Thank you, SCV, and congratulations on 50 years of excellence!