The Blue Devils are considered the New York Yankees of drum corps but this season the Concord team had to chase down two talented corps in what was called “one of the most compelling races in drum corps history” in order to win their 19th Drum Corps International World Championship last Saturday night.
Title No. 19 came at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis over a talented field of corps in the finale where the Blue Devils finished 0.087 points ahead of the season-long favorite Bluecoats. This is the 13th year in a row the Blue Devils have placed first or second, including eight titles since 2007.
This season began in California during June with the 2018 DCI champion Santa Clara Vanguard winning their first four face-to-face meetings from their Bay Area rivals. The Blue Devils finally prevailed in the fifth matchup.
Then it was the Canton, Ohio-based Bluecoats with a Beatles-themed program who defeated the Blue Devils in four consecutive shows, setting the stage for a rivalry that would go back and forth all the way to Finals Week when the Bluecoats won the preliminaries before the Devils came back to win the semifinals and finals in three razor-thin outcomes.
Veteran Blue Devils senior executive advisor David Gibbs spoke to the Pioneer from Indianapolis the day after the finals while he shopped with son Peyton, getting the younger Gibbs ready to start college at Purdue University this week.
About the Blue Devils performance in the finals Gibbs said, “Wow. Wow. That was by far their best performance. I told them they had that in them.”
He described scoring the three finals competitions between the Blue Devils and Bluecoats as “coin flips.” The talent level was so high in Indianapolis that the five caption awards were earned by five different corps, the first time that has ever happened. The Blue Devils’ presentation of their program “Ghostlight” placed first in the visual performance category.
Gibbs added that performing last on Saturday (based on winning the semi-finals) gave the Blue Devils the chance to “have the last say in the 2019 season. I told the Devils that they should believe in themselves and prove it on the field.”
As always, social media and web posts last weekend included many jabs at his corps. Gibbs analogized the Blue Devils to the Golden State Warriors as “a lightning rod,” who frustrate many fans of drum corps by their dominating results year after year.
“This is what we came here to do, and we did it. It was truly the culmination of everything we’ve worked toward for so long now,” drum major Chasen Young said.
Gibbs explained that the eight-week summer tour across America “was an organic process as we accessed each show and how the audience and judges connected with it. We geared the season and the ultimate version of Ghostlight toward that final performance.”
And it worked…barely!
Blue Devils Photo Gallery from championship and practice sessions