Opening Weekend

The Boys (and Girls) of Summer are back--this weekend, the 2008 edition of Drum Corps International's Summer Music Games, and by weekend's end, nearly every World Class corps will have at least one show under their belt. With this in mind, I offer an early season primer on things that excite me (and a few that don't) about this coming season.

1. World Championships - I took the plunge and went all in--I'm headed to Indiana in early August for the 2008 DCI World Championships. Championships was supposed to have been the inaugural event in the Indianapolis Colts' new home, Lucas Oil Stadium. Unfortunately, the stadium won't be done in time and they moved down the road a piece to Indiana University's Memorial Stadium. While it won't be nearly as apropos to flick off the home team by wearing a Baltimore Colts Marching Band shirt, it still promises to be a great event.

2. New Corps Limits - During the winter meetings of 2007, the DCI directors voted into existence an increase in corps limits, from 135 members to 150. Those new limits go into effect this summer, and I look forward to seeing how each corps uses their new manpower. Some will beef up their hornlines. Others will add to the colorguard. Still others will kick the battery up a notch, either bringing in more drums or bringing back cymbal lines. Either way, expect each corps to take this opportunity to accentuate the positive.

3. Information Overload - This will be the year of those of us at home being up close and personal with what's going on on tour, even if we're not at shows or don't have another direct link. Enter the DCI Fan Network, which both corps and the League will use to keep fans briefed on what's going on on the road, including rehearsals, shows, and vignettes with members and directors. For a small fee--$69 for the year--one can get access to all of the exclusive content on the network. I've got no plans to subscribe just yet, but who knows, as the summer wears on, the bug may get to me yet. Regardless, all of this content out there means more information available for fans all over.

4. Monday Morning Drum Majoring - I've got a friend and fairly new (since last summer) coworker of mine who is a Cavaliers alum and DCI fan, with whom I'll no doubt spend the summer chatting about the latest happenings in DCI. I'm also now a member of the forums over at Drum Corps Planet which gives me a new crowd to talk the latest and greatest with.

5. Tailgating - This was in the plans for my usual most local show this past year, Carolina Crown's NightBEAT. It seems a natural fit, down here in the south, where NASCAR and college football reign supreme, and I've even seen a hockey tailgate, why not fire it up for some drum corps? Especially since fans love being "in the lot" anyway. The weather didn't hold up last year to allow it, but I expect to be back this year with a vengeance.

And now, a few things I'm less thrilled about:

1. The End of an Era - Starting with the summer of 2009, electronics will become the law of the land. It's not a change that I'm thrilled with. I remain optimistic that the majority of corps will be responsible stewards of their new found powers, but I don't look forward to the shows of those who are not, nor the defense that those who may otherwise keep their heads on straight will feel they have to play to keep up with the Joneses.

2. Indy to Infinity - Drum Corps International, who calls Indianapolis home as of this past offseason, has signed a 10 year deal putting the World Championships in Indy through 2018 (with the exceptionof 2014, when it was already booked). I understand DCI's relationship with their new city and how this makes sense, but as a fan, I'd love to see it continue to rotate. That, and what if, once it's held in Indy (which now won't be until 2009) it ends up a bust? Take NCAA lacrosse, for example. There's currently dissension in the ranks because some fans felt that Foxboro wasn't a positive experience and they've already committed to hold it there next year. Imagine the issues with Indy as this is a 10 year deal?

3. Lack of Major Network Coverage - 2005 through 2007 saw a broadcast of the World Championships on ESPN2. This broadcast showed highlights of each of the top shows of each year, but more importantly to me, it put DCI at the forefront, right in front of sports fans, nestled in between Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter. Sometime this past offseason, DCI announced that it wasn't a relationship that was going to continue. From a viewing standpoint, this is no sweat off my back, as I'll be there live, but I loved what the ESPN relationship because of what it did to advance the activity. As of now, I don't think there are any plans to pull down a major network deal before championships, and I don't even know if they'll go back to their long standing relationship with PBS.

Baseball be damned, now it's summertime! Enjoy!