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2002 Championships were in Madison. Nobody came close to the Cavaliers this year. Their show, 'Frameworks' should have been unmarchable. They went undefeated and hit a 99.15 at finals, which, if I'm not mistaken, was the highest score to that point. More to the point, they nearly two-pointed the second-place corps, Blue Devils, who also had a fantastic show, 'Jazz: Music Made in America.' No one will put the Cadets' 'American Revival' at the top of their all-time favorite Cadets show list, but they won drums anyhow. SCV placed fourth for the third straight year with 'Sound, Shape, and Color.' America (BAC) and Russia (Phantom) tied for fifth at finals, and Ohio was seventh AND eighth (Bluecoats and Glassmen). Crossmen put their signature on 9th and their sister corps Spirit of Atlanta made 10th. Magic of Orlando placed eleventh and Seattle Cascades made finals for the first time. Missing from the Saturday night lineup was Carolina Crown for the first time since 1994, (and the last time until today) and Madison Scouts for the first time since the first DCI World Championships in 1972.   

We just had @DrumCorpsRadio's thread recounting his 2002 Tour Diary with Crossmen, but there are far more things to say about this year. So say them!

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such a fun year. first show early June in Landsdale.....Cadets with a big lead on BD who seemed a hot mess. Crossmen starting strong...heat of the Day was genius...Spirit nd the Holsinger was showing

Absolutely loved the Glassmen Flugelhorn soloist (it was the same performer from the 2001 show).   

I saw Magic Wed-Saturday.....Wednesday was their best run. I am telling you at D2/3 finals they deserved every bit of that 99 on the 2/3 sheets of the day

such a fun year. first show early June in Landsdale.....Cadets with a big lead on BD who seemed a hot mess. Crossmen starting strong...heat of the Day was genius...Spirit nd the Holsinger was showing the signs of being a great fit...Crown well....i believe i said it was June LOL. KKavs huge with an under developed super hero theme.

A week later in Hershey Cadets with a huge lead over Crossmen, and of course this was around the time the Pledge controversy erupted...Bluecoats coming in in good shape, loved the ballad...then Boston....reminded me of 2000 in that it would take time to clean and rip your heart out...Spirit still growing and KKavs...Magic in D2 t that pont sterile with their show which became an all time favorite

skipped "east" since it was only half the corps, and off to Madison!


D2/3 finals was an amazing night! SCVC were on fire, and OMG Magic....Surf throwing in On Wisconsin too!


the next 3 days...Cavies won yes. IMO, this is not worthy of the hype. it seemed like a ton of gimmicks disguised as demand, with some glaring performance issues. Still a #### good corps, but I don't have it on the pedestal others do. Cadets lit the place up, though the Saturday night firehouse trick didn't time right. BD man did they recover from the hot mess in June, but would have loved to hear more Channel One.SCV with a fun show, but not yet at 03-04 levels...Phantom with a fun show, then Boston...oh yes, they grew and ripped hearts out! jumped 2 spots from thursday. Bluecoats so much fun...Glassmen....loved the first 2/3. Crossmen so much fun...not sure why it stalled, i had them over Glassmen nipping at Bloo's heels...Spirit wow the Easter show came to life and deserving of the placement....and Cascades! What a fun show! Bk didn't seem to have what they just a few years prior...Colts, a solid show..Madison...nusically fun and top 12..visually having 3 drill writers led to a myriad of issues...Crown...well...looked good on paper..Cap Regiment making a nice showing after 2/3, but Southwind slipping from the 99/00 heyday..Mandarins fun, KKavs just never seemed to grow, Troop seemingly in  rut placement wise then Pioneer.


a lot of fun shows, but nothing to me that was legendary. but it set the stage for 03 nicely



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Thinking about it (probably more than I should), this was a real transitional year in DCI for a lot of reasons.

First, obviously Bb horns were legal in 2000, but a lot of corps didn't make the switch for a couple of years. I don't know if the data is out there, but I'd bet 2002 is the first year less than half of the top 12 corps used G bugles.

It's also the second-to-last year before amplification was legalized. Competitively, Crown was out of finals; who guessed that they would turn it around the next year and never look back? Corps like Madison showed that the 90s style was waning (and Madison was not going to be a significant competitive force anymore). 

I saw PR in the early season, and it was clear that they had taken a step back in design and performance level from 2001 😞 Though I'm sure they'd kill to be 5th today. 2003 of course was a renaissance...

I like the BD show, it's no 2003 (or 04 or 07 or 08 or 09 or 99 or 94 or 97 or 12 .... ) but it's typical quality. First time I saw them live and the level of professionalism, design detail and performance was apparent. I love the intro with the ragtime and the trumpet solo etc. I've heard that they redid a lot of the show during the season, but I saw it right before finals, so it was obviously version 2.0. 

My mom teared up at Boston's show, I think it was a lot better than Cadets' cheesefest.

Speaking of which, I always found 2002 Cadets to be really cringey for the most part. Bugle Boy slaps, though. The fire house stunt that Hop organized was weird and confusing. I think about it a lot because I bike past Camp Randall and that fire station a couple of times a week. 

On the subject of Madison, WI... Scouts were trying to be their usual 90s selves, but it didn't have the usual quality.

SCV was a pretty blah show. Original music, I think? which didn't really stand out. A very cookie cutter early 2000s show concept. 

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I will comment more on 2002, but for starters I remember being blown away by Magic of Orlando but forgot they competed division II that year, yet still made Finals and took 11th place. I guess for some reason I thought they were Div I (aka World Class). Someone remind me of what the deal was here. Also, was this the only year Seattle Cascades made top 12? 

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The 2002 season was a pretty solid summer for DCI.  As FTNK mentioned, I believe many more of the corps were using Bb/F brass with perhaps a few G lines still out there. For me, there were similarities to 2001 in which I thought the Cavaliers were the only corps to really bring a production to the field that had championship-level qualities.

Once again Blue Devils and Cadets were in the 2nd/3rd place spots (having tied for 2nd the year before) and both corps had good shows with their typical amazing performance captions but were just somehow missing the mark with design and GE. 

Santa Clara's show was solid and perhaps a little ground-breaking for them, but not my favorite Vanguard show. But you could see the steps they were taking in design that would push them to 2003 and beyond. By season's end they were only 1.1 behind Cadets.

Boston was amazing and I loved every minute! What a show! If someone said I want to watch only two shows from 2002, I would say watch Cavaliers for the visual masterpiece that it is and Boston for the total show that it is!

Phantom was also solid but I would have put them in 6th behind Boston instead of the tie.

Bluecoats made a huge leap in quality after a very successful 2001 show that featured the incredible Red Cape Tango. This was the first time Bloo had jumped on top of Glassmen in a number of years.

The Glassmen started the season incredibly strong, beating most corps they faced with the exception of Cavaliers. When I first saw Glassmen early I thought they were going to make another top 5 run.  Still an excellent show!

Crossmen were fantastic! Also one of my favorite shows of 2002 along with Boston, Magic, Bluecoats, Seattle, and Cavaliers.

No Madison in the top 12 (14th) and no Crown. For Madison it was becoming clear that they were unable to continue pushing their 90s style that had been so good to them. Although they would make a few more appearances in the top 12 after 2002 it was pretty clear even then that Madison was no longer playing with the Big Boys for top 5 or 6. They needed to find something new without completely abandoning the old, but as we all know that is easier said than done. Crown would turn things around and never look back after their 16th place finish in 02.

As with 2000 and 2001, 02 continued with the addition of corps using Bb/F brass, yet (as FTNK mentions) we were a few years away from amps, narration, singing, electronics and all the bells and whistles that we see today. We were also leaving what I often referred to as the "Whiplash" or "run-n-gun" era. Visual design was shifting from the old Garfield Cadets style (and also the early theatrical styles pioneered by SCV from 85-91) to what Cavaliers were crafting, which can be hard to explain but involved more sequentially-timed ideas (often small 4-count to 8-count moves or effects) mixed with block-based form structures and their usual kaleidoscopic style. The Cavaliers were also masterful in how they coordinated music and many wondered if the music was written after the drill. In truth I think it was a bit of both, but however they worked it the collaborative effort was incredible and clearly made them a dominant force.




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Below are the top 4 and some of my thoughts:

  1. The Cavaliers    1    99.150    Frameworks - Frameworks 

From the onset of the season and my first time seeing them it was apparent they had another winner on their hands. BD came south and east early and were losing early to Cavaliers and Cadets. I first saw Cavaliers in Toledo, OH. Did not see Cadets until Hershey, PA, and did not see BD during their South and East Coast swing, but did catch them later at the Midwestern Championships in Indianapolis, IN in the old RCA Dome before they build the new stadium. Below is the first show the top 3 met just for reference, even though I was not at that show.

June 22, 2002 Orlando, FL

1 The Cavaliers 81.300
2 The Cadets 78.400
3 Blue Devils 77.100
4 Spirit 63.500
5 Carolina Crown 62.550
6 Kiwanis Kavaliers 52.200

1 Magic of Orlando 75.400
2 Teal Sound 49.800

You can tell from the scores that the Cavaliers came out with the total package. I think most appreciate this show from a visual standpoint, but I enjoyed the music too, and their brass line was outstanding to go along with their always solid percussion lines. My fist viewing was at a stadium that did not have a super high vantage point, yet what they were doing visually worked incredibly well from lower vantage points too. Musically the show is not a meat-and-potatoes package that drives in the way a Madison or Blue Devils show might, and it was vastly different from the symphonic packages you would get from Garfield, SCV, Phantom, etc. It had more elements of minimalism with some melodic fragments to tie things together. The integration of the music and visual was stunning, even though it did take me a while to grasp what I was seeing. Nonetheless, the visual aspect was apparent from my first viewing and after seeing BD and Cadets later in the summer it was obvious those two challengers simply did not have the total show to compete. Whether you like or dislike Cavaliers 2002 it is certainly one of those shows that gets mentioned when folks talk about greatest shows of all time. 

  • Blue Devils    2    97.300    Jazz: Music Made in America - Ragtime * I Got Rhythm (from Girl Crazy) * Fascinating Rhythm * House of the Rising Sun * Channel One Suite  

As Jeff noted, BD started the season with a show that needed some big edits and cleaning. I did not get to see them early season but did follow scores and reviews. Coming South and East certainly gave them a chance to see Cavaliers and Cadets early. I am sure that gave them an idea of what they were going up against and what may need to be changed. By the time I saw BD they were beginning to hit all cylinders and looked and sounded fantastic! Musically it's a great Blue Devils show! Classic swing, ragtime, your usual amazing Wayne Downey arrangements. As always the performance captions for BD were top tier. Visually the show is good, just not Earth shaking. GE was good too, but not Cavaliers quality. Still, they managed to pass Cadets by late season to take 2nd. I think Cadets were still ahead of BD at DCI Eastern Classic (which was held in Philly for some reason) and Cadets also beat them at Quarterfinals. Then BD topped Cadets for 2nd at Semis and Finals. So Cadets won all meetings until the last two shows. 

  • The Cadets    3    96.750    An American Revival - Times Square (from On the Town) * The Place Where Dreams Come True (from Field of Dreams) * Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy * Fancy Free * America The Beautiful  

An American Revival is not a bad show, though some will mention the cheese factor. There was plenty of cheese to be sure, but more late season that early. I understood why they did the show...we all did. After 9-11-2001 and the events in NYC, Washington, and Pennsylvania it was very appropriate for The Cadets to plan such a show. Much like BD, the Cadets were amazing in all their performance captions. Brass, percussion, guard, was all there. They won percussion at Finals. My take on the show itself is that it was uneven. There are pure moments of joy and sheer drum corps excitement in this show. The Bernstein opener is excellent. The "Field of Dreams" music is beautiful and builds to the Pledge of Allegiance, which the corps did say on the field with a chordal overlay of America heard in the background before a nicely timed big hit with American flag. This portion of the show was controversial to some, but I loved it and still do. I think some felt it was cheesy, and others felt they were pandering to people's patriotic emotions for the sake of score. In the end, it is a patriotic show, so yes it is meant to pull at those emotional strings. I personally thought it was fitting. Following this the corps plays a version of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy that would have the Andrews Sisters and Bette Midler jumping for joy. Boogie Woogie was a highlight at Finals for sure, even if you didn't care for the full show. They design and staging for this was impeccable and likely helped their GE all season. From Fancy Free into the closer is where they kind of lost me. Too many quotes and layers in the phrasing to really build to the end, and the tribute to our Firemen at Finals was awkward. Again, I get what a certain person was trying to accomplish, but sometimes too many tricks and gadgets in a show can ruin the most basic and simple effects that drive the machine. The 1995 patriotic show by Cadets is one of my favorite Americana shows, and though 2002 is not the best or as good as 1995 it is not as bad as some make out. It could have been magnificent but likely included too many cheesy effects and gimmicks.  Still, the show received a lot of applause and really got the crowd going during BWBB. In many ways I thought this show was going to take 2nd, but while BD was cleaning the Cadets' staff were adding too much Americana to a show that likely did not need anymore. It cost them a spot.

  • Santa Clara Vanguard    4    95.650    Sound, Shape and Color - Trivandrum * Symphony No. 2 * Symphony for Organ and Orchestra (Movement 2) * Symphony for Organ and Orchestra (Movement 3)  

SCV began the summer strong, even beating BD for a while when BD flew back to the West coast after their early East coast tour. Someone mentioned that this music may have been an original composition for the corps but I don't think so. I am not familiar with the music and have not looked it up yet, but I did enjoy many aspects of this show. SCV definitely explored some new ground that I think setup their 2003 show. They were not that far off of Cadets and BD by season's end. 

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One other quick note: 2002 was the 30th Anniversary for DCI. I remember going to Madison for Quarters and Semis and then drove home. Trying to get decent tickets for Finals was almost impossible since I had not bought them early. I remember a huge crowd that year, even for Quarters and Semis. 

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My first finals week attendance! So 2002 will always get a boost in my memory. Also, being my first finals week, I went to EVERY performance all three days (including Cap Regiment and Magic on Wednesday night). A staggering amount of drum corps that I've not ingested since. 

I'd agree with Jeff that nothing was legendary, but nothing was bad. 

One highlight was some drum corps fan that sat behind me with a thick northeast accent - can't remember if he was from NY or Boston. Hosted some kind of radio show. Anyway, after Cadets pulled their firetruck stunt, he said "I wanna shove my foot up Hopkins's ###." 

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13 hours ago, jwillis35 said:

I will comment more on 2002, but for starters I remember being blown away by Magic of Orlando but forgot they competed division II that year, yet still made Finals and took 11th place. I guess for some reason I thought they were Div I (aka World Class). Someone remind me of what the deal was here. Also, was this the only year Seattle Cascades made top 12? 

Magic had to come back as D2 after the years off. However they basically did a full tour with basically a full corps. Wind and the Lion...such great stuff

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oh...the Royal Airs on Friday...hearing Brandt say "on the starting line"...and they brought their own starters pistol!


SCV alumni did a standstill Saturday too!

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