San Antonio to Houston

24 Jul

Half-way through.

I had the privilege to be able to travel to San Antonio this weekend for DCI Southwest at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. I know this sounds crazy, but I was actually EXCITED to get out of Indianapolis and go to Texas because of the weather. I had heard there wasn’t a lot of humidity in Texas, so I was excited to get out of the lake called Indy.

Travel started on Thursday. Jeff told me I would be going to Houston on Friday with him for the Tournament of Champions (TOC) show. I was really pumped to hear this. Through reading Drum Corps Planet (DCP), I had only heard positive things. I was surely ready to get my face melted off by 600+ brass players.

Jeff, Zongwei, and I left the office around 5 p.m. for the airport. There was a lot of traffic, but we got to the airport with plenty of time. As soon as we parked, there was a shuttle that pulled up in front of us, asking for a ride. Indianapolis Airport was sending around more shuttles around the parking lots, to keep people out of the heat.

Getting through security was a breeze. We got to our gate with plenty of time to waste. In the gate area we spotted a Coldstone Creamery. After doing the math (ice cream + hot day = perfect), we got some ice cream for dinner. Unfortunately, the whole time I was standing there, all I could think of was Aziz Ansari’s comedy bit about Coldstone, so I couldn’t help from laughing.

We boarded the plane around 7 p.m. When I got on, I discovered that AirTran offered free SiriusXM Radio. Perfect! That way, I was able to keep abreast of the NFL lockout shenanigans. When I boarded the plane, I knew that the owners were still in their meeting, waiting to vote. As soon as the plane took off, I plugged my headphones in to listen. Luckily, I turned it on at the very beginning of a ‘SportsCenter Break.” The first words I heard: “The NFL Owners have voted 31-0 to ratify the new CBA.” And, to no one’s surprise, the Oakland Raiders didn’t vote. Shocking.

I was elated! Finally, there will be football.

But wait, there’s more.

The opening of the Brian Penny Show came on next on ESPN Radio. All the elation I felt was thrown out the window during his opening monologue. He was saying that the players didn’t like the changes made to the CBA before the owners voted on it. So, when I heard the players weren’t going to vote, I knew there wouldn’t be one tonight. Bummercitytown.

We landed in Atlanta, and had a quick connection on the San Antonio. I am not exaggerating when I say that Jeff, Mat, and I got off our plane, walked to the gate, and walked right on to the other plane. Atlanta was PACKED with people. Getting to the gate was a hassle in-and-of itself.

Finally, we landed in San Antonio 11. I ended up watching my new favorite show, ‘Community,’ the entire ride. The whole CBA-negotiating thing was just to frustrating. But with the awesome paintball episodes, which I will probably watch after I am done writing this, how could I not be entertained? Once everyone got their luggage, Mat stayed back to grab Zongwei from his 11:45 flight, while Jeff and I got our rental car and went to the hotel. We got to pick out the car we wanted for the weekend, and it needed space. I saw the Nissan Cube, and joking said we should get that. Jeff always wanted to say he drove one, so we decided on that one.

We got to the hotel a little after midnight. Check-in was a piece-of-cake, and went to the room to drop our stuff off. Since we hadn’t had an actual dinner, we walked about a mile to a Denny’s. BreakfAst food is always so good late at night. After we walked back to the hotel, I decided to put on TV. I don’t think I would ever say this, but I couldn’t watch ESPN. I have been going through withdrawals from it all summer, but I couldn’t stand to listen to Roger Goodall or DeMaurice Smith anymore. I found Alaska State Troopers on NatGeo, which has a lot of very good shows. I fell asleep shortly after.

Friday was jammed packed of activities. We went to the Alamodome after breakfast. It was right in the backyard of our hotel, so it was nice not having to drive there. We set up the internet, canopus boxes, and the basic layout for the next day. Jeff and I left the stadium at 1 p.m., and got in our Cube, bound for Houston. The drive was nice. A lot of wide open areas, cattles, and nothingness. We stopped at What-a-burger for some lunch. The fry container says “There is one near you!” False. There is not one in Connecticut. They are only in the south. Work on that.

We got to the stadium around 5 p.m., as the Cadets were wrapping up rehearsal. The security at the stadium rivaled Fort Knox. I have never been asked to see my badge so many times. Usually, they see it, it registers with them, and I can go on my merry way. I was questioned twice from the time I got to the gate and up into the press box.

The set-up was pretty straight forward, since we were only doing VOD’s and it was getting to the point where we had done it so many times, it was old hat. Around 6:30, the evenings “activities” began. Before the show, small ensembles performed while the crowd was moseying around. The kids from the different corps also intermingled with the spectators, as a way to get the crowd and performers closer. Very awesome. I got some B-roll of all of the pre-show festivities. I love it when there is so much stuff going on. Makes my job a whole lot easier.

The show started at 7:30, with the Blue Stars. After each corps performance, they would do what is called an “Instant Encore.” They would all get close together, and play one song for the crowd.  All 8 corps did this. The spectators were eating that stuff up, really enjoying the show the corps were putting on.

After the last corps, they did what was called the “Mass Finale.” The 600+ brass players who marched in those corps would come on the field and play altogether. I was able to go on the field, in-between the performers to get footage. I almost got caught in the form too. I didn’t know all of the arcs collapsed, but good thing I caught it out of the corner of my eye. I was able to run and sneak between two trumpets, and avoid everything. But being in that arc, I can tell you that it was loud. I got goosebumps while walking around.

After the brass was done playing, there was awards. After the usual awards ceremony, all of the drumlins gathered by the gate to “play out the crowd.” I use that term loosely. Basically, all the drummers just started playing at the same time. it sounded like 100 shoes rolling around a dryer, and my head was right in the middle of it. I walked around and got footage of the kids drumming, interacting with the different corps, and all-around tom foolery. Between that, and the Mass Finale, my hearing was shot.

Once we got to our hotel, the work began. We had to trim all of the VOD’s down to put them on Brightcove, as well as make some commercials. We ended up working until 2:30 in the morning, finishing up around then. After a “nap,” we got up at 7 to hit the road. We had to make the three-hour drive back to San Antonio, and the show started at 2:30. At breakfast, we caught up with the other DCI employees who were also making the trek. We set off around 8:30, on the road again, to San Antonio.

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Posted by on July 24, 2011 in DCI Internship


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