Rising Tides by John Riley: Chapter 3

Rising Tides summarizes the past week of tour with in-depth reviews and interviews of Pacific Crest staff and members. We are grateful to alumnus John Riley for writing these stories!

With the home-show-hype settled down, the members headed out to Moreno Valley, CA where they have been rehearsing at Valley View High School for the week before they left for Utah on July 5th.

Free Day in San Diego, CA – June 29, 2015

Everything seems brighter on a free day. The sun shines brighter, the atmosphere is lighter, and it’s a chance to put on clean clothes and give the rehearsal shoes a chance to air out – flip flops are the default foot-wear of choice and sock tans are worn like badges of honor. A free day is a chance for the drum corps to step back from the work and explore a new city for the day.

The routine today is much different than it normally looks on a rehearsal day. Instead of waking up ready for a day of work and rehearsal, the members wake up for a day of leisure. Make-up and/or fixing your hair is not important when you’re going to don a baseball cap and sweat for twelve hours, but for a free day, it’s a golden opportunity to break out the nice clothes – the clean clothes and the cute clothes (ladies).

Race Krueger, three-year snare age-out observed “electricity in the air” as they were getting ready to leave the housing site for San Diego. “With back to back [shows] and getting ready for all days in Moreno Valley, it was nice to get some time off.”

Second-year baritone member, Victoria MacFarland got to spend her free day at home in Moreno Valley. “It was nice, because I got to see my animals, do laundry, and let my body and mind rest from all the rehearsing.” It’s quite the luxury to be able to do laundry at home while on tour without having to carry a roll of quarters.

It’s also a day to change things up in terms of eating choices. Corps feed their members healthy foods that result in strategic calorie burns that meet the demands of the day. For lunch, they’ll eat something lighter and rich in protein so that the members don’t experience a mid-afternoon energy slump or if the rehearsal day is short enough, lunch is replaced with a mid-rehearsal snack, usually fruit and soda is NEVER an option. A free day completely disrupts the patterns of healthy and purposeful eating. Race laughs as he says, “I ate some pretty unhealthy food today.” I chose not to inquire further.

Moreno Valley, CA – July 1-5, 2015

Members typically refer to this week in Moreno Valley as “hell week”, due to the normal scorching hot temperatures, lack of breeze, and long rehearsal days. As great as the weather was in Oceanside, that is how terrible the weather can be. This week is more than just another week of conditioning for the long and hot summer days through the Midwest and the South. After the free day in San Diego, Race told me that it normally takes a couple days to recover from having that day off, but this year, the corps was able to get back into the game again. “We came in ready, to go, and had a really great first rehearsal block to start the week.” He also hyperbolizes how it was nice that there weren’t too many changes and how they didn’t have to re-learn the entire show during the week.

There was also a nearby wildfire just outside Moreno Valley. The ambient red glow of the flames was visible from the stadium in the distance. Race comments, “It was weird being in ensemble and seeing it on a hill behind us. We almost lost our focus level – everyone was so focused on this one thing outside of rehearsal and it got through our systems, ‘Hey, we’re in rehearsal, we have to pay attention.”

Matt Lackey, an alumnus of Pacific Crest, marched with the corps in 2000 and 2001 on baritone, joined the staff in 2004, and currently serves as the Visual Caption Supervisor. The members are on everyday, but it’s not uncommon for staff to rotate in and out, since many staff members have other 9-to-5 jobs throughout the year. “There are about six staff members that are educators who have the summers off, so we are really fortunate to have them with us on tour for the summer.” Matt outlines the challenges of a rotating staff during the summer. “When one of us comes back, we settle into a ‘tech’ role the first day back, where we’re not in there trying to save the world or disturb the vibe of what has been working before we got there. We get our daily progress reports, but that ‘rehearsal vibe’ is important not to upset.”

A couple things that Matt posits about having this week in Moreno Valley is, “when you’re performing back-to-back, you get audience reaction and judges feedback, and you figure out what is working and what is falling flat in terms of design. Having this week is a great time to make changes and adjustments to the show – we taught new drill this week, so what you’re going to see the next time we’re out there is something completely different than what you saw at the Rose Bowl. We’ve also added almost an entire minute and a half of new choreography to the show.” He continues, “For a World Class drum corps, the show is never done until World Championships. At Sneak Preview, the goal was to stage and perform the show in it’s entirety, but we continue to develop it along the way, and that’s just the beginning of the story.”

This week, the corps also hosted a clinic for the Moreno Valley Unified School District on Friday July 3. It was a chance for Pacific Crest to give back to the community as a sign of goodwill for allowing Pacific Crest to house at Valley View High School for the week. Race is very candid in discussing that when you’re on the road and you have these long rehearsal days, you can begin to ask yourself why you’re doing this activity. “The young faces and these kids who think you’re just so great at what you do – it makes you think back to when you were that age and how desperately you wanted to be part of something like this [drum corps],” are but one of many summer reminders of why Race does drum corps.

Moreno Valley, CA – July 4, 2015

Most people celebrate July fourth with family members at a barbeque, watching fireworks, or shooting off their own (legal/illegal) fireworks. But for the drum corps members, this is a deviation from what a normal Fourth of July looks like. In fact, being in a drum corps creates fond memories of Independence Day that will last a lifetime.

If Race weren’t doing drum corps, he’d be at home with his family and girlfriend lighting off fireworks. But what he likes about being with the corps on the Fourth of July is that you have 149 best friends with you, who share extremely similar interests.”

“The corps is just another piece of your family,” asserts Victoria.

Well, PC has left California – but you can still catch updates on the website at www.pacific-crest.org as well as “Liking” us on Facebook and following the corps on Instagram, @pacificcrest.