A friend I met while living in Las Vegas would say something is “Life Changing” when it’s better than good. It’s the best thing you’ve ever experienced in that realm. So much that it would cause you to mend your life, and alter your ways.

It can apply to anything. Caribou Coffee’s hot chocolate is good, but you can get life-changing hot chocolate at Angelina’s in Paris near the Louvre.

Since the 2017 WGI season is kicking off, it’s fitting I share a story about a drumline show that for me was life changing. It all coincides with my first trip to WGI. I’ve loved winter guard and winter drumline since I first saw them both in 1993. But strangely, my first pilgrimage to Dayton for WGI finals was in 2016 for percussion and winds finals.

It was incredible being there in person. Like the first time I went to DCI finals, I was in awe. So many great performances, and some were huge productions. The Cavaliers Indoor wowed me with their floor, backdrop, cliffs, bridges, story-line – not to mention some fine percussion work. Music City Mystique had an amazing display of color with cleverly choreographed lights.

Sure, most people that year will probably talk about RCC’s timing penalty during semi-finals. It put them in 14th (out of 15 that make it to Saturday night), when they should have been near the top. They jumped from 14th to 2nd. Could they have taken the championship if they were seated higher? Maybe.

I liked RCC’s show but¬†the performance that changed my life was the 3rd place finisher. Broken City from Orange County moved me with their 2016 production titled “Cage.”

They didn’t have a huge array of props. Yes they had some Czech Hedgehog looking structures that they moved, but they weren’t flashy or extravagant. They were rather abstract. They required some imagination to even figure out what they were or what they symbolized. Also¬†intriguing was the single Edison bulb, standing lonely within the front ensemble.

More than a drumline I felt like it was a metal band with battery-percussion ensemble playing backup. They had two great set drummers and an electric guitarist. They used a vocal track from one of their founders, Adam Watts, not to tell a story, but to set a tone. The raw emotion combined with their fantastic playing is what got me. They reached out and grabbed me. I had pretty cheap tickets, so it was a long reach – but they brought everyone there with them.

I came across this essay by Alexander Lee about Cage. His musings about this show validate why I like it so much. At its heart, it is drumline. But it is also so much more. It is life-changing.

If you saw it in person, you know what I’m talking about. Video doesn’t do it justice, but it will give you an idea:

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