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The Sound Machine Archive Presents|
1998 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews - As Posted on RAMD!
Reviews Were Last Updated on Saturday August 15th, 1998
Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when
they are available or submitted. The following reviews are solely the opinion
of the reviewers. If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author,
all reviews are signed with an email address. If you want to add your review to
this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to:
Saturday August 15
|Orlando, FL (DCI FINALS)
The weather - frightening. Pouring rain, tons of lightening, and lots of
thunder in the middle of the afternoon. The bad weather cleared up before the
show, but some ugly looking clouds made their way toward the Citris Bowl when
Crossmen were on - nothing materialized. End result - a bit warm and humid,
but not unbearable, and no rain. Not a bad deal.
Carolina Crown - 85.7 - I thought Crown was a bit off tonight. The horn line
phased a bit during Armenian Dances, and there were some individuals sticking
out of the ensemble. The drill was also a bit dirtier. Overall, it seemed to
me that they kind of let themselves down, just thankful that they made it into
finals again. I was very surprised by their moving ahead of Colts. I did not
think this was right at all.
Colts - 85.3 - The Colts beat the record high 12th place score previously held
by 88 Sky Ryders (85.1), but I have no idea what happened tonight. I thought
the Colts had a great show. Overall, the visual program was cleaner (1 bari
fell, but quickly recovered), and the show was charged. The brass line got a
bit losse around the edges at the end of the show, but was excellent for the
rest of the show. I actually thought they beat Bluecoats tonight.
Bluecoats - 87.1 - Bluecoats were off tonight as well. Their brass line was
rough around the edges most of the show, and there were several people sticking
out of the ensemble. I enjoyed their semifinals performance much better than
Blue Knights - 89.5 - Mellophone intonation was a big problem tonight - right
from the start it wasnot good, and the mellophone soloist in the Adagio from
New World Symphony had intonation problems as well. The visual performance was
off as well - far more interval problems and dirt in the drill than in semi's
and quarters. Their placement was correct.
Phantom Regiment - 90.4 - Another charged performance from PR, although they
too had several members of the horn line sticking out of the ensemble. Their
emotional performance caused a bit of a slip in the quality of the execution.
Their program design was a severely limiting factor for them this year.
Crossmen - 91.4 - WOW! Hot performance tonight by Crossmen. Guard was tight,
percussion rocked, drill was clean, and the horn line was blowing and going.
Nice job tonight and a well deserved 7th place finish.
Madison - 91.9 - Why their score went down, I'll never know. Madison was hot
tonight. A significant improvement over last night. The crowd loved them as
usual. When they were marching on the field, a maintenance crew member was
moving the striping machine off the field after doing some touch ups to the
yard lines; however, he did not move fast enough and was caught right in the
middle of the corps marching across the field to their opening set. Kind of
screwed up their formation. For this, he received a loud BOO from the crowd.
Not much booing from the crowd when Madison was announced in 6th - basically
because that is where they belonged. But they did receive a loud ovation from
the crowd, thanking them for another entertaining performance.
Glassmen - 92.8 - Glassmen were on fire tonight - definately wanting to hold on
to that 5th place spot. The drum line was smoking, and the horn line was rock
solid. their show is absolutley beautiful, and they perform the hell out of
it. One of my favorite shows of the evening.
Cavaliers - 96.2 - First of all - jeers to Cavies for their obniouxiously loud
"SPLOOIE" in the tunnel before they performed. It was heard loud and clear
right in the middle of the slow section of Glassmen's show. I don't know
whether or not penalities are still assessed for being heard during another
corps performance, but that used to result in a 1 point penalty. They deserved
a penalty for that IMO. Ok - off my soap box. Cavies had an emotionally
charged performance, but like so many others this evening, they let it affect
their execution. The drum line had some dirt that was not heard in semi's and
quarters (the reason they did not win drums tonight), and the guard again had
some flags popping up early in the closer. Fantastic performance by Cavies,
and what a come back from last year. I give them the most improved award for
Santa Clara Vanguard - 97.9 - SCV was on fire - hot show! They entered the
stadium to cheers from the crowd of "SCV! SCV!" They performed with greater
power and emotion tonight, but did not let it affect their execution. They
received multiple standing ovations from the crowd. High percussion and music
ensemble were deserved. They deserved to beat BD tonight. Absolutely
fantastic job! Congrats.
Blue Devils - 97.7 - BD had a good show tonight. Not as emotional as SCV -
just very well executed. For the third night in a row, the sopranno soloist in
"Maria" cracked, and the Mellophone soloist at the beginning of "Cool" cracked
as well. BD's guard was excellent, and they deserved the guard title. The
best brass performance was well deserved, but I disagreed with the best visual
ensemble tie with CBC. CBC deserved that caption, with SCV behind them, and BD
next. BD's drum line and show design were their weak links.
Cadets of Bergen County - 98.4 - An absolutely amazing performance pulled out
by CBC tonight. Their caption wins (visual ensemble, marching performance, and
overall GE) were well deserved. CBC was clearly the best on the field tonight
(even though SCV and BD were not far behind in performance quality). CBC
deserved this title, and the corwd seemed to agree. The crowd seemed really
behind SCV, but there was no booing when they were announced second. There was
nothing but an extremely loud and boisterous approval by the crowd to the
announcement of their championship. Congrats Cadets.
Captions were not announced until after the scores had been announced - much
better than last year when captions were mixed in with the scores. There was a
fantastic fireworks display right at the end of America the Beautiful. Spirit of
Disney award to Cavies? The award for creativity and imagination being awarded
to a corps that did a retro show? Beats the hell out of me.
The 3 young men from the Cavaliers that saved the childs life at Epcot earlier
in the week were honored before the crowd, and they received a very long
ovation. However, they did not really say what exactly they had done - bet
there were many people there that didn't know what it was all about. Anyway,
you three gentlemen did your corps and the activity proud!
Overall - a great year. Hope next year is as good, or even better. Thanks to
all of the competing units this week for your hard work and fantastic
Okay...it's a bit late, so pardon the inconsistent spelling/grammar I'm sure
will be present :)
General Comments: Nice weather, rained before the show, but not a drop during.
Drill cliches: Suicide circles and opposing motion snakes seemed to be the
theme of the night as nearly every corps had one or the other.
High brass(?): Nearly every corps had some beautiful bari and contra moments,
and nearly every corps had some nasty sop passages. Why?
On to the corps...
Yamato: Only saw half the show, but liked what I saw. Excellent use of props to
make the field smaller and the corps look bigger. Snares were dirty, and the tuning
sounded high school bandish, but otherwise a good, fun show. Nice brass.
Mandarins: This is *not* what I have come to expect from this corps. Poor
intonation and just plain bad sounds from the hornline, sops especially. Drumline
was excellent, and I have to wonder why they taceted so much, since they were the
strength of the corps. Guard was also excellent. I was bored the first half of
the show, but the percussion feature was innovative and entertaining. Visual
was *extremely* sloppy. There was little, if any, identifiable marching
technique, and horn moves, direction changes, all were severely lacking.
Overall a good show, but not what I would expect of a champion, frankly.
Spartans: Is this corps trying to be the Blue Knights in black? Middle portion
of the show was from BK 97 almost note for note. Brass had some intersectional
tuning problems, but it was somewhat excusable as each section played in tune with
itself. Nice marching for a small corps. Big pet peeve though, the guard can't
dance! If you can do dance, and do it right, it can be effective, but sloppy
out of sync dance just makes them look amateurish. Nice show, but a little
East Coast Jazz: Nice sop soloist! Much more exciting music than the Spartans,
and a better hornline....weren't as clean marching which probably held them back from
taking the title by themselves. Very fun show. Thanks for entertaining us, East Coast.
Carolina Crown: I loved the opening drill and fanfare of Russian Christmas music.
Musically a good show, with nothing really outstanding, but no real weak points.
*Great* drill. Whoever they have, they need to keep him...very Cavie like. Guard was
excellent, but the unis were ugly throughout the entire show. I couldn't decide
whether I liked Armenian Dances, or thought it was cheesy. A few more viewings
would have determined it. Great improvement over last year, but they still lack
a show stopper section or passage.
Colts: Why did Crown beat these guys? I'm not a tremendous fan of the show,
but I really can't see that they surrendered anything to Crown except maybe some
crowd effect, but entertainment certainly doesn't often effect scores anymore.
Great hornline, and a drumline that makes their presence known in a big way
(read: loud), not a terribly difficult show, but a clean one, and one that had
much more in the way of polish than Crown, from my perspective.
Bluecoats: Nice show. Good hornline that really made some decibels. I really
wasn't thrilled with this show, especially Summertime. I thought the arrangement
was choppy, and lacked the true feel of the original. Like Crown, this corps needs
something to make themselves stick out, they tend to fade into the background.
Blue Knights: True to Blue Knight's form, this show left me puzzled. There were
some very nice moments (loved the butterflys), but I still felt like I had missed
some deep metaphysical meaning. Ode to Joy was a bit cheesy....can't imagine that
tune not being cheesy except perhaps as a straight ahead, balls to the wall
27th Lancer like number. Hornline made lots of sound for their numbers, good
Phantom Regiment: Sorry, I don't get what's so horrible about this show. They
placed where they should have, IMO, but I was not dissapointed in the least. Nice
drill, if it took them most of two tours to get it right ;) Music was a little odd,
but pleasant. Guard was excellent....brass was powerful and had some great contra
and bari sounds. Sops were extremely iffy in some spots, but the guy next to me
who had been there all week said it was the best they've played all week.
Anybody know what the latin on the big grey triangular flag they unfurl at the
end translates to?
Crossmen: I saw this corps at Night of Magic in June, and they have made *tremendous*
progress. Show was exciting and fun...still lacked some punch, though. Drill
was very dirty, and the corps needs to learn to march before they learn to run.
Drumline kinda dissappeared on me...didn't grab my attention really at all.
While the show isn't nearly as good, I think Crossmen's hornline this year is
probably better than last...much clearer uniform tone. Color coordination of
this corps was quite frankly awful....cream, black, three different shades of
turquoise, and silver?? Ugh...fire the guy who made that decision. Drums are
Madison: Frankly, I was dissapointed. Show never clicked with me....didn't make
me stand up and yell like a Scouts show should. Nice performance...just not a
great show. The all snare line sounded cool, but the all tenor section was dull
as they didn't really play anything. Better luck next year guys.
Glassmen: Wow....impressive performance from all caption in this corps. Brass
had an extremely dark, bottom end sound, and could make some decibels, too. Nice
opener, but the ballad and everything after lost me....my interest waned until
the kites. Speaking of the kites....what is up with Glassmen's guard equipment?
The show is the music of Alexander Borodin, who was Russian, and the guard is
wearing Mongolian/Tibetan garb, and the guard equipment was neither Russian
*or* Mongolian in flavor. The green rifles were just tacky.
Cavies: Wow! When did the Cavies get a hornline?? Just kidding. But this is
definitely a vast improvement in horns over the Cavies of the recent past. I
love this show...definitely the most entertaining of the night. Liked the old
style guard alot, and once again the Cavies lead the way in exposed, difficult,
and most importantly, *entertaining* drill. If you had switched unis, I
wouldn't have had any trouble believing this was the Scouts. One problem,
though. Somebody tell the Cavies that putting a mute in the horn *changes* the
intonation of the horn. Now this doesn't create a problem within the hornline
since the sops play the muted section by themselves, but they are *right*
behind the pit in that section, and the intonation b/w the sops and the
keyboards in the pit is nasty. That was brief, however, and the only glitch I
saw in the show.
Blue Devils: Interesting show....mesh of WSS and R&J works better than I thought
it did. Blue Devils definitely put a clinic in brass playing for everyone year in
and year out, and this year is no exception. Aside from the sop soloist who
fracked(!), I couldn't find a single tick in the brass program. Drumline was a
different story...lots of tacet, and I didn't like the tuning of the snares at
all. It sounds like they cranked both batter and snare heads, then let the
snares buzz pretty loose....don't like the sound it produced at all. Drill had
lots of exposure for the Blue Devils quality marching and cleanliness, but was
not exciting at all. Need some spice in the visual program. Just out of
curiosity, is their arrangement of "Cool" based on the movie/broadway version,
or the "Cool" from West Side Story Symphonic Dances? It sounds like the latter
Santa Clara: Loved the show...second best brass of the night, and possibly the loudest.
Down a Country Lane and the tune after it were great....clean, tight, polished,
exciting show. Damned if I know why they didn't win.
Cadets: Excuse me, but what the HELL were those judges watching? I saw a corps that:
A) Had some of the worst marching technique on the field tonight.
B) Played runs extraordinarily dirtily.
C) Had sop fracks, poor intonation, and bad sounds all over the place.
D) Watered the brass book so much I'm surprised the field wasn't wet when they
The show was designed well, but in alot of areas, execution was nothing so much
as lackluster. The drumline is the only section that could be said to be really
clean, and I'm not a drummer, and certainly not an expert, but the Cadets drum
book sounded like variations on a paradiddle to me, with buzz rolls and rim
shots thrown in for variety. I don't get it....
1) High mark time: if you're going to do it, do it right (Crown looked
downright bad doing it).
2) Lack of polish: Outside of the top 5, with the exception of Colts, every
corps had minor screwups that severely detract from the appearance of the show.
Poor direction changes, sloppy horns ups and downs, differing horn angles, etc.
1) Horn lines: Just about every line in finals made improvements over last
year, some drastically.
2) Entertainment: Not where it should be, but at least some of the classical
stuff now has a concerted effort towards getting the crowd involved.
3) Drill: Drill quality is vastly improving. It's getting more interesting,
more entertaining, and *gasp* more symetrical. Cavies geometric drill
influences are apparent in just about every corps. Wake up Cadets, your
"whiplash drill" is out of date.
Well this, IMO, is a better finals than last year, and definitely better than
96. Aside from disgruntlement over scores, I had a great time. The fireworks
during America/O Canada were absolutely stunning. Thanks Disney. I won't be
able to attend finals next year as a fan, but with some luck, I'll be on the
Thursday August 13
|Orlando, FL (DCI Quarter-Finals)
OK - here are the scores and my thoughts on Quarters:
First - the weather. Actually, not that bad today. It was a bit hot when
quarters first began, but not all that bad. No rain or even threats of rain.
Second - the stadium. The stadium nazi's were far better this year, than the
last 2 years. Significant improvement.
Third - the local news station that Steve Rondinaro works at had a helicopter
roaming around the stadium during several corps performances - extremely
annoying! When the announcer informed the crowd that the helicopter was from
the local news station, the crowd began to boo rather loudly.
OK - the corps.
Mandarins - 71.5 - Overall, they had a good show. Once again, a well put
together program by this corps. The taiko drumming was effective, and the
visual program was good. I thought their score and placement was correct.
Tarheel Sun - 73.4 - The corps is full and has a nice sound. The book was
written for the corps talent level, allowing them to excel and perform. The
visual program is a weakness - need more demand to be competitive, and the
battery book seemed quite easy. Overall, a great show. I thought their score
and placement was accurate.
Patriots - 73.3 - I'm sorry, but I have to say this - What the hell was your
show about? Definitely a WGI style show. They have red flags with what
appeared to be skulls on the top of the poles. In the closer the guard wears
white masks and , well whatever. It was just weird - no clear indication as to
what they were trying to do. The battery book seemed quite easy. I simply did
not like the show. It was too much like WGI.
Spartans - 73.0 - Most of their show is Holsinger's Ballet Sacre (even though
they title their show Sinfonia Voce). Overall, the show was a bit over their
heads. the demand of the show was evident in their execution (or lack
thereof). The flags they used looked an awful lot like the flags PR used in
95. The snare tuning was horrible - sounded like they were playing on a
formica kitchen counter. I agreed with the score and placement.
East Coast Jazz - 75.2 - HOT show! They have a soprano soloist that was
perhaps the best of the entire evening. Their pants are striped, which
improved the visual over their competition. The program was excellent, and the
level of demand seemed appropriate for the corps. The show was extremely
entertaining, and the crowd sure seemed to enjoy it. I agreed with the score
Troopers - 68.6 - I have to admit that the Troopers were much better than I
expected, based on what I had heard about them. Their program design was
excellent, and the members were really selling it. The mellophones were
excellent, as was the snare tuning. The sunburst received the usual crowd
reaction. I agreed with the score and the placement. If Troopers had to
compete against the Division II and III corps for a shot at a top 25 spot, I
honestly believe they would not have made the cut. The whole Division I/II/III
and championships routine can be discussed in another thread.
Les Etoiles - 79.1 - I must say that I really liked this show. For 28 horns,
they put out some sound. The show was exciting, and they had some very nice
moments. At the end of the show, the pit (which is on platforms with wheels)
is wheeled back across the field and over the guard. Then the snare line gets
into the revolving wheel of death thing-a-ma-bob. The corps really poured it
on too. Great job! I agreed with the score and placement.
Pioneer - 77.2 - They have a huge battery. I really liked the split snare line
- 5 on Kevlar, and 5 on Mylar. Nice effect. The show design was good, and it
was fairly well executed. The mellophones had some tuning problems, and there
was some phasing between the horn line and the pit. I'm not sure I like their
new uniforms. there are too many colors with not enough contrast. The khaki
pants are fine, but they need to stripe them. I agreed with their score and
Kiwanis Kavaliers - 79.2 - The horn line is finally making some impact. They
have continued to make improvements in the visual program, which are effective.
They continue to be plagued by intonation problems. As previously mentioned
on RAMD, their arrangements are in the key of B flat, which seems to be causing
this problem. Overall, they did a great job tonight. I thought they beat
Boston Crusaders - 80.6 - Boston seemed to have a few problems tonight. There
were some major space outs in marching. Seahawk was watered to death. All of
the demand was removed from the piece, and it sounds very high schoolish.
Conquest was met with a very lukewarm response, which was the result of their
lukewarm delivery. It was not the Conquest from BAC of the past. I was very
disappointed, and I thought that Kiwanis beat them.
Spirit of Atlanta - 83.2 - Spirit had a great show tonight, and the crowd
really got into their show. Most of the visual excitement in their show is
capsulated in the last 2 minutes of their show. The visual program is still
their weakness, and their horn line lacks tone quality on occasion, especially
from the baritones. I thought their score and placement was about right.
Magic of Orlando - 84.7 - this was my first viewing of Magic, and I was floored
by their horn line - absolutely amazing! Loud, tons of notes, awesome TQ&I,
and exciting. Their soloists are fantastic. At the end of the opener, they
hit a chord that is incredibly loud, then the DM turns around to the crowd,
holds up a single finger indicating we should wait, turns to the corps and
motions for them to increase the volume, the line cranks out perhaps the
loudest sounds of the evening, the DM faces the crowd, removes his hat, and
slams it on the podium. What power! Their guard is good again, but their drum
line is good, but nothing spectacular. Their visual program is typical Magic -
leaves much to be desired. Their uniforms lack color or anything. The jackets
are solid purple, and everything else is black. They just look bad. They
still have a shot at making finals, but it is slim at best. I agreed with
their score and placement.
Colts - 85.5 - This was my first viewing of the Colts, and I was a bit
disappointed, especially after Magic. Magic's show was just more entertaining
and exciting. Colts have a nice program. Their guard continues to improve,
and the horn line is much better than last year. They still put out some
volume, but control the tone quality much better than last year. The drum line
is pretty good, and they have a nice book. They performed well, it just that
the program lacks punch. I thought they belonged in 12th place, rather than
Carolina Crown - 85.1 - Crown is strong in all captions, and they performed
well tonight. Their guard is terrific. Armenian dances was well received, and
is really fun to watch. They are very clean, and they are getting good crowd
response. I thought they beat the Colts tonight.
Bluecoats - 88.5 - This is my first viewing of Coast, and I did not
particularly care for their show. I didn't like the arrangement of Summertime
or Autumn Leaves. Their drill is lackluster, but executed well. Their guard
has improved over last year. Overall, I felt like I was watching last years
show, or was that the year before? Or the year before? Oh well - they all
seem the same to me. Well executed, but nothing spectacular musically or
visually. I thought their score was high, but their placement was correct.
Phantom Regiment - 88.9 - I must say that the reports on RAMD about them were
dead on - very disappointing for PR. Their visual program is their weakness,
and they are still a bit dirty. The arrangements of the Pines of Rome leaves
much to be desired. The guard uniforms are quite nice - similar to BK last
year. I thought their score and placement were correct.
Crossmen - 90.1 - Can you say COLOR GUARD?!!!! WOW! Absolutely incredible!
The brass and percussion section do not appear to be quite as good as last
year, but they are still quite good. Their visual program is very good, but
their show is not quite as entertaining or engaging as prior years. The
Metheny music is nice, but it does not grab you and draw you into the show like
in the past few years. They removed the red from the cross on their uniforms
this year. Question is, WHY? They now have black tops with a silver outlined
cross on the front - a bit drab. I agree with their score, but did not think
they beat Blue Knights.
Blue Knights - 89.3 - An amazing performance by BK this evening. They have
really cleaned up their drill, and their guard is incredible. A really
beautiful show, with perhaps the best looking silks on the field. Their drum
line sounds great - both from a performance and from a tuning stand point. I
thought they beat Crossmen.
Glassmen - 91.8 - They were on tonight - absolutely awesome performance. Their
show is beautiful and flows really well. Their guard is strong, and their drum
line rocks. The percussion break in the opener is fantastic, and was well
received by the crowd. The snare tuning sounds fantastic. The horn line is
cranking out some decibels, and they are very clean. I was surprised their
score was not higher, and I thought they beat Madison tonight.
Madison Scouts - 92.5 - Madison seemed a bit off tonight. The horn line had
some problems in the opener, and they just didn't seem to be quite all there.
The guard had numerous problems too. They have an exciting show, and the
changes they made to the drill in the opener are a real improvement. The
visual performance was excellent, and they received a great crowd response. I
think they will beat Glassmen - I just didn't think they did the job tonight.
Cavaliers - 95.1 - Cavies rocked tonight. What a show! Very strong top to
bottom. With the exception of a couple of guard space outs, all captions were
rock solid. Their show is very exciting - some classic Cavies visual elements
with new music that is well performed. I really love their show, as did the
crowd. I thought their score was a bit low, but their placement was correct.
Cadets - 96.8 - Cadets quite easily have the best guard on the field. An awe
inspiring performance. They are marching much better than the past couple of
years, and their horn line is a bit better than last year. There was 1 major
percussion tick at the beginning of the percussion break in the second tune.
They really sold their show tonight, and the crowd responded to their rather
obscure show. I agreed with their score, but I thought they beat the Blue
Santa Clara Vanguard - 97.2 - SCV was on fire tonight! Was an amazing
performance. Truly an exciting race for 1st. They really sold an obscure
show, and got the crowd reacting as well - multiple standing ovations. Their
drum line is amazing. I don't know the caption scores, but if they didn't win
percussion, they were robbed. Their horn line is top notch, and they are IMO
the best marchers on the field. Their guard has improved over last year, but
it does not compare to Cadets or BD. I agreed with their score, but I thought
they beat Blue Devils.
Blue Devils - 97.4 - I wonder if the judges were watching the same show I was?
Soloists had some problems tonight, several major ticks from both the snare and
tenor line, lots of guard drops, and several soprano cracks in the Shark/Jet
Chase from WSS. BD did not have a good show tonight. SCV, Cadets, and Cavies
all have better drum lines, and SCV and Cadets have better visual than BD. The
only thing BD has over SCV and Cadets is their horn line, and they had problems
tonight. I thought they were in 3rd tonight, and only marginally ahead of
Cavies. I only hope the judges open their eyes and ears tomorrow and do a
This was a wonderful Quarterfinals! Good weather, great corps, and lots of
really close matchups. Tomorrow should be very interesting. I expect there
will be some flip flopping around placement wise tomorrow, and several corps
could easily change places depending on how "on" they are. Until tomorrow.....
This is my first review, and I won't be attempting to comment on every corps --
just some highlights -- and strictly IMO!!!
The weather -- very hot at the 3:00pm start -- got a little breezy and quite
pleasant by 7:00pm. Large crowd, from my vantage point in the second deck
center. No idea of actual count.
Souvie booths were very well placed to allow for maximum traffic flow.
Concession stands and restrooms were plentiful enough to meet the need.
This was my first contest of the year, but my reading the posts on RAMD for the
past month has found me looking forward to the shows with a somewhat informed
Comments on selected corps (sorry, just a few):
TARHEEL SUN - 73.4
The surprise of the night! A full size corps, and a wonderful, full sound.
They will surely be Division 1 next year. Congratulations on your progress!
EAST COAST JAZZ - 75.2
Soprano soloist - WOW!!!!!! He could play for ANY corps. I'm told that he's
only 16, and that other corps have already been calling, but he's staying.
SPIRIT OF ATLANTA - 83.2
Welcome back! Strong, full sound, but marching quite a few holes tonight.
Some noticable marching/phasing errors, but a big step this year in the right
MAGIC OF ORLANDO - 84.7
Not quite the design quality of the other shows that will be in Finals. Strong
horn line, for sure, but not the total package this year.
COLTS - 85.5
Edged Crown for 11th place, because they where cleaner. Both had a good show
and a strong horn line.
BLUECOATS - 88.5
Visual/alignment problems throughout the show tonight. However, an
interesting, exciting show. BBBBBLLLLLUUUUUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!
They could be passed by Colts or Crown.
PHANTOM REGIMENT - 88.9
Much better show and performance than I had expected from the RAMD posts of the
past month. It won't score any higher than 9th on Friday or Saturday, either,
but it isn't bad at all. They can't be top 6 every year!
BLUE KNIGHTS - 89.3
This show was much better tonight than the score they received, IMO.
GLASSMEN - 91.8
They could pass the Scouts, but NOT if Madison is as exciting and clean as they
were tonight. WOW!
SCOUTS - 92.5
A probable lock on 5th place. Very fun and exciting!
CADETS - 96.8
I'm sorry, but IMO, demand doesn't cover dirt. They have a good show, a strong
horn line, but their body spacing/intervals alone were weak enough that I had
them below 3rd place.
SCV - 97.2
Very stong performance in every way. Very impressive, clean, beautiful show,
with great horns, drums, and drill. Intervals were PERFECT compared to CBC.
BD - 97.4
The Devils' soloists ALL clammed tonight. That will NEVER happen again.
However, the Blue Devils hornline is in a league of it's own. It is devasting.
The Tchaikovsky/Bernstein meld is innovative, clever, and a good fit, IMO.
Their spacing/intervals were as good as SCV's, also. A strong show, worthy of
SANTA CLARA could just as easily become champion instead. It depends solely on
who delivers on Saturday night. I'll be there!
Sunday August 9
|Charlotte, NC (DCI)
I just got home from the Charlotte Nightbeat Drum Corps show! What a terrible
disappointment :( :(
The was a huge rain shower (Similar to the one we will get at finals later
this week) before the show and the field was drenched. After a 1 hour delay
Les Etoiles took the field in a light sprinkle. Three members fell during their
show due to the slick conditions. One was taken to the hospital immediately
following their show. This prompted the directors and judges to call the rest
of the show a standstill exhibition only performance. Although it was a nice
treat to hear the corps play up close at their best. I was disappointed not to
be able to get the whole package. I don't have much of a review just a few
Crossmen have added a white outline on their crosses on the uni's. I guess
they must have been reading our reviews on here. They sounded great tonight in
Glassmen got a standing O on their warm-up!!! My sunburn! They were very
Loud and powerful. The crowd really enjoyed their show and they are poised to
finish well this week! Go Glassmen!
Kiwanis Kavaliers played well and seemed to get pretty good crowd response.
They seem to enjoy the show and perform it pretty well.
Carolina Crown...the hometown favorite was treated to a warm reception and
many standing O's. They played well throughout their standstill. The hornline
really is loud and powerful when standing still. I wish I could have seen the
whole marching show. I think they are definitely in for Saturday.
Cavaliers were a big hit tonight especially the guard. The guard was on during
their performance. The horns were good as usual, it's just hard to get the whole
Cavie's package when they don't march! They should be a lock on 4th place!
Santa Clara Vanguard were awesome. I wish I could have seen the show on the field
because it sounded great with many neat visuals. They are seeded 1st going into
Orlando and appear to have earned their spot. My pick to win it all this week!
Madison Scouts were the crowd favorite tonight and were mine also. I just have
to understand what they are doing is very appealing to the crowd and is played with
much excitement. They were wonderful and will make the top 6...just where in that mix
I'm not speculating.
All in all a good performance by all of the members and a damp night but a well
attended show, full on concert side 6000+ and most of the fans seemed happy to hear
these great drum corps! Good Luck to them all in Orlando!
My Charlotte thoughts:
First of all I must say that I was very disappointed in the fact of all the
comments being said around me when the show turned standstill. I was more
concerned with the Fire trucks and Ambulances flying towards the entrance
gate. I understand disappointment, but as my non-drum corps friend said
after the announcer explained that the show was becoming standstill because
of injuries already happened "He should not have had to say that, people are
just stupid, what if someone broke their nexk and died trying to do their
show, at least they didn;t cancel it." What made it better is that all the
guards (minus Madison) performed behind the corps, and most corps did their
corps songs or additional music to add some spice to the show. I still feel
it was well worht my 18$ (plus the fact that I was on the 45 10 rows back! )
Les 'Etoiles--Performed their entire show on the field. The design team of
this corps could rival any top 6 show. They know how to bring out the
strengths in the corps. The only questionable choice seemed to be the
ballad, which (maybe because of timing problems) just didn't make sense to
me. The 7 sops were much stronger than MANY of the sop lines tonight. The
guard is great on flag work, and is quite effective, but lack the grace to
pull off any of the dance. That was distracting. the drill was incredible
and really enhanced the music. The pit rolling over the guard gave me chill
bumps from its unexpectedness. The spinning toms wasn't effective after last
years dynamic display, it just seemed they were doing it just to honor last
year rather than enhance this year's show. The guard uni's worked with the
show, although the guy without a shirt wasn't really necessary, my friend
didn;t understand why the pit's guys (dressed similar to the guard with a
different color shirt) and the one guy in the guard weren;t identical. Oh
well. I thought they sounded much better than Kiwanis tonight.
Kiwanis Kavaliers-- I hate to see a corps this rich in talent stuck with such
uninspired arrangements. This show would really be nice if it included more
Gershwin (ie Concerto in F --previously performed by Kiwanis or I Got Rhythm
and Somone to Watch Over Me). This show seemed to try and stretch out and
devlop material that is more appropriate for the concert stage. American in
Paris itself, when recognizable, was nice. Good Soloists, nice guard and
Percussion. They stood in more of a company front type arch, which hurt
their blend. All I really got to hear were the high brass since they were
right in front of me. Hopefully Kiwanis will fix the design problems to
challenge again for the top 12 in 1999.
Carolina Crown--OK I am biased, but this is the best Crown yet. It even tops
1996 (my favorite year). The horns are getting quite lush and are starting
to open up the sound to a nice richness. The guard was great. I thought the
flag designs were nice, but I still don't like the unis used in the opener.
The Armenian Dances uniforms for the guard is incredibly innovative, and
really enhance an already rocking number. Crown stood in more of an inverted
V shape and really helped the corps fill out the stadium. The guard had some
very nice moments of pure perfection that I know is only awe-inspiring on the
field. They probably got the biggest ending ovation of the night, and it was
well deserved. I only wish they could have marched before the home crowd,
Because their drill is truly something to behold this year. I am still
predicting a finals week surge !!!!
Glassmen--By far the loudest corps of the night. I love music of Borodin
anyway, and have ben dying to hear it again after catching snippets of it a
few years ago from Academie Musicale. The closer is definitely the best
piece and truly is a moving selection. The guard member who starts the show
has more grace and visual mastery than any guard solosits I have seen in MANY
years. I could not take my eyes off her for the first few minutes of the
show. Even though Glassmen aren't challenging for the title this year, they
have something more special. they have captured something few corps can
claim. They are enjoying their show and pulling emotion out to capture the
audience. The music is not the best known in DCI, but the way Glassmen are
playing it, it very well could be. I remember Crown 96 taking our show so
personally by the time we reached finals, that no matter what the judges
thought, nothing could take away our experience. Phantom did it in 93, and
SCV did in 97. None of the music of any of these corps or Glassmen is the
most hummable thing in DCI, but they pulled emotion into something and realy
sold it to the crowd, no matter what their end achievement would be. I would
rather listen to a passionate 5th place performance than a perfectly clean
Cavaliers-- These guys rocked. Machine was by far one of my favorite musical
numbers from them. The guard was really nice, and the uniforms were great.
I really wish I could have seen these guys march. It really didn;t sound
like a championship show to me, but it still felt like Cavies were not about
to let anything stand in their way. It was also nice to see G-men, SCV, and
Cavies (the top 3 basically in Percussion right now) at the same show. This
hornline is playing much better than years past, and could be one of their
best one's ever (right behind 95)
Crossmen--I must admit that this show is definitely more entertaining
standing still. The music is nicely arranged and the percussion is talented.
The horns have some nice moments, and the guard is really one of the best,
but from past viewings, I know that this doesn't carry over to the field. I
really don't know what happened to the drill this year, but it is quite
distracting. I am glad their crosses are now black, becuase now te guard and
drums look nice against the corps. The soloist (I belive the same guy from
Birdland in 97) wasquite nice. Letter to Home was a little ragged and the
end of the piece produced the worst sound of any corps tonight. The closer
was nice, and the changes to Third Wind are a definite improvement. But then
again I did not like the 1991 show either, so don't count it out. The music
and the corps are good, but it all seems so controlled. I bet if the corps
just let loose like G-men, or SCV this show would be at elast 5 points
SCV--We are the champions... or so they will be. The arrangments of this
incredibly qierd show are nice. They truly sell a show that no one else
could pull off. The music is in definite contrast within itself, the guard is
good, the horns are incredible, and the drumline has more general effect
written in than ANY corps in a while. This show really moved me. And from
what I hear, the drill is very powerful. The corps evoked class the entire
evening, and their performance of SEND IN THE CLOWNS, made my friend cry.
She has always loved that song, but hated EVERY arrangement she has heard of
it. She then asked me if I had this arrangement on one of my drum Corps CDs.
I have never seen this girl smile as much as she did when SCV cranked out
the volume they did. I am sure they deserved their top seed and 96 in
Madison Scouts-- What a way to end the show. Lupon ??? was OK. it was a good
opener, but didn't really grab me. Swinging Peter was wonderful. It was nice
to see a former Crown member crank out the contra solo.! (at least I belive
it was Barret Williams that was playing, if I am wrong I am sorry)
Remembrances definitely lives up to its name. The piece I fell in love with
in 1990, is doubled in intesity for 98. This corps makes me think of the75
and 88 shows. The closer is just so full and rich in power and Pizzaz ..(yes
I know, and all that Jazz) that is truly was championship quality. The
hornline is every bit as good as theor 95 line which tied for the brass
trophy. The attacks and releases of Madison are very crisp and add more Music
GE than anything else they do. The solosits were nice. They also opened
with you'll Never Walk Alone (The last thing I listened to before getting out
of my car at preshow) and closed with God Bless the Child which is
definitely the highlight of the evening (outside of Remembrance). The
drumline is not as bad as I heard, but if Glassmen has beaten them, this must
be the section where they had the highest victory. The show is nice, but
hearing God Bless the Child made me realize that Old School is still around
and kicking in the Junior activity too!
IMHO Of course!
1992-1994 & 1996 Carolina Crown
|Jacksonville, AL (DCI)
This is not rerally a review, but merely observations I made about the
show in general.
My first BIG beef: After last year you would think that the show
officials would have learned that we need more than 2 gates open in
order to get everyone into the stadium in time for the show. At 6:45,
the time for the exhibition by the CorpsVets Sr. Corps, there were
probably still several hundred people in line to get in. I missed
them and Pioneer because of this.
Colts. The corps seemed to have a really good show. The horns were
really nice with a great backfield sound (which you can hear
wonderfully in this stadium). The drill and the cleanliness of it
might be what is keeping them ahead of Magic and Spirit, as it was
done very well.
Magic was next. I was expecting to see Spirit, but was told that they
elected to go on last since it was thier home show. Magic seemed a
bit dirtier than last weekend in Ypsi. Last night I sat on the 45
yard line, just below the press box, so I could see more drill than
last weekend. Thier drill design is too muddy and confined, IMO. The
horns wailed, though. But some of the difficult brass parts were not
played as well as last week, although it might have just been my
difference in orientation. I feel for the members on the field. It
must be hell marching in the middle of summer with a velvet jacket and
a "turtle neck". Didn't the designers realize when and where the
uniform would be used? (Maybe they just look hotter than they really
Next up...Phantom. Although they have gotten much better, the show
still goes nowhere for me. My biggest problem is Pines of Rome. It
starts in the middle of a mood, without giving us the opportunity to
get worked into it. There is no power in this arrangement. It seems
a little thin in the brass book. I was always expecting much more and
never got it.
Cadets. Wow. that is probably all I need to say.
Blue Devils. I was a little more impressed with the crew than I was
after Ypsi. The horns are tight and powerful, of course. The drill
is really effective for me and executed well. And the guard is
wonderful. But I still don't like the show as much as the last
decade of BD shows.
Now my former corps and the hometown favorite: Spirit. I was a little
worried about thier going on after BD, but I think they handled it
well. Come to think of it, last week when they had to go on last
somewhere in the East, thier score jumped to the season high, just as
it did last night. Maybe they need to go on last more often.
The corps was MUCH cleaner than last week, especially in drill
execution. The horns did still have some dirty parts, but I do
realize that there are some difficult parts being attempted. The
corps did warm up to "Georgia", although I could not hear it really
well. The weakest section is still the guard, who tries to do way to
much dance with girls that just can't dance very well. That was
really magnified by going on after Devil's guard. The show was a good
one for the corps. There was not as much of a difference in power as I
had expected by going on after BD. If I had to put my finger on the
one thing that is keeping them from making finals it would be the end
of the show: the reprise. I have said this before...it makes no
musical sense. Even with my trained ear, I cannot figure out what I
am supposed to be listening to at the end. It is like a "row, row,
row, your boat" with the Precious Lord theme, but even realizing that,
I find it hard to follow. The chords leading up to the "amens" and
the amens themselves are weak in comparision to the rest of the show,
but I think that is a design problem. (Speaking of design...there are
times throughout the show that you can definately tell that the
Southern music was arranged by someone that is not a southerner.
There are parts that are just too square with little swing to it.)
The finals chords are nice and full, but after all of the confussion
that just toook place, it is too little too late, IMO. The ending
leaves not as good an impression as you would hope for when trying to
make the top 12.
Now, my next BIG beef: No retreat. Why? Why? Why? The show was over
and scores announced by ___9:30___. What's the rush to get out? Did
I mention it was only 9:30?????
Last year I complained about no retreat or concert and had several
responses. Some from last year said that the corps had a show the
next night in Tampa and had to get on the road. O.K. Good Excuse.
But this year there is no show after Jacksonville. Another said that
the field was in poor condition and the field crews from JSU wouldn't
let anyone back on the field after the show. But this year, the field
looked great. And yet another said that there was bad weather
approaching last year (although it was a long distance and never came
close to Jacksonville), but this year the weather cooperated all night
long. So why no concert? Why no America/O Canada? There were
thousands of hungry fans awaiting and got nothing once again. Who
keeps making these decisions?
The scores were about where I expected them to be. I had predicted a
96.5 for Cadets and they came real close with a 96.3. The judges are
so darn predictible!
I just found out that the show in Charlotte was cancelled. Now I bet
a lot of my friends from the Atlanta area that drove up there wish
that they had come to Alabama. I feel bad for those folks. It was
probably the only show they were going to see this year.
The show was once again wonderful, but the show sponsors so still have
some problems to work out. With finals returning to Madison next year
it makes me wonder how successful this show will be next year, since
it will not be on the road to finals.
Saturday August 8
|Allentown, PA (DCI Eastern Championship) #2
Ah, a beautiful Saturday, and the Aholes didn't sit behind me tonite.
SCV, 96.0...........WOWOWOWOW!! A 96, dunno, but I loved the show!! Drumline
smoked, and the brass were on a mission. Guard I liked, what I saw, except the
girl that ran into the snare player in the beginning. Different yes, but done
in the Vanguard way, and I do believe GR would be proud. I know I will be
waitin for the scores next week.
Cavies, 94.8.........A salute to Cavies past...the gaurd on the 50.....steppin
over the rifles...the snake.....what a show. By far the most I have liked them
since 90. Excellent drums, lovely brass sound, and my fave gaurd all weekend.
Don't count them out yet.
Scouts, 90.3...........Tough following Cavies. It is entertaind, esp. Mountain
King, but, well, I liked last year better. The all snare/all tenor thing wasn't
as effective as I had hoped, but the snares were clean. Remberance was well
done, but just seemed to miss that something that makes em...Madison. I think
Gmen may have their number.
Blue Knights 88.7...........A nice, driving show, excellent brass, great
drms...loved the ballad from New World....guard by far has the most beautiful
flags anywhere...may give Madison a run.
Crossmen 88.5......Love the brass line, but the drums just leave me wanting
more...like the 91 Metheny show line. This show screams for a smokin line, but
the old "bones" line is now gone(south maybe?) Guard a highlight, but I think
they may have peaked.
Bluecoats.....87.2..........A corps on a mission. Smokin tonite, esp. the tenor
line. Sops soloist a little shaky, but the line nailed their moment in Leaves.
Loved the gaurd in Summerime, and the drums are underrated. Can they catch
Boston, 77.5............Ah the Conquest continues. Since Hershey, the holes
have been filled, power added, but opner and battle seemed a little shaky
tonite. The guard seemed dirty(like i know what a clean guard is but I saw some
drops). One of these days, they will make it in.......
Kiwanis 76.4.....Didn't like it at hershey, didn't like it now. I don't know,
but 11 minutes of american just seems too much. Ahhh, to hear Evita again.
Les Etoiles.......Crazy. Loved it, but man these guys put some weird concepts
out. Loved the drum racks, and the drive at the end.
Troopers, 67.2.......I love em. Down yes, but not out. Ghost Riders and the
sunburst....drum corps as it should be. They will be back/.
Ace, I spilled on the shirt...sorry, I know alcohol abuse. Dr
Quinn, you drive worse than me.
After two days of Allentown in two equally skew seats (Day 1 - right 8
yd-line Row 8, Day 2 - left end zone Row 32), I have acquired some
perspectives from both nights, contrasts, impressions, etc., that I want
to share and find out if people agree with some of this, since my drive
home is only about 90 minutes and I don't see the scores posted
elsewhere. Here you are.
[Realizing the length of this review, many of you may not have 20
minutes to kill. My primary purpose of writing this is to refute the
inflated scoring of the second day of the DCI East Review, especially of
the Santa Clara Vanguard with respect to the Cadets and to a lesser
extent the Blue Devils, and to a smaller extent the Cavaliers against
their field. That argument is presented near the end of this review,
which you can skip to. Also, at the end is the order of performance for
Open Class corps in preliminary competition at Orlando, as far as
reviewed by DCI East and DCI Midwest. Please remember that this is only
ONE opinion, throughout this partial review of both days at Allentown,
and that all are entitled to a unique perspective, as many seats as
there are in the stands or nooks on the overlooking hills and such. I
encourage you to support or refute the later arguments.
Weather was ideal both nights in Allentown. Cool, slight breeze, full
or near full moon, sporadic cloud cover, low humidity.]
First of all, I want to disclaim my partial reviews by reminding the
reader that my seats were all over the place, nothing inside a 10
(except the Cadets standstill which I came down front 40 for). I
understand that the quality of tone and frequency response of each sound
from a corps is deeply affected by the audiences' positions, as brass
are, after all, directional instruments. We must keep in mind that
askew from the 50, the lower brass tone remains more constant than the
soprano tones, whose pitches drop off once you leave the direction they
We arrived late the first day, and I caught just the end of the Magic of
Orlando on the field. I can't contribute to the Magic underrated debate
much except to say that they seemed sharp and sounded great from a
distance. Sorry I can't review the corps previous to Magic that night
(though the length this is turning out to be, you may thank me for it).
Carolina Crown was next, and their Russian Christmas Music and Armenian
Dances brought tears to the eyes of the clarinetist sitting next to me,
reminding her of the pieces she played in a wind symphony. The tones
were deep and dark when necessary, textures were preserved. I think
Reed would be proud. The brass chorale from the end of Russian
Christmas Music was well presented in a company front, and afterwards,
my friend ran to the CC souvie booth to look for a CD with the 1998
program on it.
When I remember both days, I can't forget the Glassmen. I can't
describe what was so incredible about them. Just WOW. They were the
most impressive (in the sense of the word as from expectations) show of
the evening to me. Everything they touched seems to turn to gold. The
show was not nearly as fast and complex as those from the Top Four corps
this year, but the drumline was incredibly clean, crisp, and articulate,
the hornline articulate, presenting a depth of maturity and darkness of
sonority that kept lingering on in the silences between the realities on
the field. I especially noticed an UNBELIEVABLE keyboard section in the
pit near the close, something like 8 people playing parts as though
one. I thought to myself this is what it should be. They took on their
show like champions and struck gold. Good luck Glassmen.
After hearing the Blue Devils in East Rutherford the day before up front
in show and standstill, I was anxious to be hammered and pierced. (Look
at the innocent around me who do not know yet what they are in for...!)
The opening percussion statement was magnificent as expected both
musically and visually. But then I spent the rest of the show waiting
for them to hit me. I know there was something happening towards the
center of the audience for all the applause, but it was strangely cold
at the 8 yd-line, especially for a corps that has a reputation for being
"louder facing backfield than most corps facing front." Compared to the
shimmer and intensity of the day before, they seemed flat and not nearly
as aggressive. I waited and waited to lose my breath. There was
nothing "wrong" with their performance. They performed sharply and
consistently as per reputation. I will say that the guard was
sparkling. The demand on them is incredibly tremendous though less
"busy" in terms of color and position across the field, and they
deserved their high caption award for the night.
Phantom Regiment performs a solid "Songs from the Eternal City" - their
concepts and motifs are as always magnificent, but the realization of
these ideas and mobilization of their strengths is faulty or awkward. I
love Phantom Regiment to death, and that is the frustrating part of
watching them trying to clasp the audience. The music is well
conceived, but the arrangements are not nearly as striking as the
originals, ex.: "Un Bel Di". The uniforms are very sharp, the horn
moves (up/down, backfield fronts, turns, blocks) are great visually. I
hate busting down PR with criticism, because of how great they remain,
but I know the multitudes that must show up to their camps, and yet
there were vast inconsistencies in marching style and step,
inconsistencies between cleanliness and dirtiness, and though there
remains evidence of a vastly deep musical giant within, they are tied in
their own shoelaces, and in one word: inconsistent. In this case, GE
could not make up for the technical shortcomings experienced. But I
loved the long fanfare horns, the ravishing "Roman" guard outfits, the
occasional Phantom horn up/down snap, the snare sound and fruity bass,
the thrill of their presence, still. One eye is open; the other
closed. Mobilize! Sleeping giant, awake!
I might have heard that night the greatest Cadets show or any live show
I have heard in my three year career as fan. Wow Wow Wow! The Cadets
were ON! The day before in East Rutherford, they were strong but too
close to the Blue Devils to take a clear victory. August 7th, the
Cadets carried the intensity of closing the show to each of the four
movements of their program. The crowd stood up in ovation four times.
Each time, my friend next to me said, "They're not done?!" It was like
magic. The warmest, most sonorous tone arrived to me on yard 8. They
delivered what the Blue Devils could not that night. The Cadets' light,
jubiliant tone is just as well suited to dark, "pregnant minor third
chords" (Cadets CD liner notes). Their Stonehenge went from
questionable material to a championship show. The tenor solo in the
finale is fast, long, clean. The lines were tight, no lull in the
breakneck pace. Not only were the feet clean as always, but the
notorious Cadet hang-up, body posture and body articulation, seemed also
tall and tight, probably from the aggression demonstrated. From near
field level I could not see the drill forms in the finale, but I saw
some of the fastest marching of my life. The crowd rippled with
approbation. The new moves to the closer paid off when performed with
aggression and passion. I've heard about the CBC and PR influence on
the Blue Devils, but what about the PR and BD influence on the Cadets?
When playing those thick, dark chords, CBC has the richness of Phantom,
and many of the chord qualities sing with Blue Devil overtones. But
everything is sparklingly orchestrated, speaking very well of the
instruction and rehearsal put into that corps. There seemed little
doubt to me the victor on the 7th of August.
Scoring on the 7th of August seemed conservative and accurate with
regard to point spacing, etc. The 0.9 spread between CBC and BD was
appropriate to that night, though it was a case of the Devils a notch
down normal and the Cadets two or so notches above normal. Each corps'
best as I saw from August 6-8 puts Cadets on top by the smallest of
margins... The Blue Devils have a powerful and focused program and are
right there. Good luck in finals to both corps. The corps I would have
raised about a point or two was the Glassmen, mostly for their "golden"
execution. The relative difficulty of their program versus those of the
Top 4 might keep them down a little, but it's not too much to expect a
91-92.5 from them in finals at this pace.
My second day seats were high, left side, end zone. There was lots of
audio reflection across the front of the stadium, and drill came in
well. The troopers I didn't see much of, though they seemed stronger
than their East Rutherford performance. Their score reflected such.
The sunburst routine brought a great excitement across the audience,
definitely the highlight of their show. As much as I am an advocate of
"modern corps," I don't see why we don't see more of that sort of
symmetrical drill and _what not_, as effective as it is.
Les 'Etoiles brought out their roto-tom rack is all I can say. I really
like this prop, but I have to agree that it is used less imaginatively
this year. Last year, they brought it out in secret, put their drummers
in it mid-show, and left them spinning even as they wheeled the great
machine away! This year, it sits backfield the whole time. The snares
drop into it only for the very end, and then they are released before
they wheel off the field. I couldn't not think about that rack. I'm
straining to remember their actual program, though I recall that they
performed admirably. That may say something.
Kiwanis Kavaliers may still have a way to go, but their seven basses and
great drum book kept me watching. Still garbed in a sequined black, I
heard a real substance somewhere in there, though it poked out only
every once in awhile. Something about the tone and thunder of their
drums and drum charts really showed me a great time. Whatever it is,
keep it coming...
I picked the WRONG time to go for a funnel cake when I rushed out before
the Boston Crusaders took the field. I heard the brilliance of their
first big chord from behind, and knew I was missing out. It turns out
that they were the biggest "small" corps surprise of the night. When I
made it back up, they were stamping out big chords and invigorating
rhythms in high step, making more noise than the Bluecoats after them
and with sparkling sonority. Speaking from the purely musical
standpoint, I think their 77.5 is under-representative of them at only
1.1 above Kiwanis and 9.7 points beneath the Bluecoats. But don't get
me started about Allentown scoring on Day 2...
Sporadic "Bluuueing" ran like waves across the audience with the command
of Canton's Bluecoats on the field. Their horn sound was rich, but I
kept waiting for something to hit me in terms of aesthetic effect.
Volume could be lacking for a big, proficient corps like the Bluecoats.
Certainly they were doing things right with their 87.2, but I was still
waiting. Their visual package is strong, with nice marching, a clear,
section line based drill, and a proficient drumline, though I kept
waiting for the impact of the drumline I heard last year from the
From endzone to endzone, a checkered opening set, with members staggered
in diagonal rows, is how both the Bluecoats and the Cavaliers began
their show. But from the very first step by the Cavaliers in their
program, something ran through me that I just couldn't explain. A kind
of professional confidence of action. I don't know, but the Green
Machine blew me away from the first beat. One thing that never fails to
awe me is the proficiency of their drumline and the offbeat antics
written for them. God, I love that line! One thing that I seemed to
miss hearing was the dark, woody snare tone of yesteryears. But the
thunderous serendipity of the basses made me a very happy soul... Back
is the geometric, whirlwind cycles of the Cavalier drill, and the horn
and drum impacts. The finale closes with an immense kaliedoscope
tempest which puts it right over the edge. What a mature, gutsy corps!
Speaking technically, the musical cleanliness may not have been to par
with either the Blue Devils or the Cadets (but don't hold me to it, it's
an impression; I didn't take notes), but the visual end of this show is
top notch and caliber. Especially incredible is the articulation to
which of all its members are marching. I'm sure the judges really
appreciated that. I don't know if a 94.8 is really accurate at all, but
that's another issue...
The Blue Knights at Allentown were a corps I wish everyone had seen only
two nights earlier. Performing between the Cavaliers and Madison
couldn't have helped them either. The Shostakovich and Dvorak seemed a
little flatter than at East Rutherford, the Tchaikovsky and Beethoven
were closer to what I was craving musically from this tall-marching
corps. I can't under-report the flags that the Blue Knights are using;
they are some of the most beautiful flags I have seen in performance. I
couldn't tell if it was the order that the Blue Knights were forced to
compete during the evening, but response from the audience was hard to
achieve. It is not a boisterous show, with the possible exception of
the finale from Beethoven's Ninth. The butterfly wings during "Largo"
(Dvorak, Symph. #9) were effective, though the wind was a gamble. The
visual program is both well conceived and executed. Musical effect was
the toughest part to sell at that point in the evening. The 88.7 might
be appropriate, or overrated by 0.2-0.9 (hey, a guess; I didn't do it by
What in the world can I say about the Madison Scouts??? There was a
real drum corps FAN (note: "fan" from "fanatic") near me who stood,
howling, and hailed every cool drum lick all evening, that when the
Scouts so much as lined up at the endzones, he nearly ripped out his
pancreas in wild jubliation and threw it at them...But I love to see
that kind of enthusiasm in drum corps! The crowd couldn't control
itself at the sight of Madison! And Madison responded with their
trademark "balls-out" bravado... Ironically, their greatest moment is,
to me (of course), their treatment of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite #1. The
jazzy/symphonic remake of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" is a truly
fantastic piece of their show. Every time you think it might be at its
best, it just gets better. The crowd really appreciated the "sneak
step" in "Mountain King"...This might not be their greatest GE show, but
technically, the Scouts were particularly clean in visual; the 12 snares
were very clean for 12, and when 4 switched over to tenors, those parts
were clean as well. The horn repertoire just demonstrates once again
the incredible versatility of Madison's horns... A good
pancreas-tearing, roaring time with Madison. This might be the only
score up in the Top 5 not inflated on August 8th. The crowd finally did
NOT boo their 3rd place rating at 90.3.
Bones was in attendance in the backfield stands during the Crossmen
warm-up and was a terrific sight for the new drum corps fan I brought
with me. The XMen at East Rutherford on August 6th just blew me away
(even right after the Blue Devils in lineup)...then again I was sitting
49 yard line that night, as opposed to end zone at Allentown. I didn't
pick up nearly as much that night, general effect flatter than I had
heard them previously. The Crossmen, nonetheless, demonstrated a
stunning visual show. I do not doubt that this year's guard is as
incredibly proficient as last year's, but unfortunately, the repertoire
and equipment aren't adequate enough for us to tell. Missing from my
eyes were the shimmer of last year's flags, however, the yellow flags
were sharp and the tosses plenty and well executed. The drill has
opened up this year outside the 30's, and I think this expansion across
the field helps the Crossmen out for visual effect tremendously. The
music was strongly presented, but (it very well might be my seats) I
wasn't picking up the chords as easily. I think the 88.5 was accurate,
if not 1.0 or 1.5 high for the night.
* Well, I have come to the entire reason for this review...And here I
must remind the reader that I was simply a spectator with askew seats
and disclaim being a judge of any kind... This is my second year of
experience with live shows, but I had two seats set similarly away from
center during each the Cadets and SCV performance, and I was there both
nights at Allentown, something which, it seems, the adjudicators from
DCI each night at Allentown were not. And therefore, I have to protest
highly the inflation of Saturday's night's scores over those
conservatively rated on Friday.
And my first time seeing the Santa Clara Vanguard was last year at
Allentown (center, high), where I was completely blown away by the
professionalism, caliber, depth, of concept, class, and execution
demonstrated by the '97 Vanguard. And the Vanguard of today is no less
of that caliber. However, the Vanguard of August 8th was not of the
performance caliber that we saw from the Cadets on the 7th nor probably
the Blue Devils, either. We all have an off night, and yet the scores
show no evidence of that occurring. Stressing how great a performance
may be, yet reserving that rating for the greater performance must be
the hardest part of judging and scoring.
The Vanguard filled the expanse of the field in the opening set with the
sharp, avant-garde drill we have come to expect from the Vanguard. The
ambitious concept presented, both musically and visually, just blew my
mind. There is evidence of incredible depth of caliber and intensity
beneath the lackluster execution of Saturday night, but there were
misshapen lines, one fall I could see, a drumline that might or might
not have been the cleanest of the night, but not certainly deserving of
a 9.5. And yet, of course, all the elements were in place - the
professional confidence of action in that top notch corps; individual
marching, feet and posture, was exemplary. That bass drum sound, oh,
was as wonderful as ever. But no, the crowd did not give it four
standing ovations, one after each sections. The Vanguard was not as
clean nor intense as the Cadets. Evidence of a complex and perhaps most
startlingly incredible show this year was presented, but the Vanguard
was inconsistent in its presentation, and the pieces did not fit. In
some drill execution, the Vanguard fell beneath both the Cadets and Blue
Devils, and perhaps the Cavaliers. This is not to say that the Vanguard
is simply not as good, but it is to say that this performance was not as
good, not for a 96.0 above the Cadets' 95.3 which I saw was simply
superior in every caption between those two nights. I am under the
impression that scoring should be consistent between days at both nights
of the DCI East Championships, but scoring standards went far awry. I
sincerely believe that at top of execution and effect, this SCV show
stands to mop the floor if maxed out, but that is not what happened at
Allentown. The scores do not show that simple fact. I rest my case for
a candid audience who was there to support and refute. As it stands,
the Cadets are in top position for the title, but any of the Top 3 are
all as likely to win on finals night and the Cavies are right there on
their heels. But the sentiment seemed to me, leaving the stadium that
night that a gross error (as gross as a simple scoring error can be, of
course) was committed. All scores seemed to be inflated on Saturday
night; judging staff was different; they did not judge the day previous
as far as I know. Is this all an idle impression, or does any else
I'll chill now. If you're still reading, you should be proud of your
patience. (I must not get out much.)
_My_ top rankings and ranges for Allentown 98: (but just who am I
(All scores normalized holistically to Friday night's standards)
(1) CBC - 95.2-96.0 95.3
(2) BD - 94.0-94.8 94.4
(3) SCV - 93.4-94.4 96.0
(4) Cavs - 92.8-93.8 94.8
(5) GMen - 90.6-91.4 90.0
(6) MdSc - 89.9-90.9 90.3
(7) XMen - 88.0-89.0 88.5
(8) BK - 87.9-88.7 88.7
(9) PR - 87.1-87.9 87.5
(10) BC - 86.4-87.2 87.2
Magic of Orlando or Carolina Crown probably are next, but in all
fairness, the ratings becomes too close to call after (10). (6)(7)(8)
are too close to call for finals. (1)(2)(3), possibly (4) are all
close, large ranges due to inconsistencies (good night/bad night).
Well, all in all, I'd like to thank the DCI East crew for their handling
of logistics in this MASSIVE event. SCV did a standstill Saturday
night, and I heard some really great things coming out over there. The
order for preliminaries in Orlando were announced after the scores
Saturday night, along with the average score for each corps between DCI
Midwest and DCI East reviews. I didn't get the average scores down, but
here is the order of performance according to notes:
(2) Les 'Etoiles
(4) Kiwanis Kavaliers
(5) Boston Crusaders
(6) Spirit of Atlanta
(7) Magic of Orlando
(9) Carolina Crown
(11) Phantom Regiment
(13) Blue Knights
(15) Madison Scouts
(17) Cadets of Bergen County
(18) Santa Clara Vanguard
(19) Blue Devils
(The average score for the Blue Devils was not announced. It was not
highest in the field, but the Blue Devils exercised their option to
compete last at preliminaries as the previous year's champion.)
I leave you, a candid audience, to an open newsgroup. Best of luck to
all corps at Orlando. Let's hope all the best comes out in this last
week of the season!
Temperance is golden.
Friday August 7
|Allentown, PA (DCI Eastern Championship) #1
Let me just say that all is well w/DCI, and tonite's show was excellent. Well
run, great weather, and other than the 4 very opinionated Aholes behind me, the
most fun I have had in years at East.
Cadets, 95.3.......WOW WOW WOW...loved em at Hershey, new ending and
beginning since then and the tenor feature has even more notes!!!! I loved the
velocity of the drill, but the only thing I didn't like was too many times they
did 8th note runs like they were going into a zpull......But I must say that it
will be fun next week......The best show from them since 93.
Devils, 94.4..........Um...they played
Tchaikovsy(sp?)....unreal...classical...but I liked it. I wanted sops t scream
more, but the West Side parts were very cool, lots of feel to it.Drums a tad
off past years, but the guys in the guard made up for it...attitude from them
sold the show and snagged the guard trophy. Not out of it yet.
Glassmen, 90.0......Holy Toledo Batman!!!!! They are for real!!!! I am a
drummer, and I must say, I couldn't find dirt anywhere in the line. Horns were
impressive as well, and I am sory I missed the guard, but I will say
this.......watch out big boys...the new kid plans on stayin a while.
Phantom, 87.5......well, I wanna be nice. It was a nice idea on paper,
but the show lost me, and didn't get me back. I liked the guard, but it just
didn't scream Phantom at me. Pines had moments where I thought "ok, this is
going somewhere", but it never did. I wanna like them, but I can't.
Colts, 84.4........Nice show!!! Didn't know it going in, but the kids
sold me on it. Massive improvement from last years drumline, well staged and
pretty clean. They are making the jump to fight for 10th, and who knows, they
may just do it....remember 93?
Crown, 84.4.....Russian needs a little editing.....the blend of old
Xmen and 87 SCV works tho....Armenian was my favorite section, with the guard a
highlight. If they would just let loose a little, I see scores rising.
Magic, 83.0.......Why????New ending was a treat, and overall package
cleaner. Love the guard too. I don't get ita fun show, clean, yet not going
anywhere numbers wise...the price for bein a fan fave I guess.
Spirit, 80.3...........SOOOOOO much better since Hershey. Thurston drum
book rocks, and the brass had power...ending till buils slowly, but hey,
Atlanta is back...give em time.
Pioneer, 76.0.......irish in your face. Dirty but fun to watch. Massive
battery can be a tad overpoering,...10 snares don't need scoops...plus it
projects the dirt . In all, a nice show, and a year away from goin for top 12.
Ace, glad you were there...loved the shirt....and Dr quinn, glad I
finally found ya...get lost????
I will be back w/part 2 later....
Finally, the moment of truth for those in the East as they viewed the
top corps vie to a more favored position in the rankings. The 17,000 in
attendance were not disappointed in a great night for drum corps. The
following review represents a supplement to my previous reviews;
therefore, if a corps receives a more detailed reaction, it may be
because it was a first viewing for that corps.
PIONEER - If it's not broken, don't fix it. That's in reference to
their new uniforms. I cannot understand any reason to modify them any
more for at least the next five years. The look may look a little like
27th, but it is unique enough to be considered their own. The khaki
pants contrast but complement to green and black tops, which are
dramatically all black on the back. And then there is the guard. Always
beautiful year in and year out and this year is no exception. The
"little black dress look" (which is actually dark, dark green velvet)
is highly tasteful and feminine. The corps has been labeled as in-your-face
Irish, but I could have handled more of that. "Danny Boy" is pleasantly
played back field; but when they turn to the audience for the park-and-blow
section, they continue with their subtle dynamic shaping. Sometimes we
want a corps to forget about being musicians and just punish us with that
primordial sound. Interesting writing in the percussion feature had their
ten snares having split parts. At least they were trying to be different,
which other fail to even attempt. The technical level reveals that the
corps will be relegated in possibly the high teens for Orlando, but if you
want to be entertained, they could be considered higher on the list than
corps a dozen spots higher. Ninth --76.0.
SPIRIT - This is the year of hiding the guard on the field behind
players. Spirit qualifies with their opening move. The mellophones
always make their presence felt, not only because of their strength but
also because of the writing. Too much of the other corps' music may not
give their corresponding sections the same opportunity. The baritone
voicing from a writing standpoint might not did not seem to cover the
full spectrum. It just seemed not as lush as could be expected.
The "down-and-dirty" section of "SW Brown" gave the guard the
opportunity for their strongest contribution. "Swanee River" had
control problems as the corps tried to moved at possibly an unrealistic
tempo. The guard swinging 2x8s prior to pivoting them into crosses
didn't interest me because of how much the final function was so easily
telegraphed. The horn line seemed toned down from the previous viewing.
Whose influence, staff or judges caused that, I can't say; but their
initial acceptance in the early season was because of the previous
display of power. Spirit has re-established itself as a viable drum corps.
They seem very healthy. The early growth caused people to predict a
continual surge, but does not seem to be going to happen. Their improvement
continues but not at the same rate as during their first tour.
Eighth - 80.3.
COLTS - Their opening moves were safe, therefore easy to be
consistently controlled. Others have tried to wow the audience from
count one and have taken a risk that easily could prove devastating. A
smart start. The dynamic shaping of notes and phrases convinces the
audience they can play well. A controlled step size allowed the corps
to maintain musical control, another smart combination. The guard is
mainly in support (like backdrop) roles and are not a major element in
the corps effects. Much of the work is generic, almost all equipment
involvement and almost not theater. More than one year the Colts have
had a female soloist. This is another such year. Tp reiterate a NOW
expression: "Go, Girl!" The corps demonstrated a lush ensemble sound
as it built into their climatic diamond. Here the corps also
demonstrated they were capable of maintaining their center of gravity
as they handled the larger back-up steps. Fifth - 84.4.
MAGIC - Everyone labels their guard as a little crazy and not the
runners-up in the Southern Miss Modesty contest, but I also find they
fit in with their music. Robert W. Smith has the most creative ability
in transforming often over-used pieces into something fresh and
exciting. Power: they will give you that. "Willow, Weep for Me." had a
mellophone solo that could make you cry. The horn line: listen with
pleasure; just don't watch. The lighting in this stadium is pretty dismal.
Maybe that is why Magic looked so dull in their black and purple. Or
maybe it is time for a change. Seventh - 83.0.
CROWN - A nice opening move which is a variation of previous openers by
them. From a fifty yard line file, they keep wheeling, throwing off a
person with each rotation until they cover the field with files.
Phasing was noticed in "Mars" as tempos went beyond their envelope of
mastery. "Russian Christmas Music" again had body control problems
because of the tempo. The novelty number had the best guard
integration, and it seemed to continue in the rest of the second half of
the show. If YEA has helped Crown, it seems to have been mainly
administratively and not with their design team. For me? I love
chess. Fifth - 84.4.
GLASSMEN - The corps I was anxiously waiting to see. With a strong drum
line, they utilize them for two feature in the front half of the show.
This is balanced with a long tacit section for them in the back half.
The sound is full, mature and balanced. The "Strangers in Paradise"
motif was something I didn't expect. "This is My Beloved" reveals a
prettiness that few can create. Third - 90.0.
BLUE DEVILS - The guard is unbelievable! I was surprised to learn they
lost every caption except ensemble music and brass performance. Second
PHANTOM - They paid a price for staring at a risky tempo. The long
flows do not correspond with the musical phrases and their variations.
The originators of the all-black uniform might be the first to depart
from them in the near future. As a corps who also defined the
professional look, it was surprising to see them struggling with large
step-sizes on back-ups. On the positive side, the guard contrasts nicely
within the forms. I guess that is easy to do when you are dealing with
black. "Pines of the Appian Way" had an extended build that created
appreciated intensity. The last two minutes of the show was the easiest
to be interested in. The herald trumpets (?) were cool. Fourth - 87.5.
CADETS - The idea of building the rotating box is to take the focus away
from the struggling contras on stage right. Oh my God! The visual
received three responses: the rotating box, the counter-flowing box and
the double front that has the front one gating through the back one that
then feeds into one front. The difference with this years show is that
the audience is responding to isolated visual effects rather than ones
that are on the grand scale (such as the Z-pull). Musical ritards were
handled well from a marching standpoint, something others would not even
try to do. First - 95.3.
It's a shame that the standings won't affect the audience size in
Orlando because the Finals are turning into one hellova show.
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