Madison, WI (DCI Championships)
DCI Division I Finals
Here are my comments on Finals. I will try to keep them brief, as there has
been plenty said about each corps already.
The weather was bit warm and humid, but not terrible. The stadium was packed.
I did not see the upper deck, but the lower deck was packed end zone to
endzone. There were only small patches of seats in the end zones near field
Seattle Cascades - 84.05
I thought they were a bit off from yesterday's performance. It seemed to me
that they were happy to have made finals, and relaxed a bit in their
performance. As a result, some of the intensity was not there. Still, they
did a nice job performing their show.
Spirit - 85.45
They were much better tonight. The visual package was much cleaner, they
projected better, and they simply had better impact overall. What a cymbal
Magic of Orlando - 84.85
I thought they really did a great job tonight. In the opener, one of hte
tenors took a really bad fall - lost his hat and drums from the carrier. the
corps was moving quickly across the field away from where he had fallen, but
one of the judges came over to check to be sure he was OK. That was classy.
Once he got up, his drums back on, and his hat on, he high tailed it back to
his spot. The crowd gave loud applause over the situation, so no doubt the
recording will sound a little odd at that point. I am not sure why Spirit beat
them, but the two were very close. Great job, and welcome back Magic!
Crossmen - 89.1
They were hot tonight. The entire show just cooked. The horn line had the
crowd eating out of their hands, and the guard was simply amazing. Someone
shouted out "Go Melissa" during a soft part of their show - possible reference
to last year's plane fiasco, or was there really a Melissa? Conspiracy
theorists, talk amongst yourselves. Awesome job tonight Bones!
Bluecoats - 91.5
The sopranno soloist, and the entire horn line for that matter, were on
tonight. Another great show that had the crowd going. Lots of head bobbing
and toe tapping going on during their show. Really a great show. I thought
they had beaten BAC tonight.
Glassmen - 91.0
I thought they were rather flat tonight overall. The drum line was on - some
really tasty parts. The fluegal solosits is just so relaxed and played
incredibly well. They executed pretty well - they were just flat. I thought
they deserved the 8th place finish.
Boston Crusaders - 92.4
What a drum line! They were really going tonight. They definitely deserve
the scores they have been receiving. The guard did a really good job tonight
as well. There was quite a bit of side to side phasing between the horns and
drums during the Artie Shaw tune tonight, and the brass line is not as good as
Glassmen or Bluecoats. They deserved to be ahead of Glassmen, but I did not
think they beat Bluecoats, nor were they close to Phantom.
Phantom Regiment - 92.4
They had a great show tonight. The opening chord had a bit of popcorn action
going on - not a clean attack by the brass. But otherwise, the show was
performed and executed very well. Thye horn line was powerful and reall
performed the show well. The guard was fantastic. Great job tonight.
Santa Clara Vanguard - 95.65
SCV was on fire tonight! They were better in every caption. Visual was
cleaner, guard was outstanding, and the sound and impact of the horn line was
truly incredible. The drum line was really cooking too - I love the snare
tuning. I thought they had moved ahead of Cadets easily (especially given
Cadets performance - see comments below). The judges blew it on this one in my
Cadets - 96.75
When I heard the score, all I could say was wtf? Cadets did not have a good
show tonight. THE GOOD: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy was fantastic tonight. They
really jammed and the crowd ate it up. The drum line was an absolute machine.
Deserving of the percussion trophy without a doubt. THE BAD: Guard drops all
over the place tonight, and dirt in the drill that was not there yesterday.
THE UGLY: Contra ate turf in the opener, and took quite a while to get back
into the form. Bad rifle drop near the end when the rifles are spinning and
sounding off the audibles. Mellophone early entrance (4 counts early) near the
end of the show. Tone quality issues when playing loud in several places. The
audience loud disapproval of their inserting fireman hoisting up the flag on
the back part of the field at the end of the show. Sorry, but the score and
placement were a gift. They should have dropped a place.
Blue Devils - 97.3
BD wailed. The horn line was out for blood, and the guard was simply amazing.
I don't think I saw a single weapon drop the entire show. There might have
been one, but I didn't see any. I thought they took guard tonight. Thanks for
such an awesome performance!
Cavaliers - 99.15
An absolutely incredible job tonight. The undisputed champions! The only
issues I noted of substance tonight were the guard drops. All drops I say, the
weapons bounced off the turf back into the hands of the member, so they were
not huge issues. But they were drops none the less. I thought Devils beat
them in guard. Awesome job! (now please, please, pretty please play some more
recognizable and melodic music next year!).
Overall, a terrific year. The quality of the entertainment and performance by
all the corps was up from last year. Some standing ovations during the shows
this year, as well as rousing ones at the end of many corps shows. Not just
polite ovations at the end. I can't recall when there were so many corps that
did not make the cut for finals that had a real chance of making it. Now if I
can just hold out for 10 more months before I get to see my next show!
After a long few days in Madison, it's good to be back home. I'm still feeling
quite sleep-deprived, so here's a few thoughts before I sleep the day away!
There was a great crowd on hand. Both decks were filled end zone to end zone.
Last time we were in Madison, I remember there being quite a bit more room...so I'm
thinking this crowd was bigger. Was it the calibur of the competition? DCI's
marketing paying off? More family/friend support for the members? It doesn't
matter.... those seats were bought and paid for, which is great for DCI. I thought
the show was run very well, considering all the construction going on. Good job, DCI.
Weather was a bit muggy, but not too intolerable. My seats: side 1, 35-40 yd line,
only 22 rows from the bottom. Good for detail, brass in my face, drumline up close....
horrible for drill, but that's ok! Now on with the show....
Seattle: I thought that they "let loose" a little more than last night. This had
to be such a rush for them to be on the field for finals night. the horn line seemed
to open it up a notch, maybe at risk of losing the quality....but who cares when it's
finals night?!?! they looked like they were having a lot of fun.
Magic: Have to say I was surprised spirit got them tonight. Magic seemed to be on
fire! they played very well. I was impressed with the performance level of these
members..... haven't they played 6 shows in a row?!?! they seemed very focused, yet
kept it within control. they played with balance, yet opened it up when they needed
to. I had them in 10th. sidenote: one of their tenors took quite a spill in the
opener.... drums went flyin, (I think they might have hit him in the face even),
stunned him, took him a little while to catch his bearings, get up, and collect the
drums. Judge stopped to make sure he was ok; the corps by that point was some 30 yrds
away.... the crowd cheered him on as he ran back to the set. Very cool!
Spirit: Overall, I thought this was a good show. But, I wasn't sure it was better
than Magic's, IMO. I didn't think their hornline had as much impact as magic, but they
did perform well.
Crossmen: Overall nice show! I still can't get into the strawberry soup (ouch, HOT!),
but I give them kudos for taking on that tune. They crowd really enjoyed this show. I
think crossmen cranked it up tonight, probably feeling pretty comfortable in their 9th
place slot. They pretty much had it all to themselves, which gave them the opportunity
to have a lot of fun.
Gmen: I am an alum of Gmen. thus, it pains me to say that of all the corps tonight,
they seemed a little flat, perhaps apprehensive. I'm not sure if they were really just
so focused on being "clean" that they sacrificed the impact. Overall, I liked the program
they had. However, I think they suffered with the brass line.... when they hit it, they hit
it... but if they are off by just a little, it's quite noticeable. I could be wrong, but it
seemed to be that gmen's hornline was the smallest of the top 12? Colorguard seemed to
have a good night, as did the drumline. I think if they had maybe 10 more horns, and
allowed themselves to open up their sound, they would have been back in the race. 8th
place tonight was accurate.
Bluecoats: as I've mentioned in past review, they had the total package. An enjoyable
show. Hornline has a wonderful sound, and the drumline holds their own. Colorguard was on
tonight! With all due respect....there is NO WAY boston should have been ahead of blue.
Many people sitting around me felt the same way. Blue, you got burned.
Boston: Members, you performed very well last night. I applaud your performance, and
your energy level. But...I really did not care for this show at all. On Friday night, I
thought it was ok.... but on a second viewing, I thought it was downright cheese. The
banners really did bother me tonight. I just didn't think this show was at a 5th place
level at all. I think the placement as of quarters was much more accurate. Again.... not
a bash on the members.... they did their job as they were instructed..... this is purely
an opinion of the program.
PR: PR, you should have had 5th all to yourself! In no way did boston's show compare
to PR's! The brassline had a full, warm sound tonight. Colorguard had a very good show.
If this corps had a cleaner percussion line, they would have given SCV a run for 4th.
Visually, they seemed to be much cleaner tonight. I think they were quite focused.
SCV: My 2nd viewing had me asking for a 3rd viewing!! This is weird, but I can't say
there's one thing that stands out for me in the, but for me it was the sheer power and
intensity of the show that had me wanting more! All sections were strong, and really tried
to push their show tonight.
Cadets: Brass line really opened it up tonight! Drumline was hot (as usual).... but
colorguard had some issues tonight. Unfortunately, some of their drops were "front and
center" moments, where everyone is staring to see it through the end. They did put in the
NYFD picture/pose in the backfield tonight. I don't think many people really saw it, or
maybe they just didn't react to it. There was a weird reaction! everyone started clapping
as they held the last chord, then they reveal that pose in the backfield, and some people
just kind of looked, and said "huh". No big reaction like some predicted. I've already
read other posts about the fire department that's off in the back, side 2, across the
street from the stadium. YES....there were 2 to 3 trucks that pulled out, cranked their
sirens and lights.... but didn't seem to leave. Over the past 2 nights, I've seen a truck
or 2 pull out with lights on, but they never hit their sirens until they were a block or
more away from the stadium. Tonight, they left for emergency runs at least 3-4 other times,
and did not hit their sirens. Only at the end of the Cadets show did I notice this happened.
Hmm? Coincidence? YES, THAT'S WHAT A COINCIDENCE IS!! Actually, who knows? I'm sure there
will be posts-galore debating this.
BD: My 2nd fav corps of the night. I just love this show. The hornline cranks in this
show. They let a few sops bite some high notes, which of course the crowd just loves. I
think they (the solo sops) all hit the notes tonight, that I can recall. The
drum-solo-run-around-the-rack also had the crowd going crazy... big standing O right at the
end of that. And I can't say more about this colorguard.... they were on tonight, and looked
great. I'm not a huge fan of dancing colorguards, but I think that's only because much of
the time it doesn't look that good. I can say that BD makes it look REALLY good! Didn't
bother me a bit!
Cavies: Interestingly, I didn't think they were as good as semis night. But, who cares!
They still did very well! The music in this show mesmorizes (sp?) me. I was quite peeved when
people were yelling names to get on the CDs (that gets SO OLD), I really hope it doesn't
affect the quality of the recordings. Lots of green and black in the crowd tonight.
Ok, so now the season is done. Kind of wish I could get to DCA this year.... but, too busy.
So, this is my last review of the year. Had a lot of fun in Madison, hanging out at "Jingles",
catching up with old corps friends, staying up really really late, only to wake up really
really early to do it all over again. Only 10 months till next season!!! And next season will
be one to watch...... as the top 12 performed last night, I'm sure there were several
"informal" staff gatherings already taking place to plan a "return" to the top 12 (Colts,
carolina, madison, just to name a few).
Hope everyone made it home safely,
Disclaimer: this is not a review. If I don't say a lot about your favorite
corps, it's probably because last night was the 5th or 6th time I'd seen
them and I've run out of things to say.
Thank you DCI for having the Division 2/3 finals already on videotape by the
time I arrived on Friday. Who was the announcer for the 2/3 shows last
week, by the way??
A couple of related events that really made my weekend ... Steve V., thanks
for putting together the awesome Drum Corps World staff party, and
congratulations on your recognition on the field on Finals night ... and
THANK YOU for spearheading the mammoth effort to get the book done! Vince,
Mav, Stef, and others at the DCW luncheon, it was great to see you guys
again! Jeff, glad I ran into you again, and don't eat anything the next
time DCI feeds you, OK? =p And lastly, as soon as I sat down to watch
Revolution, who happened to have the seat next to mine but Linda Duke, an
old friend from my days in Bayou City Blues ... the rest of the night was a
blur of catching up and trading stories in between corps. I left Madison
feeling remarkably lucky to have caught up with and renewed acquaintances
with so many old friends in the activity.
Taipei Yuefhu: weren't they a lot bigger last summer? The section with the
martial arts motions and vocals was very effective and got the crowd going.
I remember the closer being very intense, concluding with a very dissonant
chord, and two guard members running to embrace each other close to the
Revolution: Obviously the performance was a little off because it was an
exhibition, but it was also easy to tell what a great job these kids had
done this summer of tackling a very, very ambitious show. Let's see ...
best guard, check ... drum trophy, check ... high brass, check ... how is
that crow tasting, Mr. Trucks? Montage was much more fleshed out than when
BK did it a couple of years back - it came across as a very effective
"anti-ballad". Startling little factoid: in Div 2/3 prelims, Revolution's
brass score was only 0.6 behind Magic. Wow!
SCV Alumni: Thank you for bringing back so many memorable musical
selections. Very, very well played. It was very unique to hear some of
Vanguard's oldest selections being played alongside charts as recent as "The
Canyon" (1999). Aside to Lee Rudnicki: was that you I met walking out of
the stadium on Friday night? I didn't even think about it until later, but
if that *was* you I feel a little stupid for not realizing it. Oh well.
Good luck to you and the rest of the Renegades, hope to meet up with you in
Cascades: someone mentioned to me that this show seemed to have peaked about
a week and a half ago, and that statement makes sense. BK almost caught
them Friday night. Great show with lots of energy. You can easily tell
Myron Rosander had a hand in the drill writing, and the kids did a good job
with a tough drill.
Magic: the corps has really done a great job of creating incredible energy
at the end of their show. Hats off to the tenor player who recovered from
that horrendous spill. Some of us were wondering if he was actually dazed,
or just trying to locate what spot in the drill he should run off to. I was
disappointed that Magic was not announced as the DCI Division 2 champion as
they came on the field. However, after Revolution's earlier performance,
Dan Potter (who was announcing for the exhibitions) did mention that Magic
would not be performing their Division 2 show in exhibition "due to a prior
Spirit: I don't care how esoteric some people claim your show is, I "got it"
and I loved it. Intense, angry opener; calming, then uplifting ballad;
jubilant closer. Liked the "No Amplification Required" shirt ... bought it
all the way back in July.
Crossmen: don't think it's been mentioned yet, but the brass section started
the show all the way back in the tunnel leading in from the souvie area.
Can't get enough of this show! Great selection of music, terrific
arrangements, hot performances. Question: where is "Candle in the Window"
from? It sounds like a pop tune, at least that's the impression I get after
listening to Chuck's arrangement of it. I wish this corps could have scored
higher. There didn't seem to be any drop off in quality between last year
and this year.
Bluecoats: Funny, I can't remember a lot of specifics about this show, but I
remember liking it, a lot. "Petal To The Metal" had a very hummable melody
that the corps capitalized on. Liked the recap of "Dancer in the Dark" in
the closer. I still get goosebumps (not duck bumps, and not quite the size
of watermelons) remembering how beautiful that ballad was.
Glassmen: a word of advice. The more you bill yourself as Boring, the more
people might actually believe it. I had a revelation in the middle of this
show ... one of the melodic lines in Michael Kamen's "Millenium Symphony" is
nearly identical to the melody in the Bluecoats' ballad. Maybe they should
have called the show Bjoring? (never mind) It was still weird to make the
connection. AWESOME fluegel solosist, with a very difficult ending to the
solo that he never cracked during the 3 times this summer I saw this show.
Phantom: It was good to see that they scored 4th in brass, but I still
believe it should have been higher pointwise ... only a 19.0? Give me a
break. Best Phantom brass line since 1996, easily. I really look forward
to watching them on the DVD and getting to see this very emotional, very
intense show several more times.
BAC: I thought they deserved 6th, and that the 5th place tie was a little
generous. Still, a very enjoyable show and the performance level was
definitely worthy of top 6.
Vanguard: you know, this show just doesn't grab me like last year's show
did. It seemed a lot more cerebral and esoteric ... I really liked how the
2001 show had a pervasive theme (passage of time) that kept popping up
everywhere in the show. None of that this year. Liked the large "V" form
at the end. I look forward to understanding and enjoying this show more
once the DVDs come out. Hands down, the most visually beautiful moment in
all of DCI this year, during the ballad section, when the guard was up front
working with those huge, iridiscent purple flags.
Cadets: Heard from the stands just before the show started: "Hey, unplug
that thing!" :) Guard really had a bad run tonight. Many drops in
critical, very exposed places. The firefighters came out for the Finals
show - three kids recreated the raising of the flag in front of the WTC in
front of a large white screen, all on the back sideline. And yes, there was
a real live fire truck just outside the tunnel to the souvie area that
blared its siren several times immediately after the Cadets were done. That
seemed to annoy people (and set the conspiracy theories spinning) a lot more
than the kids in firefighter gear. A lot of people openly wondered if Hoppy
had paid somebody to arrange that. Coincidence? Who knows. If I were the
one giving out these things, I would NOT have given the Spirit of Disney
award to the Cadets. I am just tired of great music getting chopped up and
run through the grinder and winding up very disconnected as far as the
Cadets are concerned. There is always going to be some of that whenever
some piece of music gets transferred to drum corps, but when the source
material is so dramatically altered, all in the name of "GE" or
"Entertainment", you get the feeling that somebody is missing the point.
Someone high up in YEA (not Hoppy) told me not too long ago, "What the
Cadets do is no longer 'drum corps'. It's very entertaining, but it's not
'drum corps'." Think about it. I think there's a lot of truth in that
statement. Times Square was entertaining, to be sure, but at the cost of
any sense of musical continuity or respect for the original work ... in some
places, at the cost of being recognizble from the original work. Sorry to
dump so hard on this corps, but that's my opinion. (FWIW, the selection
from "Field of Dreams" was pretty much uncut from the original, and was also
one of my favorite parts of the show.) There is no doubt that the staff and
especially the performers went out of their way to connect with the
audience, and that does count for a lot in my book.
BD: Hello, I could not have been dumber to leave them off of my Semis
review. Sorry about that! Their energy level seemed juuuuust a little off
from the night before, but WOW. Many amazing things going on in this show.
On the flip side, if anyone were to the accuse the Devils of playing
loudissimo for most of the show, they'd be right. Generally, when
programming a show, you want the ballad to show the corps' ability to create
energy and interest while playing at, ummm, softer dynamic levels. None of
that here. BD had my vote for the Spirit of Disney award. I am *really*
looking forward to the DVDs with this show. "My Hair's Wet" ... should've
yelled it. =p Oh yeah ... what a wonderfully funny sound that was ... 20
or so sopranos all playing a pedal C. Heh ... it even fit the mood of the
show at the time.
Cavies: WOW. Definitely deserving of DCI's highest score ever. This show
should be archived as a study in creating and sustaining audience interest
in all the right places in a show, and in continuing innovations in drill
design. Maybe not the most technically dazzling brass line ever, but in my
mind there is no question that DCI has never seen a richer, more
fundamentally pure brass sound than in this corps.
Retreat: this could have been handled a lot better, IMO. I do not
understand why DCI needed to announce scores, and THEN hand out medals to
each corps in order of finish a second time, only this time mentioning the
sponsor and representative of said sponsor for each presentation. I'm sure
that DCI wanted to recognize their sponsors, but from a fan standpoint it
seemed like a big waste of time. And after the the corps were dismissed ...
boy, DCI really needs to rethink this. It took at least 45 minutes (maybe
longer, I didn't stay for the Cavies' encore) for the other corps to mingle
and clear the field. I am sure that it actually would have taken far less
time to have 11 corps troop the champions, play a signature tune (which the
fans want to hear anyway), and depart the stadium, then it did last night
for everyone to just stand around. It sure would have been a lot less
disorganized. I would be interested to see what any corps members on the
field at the time thought about all that ... from where I sat, it made me
want to just head back to the hotel because there was no telling when or if
the Cavies would even get around to their encore.
That's all. I've already stayed up too late typing this post, but then,
it's my first finals in 4 years and do want to post something. Anyway ...
we now return you to your regularly scheduled babble.
Ft. Worth, TX
I would have gotten this review posted earlier, but I had to work today
and... well, you know how it is.
I need to get my two BIG DCI gripes out of the way FIRST:
1) The backpack debacle: I arrived Thursday afternoon with enough time to
see all the quarterfinals corps; however, DCI had other plans. I was
carrying a backpack that would have EASILY fit under my seat, containing a
sweatshirt, my camera, and a few other assorted items. Upon arriving at the
gate, I was told, "We told everyone yesterday that backpacks weren't allowed,
and it was on the DCI Website." First of all, I wasn't there on Wednesday
and secondly, I have since looked for this nebulous website posting and I saw
NOTHING. I had to go back to my hotel...nearly a mile, find a plastic bag to
carry my sweatshirt and the few items I wanted to bring in. My plastic bag
was almost identical in size to my backpack, but IT WAS OKAY. Go figure. I
also saw lots of backpacks walking in the stands Thursday and Friday nights.
DCI, if it was security you were concerned with, hire enough people to go
through bags AND enforce the rules you have created (at $145 for the tickets,
you could AFFORD IT). I didn't get in until AFTER Magic's performance and
therefore, I'm only going to review Finals.
- Cavaliers, the field is yours," was an out and out lie. After nearly an
hour, the field was finally clear, but at midnight, the back stadium lights
were turned off and a construction crew was making loud noises clearing away
DCI advertising materials from the back stands. Having the corps leave the
field in reverse order of finish would have taken MUCH LESS time, and would
have been MUCH LESS chaotic. You have given the champions the field with
improper lighting and loud noises going on behind them. NOT GOOD AT ALL.
Before I begin my review, let me compliment one corps that did NOT make
finals. I wish they had tied for 12th. The COLTS were wonderful this year,
and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us all next year.
Our seats were upper deck right on the 50 - ten rows or so above the judges -
an excellent view.
SEATTLE CASCADES (12TH - 84.05)
I loved their show! I enjoyed the Bernstein music when the Cadets did it,
but the Cascades gave it a fresh look and feel, and it was enjoyable from
beginning to end. I look forward to seeing what this great group from the NW
has in store for us next year.
MAGIC OF ORLANDO (11TH - 84.85)
I saw Magic in Jacksonville, AL in early June, and I was amazed at the
transformation and development this show has made! I predicted then that
they would make finals, but they exceeded my expectations. Isn't it strange
that a "fallen" performer (to whom I give kudos for his composure), seems to
have cost them a place in finals, while the same occurrence for a
"powerhouse" had no effect whatsoever (more on that topic later). The ending
of their show was one of my favorites of the evening - extremely complex and
powerful. Thanks for the great job, Magic!
SPIRIT OF JSU (10TH - 85.45)
They're baaaack, and I'm very happy to see and hear it. The Saturday night
performance was the most emotional of the three nights, and they really sold
the show. Not the greatest guard DCI has ever seen, but those ladies did a
very nice job conveying the proper mood for the dark to light theme. And
their horn line produced a clear and powerful sound. I also very much
enjoyed their cymbal line. Congratulations, Spirit, on being back, and I
can't wait to see what Southern Treats you have for us next year!
CROSSMEN (9TH - 89.10)
I love Strawberry Soup; and I think as hard as they tried, it was the corps'
one downfall this year. Try as they could, they just couldn't finish the
show as strongly as it began. I said it last year and I still believe that
the Crossmen are a corps on the rise. As always, their guard was
outstanding, and their jazz jams were rocking. Thanks for three fine
GLASSMEN (8TH - 91.00)
You have to give those kids credit. They executed the hell out of an
inaccessible show, and sold it to the best of their abilities. They are
strong in all sections, and their featured soloist was superb, AGAIN!
Glassmen staff, please give your kids and the crowd something memorable to
cheer for next year. I look forward to hearing the words "exciting" and
"fun" about Glassmen next year. Make it happen, please...
BLUECOATS (7TH - 91.50)
BLOOOOOOOOO! This program was wonderful, and you could tell by the kids'
expressions that they were having a gas performing it. The friends with me
were all questioning their scores on Thursday night, but by Saturday, all in
my group were big Bluecoats supporters! Keep up the good work, and thanks
again for a gas of a show.
PHANTOM REGIMENT (Tied for 5TH - 92.40)
What a guard! Those ladies were aggressive like no others on Saturday night!
I don't know how many people know it, but on Wednesday or Thursday, a large
percentage of the corps came down with food poisoning (chicken salad left on
a bus for 3 hours un-refrigerated). This fact alone impressed the hell out
of me! Their performances were all emotional and LOUD. They need a little
more complexity to their drill, but if they can add that, they will be in
contention for another title, for sure. Thanks for your "show must go on
BOSTON CRUSADERS (Tied for 5TH - 92.40)
I truly enjoyed Boston's show. The three DCI shows were my only viewing of
them this season, but the show was easy to follow and easy to get into. I
wasn't crazy about the "signs," and could have enjoyed the show with perhaps
two or three less of them (and WHO picked that Marilyn Monroe picture? Enough
said there). Their American Flag at the end was a nice touch and a very
tasteful and effective ending to an "Americana" show. I told some former
Crusaders on Sunday that I was pleased that they no longer have to play the
"Conquest" lead-in to get the crowd on its feet (although I wouldn't mind
hearing it again). Thanks for a great job, BOSTON!
SANTA CLARA VANGUARD (4TH - 95.65)
This show got better upon each of my four viewings this year! In my opinion,
SCV deserved to be the bronze medallist on Saturday night, and I was very
much surprised to see that it did not happen; all those around me were
equally surprised as well. Their marching was their major drawback, but it
was the second most difficult drill being performed. Despite the fact that
the music was unknown to me, I understood what they were doing, and they did
it VERY well. If I had a bronze medal to give you, SCV, I would - you
deserved it. THANKS! I also want to salute SCV in the poise they
demonstrated in their salute of the champion drum majors. Class all the way!
THE CADETS (3RD - 96.75)
I don't know what happened, but the Cadets seemed shell-shocked or something
on Saturday night. The fallen contra, missed horn attacks and numerous
HIGHLY visible guard gaffs did not seem to affect the judges' opinions,
however. I can also understand the corps winning drums, but the spread?
Curious, very curious, indeed... I enjoyed BWBB a LOT, but, again, the BOXES.
No matter what, the moving on and off of the field of those items was
ANYTHING but a smooth transition. I'm not going to mention the lack of
drill, or the fireman finish, but neither of those items pointed to a third
place finish in my humble opinion. I salute the kids for their hard work,
but I beg the staff to PLEASE go back to the things that worked soooooo well
for you in the past.
BLUE DEVILS (2ND - 97.30)
BD was ROCKIN'!! On almost any other year, this show could have produced a
champion. Their drum line's immaturity and the lack of complexity of the
drill held them back from being closer to the Cavaliers, but it didn't hold
the crowd back from enjoying the hell out of their show! I kept wishing they
would do the 1976 rendition of Channel One again, but you can't go back. I
would love to see BD revisit COS and Legend of the One Eyed Sailor again with
a "new-millennium" twist. Thanks for a fine job, Blue Devils, and watch out,
everyone, next year - I think California is going to be contending again!
THE CAVALIERS (1ST - 91.15)
I've read some reviews about the guard getting a perfect score, and how it
was unfounded, but in my humble opinion, they deserved every tenth of a point
- the immaculately clean work with the "box pieces" alone was amazing. No
other corps I have ever seen has had such a beautifully integrated package
from start to finish. Every t was crossed and i was dotted! And that HORN
LINE; an amazing SOUND... goose bump city! Seeing the show a few more times
really allowed me to appreciate the nuance of the drill as well. They
previewed the fight club sequence with the horn line in the ballad and I
didn't realize it till Saturday night! I can't wait to get my DVD and see
this program a FEW more times. Truly, it is a show that will be remembered
for a long, long time. And who knows what they are going to come up with
next year? I eagerly anticipate it, and am already missing drum corps season
BIG TIME! Thanks, Cavaliers, for a class program from all sections from
start to finish.
In conclusion, I will say that this is the best top twelve I have EVER seen.
I have been to 20 DCI finals, and have never seen such great performances
from number twelve to number one. Thanks to all the kids and the staffs for
making this activity such a worthwhile and enjoyable one for ALL of us fans
in the stands.
The last show my wife and I saw was 1999 Finals in Madison...then we
had a kid, and bought a new house, and my new job keeps me on the
road a lot...and blah blah blah. My son is now probably old enough
where the volume wouldn't have bothered him, but there's no way a 2-year-old
should be forced to sit still for 6-7 hours. We'll take him to Oswego
or one of the other Chicago regional shows next year, but this year, he
stayed with Grandma.
I'm digressing here, aren't I? I'm writing to give my opinions, as if
anyone might give a darn about what I saw this weekend.
Topic: G v. Bb
OK, this was my first exposure to the Bb horns...and I'm saying this
without knowing for sure which corps played on G bugles and which ones
"upgraded". I think the new horns have made a big difference in the general
sound quality of the second 12. Of course, now someone will come to me and
tell me that they're all playing the same bugles, and I'll shrug my shoulders
and shrink back into my hole. But I didn't hear nearly the intonation problems
and sections popping out from volume control issues that I have in the two
previous decades. Now, what's missing is the extra volume that comes from
having a MATURE horn line controlling the extra air that you can put into a
conically-bored bugle. There were several great horn performances, but nobody
was ripping my face off. Nobody can "BYBO" anymore, because the Bb horns won't
let you. To a certain extent, I now know was drummer friends of mine have
been saying for years about the Falam kevlar heads as opposed to the old
Onto some individual reviews...I'll gloss over the corps that I only saw
on Thursday, and the ones that caused me to go get a hot dog.
Corps: Carolina Crown
I liked the idea behind the show...my wife thought the lightning bolts
were effective as a substitute prop in the rifle line. But it wasn't exactly
a toe-tapper, you know?
One of my alma maters...I liked the show very much. Music was nice, which
might not be the best thing. I'm not sure how well "nice" fits the DC MO.
My wife said the guard was VERY good, especially in the opener when they
all had rifles. I wanted to see from them what I typically find lacking
in the 8-15 corps...a commitment to the performance. I never once got a feel
of energy eminating from the field, a crispness in movement that reminded
me "this is the last show of the year, and goddamnit, I'm leaving
everything out here that I can!"
Corps: Madison Scouts
Plenty of energy...too bad it was all in the "Conquest" warmup. I liked the
music a lot..."Conquistador" reminded me that modern corps could do a lot
to revisit their roots just by playing more Maynard Ferguson charts, which
to me are tailor-made for drum corps. My wife concurred with the judges
that their guard was definitely substandard for Madison. Their feet were
substandard as well...I was SHOCKED at the lack of clarity in individual
technique, and how many fuzzy drill sets they had. The move where they
had diagonal lines shifting back and forth could have been a classic, if it
had been clean enough such that each marching member's torso locked into the
file before changing direction (see how Cavies & PR executed similar
moves this year, and many corps in the past 12-15 years). Instead, it
looked like a big bag of shinola.
Corps: Blue Knights
Is it just me, or have they committed far too much to the "obscure 20th
century composer" route? OK, I've heard of Shostokovich and Barber
before, but, I mean, geez...play something that SOMEBODY in the
audience knows. I think it's fine when a corps picks a repertoire that
is designed to educate the kids, and the audience, about a piece or a style
that they might not be familiar with. And I can't speak for the last couple
of years, cause I haven't seen them...but I couldn't friggin' tell you the last
time I knew a single piece that Blue Knights had played. In summary, I guess I
liked it... I dunno...I don't remember a single thing.
Corps: Seattle Cascades
OK, these were all pieces that any drum corps fan knows...the Cadets have
proven that they all work, and since it's been 10 years since CBC did "Prelude,
Fugue, and Riff", there's a new generation of marching members and fans
who didn't sit there and go "Garfield 85, Garfield 83, etc." To the rest of us,
OK, well, me, anyway, I had a really good time hearing the music on a football
field again, but I couldn't help but remember when Garfield did it the first time.
Loved watching the show three times, will watch it more when I get the tapes,
and hope that Cascades can use this big jump as a springboard to consistently
compete at this level.
I was saddened on Friday night by the thought that now they are "Spirit of
JSU", and they're from Alabama, I'll never get to hear "Georgia" again.
Then, BOOM!, Finals night, what's the warmup?! I wanted to run around to the
back sideline! Too bad none of the rest of music grabbed me the way
"Georgia" grabbed me. In my opinion, there's too many corps in the middle
12 (7-18) playing wind ensemble and brass choir and off-the-beaten-track
symphonies from composers. Those shows tend to need a really seriously
powerful visual program to make them memorable...otherwise you've just got
a horn line blowing lots of minor chords, lots of attacks and releases with no
real meat, no melody, harmony, counter-melody, whatever. If I was Spirit's
program coordinator, I'd be focusing like hell on finding a unique style.
Something a little jazzy, a little southern, a little funky...something. It's
been 18 years since a big corps did a Tower of Power show....definitely
sounds better to me than Holsinger.
Corps: Magic of Orlando
I know that Division II means something different than what it did when they
came up with the II & III monikers to replace "Class A" and "A-60". But
man, this was a good drum corps! Thrilled to see them back, as I am any
time a corps comes back from financial hell...and hope they can keep it up.
I was talking to a staffer on Friday, who said that the kids were so focused,
so humble, that they didn't really realize the significance of what they've
accomplished. Never mind the Division II "best score ever" crap...the kids
should be proud that they're re-established Magic as a competing unit.
Maybe it's the gray unis, but the Metheny groove fits them better than I
can picture it fitter another corps. Strawberry Soup worked as well...as
always, a really smokin' drum line. LOVED the soprano feature, just wish
it carried better (too bad every seriously-lot-of-notes sop feature will
be compared to BD from now until the end of time or Wayne Downey leaves,
whichever comes first). With their slot, I hope the staff let the kids
enjoy the last couple of days, because they were in 9th no matter what
happened (more on that concept when I get to SCV).
Barry York was sitting behind me, and he said that the horn line was "pretty"...
and I think that's a fitting word. Another corps, like Blue Knights, that I
think could use a change-of-pace in terms of show design. Not only can't I
distinguish or remember any single moment from their show, two days after
seeing them three times in a row, but it all runs together with G-men shows
from the past 6-8 years. Clean, well-designed, but kinda boring.
[Note to the old-time r.a.m.d folks: Yup, not only did Barry York and
Hooter sit two feet from each other, but we had a lot of very pleasant chats
during our times in rows 66 & 67, and we agree on a LOT of stuff...it was a
pleasure to finally meet him in person.]
To be honest, when I was active as a marcher, staff, and serious junkie fan,
I never really liked the Bluecoats. For me, they were a little too "bandy",
a little too "Hal Leonard SoundPower Series". Whether that's fair or not, I'm
not sure today. I don't think they've changed that much, which means my
taste have...cause I LOVED listening to and watching this corps. I think
they march more than they did in the 80s and early 90s, and they marched
very well. The visual blended nicely with the music. That "Pedal to the
Metal" chart was funky, and got me thinking of all kinds of stuff that'd work
great on the field (anyone want to be aggressive enough to try a shows
based on the Roots?...or has anyone played an Earth, Wind & Fire chart
at DCI since Bridgemen did "In the Stone"?).
Corps: Phantom Regiment
Shostakovich just works for Regiment...better than I think it does for Blue
Knights, anyway. Their low brass just SANG, like it did in 96. If they lose
any of that if/when they go to Bb horns next year, I'll be sad. Big, powerful,
good guard (best-looking silks on the field, hands down). There have been
years where I didn't really care for Regiment's show...but this year isn't one
of them. I was surprised they were eventually caught by...
Corps: Boston Crusaders
Boston really pulled out the stops on Finals night, clicking a lot better
than they did at Quarters & Semis. Remember back 10 corps ago when I said
that I didn't feel Colts had the "commitment to performance"? Boston sure
did on Saturday night, and the score showed it. The only thing I didn't
like were the banners... I don't like having my GE visual spoon-fed to me,
and hell, I'm not sure if any of them even made any sense in terms of the
context of the show. The "Jazz reflects America" scrolls before the Shaw tune
were fine, as was the "Gift to be Simple" stuff at the end. But "Stars Give
Light to things Brighter Than Themselves"? What the fuck is that? I thought
they were unnecessary on Thursday, distracting on Friday, and by Finals,
I was trying like hell to ignore them. I hope that feeling isn't my lasting
legacy of this corps, because I liked the rest very very much.
Corps: Santa Clara Vanguard
One of these days, I'll figure out a way to explain to my wife why this
corps is so special to me, and so many other fans (she twirled and marched
flag and rifle throughout junior high, high school, and college, but never
marched corps). Classy classy show...solid performance, crisp & clean. The
music, drill and percussion were so well to be a part of the legacy of SCV.
If I was walking by a rehearsal, and saw a run-through of this show with the
kids wearing street clothes, and there was nothing else around to indicate
who this was, I'd have known in three seconds it was Vanguard. The squares
were a great effect, but the bike-reflector material gave me a headache
(hey, I've got a negative for just about every corps).
[Funniest aside of Finals: I was talking to Barry on Friday after SCV's
score was announced, and I told him the kids should just go hang at the
mall and have fun on Saturday. They were 3 points up on PR, and a point
back of Cadets. They weren't moving into the top 3 anyway, nor falling
down to 5th, so why bust your ass rehearsing on your last day together,
right? So, what do I see on Saturday afternoon over at East Towne Mall?
Three SCV buses pulling in! I almost crashed my car laughing so hard.
They were obviously member buses, cause of all the crap in the windows...
but I don't know if there were actually kids on them. Doesn't matter. I
still felt like Nostradamus.]
Corps: The Cadets
For my other alma mater, I always have a great affection and
appreciation for everything they do. And "Boogie Woogie" was the best chart
on the field this year in terms of a pure joy of music and performance. This
show was exactly what they should have done to celebrate their roots, and NYC,
after 9/11. So I can forgive them for NOT MARCHING ENOUGH! Man, when Devs
march more in their opener than Cadets do, something is seriously wrong. I
hope that next year brings a return to what makes the Cadets unique... there's
something hypnotizing about cream-colored pants, with a maroon stripe, humming
around the field like a dervish. Maybe a revival of "Rocky Point Holiday" to
celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first DCI title? Cadets had my favorite
moment on the field this year, as they often do...in the beginning and end of
the "Field of Dreams" piece, when the battery was way backfield, playing their
"come to war" cadence. Awesome effect. Reminded me a lot of the thing we did
in 89 with "Bring Him Home" and "Dreamed a Dream"...only this time, I actually
got to hear it!
Corps: Blue Devils
As I sarcastically said to Mr. York after semifinals, "The problem is,
these mother's just can't play!" WOW! After "suffering" through the
late 90s, when Devs decided to be something that conflicted with what I'd
hoped they be (huge, powerful, a little Latin, and a lot jazzy), this year
was like a miracle revival. I had so much fun with the show that it felt
like it was all over way too quickly, all three nights.
I won't even talk about the concept behind a corps scoring a 99...it's
really not fair to compare scores year-to-year...I'm not sure that's the
intent. But I will say that Friday night's show by the Cavaliers had the
best single visual performance I've ever seen. It was like watching a
drill sheet, or the concept in someone's head, come to life. I've never
been so awed by a corps' performance in my life, and I doubt I ever will
be. I will sway between anyone in the top 5 as to who was my favorite show
on the field this year... who I listen to on the CDs will vary depending on
my mood. But I will always know that the best corps on the field won this
year. And if anyone wants to take the position that this was the best corps
ever put on the field, regardless of score (and I do mean that, because I
don't think 89 SCV was even the best year they played Phantom, much less the
best SCV corps, much less the best corps ever, just because they scored a
98.8)...well, I sure won't argue with you.
Anyway, respond if you agreed...or if you didn't...or ignore this. I
hope to be around r.a.m.d more than I have been over the last 5-6 years.
Being back in Madison reminded me how much drum corps has meant to my life
over the last 17 years, and how much this newsgroup meant to that once
I wasn't an active marcher anymore.
Well, I know this is a bit late & am not sure how many will read it, but
here goes anyway.
I arrived in Madison on Wednesday and sat through every corps performance
from Div. II/III finals through Div. I finals on Saturday night, only missing
one corps the whole time (had to extend a break to get to the souvies I wanted
& order the DVD.
For reference, I was about 12 rows up from the judges in the upper deck,
right on the 50 for all except the Div. II/III finals show, where I was row 40,
on the 50. I think that perspective is important, as I've found that people
sitting in the lower deck often have a different perspective than those sitting
up high (where perspectives tend to more closely mirror the judges, not
coincidentally). I'm going to do my best to talk to everyone that I saw.
YAMATO -- Great to see this corps continue to progress. I don't remember a
lot of the show, other than they impressed me for a Div. III corps. The uniform
is great, too.
TAIPEI YUEHFU -- This corps seemed much smaller this year than last year. I
also didn't enjoy the show as much. The brass book seemed to thick and complex
for them, and did not connect well with the audience, except for the martial arts
section, which was very appealing. Percussion seemed solid to me (not a
percussion guy here) and the guard uniform was classy. Congratulations on making
"the big trip" yet again & hope to see you again soon, Taipei!
JERSEY SURF -- I just love this corps. They have a great concept (weekends/limited
touring) and they always focus on entertaining the crowd. The guard did not seem
as strong as they have in the past, but were still entertaining as ever. The show
concept was great. They have a bit of the VK style in them, I think. Musically
very enjoyable and great crowd response. They finished in 10th. I would have had
them in 6th.
EAST COAST JAZZ -- Nice uniform on this corps. Musically, they were "ok."
Visually, not a lot of demand or "GE" oriented stuff.
PATRIOTS -- I have really enjoyed this group in the past, but they didn't do as
much for me this year. Their horn line seems to get just a little smaller every
year, which is too bad. They have a solid color guard, as always. A few years ago,
I was hoping this corps would mature into a Div. I corps, but they seem comfortable
where they are. I would have had them in 7th, though.
BLUE STARS -- A nice solid Div. III show with great references to their history.
They covered a lot of territory in their show and did it well. I don't think they
had as solid of a drill as they have had in past years, however.
REVOLUTION -- Congratulations, gang! It's great to see a Texas Corps get a
title of any kind. Revolution put on an interesting, if esoteric, show. I think
the music book was written above their heads and size, but they pulled it off
reasonably well. Color Guard was very solid for Div. III, and very interesting.
I hope this group can find the $$$ to continue to grow. Maybe one day they can
become the next Seattle Cascades. That would be great!
ESPERANZA -- Wow! There was a huge step up for the "top 5" of the Div. II/III
finals, starting with this corps. Very nice size to the corps, with a HUGE color
guard that performs very well. I saw the corps at the NorCal shows in early July,
and they progressed wonderfully from there. The music was also excellent, with a
strong and complimentary drill. With the "graduations" in Div. II this year, I
predict that ESPERANZA is our II/III champion next year.
VANGUARD CADETS -- Holy drill, Batman! This corps is SO obviously the cadet
corps for SCV. It's wonderful to watch them and see the continual "birthing" of
the next generation of the "A" corps with that wonderful, classy SCV style. Also
like big brother, the strength of their show is visual, with the music inaccessible
at times. Still, one of the most exciting corps of the night, particularly in
MANDARINS -- Like Revolution, I think the music book for Mandarins was a little
over their heads at times, and partly as a result, they didn't always have the
nicest warm sound to their horn line. However, they did achieve a tremendous
amount of difficulty. It will be interesting to see if they can "grow" into a Div.
I corps next year. I hope they can find the numbers needed to be competitive,
because I've always appreciated the "guts" of this corps.
CAPITOL REGIMENT -- I've been so impressed with this group over the last 2
summers. Ohio truly has 3 world class drum corps now! And the other two better
not get too comfortable. Cap had a wonderfully designed show that looked great
from the upper deck. I nice, clean readable drill with difficulty and content.
The brass line was solid and powerful, with a nice warm sound. I totally disagree
with the poster who said that Mandarins were louder. From the upper deck, no way.
If this corps ups the difficulty a notch next summer and continues to grow their
guard program, look out! From the upper deck, they definitely deserved to beat
Southwind out for that last spot in Semis and CONGRATULATIONS!!!
PIONEER -- Hmm, not sure what to say here. The show concept was "cute," I
suppose. I appreciate the effort that the kids gave. The corps really needs to
reconsider their Div. I standing. They are not a Div. I corps at the moment in
terms of the size and product on the field. This show had virtually no readable
drill and very rarely went outside the small box in front of the front hash and
the 30 yard lines. The nicest moment in the show was the ballad. Tastefully done.
Next year, Pioneer, please either come back with bigger numbers and a stronger
show design or go Div. II, please.
TROOPERS -- Okay! Much improved over last year in my opinion. Horn line was
reasonably solid and I liked the show design. The guard improved by miles from
where they were in San Antonio, as did the entire corps. I still love seeing the
old troop on the field. Thanks for all of your hard work this summer. Like others,
I hope the nucleus of this young corps stays together and returns next year.
KIWANIS KAVALIERS -- Wow, what an improvement to make in one year. The merger
with Tampa certainly was a winner. I liked this show, although much of the music
wasn't what you would expect when you hear superman & batman referenced in the show
bio. I did not like the mask/hood the corps wore in place of a shako/hat, and I
think it made them look short. If they can get these kids to come back next summer,
they could really make a dent in Div. I.
SOUTHWIND -- I disagree with those that felt S/W should have beaten Capitol
Regiment. From the upper deck, Cap was clearly superior in show design, marching
and musical effect. Two years ago, when this corps probably should have made finals
in DC, I had high hopes for S/W. I'm not sure they are headed in the right direction
anymore, though. Overall, I don't feel that the kids really "bought" this show, and
thus put all their energy into "selling" and communicating it to the audience. The
show seemed very "paint by numbers." Also, the drill was not creative, and lacked
the difficulty needed to go much of anywhere. Don't get me wrong, they are still
solidly a Div. I corps with potential, but this year they were obviously young, and
saddled with a less than moving show. I hope they start to regroup next year and
move back up.
CAROLINA CROWN -- Along with Southwind, my most disappointing corps of the year.
Crown over they years has had several of my favorite shows (Stormworks, the Chess show,
they Russian Christmas Music show & Jeckyl & Hyde), but their design quality has
declined now for 3 years in a row. Visually, the last 2 years they have lacked
cohesiveness visually, have written guard work over the heads of their performers, and
thus not executed. The corps marches very poorly. And, musically, the brass line
just never cranks up any volume. They certainly win my vote for worst guard uniform
of the year, though at least it was improved from the Orlando show in early June. The
guy flopping around (I guess trying to be Pegasus???) with the feathers was comical
and ridiculous. I feel sorry for the kid, and especially his parents. How
embarrassing. Let's hope 2002 was an aberration for Crown and that they get back on
track next year. I really miss their white pants too, but they way they are marching
the past few years, they may not have a choice.
COLTS -- Never have I seen such strong corps in the 13-15 spots, as all could have
made finals in some other years, and especially Colts. I would have had them 12th, or
at least 13th and very close to Seattle Cascades. This was a great show, with enjoyable
music and big, bold readable drill forms. The color guard was a delight to watch,
terrific when they were all on Rifle, and with a great color scheme with their uniform
and silks. I enjoyed this show much more than last years, when they were 12th, and
think they were a better corps this year, too.
MADISON SCOUTS -- It was so strange (and painful) to not see this corps in finals.
They obviously had a ton of talent in the brass & drum lines, but the kids did not have
a product worthy of that talent. I've heard that Scott Stuart & company are out and
that Jim Mason has been brought in. I hope that is true. I appreciate all that Mr.
Stuart has given to the Scouts & the activity, but the corps was quickly heading for
competitive and creative oblivion. While brass & drum wise, the corps was close to
finals quality, they were deficient in all other respects, really to the whole top 17.
Visually, the drill only had marginal impacts, and the feet & body carriage of the
corps was just not there. As many others have stated, the guard was just not good at
all, and it's been a problem for 3 years now. A good management team would have fixed
it by now. This proud, proud corps with a ton of class and tradition deserves much,
much more. You can't be entertaining if you don't perform well with a creative and
well-thought out program.
BLUE KNIGHTS -- A huge step up from the "Blue Toons" debacle last year. I thought
the show concept and music was kind of cool, if not always accessible. GE was limited
by the color scheme in the guard, particularly the uniform, in my opinion. Also, I
would have liked to see more drill, marched better instead of the ridiculous amount of
body movement in the show, at times not even matching the music or what was going on.
People have compared to Star, but Star 93 still knew how to balance marching & music
and ensure that movement matched well to what was going on musically. Not so here. I
would have had them 14th, behind Colts.
SEATTLE CASCADES -- What a season for Seattle! Just Div. III only 2 years ago.
Unbelievable. I'd say it's an accomplishment comparable to Star of Indiana & Spirit of
Atlanta in what they've done in so little time to make Finals. CONGRATULATIONS. The
kids were a joy to watch performing. Seeing them all the way back to the NorCal shows,
I think they watered the show down a bit too much, especially in the brass book. The
show just seemed to not have enough "legs" to continue growing all they way to the end
of the season, as the show was most exciting in early July and was just a little less
so every time you saw it. Not to take anything from this group though, as they were
great fun. Who cares if others have played the music before. They put their own stamp
on it. And the drill was great. Can't wait to see if they can keep up the progression
MAGIC OF ORLANDO -- I didn't even include them in the Div. II/III section of this
review, as I never considered them to be Div. II all year. They were unbelievable,
considering they basically started from scratch. Of course, assembling an all star
design and teaching staff certainly doesn't hurt! The music book was memorable and
moving, and performed with emotion and flair by the horn line, even if I would have
like a little more volume than they gave us. The drill was fantastic (vintage Sacktig
and far superior to what the Cadets had this year with him not writing for them). In
fact, their closing drill moves were some of the most exciting of the year (outside of
Cavaliers) and brought the crowd to their feet before they finished. The most impressive
thing of all to me was just how cleanly this corps marched. Their feet, alignment, body
posture and spacing were all fantastic. Again, I can't wait to see what this corps
delivers next year. I hope they are on great financial footing and can reach for the
stars. Top 5 really isn't that far away for them.
SPIRIT of JSU -- Wow, what a horn line! Spirit had such a deep, low and powerful
sound. Terrific low brass. I really enjoyed this show, and actually really enjoyed the
opener. Dark, powerful & exciting. The "stereo" effect of the horns hitting those power
cords while turning from side to side was a highlight of the show and a great impact.
They did a great job of setting the tone for transformation to "light" with a truly "dark"
opener. Visually, they were vastly improved to last year's effort, but not the equal of
Magic yet in design or execution. It was certainly music that powered Spirit over Magic
to their highest placement since the mid to late 80s. Welcome back, Spirit! Another
corps I can't wait to see next year as hopefully their visual and guard programs continue
to evolve to match their emerging powerhouse sound.
CROSSMEN -- What a fun and exciting show! Not the most original or creative, and not
necessisarily one that explored the entire range of emotion or impact, but terrific
entertainment. I don't agree with those that thought they should have placed higher, but
they should have broken 90 on Saturday night like they had the rest of the week. Also,
there is something quite positively "goosebump" about watching bones in the background
during warm up and the show. Maybe it's the stark uniform (even with the stripes, kind
of bland), but visually, they just don't match up well with those above them in terms of
field coverage, creativity and design. Still, another solid and enjoyable year from the
GLASSMEN -- Could you imagine what these talented kids could do if they were ever given
a top notch program to match their considerable skills? I didn't dislike this show, but I
didn't love it either. "Neat" and "Pretty" come to mind, but is that what you want for
championship drum corps? I loved the ballad but found the rest of the show lacking guts
or bravado (not using the word I want here). In fact, they seem like a "Neutered" drum
corps most of the time. Does this design staff purposely go out each off season saying
"HMM, what can we find to disengage the audience & seem mechanical and bland next year?"???
Visually, a fairly nice drill, but tons of dirt in the feet and body posture. One AWESOME
drumline sure saved the corps butt this year, or they would have been down with Magic &
Spirit. Horn-wise, fairly clean, but uninspiring. C'mon Glassmen, find something to rock
the house with next year!
BLUECOATS -- A vintage, well thought-out show from BLUUUUEEE!!! I think program-wise,
I enjoyed last year's Tango show more (my all time fav from them), but this show had a
great theme, some gorgeous visual compliments (like the opening sunrise effect) and a
fantastic horn line. The influx of Texans (my home state bias aside) is very obvious in
that respect. A terrific contra line and low brass sound. Thanks for being entertaining
& progressive, Bluecoats!
BOSTON CRUSADERS -- There seems to be a wide variety of opinions on this show, but I
personally really enjoyed it. Very classy and beautiful. I also liked the signs, all of
which seemed to fit perfectly with the music and "feel" of the moment. I especially loved
the stars messages in the "you are my star" section of the show, and it's true -- stars
give light to things bigger than themselves. This show did that too, packed with emotion
and a great guard. I was unsure of the guard uni the first time I saw it, but I loved it
by finals -- IT FIT THE SHOW. Musically, I thought the brass line, while solid & competent
was lacking in power and should not have scored quite as highly as they did. This is one
corps that got better every night and really cranked up a performance on Saturday night.
The flag picture at the end was a great effect, too. All that being said, THEY SHOULD NOT
HAVE TIED PHANTOM FOR 5TH. A great sixth place show, though, Boston!
PHANTOM REGIMENT -- I will admit my bias towards PR, but I will say that my friends
usually are luke -warm on Regiment, and they all loved Regiment this year. I think their
best show of the week, from an emotion and execution standpoint was Thursday (perhaps
affected by the food poisoning to a slight degree), but they were vintage Phantom all 3
nights and should have scored in at least the mid to high 93s. The guard was the best I've
seen from Phantom since the mid 90s. Spectacular, emotional and precise. I had them 3rd
in Guard behind Cavies & BD on Saturday (after Cadet's guard disaster in Finals). The horn
line was powerful and exciting, with an absolutely gorgeous ballad. What held them back
from the top 4? While improved, they are still visually behind the big 4 in terms of depth
and difficulty of drill. Not enough rapid change in forms and not always complimentary at
big musical impacts. I also so too much dirt in some of the horizontal lines in forms,
especially when they horn line hits 4 straight lines (horizontally) near the end of the show.
Also, the drum line was not up to snuff to compete with the elite. A fantastic 5th place
for Regiment though, and their 3rd move up in placement in 3 years. I hope that trend
continues next year and as usual will anxiously await the CDs to listen to their horn line
(which deservedly placed 4th, by the way). Musical heaven, in my opinion!
SANTA CLARA VANGUARD -- Wow, what a drill! Musically? Wow what a drill! Seriously, it
wasn't that SCV's music was bad, it just did little to inspire or move you like SCV can do.
They do seem in a rut musically over the past 3-4 years. SCV used to be able to produce
some true heart-moving moments of beauty musically. I hope they recapture that next year.
Drill wise, absolutely fantastic stuff for Vanguard. And the purple flagged ballad was
gorgeous. To move break out of fourth place, though, SCV needs to find some better music
to bring to the field next year, otherwise a hard charging Regiment may move back in front
of them soon.
CADETS -- Did the judges see what everyone else did Saturday night? In no way did this
corps deserve 3rd place. There were just way too many breaks visually and musically to
justify it on Saturday night. Everyone around me was sure that Vanguard would be 3rd on
the last night based on performances. In my opinion, the worst judged placement in DCI in a
long, long time. Come on judges, you have to judge what you see & hear that night. This
was a fun, crowd pleasing show from Cadets, and without the performance meltdown on the last
night, they were a legitimate 3rd. But they did not execute under pressure on Saturday.
Cadets also seem to be losing their dedication to difficult, creative and innovative visual
programs. There was very little of any of those 3 in this year's show. The show seemed to
be (design wise) an uninspired knock off of the 95 show, without the great music of 95
(ballad from Field of dreams excepted).
BLUE DEVILS -- Holy cow, what a show by BD. This show did a complete 180 from June in
Orlando, et., al. By year end, BD had the most enjoyable, fast moving (it seemed to last
just a few minutes) and accessible show of the year. In many another year, this show would
have delivered a ring for BD. They executed flawlessly and should have won high guard. The
brass line was also fantastic, and in my opinion, should have won brass. The drum line and
visual program were definitely behind Cavaliers though, and that ultimately cost them.
This is the 5th time in 6 years that I've loved BD's show though (all but last year), and
it used to be just the opposite. Congratulations on a terrific season with miraculous
CAVALIERS -- What an unbelievably well designed visual show. Just incredible. And,
the more times you listened to them, the more you realized a solid, meaty musical book was
there as well. Great control and beautiful sound from the corps, I just would have liked a
little more edge, emotion and intensity with the music. I think that explains why the crowd
was mesmerized and entranced by Cavaliers, often in awe, but excluding the "box" moments,
rarely loud in their appreciation or out of their seats. They definitely deserved to win,
but I think Percussion rightly went to Cadets and Brass, Guard and GE music should have gone
to BD. All that said, I don't have a problem with those that say this was the best show
ever, even though I was sad to see SCV's mark from 89 fall. The show just made perfect
sense and was performed amazingly clean and professionally. I, like most, just hope the
corps finds more melodic and inspiring music for next year.
All in all, a great year for DCI and a fantastic week for Drum Corps. It's great to see
growth in both the quantity and quality big Div. I corps. The standards to hit both top 17
and top 12 are getting very, very high indeed. And for anyone that either doesn't go to
II/III finals or skips all but the top 5 or 6 each night of Quarters, Semis & Finals, you
are missing out! I wish finals were not in hot, muggy Orlando next year, but none the less,
I can't wait!