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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2005 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews
As posted to R.A.M.D. and submitted to Sound Machine

Page Three of Reviews

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: scores@soundmachine.org
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Go to Page 2 of Reviews!


Saturday August 13

Brockton, MA (DCI Division II/III Grand Finals)

Wow - what a day of drum corps! Drove down with one of my AG drummers (AGdrummrinmaine) who had never seen a live drum corps before. Boy, did he get an experience.

First observation - and something that colored the whole day - it was freakin' hot! I can't remember a Finals day that was so humid and hot - the misery factor was astounding. It was as bad or worse than the first Saturday show in Orlando two years ago, when we all sat on the west side of the metal bleachers as the morning sun rose over the stands.

We noticed it was 85 degrees when we were leaving Foxboro at 11:05 that night - it was hot.

We arrived more than an hour before the show - there was quite a line at the gate already - I didn't get my usual seat (one row down) and the stands filled up fast - and emptied just as fast as folks sought shade down under the stands.

This was no joke - I was worried for a lot of grandparents and older folks who were gasping by the time Spartans went on - a lot of folks left when their kids' corps finished - no surprise.

Still it was good to see a big crowd - the stands, though never packed at any time during the three days I saw shows there, were generally full and the crowd was always enthusiastic.

So I stopped taking notes after the second corps - this is from memory. Every corps was affected by the heat - with turf you can add about 8 to 10 degrees - the amazing thing was that no one went down on the field - one poor young lady who's corps shall remain nameless lost her breakfast on the field after the show - most ageouts leave a pair of shoes, but times change...

Yamato - the sound was a little ragged on the loud end - heat, I suppose - tough to be on first in this situation - I like this show, John Meehan did a nice, listenable book. I think their drums came through best.

Memphis Sound - a lot of tears in the brass - drums missed some big hits, unusual for them - I think they marched a better show than the numbers give them credit for - again, mark it down to the heat.

Taipei Yuehfu - now I see why they use fans so much in Taiwan...the appearance of the fans in the show always catch the crowd up and today was no exception (jealousy, perhaps? I saw of lot of fans sold from TY's souvie table in evidence in the crowd). This is a very good show, I think it didn't have quite the demand the Raiders did - or connected with the crowd as Raider's did. I enjoyed the ethnic Chinese bits - the large yellow flags, the Peking opera dance moves (now you know where Jackie Chan got it from).

Raiders - a cloud or two mercifully blocked out some of the heat during their show - so the only heat came from the field. I think they wanted to show without question - or benefit of penalty - that they were the Div. III champs. The JC Superstar show was a great vehicle to show how well they connected with the crowd. Lovely performance. Horn sound was clear and well-supported to the end.

Jersey Surf - definitely a crowd favorite - these kids have fun and do what they do very well. All the comedy bits were back in except the cell phone call (which could have done with a stronger setup anyway). They win high "color guard be-yotch factor" hands down - that kid has a career on Comedy Central if he wants it. The ending was restaged (thank you, staff member sitting behind me for muttering "c'mon, remember the new ending, remember the new ending" during the closer). Horns down front for the final hit of "Stars and Stripes" - I almost thought they were going to storm the stands like they did last year. Thank you Bob Jacobs. I'll be ripping off some of the jokes with full attribution...

Oregon Crusaders - OC has a great show, which grew on me (even if the kid with the gun NEVER SHOT THE BAD GUY) - the visual performance (M& M for those of us of the dinosaur persuasion) was definitely off - forms weren't clean, intervals sagged - the heat was really amping up about then and a lot of folks sitting around me were just waiting for the break to come so get in the shade and hydrate. Great show.

There were three ways to relate to the heat - 1:be hard corps and tough your way through, pass out once you clear the stands 2:take the easy route and just "get through" in as relaxed a manner as possible (speaking as a director of a band and a corps this is a very, very valid option when it's so stupendously hot) or 3: "say WTF, it's over 100 degrees, we're sweating bullets, the crowd is wilted and the judges are too dehydrated to care, loosen up and swing big".

Impulse - Impulse went with Option 3 - their style let them loosen up, wipe the sweat off their brows and give it all they had. Great performance that seemed a little thin in the middle due to the heat. A fun show.

Teal Sound - I was kind of wavering from the heat at this point - and Teal plays a show called "Firestarter" - is Key Poulan the Chuck Mangione of the new millenium? I think because of the heat they didn't have the energy to totally sell the show the way a score of this complexity needs to be sold - but it was a solid performance in general. Much props to the kids after the final flame incinerates the corps for dropping down on that hot turf and rolling around in agony - who needs Method acting when you have hot turf? Well done, Teal.

Fever - yet another reminder of how hot it was - a corps called "Fever". Good performance. Right off the bat the energy level was there. Met their arranger at their souvie stand before the show and talked about corps management - this group has done great things in only three years - as has OC - keep it up.

Blue Stars - they have a guard member who goes into a single leg-lift on the 25 yard line when the corps is called to attention - she holds it until the first note of the show - an astounding display of technique, focus and commtment to performance - which pretty much sums up the whole corps. The energy was there at the sacrifice of some clarity in forms and accuracy in movement - I sort of expected them to be louder - but the total show was there. I can't wait to see what they do next year, the anime' music they've chosen has a great connection with a lot of the younger members of the crowd and is a gold mine for material.

Get short sleeves. You know you used to do it - you know you want to do it again. Oh baby, get short sleeves.

East Coast Jazz - Le jazz hot - at this point, I could take either them or Spartans - actually, at this point I kind of just wanted to jump in the bay - but ECJ really cut through the heat-induced fog and made me watch. Everything seemed to work and work well. Great brass and percussion, selling the show despite the heat.

Spartans - This corps absolutely knows how to assimilate and perform a show of this kind of symphonic and dramatic complexity. They have some kind of sympatico with wherever Key Poulan is coming from - a kind of dark, intense vision that weaves a spell commanding the audience to become involved. I hope they continue to explore this kind of expression.

Oh yeah, they can march and play the living crap out of it too. Wow.

There will be a gallery of pix later today on the Atlantic Guardian website - mid-evening.

So thus ends 2005's only month-long weekend.

The thing I'm taking away is the astounding level of quality of the overwhelming majority of corps in Div. II/III - Revolution, Capital Sound, Citations - all of them could have been part of this show with no letup in the quality of design and execution.

Even the smaller Div. III corps - Targets, H.Y.P.E., CNYC and others - are pushing their kids to reach greater levels of expresson and execution.

But the Div. II corps, in particular - there wasn't a weak show in the bunch.

Also, on a personal note - Atlantic Guardian took the streets with horns and drums to do parades here in Maine - now with the grace of God and a long handled spoon we're going to take the field next year.

Thank you, everyone who made this season so memorable.

Yeah baby. Drum Corps.

Jim Alberty


Friday August 12

Foxboro, MA (DCI Division I Semifinals)

Seattle Cascades
I enjoyed: the overall concept; the biplane-kite dogfight sequence; their energy; good use of color; good music choices.
I didn't like as much: the narration-- lots of huh? moments in it, and it was unnecessary as the concept was clear without it. I thought forming and moving the plane across the field with props was too bando.

Mandarins:
Big pluses: Good brass power for a smaller corps; GooseBumpCity from Spartacus reentry near end; good use of color.
Little minuses: Fast horn runs can elude them; not as clean as corps to come.

Southwind:
Strengths: Nice hit on first use of flags; impressive at visual effect of snapping horns together; use of vocals and dynamic control in Saint-Saens; high entertainment quotient; fun multi-tom feature; very strong double-pump ending.
Weaknesses: guard uniforms which reminded me of stitched-together Sally in "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas".

Capital Regiment:
Build up: French horn solo work; music and pivoting horns at end of third section was GooseBumpCity; costume changes on lead dancer and other very good use of color design; very demanding drill in last minute or two with lots of blind and backward marching done well.
Ticks: Some horn ensemble tears; too much dutting.

Colts:
Cool, dood: First big hit very effective; notable step-up in visual and musical ensemble; bows on vibraphones at start of "Til There Was You"; I don't like that particular syrupy piece of music generally, but Colts sold me on it here; spirituals dancing by hornline quite good and better than was reasonable to expect; company front to end with Red Pony reprise was GooseBumpCity.
Drag, man: music ensemble at end of Ginastera when spread wide across field; a few solo gaffes; cat puke pink flags near end.

Crossmen:
Fresh cream butter: Dynamic control and contrast in "Radar Love"; that piece rocked the house like few by any corps did tonight; very powerful hornline; solos in Paradise; very good color guard performance.
Velveeta: Far and away my least favorite color guard uniform and flag design and use of color generally-- what a mess!-- they just threw a color palette on the field with no regard for design; drum feature in Paradise not clean.

Spirit JSU:
Dilbert: Cleaner than Colts or Crossmen; quiet ending to Andrew Lloyd Webber sequence GooseBumpCity; very good use of color; easily accessible and familiar music to most audience members; "Luck Be A Lady Tonight" emotional and on target.
Nancy: Other numbers gave this show less emotional impact than Colts or Crossmen; cliched opening in musical book; theater program signs don't add much; not much bang out of company front near end.

Glassmen:
WinXP: Robert K. Smith musical book of a jazzy and very imaginative arrangement of Dvorak's New World Symphony was brilliant; for second year in a row, and hopefully forever, this corps shed the "boring" label; very good visual design except for...
Win98 First Edition: ...the use of color and the fractured stain glass guard outfit and flags didn't sell the concept or work for me; some horn ensemble tears; too much dutting.

Blue Knights:
Howard Johnson's coffee ice cream: first corps with a hornline that inflicted hearing damage in my lower deck seat; nailed ending of opener; the clear and bottom heavy drum feature was a drum solo for horn guys like me; another corps that bores me some years but this year, kept me on the edge of my seat; exceptionally strong musical book except for...
Breyer's coffee ice cream: ..."Some Enchanted Evening". Yeah, there's a conceptual connection between this piece and the midsummer fantasy idea, but musically, I didn't think this piece fit, even as a desirable mood contrast, with the rest of the dark, gut-thumping musical book.

Santa Clara Vanguard:
Sam Adams on tap: Music and visual book. I love this show! My favorite color guard outfits, and excellent use of color design. High energy tonight, especially in the Shostakovich. Many highlight moments for me, but I was too busy enjoying them to note them down.
Moxie in a can: Still not as clean as top eight; their placement seems fair; this young corps will mature and grow in skill and climb back up if they can hang on to their veterans.

Carolina Crown:
Hosannas in the highest: The opening kills; big full-sound hornline, with lush, gorgeous sound; GooseBumpCity at end of opener; understated use of color fits the show concept; strong guard; effective design to deliver creative concept; very enjoyable show well-performed.
Whiny complaints: show is more moving and impressive than thrilling, but on the other hand, that problem, if it is one, is consistent with the angels concept.

Boston Crusaders:
Vegas: Creative arrangements of very familiar drum corps standards; very strong opener; end of "Red Pony" reprise was GooseBumpCity; devastating hornline that sounds like they have G bugles even though they don't; throw down ending of "Sing Sang Sung" rocked out; very high energy; excellent use of color design; I thought they were underscored (about two points) and placed one spot lower than they should have been.
Moline: Amps were set much too loudly for lower deck tonight (not in quarterfinals), unbalancing mix of keyboards to rest of corps; male color guard outfit not a favorite.

Bloocoats:
Fine mahogany: Very strong flag and rifle work; color design; bells and euphonium solo in "Ombra"; ending of that piece end-zone-to-end-zone in a great visual and musical moment; powerful hornline and effective use of mutes.
Water-soaked particle board: Amps were occasionally too loud for lower deck; drumspeak. Just play it, guys.

Madison Scouts:
Providence Biltmore: Many thrilling moves and moments; Carmen (the guard member}; their screaming horn ensemble-- the best of the night; at times sounded like a very good G hornline; power ending to third section; I thought Madison was a little better and not tied with Bloocoats.
Walpole Motel: A few ineffective moments such as near end of second section and a dirty horn run in the third section; the end of the show (at least version number three) still feels anticlimactic and leaves the audience wanting something more.

Blue Devils:
Ferrari: Very demanding difficulty; show designers tried something different; it may be better to make a show that many people strongly dislike than to make one that many people find boring; if you're going to Miss, aim high and Miss Big.
Yugo: This show indeed Misses Big, for me; the concept of a dance marathon in reverse time is confusing and poorly conceived and executed in design here; music doesn't match concept; extraordinarily annoying narration stopped development of show and general effect cold in its tracks repeatedly; tonight I wore earplugs because this show is not worth the hearing damage it inflicts from the amplifiers and overblowing hornline in the lower deck; the only DCI Division I show of 2005 I disliked overall, from one of my favorite all-time corps.

Phantom Regiment:
Free Parking: Crisp and clean, no caffeine, such as runs in opener; hornline carries like strongest G bugle brass sections of old; featured contra section; great color guard work and color design, such as flags and flappers-from-Beetlejuice outfit; outstanding visual show design and all-around performance that deserves to win "Spirit of Disney".
Gillette Stadium Parking: While this Gershwin material is marvelous, the arrangements here had a been-three-done-that feel for me, too similar to earlier charts of this same music by Phantom and Madison; Gene (who is very good overall) should tap dance the same rhythms played by the drumline in that brief visual quote from "Singin' in the Rain".

Cavaliers:
Giordano's Stuffed Pizza: Clean Machine redux; power; emotional and dynamic range; awesome color guard; imaginative drill (baseball game) and third dimension (height) through ladders; athleticism; great drum feature; moving around ladders running backwards at end; excellent use of color
Papa Gino's Gillette Stadium Pizza: Amps set too high for lower deck; color guard uniforms too effeminate; more impressive than thrilling.

Cadets:
Orchid: Stunningly imaginative visual design; superb visual execution; I loved the two-sided uniforms for this show; best color guard, I thought; cool percussion pit effect that sounds electronic but isn't, at beginning of drumspeak section; took a major risk with this dark and abstract concept and brought it home with outstanding flair
Kudzu: Girl with microphone and the drumspeak; like Cavaliers, more impressive and less thrilling than other shows which don't score as well.

I was not able to stay for the Hawthorne Caballeros Alumni Corps exhibition-- sorry, guys.

Special Caption Awards:
Semifinalist corps not using amps: Southwind, Capital Regiment, Glassmen
Best use of amps for vocals: No award, second year in a row
Best vocals: Southwind vocals (unamplified) for Samson & Delilah during drum feature added a lot to their show
My favorite hornline: Phantom
Favorite drumline: Cavies
Favorite guard: Cadets
Favorite visual design: Phantom
Favorite musical book: SCV
Most entertaining and Favorite show overall: Phantom

I haven't searched online yet, but two things you may hear complaints about:
No tribute banners were allowed anywhere in the unoccupied bleachers around the stadium, for the first championships I can remember.

Hockey-rink style plexiglass around Club Level (middle deck) and upper deck may block sound from field in the lowest rows.

Resume Hut


Sunday August 7

East Rutherford, NJ (DCI)

The good news is, drum and bugle corps appears to be alive and well, at least with SOME of the corps. Tonight saw several really entertaining shows, one great one, and more opportunities to stand up and cheer and enjoy the show than I have experienced in the last few years.

Pioneer: The best show I have ever seen from this corps. I was prepared to take a nap and instead, I really enjoyed them. My compliments to the staff for putting together a great show and to the kids for doing a nice job executing it. Last place by 5 points; should have finished higher.

Mandarins: A nice show, but not as good as Pioneer. There were several places where the sopranos (oops, trumpets) were not playing together, but overall a nice full sound for a relatively small horn line. 8th place in DCI wrapping paper.

An aside: The DCI judges appear to have some sort of checklist of elements they are looking for. Corps which have the requisite number of the checklist items get better scores, whether or not they are the better corps. This is clearly the case with Mandarins, as their show contains many of the elements.

A hint for a guard member from a corps who will not be named so as not to embarrass anyone: When you are having a bad night catching your rifle, remember, the higher you throw it, the farther you have to walk to pick it up.

Pacific Crest: A solid entertaining show. Nice full sound and a busy guard. 7th place, just right.

Capital Regiment: I liked them last year when I saw them for the first time. I liked them even more this year, but the sundial is distracting. (No, this is not an old pharte thing, even though I am one). If you put the sundial somewhere, fine. If you have to turn it around once or twice, that's fine too, but the darn thing is in motion more time than it is stationary. This is a fine corps. Keep the sundial BEHIND them or beside them, not if front of them. Nice sound, nice drill, nice guard, nicely done. 6th place, I would have liked to see them with a little higher score. They deserved a bigger spread over Pacific Crest and should have been closer to the Colts.

The Colts: Ummmmmm. I liked them, I really did. I told my wife I liked them when they were done. I just have one question; What did they play? I am sorry, this is not a knock on the kids, they did a fine job, they really did, I liked the show. There was just nothing about the show that really caught my attention. 5th place. Too close to Crossmen, too far ahead of Capital Regiment.

The Crossmen: They stay at a high school close to my house, so I have seen them a few times this year. All I can say is; Wow! By far the best I've seen them this year. Great job Crossmen! I like this show and they finally nailed it last night. The judges just forgot to notice. 4th place. The placement is probably right, the score is not. For the show they put on last night to be that far behind the 3rd place unit is a disgrace.

The Cavaliers: Year in and year out the most innovative corps in drum corps and they outdid themselves this year. I think this is the finest show I have seen in DCI in about 3 or 4 years. They looked great, have a typically wonderful Cavalier drill, their horn line is powerful and balanced, they have great soloists, and their drum line is terrific. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what Drum Corps is all about. Absolutely the best corps of the evening.

Jazzman


Manchester, NH (DCI II/III) #2

OK - second night, no belly dancers, just 13 really solid drum corps performances - they really set Manchester on it's ear and if you had passed the hat to start a new corps the crowd would have sold their cars to fill it.

Fred Ford always says that people will come to Div. II/III shows if they have a product worth watching - these two nights have borne him out.

Racine Scouts - I've never managed to see the Chrome Domes live but have heard about them forever. The music had a definite "Trooperish ala 1965" cast to it, all western with the drum major in jeans and sixshooters (Definite GE there...). The sound of the brass was very smooth and well blended - small group, but fun to watch and listen to.

Blue Saints - another very young group doing music of "Grease" - the guard is to be commended for doing under-the-leg flag twirling while wearing full length poodle skirts - not an easy thing. They have couple of outstanding soloists, particularly the mellohone players (mellophonist?)

H.Y.P.E. - a very well-thought out version of MacArther Park, which we don't hear that often (since the Madison Scouts pretty much stamped their name all over it in 1975) and might make a really symphonic piece. Anyway, the kids from Hamilton needed more support to carry "Nightengale Sang...".

The guard kicked the show off with electric blue flags in a single mass twirl - nice move.

Revolution - "Emotions" is the show - very intense, to be carried by "how" the show is done rather than by recognizalbe content. Their marching ensemble needs to be cleaner, there were noticable breaks in forms. The brass played very well. Definitely the start of the middle tier of corps in Div. III that evening.

Strangnas - say STRANG-nyas - it sounds so cool when one of their kids say it (this was the group lionized on Sunday, the way Taipei Yuehfu was Saturday - at least their color guard girls were....lot of band guys offering to buy sodas, I noticed). Anyway, these Swedes know drum corps. Playing "Tequila" off the bat got the crowd going. Great brass balance, clean percussion and a very well-thought out drill. If they can get their feet going in the next 24 hours they may well move up some notches in Brockton - they are that good. DCI is becoming truly international.

Raiders - I can see how they were considered top dogs in Div. III until Taipei arrived on our shores. They have a really smooth, exact guard. The horns, while a little rough in spots, generate a great balance. They have their work cut out for them on Thursday but I think the show could do it.

Yamato - They're right on Raider's coattails - they basicallly lost the show in guard. The execution is great, I love the brass sound, It's a light and listenable show.

Dutch Boy - Moving into Div. II, Dutch Boy, though small, showed great ingenuity and skill. Brass and drum balance, inside and between sections, was excellent. Great use of space. This was the only corps in the evening - both evenings, I think - that used amplified voice and it worked perfectly. Contrast between the single amped vocal scat and the corps proper answering was exciting and effective and could not have been managed any other way. If you're gonna use amps, THIS is how they should be used.

Lake Erie Regiment - speaking of innovation, this color guard has some of the coolest equipment on the field, in any division. I don't have anywhere near the adjectives to describe what they were carrying, twriling, hiding behind, wearing and generally using to sell the show. They also had a lovely ensemble brass sound, very well supported and rich in tone.

Jersey Surf - this is very sophisticated comedy - and it has the edge of seriousness that makes the comedy even more effective. They're down about half a point in all execution captions, but they may be having too much fun to notice. Of particular note is the trunk of props in "Send In the Clowns", a red baseball cap, a red converse sneaker, a bannana-yellow long coat - and a rainbow flag at the end - most of the references went over the heads of the crowd - a couple of us old timers (two guys who marched 27 in the 70's and me, who marched BD) went nuts - I absolutely have to be in the stadium in Brockton when a drum corps crowd sees this - it should feel absolutely great.

And God only knows what they're going to come up with for Finals....

Blue Stars - this corps is big and uses the field well. They won all captions except guard (which went to Fever). I like the show, though a lot of the crowd (somewhat of an older generation) didn't really seem be au courant with the whole Final Fantasy thing and didn't seem to connect somehow. Still, I think Blue Stars will have to push to catch ECJ and Spartans - the impression I have is that the Blue Stars just aren't as clean.

I did talk to an alum of the late 1980's Div. III corps days after the show - he was completely blown and away and very proud to see them.

Fever - "Anxieties" is the show - I've never seen their uniforms under lights before and it makes a difference. They read well and the color is just neutral enough to give the designers room for any accents they want ot use.

The show is very intense and has very little let up in the musical tension level. It comes close to the line of "too much" for the average listener (at least, what I heard after they left the field) - but I really like the brass sound, the percussion is clean and the show will do well this week.

So for $10, gas and tolls (this IS New England) you got a great collection of shows over two nights - thirty one drum corps shows!!!. I can't be in Brockton on Tuesday but will be there Thursday and Saturday (look for the big Native American guy in the ratty straw hat with an eagle feather, wearing an Atlantic Guardian shirt).

See you there - this has been a great season.

Jim Alberty


Saturday August 6

Allentown, PA (DCI Major) #2

Headed down with an Alumni from my band up here at Blue Mountain HS and one of our drummer's that had never seen DCI before. We arrived a bit earlier tonight and didn't miss one bit of the action!

TROOPERS - They were staying at our neighboring school (Schuylkill Haven HS) so we wanted to cheer them on. I think a couple of Haven's students are marching with the Troopers too. Their show is called "Gold Rush". Very nicely written show but the lack of numbers could be one element holding them back from moving up from where they are. They are "America's Corps" and I would love to see them make it back up to a finalist slot one day. All areas are strong and entertaining.
Its great to see this corps still around!

ESPERANZA - My first time viewing this corps. The show is Emerson's Piano Concerto No 1 - one of my favorite pieces! So naturally I was on the edge of my seat. They do it a bit differently than I had expected them to but still loved it. The corps isnt all that huge, but their numbers are good. Its odd to think that only a couple years ago I had never even heard of this corps!

THE MAGIC - The Show was called "A New Beginning". During their performance I wondered just why they were scoring so low this year. Its a nice show all around and they have what seems to be a full corps - very talented! I hope they can pull up in the rankings, but time will tell. Best of Luck - Magic!

SEATTLE CASCADES - "The Airborne Symphony" - the concept of aviation - totally cool show! This group was running around these large open pvc(?) shapes that at one point formed a large plane kinda looked like the Wright Brothers flyer. The crowd seemed to enjoy this one! This was my first time viewing the Cascades as well. All areas of this corps are superb. Would love to see this show in finals! But they have a few corps to outscore to do that. Regardless - its a great show and performed well.

SOUTHWIND - The show was a mix of many different songs called "The Distorted Imagination" Lots of movie tunes are in here too, I thought the show was fun to watch and nicely put together - a good credit to their arrangers and staff for not letting the show feel disjointed and chopping. Nice show Southwind!

THE COLTS - Ok, I've been a Colts fan since they won me over back in 1993 with their Four Season's show. And this show is no different - its warm and fun and written well. And their guard is the best I have ever seen them!!! "Postcards from Home" - a cool mix of come Copeland, Bernstein, and others. The show is very well performed but they got beat by the Crossmen tonight - So reaching for a finals spot is going to be just a bit tougher this week. But regardless of where they finish they will always be one of my favorites!

THE CROSSMEN - One of our trumpet players is marching with them this season and of course like an idiot i had to screem at the top of my lungs for him just before they started.... we ran into him afterwards and he said "I heard my name!" I didn't think he would but that was cool he did! This is their 30th anniversary season and its a shame their numbers have been so low all year, but tonight this corps lit up the stadium and brought the crowd to its feet. Being at "home" probably helped that out a bit. Lots of fans and family in this area for the Xmen. After getting to see them back to back with the Colts - it wasnt hard to see why they were able to finish ahead of them tonight - the show was a bit tighter than Colts. But the gap is very small - .35! But with a few days to practice and refine EVERYTHING - finals could be in their reach! GOOD LUCK ERIC!!!!

SANTA CLARA VANGUARD - Russian music by the Vanguard - always a wonderful thing! They open the show looking and sounding like a corps that could win it all. But as the show progresses their are definite kinks here and there that have been holding them back. Some dirty drill moments. Not sure about their hornline and percussion (I didnt see the recaps) but their guard seemed to lock in very well. Russian Christmas Music was probably my favorite piece of the night!
LOVE THE UNIFORMS - why can't more corps be couragous and put on white pants and brighten up the field a bit? Kudos!!!

CAROLINA CROWN - Crown is my favorite corps - so naturally I was glued to the field the entire show. I did feel that the audience wasnt into the show but I sure was... there were a truckload of elements out there to really pull anyone in. The show was called "Angelus" - a superb mix of themes all centered around Angels and what seemed to be a bit of good vs evil. A Mighty Fortress, Themes from First Knight, Call of the Mountain - what a great show this was. Guard was ON - hornline sold it big time - loved the sound of their 12 contra-basses - drumline was rock solid - and the drill moved very well with very few errors. I had hoped Crown would be in the running for a top 6 spot but this coming week will tell - they have a major hurdle to overtake - The Bluecoats!

MADISON SCOUTS - have a good friend marching in their guard - Way to go Jeffie!!! This show rocked big time!!! It was "The Carmen Project" Mostly all music from Carmen but with a West Side Story twist in there. I've always loved what their hornline is capable of - the power and volume! And tonight they were as loud as ever! I would say this is the best Madison show I've ever seen - LOVE IT! Best of Luck this week Jeffie!

PHANTOM REGIMENT - Phantom doing Gershwin???? TOTALLY COOL SHOW!!! This is no Swan Lake!!! What a great idea for Phanton. The show opens with many members holding umbrellas and the umbrella is seen throughout the show at different spots. Its a but uncommon to see Phantom with a "jazzy" side and I think it fits them! If I remember this correctly they had been scoring under the Blue Devils - tonight their score was almost 2 points higher than BD. So it will be mighty interesting to see where PR ends this week. A top 3 spot is well in their reach! Could they go even higher? Drill, guard, brass, drums - all are strong. I see no weeknesses!

THE CADETS - ummm... VERY different. The corps is completely solid and they are about as tight as they need to be to pull of a victory this week. This show has to be seen in order to explain it, but they have a doorway in the midde of the field that a girl comes out of as if she is dreaming of different things. The music is dark and fast and truly amazing! But its a hard sell to the general fan-base. Their use of vocals didnt seem to be as necessary as the other shows out there. Their unis are reversed colors on the back side, and I am sure there is a reason for it but I think it detracts from the quality of the look they have on the field... the show would just seem cleaner if the unis were the same as other years.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The amplification seems to be a good thing - most groups had their pit keyboards amped and it helped alot. The vocals - the jury is still out on that one - some corps it works well - other's its a big distraction. But I think if done right its a keeper.

**Just an overall observation but it seems that there is a good bit of newer faces in the last years. I can remember the days when these shows were filled with corps like The Freelancers, Dutch Boy, Marauders, Black Gold, Star of Indiana, Suncoast Sound, Velvet Knights, etc etc... Now we see the newer names. Alot of these other corps are gone now but there is a healthy new group now and that is truly exciting to see.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL CORPS THIS WEEK!!!

Jeremy White


Manchester, NH (DCI II/III) #1

Big doin's in Nw England - yesterday was the Portland Center for Cultural Exchange's Festival of Many Nations - I got to volunteer and everything (got a nice t-shirt).

But I had a terrible decision to make - stick at the Festival to watch a dear friend belly dance along with 20 other beautiful women or drive 100 miles to Manchester to see the Div. II/III focus show's first night.

Well, ya gotta back up your friends....

So I got to the show late - sue me.

The late afternoon was warm but tolerable - the stands faced east so we were in shade fairly quckly - the stands were PACKED - I mean "haunch to paunch".

I couldn't get a feel for the makeup of the crowd but it was very responsive, very enthusiastic.

Cadets of NYC - I think the music is defeating them - the drums weren't as tight as their usual standard and the horns, sopranos in particular, were ragged. The color guard definitely has some great moves, though.

Allegiance Elite - very capable performance of yet another Key Poulan mythological score (is there a website you can download these things from? I hear his music a lot - each score still has an individual thematic structure but for me, IMHO, it's close to oversaturation) - very well developed show.

Les Stentors - music from James Horner's three week score for "Troy" - very small hornline but they have a good grasp of the music. Nice use of props, particularly in the battle sequence.

Taipeh Yuehfu - how is this corps competing in Div.III? It's huge (comparatively) I know there's a reason but it escapes me right now - with that aside, this was defintely a crowd-favorite show - their kids were lionized by the band kids in the crowd later in the evening. My impression is that they utilize their heritage in a very effective way - the snap and appearance of fans in the color guard brought a literal gasp from the house. Wonderful show.

(I'm sure there are some managers of more average sized corps that are not thrilled a 600 lb. Taiwanese gorilla has visited our shores - I think it's great, but that's me...)

Citations - they have a great look, a great book and a style that won't say "die". Music from "Wicked", very good percussion section, huge pit, the guard was as busy as the top Div. II guards (though not as clean as I expected). They seem to be developing in very well-thought-out stages - the pit, the battery, now the guard - when the hornline really blossoms next, this will become an even more formidable competitor.

Teal Sound - Wow. A great performance of yet another score by Key Poulan - definitely the top of the second tier. For me, their visual design didn't have as much variety as the top two corps (Spartans, ECJ) and that may be holding them back - it sure isn't drums and guard. I like this show.

Memphis Sound - OK, here I disagreed with the judges - I think they should have done better - no recaps posted as of this morning so I can't see where they fell out (c'mon, DCI, inquiring minds want to know). I like their brass sound and can see how there's a bunch of very good second tier corps pushing the top two.

Oregon Crusaders - Believe the hype - this is a great corps. Striking from the moment they entered the field for setup. Very commanding. Musically a very dense show, I suspect their horns scores will be somewhat close to the top two. I'm not really fond of the last third of the show, it seems kind of a Key Poulan CHORD-run-CHORD sort of chart - however, that said, they are performing the living daylights out of it. Disagree with the judges, I had them over Impusle. This is why I'm not a judge....

East Cost Jazz - yet another green corps takes the field. This is a very different show than what I saw in Malden at the season opener. I get the impression they understand it better - the "Amazing Grace" quotes are clearer (I still think they could have made them evoke the emotional content more effectively - like those strange little "guides" you see in the Cirque du Soliel - the characters that stand around doing strange things while spotting the act onstage - they help focus the audience on the emotional content being expressed).

The corps comes out singing the hymn and it's really cool. The drill is clean, clean, clean and the horns and battery absolutely smoke the show - the french rolls in the snares midway through aroused a gasp from the percussion folks sitting around me.

Spartans - I've not seen the recaps but IMHO ECJ has the edge in terms of the clarity of concept. I still don't see the connetion between "Vizier:Knowledge is Power" and the performance on the field. This takes absolutely nothing away from the incredible skill Spartans bring to executing their show. If they didn't win drums the world is upside down.

But it's a mistake to think of Spartans in terms of another corps' show design - this is a sophisticated package - the guard is as busy as some very good Div. I guards. The horns have a lovely, dark, Phantom Regiment-like tone color that is very characteristic of them and has been for as long as I've seen them (only part of their 50 years - how many corps do we have that are 5 decades - three generations - old - well done, Spartans).

Impusle - This was a surprise to me - I would have put them a spot, maybe two, lower. Being a BD alum, I was looking forward to the characteristic "California Sound" and got in the first few measures - then they hit an unsupported patch and the tone went all to pieces.

I think "The Incredibles" has a lot more music in it that Impulse isn't using. Their show seems to use one sequence over and over. They have a very good show, I just don't hear it as being as intense an experience as some of the corps they beat. Again, I need to see a recap, so take all this with a grain of salt.

It was a great evening of drum corps in great company and I look foward to seeing the second part tonight - no belly dancers (man, you had to be there...maybe next year Key Poulan could write a show....naaaahhh)

I think Brockton is going to be a really, really interesting time for everyone.

Jim Alberty


Kingston, NY (DCA)

I've made the trek to DCA championships for the past 4 years, but, living in Canada, I haven't had the opportunity to see a mid-season DCA show since they stopped the Belleville Ontario DCA show 3 years ago. I'm always looking and very appreciative for reviews of this great activity, so I thought, seeing as I was at the Kingston DCA show, I better put some of my thoughts & opinions out there.
FYI: I'm a child of 70's drum corps and a fan of Alumni, but envy the effort and precision of today's competitive corps.

Crowd & Evening: Great night, absolutely perfect weather and a big crowd. No bugs & I stayed away from the washrooms. I was on the 30yrd line about 1/3 of the way up, so I didn't have a good look at the drill so I won't comment too much on that.

The Corps: In order of appearance-

Sunrisers:
A very young corps that is trying to put on a challenging performance. They performed very well. The small hornline struggled with stamina issues but I am sure they will strengthen over the next month. Nice size drumline playing some nice riffs & a surprisingly strong guard. I think the guard was the highlight of their show.

Kingston Grenadiers:
Being a Canadian I was, of course, pulling for them. I dropped into one of their practices last winter & got a first hand view of the corps determination. I love the music and the design of the show, but with the small horn line, it's a tough sell. Like the Sunrisers, the hornline has some stamina issue, which will, as always, be solved by Scranton. But man do they move a lot. The drumline is the strongest section and will push the corps to compete for the 10th spot at DCA's.

Carolina Gold:
First corps of the evening to really get the crowd into it. Great to hear familiar music from them. I've always been a fan of Summertime. The whole corps oozed attitude and it showed. The largest guard of the night, I think. The drumline was large & much better than past years. The hornline was loud & loved performing. They will be there Sunday night in Scranton. Look forward to it, you'll enjoy.

Rochester Crusaders:
Great to see them out this year, it's as if they never missed a beat. Very strong show considering what they went through last year. The music is recognizable and crowd pleasing. The crowd got into the show and were very appreciative of the comeback corps of the year.

Skyliners:
The one thing I have enjoyed about the Skyliners over the past few years is the effort the corps puts out, and this year is no different. I like the use of the back drops and the bright yellow used by the guard. The DM's are great and the show was a pleasure to watch and listen to.

Bushwackers:
Strong! Strong! No weak sections here. I've never been a fan of classical, but I really enjoyed 1812. My prediction is top 3 in Scranton.

Hurricanes:
By this time, my wife's back was screaming at her, so we took a walk, sorry. Sounded good from the sidelines, though.

Corpsvets:
Their best show so far, by far. Great music & much improved drumline. Both corps from the south seem to have moved their drumlines up a notch or two. Strong soloist, as usual. Really liked the flashing silver boards the horn & guard used during the drum break. This show got a WOW! from both of us.

Statesmen:
A carbon copy of last year, Champions! Subject to Reading, of course. Great show, the most professional & polished show of the night. I thought top drums, and I've always loved their pit, classy & good to boot. What a joy to hear 3 great soloists. How do keep finding them?

Caballeros:
I'm a drummer & loved their drum book, man do these guys play a lot. I have never been a fan of the original music movement, the past 2 shows have been good, but hard to follow, but this one works. I just wish they had 10 more sops. By improving & building to Scranton & they will be in the mix, as always.

Brigadiers:
Again, a carbon copy of last year, Solid horns, drums & guards. Top 5 for sure, but unfortunately I didn't get a WOW. Enjoyable show but to be in the top 3, they will need to find some WOW, somewhere!

Caballeros Alumni:
Now they got WOW! Took the field like they owned it, as usual. Love the new music! I haven't heard MacArthur Park in years, what a great number. The strangest thing happened in the crowd at the end of MacArthur. Of course, they received a well deserved Standing O, but then, no one in my section sat down for the rest of their show. It was like everyone was in trance or something. It was so cool! My wife's favorite corps of the night.

General thoughts:
- A great cause: The Kingston Children's Home
- Where have all the Soprano lines gone? (with the exception of a few corps)
- We didn't stay for the scores but when I got home & checked the placements, I had a few differences of opinion: I felt the top 3 was right on, but I felt the Corpsvets should have been 4th Cabs, Gold & Cru were all very close, in my opinion. I thought any of them could have been between 5th - 7th place. I didn't see Hurcs, so I won't comment on their placement, but I agreed with the rest.
- The Cabs Alumni's mello line is bigger than my home corps entire hornline, scary!

I almost forgot to mention a corps. The Blue Saints, from Sudbury Ontario were scheduled to perform, in exhibition, before the competition started, but due to some trouble, they arrived late and didn't get on. The organizers were kind enouigh to get them seats on the audience side & had them stand for a round of applause from the crowd. Great to see a small corps having a fun night.

Thanks for taking the time & don't forget:
Who played Slaughter on 10th Ave in Kingston?
Support Canadian Drum Corps - Drink Canadian Beer

Larry Callaghan


Friday August 5

Allentown, PA (DCI Major) #1

It's been 2 years since I attended the show at Allentown but found out one of my schools was going, so Thank You to the folks at Conrad Weiser HS for inviting me along! Due to construction and tons of traffic we arrived after the start time towards the end of Pioneer's performance. So I cannot comment about either them or the Kiwanis Kavaliers performances.

PACIFIC CREST - This was my first time viewing this corps. If I'm correct this is only their 2nd full season tour. What a nice corps they have! All the elements are there for them to move up over the next years. They had a very solid show in all captions.
The show was called "Fluid States: Vapor, Solid, Liquid" (I think). Part of their show consisted of a Ralph Vaughn Williams piece called "Sinfonia Antarctica", one of my favorites! Nice drill too by the way.

MANDARINS - I had seen them 2 years ago when they first started touring in open class. They were always impressive as a division 3 corps, but it takes time to do the same thing on the division 1 level. But with this corps history that won't take long at all. I don't recall alot about the show except that it didnt catch me as much as PC did. The show was "Loves Me...
Loves Me Not". Drill seemed a lil rough in some spots, but nicely written. And their hornline as always can play very well. The corps is still a bit smaller than others, but with a growth in the hornline they could certainly be contenders for finals in a couple years.

CAPITAL REGIMENT - This show was a blast!! They had a moving sun dial that added to their show. I cannot recall the name of their show but was centered around darkness and light if I'm not mistaken. There was a great moment in the middle of the show during a percussion break that had the hornline around the sun dial doing alot of body work that really was cool!
This show is worth seeing.

SPIRIT - It seems odd not being able to call then Spirit of Atlanta, but they are still alive - and well! The show is a collection of seemless broadway music. I thought that the show would sound disjointed and just a big mess... but it was very well constructed. And performed well by all sections. One part of the show that I felt was a standout was during Pie Jesu the guard pulled out large Playbills with names of musicals and slowly turned them around with the word "Closed" and the date of when it was last on broadway. Nice!

GLASSMEN - Brave New World - based on Dvorak's 9th Symphony. I loved the show and totally understood their angle on it, but they seemed to have a few performance issues. However they are still the G-Men and I've always enjoyed their shows. One of the key things that has sold me over the last 7 or 8 years with them is their drill is very nicely written and musical! Nice show!

BLUE KNIGHTS - Love the flags!!! They have always had a solid guard and for me that was the big thing that stood out in my mind. I didnt really understand the concept of the show, but didnt need to. It was cool music and they pulled it off well. I was sitting next to CW's band director and informed me that their music was written by a modern symphonic composer. It was cool stuff!!!

BOSTON CRUSADERS - LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!! This was a fantastic show. As always they can pull out some of the nicest sounds from their hornline. I'd love to see this show again live! It was called "The Promise of Living" and included such greats as: The Promise of Living, Candide, and Beethoven's 9th. The show opened up backfield with one of the warmest openings - Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. I can honestly say I am a little dissapointed in the scores they are reveiving, but I'm not a judge so maybe there is something I am not seeing. But I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Way to go Boston!!!

BLUECOATS - WOW! They were staying at Conrad Weiser HS that week so the kids from their band around me were cheering pretty loud for them. What a fantastic corps! They have come so far and are more focused and serious than ever! What a strong show! It was called Caravan and there is also some parts of Cirque du Soliel in there that they just wailed on. Its a bit darker musically than the last time I viewed them.
Guard, drumline, hornline, drill, marching, etc...
every element seems to be there for this corps to hold onto their lock on 6th this year.

BLUE DEVILS - Dance Derby of the Century was the title of their show. I totally got the idea, and loved it, but the vocals did get to be a little much at times. But overall it was a cool concept that I've never seen done before and I appreciated the ideas they presented. And I have always been a little uneasy about their drill in the past but this was not the case tonight - very well written and it flowed well.
They are sitting in 3rd overall and will mostly likely remain in that position. Ahead of them are two very solid corps - Cadets and Cavies.

CAVALIERS - AMAZING!!!! Currently I have been working on drill concepts for one of my bands and there are props on the field and due to their size I was worried about the band's movement around them. After seeing how amazingly well the Cavies marched around these HUGE ladders I am no longer worried about that! This show is fully packed and seems very different than ANY Cavies show I had ever seen before. Their show was based on a "tribute?" to Chicago - the City. This show has to be seen to be believe just how intense it is. Quite a departure! I viewed both nights of corps and my overall pick to win - is the Cavaliers.

Jeremy White


Monday August 1

Hornell, NY (DCI)

Just a few comments before I start.

1. The people of Hornell NY put on a great show every year. The temperature was perfect. But please, please the MC was truly awful, he made inapprorpiate comments (especially at the start of the show) and slurred his words a lot, making all the people around me, including locals, think that he had a little too much hootch before the show. It was a great venue, however a new MC should be found.

2. Mandarins were unable to compete due to their unfortunate food poisoning incident. As a result only 5 corps competed. Best of luck to the Mandarins, our thoughts and prayers are with them.

3. In our haste to make the 4 hour trek home a little quicker and because we were discussing the show and not paying as close attention to the spedometer as we should, we met up with a friendly NY State Police Officer and are now in possession of a ticket for going well over the limit. Of course the only car going north on 390 besides us, just happened to be one of NY's finest. Just our luck!

Now the show:

Kiwanis Kavaliers: Not what I expected. I thought I would hate their new uniforms.... I did not. I thought I would see all of the holes that everyone was talking about..... I did not. What I did see was a very small corps playing their hearts out to entertain the crowd. At first I wasn't sure what they would use the pink hooky-things for and then it was obvious that they were the Pink Panther's tails.... I thought they made really good use of this & I liked the little flag with the panthers eye that they added at the end. Their size and spy-theme show is more what you would expect out of a Div II/III corps, but I think they are scoring where they deserve. They have obviously made some changes and closed the numerous holes which were from over-anticipating the number of new members. By the end of the show, they had 3 badly needed brass players standing on the sidelines, so hopefully they will be worked in soon. The assistant DM plays a pretty good baritone solo.... I seem to remember him playing soprano a few years ago.

The Magic: Much better than I was expecting! Their opening drill was a little rough, but with the overhang on the stadium the brass sound was very full and clear. The guard used ropes for an effect that was a little lost on me, you couldn't really see the ropes & it didn't seem to add anything to the show. The have a nice big pit and there were some parts where they really shined. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed their show.

Crossmen: (Disclaimer: I am a Crossmen mom.... I try to be non-biased, but I know I cannot). WOW!!!! These kids blew me away! - they were FREAKIN' AWESOME!!! I saw them in Erie almost a month ago & although I liked their show, I understood why they were scoring where they were. This in not your mothers Crossmen. They rocked the house... the crowd was clapping with the music, enjoying the show and on their feet. They were here to be entertained, and they were. None of the other corps here received such an intense crowd response. Their score deserve to be knocked up a notch. I was so enthralled with the show, I never snapped a single picture!

As they started out, I noticed an improvement, but I still heard a small ensemble problem in the opener, so I sat back. As soon as they hit their first impact in Classical Gas, something clicked and the audience felt it. From that point on they were playing the show like it was meant to be played. The guard was right on and the soloists were among the best out there. The new ending is fast & I had seen them working on it in the afternoon. During the rehearsal they were struggling with the speed, but they nailed it last night. This show HAS to be in Finals! It ROCKS!

Boston: This was my second viewing of Boston & they have done some amazing cleaning of this show. Hornell even brought in a beautiful sunset and the peach of the sky matched the guard unis.... nice setting. Sing, Sang, Sung got the crowd excited and their rendition of Ode to Joy is classical, but unique. I was never a big Boston fan, I liked their 2003 show, but not last year. This year, I am a fan.

Bluecoats: Beautiful package. They have an amazing show this year & WOW! Can that brass line ever play! They have one of the crispest sounding hornlines ever! The book is amazing - Doug Thrower did an outstanding job. In the latter part of the show, the whole guard does a rifle toss that turns your stomach inside out. The only down side of the show for me was the pit's drumspeak (TAH DEE?). I don't mind some talking/singing if it fits in, but this did not do anything for me. Bluecoats have a definite top 5 package!

General:
1. The placements at this show were obvious and correct.
2. Crossmen deserved to have a score closer to 85 IMHO.
3. I can't wait until Allentown!!!
4. Stick to the speed limit in NY!!

Walker


Saturday July 30

Indianapolis, IN (DCI Major)

Well, I just got home about an hour ago, was going to sleep a bit, but canít, so thought Iíd write a few comments from the show. My comments will be fairly brief, as my headís still ringing from that dang dome, and there were a lot of corps!

By the time I checked into my hotel and made my way to the stadium, I was there for the first break. Iíll be honest: thereís no way I remember everything I saw and heard last night! I do not take notes, so there will be a corps or two I may not have much to say about. Weíll see!

Seattle: Hereís one where I donít remember much about, probably because I was just getting settled into my seat. Sorry!

Mandarins: Smaller corps, but sure wouldnít know it if you had your eyes closed! These kids really had some energy, and I thought they outplayed (volume, intensity) Seattle. I look forward to hearing what this corps offers in the next year or two.

Colts: Colts always field a solid corps. There colorguard is very good this year. They have a weapon line that could hang in there with many other corps ahead of them. Brass was also particularly strong, and the show was well received. I think that if this show were performed about 6 years ago, it would be in the top 12 (Iím not trying to say that itís an "old fashioned" show, Iím trying to say that the competition is very strong this season). I had them ahead of Crossmen, and the judges did just that.

Crossmen: I was very curious to see this show, since there has been much discussion about the corps, and their potential placement. Iím a fan of Crossmen, but have to be honest and say that it just isnít a top 12 show. Across the board (drill, colorguard, brass, and definitely percussion), their show and execution just isnít quite top 12 caliber. My corps experience is in percussion, and the book appeared very light. That all said...I liked "radar love" more than I thought I would.

Spirit: The broadway theme just didnít do it for me. In an earlier review, someone suggested that they change the timing of turning the large playbills around (for those who have not seen the show, they have a moment in the show where there are several blown-up images of playbills from several musicals. One by one, they turn them around, and they say "closed" on the back, with only phantom of the opera remaining). Several people around me commented that they didnít understand it. After I explained it, they agreed about the "timing" thing (maybe turned around when they play the notes from "wishing you were somehow here again"). Also, they made two subtle changes for the eve show. The guard did not wear the hats they had in the afternoon, and in the very end before the last hit, the hornline removes the black shield from their chest to reveal a brighter fluorescent color.

Gmen: Best show in years! The show concept was interesting, and it held my attention all throughout. Interestingly, as I left the stadium for the "break", I overheard someone saying "how could they do that to Dvorjak?", and he sounded actually ticked! Thing is: hasnít EVERY corps done this to some extent or another?! Anywho...gmenís drumline was strong, and so was the colorguard. Hornline had some nice hits, but there is a LOT of cleaning that needs to be done. There are a few parts in the show where you can tell there are some nice brass parts being played backfield, but in that dome, you know how it goes. Ensemble-wise, there is much to be cleaned and worked on.

Blue Knights: The only thing I remember from this show is the drumsolo, which was ok. The rest of the show, IMO, was boring.

SCV: Ok, they are not scoring where we traditionally have seen them score. But...the show was awesome. I loved it. Very intense, lots of energy, but yes, noticeable mistakes all over the place. I do not like the matched grip in the snares (even though it makes all the sense in the world!), but thatís just me. Those who like a good SCV show will most likely not be disappointed with the show...but will be with their placement.

*** Considering there has been such a small score spread between Spirit, Gmen, BK, and SCV, I was really interesting in seeing what the heck the differences were (from a viewers perspective, not looking at the sheets). What I thought was clear was that Spirit & BK were cleaner as an ensemble than Gmen. I thought Gmenís show was more entertaining, though, than BK and Spirit. SCV is a notch ahead of each of these corps, both as a program and cleanliness. I think the judges were right on with the placements between these corps (both afternoon and eve). Once SCV cleans, they will secure there place ahead of the pack. I believe, however, that if Gmen can clean up their show, they will pass BK.

Another quick note about these corps: they ALL had more energy in the eve show than the afternoon show. They were really throwing it down, despite just having played the show 2-3 hrs earlier!

And on to the others...

Boston: Overall, a nice show. Both Crown and Boston had very nice brass sound, very full, and the execution in marching was ahead of those viewed thus far. I enjoyed Bostonís show, but canít remember much detail.

Crown: They have the "angel" theme, which I think overall worked for them. However, I didnít care for the ballad so much. The corps basically takes turns leaning over one another throughout the ballad, and I thought it was a little much. But, Crown does what they do very well. This corps is also a consistent solid corps. I had Crown ahead of Boston.

Bluecoats: Whoa, where did this come from?! Very strong corps all the way around. The show itself doesnít have moments that really stick out to me, but I do remember turning to my brother and saying, "dang, theyíre good!!"

PR: My favorite of the night, hands down. Interestingly, PR traditionalists may not fully like the choice of show, but the audience appeal alone can get them on board! This show was full of GE moments. The colorguard was HOT, and the brass and percussion very strong. Theyíre interpretation of "American in Paris" was fantastic. Look for the two-circle drill combining on side 2. You will almost miss it if you're watching the colorguard too much! I think PR had the loudest ovation (not just because it was a Midwest show!). Canít wait to see this on the DVD.

Madison: Interesting take on Carmen! In a way, it reminded me of when BD did the "modern" interpretation of west side story. The girl in the show works. I kinda wondered if it actually was a little distracting, though. There was a lot going on, which was cool, but I found myself looking to see what was going on with the girl. Overall, it worked though. The staging of her entrance and departure was pretty cool.

BD: Uh boy. I really do think I would have liked this show MUCH better without the narration. It totally got in the way. The audience gave BD a polite ovation at best. In fact, I was near the 50, upper deck, and almost no one stood up after their show. Very disappointing.

Cadets: Drum corps on ACID! Whoa! What a crazy show. I canít decide if I loved it, or hated it! And I think the crowd felt the same way. Yet another polite ovation from the audience at the end of this one. But, that being said: they are good. They have the difficulty there, thatís for sure. And the drumline is right on (tenors were crazy good). The corps is moving and playing a lot, and you certainly canít say thereís not enough going on to keep your attention! Prior to the show, someone said they wouldnít be surprised if Cadets passed Cavies. After watching the shows, I completely agreed...and it just so happens they did it last night. I think Cadets will take it this year.

Cavies: Overall, a great show, but itís not the Cavies of the past few years. Overall, they are a strong corps, but the show left me kind of hanging. I didnít think it had the "oomph" of past years. I canít decide if I liked Cavies more than Cadets, or vice versa (Iím telling ya, that Cadets show will have your head spinning). But, I do think that Cadets have much more to work with in these next two weeks.

Overall, a great night of drumcorps. There are many entertaining corps this year, and the level of competition keeps growing. The afternoon show was fairly full, but the night show was most definitely full. The dome is a pain, but I can see how this is a good venue for DCI (i.e., accessibility, plenty of space for corps, hotels galore for fans, plenty of good eats within walking distance, etc.). It was nice to be able to walk a block to have a burger and beer during the break between the afternoon and eve shows, and have the hotel right across the street from the stadium. No shuttle needed!

It looks like there will not be much drama down in the lower top 12 (i.e., those corps likely to get into the top 12 appear to have a solid lead, and the shows to keep it that way). But, there will certainly be quite a bit of drama in other slots! Cavies versus Cadets, PR trying to hold on (or move up?) with 3rd, BD, Madison, and Bluecoats all still in the fight.

"And down the stretch they come!"

MST


I won't go into a full review but I wanted to give some of my impressions from the Indy shows. This was my first show I've attended this season. And it was my first time in the dome at Indy. I didn't take any notes so I'm going from shear memory on these comments. For the record, I was sitting in the lower deck, right-hand side, on about the 25 yd-line (Sec 112) in row 27... high enough to see some drill and low enough that the sound wasn't too bad. In fact, the sound was better than I was lead to believe it might be. Still, I definitely prefer outdoor venues. And I'll get a chance to see six of these shows again in Charleston this evening.

Afternoon session

Kiwanis Kavaliers (68.20 - 15th)
This group started off the day on a good note. I enjoyed their show and knew that all the corps would be (as good or) better. It was going to be a fun day!! I thought the pink panther tails were a clever visual for the guard.

Pioneer (71.05 - 14th)
I was glad to see this group getting a little bigger. Nice show for them. My daughter always enjoys Irish music.

Troopers (73.10 - 13th)
This was one of the corps I was really looking forward to see. They have made a strong step up this year. And I wish them growth and continued improvement for next season. I enjoyed the gold rush theme. And I always love the uniforms. (I saw Stacie but wasn't able to talk with her)

Esperanza (74.80 - 12th)
A decent showing, however I was disappointed a bit after their success last year that they seemed to fall into the proverbial "sophomore slump" following the move to Div I. (cf Cascades 2003)

The Magic (76.025 - 11th)
Of the pre-intermission shows, this one clearly had the best overall musical package for me. Key Poulan was a great choice for this group. The drill wasn't as inspiring.

Capital Regiment (77.20 - 10th)
I liked the sundial and show concept. Nice visual to tie the whole show together. Yet, I was expecting more improvement over the past few years steady growth - a bit of a disappointment in that regard. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the show.

Southwind (79.00 - 7th)
Wow! Highest energy of the pre-intermission group. Nice overall package, including the music (which wasn't exactly what I was expecting from reading the list of classic tunes beforehand). They definitely deserved to leapfrog Seattle, but I was surprised they passed Mandarins too. They should now be a lock for Semi-finals next week in my opinion. Great job.

Intermission
During intermission, Machine came down from the upper deck and looked us up. It was great to finally meet him in person after a few "near misses" in past few seasons.

Seattle Cascades (77.675 - 9th)
I enjoyed this show with its "aero" theme. I felt that Southwind had passed them up, though, just on energy level alone.

Mandarins (77.925 - 8th)
Another nice show. I always love their uniforms. Not really sure if they have more room to improve than Seattle or not. It will be an interesting stretch run.

Colts (82.55 - 5th)
I have been pulling for them to get back into the Top 12 with this season's show. The "postcards" theme works well for them - true to their Midwestern roots. And I really love the ballad from The Music Man, "'Til There Was You." Still have a significant gap to catch Spirit.

Crossmen (81.425 - 6th)
I liked their show, and they seemed to perform it with a lot of energy. But I'll say it over and over again - it is very difficult to translate rock'n'roll to the football field and pull it off. Radar Love was a lot of fun.

Spirit from JSU (84.15 - 4th)
On paper I thought I'd really love the Broadway theme. However, it reality, the snippets of music they chose were not familiar enough to me to make it enjoyable. The drill, on the other hand, was well conceived and executed. I agree with the comment that the four corps that earned their way into the night show all had even higher energy in the second session.

Glassmen (85.05 - 3rd)
I really liked this show a lot. One of their best of recent years. Throw away the "boring" label for this one!! The variations on New World were not so wild (as I feared they might have been) to ruin a classic. Way back when in 1975, when I marched against them in the Great Lakes circuit, the G'men had the New World in their show.

Blue Knights (85.90 - 2nd)
Wow! The low brass is so strong this year - enough to rival Phantom. I love the dark sound they produce. One of my favorites on the day! The music was better than the drill for me. I liked the guard color scheme of muted pastels - a welcome change from the more shocking outfits some were wearing.

Santa Clara Vanguard (86.25 - 1st)
Yet another corps I was so looking forward to seeing. And they didn't disappoint at all!! The music is absolutely wonderful and the drill was amazing, although still not clean. They will definitely challenge to move up from 9th come finals. Regardless of where they finish, it will be one of my favorites from this season!!

Evening session

Spirit from JSU (81.625 - 12th)
Glassmen (82.275 - 11th)
Blue Knights (83.375 - 10th)
Santa Clara Vanguard (85.175 - 9th)

As mentioned above, all of these four raised their energy level up for the night contest. It was good to see them for a second time, as I picked up on things I missed the first time around. Spirit's guard took off the "bellhop"-like hats they wore in the afternoon - a much improved look if you ask my opinion.

Boston Crusaders (85.900 - 8th)
Another Wow! I love the theme of the show and they do a fantastic job with it. Sing, Sang, Sung is hot!! Should be a real battle between them, Crown , and SCV for 7-9!!

Carolina Crown (86.000 - 7th)
I really enjoyed this show with the angel theme. Great music and great visual to go along with it. It is really great to see this corps improve year-over-year like they have. Keep it going and they'll be breaking into the "elite" group very soon!!

Intermission
It's been a long day of fantastic drum corps!! And some of the very best are yet to come. Let's get this show started again!!

Bluecoats (88.975 - 6th)
Wow! (okay, I over use that word, but it applies nevertheless!!) Another group that keeps building year-over-year! Caravan is a great show with a complete package. Maybe too clean to move up any in the standings come Finals.

Phantom Regiment (90.975 - 3rd)
WOW! And this time I really mean it!! What a great job of choreographing "Gene Kelly" and the rest of the guard. I was pretty sure they'd stay ahead of Madison after distancing them a bit the night before, but passing Blue Devils was a pleasant surprise to say the least. Whether they hold on over Scouts and BD come Finals is yet to be seen, but it is sweet for the moment!!

Madison Scouts (90.725 - 5th)
A great show, building on last year's resurgence. The Carmen character was a bit of a distraction, but not overly so. Can someone tell me the significance of the numbers on the backs of the "green" guard jackets ("blue" had the fleur-du-lis)? Perhaps because of the death of Carmen and subsequent tribute, the show seems to end on a downer. I was very surprised by the lack of audience response when they finished. Not the usual "Mad" reaction.

Blue Devils (90.900 - 4th)
As I've stated elsewhere, I don't think the majority of the audience "gets" the reverse dance contest concept, even with the narration. Then again, maybe it was just the dome - you really can't hear amplified voices clearly at all with the echo (especially the between show interviews). Anyway, BD still executes with the best of them. I just don't think this show has "it." What a battle for 3-4-5 this year!! You gotta love it!!

The Cadets (94.150 - 1st)
Strange, very strange. I like it, but I'm not sure I love it. Maybe if I see it several more times... Regardless, they execute the h*ll out of it!! I can see why the judges give them the scores they do. I was somewhat surprised they beat Cavies, but it wasn't entirely unexpected given recent shows leading up to Indy. Will they pull away? Or will Cavies make it a horse race?

The Cavaliers (94.075 - 2nd)
Not quite the "knock-your-socks-off" caliber of show we've gotten used to from them, but Wow! just the same. I especially love the "fire" section. At only 0.075 behind, I wouldn't be placing championship ring orders yet if I were The Cadets.

So that's it. Probably nothing new in these comments, but I wanted to post them anyway. I went to Indy so I wouldn't NEED to go to Boston. Since our vacation plans have since changed and we're not going east in August, I'm very glad I came here, even if it was in a dome! (I hadn't bought tickets yet, but I would have gone to Quarters only to see all the corps. Only missed Pacific Crest here in Indy!)

Regards, Jazzman


Winston-Salem, NC (DCA)

as far as watching a show, the stadium was great. sight lines were great, sound carried well...in fact basses REALLY carried well.

Heatwave:

1st view. really small hornline. In fact, the percussion overpowered them from the get go. this stadium really projects percussion well. The opening hit of Floyd didnt register w/me, but the transition into kentons Adventures in Time worked well from a musical/visual segmentation standpoint. this led to a block push that showed a strong percussion book that was also played well. the next tune ( 3x3x2 etc) featured some nice 4 mallet work on the vibe and a really well played perdc book. visually the horns worked into an arc behind the percussion, and again, looking at the numbers, the brass was overpowered from up top.

the mello soloist from backfield was well done this led to another drum break with lots of split parts, tho the brass re-rentry was shaky. also form readability was tough due to the hole. also noticed some guard work not done.

The use of the bells was nice and i liked the guards white flags. the block push in the ballad hit was done nicely.

the Time Warp was fun. the corps starts off playing it, charges the sidelines, dropped their horns and did the famous dance led by Vic. then they get back into it and end the show up front.

a fun show, tho the horn holes were a killer. if everyone is there, this should WILL turn heads. i really liked the percussion section. Very well performed.

Carolina Gold.

holy drumline starts the show on a mission. they dominate side 1 while the brass marches their ##### off on side 2. the rifles were up front and the flags were in the back. brass entry seemed a touch tentative, but the pit break helped get the focus back and got the guard actively involved.

the trade offs between Summertime and Fascinating Rhythm were nicely arranged. the perc solo into the sop solo was a great trasnition and performed well leading into the standstill hit. the big bluesy section of summertime came across well and the corps handled the tempo change into the end well also.

Caravan opens strongly w/the brass on side one...the guard was using highway signs that confused me some, but after another viewing may make sense.

that sop soloist is a gas. can Westshore Alumni borrow him again?

i liked the brass/perc trade offs. cool idea. another perc feature led to a big hit and the guard had a cool catch after the release...very eye catching.

Autumn Leaves. pit starts it off then the brass joins in, with the guard on dance and body stuff. when the battery comes in they add a nice bossa nova feel.....a cool groove. at the hit the guard was well staged for the swing flags. as the hit fades out the brass is in an arc, and the guard is in a reverse arc that dissaptes as it fades out....nice idea. as the song ended we had a guard duet hugging for a nice visual effect.

a sop/bari duet facing backfield began Rememberance, IMO, the piece the corps played best. the pit scoring here was luscious. the corps milked the musical builds in this song so well, and the percussiuon had a great feel here. at the big hit the brass stodd still, and the visual focus was on two sets of rifle sections that merged into one...a nice idea that looked great upstairs.

if this corps played the whole show like Rememberance, the Hurcs have to be concerned about that last finlaist spot. Gold has their best corps ever, and with another few reads to go, they can turn things up a notch. I was truly impressed.

Hurcs.....i see the improvement weekly...since i seem to be seeing them weekly

opening statement best yet, especailly in the upper voices. low brass added nice punch as well. as sections were performing well to the tempo change.

the perc break was handled well, but the guard seemed to have some issues here, tho i liked the flags...they matched the uniforms. the brass re-entry was the best yet. the brass also handled the spread that dissolved into a block well especially with the holes..

but the holes also led to some form readability issues, as well as some volume issues.

the sop bari duet into Frankie Machine seemed on tonight...the brass back and forth with the drums also felt more secure. percussion staging leading to the break is telegraphed yet not in a way that makes you say "hello, i saw that coming". tenors nailed their fature, snares also slayed me w/the split roll, tho they lost it on the shots. brass renenrty here also best to date.

i like the ballad more and more every time i see it, especially the mello soloist. the sabres up front also did a nice job. i loved the guards carolina blue flags...nice visual moment. also the staging as the block slides right and opens up side 1 for the guard is a great effect upstairs.

National geogrpahic had some issues early but the corps recovered ok, and the 1/2 time marching looked it's best yet.

from the perc break out the Hurcs seemed their most confident, tho tired. the Mag & ending will keep long time fans happy, yet won't seem like overdone Mag 7 stuff people make fun off. a nice freah approach to a great tradition.

they need to fill the holes in...either with rewrites or bodies. that will add a lot. Carolina is on their tail and the fight for 10th will be a hot one.

the show a lot of people, myself included came to see. the Renegades.

if you liked 03 and 04, you'll love 05.

the corps starts out in an arc on side 2, with the guard coupled and trioed on side 1. chimes and legos (yes!) start the show off, then a mello solist comes in facing the opposite end zone. the low brass layered in here very well. while the brass and percussion do not move, the guard is doing body and swing stuff on side 1 you cant help but notice. when the big hit arrives, ladies and gentlemen this guard steals the show. visually, they make the musical portion that much more expressive. so very well done here. as the hit ends the corps backs away from the quartet in a nice effect. the battery sets the change for Ascension( cool tune ED). the corps does a company front push that dissolves into a block and lets their real power shine thru. ok, i'm hooked.

ya also gotta love the way they get the white overlays off. very cool idea. i wont spoil it, come see it yourself.

Niner two shows off a vastly improved percussion section. ( note. i know the judges. i respect their opinions. but...what the #### were they watching???? this drumline had issues yes...everyone did...but they were good!)

nice touch w/the Matrix lead in bass feature to set the stage for Open Wide. the sops of course had notes way up there, and thius also featured the most aggressive drill the corps has had to date. i love the build to the end which ends w/one sop playing so high up dogs in Chapel Hill heard him. guard very active on sabres and blue flags here.

Nights in White Satin starts off with a nice sop solo, and the visual shows staggered entrances...as that voice begins to play, they begin to move. the guard on the big white flags works incredibly well against the corps uniforms.

you wanna hear a mello player go for the kill? Listen to Chris Nalls as they kick into La Villa. long trilled note way, way way up there. hello, remember, best soloist doesnt have to be a sop player....and he's a contender.

the drumline contra trade offs are classic. i caught the flam drag. battery plays their ##### off here, with backsticking and flams for all. as the brass comes in, the megaphones appear again for another nice effect. the snares seemed to be dirty on the toms rack rolled out to them, but the basses did a great job with the drums off up front. this built to a huge standstill big all out ending.

top 6 all the way. it's a dogfight in there, and they can bump people off. while not as deafening as past years, the brass makes up in quality to what they had in volume. percussion vastly improved and the guard is, IMO under rated.

i loved the nice touches to past shows tying the whole trilogy toegther.

2-6 is gonna be a fight, and the Left Coast is definitely in the mix.

Bush came to play. the opening hits of Russlon by far the best yet.

percussion people please note. a piece of plexiglass can do wonders for pit sound projection. it's also a helluva lot cheaper than amps. for an example of what to do, see Bush. In fact, the whole Russlon start to the show took no prisoners. Percussion also played really, really well. the segue into Dance of the Buffoons went well, and the perc break was exquisite. the backfield playing was done well, and the tease of turning around worked well upstairs. guard quite active here on sabres and flags.

when they turned around for the Dance push that led to the Russlon restatement i felt the brass get a bit tired, but the guard was on for their moments. the company front push really came off well.

the sop intro with the vocals beginning 1812 carried really well upstairs as did the pit. the guard duets were very expressive.the pit feature into Romeo worked very very well. the guards dance was well integrated.

i loved the musical tension expressed building to the hit. the perc scoring worked well and the yello/orange flags in the guard work great against the unis. the sop duet leading back out w/vocals worked well upstairs.

loved the red flags into the March Slav intro. once again the corps does backfield so well...especially the perc scoring. loved the high brass vs low brass staging for the dance section. the accell seemed on and the guards silent moment worked well into the push. the many small count sets the brass has here were not affecting the musical which is good. musically the corps was strong to the end, but being up front so much visually leaves me flat, especially from upstairs. I am sure changes are in the works, but if things were opened up, allowing things to look like they are moving more( and i know they are haluing, but being so compact it comes off as stunted) this ending will rock.

strong show overall, tho at times, it did seem a touch flat. ending drill is my biggest concern now. pit...now that you have plexiglass...wow. huge wow. drumline well done overall.

CV:

toms start the show off w/a note fest that was handled ok...some issues there. maybe it's those drums...to me i couldnt get mch oif a difference in tuning from drum to drum. the corps condenses into a block facing backfield, turning front for the hit in Open Wide....nice effect, especially the rifle toss at the end. in the syncopated section the ensemble timing was especially well done..not an easy section there. also liked the mellos feature. the big push where the corps moves away at first then slides right and comes forward looked great. strong percussion writing...most aggressive ever.

Strawberry Soup. it's tough not to be biased having played it twice. the pit starts it off very nicely...a unique and effective idea. loved the guards purple/blue/orange swing flags. nice staging for the guard with the brass in an arc behind them, then the corps faces backfield setting up that famous sop solo leading to the tempo change. ahhh Hunter. Madison would have loved to have had you. the expected mello solo set the mood for the uptempo section and had us in that loveable 9/4 rhythm. the corps handled it pretty well, and really did a nice job on the swing section.

in the drum break the brass held purple panels...they were kinda lost on me but when the flipped em to show a mirror like panel and made them reflect the lights it was very cool. the drum line played for keeps here w/a one stick roll and drums to cymbals work.

after the brass re entry the sops came out...shades of Madison. the push that followed lost some steam but recovered at the guards silent moment. the open wide restatement made for a nice ending.

to me CV seemed hot and cold. some sections spit fire, some breathed steam, some didnt seem to carry well. if they can even it out and throw down a top to bottom performance, they can scare the corps ahead if them. perc performance improved, but overhype was an issue esp at the end.

Bucs. one issue the whole show that said to me "fix this and watch the score break 90 and more"

Farandole seemed faster from the get go. brass really stong here and perc kept the pace up. cymbals yet again the show here. the perc break was dead on and the brass layering behind them worked really well upstairs.

the 3/2 feel really came thru tonight....well done. the pits 16th runs into the hit really carried upstairs...why in the #### do people need amps? they carry folks and they arent beating the #### out of the equipment.

the layering leading up to the silent guard moment really worked well, and the guard was on. only scary moment..battery and brtass didnt line up well leading into tthe final charge...some real ensemble tension. if that hadnt happened, hello 90.

Adagio. ok, here's the tes...big big stadium. pit intro very well done...low brass on side 2 handled well, and the sops on side 1 also carried well. the guards curved poles w/purple flags looked great upstairs.

visually the brass condenses onto side 2 for the hit while the guard takes over side 1...pits 4 mallet work very well done.

the hit? oh yeah. oh #### yeah. goosebump city. i dont care what the #### key those horns are in, Christine and I both looked at each other, pointed to our arms and smiled. they nailed it.

in Prayers of the word I cant spell" the percussion was on fire. i mean finals level fire. brass here did better than last week in keeping up the intensity. best this song came across yet.

YPG.....wow that low brass was on. the tempo change was smooth...and the snare running around into the relase is a cool visual moment that works up stairs.

the pit is featured then the brass is back in leading to the perc break. again wow. 9.5 9.5 for sure. when the multi meter kicks in i noticed the high brass giving way to the keys to carry that line. it works, but it loses impact upstairs. the build to the company front worked well upstairs and broke apart into...gasp...was that a zpull? looked like it.

minus the issue at the end of the opener, by far the show they needed to throw down. this corps is solid. no weakness. upstairs the drill is great to watch, and you see what you hear...no real moments of "why is that there?"

Bucs...game on. don't let the two weeks off hold you back.

there ya go. last review til after finals. I look forward to seeing you all in a month

Jeff

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