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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2002 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews
As posted to R.A.M.D. and submitted to Sound Machine
Reviews On This Page Were Last Updated on Friday, September 6, 2002

Page Eleven 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:
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Go to Page 10 of Reviews!

Saturday September 1

Scranton, PA (DCA Championships)

Just got back from DCA and had a blast. Just a few comments:


Loved the alumni show. It was raining through the whole thing, and I was soaked, but it was definitely worth it to see all of the corps in exhibition. For someone who has always loved their recordings from the 60s, it was a great treat to see the Royal Airs Alumni. It was also nice to see Scout House Alumni for the first time.

I really liked the Skyliners Alumni and the Caballeros Alumni. When the Skyliners came on, a little boy who was probably about 5 years old started crying because it was so loud. The father said that it was his first drum corps show, and his ears had to get used to it. By the time the Cabs Alumni went on, his father asked him if it was still too loud, and the boy gave an enthusiastic "No"! He was really getting into it.

Kudos to all of the alumni corps for providing great entertainment and allowing some of us youngsters to gain a further appreciation for the shows of the past.


Congratulations to all of the winners, and a big thank you to all who competed, making this I&E enjoyable for everyone. Just a few words for everyone reading this that just might be feeling the slightest inclination to compete next year: GO FOR IT! The more competitors, the more fun it is.

Individuals participation was up for the snares (27!), which was very encouraging. I didn't get to see all of the competitors, but I would like to mention two individuals that I thought should have been placed much higher: Fred Wasserman and Javier Morales. They're both excellent players, and I would have like to have seen them faring much better. Overall, there were many good players this year, and it made it that much more interesting to see how it would all turn out. Three prior champions competed this year, so it was a good contest.

The mini-corps competition was also a lot of fun, but unfortunately it was extremely difficult to see unless you got there way ahead of time. Since I was watching the end of the snare individuals, I didn't get over there until it was too late to get a good spot. My only complaint about I&E was the locations. For the drums, it was in a very small area, so it was very difficult to see. And the mini-corps, although they were in an open area, it was still difficult to see unless you were lucky enough to be right in front. Maybe they could have chairs set up next year or something so that more people can see?


Unfortunately, I missed seeing Carolina Gold and Night Storm at Prelims. I really wish that I could have seen the former since they won best drums in Class A. I hope to catch them next year. I didn't take any notes, so all of this is just off the top of my head.

*Heat Wave: I liked their Santana show a lot. Unfortunately, it seemed like their Prelims performance was a lot stronger than at Finals. They had a lot of good ideas, but several sections with phasing problems. I think part of that was due to the fact that their pit was off to the left. Whenever the drum line was on the right side of the field, you could hear two different pulses going on at the same time--one from the bass drums and one from the drum set. I know that it's difficult to hear in that type of situation. If they had had the pit in the center up front or just written the drill a bit differently, I think that would have helped. Overall, some very nice drum parts. The snare accelerando towards the end was a much applauded risk. I also liked the horn line and guard. These guys just keep getting better every year. I always enjoy their shows.

*Skyliners: I liked their playing overall, but I wish they hadn't done so much with Sept. 11th throughout the show. While I realize that it's their home town, it just didn't seem right using that in a competitive venue. I was a bit dissapointed to see that they had grounded their battery in the pit section. Great horn line with several good wailing soloists.

*CorpsVets: For only their second year at DCA, they've really made a name for themselves. I really liked their show. Even though they were in last place, it was a thoroughly entertaining way to get the open class competition started. Watching them made me think of the junior corps finals from the 70s when I think, "Every corps is entertaining from 12th to 1st place." Too bad DCI can't grasp this concept. They had some fairly nice drum parts as well.

*Grenadiers: Overall liked their show. They were a bit more DCI-like, but they still had many entertaining moments.

*Renegades: Loved their show. Entertaining throughout. Some really nice drum parts, and a great hornline. As I was going to sleep Sunday night, I kept hearing their drum feature over and over in my head. And driving back on Monday, I kept singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" to myself. They definitely made a good debut. I hope that they come back next year.

*Rochester Crusaders: Another Santana show, and still quite enjoyable. I don't really have any highly insightful comments for them, but just another entertaining show.

*Hurricanes: At Prelims, I was quite dissapointed. Their brass had some major intonation problems. If they gave a most improved award, they would definitely deserve it. "Fanfare for the Common Man" was 100 times better on Finals night. I liked their show overall. Could have had a bit more difficult drum parts, but was entertaining none the less. And the best showmanship trophy to their drum major Jamie (forgot her last name) was well deserved.

*Bushwackers: Too DCI-like for my tastes, but at least it was only one corps out of 12, as opposed to 10 at DCI. As for the overall show, there were still a few moments that I thought were effective, but there was just too much "down time". The battery parts were disappointing, mostly just 16th and 24th notes. There were some good ideas during the drum solo with the snares hitting the toms, but they didn't DO anything with it. It was mostly just simple 8th & 16th note patterns.

*Caballeros: It was great to see the 1975 Muchachos show performed live. It seemed as if the Prelims performance was a little bit better executed though. This was definitely an ambitious show (perhaps too ambitious?), and you can always count on the Caballeros to deliver genuinely crowd-pleasing shows. Some really nice stuff in the drumline. Also, I would like to commend the Caballeros on their extreme display of professionalism when they announced the placement of the Yokohama Inspires. When they announced that the Caballeros had taken 6th, a hush fell over the crowd. When they announced the Inspires' score, the crowd was very applauding, but the Caballeros' color guard started cheering and clapping even louder, a great testament to their sportsmanship and attitude of fun.

*Yokohama Inspires: An extremely pleasant surprise. They went first at Prelims, and you could tell that the crowd was curious as to how good they would be. Well, they surpassed even the most optimistic person's expectations and genuinely won the crowd over. A magnificent debut, and the crowd was extremely supportive. Their hornline was very diverse in its abilities, and the color guard did some very nice work. The only thing that was a bit lacking was the drum line. They were a bit dirty. Still though, an awesome show.

*Minnesota Brass: I've only been going to DCA for the past three years, and so far this has been my favorite show by them. They moved up a couple of spots at Prelims, and really made things interesting. Good horn line, drum line, and color guard.

*Reading Buccaneers: A very likable show. It suffered a bit from the same thing as the Bushwackers: too much down time. It was kind of like a DCI show done in a DCA way. I would like to have seen a bit more from the drum line. They were very clean, but they didn't play as difficult of parts as they were obviously capable of performing. One of the more technically demanding shows for the whole corps. Still an enjoyable performance.

*Empire Statesmen: Really nice show. Well-deserved best soloist award to Joe Pero. Of course, all of their soloists, in fact their entire horn line, was quite amazing. Very enjoyable.

*Brigadiers: What can I say, but a well-deserved 4-peat win. They did a really nice job. It kind of took the suspense out of things when they won all of the major caption awards before announcing the placements, but I don't think anyone could disagree with them.


I brought three friends with me from the Marine band, and this was their first DCA experience. For two of them, it was their first drum corps experience period. The other one was a snare drummer in 1999 Santa Clara. I now have three avid DCA fans, and they all want to come back next year.

As Whitney Densmore said to me at Finals, it's difficult to name the corps that you like--there's just so many. It's easier to name the ones that you don't. And there weren't ANY that I completely disliked. It's good to see that DCA is keeping drum corps alive. The only thing that would have made the weekend better would have been if the Kilties had performed. I missed seeing them, but was still quite pleased with all of the others.

One thing I really enjoyed was the large VARIETY from corps to corps. Each one has its own distinct style, and there is a much broader range of music styles covered than at DCI. It was also nice to hear all G bugles. You just can't substitute anything for that brassy sound. I know it's been talked about in the past, but I think it would be great if DCA started up a junior corps division.

Well, after seeing so many wonderful performances, I felt like showing my gratitude financially. Going to all of the souvenir booths, I think I bought roughly 120 new drum corps shows on CDs and records--and no, I'm not exaggerating! I also bought shirts from the Caballeros and the Renegades. I really enjoyed everyone's performances, and I can't wait until next year. For those of you who didn't go, you missed out on the greatest weekend of the year. I hope to see everyone there in 2003. And with a little luck, I might even be out there on the field.

Rudimentally yours,
James Christian

Saturday August 17

Syracuse, NY (DCA)

"For what it's worth"--here's a review of the show in Syracuse last night. I was sitting in the upper deck on about the 48 yard line, six rows up. I'll do this in order of appearance.

The show started with an exhibition by Mighty St. Joe's Alumni. Having another good year. They seem to be having a great time and the people in the stands love 'em. Contra's were especially good tonight. 57 Horns, 20 Perc., 16 Guard and 11 Honor Guard.

First competing corps was the Corpsvets. Some serious talent in this corps. They've got to keep it together and build on their program a bit more and they will be in the thick of things in the very near future. "Blue's in the Night" was great.
34 Horns, 16 Perc., 7 Pit, 23 Guard, 2 HG. 9th Place---76.65.

Kingston Grenadiers were on next. I've seen this show quite a few time this season and tonight seemed a little flat. I like this show, especially "Rhapsody in Blue", but it seemed unemotional tonight. Drum line marches and plays well and the guard is starting to be an asset. Pit is very good.
33 Horns, 11 Perc., 9 Pit, 12 Guard, 6 HG. 8th Place---81.45.

Hurricanes up next. Nice corps! Nice improvement over last year (and I liked them last year). Best Drum Major(Director)--hands down! Tighten things up a bit and they'll make life miserable for a couple of corps in two weeks.
37 Horns, 16 Perc., 12 Pit, 30 Guard, 12 HG. 7th Place---83.75.

Rochester Crusaders. Cru cranks things up and then backs down. Cranks things up again, and backs down again. Almost an "emotional roller-coaster". Still--much better corps than last year. Drum line is performing much, much better than at the start of the season. Crusaders have THE visual highlight of the evening! The entire horn line takes up flags and performs really well with the guard during a drum feature. Not those wimpy little flags horn lines used to flick around like they were blessing a casket with holy water--but full size flags. And they all do it very well--looks great. Super colorful.
43 Horns, 14 Perc., 8 Pit, 21 Guard, 5 HG. 6th Place---84.95.

Skyliners. NO drum line! No plumes in their shakos. Borrowed pit equipment and guard equipment. NO equipment truck! WOW! What a horn line! Can't wait to see them in Scranton. Some great lead work. "New York, New York" is neat--and I am NOT a Yankee fan. Pretty good job under terrible conditions.
31 Horns, 9 Pit, 6 Guard, 9 HG. 10th Place--73.00.

Hawthorne. They've got two weeks to push this show to contender stage--they can do it. They made all Cabs fans very proud tonight. I thought their guard was great. Small drum line hurts them but at least they're not over-powering like some larger lines with smaller horn lines. They drummed like crazy and seemed to have a hole in the snare line(they had 4) which if filled by Scranton should give then enough balance to move up. I think they will.
56 Horns, 12 Perc., 11 Pit, 33 Guard, 8 HG. 5th Place---86.50.

Empire Statesmen. I'm not usually a fan of Empire, but I like them this year. I didn't think they were especially"on" tonight. Joey Pero means allot to this corps and he was dead on again tonight. Amazing chops. Very good pit and very good drum line--just thought that the horns didn't quite "hit" upstairs. The whole corps marches--allot.
51 Horns, 20 Perc., 10 Pit, 20 Guard, 5 HG. 2nd Place---91.90.

Reading. Hmmmm. Veddy interesting, veddy interesting. The rumors and reports of the demise of this corps have been GREATLY exaggerated. Cleanest marching show tonight by far. I had given up on marching cleanliness as a "senior thing"--I spent all of last week in Madison. Very good drum line, very good guard, very good horn show. Horns were a bit dirty though. But with two weeks to clean, look out. Veddy interesting.
45 Horns, 20 Perc., 13 Pit, 28 Guard, 4 HG. 3rd Place---91.10.

Bushwackers. What a sound! At times, maybe the loudest corps there. The whole corps performs really well and is much better than last year. Making great strides to get back to their championships years. Really looking forward to seeing and hearing them in Scranton.
39 Horns, 17 Perc., 8 Pit, 16 Guard. 4th Place--87.00.

Syracuse. I've said it before and I'll say it again--maybe the best Senior Corps, ever! Are they un-beatable this year? Maybe. Probably. Strong, tight horn line. Very good drum line and a great drum feature. Large, active guard. Just a very good, big, total package. They don't do anything too very special, they just go out and perform very well and win. To do that with all the people they have is remarkable.
68 Horns, 16 Perc., 12 Pit, 29 Guard, 5 HG. 1st Place---93.90.

All caption awwards to Syracuse except Honor Guard to Hawthorne.

For the most part I agree with the scoring and placements tonight. Maybe a couple of flip-flops here and there but nothing earth shattering. And, I think they will happen by themselves in Scranton. Now, throw Minnesota Brass and Renegades into this mix and it's going to be one of the best DCA's ever.

Have fun---I am.


Saturday August 10

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 level.

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 line too!

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 opinion.

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!

Tim Kviz

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 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 front sideline.

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 Scranton.

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 engagement". :)

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.

Eric Senzig
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.

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.

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 performances, Crossmen!

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 attitude," Phantom.

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!

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!

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 Silver Dots.

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 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?

Corps: Colts
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, 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.

Corps: Spirit
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.

Corps: Crossmen
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 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).

Corps: Glassmen
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 was a pleasure to finally meet him in person.]

Corps: Bluecoats
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 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.

Corps: Cavaliers
I won't even talk about the concept behind a corps scoring a'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.

--- Hooter

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 their closer.

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 next year.

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 X-men!

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 improvement, BD!!!

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!

Harvey Phelps

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