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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2003 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews
As posted to R.A.M.D. and submitted to Sound Machine

Page One 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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Saturday June 21

San Diego, CA (DCI Pacific)

I have followed the Drum Corps activity for nearly 15 years. I have never marched outside of my high school band so I tend to view the activity objectively, without loyalty by participation to a prior era that some have hated to leave. Drum Corps is evolving, as do all things. The bar for elite drum corps status is continuing to climb, requiring innovation, not just execution. I will share my thoughts on the Esperanza Experience with you tonight... having just gotten home with tunes and drills fresh in my mind.

So Cal Dream, Sr. Corps (50.65)
First year out after "expansion" season last year. As with many senior corps, they can get top heavy. They have a number well developed sopranos, for which the rest of the corps relies heavily upon. Good stand and blow moments, and some piercing Gs from the lead. Some rough spots with movement, but I think will come in time. I think everyone clearly enjoyed this corps, which I think musically is more conservative in approach then other senior corps I have seen, but more ambitious movement than many.

San Diego Alliance (47.95)
Full Division II class pit and snares... with 6 brass. These kids are out on a string. Given the dimensions of the corps, the sound was balanced, and phrasing was decent. Unfortunately, there is no margin for error with this size corps, and I thought they marched well, and played respectfully. This corps has had significant size issues for the years I have seen them. There is a spectrum of the drum corps experience that Alliance can offer that larger corps may not be able to provide, but I think this corps needs to work on recruitment to at least create a balance between brass and percussion.

Impulse (58.15)
Theme driven, per usual. Played selections from Willy Wonka. Seemed more restrained than prior Impulse shows that I have had the pleasure to see. Solid sound... while standing. Some wavering with movement. Not the brass edge of last year (remember that I love Lucy in your face closer last year?.... not there yet this year). Lots of work to do, particularly last tune. Show will be vintage Impulse in several weeks... fun, entertaining, loud, time.

BlueDevils B (61.30)
Missed... sorry. Heard some cool methany from a distance.

Vanguard Cadets (66.45)
Good size. Excellent coverage. Unfamiliar Vaguardesque concert pieces. Some Contra overblowing. In general sound otherwise balanced and disciplined. Music did not strike me, but I enjoyed it very much. Not division 2 championship material, unless notable progress is made, not because they are not excellent... but because things are getting quite competitive at this level.

Esperanza (71.55)
Look out!! Last year was a break-out year for this corps (top 6 finish), and this year is bigger, louder, longer, better, and more accessible than last year's. The better you are the better you become, and Esperanza is demonstrating this in spades. We were well into div I before some of the folks around me found a show they liked better. Very well designed show, with innovation, peaks and valleys and integration of corps elements. Guard Great. Careful of overblowing in the Contra line. Keep this up... and we'll have a division I corps in San Diego before long.

Mandarins (62.55)
I have not loved every show they have done...but I loved this one. Outstanding drum features with concurrent theatrical like use of other corps members. Heard the beginnings of that visceral brass edge that we all love. Unison soprano lines had difficulties on several occasions, but upper brass sounded good with ensemble. Excellent musical choices. Don't get a soda during this corps.

Pacific Crest (62.90)
Initial opening cord was in the back part of the field..losing some impact. Square shining box like figures a center piece of the show, that reflect light when spun... cool effect. Strong middle brass, upper brass a bit tentative. First third of the show fell victim to the planet of the ape movie sound track phenomenon... quick, dissonant, nonmelodic cords coming without a melodic direction. The show improved going forward, and had some excellent dramatic moments utilizing... boxes. This Corps has talent, but may need some adjustments to compete in Orlando.

Blue Knights (68.05)
They have stuck to their guns... mostly. Less body movement, but some. Music more familiar and much more melodic that prior years. Power is there, feet are not... yet. In an effort to make the music accessible, of course I don't that to be their intent, they seem to have a musical book that is not terrible complex. This is the best BK in the last couple of years. I think they will keep there old fans, and get some new ones. Top 12?... We'll see.

Santa Clara Vanguard (73.90)
Unless you like lots of brass runs, explosive chords, beautiful ballads and absolutely rippen drum features... I'm sorry to say you may not care for this show. This is Classic Vanguard...better than last 2 years..close to 99. Very cool intro with feuding brass lines playing 100 yards apart. A classic moment drum feature type thing where the snare line absolutely unleashes speed with very aggressive body movements, followed by unison brass line runs. This is accessible, unfamiliar music that I know I will love the more I hear it. Can they win again? As I said will take more than execution and music to win. Lot's of cleaning to do... but this is a great show.

BlueDevils (77.30)
Keep the essence of what makes you who you are, but do different things to keep from falling behind. That is what BD has done this year. This show has great music. But more importantly, the BlueDevils are demonstrating a willingness to change. Every think you would see the day when the BlueDevils guard and brass do a chant?? Here it comes. This show is more ensemble driven, and features only a few solos. Rhondo is phenomenal. Marching was cleanest of the corps tonight. Opening drum features is indoor theater revisited. Several one handed unison snare rolls. Despite loving SCV... BD was the CLEAR winner tonight. Still marching in blocks... but less so. Excellent soprano line, but seems to be more of a team effort. This is a different BD... I think they want the title again and they are willing to change to get it.

Good night of corps overall... except no victory concert (finished at 1040 pm) Bob James-great job at MC. The dude that I always go to shows with (Fritz) was unable to go tonight due to a work commitment. Get your priorities STRAIGHT. That's cool.... finals 2004. Iv'e got solidy documented permision from my wife to go... do you want me to call your wife to get you clearance? Lay the foundation now... we are goin!!

Steve B

Westview high school. New school, new residential area. Cement bleachers/stands. Wide track and access road inbetween. Decent lighting. Rain earlier in the day, cloud cover for the show. Astro-turf field. The location is about 15 miles from the ocean and is in typical socal hilly terrain. Combine the constricted residential area and the load of corps shuffling through, warm-up room was limited and as a result, you could hear drum lines going at it for just about every corps on field. Distracting. The cement bleachers were the type that you had to cram your feet tight under you and your back was jammed into the knees of the people behind you - and so forth all of the way up. Better to buy a square block so that your wife/girlfriend/daughter can rest between your knees. Sound system: I was in the section next to center and could barely make out anything that was said. What'd the announcer just say? Sound system needs improvements. Show programs were only sold back at the souvie stands - so I had to turn right around and trek back to the gate. No program hawkers (which is good) but nothing intuitive either. Lastly, I think that due to the rain, probably half of the numerous drops could have been associated with the moisture.

SoCal Dream - Olde Pharts Marching - aka people who have family's, job's and such - who also put amazing amounts of time into an activity that they love. Hey show promoters, how come this corps did not have a page in the program?

San Diego Alliance - Six horns. Amazing unit cohesiveness. ALL corps personnel acted as one. Tight and in-tune to each other. Choice of music was intriguing. The show somehow felt longer than 12mins (and that's not a bad thing).

Impulse - Music from Willy Wonka. Show has Great Potential but so far is Not Delivering. YET. It was plain to see that some of the kids were still learning the show. I hope that this is right in line with how I thought about them at this same time last year, and then a month later when I saw them the improvements were ten-fold.

SC Vanguard Cadets - Sorry, I needed a bathroom break.

Blue Devils B - Still walking the 100 yard bathroom march...

Unannounced 30min intermission. Rats. This wasn't in the program?... It put everything/everyone off schedule imo.

Esperanza - Good show. I liked the selection of music and the drill is written well. Definitely talent in all sections. Towards the end did I actually see guard parts that members hadn't learned yet? WGI was a month ago already!

Pacific Crest - First full-sized corps of the night and they performed Large. All of the elements (horns, perc and guard) are present. A top 12 contender. Reflecting on the silver cubes - they definitely are flashy, but their size makes them hard to handle - and it's noticeable. PC still rocks.

Mandarins - I liked this show. Full of ambition. Good sound coming from just 37 horns. I don't see them breaking into the top 12, however they will place solidly right after. Now I don't mean to be negative, but I just gotta wonder what the motives were for them to go division 1? They were just fine in div 2 and if they were there today, they'd be tigers for the title. hmm...

Blue Knights - Wow. I like the way that this show is written - as all of the sections work well together. I happened to see one poor girl in the guard drop a toss - and even though she picked up her equipment, she got rattled and it took her quite some time to catch back up. Heh, you sit in the stands and in your mind you really root for them - and wonder how a drop like that will, or in these days, won't, effect their score. The final thought that came to my mind is that BK is saying to any top 12 contenders - if you want in, you gotta go through us first.

Santa Clara Vanguard - Of course, an all-time favorite of many people. Me included. Musically, this show hits the mark and kept resonating for minutes after the show was over. That's magic. Now back to earth. The first part of the show is (I hope) still being worked on. Drill wise, from what I hear, they need work. What did I see? Quite a lot of busy movement. Some dirt - but everyone who performed last night did. The way that I figure, I've got at least 20 more years to live. That's 20 more years of SCV shows. (whoohoo!) The "VANGUARD!" yell is nearly at the end of the show. Look for the horn line snaking on the left side of the field with the guard on the right with dark flags.

Blue Devils - They've hit the mark again. It's just amazing what they do year after year. I'm not so sure that seeing any corps with their backs to the stands for too long is the appropriate thing to do. That's Too long - when I think that it might actually work against you. They've placed some exposed snare duels that cause the crowd to hoot and holler - which drowns out the next duel. When you write a drum book, how the heck can you possibly figure that into your plans? Maybe cut one or two of the parts? dunno. They roll out a few of the cool tricks from last years show - and that's just fine with me. There are lots and lots of good things about this show.

Overall a great night of drum corps. Good job Esperanza!

So lets see, PR will be here in a few weeks, but when everyone heads south for the second set of shows, BD goes north to visit the Cascades? Wha?...

Disclaimer: This is Dan's review. If you disagree with me, then I encourage you to go to a show and then come here and write your own review. I submit because I like to read and write about drum corps. And, of course, any errors that I make are unintentional.

Dan Saeger

Louisville, KY (DCI Atlantic)

stadium- AWESOME. backs to seats and 20 inches wide for the larger among us plus leg room for shaq. ice cream stand (should be mandatory clause in dci contract with all show sponsors). weather perfect. cantilevered roof on front side keeps and expands sound in stadium.

crowd- 5,000 or so. 13 and younger no where in sight- not good. extremely white, suburban, polite- sad (oh for a 50s/60s dream contest audience again). no amp protests in sight. small turnout by bando community for clinic.

dci- walk up tix line service could have been better. gate receipts and parking charges should show decent profit for this self-promotion. were dci workers local or from the home office? fifteen dci sponsor banner decorated back field stands. could the indy show be moving here in the future or is a rain free event more important to the bottom line? the 18,000 at bloomington in '93 a good agrument for returning to fresh air again. contest itself ran smoothly except for marion slow setting up.

div lll- eklipse got screwed. marion had a six snare, three quad, five bass, six pit set up for 15 horns- two sops and two contra plus others. this topped off by a three girl guard. forget this is div lll- marion staff needs a clue. americanos having a tough season.

the big boys- in general, all are solid from a john q public pov. they would pass muster. quarter-finals in orlando just might top last year's quality. the rat race for top seventeen s/b fun let alone who grabs the 11 and 12 spots for finals.

for the uniform critics- the cadets are still the cadets, scouts need a little more red somewhere but this update works. crown's all cream head to foot look makes them look larger. cavs' guard get-up strange but far better than being dressed as washing machines. crown guard metallic look a little much. bluuuuuuu's glittery gold and velvet looking guard rags contrast nicely with corps proper.


can only assume the spring rains killed cadets ability to march. visual ensemble judge didn't see what i saw. their battery seems the best of the night regardless of the number. guard and horns fine. the irony of hopkins' views and cadets show worthy of a phd thesis.

cav's illustrate the old army axiom of prior planning..... probably not the equal of '02 but best of the litter tonight. music a little less pure soundtrack for their unique visual style and has potential to stand on its own. solid across the board.

if coats learn to march, they might sneak up on someone. as always-likeable.

crown caption new head lineup is top draw. major attitude change in this corps from last year but young- age-outs won't be a problem this year. clean should be the focus for summer as show can hold up without changing too much.

colts' feet will have corps passing them this year.

spirit and magic might have the beginnings of the old scv/bd on field rivalry that spurred both on in the seventies.

glassmen can trash their boring t-shirts.

what southwind needs is unknown but scores aside a good earness corps.

i'm a sucker for the scouts and this year is no different- corps with personality not just style are few and far between. should they have been third i don't know but a season with madison in the hunt is a good feeling to have again.

advise to what-did-they-get-last-night-numbers judges- the middle of pack ain't that far away from our almighty top four. get some balls- corps judging isn't a career or even a resume line. no one has ever kill a judge for not following the party line- at least not yet. you still have your day job. relax.

John & Kay Keays

These are my thoughts, and my thoughts alone (probably) this is not intended to bash any corps, just my OPINIONS (yes I know, they are like a**holes, blah blah)

First, I must say that the stadium was FIRST CLASS!!! The weather was great! The only thing bad was the parking getting into the show, and those stupid train tracks that had a train go by ever 10 minutes it seemed!!!!

First up tonight was Eklipse. This was the corps first EVER showing, and they did a very good job at it! Sure they may have looked a little bit "Bando" because of the obvious high school looking uniforms, but they did not SOUND bando at all. The 2 point penalty was because they had to use Sousaphones instead of contras, they did not get their contra's in time for the show. They have probably one of the best horn lines in Div 3. They will make a VERY strong showing this year in Orlando!! Best of luck to them in their inagural season! Score 54.05 - 2 = 52.05

Following Eklipse was the Americanos. This corps was a good bit smaller that Eklipse (who was the biggest Div 3 corps at the show tonight) and it really hurt them tonight. It really hurt to see the Canos do so poorly tonight, after seeing them be so good in the recent years (2nd in 2000). They had MANY problems tonight and the show pretty much fell apart at the end. One of the problems I think caused it was because with a small corps (about 13 horns??) distance between sections is bad. The Canos spread the field in this show and the timing just got WAY off! The first 2 selections were very good though. They have a very large guard in comparison to the other sections. They have a noticably small drum line this year as well (3 snares, 1 tenor, 3 basses). I really hope they can pull things together and make it all come together towards the end of the season! Score 41.55

Next up were the Marion Glory Cadets. If you cant tell by my name, I am a bit biased. The Glory Cadets came out hot tonight! This show is leaps and bounds better than last years product. Their strength is easily the drum line, they were really smoking, and could give the lower tier Div 1 corps a run for their money. The obvious weak point is the guard, only 3 young ladies, with 1 about to be added. But the hornline is just as strong as ever. There are some very good solo's in the production (Mike Welch on Contra, and Amanda Knox on Mello). I was very pleased seeing them do so well last night! Keep it up!!! Score 55.10

The first Div 1 corps out of the gates tonight were the Carolina Crown with their new uniforms and everything. This corps, to my surprise was very good tonight! And the uniforms do not look that bad from the field! The highlight for this show was the Carol of the Bells for me. But they had some of the best fan friendly music this evening. And they pull it off very well. There were obviously some new horn players still learning drill. I think I saw missed transitions on just about every page of drill, but that will be fixed with time! They will be a contender for the 14-10 spots I think, probably just missing finals this year. Score 64.50

Next up, Southwind. I think going after Crown hurt them in the scoring column. This corps looks very good at times, but then they can look very confused and unconfident a second later. They have a pretty strong hornline, but right now everything is just dirty. I dont think the show is a top 12 show. They will probably be fighting for a semi finals berth. The uniform change does not make too much of a difference to me. Score 55.80

The Colts were next onto the field. I was a bit dissappointed with the Colts show this year. I really enjoyed the past 2 years' show, and was hoping for more of the same. But this year didnt leave too much of an impression on me. They had some really good moments in their balad, but just too inconsistent the rest of the time. Color guard was not as good as they used to be. Score 59.25

The Madison Scouts enetered the field next, and the crowd was buzzing with excitement. And with pretty good reason. First let me say the uniforms really do look good on the field (I think), even though I really like the old ones better. This show, well for lack of better words, is not a typical Madison show to me, this is a Drum Corps show. Let me explain, to me a typical Madison show is a powerful, in your face, we dont give a crap what the judges say, show. And this was far from that. This was a very entertaining and technical show in my book. I was very impressed. It seems that when the Scouts play not as loud, they play a lot better in tune and a lot clearer. It is the typical Madison music, just not the same style in my book. But overall I think they did really well, and they are back, just not in the top 8 I dont think. Im thinking a nice 10 (go ahead, flame away!) Score 66.35

Next up after the intermission was Spirit. I really enjoyed this show!!! The whole motif with the Time was done really well, especialy the hour glass!! October...... what can you say, a GREAT piece of music!! And Spirit pulled it off brilliantly (much better than Glassmen, in my opinion). The whole thing with the DM going onto the field in an old Spirit uni, I missed it, my focus was elsewhere. If the show designers want to use that for effect, they need to make something bring your focus to him. I only saw him after he got off the field, and was changing. Spirit was in my top 3 for favorite shows so far!!! Score 65.05

Magic of Orlando was up next. For all the hype that has been created for them so far this year.... I think they did really well. The hornline is sounding very good, still a little muddy technicaly, but im sure Geno will work that out. The music was very good, Holsinger and Bernstein. This corps is definatly on their way back up, and I love it. This was my friends favorite show of the night. The Easter Symphony at the close was not as good as Spirits version in 2002, it seems they used a different part that was not as obvious. I've heard the Easter Symphony many times, and it took me a couple minutes to figure out they were playing it. Very good showing for Magic. Score 63.70

The Glassmen were up next. And im am sorry to say, that this show to me, is once again..... boring. And it seemed that way to most of the fans at the show tonight. There were no "moments" in the show. Nothing to get the crowd on its feet cheering, no big hits. And to me, the music and drill just do not fit with the Elements theme. If im supposed to be thinking fire, I would expect fast and rigid drill movements. For water, it would be flowing and relaxed drill. This may be a lack in writing, or possibly performance, it is hard to tell right now. They will be lucky to make top 12 this year. Score 64.15

BLOOOOOO, yup thats right the Bluecoats were up next, and they looked GREAT! To me there was no doubt that they were above the Scouts. The music was great, and the drill was better than the previous years in my opinion. They had some very good moments in their balad (not quite as good as 2001 though). Its good to see the Coats with some good drill again, I think that is what had been lacking before the 2001 season. The look to be solidly in at least the top 8, and possibly 6. Score 68.90

Now for the big hitters. The Cavaliers were up first, and they came out moving! This show is called Spin Cycle for a reason. The drill is absolutly absurd!! It is some of the most creative drill ive ever seen. I would love to sit down with the writer and just ask, "How the h*ll do you think of that?!" But as in the past (for me at least) the music leaves much to be desired. It seems the music is written around the drill, instead of drill being written for the music. That is not to say the music being put out wasnt great, because the hornline was really playing good, its just that you will not be humming any music from their show on the ride home. The Cavies have laid down the gauntlett for the rest of the world..... I wonder if anyone will make it through the spin cycle. Score 78.50

The last corps of the night was the Cadets. And they were by far my favorite corps of the night. They start out like it is just an onfield warm-up, but then they just don't stop. I didnt see the DM's salute or anything! But the music is just great. A lot of people have been saying that Malaguena is not that good, or its square. Well, no, its not. Is it different, yes. But the cadets do it very well! The Mellos have some amazing parts all the way through this show! I actualy saw this show 2 times, they had a clinic before the show. I noticed a female snare, I think she was #4 in the line of 10, but did not march the show (injury im guessing). Rocky point was just great! They even did a z pull!! The crowd reaction between the Cavis and Cadets were very close, a lot closer than the score. This was the dirtiest that ive seen the cadets. So they do have a lot of room for improvement. I think they may just catch the Cavis!! Score 76.10

It was truly a great evening! Well worth the 6 hour drive up from Memphis! I will see everyone else in San Antonio, then Murfreesboro, then again in Orlando!!!


I enjoyed what I read above. I'm in a "talkative" mood so I'll see what comes out here.

I drove from Charlotte, NC to Boone, NC Friday night (about 100 miles) and stayed with some friends. Saturday morning we loaded up and drove the remaining 400 miles (approximately) to Louisville, Kentucky. Beautiful drive which really turned out to be worth it. I don't think better weather for Drum Corps could even be imagined. It worked out even nicer that we were sitting with the sun setting behind us so there was never any heavy direct sunlight on us (particularly at 7pm) and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was simply beautiful. Louisville has very, very nice stadium. Great job to you KKPsi and TBS brothers/sisters that helped run the event. It's a pity I didn't see any KKPsi letters.

Anyway, there was a heck of a traffic problem trying to get to parking so even though we were plenty early, we ended up missing Eklipse and Americanos. We were pretty irritable about that considering the long drive, but we saw Marion Glory Cadets and up.

Crown: Carolina Crown started in Charlotte, though it now hails out of Fort Mill (directly beneath Charlotte, NC, where I live). So, they are and have been since they "stormed" into Division I with "Stormworks" in 1995, one of my favorite corps. I have to say that missing top 12 and making some large staffing changes has had a very pleasant effect... They put on a hell of a show. What a GREAT show! I love the new uniforms (though oh my GOD, the Guard uniforms will have you squinting if the sun is out). I love the move away from "Themed" shows with too many props in the past. I loved what I saw... but I REALLY loved what I heard. What I heard was by far the most mature hornline they've ever had. Ever. Great job, great show. Now go and CLEAN (particularly that running Alto line in the last part of the show).

Southwind: Well, I have to pick on the uniforms a little just in fun. They kinda look like big bumblebees with the yellow and black. I like pulling for the little guys and they have a nice show. It was well played for this early in the year. I'm not really sure what I can add as I don't know what kind of comments would really help.

Madison Scouts: I took what became a very unpopular view last year... that the Scouts got the score they deserved. Last year's show was flat and dirty and I didn't like it. 1995, 1996, and 1999 (Drum Corps Fan Dream, Part I, Part II, and Jesus Christ Superstar) are three of my all time favorite shows. So, last year was difficult. THIS year, like Crown, Madison made a lot of sweeping changes. It worked. I'm not certain what the placing will be later in the year... I kinda thought Spirit should have edged them out last night. Still, WHAT A SHOW! I like the new uniforms. I loved the overall energy. I find it hard to say that, they could start the show with a little more energy. By the end they were WAILING but it started a little underpowered IMHO. I'm very excited to see what they are capable of this year. It's difficult it being so early in the year and having not seen anything of Blue Devils, Santa Clara Vanguard, and Phantom Regiment. Still, I could see Madison in the top 6. That's a nice climb after last year!

Spirit: Whoa. Madison Scouts came out and blew me away. Spirit came out and blew them away. Well, that's maybe a little over the line. Let's say that they at least matched the Scouts lick for lick and blow for blow. Scouts beat Spirit, but not in my scorebook. Great show Spirit! As a southerner I'm so glad you came back. I wasn't really into last year's show though Ghost Train a couple years back was awesome. This show is extremely entertaining. You're all going to love it.

Colts: A bit dirty. If the Colts fail to place in the top 12 this year it will not have a THING to do with their hornline. They may well have been nearly the loudest corps of the night and they wailed. Great job! I've always been a fan of the Colts.

Magic: WELCOME BACK! Magic entered Division I the same year as Crown and whether one existed or not, I always enjoyed what I perceived as a rivalry between the two. I enjoyed last year's mini-corps for what it was... but it's nice to have them back in full swing. Again, like Spirit, these guys can really push the envelope this year. It looked and sounded like a very mature corps. I honestly hope Crown can compete with them this year but I put them a few spots up if they both continue to clean at more or less the same rate.

Glassmen: I've never been a big Glassmen fan. It's not because I don't like them or think they're talented. They've been a strong corps for the last several years nearly always placing in the top 6 or so. However clean their shows are, however, I've always felt they lacked emotion/passion. I always felt pretty bored. I'd say this year's show is more promising than years past, and they did well. However, without looking at the captions (still haven't) they really need to work a little harder on the guard. Heck, it's very early in the season and anything could happen at this point. To be honest, I had them quite a bit higher in placement on my own score card. There was a mother of one of the Glassmen in the stands right below me who was REALLY into it. Nice to see. I've also always really liked the guy that always seems to be at every show I go to where the Glassmen are there that waves that big flag.

Bluecoats: Bluuuuuuuuuu. Heh. There were some old marchers sitting behind me that were making a bit of fun of that "cheer" for the Bluecoats. I couldn't help cracking up. Whatever happened to Michael Scezario (no freaking clue how to spell his name) anyway? Every time I hear Bluecoats I hear him: "They're not booing, they're Bluuuing!" and laugh. Anyway, the Bluecoats put on a great show. The music is great and the drill is entertaining. They need to work on their fundamentals a bit. The marching wasn't too clean. I'm being a little hard on them. They scored high and landed 3rd place, but with the show they have this year some serious cleaning could put them up higher then they've been in a good while.

Cavaliers: Wow. The Cavaliers have once again come out swinging with a tremendous show. "Spin Cycle" is absolutely brilliant. It's starting to actually irritate me, because I'm not necessarily a huge Cavies fan (I love em all, but I do have my favorites). The last couple of years, really starting with Niagra Falls a couple years ago, well, they've been pretty much unbeatable. These shows are genius... more creative then anything I've ever seen in Marching Band OR Drum Corps. I hope Blue Devils, Santa Clara, Phantom Regiment, or maybe Crossmen have something really special planned. Otherwise we're another repeat. This show is awesome.

Cadets: I talked a little in a previous thread about the Cadets. I don't know what happened at the beginning of the show. If someone understands it, please send me an email and let me know. It was very strange. They came onto the field sorta like they were in retreat. Then the turned around and I thought they were going to do a little warmup and move into position. Well, they did, but there was no break from that to the full show. I kept thinking they were going to start any minute now. I wasn't the only one confused. The announcer gave the traditional, Cadet, is your corps ready? No response or even indication that the Cadets even heard. They were playing to the backfield moving around and the drum major was making his way to the podium. The announcer then gave the "You may enter the field for competition" while the drum major was still climbing onto the podium. There was no salute or indication from the drum major at all and they just continued with the show as if the announcer wasn't there. I missed a good bit at the beginning trying to figure out what was going on, as did many of the fans. So, Cadets, poor start. I don't know what you're going for, but I don't think it works. Otherwise, I loved the show. Malaguena was INVENTIVE! I loved what I heard. This was no Blast! rendition (though some parts were). It was very cool and I loved the ending. Still, even really clean I don't think this show stacks up against what the Cavies have to offer this year.

Quarter and Semi-Finals are going to be VERY interesting this year. There are some fantastic shows this year throughout the Open Class corps. I see Firstbeat in Charlotte on Tuesday and Nightbeat in Charlotte towards the end of July! Looks like I won't make Murphreesboro this year though Finals is still possible.

Matt Philmon

OK, I'm sorry for the delay, but I was away from my computer. So here are my impressions from the contest in Louisville.

First, the stadium seemed unprepared for the crowd (trafic jam getting into parking lot and running out of coke at the concession stand). It didn't seem to be a huge crowd, but I suppose it was more than they expected.

Because of the traffic I did not see Eklipse or 'Canos. However, I will mention that Eklipse marched Sousaphones (at least during the retreat). I thought that was against the rules, but oh well. Also, their uniforms were actually the Murray High School uniforms. They look good though -- imagine the old BlueDevils uniforms, but with yellow jackets.

OK, Marion Glory Cadets: I can't remember too much of their program, but I do think that they had a really solid percussion and a very competent horn line. They do a good job of playing within their individual capabilities -- nice control and balance. The guard did not do any work for a large portion of the show -- and they only have three to begin with. I wish they could find 5 more members -- it would help their guard imensely. However, they should do well in DIII.

Southwind: Southwind sounded pretty good and I thought they actually marched pretty well. However, the show design does nothing right now and the biggest problem is the lack of a solid visual concept. The colorguard uniforms are not good (they reminded me of something my old high school wore in 1988). The visual will keep Southwind from contending for Finals and possibly keep them out of Semis.

Carolina Crown: I love the new uniforms! They look so clean and crisp on the field. And it is sooooo refreshing to see them when they are surrounded by the corps that look like shadows. It also really added to the visual effectiveness of the corps. And I really liked the guard outfits as well. The entire visual package, including the drill was very well done and they should do well with it this year. Musically, I really liked what they did as well. The "Stained Glass" percussion feature was really cool and the "Carol of the Bells" closer was really well done. They had a really good night tonight (one of the couple that did).

Glassmen: Well, there was some debate in my group over which guard had the worst uniforms and the Glassmen "Car Wash Skirt" uniform got some support for that honor. That being said, I thought that they had some really nice innovative moments (the "fire" interchange with the percussion and the rifle toss with the scarf things were a couple of those moments). Now, the corps itself sounded really good, but the program really didn't do a whole lot for me. I liked the fire and water portion, but the water and earth thransition was a little "muddy" I know it's early, but they better get together, otherwise, they will not be performing Saturday night.

Magic of Orlando: Guard: didn't do a whole lot for me, don't remember anything. Drum line: seemed solid, but I'm a brass guy, so what do I know. Horn line: Excellent! I think they are going to be fine this year. I know the early results have not been good, but trust me, the music is solid and will only get better and the visual will be really cool once it is cleaned. It seemed to me that they had much harder drill than those corps around them. Clean it up and they'll be a force this year. BTW, I loved the Mass segment! It was so refreshing to actually hear a corps play a piece pretty much "straight", i.e. no complete reworking of a song to make sure that it has enough highlights for an impact every 30 seconds. I'm sure that this aspect of their performance might not please some fans, but I really appreciated it.

Colts: Colts are in real trouble if you ask me. While the honline was the most solid I've heard from them in a while, and the drum line and guard are all really competent, the program just did nothing! Perhaps it was just an off night, but this program was completely forgetable. I know it's June, but we drum corps fans can recognize potential in June and this show just doesn't have it. I'm afraid that I've already cut them from my list of potential finalists. But then again, it's just June! Maybe I'll keep them on until I see them in July.

Spirit: Well I got caught in the tunnel during Spirit. So I went down to the 25 yardline to watch. They seem to be solid in all areas again, but right now, this show just didn't have it either. I liked Nutville and I liked First Circle, but as a total package I was a little disappointed. The drill actually looked pretty clean for June and they seem to have a nice command of the field, but something's missing. Oh yeah, it's a guard uniform! What is up with the decontructionist guard uniforms from a couple of different corps tonight? I mean, they start in black body suits and then add a piece here and a piece there (and never the whole guard at one time) until by the end of the show you've a few different things going on, but it is still essentially a black body suit with some accessory. It's a visual void that in my opnion does nothing for them.

Madison Scouts: OK, I'm not a big Scouts fan. But, they really have put together a nice package this year. Even my friend that went with me who has been a lifelong Scouts basher actually said they were her favorite corps of the night! The difference? Well, I think it's all about control. The hornline actually plays with control and dynamics!! When did that happen? Gone are the days when the Scouts simply played FFF or backfield. The visual package is clean and interesting. I liked the guard uniforms and the new corps uniforms looked really nice. The highlight had to be the guard reference to the '75 program with the bow and the corps one handed playing at the same time -- a nice tribute. The Scouts are in Finals easily. There is no doubt in my mind. Especially after the series of lackluster shows I saw tonight. The Scouts and Crown were the only two corps I thought had anything tonight.

Bluecoats: This program WILL be fantastic. Right now, it's realy nice. Hornline is very solid as usual, drumline seems solid. The guard looked good. The music is coming along nicely (especially the sequence that ends with the trumpets playing in the far right corner of the field after each section drops out). That was a really cool sequence. The show needs more moments like that to become fantastic. I think they'll get there, but for now, I would just like it if they could put a closer on the field! Come on, it's the end of JUne! A show shouldn't just end like that. It really bothered me. But they'll be there at the end.

Cadets: I really wanted to love this show, but I can only love portions of the show. It's only June, and these are the Cadets, so I'm not worried abotu it yet. Thank goodness they actually played music and not sound effects (more on that later). Malaguena drew one of the two mid-show standing ovations during th night (although the more solid of the two). Each segment is good, but righ now the entire show just doesn't work for me. The guard uniforms also bothered me for the same reason as Spirit's did. The drum line didn't seem to be featured as they have in the past, don't get me wrong, they have their moments, but they didn't seem to be a constant pressence throughout the show. Now, Rockypoint was a bit of disappointment because it was not a straight version of it. I don't like the way that "My Favorite Things" was interlaced. It ruined Rockypoint for me. Also, the onfield warmup was a little offputting. Especially since they continue to play as the drum major is asked if his corps is ready and seemlessly go straight from the onfield playing to the show. It took me a moment to really get into it. But, they're still a contender, afterall, it's June and they are the Cadets. They deserved 2nd tonight.

Cavaliers: OK, the guard uniforms are visually unappealing, but they also have nothing to do with the show they are performing! The choice of the "Cyclist" uniform for a show entitled "Spin Cycle" is just a little too facile and does nothing to really add any depth to the show. So I'm just going to cut and paste my review of the Cavies for the past two years into the remainder of my review: They march an incredible drill and they march it incredibly well. However, I really don't like the "music" they're using. It really is nothing more than sound effects. OK, now for this year's music: The middle segment really sounds an awful lot like last year's (maybe they're using the same chord progressions) and they have the same sort of closing number. It really is becoming cookie cutter drum corps from them (at least musically). The structure of the past few years' shows are just so similar. I'm afraid it's become tiresome to me. It also really didn't seem to connect with the audience tonight either. They did get a mid show partial standing O, but the crowd really didn't give them a strong reaction. But they're definitely going to contend with this show and I will give them the benefit of the doubt that I'm giving everyone -- it's just June. However, the Cavies don't LOOK like June, and that might really indicate that the show doesn't have much room to grow through cleanliness. BTW, outside of the guard's uniforms, they really didn't make an impact, not your normal Cavies guard.

Overall impression: I left the stadium pretty disappointed. I realize it's just June, but the programs as whole do not seem that strong to me. It's a shame too, because the actual performance level of each corps seems even higher than last year. But the programming left me flat. OH well, just one simple man's opinion.

P.S. I've got pics! I'm going to try to post some later. So I'll give that info later.

Tony L.

Friday June 20

Norwalk, CA (DCI Pacific)

I played horn and don't pay much attention to the drum line or guard, unless it really sticks out. Also I didn't make any note at the site, just going with what snippets I remember. It's also late so give me some slack.

First up-Blue Devils B
I can't remember a thing they did. It was modern drum corps performed by kids. Soon into the show I was looking for friends in the stands and yawning. They should be playing Rocky or something.

Went to get food and look for corps or friends in the parking lot for a while. Returned to see So Cal Dream

So Cal Dream-seemed bigger than last year. Unis are all black with long black jackets (all black Bridgemen jackets) with purple velvety shirts. Silver jeweled stringers hold the jacket front together. Looks different, not Cessario. Horns were not bad-fun show. OK-It's a senior corps in it's second year.

Pacific Crest-They open the show with a great visual. The guard spins cubes made only of silver tubes, which creates a floating effect as the lights reflect off the cubes. Pretty interesting and the main highlight of the show. They look to be marching somewhere around 120 or so, but school just got out today and that will probably change. Music was interesting, but not as full or big as they're size would lead you to expect. They did have a pretty balanced sound at times. Drill was messy and feet were dirty. They used a variation on the triangle move Cavies performed last year and there's the running in circles while the formation is a square and other modern corps moves. Not bad, but nothing super special. One thing that distracts me is their pant zipper. Their zippers create a bulge right where a male "organ" is. Their pants make them look like a bunch of well hung men. It's just distracting.

Mandarins-very small for an Open corps. I think they should be Div II. That's a dumb DCI rule. I don't think they had more than 100 people on the field (only 11 trumpets). I was impressed with them because they played in control and let out some balanced volume. All Mandarin corps I have seen are usually disciplined, relatively clean and play under control. This trend continues. They played something Phantom played in late 80s or early 90s. Don't remember when, but it sounded familiar, sounded like a song and I liked it. I have never been a fan of their uniforms and I'm still not. Nice show, but not big enough to compete in Open class.

Blue Knights-best show they've had in a few years and I liked them. The show is titled "Primary Colors". Last couple of years I have been in the parking lot or getting a hot dog every when they performed. Not this year! I really enjoyed their sound. The music was pretty good, but marching was blah-phasing, out of step, lack of guiding, etc. They should be able to clean this up by tour's end. They have a funny hitch to their back-up step, kinda the inverse of Phantom's kickout when they come to a stop. Guard uniforms are great! They made all the guard members look good-even the fa, I mean the big ones. Their pants are white with a scarf or something like that wrapped around their waist. Creates a triangular line from the waist down, which hides flaws and they look great. Top is a different color. Flags/silks also look pretty cool, unique colors and designs. They get the flag of the night award.

Vanguard-first off, I'm a diehard fan of SCV. Always have been, always will be. They could go out there, fall down and I would still love them. The show was interesting. Horn book seems difficult/complex. They open the show with a stereophonic riffs. The group on the left plays something and the group on the right answers. The two groups start some 75+ yards from each other and converge around the 50 into a big square-playing real Bb loud. I think the show has tons of room for improvement because the playing and marching were dirty-dirty-dirty. I hope there's enough Summer. I see their show with a bunch of mud on it, needing a bunch of cleaning. One move has a follow-the-leader going through some movement in a semi-block, then the big blocks hits. They actually do this move twice. It's so dirty that my description was clearer than their execution of the move-just couldn't see what they were trying to do and it didn't look good. It can look pretty amazing if they can clean it. There were some very syncopated horn licks, which I loved. The skill level required to play such licks may be beyond the players right now. The parts will either get soaked in water or some players are going to step up this summer, because some of the stuff they're trying is rather difficult. The drum line seemed strong, but what do I know. They weren't bad, which is usually easy for me to hear. Snares are played on a slant and they march cymbals! The style of guard seems to be completely different from the last few years. They seem to be working their equipment more than in the past. I like it. They also seemed to blend in with the rest of the corps, a trend I do not like. Their uniforms were a horizontal striped blue/aqua color with random streaks of lime sprinkled throughout the unit. They looked sharp.

Blue Devils-awesome horn sound! I love drum corps because of the sound they make-beautiful, brass and loud with some high notes. It was a much cleaner show that SCV (maybe 3 points wasn't enough?), both musically and visually. They open the show with a drum battle, like the snares in Blast, but it goes throughout the entire drum line. Bunch of mini-solos and soils. In the middle of the show is a very cool "tuba" lick. I could envision some guy grooving a jazzy tune on a stand-up bass in a smoky bar sometime in the 40s or 50s. That jazz! The trumpets were very clear. Sounds like they got new horns. Fuller, brighter and you can hear the high notes. The end of their show has some components from the movie West Side Story. They play a couple licks, then say POW or WHAP or something like that. It's like a scene from Batman or something. It's interesting. They also played several snippets from other tunes that I knew, about 1 or 2 bars worth. I didn't like that. Just as the tune can be named, they have a short drum break and go to a completely different tune. To much disconnect for me, but I still love their sound. The drum line seems to have improved from last year. One amazing thing the snares do is play what sounds like a roll (actually I don't think it's called a roll-bang the sticks on the drum as loud a possible while alternating sticks and do it really fast and in time-whatever that's called) using one hand. Very nice effect. The guard wore all black, matching the pants of the corps. They looked like they're trying to blend with the rest of the corps. I don't remember much about the guard, but then again how do you top the hair thing from last year?

If SCV can clean their show, they'll pass BD. Unfortunately I don't think either show is a championship caliber design, but there's always hope one will pull one out of their hat.

Trends I do like:
1. Difficult drill-I want more of that!
2. Redesigning Bb horns to sound like G horns. The fullness and volume are making headway, but the sheer raw power will never return.
3. Balanced sound between horns and drumline. Drums aren't just banging away trying to fill up every possible space.

Three trends I don't like:
1. The melody - it's missing. I caught myself humming a melody to the chords being played on the field.
2. The guard blending in with the horns and drums. Please pick up some equipment and fire it around or pickup a horn or drum and play.
3. Assimilating - many corps are at the point where they all look and sound similar. It's starting to remind me of a Twilight episode, where everyone gets plastic surgery to look the same. Variety should be readmitted to the world of drum corps.

Other unusual observations:
1. There were a bunch of HS band shirts and jackets. Take that junk off and join a corps or buy a corps souvie.
2. There were USC band members in the stands-10 to 20 of them. The last time I saw a Trojan in drum corps he quit the first day of tour. Also, USC's band is silly and drum corps is serious. It just doesn't seem right.


Gotta run to drive to San Diego, but just thought I'd throw in a few thoughts I had from last night's show at Cerritos College...

I don't intend this to be a newspaper review, but just my impressions of opening night here on the West Coast. Oh...and I tend to be as honest as possible. Call me the Simon Cowell of DCI if you want.

1. Ryan, we were all wincing in the crowd at the volume level on your microphone. It was ear splitting....Maybe I was disadvantaged sitting in front of the speaker pole, but a little less volume please. You did a great job though!

2. Nice stadium. Parking was easy, although I arrived early. Ticket box line was awfully long, but Will Call was short and sweet. Gates didn't open until almost 6pm for the 6:30pm show, but that's OK. There weren't many vendors inside. Concessions...I thought they were pretty good! OK, enough of that...

3. Blue Devils B opened the show. My general thoughts were that the corps must have a lot of very young and inexperienced members this year and it's going to take some time to work with them. They weren't up to the level I've seen them on opening night in the past. Their marching and movement needs the most work. Several kids were struggling to keep up and stay in step. However, the drum line showed promise.

4. Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets. I thought the first two thirds of the show were pretty good. They have a lot of potential. They haven't finished teaching the show, as the finale was a stand still. They need to work on getting those puzzle pieces to fit together out there. :)

5. Esperanza. Continues to improve every year and remains a pleasant surprise. They have a really well designed show and were clearly the best of the Division II corps. Good impact moments in the opener made an impression. It will be interesting to see how they develop.

6. San Diego Alliance. Wow! I've never seen anything quite like it. 6 members in the horn line. It's almost like everyone there has to play an 11.5 minute solo and that's tough. They really should be on the schedule first cause it was ridiculous having them have to go after Esperanza. That aside, the show concept and design was intriguing and they did a good job with what they have. The whole show was kinda mystifying as I'm not used to seeing such a small group on the big field.

7. Impulse. As always, a fun performance from the host corps. Watching them take the field, I thought they might just be a little less clownish this year...and for the most part, weren't over the top. I thought some of the visuals were the big story book that wasn't really necessary. I thought their drum line was their stong point.

8. So. Cal Dream. In a judged exhibition, the senior corps performed and exhibited a pretty decent horn line with some nice solo work. Looks like they need to recruit more for the drumline.

9. Pacific Crest. Very good opening night performance. Excellent effect with the squares in the opener and the recognizable Cirque du Soleil music from Allegria. However, I thought they overdid the squares a bit. It was great for impact early on, but they kept relying on them throughout the show. If they can add some more emotion and peaks throughout the second two thirds of the show, they'll be a contender.

10. Mandarins. They've really upgraded and have the total look and feel of a Division I corps now. I was a bit surpised they didn't score higher, as I thought their staging was excellent and the power of the horn line was better than most of the corps. I liked their show and think they will improve enormously over the next few weeks.

11. Blue Knights. The Primary Colors concept is very good and has a lot of potential. I get the feeling that they have excellent performers on the field and, in time, will turn this into an excellent show. There aren't enough high points or a lot of dramatic moments built in yet, but they were better than expected.

12. Santa Clara Vanguard. Lots of things to say here....Their show reminds me of a Cavaliers type show, especially from the opener. The drum line is AWESOME! That was opening night and they were that good. Look out. They did have a lot of problems though as the show seemed to need a lot of work....there were plenty of tempo problems, marching wasn't up to SCV standards even for opening night (which probably means they just finished learning the show)...Overall, very messy performance. BUT....the potential is definitely there to be a Top 4 finisher again. They have the most potential to go to the top with this show.

13. Blue Devils. In many ways, I thought I was watching a Cadets type of performance out there. Overall thoughts: (1) Very Blast! opening with the drum feature.; (2) Fosse Fosse Fosse with the black clad guard/dance troupe; (3) Musically, I get the cool concept...and hearing Take Five and Blue Rondo works for me...but, I haven't seen a Devils show with as unchallenging a horn book as this for many many years. It seems too simplistic. Then again, the Cavaliers took simple to a 99+ last year, so who knows; (4) As with last year, I think many changes will be necessary to make this show a championship contender; (5) Overall, I was somewhat disappointed as the performance seemed to be too "low impact" and sedate; (6) And...there was plenty of stuff we've seen before....The rotation through the cymbal bank a la last year's show most notably; (7) It seems like the talent level in the drum line is better than last year.

That's it for now. Let's see how it goes in night two in San Diego.


Sevierville, TN (DCI Atlantic)

alright, here is a very quick review from tennessee tonight.

scenic city: poor kids were late (b/c of traffic) and couldnt go on until after the cadets. this was NOT a good time to perform. they are a very small corps and struggled with their show. but hey! who wouldnt struggle after the cadets and cavies.

memphis sound: didnt see um thanks to wonderful knoxville construction crap.

carolina crown: new "creme" uniforms. they are alright. show was alright but VERY dirty. have lots of work to do if they are going to make top 12 again.

magic of orlando: i hope the magic wasn't a one time thing last year. they sound better on the internet honestly. the show has potential though, once they clean and get non-ugly guard unis.

spirit of JSU: they are pretty neat. the hourglass thing at the beginning doesnt make sense until the end when it is turned upside down. you will have to see it to understand what i am talking about. i can see this corps going a long way this year.

blue coats: their guard was the weakest part of this corps. they couldnt throw a five on sabre to save their lives.... and flags, saw at least ten drops in the show. the show is good otherwise. good music book and drill is good as well.

cavies: wow! love it! i can definately see them winning this year AGAIN! my favorite part is the part in which they sit down. that is fantastic! two different standing ovations during the show. music is great again. drill is great again. i didn't think the guard was gonna be good, but they surprised me and came out doing gymnastics while throwing rifles. hehe, cool stuff!

cadets: hmm.... it had some good moments and some not so good moments. although they did move more then last year, there is still lots of standing still. dancing in the color guard, blah. but the guard was fantastic otherwise. drums are great this year, again. the ending is by far the dirtiest part of the show and will be cleaned up. not so sure i can see this show winning any titles. but, hey im not a judge and its june. my friend was totally enthralled! i was like, 'ok, they are good, but NOT that good' jeepers!

scores were a little low i think, and the spread between cavies and cadets should have been at least three pts. just my two cents. anyways, time for bed!


My first review ever!

Scenic City 39.20
Man I really felt for these guys. Apparently their bus got stuck in some heavy traffic in the Knoxville area due to an accident and they were forced to perform after the Cadets. I thought they handled the situation very well though. I believe the problem right now is just lack of confidence with the parts and with the drill. The playing is very timid and there is a real lack of aggression out on the field. In time as the confidence level grows for this extremely young group I believe their show will really be successful. They have a second set of every days coming up in July and if they can add some members to the corps (especially the colorguard and battery) I think they can have a great second half of the season. Visually there were some moments I thought were pretty nice. I wish they would have spread out on the field a little more. I feel like there is a lot of potential for the battery and front ensemble to be pretty slammin', but like I stated earlier it is just going to take more work to get confident with the music. Same thing for the hornline, as soon as they can become confident marching and playing this music, I think the scores will really start to go up. I know the instructional staff personally and I think they are doing a great job with such a young group and with time, this show can be something great. I just hope this corps realizes the potential they have and continue to work hard to field an entertaining and competitive corps by the second half of the season.

Memphis Sound 48.70
I really didn't get into this show at all. I thought a hornline of their size would pack a little bit more punch, but I was wrong. Not a lot of strength there. Some of the horn solos were definitely a little suspect, but hey it's the first show EVER for these guys, I am sure it will improve in time. I thought the front ensemble contributed nicely, had some nice energy down there. The battery definitely needs some work. Lots of dirt and lots of feet issues. I think this show might be a bit above this group's head. I don't mean to sound so negative, because every corps should be praised for just being out there in the first place, but I just really didn't find myself enjoying this show. Maybe I will change my mind later on when things start to click.

Carolina Crown 59.90
I really found myself enjoying this show a lot. The contributions by the front ensemble were especially wonderful. However, I don't like the new uniforms at all. The cream just wasn't doing it for me. On the other hand, I thought the guard uniforms looked great. Kind of a silver/orange thing goin' on. I was diggin' it. In fact I was diggin' most of this show. Hornline seemed pretty strong. Stronger than past years. Visually things need some work, but not too bad. The battery I thought was pretty impressive as well, some dirty moments, but overall very nice. Carol of the Bells was the deal, I really enjoyed that. Overall, nice job!

Magic of Orlando 61.35
I thought the score for Magic could have been a little bit higher. I really enjoyed this show. The bell type sounds at the beginning was a really cool way to start the show. The hornline was a little weak at points both musically and visually, but overall I really enjoyed what they were doing. The battery and the front ensemble definitely had some good things going on. I particularly thought the battery was great. From a composition standpoint it was pretty "nifty." Especially the little Glassmen"esque" part that they play when they are near the front sideline near the middle of the show. If you have seen Glassmen 2002 and Magic this year, you have to know what I am talking about. I guess Colin McNutt thought that would be kinda cute I know the music if David Holsinger is frequently used, but I still enjoy hearing it on the field. It will be interesting to see how this show cleans up. It is really too early to tell where they (or anybody else for that matter) will finish come August.

Spirit from JSU 65.00
WOW! This show was awesome, and LOUD! I was diggin' it from beginning to end. It has everything from jam sessions to really emotional sections. I really thought from a musical and visual standpoint they did very well for such an early show. The battery is playing some sweet stuff out there, and the hornline, wow! They are going to make quite a statement in Orlando.

Bluecoats 67.60
I thought the first half of this show was extremely boring. From the drum feature to the end it did become a little more entertaining, but I just didn't get into it. From an execution standpoint they did well though. The drumline had some cool moments and visually there were some really stellar moments. I am not saying this is a poor show, I just didn't really get into it as much as I did last year's. Maybe it will grow on me.

Cadets 74.35
WOW...... DANG....... This show rocked. Normally I am not really a Cadets fan, but oh wow, this show was happenin'. I wasn't too sure what I thought about them doing Malaguena, but oh wow, I really love the arrangement of it. I thought the percussion work throughout Malaguena was really sweet. There had been talk about these guys being behind. Well it didn't show. Extremely impressive for a first show. The hornline just...... WOW. Especially the trio that was down front. I thought I was watching Madison 95/96 for a minute there. I can't wait to see this show in August. I thought the point spread between them and the Cavaliers should have been a bit smaller.

Cavaliers 76.25
Visually this show is wonderful. I thought the show started off nicely from a drill standpoint, but musically, the opening hit was not quite what I was hoping for. Musically they leave a lot to be desired. Aside from the little groove section in there, I really don't remember anything else musically. I don't know, maybe this show is just going to have to grow on me. The drill is fantastic though, no denying that. Some of the moments were just incredible. Especially the block where they are all sitting down. I thought all that was cool, I just wish they were offering a little bit more musically. I also wish the battery was little bit more exposed. Those guys can definitely play, I just wish there had been more exposure. With that visual program they will definitely be one of the favorites for the championship, but I think a lot of people will be disappointed with the musical aspect of the show.

David Blevins

Wednesday June 18

Harrison, OH (DCI Midwest)

Here's my first attempt at a review in quite a while. This was my first show of the season, and it was a little weird since I've been pretty much teaching for the last ten years. It was hard getting used to paying to get in :-}


The information I had was that the show was to start at 7:30...but it started at 7:00. I ended up missing Scenic City and Dimensions. Scenic City 8th: 28.9. Dimensions 7th:33.65.

First up was Capital Regiment right here from my hometown. I have former high school and former drum corps students marching there. It was fun seeing them. Percussion is a strength as well as color guard. I really liked the New World stuff, and I especially enjoyed hearing the third movement of New World without a soft rock groove thank you. They are definitely trying to play the game, and they have the vocabulary to be in the top 17. There were times when I felt as though I was seeing several different mini shows. This was a recurring theme throughout the night with almost everyone I saw. 5th: 55.4

Madison Scouts. I am so pleased to see that Madison is back. They have a strong horn sound. Like others have mentioned, this is unfamiliar music but it is accessible and fun. They have a sop trio in the opener. The high guy had some issues tonight, and it brought back shades of Blue Devils 89. Anyway, it was fun. Percussion is great. Tenors need some work to get to the level of the snares and basses. Color guard is infinitely improved. The opening drill to the show is a fast paced version of the traditional warm up opening drill. They do the company front across the field...gate turns to ranks...blow into fleur de lis...then blow our heads off. It's pretty sweet! They are certainly attempting to show that, just because there have been some administrative changes, they are still Madison. That's cool, but they may be going a little overboard. The antique fabric flags with the hand painted fleur de lis is a bit much. The red silk in the slow music seemed odd and out of place. Much has been said about the new uniform. I need to see it for awhile. I really hated the new Blue Devil uni for the first half of that season they got them, but they truly grew on me because of the clean, stream lined effect. I thought Madison's old unis had that cleanness to them already. These look a little too much like Pioneer...especially from the back where we see the dark green torso compared to the kelly green sleeve. I'll wait awhile to see how I really feel. Anyway... Madison's back, and that's just great. 2nd: 69.6

Bluecoats. Before seeing them, a staff member told me "Ignore the closer...the whole thing is being changed." I'm glad he said that. I really dug on these guys right off the line. The horns have a great sound. Wonderful soloists. Drums are cooking. Guard is smoking. This is a great corps. This was their first show of the season, so there were the usual jitters, but I thought they should have been a little closer to Madison. (OK... I thought they had a shot of being ahead of Madison). Anyway...well designed product that is going to take them places. 3rd: 67.75

Phantom Regiment. Phantom is phreaking phabulous. I am so impressed with this corps and this show. Even my wife who was not feeling well sat up and paid attention. They are the real deal. This show has the kind of design that is seemless and feels complete (only 1 of 2 tonight). It has top 5 written all over it if they clean it. They start with a lovely short introduction from the Pachelbel Canon in D. They then go straight into John Adams' Wild Nights. When I first heard this concept, I was left scratching my head at the seemingly dichotomous choices.... but it works great. The music has been masterfully arranged, and interpreted masterfully by the visual team. The visual representation is what finally hit me as to how this works. Wild Nights is a piece written in the style called minimalism...which I love. Anyway, this is the style where small, simple elements are manipulated to create a larger work that grows organically out of the simple Short Ride in a Fast Machine that many of us are familiar with. Well, the Pachelbel Canon is a sort of Baroque Period minimalism. It uses that ground bass ostinato (making it really a chaconne) over and over, and the rest of the piece grows organically out of it. This is a beautiful pairing of pieces. Visually, the corps is in all white with black accents....the color guard too. The guard has equipment that is non-colored as well (maybe not in all parts of the show, but in the places where I paid attention to this particular detail). It's a very minimalistic visual representation ala Star 93. They even do a little body work like Star that year. I love the slow section where the horns build a beautiful crescendo and then release perfectly. I love everything the guard does... especially the long, white pole work that is so exposed and so well done. There is a spectacular horn run of 16ths that will be something special in a couple of weeks. Mellos have some licks that (dare I say it) are as good as the Cadets. I would like to see more velocity in drill to Wild Nights. Maybe I haven't been clear.... these guys are spectacular. 1st: 72.35.

BTW... best t-shirt of the season. Back in (black crossed out, tan crossed out) white. LOL I may have to buy one.

Glassmen. NOT boring!!! (I've never thought they were.) I really dig this show. This is the other show that felt like it had the coordinated effort to be a complete package. Percussion is great! Interesting horn book. I'm concerned with some basic issues of brass training that need addressing pronto. I've been told by people who ought to know better that "judges don't care about tone quality until August." Well, they're wrong. (This was not a Glassmen person who said this btw.... I'm just making a point.) Anyway, the basics of balance, blend, TQ and intonation are a big deal. I'm sure they're working on this. This is an extremely difficult show with lots of movement, and it's currently showing. Give them some time to physically train... it'll be cool. October by Eric Whitacre is one of my favorites. I'd love it if they would explore a few more of the ideas from this piece especially some of the solo ideas originally written for oboe. (Maybe next year they can HAVE an oboe:-}) The new uniforms are Westerville South High School's but with cream on the top instead of red. The also have the stylized G where south has that white "W" that looks like shark fangs. Basically, both unis look like Star Trek the Next Generation. 4th: 65.2

Marion Glory Cadets. It was certainly weird sitting where I was sitting watching this corps. I've taught them that last three years. I'm enjoying my first summer off in ten years, but the old feelings creep in. Anyway... There are a number of good things happening. The battery is excellent. Joe Steeb is the arranger/caption head. Remember that name... he will be among the next wave of big time drum guys. Like Boston's Dave Nelson, he will very quickly make a major name for himself. This battery is well written and plays very strongly. Very large! 6 snares, 3 tenors, 5 basses. Both Amandas are great tonight... both on the podium and behind the mellophone. Mike Welch sounded great on the contra. Matt Janus' pit book is great. That first run really smacks you. This corps moves well. I dare say that, as usual, the visual program is more adventurous than the average div 3 corps and, at least tonight, more daring than some div 1 corps. This will be a strength as long as "ahem" there is no pounding on the bleachers. (If you didn't get that, it's wasn't for you.) Percussion body work is great if staged a little awkwardly. Very smart move to have the horns pick up flags in the perc. feature. As this is developed, it will be a favorite. Look at doing some horn rewrites to maximize the strengths. Congrats to Spanky and Chili on your wedding. Joe and Lena... are you next? 6th: 36.7

All in all, a good show. This promises to be a great season. I look forward to seeing Colts and Southwind on Friday and Cadets, Cavies, Magic, Spirit and Crown on Saturday.

Jordi Vilanova

Tuesday June 17

Crown Point, IN (DCI Midwest)

I'm hesitant to write any sort of review because, in my old age (47), I know what I like and I can be too critical. I think all the kids in all the corps did a great job. It takes a lot of courage, discipline and hard work to be in a drum corps and I tip my Cubs hat to each one of them. I think DCI, except for the few top caliber corps, is an activity by and for young people. Most of the fans at these early season shows are friends, parents, and local families who are giving their children a night out.

I was giving my son a night out. He needs some driving practice and Crown Point is about an hour's drive from home. We made there without any mishaps - whew!

First on was Scenic City (27.6). Genesis and Peter Gabriel music - I know what I like - no 70's stuff though (my favorite era for rock music). It's hard to do justice to this type of music with 19 or so horns. I did recognize the melody from "Behind the Lines" and "Land of Confusion". Only two or three in the guard and no drill for the last few minutes of the show. Nice uniforms.

Next up was the Glory Cadets (35.25). Big drum line with tiny horn line and guard. Why does everyone have to be a percussionist? Their marching was a notch better. I didn't recognize any of the music but I have to say that in both Glory Cadets and Scenic City there is no over-blowing or other obnoxious sounds coming from the horn line. These kids are getting some good instruction in spite of their size.

Southwind (52.75) had some nice musical moments from the Gayne Ballet but was shoddy in between. The black sash added to their uniforms doesn't do much for me; I could take it or leave it. Their score shows they have a lot of cleaning to do.

Colts (63.1) played well but there wasn't much here that interested me. I liked Colts a lot last year. Again it's probably too early to be too critical. I was impressed by what appeared to be a small female contra (tuba?) player who, because of some holes in the drill, was almost marching by herself for half the drill. Kudos to her for lugging that huge thing around and looking graceful doing it.

Scouts (69.8) were next. I was looking forward to seeing all the new stuff. New uniforms were OK. Why do uniform tops have to be so small? It seemed that all I saw were white legs without bodies running around. Madison is marching well for this time of year. Musically it doesn't sound "Madison" to me. I was missing that great soprano sound (obvious bias).

Cavaliers (75.8) also march and play well. I was entertained. Horn line did have a few spots where they were given an opportunity to play out a bit. It's not my idea of drum corps but I'm not complaining. This show has much the same personality as last year's "Frameworks". Guard uniforms look better on the field than seeing them during warm-ups or retreat. 4-peat? Who knows? My guess is no undefeated season. I expect more changes to enhance the show.

Glassmen (66.75) were the opposite of what I am accustomed to. Horn line tossed out their "boring" routine and sounded great. I may actually try to find out what they are playing and get the source material to listen to. Drum line and marching were not up to the level I would expect from the Glassmen. Watch out if they improve in those areas.

I am not a drummer, so maybe I shouldn't be critical, but I don't much like the way the percussion parts are arranged or the sound that comes out of the instruments, especially the snares drums. I like the different pit instruments but 8 mallet instruments tend to take over the whole ensemble. I liked it when the snare drummers were the featured percussion instrument.


There's plenty to read on this board so I'll keep my observations quick and to the point.

Weather: Awesome!
Venue: Small but a nice view.
Crowd: Asleep. (Sorry to harp on this in all my posts but it really bugged me!)

On to the corps:

Scenic City: Confidence is the key. Right now they are lacking in all sections, but that's no surprise when the corps is so small and made up of younger members. Once they learn their parts and get some confidence they will be fine.

Glory Cadets: Battery operated. Very nice battery playing and they weren't overbearing despite being a large section. The horns had a little difficulty with tempos and the pit was not audible. Once they get that worked out they'll have a fine show. Incidently, our old friend Shamos is marching snare with them. He's the tall one on the end. Say hi to him if you have a chance.

Southwind: Nice brass sound. Someone else reviewed that their strength was in their upper registers. I have to agree with them on that one. Overall it was a nice show.

Colts: Schools of fish. Early on their program they had a few drill moves where the entire block was redirecting and it reminded me of schools of fish. Very nice show overall. I enjoyed the music and from what I could tell the drill wasn't too bad either. Once they clean up they will be fighting for a finalist spot.

Madison Scouts: They're back! Sort of. This was a binary show - they were either on or they were off. But when they were on, they were hot. I didn't like the uniforms in pictures and I didn't really like them in daylight, but on the field at night they looked sharp! Although I prefer their old uniforms. I thought their placement was accurate. Having seen both the Glassmen and Phantom live I would have scored Madison somewhere in between. I guess the judges agreed.

Cavaliers: Insanely difficult. I didn't much care for this show when I saw them in Toledo which was upsetting to me because I have loved their last 3 shows. I certainly appreciate what they are trying to do, but I think I need to watch it from upstairs a few times to really get the enjoyment out of it. The show is starting to grow on me but it still leaves me emotionally flat.

Glassmen: Loud! These guys/gals have some lung power. I'm digging this show a lot sooner than I did last years show. By the time Finals arrived I ended up loving last years show, so we'll see if this show has the same effect on me. There's some guard work that needs to be completed and I think their scores will start rising once they do.

Well, that's all folks. A little longer than I intended but it's so hard to keep it to just one sentence each!

Patrick Gotschall

Saturday June 14

Toledo, OH (DCI Midwest)

I thought about posting a review concerning this show, but decided that it would be easier, and more effective just to give snippets of thoughts reguarding certain corps. Not the whole shabang.

The little guys in the show were allright. Although I felt they set the pace for what I will call "The Night of the Baritone." If anybody was having ensemble blending issues with instruments on Saturday, it was involving Baritones.

I had high hopes for one corps that evening. The show that I was really looking forward to was Captial Regiment. A new open class corps which has shown great potential over the past couple of years. Well... two words come to mind when reflecting on the hornline. So if you like the words "loud" and "obnoxious", then by golly they were incredible! If anything... they were the big dissapointment of the night for me.

Southwind.... not a fan of the show. Better dynamic moments than CR, but I don't expect them to do much with this one. However, my opinion may have been clouded by the left over saliva from the past three corps baritone lines.

Phantom... I LOVED it. I've never been a "Phantom Fan" so to speak. Not because I think they're a bad corps, but I've just always been into more of the jazz side of DCI. But when an ensemble comes out with what feels to be the intensity of finals night, an incredible brass line, and an overall great package... then bring it on! In my book, they were outstanding. So far, they're my pick for the season as a favorite, and a top-5 continder. I've seen some posts on here reguarding their visual package. BD never has a great visual book, but they pull it off, and I see no reason why Phantom couldn't do the same this year!

Cavies.... Give me something new besides one minute of the show! What I like to call the "white man's groove" is getting really old after 3 years! Come on... with talent like that, be a little more creative!

Glassmen... now this is the corps that I would LOVE to see push BAC out of the top 5 once and for all. I've NEVER liked the Glassmen, but this year for some reason, I'm going to give it up. I felt like the whole "Boring" persona wasn't happening this year. A great ensemble in my book, and I wish them the best!

That's my 2 cents, and nothing more.

***Please excuse all grammar and spelling errors***

The Janitor

Friday June 13

Oswego, IL (DCI Midwest)

As I entered the stadium, I saw Don Warren, legendary founder of the Cavaliers. Don probably recognizes me, but he probably doesn't remember who I am from our introduction many, many moons ago; then again, he might not even recognize me without the beard that I wore for so many years but had to shave off a year and a half ago. But that's beside the point. Not having seen Don for a few years, I congratulated him on the Cavies' successful run. Don gave me an "aw shucks" grin around his ever-present cigar. "It has been really great," he allowed. "You know, it's almost like it was back in the sixties." Now I don't know Don very well, but we have talked a few times over the years. While he is not one to downplay his corps' successes, he has never struck me a a man given over to braggadocio. Therefore, I took him at his word when he added quietly, "And you know, this year's corps may be even better than last year's."


Are you ready for that? A Cavaliers corps that is better than 2002's corps.

After seeing them, I'm telling you that you had better be, because this corps really may be better than last year's. This show cooks! The corps plays incredibly well, but you knew that. They march very well, too, for only the first show of the season. AND... And sometimes, they do both at the same time!!! Give some time for the guard to coordinate their movement better, and the scores will soar, but you knew that, too. My biggest complaint about the program is that, again, the control over the horns is almost too much--- I don't think there is a single fortissimo in the show. The crowd obviously enjoyed the show, as witness the numerous spontaneous outbursts of applause (no, not standing O's, but truly appreciative response). If they add a few "Hit me in the face!" ff's and fff's, they just might get those standing O's. (For those of you who care about such things, Cavaliers fielded 64 brass/28 percussion/36 auxillary/2 DMs=130 members.)

Glassmen scored 8.8 points lower than Cavies, and the spread was probably deserved. This is not to say that they do not have a good and entertaining show. I enjoyed them. (No, unlike last year, I was definitely not bored.) If you want to get hit in the face by the sound, this year's Glassmen is the corps to do it! At this point in the season at least, the Glassmen are L O U D ! ! ! If the Cavies did not surpass f on the loudness scale, Glassmen may not have dropped below mf---and then they were playing to the backfield. They also have some interesting percussive effects, but I guess that's not that unusual for the Gmen. Biggest complaint---kind of an uncertain ending to the show. (58/32/34/2=126)

Pioneer is NOT playing Irish music, except for their warmup ("Danny Boy") and trooping the stands ("Gary Owen" of course). Holsinger's "Song of Moses" may turn into a really superb show, but there are way far too many holes in the corps right now. Fourteen (14) corps members were in uniform, but standing in the end zone, not yet ready to march the show. The small horn line showed flashes of spectacular brilliance, but sometimes seemed to be struggling to maintain their sound level against the huge drum line, which did an admirable job of not overpowering. (On the field-22/31/13/2=68; waiting to go on- 8/2/4/-=14)

Division II Capital Sound bested Division I Pioneer by .2 points. Don't expect that to hold up after Pioneer adds bodies on the field. The opener of Robert W. Smith's "Expectation" is a personal favorite; Suncoast Sound they ain't but they did a nice job of it. For me, the rest of the show doesn't come up to "Expectation". Probably not, but I had to wonder if they set some kind of record when they put twentyfive (25) percussionists in the pit. (Yes, it did get kind of crowded.) (36/29/21/2=88)

Americanos are surprisingly small this year and plagued by their old curse of more drummers than buglers. The one section in the horn line that was really together and tight was the contras. Unfortunately, when you have two contras versus three sopranos, the sopranos are going to lose, no matter how hard the contras hold back. Good, entertaining show that begs for at least another half dozen horns. (13/15/12/2=42)

I was highly disappointed by the score given to the Joliet Kingsmen, and not because I live in Joliet. This was probably the best early season performance I have ever seen from the Kingsmen. They maintained their drill forms throughout the show--- almost unheard of in early showings in the past. There were the expected lapses in all sections of this small, young corps, but not only did they maintain their forms, they were mostly playing the notes they were supposed to be playing when they were supposed to be playing them. And, they had the crowd on their side not because they toughed it out in the rain (as was the case last year) but because they were entertaining. Most people don't realize it, but the Kingsmen are now, and always have been, a cadet corps--- a cadet corps without an "A" corps, but a cadet corps nonetheless, with a membership aged 10-18 (with maybe an occasional underage member). They may almost always be one of the lower scoring corps in competition, but, in my book, they are one of the great corps in drum corps history. (11/14/9/1=35)

The Chicago Royal Airs (1958-68) were one of the great corps in almost anybody's book. The 2002 Chicago Royal Airs Reunion Corps was something special and almost magical; they brought down the house at last year's show. The 2003 Chicago Royal Airs Reunion Corps of Oswego (14 members call Oswego home) are not the same corps---or even in the same class. Sorry, but they are loud, brash, brazen, and prone to overblowing and blowing the notes. They wear the same uniforms, but they somehow seem to lack the style, class, elan... well, you get my drift. The reunion corps was great as a one-time event, the rerun is more grating that great. More than a group of vets reliving the glory, this corps is a bunch of senior and soon-to-be senior citizens going through the motions of what they did when they were young. (Before you go jumping down my throat for casting aspersions upon our less young citizens, I am not only in their age group, but I was asked to join the corps, despite my never having marched in a corps.)(74/19/32/8CG/3=136)

Question---How do you silence a drum corps show crowd?
Answer---Have the PA system fail just as the soprano is starting to sing the National Anthem.

That was one of two major boo-boos at the show that was twice voted the "Best Run Show" by DCM. The PA not only failed, it failed to be revived, so that a portable sound system was brought out that almost carried the announcer's voice to the top rows. By the time that happened, the show was already starting late because someone forgot to bring out the plywood sheets used to cover the long jump pit that is located in the same place as the percussion pit. Well, I guess that's the kind of stuff that happens when the guy who has been running the show for years is also marching his rookie season (ever) in the Oswego... I mean Chicago Royal Airs.

Oh yeah, the drive. Actually, the short-cut from here to Oswego HS is just a hair under twenty miles. It took me fifty minutes to get there and just over half an hour to get back. (I was catching green lights going and red coming back, too.)

The floor is now open for questions, comments, great thoughts...


Well, to be completely honest with you, I didn't plan on posting anything this morning about the show, mainly because I only saw two corps last night: Cavies, and Gmen. But, after I heard the scores, I decided I'd go ahead and post my meaningless thoughts, just for a comparison, to see if anyone else out there who was in Oswego agrees or has other thoughts.

Like I said, I was only able to see Cavies and Gmen because I was volunteering. So, the first thing I should say is that I saw both corps from an altitude of about 5 ft 9 in!!! So, I saw no drill. But, I was front and center for the music/percussion, because I managed to sneak right up to the lower stands on the 50 (which was a feat in itself, since the show was definitely a sell-out).

First, Gmen. New unis this year. Not a whole lot different than previous years, except I think they have a little more of the beige along the top (compared to the picture I was looking at from last year), and there is a smaller purple triangle on their chest (which is part of the larger triangle they've always had). It's subtle, but looked nice on the field. Guard has a lime green/purple look. I don't know if I like it yet or not, but it didn't stand out to me as something I didn't, so hey, that's a plus, right?

The show is called "Elements", and the movements are supposed to represent earth, fire, water, and wind. I think there were only a couple of spots I could tell which they were doing. I saw their run through earlier in the day at their housing site, and they had these huge sticks that were set up to look like "camp fires" in the backfield that were later used as percussion instruments (made it sound like a crackling fire), but they were missing tonight. Perhaps they forgot them? First show jitters? Don't know, but they drumline ended up "clapping" along rather than using the sticks, and I think the audience was confused (I was!). I read a previous post that drew attention to their hornline. No doubt folks, Gmen have a much imporved hornline this year. They are loud! (YEAY!). A very nice sound this early in the season. They have one "ballad" that I really enjoyed. A very full, and rich sound. I think that it will be a definite show moment when it's cleaned. The drumine had some notes too, but to be honest, I had a hard time seeing or hearing them where I was sitting. But, the pit was good! They have lots of notes, and a couple of really nice moments. A few of the keyboards have kick-drums under their boards, which adds a subtle effect during the show. Color guard also looks like they'll be strong this year, but like most corps on the field, there was a lot of work missing yet from the show.

Now for the cavies. The corps has a similar look to last year (of course). But the color guard is wearing these bright green spandex unis with knee and elbow pads. On the front, it says "Cycle", and on the back they have numbers. I had read the show description for Gmen earlier in the season, so I had an idea about the concept. I did not know the cavies show concept, and couldn't really figure it out. Last year, I recall watching cavies for the first time in Toledo, and was absolutely blown away. I recall being blown away. This time, that didn't happen. Now remember, I didn't exactly have the best vantage point. But, the music really didn't do anything for me. From down low, I certainly could tell that they are doing a considerable amount of moving, and are attempting some new effects. At one point, horns are playing at different angles, then spinning around, which I imagine creates a cool sound effect from higher up. But down below, I couldn't tell. There's another part where they all play directly down into the ground. Again, couldn't really tell what was going on. Drumline seemed to have A LOT of problems. Unlike Gmen, their drumline had some exposed areas where I could watch and hear, and there was one part half the snare line was playing on another beat. Ouch. Colorguard appears that they will be strong. They had much more of a complete show than Gmen.

Ok, the scores. I believe that the Gmen score is well deserved, given where the show is right now. They have a lot of work to do yet, and the guard show needs to be finished. There may have even been a penalty, because their pit took quite awhile to get ready. But I was shocked when Cavies scored a 74. I was not the only one. Many people I was sitting around (who are all very involved in drum corps) all believed that Cavies were more like a 70, 71 (I had actually given them a 71.5). But a 74? I talked to a former DCI judge who had a pretty decent vantage point for the show, and he was one of the shocked people. I guess it will be interesting to see the recaps. It's not that I disliked the show...I guess I just do not think it's better (or as creative) as last year's show. Then can you beat that?! Maybe the lesson here is: do not watch Cavies from the first row!

Ok, I think I wrote a bit much for only seeing two corps! It was a PERFECT night for a drumcorps show...sold out crowd...the season is ON!


Racine, WI (DCI Midwest)

Interesting stadium. Ten rows of high-splinter, rickety bleachers. View of Lake Michigan across the field, with a beautiful full moon rising. In striking contrast, the smell of dead alewives, rotting on the beach (a Lake Michigan springtime specialty). No quiet place for corps to warmup, so soft moments of shows were filled with the sounds of the next corps trying to warm up as softly as possible, and foghorns across the harbor. The P.A. was very hard to hear. But despite all my whining here, it was actually a perfect place for the first drum corps show of the year, the way shows used to be. I'd guess 300 people attended.

Blue Stars were strong in percussion, again. Their show seems complete and just needs all-around cleaning.

The highlight of the Kilties show, for me, was a Scottish-flavored arrangement of "A Simple Gift", a song I think has been played enough in drum corps, but I liked the Kilties treatment-- it was different-- and I liked the drum solo in that piece. I also appreciated the Kilties drum major calling me out by name, repeatedly. I kept coming down to shake his hand, but he ignored me.

I liked the Colts show, as I generally do. It's yet another show of unfamiliar 20th century wind ensemble music, but it's accessible, with three very distinct and enjoyable moods created. I could not tell that they'd missed some camp time, but they are clearly trailing the Scouts this week, as it turned out, by about seven points. The end of the show needs more punch in the arrangement, and I'm sure it will get it in the weeks to come.

I'm going to spend much more time on Madison, only because that's what most fans are most curious about this year. Some die-hard traditional Madison fans who felt that this was the only corps worth seeing anymore may not be happy with the direction they've taken. This was clearly driven home to me on my ride back home where a 2001 DCI CD with Madison's show played. They're not doing anything like "Malaguena" or "Sorceror and the Latin", the kinds of charts that people expect to hear in a Madison show. There are no huge, dramatic, drop-your-jaw drill moves (yet). But drum corps fans like me who felt a new direction was called for, without totally losing touch with Madison tradition, will likely find much to be positive about.

Has Sal Salas forgotten his roots, and designed a show more fitting for the Glassmen? No. Absolutely not (though the very beginning of the opener, with the pounding percussion and pulling drill very much reminded me of Glassmen 2001, but that's really the only part that did). The Cirque du Soleil book falls somewhere between the Scouts and the Glassmen, skewed towards the Scouts sound. I think it fits the corps very well for all but Scouts traditionalists. One thing that I did miss, and may come yet, are the screaming soloists. I noticed two places where they try to deploy them. In the first, the guys were tired tonight and just ran out of gas. That can happen early in the year. In the second one, it's not a group of screamers in the Madison tradition, but it worked quite well.

The color guard is way ahead of last year's color guard at this time. Madison clearly worked hard to recruit talented people in the guard and did not move drumline rejects over to color guard. They are young, still, but they can move and do not appear to be uncomfortable in guard.

Being in row 10 for this show, I don't feel I can fairly assess the drill yet. It is different. It is more like what many other corps do. They certainly needed to make some changes in visual design and they have done so. It does have the look of a design that could be top 12, depending on what other corps near them bring. As someone posted last night, this is indeed a very young corps. I saw few faces that would likely be 20 or 21 year old guys. That could hold them back for a year, but there are no glaring weaknesses.

I was not thrilled with Michael Cesario's new uniform design that was shown or linked in SoundMachine earlier this year, but like many others, said, "Let's wait and see it on the field." Now having seen it on the field, I liked it very much. Like the musical book and the drill, it says, we're taking a new, more contemporary approach to design, but we haven't forgotten our traditions." As someone else said, the tops for horns and percussion are black in the back. The tunic does not open to change the design (at least not yet) as some thought it might, seeing what could be a velour stripe. The white pants look great spread across the field. They have new white hats similar to the old but with a red band that is less sparkly. The guard has a white jacket over a red top and black pants; they only wear their hats for part of the show. Flags are yellow and black, or red, and work well. There are also white pole devices the guard hangs their hats on, and dance with.

On a design level, I could easily see this show climbing back into the top 12. If they don't do it this year, have faith, they will get there as members mature and grow in talent working with this staff.

The Racine Scouts are small and wisely choose a mostly very familiar set of James Bond music. The 15 member hornline in particular did very well in the first half of the show, but then grew tired. An increase in stamina will have them beating some bigger lines.

I always look for that first-show moment, and found it during an extended mellophone solo with no rests. The soloist (who was otherwise good) forgot to clear his spit valve going into the solo, but then, hearing the bubbling sound, instinctively reached for the spit valve... in the middle of the solo... before restraining his hand and finishing it out. I bet he remembers to clear the spit valve before this solo in future shows.

It was really a good first show all around. No intermission. They did a full retreat to compensate for the short lineup, which wasn't a problem because it's early in the year and the tickets were a fair $10 unreserved. I didn't find a single guard uniform or flag color choice to complain about this time (this has been a problem for me with many shows lately). Everybody made good choices in use of color tonight.

I did not see Jim Anello. I got there just before the Blue Stars started and had to sit quickly near the east end of the stadium. At the end, I did walk down the line but couldn't find him. Another time.

I'm going to try and post some digital pictures I took of the Scouts shortly so you can get a better sense of the new guard uniform and of how the uniform looks arrayed on the field.

Resume Hut

On an almost perfect night at Pershing park Field situated directly on the shores of Lake Michigan, 5 longtime favorites of SE Wisconsin drumcorps fans got together to provide a highly entertaining evening of drumcorps. Being June 13th and either the 1st or 2nd show for all the corps performing, glitches and jitters were bound to be present. But the story of the night had to be how the two main corps in contention, Colts and Scouts, seemed to have very little of the early season rust, and both gave polished performances. Madison particularly, fresh from a two week boot camp in Whitewater seems on a mission to prove to the drumcorps community that 02 was an aberration.

With the exception of the blossoming Colts, every corps performing tonite has either earned a national championship in its history or come pretty darn close, so the venue fairly reeked with Drum Corps historical "gravitas".

First up were the Blue Stars of Lacrosse, WI. One thing is certain when you talk about Blue Stars, they may be small but they are overachievers. Stepping off with Gavorkna Fanfare, the spunky Stars made good use of the field. Characteristically, Blue Stars show maturity that belies its small size and age range. "Chorale and Toccata" demonstrated some excellent hard work by the horn line. Drum line was covering real estate in great leaps it seems. Guard and Rifle line seems a bit small and I dont believe what they were wearing was more than T-shirts and shorts. Still they smiled and executed. "Follies" and "Lento" seemed a bit choppy at times and suffered from the newness of the season. These kids are well taught and I have no doubt in a couple of weeks you'll see smoothness in transition. What I would love to see above all is Blue Stars become the powerhouse they were in the early years of DCI, gving both Anaheim and Santa Clara a run for the titles in 72 and 73. All in all a credible performance. Look for good things down the road. Score - 45.85. 3rd place

Next up were local favorite and former juggernaut the Racine Kilties. As Kilts are a senior corps, I don't know if they typically will compete against the juniors or use the same judging. Guard was a bit small but they did not lack for enthusiasm.It looked to me that the rifle line were all juniors. In any case the Mad Plaid pleased the partisan crowd stepping off the line with Brigadoon and Braveheart. Then into Syne Fanfare. Now I havent seen Kilts perform for some time, but Im used to hearing Syne as a closer. Still it was spirited. Looking around the field, I recognized people who marched in my era (70s) as well as folks who were from before. Not having the fortitude to try Senior corps I have nothing but respect for them. And you can see it as the vets screw on their "corps face" and try to recapture the glory of their youth. Next up was Fanfare for the Common Man. It was a very interesting rendition with truthfully a few rough spots. But senior corps tend to start out slow as the weekend warriors prepare for Scranton. There is time and I have no doubt Kilts will have their performance maximized by then. Kilts still have a few sops who can wail and they were in evidence during "Miss Otis Regrets". This half of the show looked a bit rough and I think Kilts will use this as a yardstick. There might be some unfinished drill here or a need for rewrites. They finished with a very beautiful rendition of "Simple Gifts" The crowd was appreciative of the hard work put in by the Mad Plaid and repayed them with a standing "O". Score 41.50. 4th place.

Next up were Dubuque's Colts. There is no doubt that you have a top corps in front of you with Colts as the first note signalled a leap in sound and ability. This years Colts brought Glassmen/Phantom to mind, performing a largely classical repertoire. "Ritual" was the first selection highlighting an excellent hornline. The jump in marching ability from the 2 previous corps is also quite obvious. With their slimming uniforms and plumed shakos, they all looked over 6 feet! Next up was "Song" a award winning band selection. Here again Colts demonstrated balanced playing and excellent execution. The intrepretive work by the guard was well integrated and appropriate, and it didnt hurt they were all attractive young women. I will say here that my vantage wasnt very high (the stands are only about 15 rows high) but that it seemed like Colts drill design was the area that seemed to be lacking. Pictures seemed to develop slowly and didnt appear to present more than moderate difficulty for the individual marchers. Pace seemed to be uniform with nothing happening dynamically. In my non DCI educated opinion, this will be an area that needs to improve. In my day Colts would have been in the top 12 on the strength of their musical execution alone, but as we know today visual concerns are paramount. I could be all wet here as I have no idea what the recaps say. "Dance" was next and I have to say while I had no complaints about it, neither did I find anything that jumped out at me. The closer restates the themes of the previous three selections. In it we saw some of the urgency I thought was missing from the rest of the visual presentation. Horns were crisp and exciting. In all the Colts were received very well. They are going to knock on top 12s door yet again this year. Score 61.50 2nd place.

There remained two questions at this point for the partisan Wisconsin crowd. Would we see the Scouts we love and who always make top 12 and how would they compare to Colts? The answer to the first question gentle readers, is that the Scouts are the Scouts. Sporting newly designed Cesario uniforms the Scouts coould only be described as attacking the field tonite. Early version of the uniform were met with to put it kindly "skepticism" on most internet drum corps forums. Scouts responded with a couple of minor changes which seemed to "fix" the problems. The tunic collar went from the two tone green to white. Strange as it may seem, it went a long way in improving the look, such a little thing. In the other change it seems Cesario took a cue from the main complaint repeated in all those corps chat boards, NO RED. The half Fleur de Lis which was formerly green stitched in red, is now completely red. So for those of us who wanted a red accent to match the traditional red sash or baldrick Madison has sported since the late 70s, the red Fleur de Lis mollifies us. (for now) Who knows, maybe at finals the red sash comes out like the green football jerseys Notre Dame always pulled out for the big games. The second question regarding their comparing to Colts was also answered rather early in the show. Scouts were on fire from the first count and the 5 point margin Madison had over Colts last night would spread tonite.

Rather than review each song individually I would prefer here to give my general impressions of the performance tonite. First and foremost, the visual prgram has been turbocharged. A larger more experienced guard (last years fatal flaw) is in evidence this year. Knowledgeable fan Jim Anello, remarked to me that there was more guard work in 2 minutes of this years show than there was in all of last years. Drillwise, the difference between Colts and Madison was pronounced. Madison hornline started lined up on the left sideline and performed a breath taking high speed 30 yard company front as the front ensemble is making its opening statement. Pictures were flying fast and furious and Madison looked like they were track athletes in Mid July form. Foot technique, a favorite hobgoblin of the Madison detractors was much improved from last year. The music of Cirque du Soleil was exciting and the performance level was considerably better than their Open House performance. This show, it seems, has everything DCI today wants. Unless of course Hopkins Cadets rendition this year of Malaguena signals a return to more accessible, and entertaining repertoire fare. Due to a large number of ageouts, Madison is at an average age of about 18 down from the typical 20 or so. Like a rebuilding sports team, the presence of so many talented underclassmen means good things for the future. This years group though I believe is already off to a good start. If I know anything about drumcorps, and last year proved I didnt, Madison will be back in the top 12 this year, all other things remaining constant. Madison has taken every possible knock on them from the two last years and addressed them. Its though they are daring DCI to find some fault with them. I think its also a safe bet staff will be attending all critiques this year. You have to hand it to the organization. They have taken decisive action this year, and if they dont somehow regain some of their lost stature, then it will not be from a lack of sheer effort. And they have taken great care to let all who ask that Scott Stewart is still an important figure to them. Director Sal Salas was quoted this week in the Wisconsin State Journal. "I'm not trying to fill Scott Stewart's shoes" Sal stated. "I'm trying to walk beside him." Very classy not to mention political of him. Look for Madison to add many more to its legion of fans and believers. Score 68.75 1st place.

60 odd days to go.


Thursday June 12

Middleton, WI (DCI Midwest)

I just got home from the show in Middleton. Only saw the Scouts, Colt and Cap Sound, but it's great to begin another Drum Corps Season! Scouts looked good in the new uniforms but I miss the old ones. Nice show, but little different than the traditional Scouts (lots and lots of tempo changes). The guard is MUCH better than last year and sporting a real uniform!!  :-)  I think they might surprise some people (probably not going to be in the hunt for a championship, but could very well be crack the top 12). They are really young this year!!!.

Cap Sound looked pretty rough, but hey... that just means there's lots of room for improvement, right?!

Colts are doing a very difficult show and need lots of work, but could also surprise the field.

Chad Zuleger

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