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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2004 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews
As posted to R.A.M.D. and submitted to Sound Machine

Page Two 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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Tuesday July 6

Phoenix, AZ (DCI Pacific)

Well with no-doze in hand I ventured off to the BWW (Bands Without Woodwinds) show in Mesa, AZ. Great stadium, plenty of parking in a huge parking lot for the cars and they could have fit in five or six more corps buses and trucks. Inside was a different story. Big crowd, one concession stand. Oops!

First some general thoughts. After seeing this show I now have a new appreciation for narration. Some of these corps did things that as hard as I tried I just couldn't figure out what it had to do with anything. I was praying for narration just so I would know what the connection was if any. Amps. I am not a fan so but I couldn't tell the difference between amped and non amped bands until SCV came on. If no difference then why have them? Most corps had two small speakers, SCV had more and bigger speakers with an amp rack! I swear I toured with the guy setting it up on Pink Floyds Division Bell tour in 94. Their pit seemed too loud to me. It seemed at times that the hornline was accompanying them instead of the other way around. Guards-Still way too much dancing and prancing instead of equipment work. Not a WOW moment in the whole night for me out of anyone. Corps got polite applause at the end of each number and a "hey let's let the kids now we appreciate them" standing O when they finished. None of the corps seemed emotional. When I marched we were so fired up to get on the field that our staff had to calm us down so we wouldn't overdo it. All the corps seemed so matter of fact. Where have all the screechers gone? I know their are trumpet players that can hit high notes. I've heard Doc Severenson and Maynard Ferguson do it. I didn't hear any tonight. Is it me or have pits gotten out of control? They are bigger than some corps I marched against. There are no scores in my review, to me they are insignificant. Go to DCI's site if you need them.

The show. Now I planned on bringing pen and paper to actually write things down because at my age I forget things. However with one of my five yr old twins and my oldest (almost 7 yr old) with me, well, they had different ideas. So if I'm fuzzy on which band did what please cut me a little slack. I was busy being a dad.

Due to logistical problems I was in the parking lot walking in when the one band I wanted to see (The Academy) started their show. I did make it inside for the last part of their show but couldn't get into the stands until they ended so I had to watch from the fence at field level. Great sound, great look. They are very impressive just to look at. A lot of class in this band. It's a shame they aren't going to Denver. I think they could beat some Div I bands. I predict a Div I finalist from AZ in the not too distant future. It's a shame the rest of the country won't get to see them.

Esperanza. I was very disappointed with them because I liked them so much last year. They did their warm up in a semi circle and then casually as if they were bored meandered over to their starting spots. Very sloppy, didn't display any class at all. Very sloppy marching. I saw out of step in just about every number in the show. I'm sorry but for a Div I band to be out of step in unacceptable to me. Guard was pretty good when they actually used their equipment. Hornline was 42 or so and not much sound at all. They turn around at the beginning of the opener, horns to the sky and......nothing. No impact at all. I was really expecting more out of them this year.

Pacific Crest-Another band that impressed me last year. Big hornline but again without the impact a line that size should have. I couldn't believe how during two numbers members of the guard were actually sitting or kneeling for a good portion of the song with no equipment in hand doing absolutely nothing. I'm the kind of guy that likes thing happening all the time. I want a show where you can't decide where to look because there is so much going on. At one point the rifles (without their rifles laid down and did two or three pelvic thrusts??????? Here's where I could have use narration. What do pelvic thrusts have to do with the show...any show? I believe it was Pacific Crest (but it could have been Esperanza) that had a male guard member running all over the field with no equipment for no apparent reason. Again narration would have been welcome here. "Ladies and gentleman Roger is running around the field to exemplify the hard work and countless miles that the band members put in during the course of the season." Then at least I'd know. The most puzzling part came when after the band finished he ran the entire length of the field, into the end zone, out of the end zone and almost out of the stadium. My son looked at me with a puzzled look on his face an asked me, "Dad, why is that guy running out there?" I answered shaking my head with an equally puzzled look on my face, "I'm still trying to figure that out myself Bobby." Enjoyable sound though no real impact points, good guard work at times when they actually did something and stopped dancing or sitting down. Now at one point the guard all picked up wooden sticks and started spinning them and dancing around with them. (again hoping it was actually them and not someone else, if it was I apologize) Just plain old wooden sticks. Not much of a visual effect. Then at one point they started doing martial arts staff fighting with them. Narration again please!!!

Blue Knights-I've have always enjoyed them the few times that I have seen them so I was hopeful. Now as an ex-drum major I look at the drum majors. A pet peeve with me as some of you might recall from last season is about faces. You just don't see them anymore. After the warm-up as the corps was being introduced the dm stood at parade rest. When they asked "Are the Blue Knights ready?" She snapped to attention, did a perfect about face and gave a very sharp salute. I wanted to jump out of my seat, run down there and kiss her full on the lips. However showing a little restraint and lacking the proper BWW credentials I remained where I was an applauded. Off to a good start. Big hornline 60+ but again not the impact I expected out of a line that size. This corps can march though. I even saw knee height! I could hardly contain myself. They could have used narration when at one point the quads and the bass players picked up what looked like big wooden drumheads and just kind of waved them around a little. Had no real visual effect so I wish they would have clued us in on to what they meaning was supposed to be. These kids carried themselves well and executed well I thought. Enjoyable corps but as with everyone else lacking any real kick to their show.

Seattle Cascade-Nice sound, guard uniforms actually accent the rest of the bands uniforms instead of looking like something the Mimi from Drew Carey would wear. Enjoyable show. My vote for the best looking guard of the night. Don't know what's in the water in Seattle but they should bottle it. Bands sound very nice when playing soft but like everyone else no real impact when playing loud. Overall enjoyable show. One funny thing to before they started the show. Their golfcart got stuck pulling the pit equipment in when it bottomed out on something. I thought they were going to have to call a tow truck but the pit members lifted it up, pushed it and got it going. I could help but think that things like this wouldn't happen if they were carrying that equipment themselves.......

SCV- Bigger sound than anyone else. Obviously the class of the show. Sorry to say that both of my kids informed me before their show was over that they had to go to the bathroom and no they could not wait until they finished. So instead of having two puddles in the stand I reluctantly took them down to the rest room. Fortunately it was right near the field so I could still hear them and didn't miss that much. I couldn't believe the dm of SCV couldn't do a damn about face. SCV always used to march extremely well and their dm's always seemed to have a little extra something. This guy kind of schlepped around, turning to his left mind you, until he was facing the audience. Very sloppy. Set an example pal will ya? Guard marches with no shoes which they did last year and I didn't like it then either. I guess they needed to spend the money on the speakers and amp rack. Great drill performed well. Some really nice visual horn work which you don't see much anymore. Corps is clean enjoyable. But as I said, no one really grabs you by the throat and says, "I dare you to sit on your hands for this!"

Well those are my thoughts on tonight's show. I think that this will be the last band show that I attend. As hard as I try I just can't get excited about it anymore. I want to but it just doesn't happen. If some of you enjoy it that's fine, it's just not for me. There's too much dancing and prancing, too much sophistification and not enough entertainment. I have been to the show here in Phoenix since they came here four years ago. I was so excited that drum corps finally came to where I was but that excitement was short lived. It ended when the show started. Each year I would go hoping that it would be different. Last year I thought it was changing because I actually enjoyed some of the corps but this year with amps, singing, narration and the continuation of all the other crap I just can't take it anymore. DCI has ruined drum corps for me. It truly saddens me that I don't enjoy bands the way I used to enjoy drum corps. It was such a big part of my life and still is but unless things come full circle I will be content to sit at home and listen to my old recordings, Diceman Radio and be an old pharte.

Gary Peterson

Monday July 5

San Diego, CA (DCI Pacific)

I just got home from the San Diego show, and I thought I'd share some of my thoughts. I didn't stay for retreat/scores, so I can beat the traffic out, so sorry about that. To give you a little back ground: I aged-out in '98 (snare line Kiwanis Kavaliers 97, 98), but I've been a drum corps geek since '91. I'm currently a band teacher (both middle school and high school). This is the first drum corps show I've been to since 2001 (my son was born Jan. of '02, so out went the free time for awhile ;)

Now that that junk's out of the way...

I got there nice and early, so I can catch some corps warming up. The site the show was at is a fairly new high school in my school district, so it was a great venue for drum corps (HUGE area; they could've housed three corps and they never would've run into each other). It was pretty cool as the sun went down, so it was a great night.

I made sure I got to my seat early, so I wouldn't miss anyone (I understand people like to watch corps warm-up, talk to old friends, etc. but I didn't want to leave out anyone). First up was an ensemble from San Diego St. University: a pep band. They were recruiting for their marching band (I assume; the sound system was absolutely horrible, and I couldn't hear it from inside the 30), and sounded pretty good. They didn't project very well, though, IMO, and their time was a little loose (their percussionists and low voices were in the front, while the rest of the band arced it up behind them).

The first drum corps up was a corps I'd not heard of before, Mystikal. They're from Southern California; this might be their first year, but I'm not sure. They were a decent sized group, and they played music from Pirates of the Caribbean. Their horns had some stamina issues, and need to project a little bit better (but then again, a lot of the music was staccato), as the drumline seemed to out play them. The drumline was pretty good with a REAL notey book. Perhaps a little over writing, but it looked like a fun show to march. I liked this corps, and wish them luck in the upcoming years.

The next corps was The Academy, from Phoenix, AZ: another corps I hadn't seen before. The first thing that hits you right off the bat, is this corps is HUGE! I liked their uniform: black pants with a dark red top. Their guard uni's clashed, though (the only downside to having red tops). This corps was good, and really got the crowd into the show. Their music was not as accessible as Mystikal's, and by the end of the show it kind of fell flat. But again, they were fairly clean, though with that many horns I would've like to hear a little more volume. Also, their drill was VERY safe, almost boring. I'd love to see more exciting drill. They marched well enough with good technique, but they're capable of doing a lot more than they are.

Impulse was next. I know a lot of people love this corps, and especially their philosophies and 'character.' They are definitely unique, but they don't "talk the talk" so to speak. Their show was one of the most boring of the night, and maybe the dirtiest. It's one of the shows that maybe sounded like a good idea on paper, but it didn't do much for me on the field. It didn't help that everything about the corps needs lots of work. Their percussion had some nice parts, but had problems playing eighth notes clean. Their horn line sounded fairly week as well, and their marching technique needs work. The crowd didn't seem to mind, and I think their hats and shirts were the most worn (outside of home corps Esperanza). They have a long way to go, but like I said: I like the different style.

After the insanely long intermission (why do you need an intermission with only seven corps?!), Pacific Crest came on. First, I like their uniforms: white pants (an endangered species in the uniform world) with a dark green top. Their guard was the first guard of the night who REALLY went well with the corps visually (uniforms and flags flowed with the show great). They did a Bernard Herrman show, but they did different music than Blue Devils and Phantom Regiment from awhile back. They had really good drill, and played well. Their drumline had some spotty moments, but was pretty solid for the most part. Also, a well written drum book: not too boring, and not too much. There was a great feature when the snares and basses picked up hand drums and talking drums. Another cool moment is when the sops (er...trumpets) play with mutes. I like this show the more I think about it, and it was the first corps of the night who seemed to have the total package as far as drill, music, and guard. The biggest issue I had with 'em was their closer: 'Death Hunt.' It was pretty good arrangement and some nice drill moments), but their horn line ran out of steam tonight. It's a challenging part for the horns, and I assume/hope that as the season goes on they'll be able to pull it off. I'll be very interested to see them added to the mix, as I think they'll make a good run at improving on last season's placement.

Next we had Mandarins. I've always liked and respected this corps, and they're what I call the "Yoda" corps of DCI: size matter's not! I LOVED the design of this show. Their look is perfect, and this corps was MADE to play a show like this. I always like their Teiko drum features, and they are a huge part of this show. At times tonight they seemed to phase a little, but when they were going with a groove, it was great. Their guard, as usual, blew me away. Their uniforms were a nice contrast the the corps proper, and they had some 'traditional' looking Asian flags for part of the show (I assume they're traditional, but I don't really know anything about the culture). One part that sticks out in my mind: the guard is on the far outside ends of the corps (possibly in the end zones, I'm not sure), half on each side. The Teiko drums start up, and the guard 'answers' them with what I first thought were a dozen or so slap sticks. As the march into the drill, still playing, you realize that they're really 'playing' two rifles (that have a kind of wood/tan look that matches their unis). They then proceed to put on a rifle spinning clinic that made my jaw drop: simply amazing! I have no clue who their guard instructors/writers are, but kudos!!! Their horns were strong for their size, and if you hear a recording you'd never guess how 'small' their horn line is. Their drums are also very solid, with small drums mounted on their bass drum rims. Great show, and good luck in Denver, Mandarins.

Next up was the corps I was dying to see. I have the ADP recording of SCV, and I LOVE the music of Scheherazade. I've always thought this was perfect music for SCV, and they proved me correct x10. I always love to watch SCV perform, as they are the textbook definition of 'Intense.' I took my son and wife to watch them perform this morning, so I got acquainted with some of their drill. All I can say is HOLY COW!! They have some work to clean this show all around, but when they do they will be in the hunt. Every aspect of this corps is good, and this was easily the best corps of the night by a lot. Their drill is typical Vanguard, which means lots of velocity and horn manuals. Their drumlin plays a ton of notes (take notes, percussion arranger. SCV's book is how you write lots of music while still playing totally musical). Their tenor line especially caught my attention. I wish I could see this show a hundred times, and I can't gush about this show enough. Their drum finish is also very cool: look for some pictures on corps reps or something. The soloists were the best sounding of the night, and were, IMHO (for the most part) the only confident sounding soloists. I don't know what else to say, except this show exceeded my expectations. Oh, and about the amping... SCV was the 'cleanest' sounding pit (not in the playing, flawless sense, though that's true too, but more like you can hear exactly what they're doing at all times very clear). If you didn't know they were using a mixer and amps, you'd never guess.

The last corps of the night was Esperanza. Boy, did they have it tough following SCV. Their show seemed very flat to me, and didn't really do anything for me. They performed well enough, and the show seems like it's a decent design, but they didn't 'step up' for the home crowd. Their brass has a lot of playing technique issues as well. They need to get a lot more volume from their low voices (it didn't help they only have six contras), and their sound seems really 'choked:' open up those throats, boys and girls! Their drumline was on/off, as in sometimes really clean, sometimes really dirty. The snare feature was nice, and there's some nice writing there. They're doing a lot of Philip Glass Music, so it's hard to make that entertaining (IMO). I'd like to hear some re-writes in the hornbook before they compete against the mid-west and eastern corps. They too have a lot of work ahead of them, but they seem capable of pulling it off.

Well, that's about it. I'll probably go to the 'Tour of Champions' at the Q, but until then this is my last corps show. I think $16 is a little pricey, but if that's the going rate so be it. For what it's worth, I think SCV, Mandarins, and Pacific Crest are the only shows that have the 'total package' from a design stand point, and only need minor changes and cleaning before Denver. I hope to see The Academy and Mystikal a lot in the future.

I hope this wasn't too long; I'll be anxious to see the scores and see how the corps stacked up against each other!

Doug Crooks

Sunday July 4

Beverly, MA (DCI Atlantic)

Here are some notes from the Beverly show. (Disclaimer) I don't ususally do reviews but Ill give it a shot. I am drummer but I try to look at all aspects of the show's. I'll do my best.

In performance order...

St. John's - Missed them. They sounded good when I was walking in though.

East Coast Jazz - Saw them front the end zone. Nice show for a Div 2 corps. Lots of potential. Horns are pretty strong as well as the drums.

Glassmen - Iwouldn't say it's boring but I jsut couldn't get into it. I did like some parts of their drill. Very fast moving. Drumline is doing well. Horns seemed a little off tonight. They played to the backfield more than I would have liked. Guard was fairly clean. Maybe the show will grow on me when I see it again in Allentown.

Spirit of JSU - I liked this show. Hornline has a great sound. The drumline was smoking but could still use some cleaning. The guard is doing well. Drill has potential but needs more cleaning. This show definately has potential. I barely noticed that the pit was amplified.

Carolina Crown - Started out great. Starts loud and in your face but goes down from there. The amps are distracting. I think the singing takes away from the show. I'd rather have a quartet or quintet playing instead of having the 5 members singing. Drumline was smokin. The guard has some nice moments but still needs some cleaning.

Crossmen - The new uni's aren't bad. The drumline was smokin as usual. Hornline was ok. They seem to be struggling with thte music. The soloists were good but struggled a bit to project and hit some notes. Guard was sloppy. To many drops. Drill was pretty good. It could be better with some tweaking. I thought that they should be scoring a little higher but the judges don't agree.

Cadets - Drumline Rocked the house. THey were smoking as ususal. Horns were great as well. Lots of nice solos. I like how they mix the horn and drum solos together. Great effect. Guard was pretty clean but can still improve. The baton soloist was very good but I didn't like him in front of the snareline during their solo. Loses some of the effect. The drill was good but nothing spectacular in my opinion. Definately needs some cleaning but has great potential. Pit was amplified but I didn't notince it to much. Can't wait to see it again in Allentown.

Boston Crusaders - I liked most of their drill. Music was ok. I think it will grow on me after I see it again. I did not like the voice over's. I found them distracting and I think it takes away from the hornline. The drumline is doing well. Horns sound fairly strong. This show is supposed to be about color but you don't see much color until the end of the show. Guard was pretty good. Not sure how well this show will do in the standings. I would say 6-7 place.

I tried to keep an open mind about amplification until I saw it live. I don't like the singing and voice over's. I thought that both Cadets and Spirit used their amps well but I really don't think it adds that much to the show. I really didn't notice a huge difference in sound. The singing and voice overs remind me of high school and college bands. I'm interested in seeing the other corps that are using amps when I go to Allentown.

Great crowd as usual. The organizers do a great job. They hold people during performances so they don't go looking for their seats in the middle of the show. I wish there was better parking but I guess a little walk won't hurt me.

That's all folks!!


Greetings all. It has been a couple of years since the Chiu has reviewed a show, but the Muse is here and I can't bear watching David Lee Roth on the Pops' 4th of July show. Frankly, I haven't lurked on RAMD in ages since it became ridiculous, even by Internet standards. But, like the comatose in the movie "Awakenings," it comes alive for a brief shining moment each summer when there is actual corps-related news to discuss.

What could be more American than a corps show on the 4th? The show in Beverly started at 5:00 and ended at 8:00. I never liked watching (or marching) daytime shows; they lack a certain ambience, or remind me that the better corps get to march later, but it turned out that the timing was pretty good since with the sunset, the sea breeze became quite chilly. Overall, I was kind of surprised by how dirty some of the corps are for this time of year. But, since regional corps associations have either collapsed on their own or voluntarily surrendered to the overstretched management capabilities of DCI, there are fewer early shows for them to hone their performance. Unfortunately, the August season is also shorter, since time must be made for the post-season, Disneyesque, applause-meter tour that portends the eventual metamorphosis of corps into bands.

On with the show... I hope it pours down rain in Denver. It just might drive a nail into the coffin of the infantile experiment in amplification. More on that later.

Apologies to St. John - I did not see their show.

ECJ - The first time I saw East Coast Jazz a few years ago I was very impressed by how entertaining a small corps can be. Today they are not so small (36 horns), but they still entertain. In this day of arrangements so stylized that they suck the life out of the original composition, it is refreshing to hear straight-ahead arrangements that are faithful to their antecedents. ECJ plays music from Chick Corea's "Spanish Heart" album, and does it well. The horns are clear and exposed. There is much room for improvement, especially on emotional impact; the musicians struck me as a bit immature. They need to re-voice the ballad, which is a beautiful piece (done very well by '94 BD) and add the upper brass. It doesn't really work well as a baritone feature. They can soak this for a lot more GE. Intonation, possibly due to the cool air, was very distracting in the low brass.

Glassmen - When others called them boring, I found much to admire (except for the dreadful band-o show in one of the Orlando years). But they were a bore before the first note thanks to the deadly dull uniforms. Black and white, colored in the same exact pattern as the Star Trek uniforms in the DS9 and Voyager incarnations. They even have their trademark triangle where the communicator goes. I don't know who designed them, but it looks very much like the Ceasarioification of other corps' uniforms that makes me want to scream. BTW, that thin-skinned know-it-all (who once dropped the F-bomb on me for simply repeating a comment he made publicly) is ruining the look of corps with the collusion of some very gullible corps management. One piece, wash-and-wear, flat-colored, blah. (Note to Troopers - put on the yellow kerchiefs for some color, for God's sake).

Anyway, the show isn't bad. Back in their top 6 days, I looked forward to Glassmen as the first corps of the night with a drill worth watching. They still move a lot in an interesting way, and all the elements are there. But the execution isn't. They remind me of how BK was for a few years - a show that is too hard for them. No major move or musical moment was completely together; there was always someone sticking out. They could have been jarred by being late, but the show just isn't under control yet. They can do much better if they can clean the hell out of it, but whether they have the talent is an open question. The red color guard gyrations in the Medea reference were effective, but the guard (and the corps) are sloppy. Too much squatting in a poor imitation of Star '93.

P.S. Can someone 'splain me why they wave around a British Union Jack, being from Toledo? I've never understood that.

Spirit - Having just watched a DVD of last year's "Spin Cycle" by the Cavies, I am convinced that Michael Gaines never has to do another thing to join the greats of drill writing like Zingali and Brubaker (both of whom he has surpassed). He is a genius who creates drills that have no wasted movement, no set-up transitions. They flow seamlessly, and each member appears to be in three different pictures simultaneously, depending on how you view it. That said, I think he phoned in Spirit's drill. It is a rehash of previous work with nothing particularly new. Even so, a "Cavie Lite" drill is still far better than what most corps field, and, frankly, what most staffs can teach. Spirit's visual show is quite good, although the forms tend to evolve slowly, like old-style corps (or any Phantom drill).

Spirit's show may actually be easier than G'men's, but they perform it better. The hornline has a more mature sound. They were the first corps w/o noticeable intonation problems today. I didn't really notice the guard, though my friend thought they were awful. Their guard uniforms - in fact, all the corps' guard unis - were non-offensive, which, in recent years, is about the best one can expect. But the missing sleeve is kind of stupid when you think about it. I mean, what really is the point? Reminds me of one-hit-wonders sombody's-midnight-something and their "too ra loo ra loo" video in the '80s where the viewer is treated to three minutes of pit hair.

Nail me to a cross and let Mel Gibson film it, but I think Richard Saucedo's music is boring. The highlight of Spirit's show for me was the "Sonoran Desert Holiday" by Ron Nelson. Beautiful music, very well played.

Digression - have you noticed how all the lemmings in guard uniform design love the non-uniform uniform? Where the color scheme is almost, but not quite the same? Where some have sleeves, some don't? It doesn't bother me, but they need a new idea.

What does strike me as silly is how some designers think they are being clever and subtle by playing dress-up with the guard in some homoerotic fantasy. Let's face it, many designers and guard staff are gay, and I have not the slightest intolerance. ("Not that there's anything wrong with that" as Seinfeld would say). And that is frankly a fact of drum corps whether you like it or not. But let me spell out something for you, in case you weren't aware. In the gay leather community, armbands on the left mean "top" and on the right mean "bottom." Now, armbands date back to the Egyptians or earlier, but I don't think Cleopatra is the reference that several guards (including Crown) are capturing with these random uniform elements that are increasingly common. It is not clever, it is just dumb. Big gay yawn.

Carolina Crown - They had me, then they lost me, then... Best horn line I can remember from them. Really good. Their usually strong guard still is, but the horn line was the unexpected pleasure. The show concept seems kind of retro in its unrelatedness, like in the seventies when one could slap together Wagner, Judy Garland, Sousa, and the Beatles in 13 minutes. They think it's related, I guess, because of the stated "Bohemian" theme, but musically it reminds me of when the writers on Jeopardy run out of creative gas and punt (to mix metaphors), coming up with a category like "Songs that start with S."

More Star Trek uniforms. Actually, these are almost identical in color and design to Star '93, except they have added some stripes on the front and on the sleeves.

Crown sounded great. To paraphrase Frank and Nancy, but then they went and spoiled it all by saying somethin' stupid like..."Truth! Freedom!" GAG! Amplified voice has arrived. I watched the audience, many of whom had a reaction similar to my own. First, it was jarring. I came here to hear corps, not a Broadway wannabe presentation -- certainly not a cheesy, embarrassing show with high-brow pretensions that is trying to enlighten me. Very reminiscent of a winter guard show from about a decade ago where the cynical voice-over says "Teach them now before they think." That's what passed for provocative in winter guard past, but it's been done. It's drum corps, damn it! And the singing is distracting, unnecessary, and unwelcome.

Then Crown played "Bohemian Rhapsody" which was one of the highlights of the night - excellent! Lose the voice crap in the middle, and this show is a winner.

The second part of the show - Crossmen, Cadets, Boston, Bostor Sr. - or as I, maybe unfairly, call it: Cadet Cadets, Cadets, Wannabes, and Has-Beens. Stop throwing things, it's only a joke.

The announcer, who's been around forever, sure does love the sound of his own voice.

Crossmen - Loud, edgy, energetic, but raw. Much to work on here. Every year I generally find them mildly entertaining, but their shows all run together; they all seem the same. Do you think Hopkins is having a mid-life crisis? With Cadets playing Jethro Tull and Xmen playing Joni Mitchell, it seems like someone has a longing for irretrievable youth. The same-sex paired dancing during "Both Sides Now" was another big yawn. Every section has significant cleaning to do. Trumpets, in particular, were a little thin. Multi-tenor feature was really not together. My friend (a drummer) found them very dirty. They and the Cadets are listed as being from Bergenfield. I thought Cadets moved to Penn. In any event, if it were possible, my advice to Crossmen is to get the hell out of YEA before you die a slow death from lack of creativity.

[Note to stadium: American flags are supposed to be at half-staff for one more day - always for one month after the death of a former president.]

Cadets - Each section is excellent, which is no surprise. But a few seconds into the opening, just as I was thinking "what a nice sound from the mid-voices" there was a loud BZZZ - feedback from the amps. How very appropriate. The Austin Powers shirts worn by the guard are later ripped off to reveal hippie chicks and vests, in keeping with the theme. I have two general complaints about Cadets over the last few years. First, their arrangements have been very stylized ('82 and '83 "Rocky Point" were superior to last year's), leading to a reduction kind of like Madonna's awful remake of "American Pie" OR have been kind of clunk-clunk-boxy-dull like their rendition of "Moon Dance" or like what Phantom does to pieces such as "Pines of Rome." This year's arrangements aren't bad, but fall a little into the latter category.

The second problem: when is the last time you were wowed by a particularly innovative drill move from the Cadets? They used to be THE innovators. They seem like stroke victims who have lost the ability to write interesting drill. Instead of frenetic excitement, we get pedestrian slow-evolving choreography. And, unlike smooth-flowing Crown, they bounce from form to form, demonstrating clearly which horn players are girls.

Cadets aren't afraid to try something new (except, it seems, in drill these days), even when it doesn't work like when they had 90 horns in '86 that didn't add much musically and took away visually. Well, the amplified pit has no effect. "SNOT RUNNING DOWN HIS NOSE!"

The Jethro Tull music is fun. The park and blow was great. The flags are excellent, especially the unison work. Percussion is good. Featured horn ensemble is good (trumpets a little weak) in the closer. Haven't seen the other "big 4" (but I've heard them on tape), but I can't really see this show winning if the other three are at their best. A few may get this reference, but the featured baton twirler was very TTI! Cadets are definite contenders for the Spirit of Disney award.

Boston - Well, the eight huge cubicle tents made me groan when they were brought onto the field. I have a strong bias against shit all over the place. The only time my dear SCV turned me off was in the late '80 when they had props everywhere. But the cubes turned out to be pretty effective, and not distracting. Such will not be the case at a windy show.

They continue to rediscover the company front/box drill, which is getting a little stale. BAC has a disturbing tendency to do multi-year themes that don't quite work. Remember the Stalinesque 5-year plan "American something or other" that lasted about two years? Well, this year's "Composition of Color" seems to be a continuation of their exploration of the electromagnetic spectrum after "Red, parts one and deux."

The same beat permeates the show, except for the ballad, but I still like this show. But I HATE the narration, which is embarrassing and completely unnecessary. The shows stands quite nicely without it. If the staff has a shred of sense, it will be gone by finals. With the words "Color is the keyboard...." all I could think is, oh God, no!

Bonus points for a wisp of vixen guard - as they're changing flags, some guard chicks on the right do a slight Bette boob shimmy. I see that they, like endless other guards, are utilizing the multiple-uni-change, examining the range of colors in tank tops. Not really tank tops, more like sleeveless crew necks - Dago-Ts, not wifebeaters, to clarify.

Jesus, I'm long-"winded." Boston deserves more, but I am as tired of writing as you are of reading. My friend thinks my reviews are bitchy and jaded. I plead semi-guilty. But I support the troops, if not the generals. I love the members, and any criticism is meant for the consumption by the staffs who should be able to take it. It is never intended to be mean-spirited, although it is hard to determine intent in written communication, and I refuse to use geeky emoticons.

It was a pleasure seeing the corps. An odd side note: as the Boston Srs. (who look like they were outfitted by Mussolini) were playing, a number of birds flew over in a "V", then one separated in "missing man" formation. The Miles Davis-like renditions of the Canadian and U.S. national anthems by a local high school trumpeter were depressing. Finally, Boston spent $14 billion in the nation's largest public works project, thanks to Tip O'Neil, to move its traffic jams underground.

Good night.


Saturday July 3

Walnut, CA (DCI Pacific)

Well, I got a chance to go to the Mt. SAC show last night, and I thought I'd give a small review of how things went. Anyhoo, all of the corps did a fantastic job last night. It was well worth the $20 admission. All of the Division 1 corps did great.

Esperanza did a decent job last night and sounded great. I loved Mandarins' show, with The Last Samurai music, that was fun to watch (and they're good singers too). PC was great too... my friend and I agreed that this was one of the best PC shows that we've ever seen. Cascades did an awesome job...not so much WOW as BD and SCV were, but they were still very impressive musically.

This is where I'm still trying to sort things out in my mind. For months now, I've been involved in the SCV hype: listening to it, believing it, adding to it, etc. Did they live up to all that hype? YES. Were they as good as people have been saying? HECK YES. But my dillema, being an SCV fan, was despite how awestruck I was at their show (honestly, I couldn't react during applauses, my jaw was still hanging down)...Blue Devils did such an awesome job that I was left feeling sorry for SCV. Both groups were extremely strong, and hey who knows, maybe SCV will really come back- both shows are definitely championship material.

But the Devils were unbelieveable last night. Their show this year is so much better than last year's show, and that's saying a lot. Just an all around awesome performance...and being a trumpet player, I was totally blown away by the sop solos.

I think what Devils have SCV beat in right now is effect. Visually, SCV was a little better, and musically, Devils were a little better...if both groups improved a little bit in what they lacked in, there's no doubt that either one could take Champs and keep a see-saw competition going. But I think Blue Devils are in another dimension right now in general effect. There's nothing wrong at all with what SCV has, but it's matter of how much more the Devils have. I would assume that that's a good reason why Cavaliers are doing so well right now too, although I won't see their show until Finals.

Bottom line: Both groups were outstanding, but obviously BD had a bit more of an edge on SCV. As said before, they both have the potential to take Champs this year, and yes, I'm still an avid supporter of SCV despite how awesome I thought BD's show was. And I have the shirt to prove it. I can't wait until Denver and TOC in August!


Allentown, PA (DCI Atlantic)

Hi Folks,

He is a review of what I saw and heard at the Old Bridge NJ and Allentown PA shows....... and here's the review........

Raiders: Performing some really difficult arrangements (More about this later) of Adams in a show titled "Adams a Sound Journey" The corps had a pretty rough start with some bad timing...... once they locked in the beat the opener became smoother. For a smallish sized corps they sport a good-sized pit that played pretty well along with the rest of the drumline. The color guard jumps out at you with Florissant colors in the uniform and on the guard equipment. The color guard is the best section of the corps right now. The hornline played really well in a few spots with a good overall sound.The hornline is having a really tough time with the music though. Some horn players are sticking out in spots and my suspicion is that it is due to the difficulty of the charts.

Summary: The kids are really giving it they're all and the staff needs a good talking to. This show is WAY too difficult for this corps. Full size division I corps would have trouble performing it. The members are doing a good job and deserve a lot of credit.

Lehigh Valley Knights: This was the first time I have ever seen Lehigh and I must say I was pretty impressed with them. Their hornline has a pretty nice sound and experienced some minor early season phasing issues. The drumline is probably their strongest section and in the opener they play some nice parts in little pods (Along with the horns). The rifles and sabers did well on most of their tosses and the whole corps is marching well.

Summary: Nice corps that is playing multi-meter segments, which clearly shows off the corps talent. The Drum Major was very sharp.

Jersey Surf: First thing I noticed about this corps is that they are pretty big and confident. The drum major gives the crowd a unique salute and a way we go with some GREAT familiar music arranged in a pleasing way. The hornline was real solid in the opening statement and aside from the contras being a bit blatty in spots this line has a good overall sound. The mellos have a real nice sound. The color guard is wearing some nice flashy read outfits (They remind me of something that the Dutch Boy color guard might have worn) and pop right out at you. The corps finished the opener strong and the marching is pretty darn good for early July. The next part of Surfs show is as crowd appealing as you can get. Just about the whole corps gets behind these huge red curtains and change the top part of their uniform from blue to white. As they are revealed the guard sports huge silver and gold shiny flags and the corps plays Elvis's famous introduction music. The crowd went nuts in both Old Bridge and Allentown. They play Jailhouse rock (Which did rock) and I could not help but notice how great the color guard was doing during this tune. Some good tosses and execution. The drumline is pretty solid and I think that the snares are a little loose and will tighten up a bit as the season goes on.

Summary: A GREAT show with a lot of fun tunes arranged in a pleasing way. The Elvis material is a HIT and I hope I get the chance to see them again....great show.

Carolina Crown: What a nice big punch of sound from this very nice sounding hornline right out of the gate. The color guard is rock solid and I can't believe how well this corps is performing right now. In Old Bridge I noticed a few brass players sticking out a little bit here and there but not much. I am sure that most of you who will read this have already seen some comments regarding Crowns ballad, which includes some amplified singing. Let me just put it this way...... IT IS NOT NEEDED and IT IS DISTRACTING. AND it does not ruin or add anything to the show. If you do not like the singing (Include me) it comes to an end fairly quickly. BUT, in Allentown there was a major issue regarding static......not good. For some reason the corps seemed to be more on the ball and "really" performing in Allentown...... maybe it was my vantagepoint but they really seemed to kick it up a notch in J Birney Crum stadium. The show has so many nice parts and the drumline is CROWN solid. There is a pretty cool drill form the corps makes of a Crown. Try to get to see this show.... I think you will like it.

Summary: This corps can really go places this year. They are better than they were last season and it should be very interesting to see where they place. I like the show and look forward to another viewing..... and hopefully after the static problems the corps had with their sound system the staff will think long and hard about getting rid of it.

Glassmen: This years Glassmen are bringing us a show that is typical Glassmen. Lots of unusual music played in a unique and disjointed kind of way. I like the way the corps starts the show. The corps starts the show laying on the ground and slowly little by little get up and make their way to the 50 for the first big musical impact. Keep an eye on the color guard because they do some very interesting things with their uniforms. Reminds me a little of the Crossmens guard last year during the hit in Over the Rainbow. The hornline has a nice overall strong sound but in a few spots some individual players stick out. Drumline seemed to play pretty well during their features. Marching is a bit sloppy..... but they are doing some difficult stuff.

Summary: If you are a Glassmen fan this show won't disappoint you. I personally am not a big Glassmen fan but I did enjoy the opening and final minutes of their show. The kids are great........ and the staff.... well.... you have probably seen stuff I have written before about their choices. Let me just say that the last minute or so of this years show is more exciting and entertaining than the previous 10 or so minutes put together.

Spirit: Spirit is strong again this year and the biggest problem that I think they may be having is marching. The brass has a nice sound but don't push your face back like I think they should. Hopefully the staff will open them up more as the season progresses. The pit plays really well in the opening moments of the show and the drumline is coming along. The guard is pretty solid and the rifles are paticualary strong. Spirit has what maybe my favorite ballad of the season from the juniors. The hornline is in a wedge off to the right a little and do a slow 360 and get louder with a nice lush chord.... (Cavies 2001) At this moment the guard runs in front of the hornline with nice rainbow colored flags. Again...... I really think the brass staff needs to open this lines sound up more. Spirit should peel ones skin off with their brass sound. The 3rd tune really features their 12 tubas and the drumline. The Tubas are cool. A Cavalier like chord and style ends the 3rd number.

Summary: I like the show and again the ballad will probably be one of my favorites of the season. I think Spirit has made some staff changes in 2004...... and you can see Cavalier like trademarks a few times during the show. Spirit needs to be Spirit.... more aggressive and the show they are presenting has the opportunity for it. Staff....add a little more this show.

Crossmen: Well the Crossmen are getting better little by little. The corps has been doing great with the opening impact and color guard just pops being that they are on all flags. In Allentown the drumline had some major timing issues after the first big hit that was just short of a complete breakdown. I was a bit surprised. They finally got back in the grove to finish out the opener strong. The 2nd number is by far the nicest number they play (IMHO). The hornline is getting better and better projecting a nice full sound during the 2nd number. Another item in their show I should mention is that the soloists all did a fine job and at several points during the show there are some section features.

Summary: I consider myself to be a big Crossmen fan (Since 1987). This years darker Crossmen doesn't excite me as much as the last few seasons have. The drumline is good in spots..... but believe it or not I think they are probably the weakest section of the corps right now.

Boston Crusaders: Boston either performs a show that just screams out to the crowd or a show that is much more abstract and artistic. This year is one of those artistic years with an all-original show. Still Boston is pretty strong right now in all captions. I really like the dual colored flags in the beginning. One side of the flag is colored two different gray tones and the other side is gray and yellow. The flags are swung in way where you see the colors switch back and forth. There is narration throughout the show (Mostly in the beginning and the end) I like the variety of the sticks the snareline is using and they (Along with the rest of the drumline) are fairly tight. Towards the end the narrator introduces each color (About 6 of them) and they are represented by different colored tops on the color guard members. Maybe I don't understand what this color theme is all about but I would have thought that during the introduction of each color the brasslines tone color would change. Guess not....... At the end of the show the guard surrounds the corps in a diamond shape with blue flags and then whole corps disappears behind huge cubes for a silent ending.

Summary: Similar to the Crossmen....... I don't like Bostons show this season as much as I did last seasons. The narration is unnecessary and probably overdone. I would like to see Crown beat them when its all said and done in August.

Cadets: This show is coming along nicely. They have made several changes since the last time I saw them about a month ago. The beginning is still the same. I really wish they would change it a bit. Maybe a quicker tempo or more movement. This corps doesn't really have any weaknesses that stand out and I think they have the drumline to beat again this season. The real drop-dead tune in their show is Bouree. The color guard is real strong throughout and do some neat stuff with their shirts.

Summary: Really solid corps right now that can definitely compete for the 2004 title. The show has classical, jazz, rock and swing music throughout. Great variety and a great show.

Sorry for any typos

Cheers, Mangry

Michigan City, IN (DCI Central)

To all of my Soundmachine friends...I will probably be posting this on DCP too, but Soundmachine is the board I read the most so I'm posting it here first!

Michigan City is my hometown... so I always have to make the long trek (105 minutes via train from Chicago) to see this legendary show. Weather wise it was a wierd day. The afternoon was hot and muggy for the annual summer festival parade. Then, the early evening saw rain storms almost appear out of no where to give us sporadic moments of drizzle mixed in with insane down pours. Things didnt look good for the Drum Corps show, but luckily some one up there cut us fans a break. It stopped raining literally on the dot of when the show was suppossed to start.... and the evening was near perfect. Cool with no wind, and a beautiful sunset.

Ames field is an incredible field to march on, so despite the fact it had taken about 2 hours of rain abuse... it still held up... and the show went on! I had great seats, on the 45, just a bit below the judges boxes. I could see and hear everything..and fortuntaley because of the rain... no amps. I sat next to a gentleman who had marched a corps from Michigan back in 50s and 60s. You have to respect old timers (though I'm becoming one myself), they have a great love and respect for the activity. There arent a lot of activities out there (outside of sports) that can keep fans coming back for 50+ years!

***Disclaimer*** This is my first viewing of any corps since July 2002. This review wont be as detailed as many others becuase, 1) I had not planned on writing one, and 2) I was soaking all of the shows in and trying to get the general feel of them. I hope to make it to the Rockford Show, Indianapolis show, and Naperville show. By then, I should have things down. Also, I'm not up on who is playing what, so forgive me if I dont name a work or spell something wrong. Ok... sorry about all of those ramblins... on to the review.

First up was Lake Erie Regiment. Their show was titled "Crossroads". An interesting fact about this year's shows (well, from my perspective) is that one of the years I marched Div III (Golden Lancers), my corps played their opening #, "Where the Blackhawk Soars" (96... 2nd place Div III ) . Its a great peice, but it can be pretty challenging. That being said, I'm not sure if Lake Erie Regiment met the challenge. To me, this corps big achilles heel seems to be CONFIDENCE...which could just be a result of lack of experience. Step offs, horns up, entrances... they just werent that crisp. Players also need to work a little more at sustaining and not dropping out before the end of a phrase. Thats easier said then done in Div III becuase...if one person takes a breath... that could be 1/3 of your Baritone line. Also, I had a hard time connecting with most of this show. I'm no genius by any means, but I dont think I should have to be. The show was pretty esoteric, and by the end, I still wasnt sure what it was about. Now Lake Erie Regiment did have one VERY STRONG point: the Color Guard. This corps colorguard was so great, it would make some Div II and Open Class corps jealous. They were fun, they had attittude, and they were pretty clean (every corps at this show had a dirty colorguard, but that was due mostly in part to the wet equipment from the rain). Now I just ragged on this corps for having an "inaccessible" show, however, from a guard stand point, it was well designed (if that makes any sense). The guard was staged well and always integrated into the performance. To the tall Diva who has the solo in the triangle of drums... let it loose and be more "defiant". You're obviously a talented performer, and it looks like you're holding back.... its your moment.

Next up was the Marion Glory Cadets. One word: SHOCK! This shock isnt becuase they dont have a colorguard (though they are up to two guard members now), but its because of the amazing show this little corps from Ohio has this year. From the first horns up, you know this corps has some aggressive performers who really go after it. Their show is music from the "Planets", and to be honest, I think they have a more exciting arrangement to listen to then the 95 Cavaliers. They use some of the lesser known works (Saturn, Uranus) and integrate it quite well. I think I counted 4 contras, but I thought I heard 8! This a loud little drum corps and they march pretty well too. The visual program was one of the most exciting of the night (definitly the most fun of the Div II/III corps). I was awestruck sometimes by some of the things that this corps was doing and there were moments where I was on the edge of my seat. There are a lot of things to watch (especially during the drum break). Michael King is doing something right with this corps. I dont know if the staff worked doubly hard on their visusal program to make up for the fact that they dont have a colorguard, but its no wonder that they are still hanging within one point of Lake Erie Regiment.... this show creates some great general effect WITHOUT a colorguard, and when they get one... WATCH OUT!! It really was one of the best shows, from a performance AND design standpoint, that I saw all night. Unfortunately I cant say that they're being underscored because a color guard would help a lot. Also, the corps hasnt learned the ending to this show yet! They stand still for the last 20 seconds, which could be another reason why the judges are penalizing them. If you are going to a drum corps show, DO NOT a hot dog during this performance! Kudos to Marion!

Next up was Memphis Sound. A relatively new corps from TN. The first thing I noticed about this corps was its uniform. I liked the design, simple yet original. Their show was original music, I want to say symphonic jazz. The corps arrangements remind of me old school Magic of Orlando (the years before they joined YEA!) and the corps visual program reminds me a lot of the Blue Devils. Lots of boxes and squares. This was a fun show to watch. The Hornline did a lot of fun body movements and had a lot of fun playing their parts. The soloists werent bad either. Now, here is my complaint... its July 3rd... and this show was DIRTY with a Capitol "D"! Again, maybe it was becuase the field was a little wet, or the rain hurt their confidence, but this show needs a lot of cleaning. It wasnt an absolute eyesore, but it was definitely noticeable. Also, from a design standpoint, the colorguard (which had nice costumes and GREAT SILKS) wasnt that well integrated into the rest of the show. It is obvious that this corps has A LOT of talent, I just think they need to clean... or find staff that can.

The first Div I corps: TROOPERS! The couple in front of me told me that this was going to be a great show, and they didnt lie. The corps is bigger then in years past, but still small for a Division I corps. Chuck Nafier (sp?) has done a great job arranging music for this corps that keeps in its traditions and propels them towards competitive greatness. To the drum major... WHOAH fella... nobody needs a weapon that big . When I heard that part of the show was going to be "Magnificent 7", I cringed a bit because I thought it would be the same tired version that I always hear when I see a "marching group" (band or corps) play a western show. However, it was a fresh take on the piece, and I was thoroughly impressed. In fact, a lot of their show impressed me. There was a trainwreck between secitions in one song, but part of that was caused by the battery... something that can be fixed in ensemble rehearsal. Now this show, if cleaned, could make semifinals. Its not forgettable (and a lot of middle pack corps tend to write safe forgettable shows). The Troopers do a take on jazz, and it works! And its technical. And great "fake ending"... even the announcer was fooled. Gotta love the rendition of Taps as the Troopers make it towards the other endzone. Now imagine that, starting at one endzone and ending in another.... maybe they still are old school. Its obvious that this corps is no longer in in the phase where it fending off death, now it just needs to recupirate and get some fresh bodies to Wyoming!

The Kiwanis Kavaliers came out next. I havent seen them in person in a while. I have heard quite a few complaints about their uniforms, but I like the gold chains on the black... its refreshing. The last year that I performed in Div III was also the year that KK first did West Side Story. That was their first year in Div I and they really wanted to prove themselves. Well, despite the fact that the trash cans are back, this show's design is completely different. Is that bad? Not necessarily. The corps is much smaller this time around. This show isnt groundbreaking, but its reallly fun to watch. The arrangments are quite literal and really gives the members a chance to have fun and perform. So... if you were expecting a Cadets rehash... you'll be dissapointed/wont be dissapointed. My only complaint is that I thought that "Cool" was a little long. Actually, I take that back. The trash can section doesnt seem as affective this time as it was last time. Also, in addition to the pit beating on the cans, they have their entire tenor section from the battery on the front sideline playing the trash cans too...i'm not sure how I feel about that. Overall, I enjoyed watching this show, it was all about having fun and performing to the audience.

The Colts were on next. This corps has not been making finals for the past couple of years, and I thought that this would hurt its talent pool. From listening to tonight's performance, that didnt seem to be the case at all! This show was reallly well done. Titled "From the heartland", I'm not really sure what its about, but I really enjoyed listening to it. The hornline was pretty darned good. There were some great brass licks in the opener that were clean and had me impressed. The corps also had some fun with dissonance that wasnt too obnoxious. Visually, the marching was VERY crisp... in WHITE PANTS for that matter (Is Jacob Rau their caption head now?). Member to member this corps has great execution. Going back and looking at the scores, I think that this corps has been underscored all season. Do I think it should make finals? I cant say without seeing all the corps... however, no reason why they shouldnt be above a 70 with this show. I also have to give the Colts props because midway through their performance... the heavens opened up... and didnt hold anything back. The Colts just kept on marching like it made them no difference.

Now I have to make a complaint. If you are going to a drum corps show, or if your friend is going... or even if your friend's cousin's gold fish is going... tell them NOT to take an umbrella! I was fortunate enough not to have one in front of me... but there were a lot of... well.. IDIOTS who opened theirs and... while sitting in the comfort of their own little tent... ruined a GREAT drum corps show for fans who paid JUST AS MUCH as they did! Come on... if you "do drumcorps"... you should know better!

Unfortunately, the rain drenched the field so much, that the corps I came to see, Phantom Regiment, didn't get to show off their visual program that I've been hearing so much about. To make matters worse, their plumes were soaked. I hope they can air those out.

I did get to hear a stand still of their 2004 show, and I was impresed. This was easily the toughest hornbook performed by any corps of the night, and I'm glad to say... it looks like the hornstaff wont be bringing out the hose this year. From listening, there is no reason why this corps shouldnt be closer to the Cavaliers in brass scores, but then again, they were standing still... and moving (especiallly the Cavaliers moving) is an entirely different story! I loved the low brass opening that builds into big Tango theme. I loved the lush baritone sounds in the Ballad. The front ensemble had a neat little feature with maracas. There were some INCREDIBLE runs between the baritone/euphonium and mellophone sections. I think I even heard a screamer? Overall though, I'm not of how I feel about this music. The performance kind of reminds me of SCV in 2001 when they had the "New Era Rap" section. When SCV first did this section... it looked like a bunch of robots trying to force themselves to be cool ("SCV... but... must have fun now...), but as the season went on... the corps grew comfortable with breakdancing... and it became a reallly fun performance to watch. I dont see the "passion" yet in this show. Maybe its built into the visual program, but for all intents and purposes, I got a very technically accurate, loud well designed arrrangement... think Star of Indiana 1992. I enjoyed the music, but its needs some more emotion put into it... or programmed into it if the humans cant do it themselves. After they performed their competitive show, Phantom Regiment wowed us with a performance of Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral. This was VINTAGE IN YOUR FACE PHANTOM. It was beautiful, passionate (yes... they can be) and powerful. In fact, it was so good, that the Heavens became pleased and stopped raining on us.

The Cavaliers came out next to last. This was a show that I had really been looking forward to. Unfortunately, no drill or colorguard. I didnt even get to see the colorguard's outfits for this year. They set up in their arc, and I was treated to some of the most enjoyable music I've EVER heard in drum corps. Thank you Cavaliers (and maybe Cadetst too?) this season for helping begin what I think may be a trend the fans like; drum corps playable recognizable music. It was exciting, it was lush, it was tastefully arranged. All I could do was imagine what kind of visual program Michael Gaines cooked up to match the brass book. The whistling section seemed really neat. I liked it, but without seeing how it fits into the show... I'm not sure if maybe they whistled too much. I also really liked what sounded like a "gun fight". The battery and front ensemble do a good job with that. There isnt much more that I can about this corps except the usual, things sound and look solid from top to bottom, and it will take some work if any corps wants to beat this rendition of the "Green Machine". But you already knew that... After they finished up and played The corps song/Rainbow... we got treated to what was probably by far the most fun group to listen to all night.

When the Cavaliers finished their performance, many fans left the stands to beat the traffic out, but in doing so, they missed the Royal Aires.... and man did they miss something! After the Royal Aires finished their opening number, I had to look down on the ground and pick my face back... the horns really blew me away. For all of the great musicianship and incredible show design that I saw tonight.... if this is the way that drumcorps used to sound (and the Royal Aires did have great musicians!), then I hope they days can make their way back. Overall, the Royal Aires performance was extremly entertaining? There is a rumor that they may be back next year... and in a slightly competitive format! That would be great as Chicago has a lot of corps alumni who are itching to get back into the activity. I definitly plan to give the Royal Aires a call for next season .

Shortly after the Royal Aires exited the field, so did most of the crowd. Partial scores were released, but I dont think that there was a retreat.

I apologize if this review seemed like incessant ramblings or too opinionated, I was just trying to soak the experience time I'll take a notebook and jot things down.

So thats its from MCI...until next year!


Cedarburg, WI (DCI Central)

Just got back from Cedarburg, Wi ...Rained out indoor standstill .... But......Corps standstill performances were hot!

Don't have a program anymore, that was washed away in the monsoon rains that lasted from about an hour before and up to show time. So all review is from memory and music impressions only.

Hilarious moment. 1st in line waiting at gate to get into stadium (before heavens opened up). This show is general admission in a small low stadium that usually sells out, so we were there early to insure a prime viewing position. Was evesdroping on the Rotarians as they went through their preshow instructions. I had a flashback to watching "Waiting for Guffman" as they planned they parade early in the movie. They were most worried about umbrellas etc and problems with seating. I swear I heard the lines "we can place sniper no1 here, no2 here by the trash cans and no3 can go on the roof of the gymnasium to take anyone out who brings in an umbrella." Seriously, they did an awsome job with a difficult situation.. the indoor standstill only ran 15 minutes behind the actual outdoor schedule. Kudos to the organizers.

ON to the show

1st on: Americanos. Had heard that they are struggling this year, and a small guard. Guard did not perform but I think I counted 7 standing along the end of the gym. Americanos set the tone for the night with their Latin based music. As usual percussion is strength with this group, hornline was average size for them. I really enjoyed this show! Low brass is cookin' but at time sops were a little weak (on other side of Gym though...) Hornline in general looks young. At any rate.. I dug the show, Pit had some great groove moments.

2nd: Colt Cadets. Snoop Dog (Charley rap here). Perfect show for this young corps. Really enjoyed the music and theme. Handled very well throughout group. Guard did perform and did admirably with their work. Of special note is the percussion line (battery and pit) Constantly swicth instruments throughout the show. (Snare to tenor, tenor to pit etc..) I believe this may be the epitomy of educating the performer and creating great experiences for those kids. Kudos to you Staff! Music was performed adequetely and with emotion. The Colt Cadets were the only "amplified" corps tonight. It was used to amplify vocal parts. To be honest, I didn't need it to get the performance and music. But, I was watching young kids perform what the staff and team had given them so it didn't bother me either way.

3rd: Blue Stars. ...disclaimer... being an ex Blue Star from the 70's, It was very emotional and heartwarming to see a BIG corps! Especially hornline! Music from Japanese Cartoons (I think) Being indoors this came off extremely well with plenty of emotion and impact. Really dug the intricate hornlines and impacts. Drumline as usual is cookin'. Guard looked VERY young but in this venue showed real promise for the corps. Knowing how the Blue Stars can clean, I believe they can be a real threat in Div II in August. All the necessary ingredients are there folks... I truly hope you stick to a solid consistant building program and can achieve continued success.

4th Pioneer. This has to be my favorite Pioneer show in the last 5/6 years. Music is a combination of Robert W. Smith and Irish. Very well integrated and well done. Pioneer is also larger this year but also look young. Very glad the Kakhi is gone from the unis. Kudos to you and hope your musical and performance sucesses continue to grow and evolve. Solid low brass in this corps as well as drum line. Guard did not jump out at me but did not distract in a negative way either.

5th: Southwind. 1st impression hornline has B@##s! Love the Mummy music. Pit does some outstanding performance work with tambourines and grooves into sections. Very cool section with BD's playing on tenors with tenor drummers, but alas was hidden from horns in front and low low seating (Fine Arts/Physical Education complex you know..... (gymnasium). I believe the guard is probably being underscored in this corps. They can spin! Some wonderful impact visual moments. Nice unis too.... complimentary to the girls!

Intermission to sell concessions......Oh well...This show does have good Hotdogs!

6th: Capital Regiment. Old One Hundreth and more. Solid hornline and drum line. Well written show integrating many lines together. Especially liked closer and how it brought together segments of music into Old 100th. Guard was good but IMO not sure how they outscore Southwind Guard. Much more dirt and problems tonite. (We were inside though)

7th: Blue Coats. Had heard great things about this hornline and they are true. Great lowbrass sound, clean, in tune and gorgeous. Upper brass struggled tonite. either tired or don't have horses or perhaps chops to pull it off at this point. Not Sure. They ran out of gas near last segment of show. Negative- Guard did not perform at all...(perhaps because they are HUGE (numbers) and not nearly enuff room for them here) Ballad in this show is flat out beautiful.. something from Moulan Rouge perhaps? Closer was very cool but seemed to be performed without enuff emotion. All hits power points etc are in it. Just seemed a little flat. Bet it will be cookin by DCI though!

8th: Scouts. *note* was really looking forward to tonites matchup with these two groups (Scouts and Bluecoats) outside as well as Cap Reg and Southwind. Was bummer we had to stanstill... Guard performed opener tonite. Seemed strong even though only 24 (perhaps it is true... bigger isnt always better. Probably where they are scoring bears this out also. After that they posed and copped an attitude.. well done...would rather see things working though. Horns and especially percussion were smokin tonite! Great moods are set in opener and they can light it up. Ballad was good, pit especially effective here. (Bluecoats take the ballad award though) Malaga... nuff said... holy s#@t Batman! They are on with this one. Soloists are strong and consistent, drums are cookin' and they sell like only the Scouts can. The 1st I had to stand up standin O of the night.

All in all, I did not hear one show I didn't enjoy, can't wait to see them all on the field. Perhaps Rockford. And lets add in BD .... Wooohooooo!


Friday July 2

Riverside, CA (DCI Pacific)

Well since everyone out here on the west coast seems to be getting lazy with writing reviews I'll take the liberty in expressing my take on the shows I saw. I arrived at the stadium late so I didn't get to see the division 2 corps, which disapointed me. Anyway, let me start my brief review.

Not bad. They have an okay show but not as good as last years in my opinion. Some nice drill moments accented by a great colorguard. Their hornline had some issues that will be addressed during the season but they have some promise nonetheless. There's no part of the show that really sticks out in my mind but the drill does do some moving. Depending on how well this corps can clean their show will be the deciding factor on if they can bust into semis in Denver. I had them in 6th.

Pacific Crest
I am usually quite critical of PC because I marched there but they're show was a lot better than I thought it would be. They weren't as loud as I thought they would be (not much louder than mandarins unless standing still). I liked the arrangement of their closer but didn't like the rehash from the 2001 show, but I guess that's my bias. The feet were cleaner than the bottom 4 in d1 tonight even with their whitepants. They do more moving than PC in previous years but there's not much meat in the show musically. Still not on the level of the 02 show. I had them in 3rd tonight (completely unbiased opinion) but I think as the season goes on they will likely fall behind mandarins and Seattle's pace.

Small hornline with a good sound. They stand and sing for a while during the opener which I don't like but I'm sure someone will or does like it. The drumline sounded quite dirty... I mean, I'm not a drum guy so if it sounds dirty to me, I can imagine how it sounds to the real drummers ear. I don't remember too much about them either but their show wasn't that exciting. I spent most of the show checking out the girls in the colorguard. The percussion feature is cool and the hornline moves a lot while doing their trademark visuals. The drill at the end is pretty cool though. I had them in 5th tonight.

Seattle Cascades
They were the first corps of the night to tantalize my ears with a big d1 horn sound. I actually think that the hornline is what is keeping this corps afloat. The drumline didn't impress me at all and neither did the drill. But the show has more meat than both PC and Mandarins, which could help them come finals. Probably won't make finals but they most likely will make semis. They have a month to clean and with a hornline like that they should end up no lower than 15th. I had them in 4th tonight though.

Santa Clara Vanguard
WOW! What a freaking show. Definitely filled the stadium with their sound better than BD, and their drill and music will suck you right into their show. They move a whole lot but it's not as crazy as they were in 2000 or 2001. Great percussion and hornline. When I heard that they were playing Scheherazade I was a little skeptical but they've made a classic show out of it. Think about it, how many people who came up in their high school band programs played Scheherazade? This was definitely a perfect choice to really connect with the audience. I had them in 1st tonight but I guess I was wrong.

Blue Devils
Their show was very intriguing. On the field I didn't like this show as much as vanguard's. They move a lot but their drill is not as effective as SCV's. SCV was louder but BD had a very solid sound. The train thing was very cool on the field but it can be sold a lot better than what it is now. They are strong in all sections but I still thought SCV had the upper hand tonight. They used electronics to amplify some of the train sounds and the timpani player. I didn't even notice until I tried to notice. I had my doubts about this show but I think this show can take it all if they can sell it like they did in their victory concert (which was PHENOMINAL). BD will be in the hunt for another title in August, you can count on that. They need to do something with the end though.

Well that's my review. I apologize for not being able to review the lower corps but that's life. I hope these reviews are beneficial to everyone.

Omari Parker
PC 99-01

Old Bridge, NJ (DCI Atlantic)

Well, I managed at the last minute to go to the Old Bridge show, after a hectic few days at home, so.... here are my thoughts....

Raiders As always, a great percussion section. Maybe too large for the number of horns, though they do some good staging to attempt to minimize the problem. 6 snares, 3 tenors (?), and 5 bass on the field, plus pit, against 22+/- horns. Excellent guard. Their show is very demanding for such a small group (e.g. "Short Ride..."). The brass have trouble keeping up musically at time and tend to lose their pitch focus. They get an 'A' for effort, though. If the brass can use the next month to work on stamina issues, they can take the show places, I would think.

Surf Once again one of my favorites of the year. 5 plates this year!... they do a great job on the field. Their Elvis change is great. if they can get the changeover time down a bit, even better. They have some "running out of gas" problems themselves, esp in the Elvis tune. Having John "Screetch" Arietano on staff may help; he's great at getting kids to play out.

Crown I can't believe all of the furor over such a little bit of singing and poetry. The total can't be more than a minute or so. I personally have not cared for it in the past, but it is and should remain, legal. No negative comments around me, including the two guys I sat next to who marched in a NJ corps in the 70's (Sacred Heat/Manville Crusaders). Crown's show is amazing... their horn line has it's best sound ever, IMO. I think there is a lot more they can do to tweak it as well; the Smetana has plenty of room for more romantic-era phrasing, as an example. There are a few spots in the end of the show that I'm sure they'll perk up as well. I thought the singing and poetry were handled well. I'd probably do a costume change for the singers who are drawn from the uniformed members. They bring the singers off the field in plenty of time to do so.

Spirit A very good show...Saucedo, Nelson, Bernstein, Daugherty music. Very nice charts. Their horn line sounds young. Their intonation and sonority isn't as rich and full as, for example, Crown. A bright and sometimes brittle sound is the best way I can describe it. Probably due at least partially the arrangements, of course. Pit is amped, but IMO the bells have a bit too much "presence", at least at the tiny Old Bridge HS field.

Crossmen I loved their opener, by Wynton Marsalis. I thought it their best piece of the evening. Their battery percussion were not as clean as I expected, but the show Lee Beddis has given them, if cleaned up, is great, esp the closer. "Both Sides Now" needs waaaay more feeling to sell the way they want it to, IMO. Right now it sounds very pleasant, but there is not a lot of ‘schmaltz' in it, so to speak.

Crusaders An incredible guard (to this non-guard person), and a wonderful sounding brass section. Mostly original music, but it comes across very emotional and moving. The narration is just a bit in the beginning and a bit at the end. The guys next to me thought the ending narration (the colors) reminded them of Blast! (Ba-lue). They seemed to dig it (and they are old time corps guys form the 70's. Their ending as they filed into the boxes with just two folks left on the field was great. I think that right now they are a bit ahead of Crown as the scores showed, but Crown may have more potential to improve. BAC is pretty darn clean right now.

Cadets An amazing improvement over the bits of the show performed at the Memorial; Brass show. Percussion display their usual excellence, though the small tenor feature has a ways to go to meet the 2000 tenor soli (probably my favorite all-time tenor section). Guard is, as usual, excellent. The twirler does an amazing job; everyone around me was "oohing" and "ahhhing" during his solo spots.


A GREAT night of drum corps, with a full house. I know the stadium is small, but it gave the show a real ‘old time' feeling. Those are the type of fields we used to spend MOST of our time competing on in my day.

Cadets and Crossmen used amps to perfection, IMO. They gave presence to the lower range of the marimbas and vibes without sticking out. Added a lot to the front percussion, IMO.

Didn't mind the singing and narrating. Nothing to get all flustered over, IMO. They were small spots in two wonderful programs.

Spoke with the souvie folks at BAC and Crown. Both told me there has been very little negativity about their corps, and sales are at least on par with last year, even a bit ahead (guesstimate from the Crown guy).

I purchased tour shirts from both Crown and BAC to support them. (Your welcome!).


I just returned from an extended holiday weekend..... I was at the Old Bridge Show on Saturday..... had a 50 yd. line seat.... place was packed, and the weather held up.... small HS stadium......

Raiders: competent battery with respectable technique and parts was strongest part of corps and will be respectable...... young hornline suffered with performance problems and playing some tough charts... drill staging adequate..... will be ok once horn line matures........

Surf.... very good horn sound overall, and all captions competent... very entertaining show..... this product will do well once clean, and I think it will be Surf's best ever....

Crown.... one word.... WOW..... their best ever, and this corps is on the move....great arrangements and a fine brass sound.... guard, percussion, and brass all very good right now and all showing potential to be stellar.... the book is great..... like others, I wasn't into the miked narration or the singing, but both were short and not a huge distraction........ this was an emotional job, and the surprise of the night for me...... Crown will be a force once this show is clean.............

Spirit...... show is a bit abstract and dissonant.... they are competent in all sections, but I found the music a bit disjointed and they had trouble connecting with the audience..... I respect the quality of the corps, but I was dissapointed in the arrangements.......

Crossmen..... some early season performance stuff holding them back, but tonight's performance had some emotion..... the drumline is progressing rapidly... good dynamics and impact...... show is not one of my favorite Bones shows but interesting in places.......

Boston.... strong guard/visual program...... music arrangements seemed a bit disjointed and hornline was reserved in emotion..... there were some good moments, but Crown's arrangements seemed so much stronger, emotional, and cohesive to me. They are competent performers, and as I said, the drill is decent, but I'm not very excited about the musical product...... I had Crown taking them for 2nd, and am a bit confused at the 2 point spread........ I would have had them down a point in music effect alone......

Cadets..... opening was stellar in both writing and performance...... impacts in 1st half seemed reserved, but they did open it up in the 2nd half..... drumline and guard very fine for this point in the season and both will contend for top honors..... hornline marching technique showed alot of bobbing (ie excess upper body bounce) and it effected performance at times.... I wasn't totally sold on the charts but they do have some strong moments...... I feel the hornline and what changes/tweaks they make will determine their fate....

Notes: I agreed with judging/scores with the exception of Crown, whom I felt should have been 2nd and scored higher. Cadets and Crossmen did fine with miked keyboards only.....I didn't care for miked narration by both Boston and Crown..... also, if you are going to attempt vocals.... make it very short and "smokin"", such as Take 6 or Swingle Singers... otherwise leave the mikes home......


Madison, WI (DCI Central)

First, apparently no one who uses this newsgroup attends shows anymore. There is certainly a dearth of reviews. Anyway, in order of appearance:

Southwind - 5th - 64.9

The brass book is very well arranged, but the kids are not up to it yet. The drill execution also looked a couple weeks behind the other corps. If they can pull it together, Southwind could make a big move....

Colts - 4th - 68.5

I saw Colts, Phantom and Madison two weeks ago in Menasha, and I thought Colts have made the biggest improvement of the three. This really suprised me, positively for Colts, negatively for Phantom and Scouts. They have really cleaned their drill. The guard has changed the silks they use in the first set, and it really works better with the "from the heartland" theme. Old Man River was a big hit and the sound is really full and lush. You can tell the kids and staff are really working hard. Way to go Colts! They performed better than their score. I would have them in the low 70's.

Cavaliers - 1st - 83.3

There they were, amplifiers on the left and right sides of the pit. Not large, about 3' x 4', but it was funny to watch the "audio engineers" set them up. Noted some grumbling from the crowd about the amps. And this was not your hard core "in the know" crowd you see at finals - there were a lot of nubies around us. On with the show....
My first impression was, "wow - the pit's loud." Then I realized a few minutes into the show that I couldn't hear the brass very well. The pit was overpowering the brass! Let's hear it for progress! Then, I was overcome by the guard, which was kicking some major ass........ then, the drill, which was crazy (in a good way). This is another one of those Cavies shows - there's so much going on, you need to sit through it a dozen times. I was overpowered by the action! It's a terrific show, and they should be fighting for first place in Denver. OK, here's the big surprise. Don't read on if you don't want to know:

The pit whistled the James Bond theme, and it was, as Hoppy might say, cool. This would not have worked without the amps, you wouldn't have heard it. But with the amps it came through just right. So, although I can't stand the idea of amps, especially when they're used to amplify singing, the whistling really worked. Some incredible inovation from the Cavies this year - the guard and horns are flying around out there. Go see them!

Phantom - 2nd - 79.65

Their music book is extremely difficult. More difficult, I think, than Cavies or Madison. Two weeks ago when I saw them, I thought that if they clean it up, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Last night, I was a little disappointed (which kills me, because I love PR) to see that a lot of those same problems are still there. My reaction hasn't changed... if they can clean it up, watch out. I personally thought they were third last night.

Madison - 3rd - 79.05

OK, this is Madison's home show. So, I was shocked that when the came onto the field to set up............... the crowd was silent. Not one of your more sophisticated crowds last night. Either that, or I've entered a parallel universe, because Madison ALWAYS evokes a crowd reaction coming on to the field. This show *fits* for the Scouts. There was only one moment all night that pulled the crowd to it's feet when it wasn't the end of their show - and this was during Malaga. This was old school Madison at their best.....well, their somewhat muted best. Either I'm going deaf, the acoustics of the stadium are such that the sound disipates, or those damn Bb horns aren't as loud as the G bugles. But I digress. Madison's performance rocked, and there will be no discussions this year about whether they will make the top 12.

A few other things I noticed: at the top of the stadium, standing together chatting at the side of the pressbox, were Dr. Kampschorer and Mr. Wm Howard. With the Blue Stars truly "reloaded" this year (that's what they've named their show), and the Scouts rocking, they had plenty to smile about. And, last night, I finally told my 11 and 14 year olds what SUTA means. They got a kick out of it.


Wednesday June 30

New London, CT (DCI Atlantic)

I sat down when Glassmen were on so I can only tell you from there. There was a large crowd for the show, first the Glassmen. I dont know how to put this... the kids are working hard but the show... it's just boring and people around me thought the same. Crown was next... real nice horn line and drum line is way ahead of last years pace, they sounded solid as did the horn line, and the guard had some nice looking flags and flag work. Then the show comes to a screeeehing halt... vocals... these kids sing nice and sound really good, but when the horn line is playing so well and the drums are playing well, the show just comes to a halt and never really gets going again. The vocals dont work, again, people around me didnt think so either. JSU... the best they have been in sometime, very entertaining and the drumline plays some nice parts. Nick Angelis is there so this is a line to be watched as well as Crowns line with Jeff Queen teaching.Crossmen.... really nice guard work, the drumline was solid and pretty clean for this time of the year. The hornline was great and the sporano's... oops... trumpets play really well, one of the best shows of the night. Boston...really nice show but the guy with the narration aboout what the colors meant in the guard uniforms was a bit distracting... I dont need to have someone explain the show as it's being performed. The quint line seems to be the strongest part of the drumline right now. Cadets... well they perform like the Cadets so it was a really good performance, but not the best show they have played in years. The drumline smokes and the hornline is great, especially with tone quality, the guard was great and had a nice feature, the only problem was the pit was a bit too loud due to the amps, and the guy with the batons... thats right, not a rifle, a baton... after the fourth time he threw it in the air I felt like I was at a Ohio State/Michigan game. Now if it was a rifle that was tossed that would be impressive, and the last time he was out there he's right in front of the snare line during the snare feature. Good show but it doesnt knock me over like other shows... thats it.


This was another great day and night for a drum corps show. The crowd was great, stands were packed and everyone was ready for some great music.

The show began with the New London Fire Fighters and Bagpipes. They played a few old favorites and lead into the singing of the National Anthem. Fans were still arriving during the start of the show.

First to take the field was the 7th Regiment. This is their first year of DCI Div III competition and this was their second show. Nice low brass solo in the opener. The drum line is not afraid to show their stuff and are quite good for first year. The percussion over powers the brass but with time and experience the brass will get more confidence. Guard is still learning but overall have a nice quality. It will be interesting to see how this corps stacks up at the end of the season....

7th Regiment Score 37.45

Next on the field was Targets with their show Selections from Alladin. It appears their field show is not yet complete with long periods of stand still. Some nice brass runs in several selections. Drum line is alittle weak with low numbers and some dirty sticking.... Again will be interesting to see how this corps does at the end of the season... Certainly 7th Regiments Drum line will be giving this corps a run for the money....

Targets Score 41.70

Next on the Field representing Div ll was East Coast Jazz. Their show entitled The Heart of Jazz had some really nice brass runs and overall the crowd enjoyed their show. Sop Solos add to this show. The pit had some issues with timing but pulled it together. The ending added a nice climax to the show. With work this show has some real potential.

East Coast Jazz Score 73.35

Starting the Div l performances was the Glassman. Visually nice start to the show with all members in black and cream. The guard have several changes adding to the visual interest of this show. This corps uses full corps dance with alot of fast drill This corps had some really nice brass runs and their brass shines in this show.

Glassman Score: 72.65

Next on the field was Carolina Crown. This corps had an explosive start with beautiful brass and percussion work. If only the rest of the show could keep that pace. The show does not continue that same power that is heard in the opener. There are some nice parts in the show with beautiful corps progressions in the ballad and the percussion line has some great power. The guard has some really nice fast flag work and their is some nice corps drill. The singing detracts from the show and many in the audience found it confusing.

Carolina Crown Score 76.50

Taking the field in an ongoing wonderful night of music was Spirit. The opener was solid with some nice cord progressions. Overall their show was good, but the brass played it safe and really never opened up. The drum feature was good but still needs some cleaning. The closer has potential but could really be stronger. This corps and show has potential, they need to just open up the sound....

Spirit Score 73.15

Onto the Crossmen with an awesome drum line. Their show is powerful from the start. The percussion is right on some awesome sticking. Their brass is alittle weak on attacks and timing with some lagging on cutoffs. There was a screaming sop solo and some really beautiful mellos parts. Closer was weak on initial attack but the percussion soon makes up for any problems the brass have. Very nice show overall. With cleaning on the brass and continued work this corps has a great shot....

Crossmen Score 72.90

The Crusaders used large visual white box props as they took to the field in competition. They used the boxes for entering and some interesting field work. The brass had some nice crunch cords but transitions were weak. This corps utilizes the whole field in their drill. The guard work was a nice feature with some well timed flag tosses. The mello section had some nice parts in the ballad. The narration overall detracts from the show. The color is not introduced into this show until late and lacks interest. The overall show is like WGI and the ending is dissappointing. Unfortunately without some real change I think this corps has no where to really go with this years show....

Crusaders Score 78.45

And then the night of Competing Corps ends with The Cadets taking the field. The initial attack of this corps was weak but quickly changed to a excellent start. Nice solos with building brass additions. The bass have some really great parts and help this show build. The field work from the guard and the corps as a whole is fast and adds to the overall effect of this corps. As their show progresses you are pulled into this great show. The Jethro Tull theme was pulled off great and works well from the arrangement to the guard look. This is a well thought out program. As far as the baton twirler, all I can see is he is awesome. It may not work in all shows but it just enhances this great performance by the Cadets. All in all, this corps has a great shot at taking the Gold.... Can't wait to see more of this corps....

Cadets Score 83.15

Spirit of America performed at the end of the competition and had a nice show and sound. After the awesome sounds fromt the all brass corps, this bands sound was soft. Although nice the sound is just flat after the brass corps ( and of course they followed the Cadet.....)

The night over all was a great show. As a show the people were friendly, the weather was good and it was a great night. Thanks to all that made this a great experience and time for all.

Amy...Crosstown Tornadoes

Tuesday June 29

Elizabeth, PA (DCI Central)

Ok, so I'm out here in Pittsburgh now, and it has one major advantage - there are a lot more DCI shows in close driving distance. The disadvantage is that there are a lot more DCI shows in close driving distance. Last night, I availed myself of one of those shows - Music On The Mon at Elizabeth Forward High School.

I have purposely avoided the newsgroup and all other news sources that describe the content of shows because I wanted to see how the actual application of amps and other changes would work. I was given two very specific examples of the application of amps last night - The Boston Crusaders and the Carolina Crown. I'm going to review all the shows I saw, and at times my descriptions will be visceral and colorful. Be warned.

Division III -

Marion Glory Cadets - 51.25

For a small corps with an obviously incomplete show, this corps packed quite a wallop. The hornline has a long way to go, but the timing of their peak should be just right for finals, and they make a respectable showing. The drumline was passable. the guard, however, consisted of two girls, and there was only ever one of them standing and spinning. Even in Div. III, they will need to work on that. It was a decent, entertaining show, though, and I was pleased to have had a chance to see them.

Division I, in order of performance:

Glassmen - 72.10

I'm not entirely certain what has happened to Glass over the past couple years, but I was saddened to watch the quality of tonight's performance. Being a brass man myself, I tend to focus on that; this brass line has a long way to go - probably farther than they have time to go. The trumpets (shudder) stuck out like a sore thumb, and the low brass was oddly reticent. The mello line was passable and could be competitive, but without the support of the other lines, they will fail. The entire brass line spent about 1/3 of the show facing back field, which is the oldest trick in the book, and not very impressive on the dynamic scale. The drumline was decent, though a shadow of previous years, and the guard was flat out messy, but still obviously had the talent to fix their problems. The hornline, save a miracle, will be Glass's Achilles heel this year. I also have a problem with the title of their show - it should have been called "Blast!". I had them in fifth, and the judges agreed.

Magic of Orlando - 62.25

Magic has a passable hornline, a respectable drumline, and their guard was superior to Glass's. What they don't have is good design. The show is poorly designed and doesn't leave them room to improve in general effect. If there are not serious rewrites this season, Magic may miss Finals, which would be a disaster for them. Overall, the corps performance was better than Glass, but the design killed them. I had them at sixth, but with far less wide a margin than the judges.

Spirit From JSU - 73.00

I was singularly impressed by Spirit. They have come so far in so few years, and they have the whole package this year. The color guard was quite good, the drumline was skilled, and the hornline! During the ballad, the hornline actually made me melt, with that lush low brass sound. This corps will be in finals barring incident; the only danger to them is that the hornline may peak too early. They are VERY clean musically. The show, with some few modifications and additions, promises to be a banner show for Spirit. I had them in third, as did the judges.

Carolina Crown - 75.70

Ok, NOW my back hair is up. Frankly, this show was terrible. Crown's hornline spent a ridiculous amount of time facing backfield, and they were RFL even then, much less when they finally faced the audience. Also, all I could hear were trumpets. That's it, and trumpets playing with closed teeth, no less. I have not heard a reedier, screechier brass sound in YEARS. The color guard was sloppy in heretofore unseen ways. This corps had one advantage - a good drumline - but to me, they ruined that advantage with the lounge act version of "Seasons Of Love" from Rent. The singing and narration were forced and poorly executed, even if one ignores the basic issues of using electronics in an outdoor medium. If you're going to use electronics and amplification, there are less distracting, more effective ways. I had them in fourth; the judges disagreed, putting them in second. I reviewed the recap, and I want some of what the judges were smoking.

Boston Crusaders - 76.95

Boston's show is a mystery. The props brought back memories of Cadets '96, and the narration felt like the Color Wheels in Blast! However, I liked the show. The guard was FANTASTIC, the drumline held their own, and the hornline was much better than I anticipated. My issue with the narration is this, and this alone: it distracts from the music and motion going on behind it. It was very difficult to concentrate on the skill of the corps and the beauty of the music with someone saying some extremely forced lines over speakers. I was disappointed in their use of E&A, but the show genuinely overcame that obstacle. I had them in first, and the judges agreed.

Crossmen - 72.20

This was the travesty of my evening. The Crossmen were not top 6 material. The show is not top 6 material. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining show, well-performed, and deserved better than the judges gave it last night. The hornline has some issues with trumpets sticking out, but overall, they are better than many Crossmen hornlines I've heard over the years. The drumline was, as usual, very, very good. The color guard made some mistakes, and the guard show has room for expansion, but overall, the show impressed me. it's not a winner, but it deserves more attention than it's getting. I had them in second; the judges disagreed and put them in fourth. It was the biggest shock of the evening.

So, to recap - DCI's Div. I scores:

1.  Boston Crusaders - 76.95
2.  Carolina Crown - 75.70
3.  Spirit from JSU - 73.00
4.  Crossmen - 72.20
5.  Glassmen - 72.10
6.  Magic of Orlando - 62.25

My placements -

1.  Boston Crusaders
2.  Crossmen 3.  Spirit From JSU
4.  Carolina Crown
5.  Glassmen
6.  Magic of Orlando

Thank you for your time. :)

Harry Baer IV

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