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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 Four 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 27

Columbus, OH (DCI)

Venue is Crew Stadium. Somewhat big for a drum corps show, and $22 is expensive for seven corps. Parking is $5 and a Crew Dog is $3.50. Maybe it's time to look for a nice HS to hold this contest. I sat in the top row and was treated to a generator/engine running in the parking lot + corps parking behind me. In 12 years of drum corps, this is the first show I've ever watched by myself. I'm a nice guy and I usually travel with others. But, of all the people who could go, they had better things to do than drive 90 minutes to a drum corps show. DCI, take note!

Anyway, here are a few short comments...

First brass group played many songs but tempos seemed... almost monotone. Oh wait, that was OSU band's CD playing over the PA. The world didn't need a brass arrangement of "The Final Countdown."

PIONEER: In the past you could count on intonation probs from horns, but not tonight. Sounds great, but still playing Irish stuff. Battery, I like the Midwest Ditty.

SOUTHWIND: Had the horn troubles that Pioneer has outgrown... hate to be negative but that's all I remember about this show. Everyone trying really hard to be loud, and it's physically impossible.

MANDARINS: Nice sound from horns, people around me thought they sounded full and loud. Funny headgear, especially viewed very far away.

CAPITAL REGIMENT: Better known as Doxology. I've seen this show so many times that it did not imprint in memory. Sorry.

BLUECOATS: Hip, swinging show. Best sounding basses of the night so far.

CAVALIERS: Wow, what drill. What drumming. Like getting hyped about the new BMW arriving, then you realize it's a machine.

SCV: Wonderful, moving show. I'm not a classical music nut, but I think we should see more of it... nothing like a classic with big, lush chords and wild key changes. I wonder why they form a giant "CV" at approx 7:47 into their show? Only bad part of show was that Southwind set up the pit in the middle of parking lot (behind the seats), and xylos plinked away during the ENTIRE SCV SHOW. Their pit was closer to back row than SCV's pit. Show organizers, take note, please.

Maybe not much of a review, but the most important thing is I'm still bitter about that pit practice during SCV. Now you all know it too. I'm also bitter about all the damned Ohio and Michigan drivers who drive in the left lane, oblivious to what's happening around them. You can make fun of NJ and PA for lots of things, but those drivers practice lane courtesy.

Good night!


Crew stadium in Columbus was a fantastic venue for drum corps, with the sound of the corps staying within the confines of this huge stadium. Its (in my opinion) one of the best places I've ever viewed drum corps The food may have been expensive, but I don't go to the show to eat dinner. Great, close parking was worth the parking fee.

From what I've seen so far this season, 2004 is an extremely competitive, quality year for drum corps, and tonight was a great show.

I was impressed when Capitol started the show by playing the national anthem, but centainly, they should have been able to march into a semi-circle better than they did. Come on, 15th place :)

PIONEER: Liked the opener, but the visuals should have been cleaner this time of the season. The baritone solo in the second song, could barely be heard in the 15th row. Why is the soloist so far back in the field. Put them right up front, and it will be beautiful. I'm not much into percussion, but the drumline was really clean and entertaining and I I loved thier slick moves. The hornline had great flashes, but they seem pretty muddy sometimes, except when they are ending a song, or standing still. Guard... Keep cleaning. .. your not quite ready for Denver, maybe you'll peak at the right time. I'm not trying to be hard on Pioneer, but the staff put the corps in division 1, and I just don't think its a division 1 corps. They look very young.

SOUTHWIND: Wow. Different corps than when I saw them in Toledo. Way to work at it. The hornline had some pretty professional dynamics in the opener, and you could hear the talent in the sop's controlled range. I really liked the way the guards colors looked next to the rest of the corps uni's. The baritone solo was VERY VERY nice. The rifles have an easy routine, but seemed pretty dirty. The Drum solo finally woke the crowd up for the first time of the night. Again, the guard colors are just great. It looks very good. I'd bet the person responsible has a beautiful house. I was really getting into this show, but then the horns kinda ran out of gas. This corps is on the verge of blooming, and anyone who is beating them by a small margin, better start worrying. If Southwind pulls it together in time, they will leave their mark this year.

MANDARINS: Right off the bat, they entertained me with just the sight of their uniforms. I loved them, especially the drum majors. I wouldn't want to get in his way. Hee Hee. Loved the start of the show with great visuals. The guard is very clean throughout the show. The double rifle spinning was one of the highlights of my season so far. Major talent in this color guard. The hornline would have been better if their wasnt so many members out of tune. The pit was quite soothing to the ear and had mature, balanced sound. The drum solo overall was fantastic, with the visuals and the tribal drums. Overall, nice, but again, I don't feel this is division 1.

CAPITOL REGIMENT: The opener was fine, with a very controlled sound. The drill is real clean, but seems pretty easy. Missed a few moments of their show sound, due to a jet flying low overhead. With all of the negative talk about their green guard uni's, I'd have to say that the green looks great next to the rest of the corps. THEN, they unveil those UGLY, rust colored knickers. This is the better complaint. Overall, the corps is very clean, and I hope they haven't peaked too soon. I think what the show is lacking, is excitement, or drive. Maybe they should pick up the tempo a bit, and kick this well balenced show into high gear.

BLUECOATS: OK, this is the last corps that I marched in, and I always look foreward to seeing them. Maybe this is why I got my first chills of the night, but the weather was very fall like and chilly. Oh my god! The sop duet was awesome, but I wouldn't expect anything less from them. The guard really impressed me during the end of the opener, with a PERFECT performance. Anyone that has seen this show will agree. The rifles are very confident, and have a reason to be. Yeah! The pit sounded perfect, and no amps! When I saw them in Massillion, they seemed to lack emotion, even though it was their home show. Tonight, I thought it was better, but I felt the the end of their show left me hanging. Where is the final push, or at least something to make me clap. Overall, it was a very clean show, and they should be happy in Denver.

CAVILIERS: After seeing the cavies in Toledo, and totally lovin em, I was anxiously awaiting their show tonight. Man ol man, they are have been working! The soprano licks in the opener are squicky clean, and I loved the way they showed they knew it, when they brushed off their shoulders at the end of the song. The familier music made things even more enjoyable, cause it sounded so good. Very fine arrangements. The show has such of a suspenseful feeling to it, and I think the corps designers did a perfect job with this show.The colorguard made me laugh, acting like agents. The hornline seemed to be running more than marching, and still sounded flawless. I'm serious, the crowd was screaming from beginning til end. This was probably the best show I've seen in years. Can't wait to see them in Indianapolis.

SANTA CLARA VANGUARD: From the first part of their show to the last.... VERY powerful. I liked the big silks in the opener. I would have to ask where the hornline dynamics are. The licks are very good, and the music is pretty difficult, but very loud. Everyone knows you can play us out of the stadium, so I kinda wanted to hear a soothing side as well. Well, at least the guard made up for this. I think this show is still a little dirty, and maybe tonight was an off night, as the crooked lines in the drill showed. I'm sure there will be improvement in Indy.

Just my thoughts, from the stands as a spectator.

Jay Hughes

Sunday July 25

Hershey, PA (DCI & DCA)

More like a few thoughts from someone trying to wind down after a long day:


Quite honestly, I did not see a 10-point spread between CorpsVets and the rest of the field. Not at all. I thought the 'Vets should have been closer to the pack by at least a few points. These guys have a heckuva show this year!

Stop the presses!!!!!! Curt Hawkins of the Caballeros actually missed a note during one of his soprano solos. Well, not missed, per se, but rather he didn't quite hold onto a high note. It's the first time in 20 years I've heard him make a mistake. I'll probably have to wait another 20 years before he makes another! Cabs looked and sounded pretty good from upstairs. And once they clean up their visual show..... hide the children, folks!!!!

Buccaneers have a killer lower-brass section, but could use some more "oomph" out of their soprano line. Overall, the Bucs looked pretty strong tonight from the press box. Some pretty interesting visual stuff going on.

Brigadiers.... I can't believe they're leaving a good deal of their soprano solo work in the hands of guys from BALTIMORE. WTF are they thinking???? JUST KIDDING guys...... Brigs had much more energy (and execution) tonight in the back half of their program than a month ago in Wildwood. And their "Caravan" opener... wow. Goooood stuff!!!!!!!


When I first saw Capital Regiment back in 2000, they were a Division 3 corps. I thought, "For a small corps, they're kinda cool." After seeing them this year in Hershey, I'm thinking, "They're kinda WOW!!!" Holy mackerel, where did these guys come from???? Their hornline was absolutely blowing us away upstairs, and the drumline and visual show weren't too shabby, either. Keep up the good work, Capital Regiment!!!!

Sorry, didn't see as much of the Seattle Cascades and Crossmen as I probably should have. Had to get some work done during those two corps. From what I DID hear/see of Crossmen, they were much improved over my last viewing of them in Kalamazoo two weeks ago. And a happy 15th birthday to Leighann Fields of the X-men!!!!!!!

Madison Scouts: Opener is performed quite well, but is more technical than it is crowd-grabbing. Then a very nice ballad!!!! Cool visuals during the ballad. And then the Scouts open up the freezer, take out the raw meat and toss it to the die-hard drum corps fans in the form of a high-energy version of a Scouts classic, "Malaga." Complete with pinwheel and huge power push to the front. And a triple-pump "loud, louder, and someone answer the phone!!!" final chord that gets the whole house on its feet. I think I even saw some babies being thrown.

Santa Clara Vanguard: Well, at least in my opinion, they certainly lived up to their advance hype! Super-powerful brass with several in-your-face moments, world-class percussion and another fast-moving "expando-contracto" visual show from Myron Rosander. All kinds of stuff going on in this show, but it's a program designed both for the judges AND the fans. Mr. Royer would have been proud!

Blue Devils: My second viewing of them this season and the first from upstairs. I've always enjoyed "tell-a-story" types of drum corps shows, and this one is right up my alley. I love this show!!!!! The "train slowing down" sound effect made by the tympani player using the brushes is absolutely fantastic. Another great BD hornline and a well-coordinated package overall. Do they do as much drill, step-for-step, as some of their competitors? No, probably not. But you know something? I could care less. I just want to be entertained, and I was by this corps.

Marine D&B Corps: Most unique arrangement of "America The Beautiful" I've ever heard. The most in-tune marching brass section in the world, IMO. 44 horns that sound more like 74 at times. The best brass articulation of the night in Hershey, during the finale of Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 4," on two-valve horns, no less. What's not to like about these guys????? Brian Dix has done a great job with this corps in recent years.

That's all, folks.... gotta get some sleep!!!!


Ok, ok I watched the junior corps. train wreck mentality(and i won a $50 bet) I will touch that later.

I do have one complaint about this show, and it's an annual complaint that gets worse. Dear 5 star, staff people head up the aisle closest to the 50 on instinct, and IMO, your siganage you crow about on field level alerting them to go to the 30 sucks. Your security people at the press box ruined half a corps show. I understand they were doing their job, but they were loud, rude and almost physical. You have that huge press box, and that lil section that covers the 50 is a great place to put them...the other end as half empty. a few VIPS wont mind and here's why.

After the above mentioned incident between staff(Cap Reg) and jerk(security) between corps i went to 5 star volunteer Jim Walters to explain hey "can you keep it down during the show? i understand you guys have a job to do, but face it, staffs are trained to go to the 50, and the people at field level arent doing a good job telling them(true... the guy who stood up holding a signfor staffs stopped holding after 2 corps). I told him i paid my $18 for thses seats every year and i'm tired of power hungry runners ruining it."

Well, he got very rude and told me i could move my seats then(f you buddy had those seats since the 70's). the dialouge went on for a few minutes and i kindly told this gentlemen, after i got his name, i'd let 5 star know. (funny after that, they started lettinmg corps staffs thru the box down to the 30) 5 star i love you all, but this show is starting to get a bad rep. I know you cant do anything about Hershey's in house people, but your volunteers are getting bad too. as a long time seat holder, the staff problem gets worse every year, and you keep banging your heads against the same wall. my soloutuion...let em use the tiny part of the box mentioned.

Ok, now the corps:

CV: i dunno, i was left flat. an ensemble tear 30 seconds in didnt help. feet looked ok, but tempos seemed, well, monotone. drumline needs some help. Not sure if it's design, playing, or both but it wasn't happening. brass is strong, but the arrangements seemed kinda choppy, especially in the Winnetka section. Guard unis stand out, and i did like the guard. The show has some potential, but it needs some hard and fast fine tuning.

Cabs: very falt fact, i felt no low brass oomph. i could tell they were Bb tonight, and that whack in the head i got at Reading wasn't there. drums seemed to have a rough night( i think snares were tuned too low and caused fuzz where it wasn't really fuzz). guard unis are done but still a piece of work here n there not done. Could have won, but just flat.

Bucs: huge imporvement. filled a few holes too. fill the last few and game on. percussion performed best i've seen them tonight, and i think they won drums. guard much cleaner but that toss in the file on the 50 won't catch most fans attention until the last person in line is chucking a ridle 100 feet in the air, cause the sabre doesnt work.Other than that, great growth

Brigs: nice show. strong in all areas. at times it seemed a lil dull..... maybe just a rough night as well. nice ballad, and great solists. I hear another Allen has joined, and can someone please consult PA law... this corps may be breaking a hidden law about how many Allens can be in one corps at one time.(kidding) seriously, i liked the show. huge guard well integrated and the ballad work was well done... gorgeous flags.

I think the seniors suffered thru daylight syndrome. usually happens here.


Cap Reg: unplugged. Great show, and i scored it higher! Corps is strong in all areas, tho feet still needs some work. pit carried extremely well to the top of the stadium w/out being plugged in. Battery very strong, and Murph';s best yet. Even if it was Holdisnger version 9999999, tehy found fresh ways to approach it and kept the crowd engaged. this show could suprise a few people in the next two weeks if it all comes together.

Seattle: unplugged. pit carried well to the top row. Another fun show. I expected it to be rehashed arrangements of old tunes, but they also added a fresh take on it. definitely in the hunt for top 12, and this show also, if clean, could surprise people. the first really loud corps of the night.

Crossmen: Puma was well.... good but I expected more. the reentry was a lil flat to me, and the 92 reentrty is, well, the standard. overall, well done, i just wanted..MORE. a fun show, and i loved the tribute drum licks Beddis threw in there.they were unplugged as for some reason their outlet wouldnt work( couldnt tell, it sounded fine) usual big guard... I dunno, they could be a lil higher score wise.

Madison: plugged in and Bb. the good news is they found a way to make Bb loud. the bad news is the amps didnt make a damned difference. And i didnt notice mallet heights dropping. 1st 2 numbers kinda eh, but Malaga woke the place up. much improved drumline, but i still hate the new unis. the extended malaga/malaguena/drum corps fans dream ending was cool and loud. bst Madison since 99, and deserved the number. amps made no difference tho.

SCV: plugged in, and during the ballad it caused over balance issues. other wise you couldnt tell they were plugged in. I love this show that drumline is god. brass line is no slouches either. the show comes at you non stop, and the tension building to the release is worth it all. the guard unis fit the theme and are in no way xrated. drumline is GOD. IMO, should be on the leader's tails, if not above them

BD: also amped, also made no damned difference. ok...i liked;s kinda boring. For all the hype, it expected more. the trains effects are cool, but i dont think amps helped make them that much better. They're clean, they march well, but...the show just seemed to lose me at times. maybe i need another viewing, in which case, i wont see it, but i do think this show needs more to win, and if they peak, SCV can catch them.

Imo, amps are wrothless. except for 2 moments of overbalance, you couldnt tella difference and no mallet hieghts went lower. it was all a smoke screen to get voice in there.

Fun times in the lot pre and post show... DCP/RAMDers galore... Scotty Humm, Lizzy, Mikey, Poodle, Geoffrey, Amanda you name it, plus all the local yokels. I will say the Ricky Lee Memorial gardens are growing well.

Jeff Ream

Massillon, OH (DCI)

Here are my comments from the Bluecoats' home show in Massillon, OH on Sunday, July 25th.

My 13-yr-old daughter and I arrived early since we hadn't bought tickets in advance. We still got good seats and had plenty of time to check out the souvenir stands. In addition to buying a T-shirt, I contributed to some "fuel fund" canisters. Thankfully, the weather held off with only a few sprinkles until the retreat - Bluecoats did manage to set up and play their corps song, Autumn Leaves. After the show, we went back and bought a pair of drum sticks - my daughter is suddenly interested in percussion!

I'll offer some general comments and make mention of a few highlights from the various shows. And I'll add some of my daughter's comments (This was her first Div I show after having attended some Div II/III shows with me when we lived in Illinois.)

Pioneer - 8th - 72.50
It's nice the see this corps getting closer to a full compliment of members. The Irish music was well received by the crowd. And everyone enjoyed hearing Gary Owen as they left the field. At first, I thought the guard uniforms were a bit frumpy but then I realized that they fit perfectly with the Irish Washerwoman. I nice jump in score over recent shows.

Southwind - 7th - 74.90
Personally, I like the new uniforms, and would even more if the gold accents were bolder. And the drum major is easy on the eyes. I love the music from the Mummy (Jerry Goldsmith) and the arrangements were well adapted to the field. Over all, a solid performance. My daughter thought this was the best music theme of the evening.

Colts - 6th - 79.35
I had seen the Colts in Huntington two weeks previous. M&M was much cleaner overall and the hornline seemed to be have more energy. An enjoyable show of Heartland tunes. The percussion did a better job of selling the train in John Henry tonight (or maybe I just knew what to expect this time). The guard had an off night with several drops in prominent points in the show. My daughter liked the hornline uniforms! An aside - I wish the Colts could retain more of their members for more years rather than being somewhat of a feeder corps for Madison and Phantom.

Glassmen - 5th - 84.95
Another nice jump in score over recent events. I really liked the guard uniforms - ankle-length, black waisted gowns with a wide strip of white running the full length and a hint of red lining to match the red triangle on the front of the rest of the corps. At one point in the show, the guard reaches down and pulls up the front layer of the skirt portion revealing red from head to toe - a startling visual impact. Another nice visual moment was when a solid wedge of blue, swirling silks moved through the body of the corps. This got a "Wow!" out of my daughter. Unfortunately, this was countered by numerous drops in the rifles later on. Interesting music - definitely not boring to my ears and eyes!!

Boston Crusaders - 2nd (tie) - 88.60
As the show began, I was determined to not be distracted by the voice over. As soon as it started, my eyes went directly to the pit in search of source. And it happened again when the voice returned later in the show. Clearly a distraction for me!! That said, I really liked this show. And it seemed very clean to my eyes. It was going to be a real dogfight between them and Phantom and Bluecoats!! My daughter loved the giant cubes hiding the main corps at the opening and ending.

Phantom Regiment - 2nd (tie) - 88.60
No secret that PR is one of my favorites year after year. I was hoping they could step it up a notch and catch Boston who had moved ahead of them in scoring in recent days. And I wasn't disappointed. They've added a lot of hornline body work since I saw them in Huntington two weeks prior. The lush brass sound I've come to expect was rock solid on tonight. It would be interesting when the scores were announced. My daughter loved their drum majors all-black uniforms! (One more vote for bringing back the all-black unis!!)

The Cadets - 1st - 91.90
I love this brass section! Total balance and awesome dynamic control even when separated into groups on the field. While it's not the same sound as Phantom, it's hard not to love it! Percussion is tight and hot!! And the guard is very strong. My daughter liked the white tunic tops (before they revealed their long hair and camisole tops - which definitely got my attention! ) The long hair, while visually appealing, is a blatant attempt to copy Blue Devils 2002. The crowd (and my daughter) loved the high-toss batons, especially when he did the splits upon catching them, although I must admit I missed most of that action myself because I was focused on drill maneuvers backfield. The clear, head-and-shoulders winner of the evening, but I don't get the feeling of a "championship" package - yet.

Bluecoats - 4th - 87.65
The home crowd was ready for this one!! I thought the drill had many high impact moments by design, but they just seemed to lack sufficient punch to bring them out. I miss their soprano soloist from a couple of years ago. I enjoyed the musical arrangements a lot (More Jazz please!!) A fine, solid effort, but in the end I felt the nearly one-point gap to PR and Boston was accurate. My daughter felt disappointed with this performance after seeing The Cadets.

I was glad they did a full retreat in spite of the threat of rain. My daughter loved The Cadets' drum cadence to bring the corps on the field. The announcement of scores brought a minor surprise of a 2nd place tie. The "America/O, Canada" medley always gives me goose bumps when the full combined brass kicks in!! And Cadets ceded the field to the Bluecoats for their home crowd. Autumn Leaves sounded wonderful! Overall, a great show - enjoyable from beginning to end. Can't wait for Finals Week!!

Regards, Jazzman

Saturday July 24

Allentown, PA (DCI) #2

Well here goes my second installment on Allentown. We had none of the fun the rain provided on Friday but it was fun giving everyone wet money. My wife came and she had not been to a show since College Park. By the way we are still married, so I guess she didn't mind going too much.


I saw Beatrix from the top, waiting to get into the seats. They seem a lot more mature than they have been on their other excursions across the pond. They shoould be a player in DivII.

Pioneer - This show is what I have come to expect of Pioneer since they went Div I, I am sorry but this is not a great thing. Let me further explain, I love the Irish theme, and how they progress throough an idea, but then theu move on to something else befrore t he idea is resolved. To clarify, I really want to love them but they pull back when I go in for the kiss. I just miss their championship shows before they moved up.

Kiwanis - They put couiple of new twists into WSS, nothing spectacular, but a solid corps.

Capital Regiment - This corps is progressing nicely since they have moved up to Div I. To be honest I remember that I enjoyed the show, but nothing really sticks out. Many in the East were still wondering who they were. I think they won't forget.

Magic - This is one heck of an entertaining show. The drunk section had parts of the crowd in stitches. Not sure why they needed to spill so much "rum" but hey they were having a blast. The crowd could not believe they placed as low as they did. I agree with where they are at although I am no technical expert. Great job Magic and keep plugging along.

Seattle - I kind of feel the same way about them as Capital, although this is not quite like 2002 as far as entertainment. They do preform well and have a nice guard.

Spirit - I like this show a lot and the crowd seemed to enjoy them as well. I am still upset that I drove all the way to JSU in 1991 to watch my team lose a football game, but I can't blame the corps for that. Loved Jesu, just wish they would have pumped it up a bit before moving on. Good stuff is Spirit of Atlanta, um Georgia, um Atlanta, um JSU. Thanks JSU for taking a struggling corps under your wing.

Blue Knights - I have my special name for them that they did not live up to tonight. They were entertaining and I very much enjoyed their show. I don't know if they are going to make finals and I don't really care. Entertain me and I love you, no matter 1st place or 50th.

Crossmen - Bones made the same type of appearance as last year. When walking behind the stadium before the show I sae the cherry picker and was telling my wife what it was probably for. Don't you know I get embarrassed when the corpd is coming on and the crowd is going nuts. After they calm down I tell her "ther is Bones" She and others said what do you think all the applause was for. Yes I am an idiot. Anyway, for me they have the most beautiful ballad of the year. The show is really nice. Puma is a little different from '92. This can be a problem when you take a classic and bring it back. I want to hear it exactly the same. I am sure after a couple of listenings I will be happy though.

Scouts - Not your father's Scouts during the first two thids of the program. Although the guard is great and a lot more field coverage, just not the same excitement. Then comes Malaga. Now this is the Scouts I fell in love with many years ago. This was indeed close enough to '94 and '95 for me to love it the first viewing. The company rotation got the crowd going and it didn't let up until the the end. This was just great stuff, but I think I read this in another review..drum major, you don't have to beg for applause, the corps earned it.

Blue Devils - This show is everything I love and don't about the Devils. Their hornline and guard are phenomenal, but after about a hundred one note bams I get the idea that they will be perfect and you don't have to do them anymore. The train theme came across very well. For those that have written reviews and don't get some of the things, my wife had no idea what their theme was before they played, yet said that train stuff was cool. They have a great show and are probably the cleanest out there.

Boston - This is in my opinion the finest Boston show ever... that is if there was no narration. This show rocks, a lot of exposed drill, volume, just real good stuff. But as all around me who cared to comment, what in the world does the narration have to do with the show or anything for that matter. All I kept thinking is yellow is a banana, red is an apple but can somtimes be yellow as well, and orange is for an orange, it felt like a Barney episode. OK this is not the narration but I think mine makes more sense. Other than narration the only problem I have is that the show should end on the last impact point and not with marching into huge boxes with narration. Anyway this is the 5th place corps.

SCV - What can I say, this is the show of the year. It is a beautiful design. I love the melody, the T collapses, everything. I nailed the Vanguard yell. and I think I heard quite an echo from a group further in the middle. I love this show and I love Vanguard. I wish I could have heard Clowns, but that is up to the judges. I think there is still a little mud in the upper brass and some of the exposed drill parts are not perfect. Can this be cleaned in the next two weeks. I for one hope so. As in my opinion this is one of the top few designed shows ever.

That is it for me. I will be at King of Prussia for quarters if anyone want to kick my butt or buy me a beer (I prefer the beer, than kick my butt, I won't feel it as much).

Overall, a very good year and good luck to all over the next couple of weeks.


Well.. that was a doozy on Friday huh.... I have never gotten that rained on ever...but man... after the delay and hurricane that went thru... Id say close to 75% of the crowd came back to watch the finish.. what a night... a memory for the ages...

Some thoughts about the corps... and yes.. the kids are fantastic.. they are working hard.. they deserve credit, etc.. that goes without saying... I am speaking as someone who paid to see a performance... Every performance I pay to see involves people working hard and showing amazing dedication.. be it a baseball game.. a football game... etc... so please save your rants about 'the kids' ... you want them to be in a bubble and not deal with people expressing their opinions both positive and negitive? Move elsewhere... like Shang Ri La.. I pay? I say. Period. Its my opinion... and you're welcome to it. :)

LV Knights... not too bad... I see a lot of good happening here... One question.. werent pre seasons reports that theyd be really big? They were very small... very good.. but very small....

Southwind: um... Steve Brubaker talked to me in my dreams... he wants his early 90s Cavies drill back... and the Scouts want their 'wave' move back... Did the drill staff actually think that they could literally steal moves VER BATIM and no one would notice? Wow... balls personified. Their hornline is big... but sounds VERY small... they have the ingredients for a good corps...

Troopers... hey.. I like em.. they are heading in the right direction... they're more fan friendly... music is written not just to play.. but to feel... and they connect with the audience... nice soft ending... Another corps that is headed in the right direction..

Mandarins.. not much change from the night before in Giants Stadium... good show..

Colts... good, but after a few days of not seeing them? not terribly memorable. Was it american music? I forgot...

Glassmen... well this is where I remember a lot.. seeing as they were on the field when the tsunami hit. It just came DOWN.. and they kept going and the crowd kept going ballistic.. Actually a very good show... Not boring at all. Clean and powerful... It would be a shame if they miss top 12.. but its a good show.

Carolina... i so want to like them... its aggrivating... and thank GOD the amps went dead tonight... as I said in another post.. many were applauding that. Good corps.. AWSOME sound... clean.. crisp... but they ruin it with the amp and skat bullshit..

Bluecoats.. a 'mature' sound and look.. but didnt connect with me. Great individual sections.. but its like others see Glassmen... bland and no connection.. only done with Jazz... I kind of like them.. but I dont love them.

Phantom... I really dig their show... their latin sound is amazing... beautiful guard work... nice drill.. overall very very appealing...

The Cavies.... what a drill... what a drill.. what a drill.... sure they have a few moves they 'reinvent' all the time.. but they continue to think of new things.. the one move with the big box and the battery in a circle moving INTO that box and all around.. wow.. took my breath away... one of THE few positive drill moments this weekend that awed me.

The Cadets... as I have said... best show from them as far as personal taste goes in a few years... Im sorry.. but after watching it again after Giants Stadium? I do like some of the drill and I think Jeff Saktig has some good stuff... but I am SO tired of watching them go into boxes every other move... box.. pass thru.. arch.. box... repeat... its very clean... they march very well... but I am sorry if Jeffs brother will read this and want to threaten to beat me up.. but if the Cadets are serious about trying to get a championship anytime in the near decade.. they either need to work on looking at the visual program (drill only.. guard is AMAZING) and make an effort to colectively think of new and exciting drill moves... or get someone new.. who? I have no idea... And I have to say that even people next to me at the top of J. Birney could see what I was saying as far as the unis looking ratty even from that distance...easily rectified: go back to the wider cumber bund... done.

Pioneer... well.. not a big fan of theirs.. but they did have the best sounding horn line I have ever heard from them. Drums were very good too... guard left me unimpressed... Think they need to possibly move away from the 'irish' only motiff...

Kiwanis...dont do West Side Story if you cant pull it off... A Canadian corps is to an American Musical Classic as what Canada is to professional basketball... oh the good old days when Kitchner had like what.. 40 drum corps? The Kavaliers have been stuck in a rut for a few years... hope they break out of it...

Capital Regiment... nice.

Seattle Cascades... they went from a nice 'suprise' last year to being very forgettable this year... I had to ask 3 times who they were between them coming onto the field and retreat... They seem to be a 'best of the Cadets' corps... the tymps in the backfield? 1986... have them move on wheels? SCV... they need to find their OWN identity... good corps.. but they need to be themselves.

Blue Knights... they bore me. My personal 'potty break' corps. Extremely forgettable.. boring... I wish I liked them.. I used to...Watched them at Giants Stadium... and they had no emotional input in their show... visually clean emotionally devoid.. so I didnt sit around to watch them in Allentown.

Magic.. I LOVED their show.. a lot of fun... Great GE when the girl 'walks the plank' with the water... very cool... sure its not the cleanest show out there.. but hell they are going thru a LOT.. and god BLESS these kids.. they are doing a great job.. Pirates of Lake Mendotta and this.. ya cant miss with skally wags wearing eye patches saying 'arrrrrrrr'.. :)

Spirit... didnt care for the music too much... ok show... last years show a LOT better in my opinion.

Crossmen... they'll make top 12.. but again.. music doesnt really connect with me.. Time to put away 1992... lets close the book on that book shall we? Enough... that and Birdland (and West Side Story).. we've done it.. move on. Looking forward to seeing them next year as long as the staff doesnt turn over again... I think they need stability in that area and that will help them.

Madison... first of all I didnt see them last year.. this was my first look at the new unis... and I HATE them.. They look like Boy Scouts in the Land of Oz... Whereas I dont necessarily dislike Crossmens new ones.. Mr. Cesario destroyed this one.. horrible doesnt begin to describe it. Just AWFUL. The show? Some told me '' They're BACK".. well.. their on their WAY back... The end of the show AMAZING.. everying up to that? Boring. Sorry.. I just sat there waiting...The guard is FINALLY looking sharp... they are LIGHT YEARS ahead of the disaster they became a few years ago.. fun, sharp... ON.. but the overall show for 8.5 minutes leaves me yawning... THEN they hit ya... more of THAT and they'll be 'back'..

BD... clean.. sharp... hornline kills.. simple drill that lab monkeys could be taught to do if the government grant allowed for that many teaching bananas...

Boston... ok.. so now I have seen them... they could be ok... they have a great horn line.. the guard? Love .. LOVE the flags in the opener that look different depending on which way the members spin them... but that narration is SO stupid. And I was told it was cut a LOT already... hey Boston staff: CUT IT ALL OUT.. its USELESS.. It makes NO sense.. and its only distracting... Like Carolina... you've become nothing more than a punchline.. no one is talking about the show.. their talking about how the show would be better without the talking... Face it: your idea was bad and admit it.. But the staff doesnt really care as long as they go down as the ones who 'tried something brave and new'... yeah.. and the first few people who tried to 'invent' bungee jumping died as a tomato sauce stain... sure you can go bungee jumping.. but you arent forced to do it... leave this shit to the marching bands... and since Bostons director has major connections in that arena.. take it and put it there... dont pollute the field with this crap any further.. youre embarassing yourselves and your corps... You could have people talking about how wonderful you sound.. how great the horns and percussion were.. but all we talk about it how foolish you are.... a crying shame. Oh.. and dont get too used to going on AFTER BD... or SCV.. wont happen too often in this lifetime.

SCV... listen up kids.. this show could be the one to rise up and beat em all... Its got it all.. emotion.. power.. crispness.. clean.. I LOVE this show... AWSOME...

There ya have it. Sorry its so short.. but Im beat... hehe


General.... major rain blast/show delay Friday, but God was nice and after an hour and a half let us finish the show without a problem... and Saturday kept the bad weather away..... On Friday, hit major city traffic and missed LVK and Southwind....

Beatrix (exh.).... I liked the arrangements and so did the crowd..... had some good soloists and some good impacts.... they show hope of continued corps development worldwide.........

Pioneer..... book had some ok moments but seemed quite choppy from a continuity standpoint..... drumline had some good moments... I felt score/placement were correct.....

Kiwanis..... I don't understand why you would take one of the most played drum corps pieces in history (West Side Story...... ie 84 and 90 Cadets come to mind) and try to compete with "B-class" arrangements... am I being brutal..... yes.... but these kids are working their tails off to sell and perform arrangements that are inferior to prior products and are doomed from the get go. It's not ALL bad, but..... performance levels were ok..... I felt score was too high....... the rule here.... don't play music from championship drum corps of the past..........

Magic.... was expecting the worst after all of the turmoil.... not as bad as expected..... had a full sound with good impact..... I liked some of the arrangements, but not strong enough to put them in the finals hunt.... had intonation/quality issues.... perc. has potential..... I thought the guard pulled off the pirate thing very well and made the show very entertaining..... Score seemed a bit low..... if they dig in by Denver, they can move up the ladder, but not all the way to finals.....

Seattle..... I was surprised.... show is a bit abstract but is well written, and I felt performance levels are guetting there..... I felt they were about an 81 instead of a 79...... If percussion had a much stronger book they might be a longshot for finals, but they don't...........

Capital Regiment.... big sound and impacts.... good drill/giard integration..... arrangements didn't work for me, and I had some major qualtiy/intonation issues that didn't show up in their score... I felt Seattle had a far more mature brass sound, and was very surprised they beat them..... I think visual may be pulling them along, but musically they aren't there, and I felt score was around 2 points too high.......

Spirit..... they perform well...... too much dissonance in book and arrangements, especially 2nd half, lack continuity......... I just don't think the show has enough musical effect and they are not a lock for finals...............

Blue Knights..... performing very well...... show is a bit abstract but it is well written..... if they can open up the impacts a bit more I feel they could generate more effect.... interesting visual package..... I see them in finals......

Crossmen..... they were better tonight than at Giants......... this show also suffers from some lulls, but they also have some very good moments and good contrast, and the performance level is slowly but surely improving..... a good chance at finals but not a lock yet..... was one big crescendo..... what was a weak guard 2 years ago is now a great one, and the whole corps marches well..... hornline is quite good and I believe a bit better than their numbers, both in brass and effect..... from the wheel on it is vintage Madison and the crowd is floored..... I felt they were slightly underscored, and clearly beat Boston......

Boston..... being hyped by judges because of their visual program, which is both well-written and well performed. Musically it has improved emotionally, but still lacks a bit there. Brass performance level is not consistent (it was evident that they don't have the maturity of sound of the other top corps) yet this didn't show up on the sheets..... Judges have this corps battling for 5th right now, whereas I feel it is a few pegs down..... overscored....

Santa Clara Vanguard..... absolutely hands down the best show I have heard and seen, and felt they won hands down...... tremendous arrangements played will stellar emotion, quality, and extreme dynamic contrast. No weaknesses...visual book and guard presents and interprets music well, and percussion writing and performance are stellar. I have no clue how they did not win, as there is no comparison in the musical substance of this book with anyone else this year..... I can see people being close in the performance captions, but they should have smoked the field in music effect and they also had the best brass and percussion sections...... wake up, judges.....

Blue Devils....... performance levels are strong in all captions..... I actually feel percussion is better than brass....they have some brass runs that are very dirty that are not showing up in the scores, and the arrangements have a serious lack of continuity.....only their segemental talent saves some of the effect..... harmonic structure of arrangements very redundant in places...not Downey's best work.... strong visual and guard..... musically, however, SCV is clearly superior as there is so much more substance and emotion in SCV's book..... judges obviously do not agree but I actually feel the horn book is 5th place and overall the corps should finish 4th at best.... nowhere close to last year's program.

Goodnite.... won't see anyone until Denver.


First time for me to hear amps...

Done right -- and it wasn't that often -- they're barely noticeable, and if they were hidden, they could fool me.

Done wrong, like several were (BK being the worst of the night), and they really suck. Mic placement on the keyboards is very important to get right, and if it's not, you'll hear some notes jump out unnaturally. Dynamic range can easily be lost, with the whole program ending up sounding loud-ish even in the quiet parts.

Anyway... like the rest of the equipment, it takes good instructional talent to keep them from screwing up the show.

Boston's narration? It was making me laugh. The narration in the middle of the show had me trying to think of different words to insert between the brass hits. Not a good sign when a possibly good program is turned into a big joke.

Non-amp comments ---

BD was really, really clean, and had plenty of opportunities for ensemble tears & errors that never materialized. Everything major is already screwed down tight, and they'll only have to refine & clean individual things between now and Denver. It's a darn good show.

SCV has a great program, and the hornline is really cranking (go figure -- Gino's there). There's a little bit of everything, and there isn't an awkward moment. Occasional ensemble issues are going to hold them back until they get fixed; once that happens, though, there could be a three-way fight for the title.

Madison, it pains me to say, just isn't Madison anymore. It used to be that you could see the members performing and really putting themselves into the show. Now, a simple thing like "flexing", or bending back on loud hits (there has never been a good way to describe it!) has become choreographed knee bends. It's really unnatural, and it lacks heart & soul when you see the hornline hold a loud note for, say, eight counts, and they slowly bend their knees in unison for the last four counts. The horn arrangements use some Madison-esque licks here & there, but on a larger scale, they're just "not right". The hits, especially, don't have that Madison character, and are interchangeable with many other corps that place between 6th and 15th.

Crossmen, after doing Metheney yet again, needs to find a third rut/tradition (Birdland being the second) to use for their show next year.

Boston's pretty darn good, and their "Color" theme would certainly come across just fine without the kid narrating it for us. Leave the voice on the bus.

I don't think BK is playing Trittico this year, but maybe they are. The same pyramid chord-building motif that they've used to occasional success in the past is in the program again this year, and in several instances, too. If it's not Trittico, it sure sounds like it. They would also be much easier to listen to if their amps weren't turned up so loud.

Spirit is pretty impressive, and the kids look like they're enjoying their show. Their amps are also too loud, and just like BK, a nicely sustained horn chord gets roughed up by the banga-bonga of artificially enhanced marimbas & vibraphones.

Beatrix is having a good time, too. They've got issues with fundamental moving & playing, but they've got a fun program, and it's good to see them being able to do a tour here.

I'm trying to remember the rest, but I'm getting awfully sleepy. One corps had two sets of on-field tympani that were really distracting, and another corps had an unamplified pit that sounded great (two others just didn't play strongly enough -- it looked like they were begging for amps).


Friday July 23

Allentown, PA (DCI) #1

Well after a very eventful night here is my little take on the evening.

I got to Allentown at about six and the park was already closed off. So I parked in a lot that said unauthorized vehicles will be towed at owner's expense, but I saw many other drum corps people in there and being I was in the middle figured they would never get to me if they were enforcing. Tonights crowd is supposed to have many more tickets sold, so get there early, BTW start time tonight is 6:30 because Beatrix did not go on last night.

Lehigh Valley Knights - Had some really nice impact points, and the show was well received by the home crowd. I try to compare their progress to where Jersey Surf at this point of their existence and I believe they are ahead of Surf at the same juncture.

Southwind - There uniforms look a lot like Glassmen to me. They are progressing nicely and by their performance don't seem to be getting down by some of the unfortunate things that have happened to them this year. Keep up the good work.

Troopers - What can I say, this is a vintage Troopers show. Seem a little on the young side, but are doing a pretty good job. I love the ending and the crowd gave them a nice reaction when they pulled out the vintage Trooper flags.

Mandarins - I like this show a lot. They were exciting and have a very nice show as well. Being it was such a long night I really don't remember anything specific, except that they are a solid corps that is entertaining the crowd.

Colts - They are probably about the same place they were when they were a finals corps but the competition is so strong they won't make finals. Old Man River is great. I was standing by their staff during their performance and they seemed eo be pleased by the effort as well they should be.

No the fun started,

Glassmen 1st time - The rain started and the crowd ate them up for progressing as if there was not a torrential downpour occuring. Then a bolt of lightning cut the show off before the closer. We were made to leave the stadium and keep getting drenched in a different location. Got to talk to Chris Hestin for a minute on the bus. I knew him from IUP's marching band and he is now Glassmen's percussion instructor. After about an hour we got word that the show would go on and the Glassmen would perform again.

Glassmen 2nd time - The crowd ate them up the second time for what they had been through. I like this show from them better than any Glassmen show in years. Much more entertaining and crowd friendly than recent years. Loved the closer that we didn't get to see the first time. Good job Glassmen for not letting a little rain effect your performance.

Carolina Crown - This is where a little more fun happened. When the singers sang, the amps didn't work. This brought some obvious joy to some fans with a smattering of applause, one guy even told another to shutup. This corps does not need the singing, their hornline is by far their best ever. Very good show, works well and is pleasing. I told one of the instructors going down the steps that they obviously don's need the singing and he didn't handle it real well. He told me to see it with the singing. I told him I don't want to because this was just fine. Talked to a member of their board afterwards and he thought they didn't need it either, but they have nine vocal majors that the staff wanted to utilize. Oh well, I'm just sorry they didn't have any members that majored in adult entertainment.

Bluecoats - This show is what I have come to expect of the Bluecoats in that they have a powerful horline and a pleasing show. Thought design wise they have a lessor show than Phantom but understand why they are so close.

Phantom - Great show design, beautiful sound at times. They were also muddy at times in my opinion. This show will spread from Bluecoats if they do some cleaning. I don't know if this had anything to do with the delay but they just weren't the Phantom that I expected. Don't get me wrong, they do have a gorgeous sound just needs some cleaning.

Cavaliers - I talked to one of their pit guys after the show and he said they turned their amps off after the opener. I didn't notice, which again leads to the point of why do they need them. The pit guy also said they are just going to do a little tweaking with no major changes. The closer could use some. They do some great Cavies drill but it just kind of ends without a resolution. This show has a shot of winning though. The one thing that really stuck out was how their sop line sounds a lot like the Devils with the screaching (not a bad thing).

Cadets - They didn't even bother with the amps tonight. To be honest this show left me a little flat. I don't know what it is but it just doesn't do it for me. I'm thinking they will change the ending drill for more effect but right now it's just ho hum for me and I think a good portion of the crowd agreed. Usually Allentown goes nuts for the Cadets, but that just didn'e happen tonight. Maybe going on at midnight had something to do with that.

To wrap up a very good show and I can't wait for tonight. I just hope my wallet and shoes dry out and stay dry.


General.... major rain blast/show delay Friday, but God was nice and after an hour and a half let us finish the show without a problem... and Saturday kept the bad weather away..... On Friday, hit major city traffic and missed LVK and Southwind....

Troopers... watched from end zone.... marching style looked sharp, and percussion had some good stuff.... brass did too, but had many individual perf. problems..... show seemed well-written and the crowd enjoyed them...

Mandarins.... a bit better tonight perf.-wise than at Giants..... show just sits there from a musical effect standpoint in many places.... too much lull and down time.... Koto drumming a hightlight which could be even hotter if they moved them center stage surrounded by guard..just an idea...I felt their score was a bit high...

Colts.... they played with some emotion tonight and they had some big impacts..... full horn sound, although some intonation/quality issues as well as some ensemble pulling.... if they can get that together score could jump fast... competent perc./guard..... I enjoyed their show.... how clean they can get it (and how fast they can clean) will be huge factors going into Denver....

Glassmen..... competent execution in all sections is their forte.... whereas the show does have some strong impacts and some musical moments, I also feel that it does lack musical continuity, but this is not showing up in their music effect scores.... fortunately for them Spirit has the same problem, and perhaps more pronounced, thus they could be in finals anyway, unless someone makes a big move, which could be possible.....

Crown..... the arrangements are great and they have their best hornline ever..... they have been inexplicably dumped in horns, which is a mystery to me.... they aren't razor clean yet, but neither are some of the lines who are beating them with less of a book.... This show works.... if you don't like the singing/narration, it is very short..... well coordinated.... I still feel they should be battling for 6th place when all is said and done if they nail it.....

Bluecoats..... plus side: strong execution in all captions, demanding drill with good guard integration performed well..... negative side: horn arrangements are a "C+" at best, and lack continuity, and even if played well are limited..... I see this corps in 9th and feel they are being over-rewarded for good execution at this point.... I felt they scored too high and Carolina's program is simply much better from a compositional and effect standpoint, but you wouldn't know it reading the score sheets.

Phantom: performed a bit better tonight than at Giants..... some tremendous soprano parts, and I find the brass book to be interesting and well-written. Percussion fits and is performed well, but they do not have the same level of demand in battery parts as Cadets, BD, SCV, or Cavs, and I think that perc. will keep them from making a late run.....

Cadets: they have improved alot since early July and changes have been good..... Drumline and guard are stellar and will compete for top honors.... hornline is improving...... show still needs different ending..... not their greatest musical book but still plenty to grab on to, but not a title show this year.....

Cavs.... I was surprised, as I was expecting what we have been seeing from them.... drill with musical accompaniment..... This year, the horn book works, has some serious demand, and problems in the past with dynamic impact and range are not problems this year..... They performed extremely well in all captions and sold the show.... I think they can open up a bit more, but they will be in the hunt as they will be quite clean......


Thursday July 22

East Rutherford, NJ (DCI)

Just got in from Music is Cool Show - we left before the scores as I have to get up at 4 AM tomorrow.

In forty years of drum corps viewing, this was the best show top to bottom I have ever seen. Although you don't see many posters from Jersey, there was a real old fashioned Drum Corps crowd that was loud and very appreciative of the corps and let them know it at every opportunity!

First up was the Mandarins, with the temerature in the eighties and 70% humidity you could cut the air with a knife, and it hurt their overall sound level. This is a really entertaining show, the Japanese Drums were great and they did a good job horn wise. My wife was wondering what the significance of the green flag with 111 was. The headpieces really look great, and amazingly no one lost any.

Next up were the Blue Knights, who really surprised me: I love their DrumLine which seems to project well no matter where they are. Great full sounding hornline. They only thing I felt hurt them was their marching, especially the interval between players at all times. I enjoyed the music more than I expected.

Next up was Crown, and the crowd went crazy at their first big horn hit! What a sound, what balance including much improved sopranos and mellophones, and they march a whole lot better too. I am going to upset the other geezers with this one, I did not mind the amps; in fact IMHO the poetry was written seemingly as part of the drum solo- and then the big horn hit was a knockout! The show is innovative, great rememberable music and definately moving up!

Next up were the co-host Crossmen, and I felt the new uniforms were an improvement: they look good out there. This was my favorite Drumline of the night, great sound from the hornline for a really good book, and I loved it when the Crossmen symbol appeared in the drill. I did not find them deficient at all marching, in fact there spacing was good, feet were clean and forms were crisp and timely. Keep it up Bones- you are getting there!

Intermission time and my one gripe with the venue - only one vending area in the lower level and the souvie booths were overwhelmed by the crowds at the food stands trying to buy liquids - you couldn't move there at all - and it was muggy!

First up after intermission were Bluecoats, and for a second year in a row my in-laws got fooled by the BLOOS! Another big balanced hornline, great drumline and well integrated and excellent guardwork. Best backfield playing of the evening (IMHO) Marching was now taking a big step up for the rest of the evening.

Next up regardless of placement is the frankie choice of the evening- Phantom Regiment! I have never heard horns like that in my life - twelve tangoing tubas to open, great balance, projection and enesemble sound to die for. The drill book was really great with a lot of classic PR moves to boot. Drums really cook at times and unfortunately my wife got hooked on counting rifle drops, and she took up watching all the judge hunting going on out there! I do think this show can challenge for the top spot, especially with IMHO the best hornline on earth and IMHO the best book of the night.

Next to last ( how can you say that ) were Blue Devils; best marching of the night ( clean forms - spacing - clean feet ) soloist was hitting everything and a great low horn book to boot Drumline was my second favorite of the night.

Last up the co-host Cadets: what a talented corps, incredible drum line although they have integrated eight new snares into the line. Clean balanced horns and a great color guard. The baton guy had the crowd going wild although on his second throw I thought he caught it on the bounce! Unlike amps this detracted from the rest of the program with so much going on! I don't want to sound negative, but I was never a Jethro Tull fan so I don't need to go any further - so much talent out there it defies description!

Congradulations to all the corps this evening, have a good go of it the rest of the season - and thank you to the rain God for keeping it away this evening!


Okay. I didn't see everybody tonight because my bestfriends in the world were at the show so I had to spend time with them.

The stadium: I'm OVER big stadiums. I just don't like the sound. In most small scale venues you can hear well in any seat... that's just not the case in places like this.

The corps I got to see:

Blue Knights: Pretty solid guard this evening... I was impressed. The drumline had A LOT of issues and you couldn't hear anything going on in the pit. I thought it was good, better than when I marched (2001)... so I was happy.

Carolina Crown: Fun show! Some really great moments! The battery is doing quite well, not all cleaned up... but getting there. The pit gets lost in the shuffle and is not anywhere near the battery musically or technically. I liked the show up to the singing. I'm a HUGE supporter of amplification of the front ensemble... the singing however did nothing for me... it was flat (literally and figuratively) and I felt like it detracted from the other great stuff happening on the field. I didn't like the narration either... all I could think was "Did that guy realize he was going to be talking more than marching in the show when he signed up?" I don't hold it against the kids though... they are obviously trying VERY hard.

Crossmen: Just so it's known. I am a Crossmen vet :) This show does very little for me... the hornline has some good stuff going on but they are inconsistent and the soloists didn't play their best tonight. The battery is sounding pretty good.... there is some dirt but they have a nice book (thank you Beddis!). I was upset about the pit... just not what I expected... hard to hear even though I'm pretty sure it was amplified. The guard is okay but not up to the general Crossmen Kick-Ass Guard Standard. Overall I thought the music wasn't very memorable... usually you find yourself whistling Xmen shows hours after it's over... not gonna happen with this program.

Bluecoats: I saw this show in Dallas and liked it, saw it again tonight and fell in love with it! Such a fantastic show! Those kids are so lucky to be marching such a fun program. The Bluecoats pit is OUTSTANDING... I am VERY impressed with how far they've come. Quite clean. I loved watching the section leader... confident... leading his section... yet still enjoying the show... these guys deserve more credit! The guard was ON tonight as well, I really enjoyed them... some good work going on... I want to see these kids place well in finals this year.

Phantom Regiment: I am slightly biased because my two best friends in the world march here :) I won't lie... the only shirt I bought this year was from the Regiment. Solid show. Astor Piazzolla was a GREAT choice for this corps (who would've thought?) they did a very nice job with it! Phantom is consistently my favorite hornline in DCI... they get a better sound than anyone and out there. Very nice moments all over the horn book. Guard had a VERY off night... drops all over the place. Drumline had an off night... dirt at ends of phrases and such... HOWEVER... it is obvious this is a killer line... much of the program had me grabing my friends leg and saying "it's so close"... they have a couple more weeks... the line should be one hell of a force in finals. Visual package had a lot of issues! They are selling the music side fine... but forms aren't being hit... holes are appearing out of nowhere and lines aren't straight. I hope they can clean this stuff up cause it's the only thing holding them back from the top 4.

That's it.... I skipped out on the other "big boys" to bring my friends Gatorade, cookies and magazines!

So far for the season my favorite overall show is Bluecoats then Regiment and then Cavies... (I haven't seen SCV, BD or the K-dets)...

This is a good year. If you are within walking/running/biking/skiing/driving/swimming distance of a show... you should go!

Congrats to all the kids... you make me miss it!


I've been an avid drum corps fan for years and brought my 6 1/2 year old son to his first drum corps show at Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, which is about 10 minutes from our home. Great show! It was a warm but breezy night. Just right for last night's quality show. I'm a brass player and an instrumentalist and will be commenting much more from the brasss & percussion perspective than the colorguard side of things.

MANDARINS: The Samurai theme is a perfect fit for this California corps. My son thought their Samurai helmets were pretty cool and I thought they were definitely very unique compared to the traditional corps helmets. This corps is alway impressive for their size. Great brass sound and their 1st trumpets (sopranos) had some good sounds in their high register. Drumline was very entertaining and techinically pretty tight. Colorguard was very colorful and added that asian flavor to the them. A good show for them.

BLUE KNIGHTS: I liked their sound and style for "A Knight's Tale" theme. Much better overall sound and presentation than I've seen from previous years. Very controlled brass playing with very good dynamics and intonation throughout. Pretty clean drumline too. Solid brass & percussion arrangements. I really enjoyed their show musically speaking and thought their marching was relatively clean and pretty challenging. A good solid show from them.

CAROLINA CROWN: I liked their white uniforms in contrast to the field color. Also a very strong musical show from the brass and drumline. I thought their show was more challenging than the Blue Knights even though their brass sound was not necessarily better in my opinion. Of course the fan favorite part was the the Bohemian Rhapsody as the closer. brought back too many images of Bill and Ted's excellent adventures! Great ending to a well played show but . . .okay, I understand amplification maybe for the pit but for backup singers and commentary . . . I don't think so. In fact I agree with some fans around me who really liked the show but thought the mics detracted from the effectiveness of the show. This is not a rock concert at the park but a drum corps show. That's my opinion.

CROSSMEN: After all the "slow start" advertising I was honestly expecting a weak show from them but was pleasantly surprised by how well their show went. The "Unity" them seemed to work fairly well I thought musically and visually. The corps and staff have obviously worked very hard to get a solid show up and running. A few intonation issues in the mellophones in the big opening hits, but overall a strong sound. The drumline is ferocious as usual and played well. The trumpet soloists were good too and melted some faces also. Overall a much better show than I was expecting. Also enjoyed the "First Circle" closer reminiscent of their early 1990's show.

INTERMISSION: It lasted about 20 minutes and spent over $15 at the food stand for two brownies and a large Brisk ice tea for me and my son. What the heck! Oh sorry . . . back to the show!

BLUECOATS: I've never been a great fan of Blooo but they had a solid show again with that big jazz sound that is trademark Bluecoats. They had a big brass sound and their drumline was a little dirty but still played overall well. They marched a pretty hard show and were moving fast at times. Overall a good show. Not a favorite of mine though.

PHANTOM REGIMENT: Wow! What a brass sound! People's reviews are right. A very difficult brass book with amazing intonation and tone. And the trumpets marching and double tonguing, the beautiful ballad with the amzing climax, and those deep low brass tones (I counted 12 contras!) . . . amazing. Definitely the best overall brass tonight. Drumline was clean and powerful tonight too! Well arranged music which worked with the colorguards outfits and flagwork. Unfortunately alot of drops in the guard which brought their score down. Marched a difficult show well but there are definitely still holes and marching dirt here and there. But a great show. I can't wait to see what they do at finals!

BLUE DEVILS: Where did they get the trumpet soloist this year? This guy was cool, calm and was simply awesome. He was hitting high notes with so much fat tone and clarity that I couldn't help but yell. A great show for them tonight and I agreed with the judges that they were the cleanest show tonight. They simply take and own the field with their huge aggressive brass sound and monstrous drumming. The brass and percussion hits with the soloist answering was great. And the battery percussion feature with snares doing their stick visuals and tricks was very slick. And the train thing throughout was creative and well done and carried all the way through the close of the show with the amzing colorguard taking the whole field at the end. What a show. This is the show to beat I think . . . original and powerful.

THE CADETS: I'm a die-hard Cadet fan and have been somewhat disappointed in the past 2 or 3 years in what they've offered. But this year's who is great! After downloading their mp3 show from the DCI website I was excited to see their field show. Very clean and beautifully played opener with the brass call and response between the trumpets and mellophones with the low brass entering at the end to climax with a big statement. The colorguard feature throwing the flags over the corps towards the opener's ending was very powerful. The Bouree and Thick as a Brick section were very well played and the classical musical style and the jazz style contrasted worked very well I think. What a great shout section too with the key modulation. And baton boy . . . wow not a wimpy guy at all but a big dude that can throw those sticks high and catch. The crowd loved him! And the drumline . . . a great book for them and lots of notes which they played very well I think. Very tight! The Cadets weakness was their marching. Yes they are marching very fast tat times and had some really nice forms, there were some noticable forms which were misaligned throughout but not badly. Overall I think this show is championship quality: It has that championship brass and percussion arrangements and sound from the corps and the colorguard was on fire tonight filling the show will lots of GE hits. I didn't think there were any dead spots in the show. If they just keep cleaning their marching especially and really throwdown at the final big hits of the show I think we may have a champion this year. A great entertaining but yet technical show.

A great night of drum corps which had the Blue Devils edging out the Cadets by less than a point and Phantom scoring still only in the high 80's ( I think Phantom should have been at least 89 tonight). And a memorable first show for my son who fell asleep in the car on the way home at 11pm.

Dr. Love

I was at Giants last are my views....

general... weather held up and good night for a show..... good crowd, great stadium.... (please raise stadium concession prices though.... how can you make a living... lol)

Mandarins...... show is a bit abstract musically and lacks melodic content.... they perform decently some of the time, but I don't believe they have the maturity to stay competitive in Div. I, and found their scoring number to be rather high.... koto drumming is done well and pretty authentic.... would be way cool if they would run the Kotos (or pull them on carts) and put them in the center of color guard action in feature..... just a suggestion....

Blue Knights..... they performed very well in all captions tonight. They do come off a bit flat emotionally, because they are not opening up enough on impacts. I do find the arrangements interesting and they do play with good quality, and I think opening up on those impacts would add the emotion/contrast they need.... they look solid for a finalist spot, and I was surprised they lost to Crossmen......

Crown.... Wow... yes, again, wow. This is not a corps battling for finals, this is a corps battling for 5th or 6th, even though some in the judging community still haven't figured this out yet. Great arrangements and a very solid horn sound with great quality, contrast and emotion. Yes, there is a moment of singing and narration.... not my fav thing, either, although it doesn't bother me nearly as much as others, but it's not long. Visual integration and interpretation is outstanding and actually fits the music. This corps has been the surprise of the year and a crowd pleaser (because the arrangements are through composed and HAVE GREAT FLOW AND CONTINUITY.... (wow, what a "new" concept!!!!!), and they are growing rapidly. I had them higher in score..... I can not understand their loss to the Bluecoats, and would not have been surprised had they beaten Phantom, and at the least should be very, very close to them at this point. Watch out for this corps.

Crossmen...... uniform still missing a "Cross".... corps is too dark and needs more brightness/contrast on the field, and guard doesn't improve that..... show has some moments but they struggled tonight and are having performance problems.... perc. is striongest element and plays well..... they will have to work very hard and consider some improvements/additions to make finals, imo

Bluecoats..... corps is strong in all captions performance-wise. That said, the arrangements lack continuity (which seems to be a major problem these days....... good performance levels but choppy arrangements that lack flow..) Clearly a notch down in programming and effect from Carolina, I was quite surprised they got that nod, and feel they will battle Boston for 8th-9th when all is said and done.

Phantom..... the music is different, but I felt their arrangements had substance and interest. Some incredible soprano parts, and a big sound, although struggling with performance issues at times..... good visual book but again not there performance-wise...Percussion battery book not up to snuff with the other contenders and I think this will hurt them big time in Denver...... They can do 5th in Denver if they nail it and will be very impressive if the hornline reaches potential, but also could be 7th if they don't.

Blue Devils..... certainly performing very well, and no weak captions.... I actually feel percussion is stronger than brass this year, as last years brass had a bigger sound/dynamic range.... soprano soloists are still great, though.... strong visual package..... here is the problem...arrangements, imo, too fragmented, and certainly not among Downey's more memorable works, I think they may hit an "effect Brick wall' there..... we will see.... I had them on top but by a much slimmer margin (ie 10ths....)

Cadets..... they have made major strides and improvements for the better since the beginning of the month....... that said, not my most memorable Cadets show from a musical standpoint, but that is not to say there are not many fine moments, which there are, and performance level is rising fast..... percussion and guard are stellar and will be in the hunt for the gold in their captions.... I feel this show did have more musical contrast, flow, and emotion than Devils.... time will tell how far they take it and they can't be ruled out if they nail it....

Well, I said my piece..... onward to Allentown, and looking forward to seeing nearly all of the open class competitors and the many corps I haven't heard and seen yet( I think Pacific Crest and Esperanza are the only 2 not there..... pray for good weather)


Hello kids.. so here are some thoughts about what I saw...Im exhausted so Ill try to be quick... No scores here.. just thoughts..

Mandarins... GREAT corps for their size... awsome bass drum line too...enjoyed them VERY much.

Blue Knights.... clean but emotionally void. They seem to just go thru the motions... technically proficient but didnt seem like they wanted to be there... Dont get me wrong.. while their music was not the kind youre going to leave whistling.. (maybe if you recognize the opener they've used like what 56 times now?).. they still do it very well... but I just didnt feel anything from them.

Carolina... my GOD... what a HORN LINE... this is THE best corps they have EVER EVER PUT ON THE FIELD... its a shame I cant like them... the singing? Why? That ASSININE bullshit with the guard member saying god knows what for a few minutes? He was babbling like a rookie wedding MC doing his first show on his own.... And everyone ends up discussing how HORRIBLE that section is rather than talking about how AMAZING the corps is OTHER than that bullshit minute or so. Like my friend Ed said.. "its like mentioning Dolly Parton and talking about her legs"... IF they were to just STOP THAT STUPID FUCKIN NARRATION this would be THE show of the year.... Id love to love them... but they are doing the narration thing (along with Boston) just to do it... As the line from Jurrasic Park said "they were so busy figuring out if they COULD.. they never stopped to think if they SHOULD".. this is just stupid Carolina.. dont WASTE YOUR BEST CORPS EVER... THE HORN LINE IS MORE THAN LOUD ENOUGH... THEY DONT NEED THE MEDIOCRE SINGING OR THE BABBLING GUARD MEMBER (this is why guard members are SEEN not HEARD)... stop it! Please!! Plus you have an AMAZING DRILL... STOP NOW IM TELLING YOU!! JUST SHUT THE HELL UP AND PLAY AND TOSS SHIT. ITS VERY EASY!

Crossmen... I dont know.. they have some select moments... but overall as some have said.. the show leaves me a bit flat.. The unis do look very good...great horn line.. smoking drums.. guard looked great...

Bluecoats... AWSOME ballad and some nice drill work. Nice program with varied styles... enjoyed it very much.

Phantom... GREAT drill... and the music, while not what one would come to expect? Is really worth some serious listening.. they are doing some amazing things kids... and NO amps.

Blue Devils.. overall I am amazed to see me type that I actually kinda like the show.. they finally have a LITTLE bit of drill.. (not too much.. dont get your hopes up.. its still THE EASIEST drill in DCI by FAR.... as I said many times.. if I had to rehearse that drill over and over again? Id want to shoot myself.) The guard is to DIE for .. and their outfits? As they started to get going I said to my friend "they look like they belong to the Ahmish "Fame" School" LOL....drums? Smokin.. but as usual.. the parts are signifigantly superior to the whole. Getting better... I actually liked it enough to say so... which knowing me? Means something.. what? Not too sure.. but still enough.. ;)

Cadets... I will say that I have been rather critical of 'my' corps in the past few years... and while I still have SOME reservations on certain things? This is the first time in at LEAST a few years that I have left the show saying "alright!... now we're talking".. I am not a Tull fan... at all.. but the arrangements are really wonderful... and I have had pretty big problem in that area recently... The horns sound amazing... The unis? Even from the Mezzanine .. im sorry.. but the jackets are still popping out in the back and when they turn around it just looks like shit... conversely, I said to my friend that I believe that the Cadets are one of THE last corps to maintain the stipe down the pant leg... And I give 'props' to Jeff Saktig... I have been harsh on him... no doubt.. (ask his brother that wants to kick my ass.. ) I will say this is one of the FINER drills he has written in a while.. Yes he still has a lot of his 'signatures' in it.. (how many more boxes can the cadets form in an 11 minute show anyway?).. but he has done something I had said.. (not that I was the inspiration.. im not that egotistical nor do I think he cares an ounce about what I think..) he has taken some of his ideas of the past, dusted them off and tweeked it, turning it up a notch.. and quite wonderfully I might add. The last move? Wow... just wow.. you'll have to see it... it combines so many ideas into one amazing moment..

Overall a great night.. and it DIDNT RAIN FOR ONCE.. YEAH!!

Thoughts on amps: the overall useage to give more 'sound' to the pits? I dont know (as a horn guy) if it was totally necessary. Those that used them? To those that didnt? I didnt hear a major difference. Honestly. But the one thing that bothered me.. and I actually was looking for this and watching.... They said they wanted this to give the pit players the ability to play without having to 'strike the keyboards' too hard.. well from where I sat? It STILL looked.. amps and all... that the players were banging the SHIT out of the keyboards anyway... so why bother?

I dont think I will mind if it stays just for keyboard/sideline amplification.. but the singing and narration stuff? Is absolutely horrible. Its a disgrace.. and a total distraction from the wonderful work being done otherwise....


Lynn, MA (DCI)

After waiting in line for 45 mins to get tickets, I got to my seats to see people in them so I basically sat at the 20 yard line. LOL. Anyways...I missed Beatrix and East Coast Jazz :(

I was very impressed with how mature Spartans looked out there. The guard had some great moments and the weapons can spin. Some of the guard girls look very young but were handling their work like pros. The horn line sounded strong as well as the drums. the drill was pretty clean. I see them getting another gold this season. And Shannon Default is a diva out there nailing her gun. As a Spartan Alumnist myself I was proud.

I really did not enjoy this show at all. The flag silks were yucky. Drill was a mess, horn line was at least 40 and sounded like 13. I think I am just very sick of West Side Story. Just not all.

Capital Regiment...
There show was very good but some of the use of colors did not make sense and it made a lot of the guard work look messy at times even though it was clean. They would use like 6 different silks at once. Seattle Cascades did the same type of idea with the flag silks but it just didn't work with me. The Regiments horn line and drum line were both very good but their Pit stuck out as being very talented. I was highly impressed. Great job for a corp on the rise.

Magic Of Orlando...
Magic has been having some trouble this season according to the newsgroups but you couldn't tell on the field. there has been talk about the guard not being clean. NO they were not spotless but they were definetly the 3rd cleanest after BAC and Cavies. Also their guns and blades did some fierce work, and the planks they used were a cool effect. PLUS their show was very entertaining, the crowd laughed a lot at the rum scene in their show....well done. I don't get why their score is so low?? Judges should open their eyes and ears.

Seattle Cascades...
This is my first time seeing them since they entered Div 1 and I was very impressed all around. A big guard with lots of color use and well done I might add. The rifle line for them was nailing the hell out of perfect 7's. Just flawless. Powerful horn and drum line and very clean drill. I see them in top 12 this summer :)

WOW WOW WOW...the drill in their show was so clean and so impressive every corp in DCI needs a drill writer like they have. The guards opening moment was clean. After that a lot of drops on weapon BUT great recoverys. I really liked their ending flag work also again flawless.

Boston Crusaders...
OK OK Enought BITCHING JASON AND CATHERINE. OH MY GOD the use of amps in the show was so minute that it wasn't even noticable. PLUS it made a great effect. I was nervous to see BAC this season but they were great. their GUARD wins it all tonight, those girls and boys were nailing everything, cute hilt 7's flawless gun 7's it was very impressive, plus every flag moment was spotless for 2 weeks before DCI thats impressive. I must say the drill is way too predictable Kevin Ford needs to go because the only thing in BAC's show that was "band" like at all was the drill. Its been the same since the words of the 2000 ballad in the show Kevin "Time To Say Goodbye" The show itself was great I didn't mind the use of the amps at all, it was for 2 seconds in the begining of the show, 15 seconds during the drum feature, and 5 seconds at the enf of the show, why Jason and Catherine have been so dramatic for 2 months is beyond me. I think they both need to just build a bridge because BAC's show is great.

Overall I wish Crossmen, Cadets, SCV, and Madison were there, with Bluecoats, Glassmen, and Crown, Spirit, and Phantom. BUT I was glad to see the other corps. Every show I saw tonight was good, some minor details but they all did a great job.

BAC 99

Wednesday July 21

Pittsburgh, PA (DCI)

I wasn't even planning on going to this show. It was my day off, and I had no plans what so ever. I didn't even realize there was a show close to me. As soon as I found out, I went and got out some cash, called up a few friends, and off we went!

The Weather was excellent show weather! There was a slight breeze, but not windy for the corps performing.

I got there right after intermission, so before I begin my review.....sorry to the fans of Court of Honor, Southwind, Pioneer, and Troopers as I was not there to write anything on them.

Ok....after intermission

Last time I saw them was back in June. Wow, how this show improved! The hornline is absolutely AMAZING! They have a nice dark, rich sound...and BOY do they project! Kudos to the brass staff. They must have a lot of talented kids this year. I thought the show as a whole was very well done. The opener was incredible. The drill is nice. The guard is "unique". I don't know how else to describe the guard. They execute everything pretty well, but they do some very strange movements....but it works with the show. The percussion section rocked. I have always loved Gmen's perc line, and now with Chris Heston back writting again..... wow, these guys can play! Overall great show. I think that the ending could be a little stronger, since it is no where close to the entire opening of their show. Good job guys! Let's see how they do this weekend at Allentown.

JSU Spirit
I have been hearing lots of good things about them so far this season.....and it's all true! These guys know how to put on a show for an audience. The audience ate them up! Every section was executing very well, IMO. The brass is amazing again this year, the perc section rocked, and the guard wasn't half bad(Glassmen had a better guard, IMO). I can't wait to see this show again at Allentown this weekend. I think if they keep up the high intensity they bring to the show, they'll have no problems come finals at catching whoever is in front of them. Overall, LOVED the show, audience loved the show... what else can be said? Check it out, I guarantee you'll love it too.

Madison Scouts
One of the 2 corps I was real excited to see tonight. This show was awesome. I liked their show alot last year, but this year is even a step above that. Loved it from start to end. WHERE DID THIS GUARD COME FROM!! I would have put their guard close to BD. They have an "all around good corps". I didn't notice any weakness in any of the sections actually. The hornline is LOUD and they play extremely well! The drill was pretty clean, but I know that they will be able to clean it up more come FINALS. The audience loved, loved, loved this show. Especially the ending! WOW! Don't know what I am talking about??... you are going to have to see them for yourself! One word to describe the show: INCREDIBLE. Can't wait to get the CD's now... definately one of the corps I can't wait to have a recording of!

Blue Devils
Last corps of the evening. The other corps I was excited to see. This is the first time I got to see the new uniforms out on the field. I like them. They still look pretty much the same, but you can tell that they are new. Love the idea of the "train" entering the field for the opener, and exiting the field for the closer. Smart thinkin! This is probably the best BD I have seen since '99. I think almost everything in the show is perfect. The guard was incredible, the hornline WOW, and the percussion was amazing as always. They have a good shot at winning this year, but I am not sure how Cadets, Cavies, or SCV are progressing... seeing as BD does have the higest score (at different shows though). I was absolutely floored by the whole design. Music was great. I definately can't wait to see them at Allentown. It will be interesting to see how they do compared to the other competition.

That's all folks! My hands hurt from typing, so I need to stop. Hope everyone enjoyed the review..... get out there and see some shows on your own now.


Tuesday July 20

Centerville, OH (DCI)

The following comments are my own personal opinions. I have several music degrees, have been a successful band director, marching band judge and music teacher for 20 years and have attended DCI shows for 25 years. As all art forms are subjective, so are my opinions. If yours differs from mine, please share yours in a constructive, positive way.

It was a beautiful evening for a show in a nice, jam-packed stadium. The grass field was in nice condition, but looked like it needed mowed badly. This being a very historical DCI show, most fans were well-educated in the ways of DCI and had some basic musical knowledge.

Marion Glory Cadets: Much improved over last year. It takes a lot of guts for a div. III corps to play "The Planets." Considering the situation, it was played confidently and musically. I was impressed that such a small corps could generate that much sound. Drill was interesting, but not clean.

Bandettes: First time I've ever seen this all-girl corps. Interesting, yet lacked a large, focused sound. A lot of these girls were tiny! I appreciated their efforts.

Troopers: Wow! What a FUN show! A much bigger sound than last year. The brass & drum books were patriotic, emotional and just plain fun. The drill was very pleasant. The entire show needed cleaning (not sure if it was a rehearsal or talent thing) but it's nice to see the Troop heading back into the right direction!

Southwind: Much improved over last year. The show started fairly clean, then drifted as time went on. I didn't enjoy the drill, although I don't know why (maybe it needed cleaning, or maybe the design didn't float my boat.) The music was interesting, but the entire show wasn't memorable. Hopefully they can build upon this year and crank it up a notch next year.


Glassmen: What a classy corps! I love the opening and the "Glassmen" sound is back! The special little touches of intellect and humor are abundant (although missed by most.) Musically very clean, except for some of those Robert Smith runs in the closer. The drill is sharp and quite intricate. Again, the closer needs some cleaning, then they'll be right on Madison's heels. It's refreshing to see a corps that takes brain-power and sensitivity to appreciate. Plus they can crank up the sound when they want to. The Glassmen will be back in the finals in Denver.

Madison Scouts: I've always been a Madison (old school) fan, but this show doesn't do much for me. Until the closer (guess what) the music has a restrained/strained un-Madison quality about it. For the closer, the traditional Madison sound comes out to crank the audience up. Drill-wise, with the exception for a huge vertical company front that gets rotated, not much goes on. There's a lot of standing for no apparent reason (maybe they're still learning drill?) through much of the show. After the progressive non-stop drill of the Glassmen, the Scouts look like they're standing still. It'll be interesting to see how the Glassmen and Scouts score tonight in Pittsburgh. I did not see a 3 point spread between these 2 corps.

Blue Devils: As a dire-hard Devils fan, I really didn't know what to think. Looks like they're going in a different direction this year. The music was crisp and clean (except for a few solo wobbles) and the drill was fairly clean (not clean enough to break 91 in my opinion.) The drum major had to turn around to let the crowd know that the show was over. Many Devils fans around me said the same thing that I felt: it left me totally flat.

Santa Clara Vanguard: Wow! I've heard about this show. Awesome sound. Rich, powerful, beautiful. Rimsky-Korsakov would've been proud! What held SCV back tonight was some dirty drill (heck, the drill looked impossible to perform!) If they can clean this monster more, they should do some real damage in Indy. As the scores were read, much of the crowd gasped and booed when SCV was announced in 2nd place. The people I came with were furious, but I told them that it all comes down to a CLEAN performance. BD was cleaner, although their show was simpler. Let's see what happens in the next few weeks!

Overall impression: If you want class and have a creative brain, Glassmen and SCV were your favorites. If you have a neanderthal brain that craves loud noises and squealing solos, Madison and BD will do it for you.

Again, it's all subjective. Since we're all human beings, how do we judge what clean looks and sounds like? How do we compare corps that play classical, jazz, contemporary books? How do humans judge GE since we're all different? 'Tis the mystery of ALL artforms.

Share your opinions!

Tre Mourning

Monday July 19

Salem, VA (DCI)

This was my first and only show that I will get to see this year. So all of my comments are based solely on what I have heard from reading other reviews and what I saw last night at the show. I went to the Cavaliers rehearsal yesterday afternoon to get the inside scoop on what people are thinking is the greatest show on earth. They had a sloppy rehearsal and I looked at my friend and said, "If they are not clean tonight, The Cadets will win." Well more on all of this later.

Kiwanis Kavaliers: 7th place
These kids play their hearts out for being such a small group. Yeah, they have alot of dirty portions in the show, especially the guard, but these kids tried their hardest and I commend them for it. And for future reference, the drumline no longer plays on the trashcans. I guess they didnt want to waste their money, so the guard does a flag feature while standing on top of the trash cans.

Capital Regiment: 6th place
Another good show, but it didn't do much for me. the guard uniforms were hideous. They looked like someone threw up all over them. The guard is probably the weakest part of the corps too. I did love Scootin' On Hardrock because I played that at my college last year in concert band, so there was kind of a personal connection there, but other than that, the show wasn't that good.

Seattle Cascades: 5th place
Very well designed, but just didn't go anywhere. The guard was very good last night and had some nice highlights. I loved the blue uniforms, they fit perfectly and so did the flags. I think that the guard was the highlight of this show.

Crossmen: 4th place
Boy were these kids out for blood last night! They were smokin and had everyone sucked in to their show. They had an accident on their way to the stadium, but the kids didn't seem shaken up at all. They played their guts out. They have realled cleaned and their score kinda showed it. I loved the guard uniforms, especially the red accent on their sides. A very well thought out show. I can definitely see them making finals this year after a slow and skeptical start.

Boston Crusaders: 3rd place
WOW! That's about all I can say. They have a great show and do a great job performing it. I love the whole color theme, its very unique. The voice over did not bother me (maybe because I could barely hear the guy). I was paying too much attention to the guard and what they were doing. Overall great performance by BAC.

The Cadets: 2nd place
THEY WERE ROBBED!!!! They so should have taken first place last night, but I don't know what is with the judges. They have the total package and are once again being screwed over by the judges. I love how they aim to please the crowd and that's what drum corps is all about right? The Cadets absolutely laid it down last night and created a fun atmosphere for everyone. Kudos Cadets on an excellent show!

The Cavaliers: 1st place
All I have to say is that the show was very dirty last night. Some trumpet were out of tune, the guard had about 5 drops and a couple people were out of step. I'm still in awe as to how they won. The only cool part of their show is the part where the guard is spinning inside the hornline and everyone runs to the front while the guard is doing interruptions with the rifles. Only cool part of the show.

Once I found out the scores and heard that the Cavaliers won, my friend and I left and I didn't even bother staying for the O Canada/ America finale. I felt like the Cadets had been robbed and had worked so hard over the past few weeks to only have the gold medal yanked out of their hands by an unequal and dirty show. Of course, this is just my opinion.


Sunday July 18

Jacksonville, AL (DCI)

Another chance to view drum corps, this time to the west, instead of east. The best thing about this show was seeing a bunch of family and friends I hadn't seen since LAST summer. The worst thing about the show was the two security guards standing on the l anding below the pressbox chattering away like there was no tomorrow through the first three corps.

Best Things Honorable Mention: The two ladies who went to go tell them to SHUT UP, ALREADY! You go, girls!

Worst Things Dishonorable Mention: Visual performance judge Bruce Jones speaking into his tape recorder loud enough to be heard IN THE TOP ROW OF THE STADIUM (i.e., where I was sitting) while he's practically on the back sideline. Dude, your tape recorder is, like, two inches from your face. The only people playing are the guys the pit, and their amps are pointed AWAY from you. Do you REALLY need to yell?

On to the corps:

CorpsVets - Fun, fun, fun. Lots of folks know their parts, very few of them are playing together or with good musical technique. Guard outfits are AMAZINGLY tacky at first glance, but work fairly well once the show gets going, as the color scheme blends with the rest of the corps for unity, but at the same time doesn't let them get lost to view. Lots of work needed, but it was fun.

Court of Honor - I don't know if the seniors were scored on the same sheets as the lone Div. III offering of the night, but if they were, the numbers worked out about right. While Court of Honor was not as boisterous, technically they were better at most of what they did. Color guard is cute and fun to watch; look for Cat in the Hat flags to open the show, and lime green ones to accent 'Green Eggs and Ham' towards the end. Not so good as Marion Glory Cadets last week, but still a creditable effort by a young, small group.

Colts - Better than Columbia in many respects, but not as good in a few others. Visual program was snappier, flags and drums were better, but the brass (though good at times) got sloppy a lot. The show reminds me of something the Cadets would do, except that the execution level is just nowhere near good enough to confuse the two corps. They might have deserved a slightly higher score, but not by much.

Blue Knights - These guys benefitted from going on after the Colts, as their show design and execution were clearly at another level, especially early on in the program. As time went on, the brass lost some clarity, and the drill lost some snap, but the percussion was solid throughout, and the guard held its own. Theirs is a complex, enjoyable show, but it's still very dirty, and needs a ton of cleaning. (Props to the BK circles on the opening guard flags. YAY! ^_^) Their score was about right.

Madison Scouts - Definitely a step back for the long green line. The corps sounded tired (compared to the previous Wednesday), with all the accompanying lack of focus that implies. Guard was good, but not 17.70 good. Still fun, but not the direction they need to be headed in. Their score might have been a bit low, but again, not by much. In Columbia, they were a class ahead of Crossmen and Crown. In Jacksonville, they were only a bit better than BK and Spirit.

Blue Devils - Well, Hollywood Drum Corps is back, for those who like glitz, glamour, and ice cold performance. The only trouble was, it wasn't clean enough to be machine-like, so the ice-cold attitude didn't quite work. The visual performance was surprisingly muddy in spots, there were a few genuine breaks and tears in the drill, and though the guard was great once again (yeah, they were the best of the night... just), they don't steal the show as they have in years past, and the rest of the corps isn't visually good enough yet to stand that kind of scrutiny. Drums are solid, but not great, and for all that the horns are amazing at most times, they really seemed to have trouble moving and playing softly at the same time. Moving and loud was no problem, but lower dynamics seemed to get pinched and ragged. Their score was about right, easily better than the other corps, but not yet a 90.00.

There's more negative here than in the other corps' reviews. That's not to say that BD was bad, because I said "WOW!" a bunch of times. The ending was cool, the brass' volume-knob effect was GREAT (I wonder if they can do it as well loud-to-soft?), and the drums impressed me a number of times. I just wanted to get across that there was a bunch wrong with the show yet, and so while they can still win, they'd better get the cleaning brushes out, 'cause they ain't done yet, and the other Three are NOT going to let THAT effort stand. Speaking of which,

Santa Clara Vanguard - As Steve Rondinaro once said, "WHAT A SHOW!" This one belongs in almost any Best Of list you can think of. The brass were powerful, balanced, and decrescendo-ed better than anybody, the drums were so busy that the ticks, though considerable, were overpowered by the sheer number of things that made me go "WHOA!," the guard is the best Vanguard's seen in a while (just clean up the drops and no one will be able to tell them from BD), and the drill/overall visual program was more difficult and just as clean as BD.

So why didn't they win by a point and a half? I blame the Visual performance and GE judges (drops hurt ensemble scores, so I can't complain too much there). To say that visually BD was more "effective" defies the very definition of the word, and Mr. Jones just got on my last NERVE, he was so loud.... Oh well. The show is full of everything a drum corps fan wants: difficulty (WITH execution!), passion, resolving chord progressions at low AND high volume, awesome drill moves (yeah, these need a bit of polish, too), a SCIMITAR line for crying out loud, rockin' percussion, and a happy ending. It shoulda broke 90.00, and everyone around me (including a couple of non-SCV staff members ^_^) thought so, but I don't think they'll stay behind BD much longer.

Spirit from JSU - These guys suffered from going on right after the 2004 DCI Champs.... whichever of them it's going to be. ~_^ There was plenty of crowd energy left for them, and the corps itself did not disappoint, but instead of having all of their successes compared to the Colts lackings, all of their failures were compared to the Vanguard/Devils brilliance. The brass was very good, the guard was better than BK's, the drill was cleaner, and the drums didn't hold them back. Don't really know what the Music Ensemble judge was looking at, but I think Spirit got dumped in that caption. Their score was a hair low (I had them a point or so higher), so while BK is definitely right there with Spirit, I thought Spirit had the better executed show.

In a growing DCI tradition, BD ceded the right of the encore performance to Spirit, since it was Spirit's home show. I approve.

Overall, a very entertaining contest, with lots of young people and first-time drum corps fans (the ones near me were generally well behaved). My disagreements with scores and placements are a matter of fractions of an opinion, so I'm not prepared to sweat them. I'm sure the judges saw things I didn't, good and bad.

That's how it happened. I was there. ^_^

PFC Dave Ballard
Crossmen '87 - ' 89

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