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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2001 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews - As Posted on RAMD!

Page Eleven of Reviews

Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when they are available or submitted.  The following reviews are solely the opinion of the reviewers.  If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author, all reviews are signed with an email address.  If you want to add your review to this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to:
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Sunday August 5

Clifton, NJ (DCI)

Here's my review of the Music in Motion show at Clifton Field.

It was a pretty good afternoon for a show. Sort of on the warm side but our seats were in the shade and some clouds came by from time to time. It didn't rain at least. Clifton field is a very nice venue for drum corps, with a nice park setting, etc.
Just to mention, this was my first show of the year so there will be some first impressions at this time of the year. Anyway, here goes:

Jersey Surf: They were improved from last year. The corps looked about the same size from last year, but they had a much louder and fuller sound. This fit in well with their Pat Matheny jazz show. They were very entertaining and hopefully this upswing continues for them.

Spirit: They have a new name, new uniforms and IMO, are much more entertaining than last year. Their "Ghost Train" show was well done and exiting. Last year I thought they were a little flat. Cool train effect with spinning flag wheels.

Colts: I was impressed with their show, pretty exciting. Very pretty flags in the opener. The "war scene" was well done. They'll finish top 12 again this year.

Crossmen: Another HOT jazz show from them again this year. Great horn line and soloists (the best soloists of the day), as usual. drum line and guard were also on today, no shock. They have another nice decrescendo- visual effect this year. The second favorite corps, reaction wise, today. Many were suprised/ happy when their score was announced that they broke 90. Phantom and Glassmen better watch out, the X-Men are right in there. Anywhere from 7th to 5th at Finals.

Blue Knights: I noticed a few of the members were moving while they were being announced, sort of unprofessional, IMO. Their show was good enough, well played, but it left me a little flat. The theme was "Cartoon," but it seemed like a fairly straightforward show with some colorful flags and whistles and stuff. They should have looked at some old Velvet Knights tapes before designing this show.

Santa Clara Vanguard: SCV had a fast paced, exiting show, as usual. The opening is very cool, with the mallets playing a lullaby during silent drill. Then they turn and sound the "alarm" with a huge chord. Cool effect durign the "Assembly Line" part, with a run that traveled down the formation. The crowd got a kick out of the "New Era" chant, too. Music and visual are both there with this show. They should have scored a bit higher, IMO.

Cadets: I heard mixed reviews about this show, but I liked it. I do have to agree with some prople that the show is a bit disjointed. They play the hell out of each section, though. Young Person's Guide and Moondance were well done. Cool two meter ending at the end of Young Person's with two DM's on the podium. Vide Cor Meum was very beautiful. Some wicked runs in Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs. Seemed like everybody was doing them this year, not just the mellos. WOW. A fast and exciting CBC ending as usual. The home corps and the definite crowd favorite.

All in all, a very good show. The folks at Clifton did a good job again for the most part, just one bone to pick. Before the scores were announced, though, an older man either tripped or fainted a few rows in front of me and cut up his head and hand pretty bad. There was no ambulance at the field. One finally came about 5 mins later. trucks were bocking the field entrance so the EMT's had to run across field. Sort of strange they wouldn't have one on site.

Anyway enough of my moaning. It was a good show. Most of the corps were very clean. The Cadets finished today with a 96.55, sort of high I think for this time of year. The crowd gasped when their score were announced. I'm looking forward for next week and the Finals. SCV, Cavs, BD and CBC are all right there-- it should be a crazy week coming up-- I can't wait.

Matt Vincoli

Saturday August 4

Philadelphia, PA (DCI)

Before I start the review I would like to discuss some issues of ettiquitte which need to be followed. First off, I am very against public displays of affection with couples. Yes the hug between friends who haven't seen each other is fine and all, as is holdinghands in public, however there is a time and place for groping, man-handling and basically making out. It doesn't matter wether the parties in question are heterosexual or homosexual. What does matter is the time and place for being appropriate in your behaviour. Secondly, if you choose to bring a baby to a drum corps show, GREAT, but, don't change the baby in the stands. The smell was awful for those downwind. Just because it's your lifestyle choice to have a child doesn't mean that the rest of the stands need to take an active part in smelling feces. Those things being said on to the review.........

To all corps: I will say this with every corps: If you are going to do straigh line sets, please learn how to dress the diagonals as well as the front and left/right. Some corps were horrendous with that for a week before championships. Marching techs, next year I challenge you all to have truly straight block forms from ALL angles.

THE JUDGES WERE WRONG in this reviewers opinion on many counts tonight. The majority of the audience seemed to feel the same way as I did when the scores were announced.

Jersey Surf: From my notes I felt that their opening morphing straight line motif was an ok visual move but could have done more to reflect the great opening musical statement. Throughout the program I felt that the drill was spread way too far out for a corps of this size, however when the corps began to move inwards they appeared very cluttered. I noted lots of people out of step, and way too many variations of step during the drum solo. I also noticed that there were spacing issues throughout the show. The brass quintet was somewhat unbalanced. I heard a lot of Sop and Contra but little mid and low mid voices. The soloist was really good. I was not sure as to the significance of the body work during the scatter before the pods. Amtrak seemed to be louder than the corps as a train began blowing its horn. All in all I would say that the drill left a lot to be desired. The horns had some nice musical impacts and a great groove in the last number. By the way, I hope that the kid who needed on field medical attention from your corps during the awards ceremony is ok.

Kavaliers: All black uniforms are nice and the yellow flags offset them really well. The drill here is much more cohesive than that of the previous corps. I really appreciated the snare drum tuning. The soprano line was over balancing the rest of the corps. The lightning to the right was somewhat distracting, and the wind was giving the guard some serious headaches. Musically this corps was not as strong as I would like to see a week before championships. I disliked the traffic lights and street signs as equipment. probably because it was really dirty. Drillwise I would like to see more velocity explored to match what is happening musically. Rainbow Flags at the sot when they were used?????WHY??????The subway prop was unnecessary and looked forced when used for a stage. When the corps did its company front I suggest guiding to the center. The ending left a lot to be desired as well.

Pioneer: They started off framing the field, which is a great look, however coming across the field their lines were a mess. This was however the first loud impact of the night. I could use some more contra sound on the loud points. The mellis had some tone issues throughout the show. I did find them to have a good communication of tempo in their feet. I appreciated the approtiateness of the visual during the drum solo. The show had a lot of visual demand. When the horn line condensed the guard work was really good. The show ended strong. Again the lightning was a distraction.

Spirit of JSU: When I saw this corps in June I thought that they were the sleeper corps of the year. I was right. Their brass sound is really good. They have a great loud first impact.....maybe a little too much snare. Excellent horn balance. The sopranos do get a little edgy after the train set and that sound started to filter into the mellophones and baritones. Once again I want to see more velocity in the drill. I kept waiting for something cool to happen with the train parts, but it never really got there. The guard work during the ballad left a lot to be desired. There were a lot more vocals than I am used to, but it was cute I guess. I enjoyed the drum solo a lot. All in all this is a corp on the right path. They have the horns, pit, and battery. They just need a better, more exciting visual package.

Blue Knights: The rain has begun.....DUT DUT DUT!!!!!Hopefully they are making fun of this awful practice. There is nothing worse for me than sitting at the top of the nose bleed seats and hearing a week before championships people dutting. Count internally already. The first stand still was really sloppy and evenworse when they moved it to the right. The rotating triangle was a mess. There was a decent visual effect during the drum solo. GOOD SOUND on Bess you is my woman now, but that was ruined visually by the contra arc here. The final box was a mess. I think that if you are going to do a novelty show you really need to study Velvet Knights or Bridgemen videos. Slide whistles and slap sticks do not equal comedy.

Carolina Crown: And now the fireworks have started at Penns Landing. I love the black pants. They are so much cleaner looking. I enjoyed the opening staging, especially the wooden creation. Please watch your block form lines. The plank work is a nice concept but very unclean. Its hard to see guard work with equipment and uniforms matching. I LOVE the cymbal line. They have some really good things happening. The guard is very unclean throughout the show. The horn sound is pretty balanced. The tires are a nice effect, however the handling of them has a lot of variation. The thunder sheets were not very thunderous. Once again I find myself wanting the drill to move more to relate to the music better. The guard had a real strong finish.

Madison Scouts: By far the best response so far tonight. I missed what happened when the scouts score was announced, but the crpwd seemed to love whatever the DM was doing. If someone would share that with me I would appreciate it. This corps is good. I don't care what a bunch of guys in green shirts or a bunch of newsgroupies say. They were loud. They too had straight line issues. The baritones tended to stick out musically. I enjoyed the small group musical effects. The soloists were decent. The drill was clean. Finally a corps that reads diagonals when dressing block forms. I would watch the dress of the 4 straight lines before the 2 blocks. The effects were good during the drum feature. Watch the inner rotation on the box near the end, it was dirty. I loved the ending statement.....can you say power chord?

Santa Clara Vanguard: I loved this show. They should have won tonight in my opinion. The pit started off before the DM. That was kinda cool. I loved the opening drill statement. There was such controlled playing and counting in Short Ride. The drill was awesome. Holy Leaping Cymbals. I saw some dirty feet during the trot. What a lush thick full sound during Variant on a medival tune. The dance in the guard at the end of this piece was a little rough around the edges though. In the beginning of new age it appeared that a contra lost a mouthpiece. I LOVED THE CHANT. During that chant I noticed a little bottle dance in the guard. WAY COOL!!!This was a great visual and musical package. I think next week its going to come down to the Vanguard and Cavies.

Blue Devils: I said it to my friends in June and I'll say it now. Yes the Blue Devils are good and clean, however it seems almost sterile. The opening guard statement is so clean and that's just a precursor for the rest of the show. I loved the Sop/Melli runs and the clean battery, and yet I found the drill to be less inspiring than SCV's. The helicoptor flying over was a mild distraction. The rifles are sick during the small horn feature. I did appreciate the moving/rotating blocks at the end of the 3rd section. The horns were wonderully thick at the slow section before the final push. I don't hate this show, I just think they shouldn't have won tonight.

Glassmen: Lines are not straight in the opening moves and even worse in the wedge. The hornline is great sounding on theimpact points throughout the show. The guard work was not as clean as I would like to see a week before championships. The drumline was very tasty. Was there a contra missing tonight or just some poor spacing? It seemed to morph. The soprano soloist was excellent. He had some great fingers and a wonderful tone. The pit person coming from back field may want to go to the sideline then to the pit. It was distracting watching him go infront of the corps the way he did. Musically the corps was very strong, but they need to work on their straight lines.

Crossmen: Please be in step coming to the field. Bones was right on with the warm up. This wasby far the loudest corps of the night. I am not digging the full length drum major cape. The guard is very musical. This hornline is really holding nothing back. I loved the runs in the 2nd number as well as the 4 line visuals. The drum solo was really tight, but I'd like to see more visually from the corps during it. The soloists in this corps were the best of the night, ad probably the best of the season. The guard was really clean in the closer....had some issues before the green flags, sabres could be cleaner through out. Glassmen should not have beaten this corps. I think that all the elements are in place for Crossmen to be a top 5 contender this season.

Here are my numbers/placements as compared to DCI's green shirted group

          (Mine)	(Actual)
SCV        95.3     (93.80) 2nd place
BD         94.8     (96.15) 1st place
Crossmen   91.6     (89.55) 4th place
Glassmen   91.3     (92.00) 3rd place
Madison    89.0     (87.75) 5th place
Crown      87.3     (87.05) 6th place
Spirit     85.2     (84.05) 7th place
BK         82.0     (83.90) 8th place
Pioneer    78.0     (76.65) 9th place
Kavaliers  74.0     (71.90) 10th place
Surf       83.0

My predictions for Buffalo are this:
 1) Cavies
 2) SCV
 3) BD
 4) Cadets
 5) Crossmen
 6) Glassmen
 7) Phantom
 8) Madison
 9) Boston
10) Coats
11) Crown
12) Colts


A Young Person's Guide to The DCI Championships (Philly review)

This weekend's DCI Eastern Classic at Philadelphia's historic Franklin Field established many story lines for next week's championship week in Buffalo.

Can the wildly fast, visually stunning Cavaliers produce enough performance polish to knock off the awesome perfection of the powerful Blue Devils? The Cadets certainly have the musical performance to join the title chase, but can they squeeze out any more visual and general effect punch to get over the top? Meanwhile, the Santa Clara Vanguard have the visual and show intrigue, but can they heighten their performance and musical levels to also be a serious contender?

Did the Glassmen take firm hold of fifth and the lead-off national television spot with their two-and-a-half point defeat of the fan-friendly Crossmen Saturday, or can GE-laden X-men join with the fellow fan favorite Phantom Regiment to make up those two points in less than a week?

After being mired in a scoring slump for almost the first month of the season, have the Boston Crusaders made enough changes to their eye-catching production to make a late-season scoring surge and capture eighth, if not higher? Will the Madison Scouts blow down Ralph Wilson Stadium and take eighth by force? Are all the materials -- wood, rubber, steel -- now working in harmony for Carolina Crown to set the "industry standard" and make their historic climb to eighth in the DCI standings?

In possibly the most intriguing 12th-place battle in DCI Championship history, will the Colts have the weapons to outduel their rivals, or has JSU Spirit now gotten enough steam to ride the "Ghost Train" back to finals, or will the talented Blue Knights be just the comic relief for finals' night?

While Southwind appears to have its lot cast in 15th, will Pioneer and the Troopers have enough military might to win the shootout with this year's talented Division II contenders for semifinals, or will there be one or two from the Division II western corridor in the Cascades and the Madarins to earn a berth Friday?

Speaking of Division II, it must apparently be having its most competitive season ever since Jersey Surf had the Franklin Field crowd groovin just like a Pat Methany concert in Saturday's lead-off position. But with a finals' spot for Wednesday's Division II finals not a lock, it's Surf that must be asking, "Are We There Yet?"

"The Showdown in Buffalo" in June was designed to generate excitement for both the season and August's championship week in the city, but the real "Showdown in Buffalo" begins Monday with Division III finals, and won't end until the smoke clears following Saturday night's World Class Championships. Let the games begin!

Here's how the teams stand heading into championship week, based on a weekend of "Philly Fever."

JERSEY SURF. Surf has had the old Crossmen-like groove to its sound the last three years, and now they sound very much like the 1991 Crossmen -- minus about half of their brass -- with this year's Pat Methany show. All sections are proficient, with the brass containing some good impact pop and one of the best sop screech soloists no doubt in the Division II ranks this season. Bill Woodward's percussion lays down that Crossmenesque groove again, although may not be quite as groovy as last year's. The same could be said of the guard, which is proficient but lacks last year's projection. The visual design, and the feet that go with it -- particularly with the exposed white pants and shoes -- appear to be the area that could hold Surf back from joining the championship fray Wednesday.

KIWANIS KAVALIERS. European trips are both a blessing and a curse to a corps, and that's probably been the case with Canada's junior champions. The corps and its staff no doubt has fond memories of its trip to Europe earlier this summer -- a trip which might keep some coming back, and be a recruiting tool to help drive future membership. But the lack of DCI competition until mid-July, and the lack of proper practice in Europe due to field-lining issues, has left Kiwanis about two weeks behind in cleanliness -- a deficit that might make their North American return a bad memory this season. The corps is slightly bigger than a year ago -- with 37 brass for about 10 more than they had last year at the DCI Eastern Championships, with comparable percussion and guard sections to last year -- but both the playing and marching just aren't as sharp as they need to be for this time of the year. That translates to the corps having a hard time projecting Bernstein's "On the Town." The show itself, however, probably has a slightly better design that last year's "Miss Saigon," even though it lacks that memorable moment -- like the guard's chopper poles with pit sound effects to open last year's show.

TROOPERS. While some critics have panned the Troopers, this show has more potential to be a semifinal threat than last year's -- even thought the corps is smaller. The design team attempts to make up for the corps' smaller size (still 38 brass with 5S-4T-4B, 11P, and 20+ guard) by not allowing it to wander too far from between the 30s or the front half of the field, even though there is plenty of room for some fast-paced drill and pass throughs. The corps has nice balance and blend, and doesn't overplay for its size -- producing a pleasing musical sound for its Aaron Copeland show. The guard, however, is lagging -- with equipment work performance issues right from the spinning silks at the start of the show. Based on all the reports, the Troopers appear to have a giant deficiency in that area to both Mandarins and Cascades -- making semifinals a real reach. Still, this is a nice show, and you never know if the corps could perform above itself Thursday at quarterfinals. Regardless, America's corps is well-received -- particularly the pseudo-sunburst to open the show.

PIONEER. Pioneer would appear to be in position to make semi's for a third-straight year, although this year's "Irish in the Civil War" program based on the music of the movie "Gettysburg," doesn't flow quite as nicely as last year's "Brigadoon" package. After opening the show with the corps framing the outer perimeter of the field, the compression move leads to a big opening impact with the main "Gettysburg" theme from a slightly larger brass section than a year ago (44 brass as opposed to 37 a year ago). But while the brass may be slightly better and the new black pants and shoes could hide some of the visual dirt present with the old khaki pants and spats, the percussion section and color guard might be just under last year's versions. The battery (6S-2T-5B) lacks the balance of the last two year's because of its smaller tenor sound, and the show is written that way -- with book featuring the snares and hiding the toms throughout. Even the drill detaches the toms -- linking them with the basses backfield in sets, as opposed to connected with the snares in the front. Still, the snares are aggressive as ever -- with the corps also showing good energy and precision to produce some nice moments in this show. Will it have enough projection to hold off the D-II powers for a top-17 finish? That is the critical question for Pioneer.

SOUTHWIND. Southwind may be the only corps that appears to be locked into a position for next week. It should finish 15th since it features a large and mature corps with enough demand in its "A New Era" program to repel any contenders below, and yet not enough substance in any area to really join the finals' night fray. The corps appears striking in its lemon yellow jackets and black pants, shoes and shakos, with the guard accenting it well in red. But while it plays its largely unrecognizable music well, there are clarity and particularly visual issues that are holding it back. Ragged edges on forms and interval problems are the main issue in visual performance, although the greatest deficiency appears to be in the show's design -- which really did not integrate the guard in with the musicians. Much of the guard staging is backfield, either to the far right or far left. While Southwind doesn't possess one of DCI's strongest guards, it's not that bad to be seemingly written out of the show -- making the decision curious. Issues like that, and the decision to play unrecognizable music this year, make 15th look like a lock for Southwind.

BLUE KNIGHTS. Design decisions appear to be what has the Blue Knights on the brink of plunging from sixth last year, to not only missing finals, but possibly finishing 14th this year. If they don't make next Saturday night's show, memory suggests it would be the first time since 1995 that DCI finals would not include the Blue Knights -- ironically enough, the last time championships were in Buffalo. But it's not a Buffalo jinx that may have cursed this corps, it's the decision to go from its successful serious and visually attractive style to this year's slapstick production "Blue Toons." While the show is performed reasonably well by a talented and large corps that appears to have no real weaknesses, it's the show's design that may be this corps' undoing. There are nice moments, but neither the music, not the visual program are really selling the way they need to at this time of the year -- to either the judges, or the fans. This show has very much the feel of last year's show by the Colts, which just wasn't approachable or precise enough to make the top 12 cut. Cartoon music and comedy are just such an about face for this corps, which has made its mark with such serious selections as "Trittico" and "Ben Hur" in the past.

JSU SPIRIT. If there is a real "Cinderella" story developing for championship week, it's with Spirit. The Jacksonville State University agreement has been very good to this corps, which has fine-tuned its engine just right for the "Ghost Train" to rekindle finals' night memories from the ghosts of Spirit past. The corps has endured a midseason scoring slump caused while it painfully made changes to the program, and is now cleaning up nicely to harvest the fruits of their labor. Not only did a score a stunning upset of The Blue Knights Saturday, but 84.05 was just six-tenths off the Colts score from Friday -- easily within striking range. Based on their sub-caption scores, these corps appear headed for tight ones Thursday and Friday -- with Spirit slightly ahead in GE, the Colts farther ahead in visual, and the two almost even in music. What will be the key to Spirit's finals bid -- better visuals, particularly from its guard which is way behind Colts, and its best musical performance of the year Friday for an even a greater GE advantage and slight music edge. The feet really trail the Colts right now -- probably from a lot of the new visual sets -- and may not be able to catch their cleaner rivals. Still, the train theme works very well for this corps right now, and it could ride it into finals.

COLTS. Based on earlier reports, the Colts may have been a little flat Friday night, and it couldn't have come at a worse time for the corps. It now appears to be stalling while Spirit's now gathering steam. The corps does everything well with its "Chivalry" program, featuring the music of David Holsinger, and appears to be well ahead of last year's edition. But while they perform well, the Colts seemed to lack the energy and projection that Spirit showed Saturday night -- allowing their rivals to close dangerously close. With a corps that earlier this season appeared to be a finals' night lock -- particularly after their early duels with the Scouts, that included a historic victory -- the Colts finals' fate is now 50/50. The highlight of the show has to be "The Battle Scene" percussion feature, which includes the corps proper in a well-choreographed sword fight backfield. It may need to sell a few more memorable moments Thursday and Friday to get the finals' nod.

BLUECOATS. The 'Coats are another corps that has to be scratching its head right now, even though it's not feeling as nervous right now as it did last year at this time. Canton had been beating Carolina Crown, Boston and Madison for much of the season, but took a serious hit to its momentum and confidence before championship week this weekend. While its 86.65 is still less than a point behind Crown and Boston -- and just over a point from Madison -- Bluecoats have got to be wondering just how they've lost momentum from their "Latin Sketches" program, arguably their best in years. Percussion and visual performance scores appear to be the key -- with the 'Coats finishing last among the top 14 corps in both. The visual performance score may come from the exposed feet from the white pants and shoes of the gorgeous corps uniform, but the percussion scores are particularly curious from a unit which is much better than Coats' lines of the past. Maybe the difference is that is supports more and is featured less -- making it less exposed than the competition's. Whatever the reason, Dan Delong and Co. are probably hoping for a favorable judge to help this corps climb the ranks on finals' night. As for the feet, all the foot moves in Red Cape Tango create just the right effect, while the head moves to open the chart are perfect for the corps' white horsetail helmets. As expected, the brass held its own with everyone.

CAROLINA CROWN. Just like working out "industry" efficiency, this show has been a work in progress, but the staff must be punching all the right buttons because it is peaking right for championship week. With all the demands on the performers, this show was understandably slow out of the blocks -- but even then, seemed to have tremendous growth potential once it started to clean up. And clean it has, with some help from the staff making just the right fine tuning. The biggest of these was the change of opening drill -- putting less demands on the brass who previously had to race to grab its horns and play its opening notes after building its wooden structure. It now moves more controlled, making its initial entry have greater clarity and sound less tired. The corps sells all three materials well -- wood, rubber and steel -- with rubber being less apparent in the lovely ballad from "The Cider House Rules." This show has always had energy, and now it has projection too, making it awfully dangerous as a top eight contender next week -- particularly since Paul Rennick's tight percussion section appeared very undervalued with its rather distant eighth-place finish last night. A more appropriate score could carry Crown up the finals' ladder.

BOSTON CRUSADERS. For those who earlier this year claimed Boston was marching the same drill as last year, think again. The visual staff has been working overtime and made so many changes to its "Harmonium" program that its hardly recognizable with the show it marched earlier this season -- particularly in the opener. More drill, more body moves, more body shaping all have Boston on the right scoring path now -- maybe just a week later than it made that move last year during its meteoric rise. While the music may not be quite as approachable as last year's, it is more demanding on the performers and still a great package. The guard is well-integrated throughout and is tireless in its equipment work. Clarity issues in both the brass and percussion appear to be the only thing now holding Crusaders back from at least eighth. "The Mission" ballad is slowing growing into one of the better musical moments -- just like last year's "Time to Say Goodbye" -- while the final push has equal dramatic impact.

MADISON SCOUTS. Given the Scouts' well-documented management power struggle in the off-season, an eighth-place finish might validate Scott Stewart and his staff's return. Their "Hot Jazz -- Madison Style" is just that -- uniquely Madison, right from the opening "Ballet in Brass" fanfare near the front sideline. Unfortunately for the corps, while the music appears to work with the fans and judges in any generation, the Madison style in recent years has also meant visual deficiencies, and that's sadly the case again this year. There are some nice visual moments -- particularly the final push forward featuring the Cavalier-like diamond, with the brass members rotating from the middle out to the perimeter -- but its design really doesn't compare with those of Boston, Phantom or the Glassmen. The smallish guard, while slightly better than last year's, still isn't really featured and does little weapon work -- reflected by its rather distant sixth-place finish Saturday night -- helping to hinder those visual scores. But then again, the Madison drill designer's greatest task is to come up with enough to drill to move the corps before getting it back up front, which he does quite well to get them staged for the big high volume, kneeling ending. It is one of the top "goosebump" moments of the year and drives the crowd to its feet. Now that's real "Hot Jazz -- Madison Style" too.

CROSSMEN. All the elements appeared right for a big night for the Crossmen Saturday. They've been having one of their best seasons in years, had "Bones" in the house, were the last competing corps of the night, and were even announced as being from Newark, Del., and Philadelphia, Pa. -- adding to their "hometown corps" presence. But sometimes, that all has a way of backfiring -- over-hyping the corps and producing a show that looks and sounds forced. That appeared to be the case for the Crossmen Saturday night, and forced is definitely not the style they like to project with their "Late Night Jazz" program. Music and performance have been the keys to the Crossmen success this year -- leading to much better projection than past years. But that projection just wasn't as good Saturday, possibly because the corps went on after the top three finishers and truly did appear to be behind them all. While the show may be one of the most memorable of the season musically, it has not changed dramatically visually -- and there in lies the problem in the corps quest of making the top five. Both Glassmen and Phantom clearly have better visual packages, and they don't play any worse than the X-men either. That said, if this corps kicks back and cuts loose during championship week, it could be strong enough musically to be in the hunt for the TV broadcast, although the best bet is seventh. It would appear as if their spread over the next tier is still large enough that they shouldn't be threatened from below, although Boston and Crown do appear to be surging with show that have a lot going on.

PHANTOM REGIMENT. The crowd desperately wants Phantom Regiment to return back to the DCI elite, and they're knocking on the door this year -- tan and white uniforms and all. What is so bad with these uniforms that it brings out so many vocal comments from the crowd? Surely, they've accepted worse looks from other corps in the past. But while the uniforms may not be crowd favorites, this year's "Virtuoso" program may be -- particularly from the 72 brass performers. The show is actually two shows in one, with the first portion being very contemporary with the Bela Bartok piece, and the second half being very traditional -- right from the opening strains of "Festive Overture." While it has almost the same exact sound as the Santa Clara arrangement, it has enough subtle changes to make it distinctly Phantom -- and you wouldn't want to take many liberties on Shostakovich anyway. Visually, the show flies in the first half, and glides smoothly and gracefully through "Festive" -- right down to the corps' waltz/dance in the percussion break. It's great fun, and really might be the best ensemble package among the top half of the potential finals' lineup, even if it isn't the most demanding. Being over two points behind Glassmen's Saturday night score, it would appear as if Phantom is destined for sixth, at best. But with some killer visual work in the first half of next week, it might still have enough substance to join the TV lineup Saturday night.

GLASSMEN. What is "IMAGO," the Glassmen's 2001 production? It's good -- real good. It's really hard to find a weakness in the corps, other than the fact that the music is unfamiliar and slightly unapproachable, although everyone appreciates the high moments -- even if they've never heard them before. The brass section has a rich, mature sound; the percussion -- led by the nine snares -- plays tightly, and the guard supports well. The corps also marches very well, with its feet on Saturday appearing to be some of the best of the big three in terms of set clarity -- even if the demand and scores aren't the equivalent of SCV or the Devils. The subtle change to the uniform works well too, with the mirror triangle being just the right reflective touch to the now darker presence. The mellophone soloist in the "Meditation" second number has to be one of the best soloists in DCI this year and takes the crowd's breath away. While this won't be a memorable show musically, it's going to be tough to knock the Glassmen from their fifth-place perch and a national TV appearance.

SANTA CLARA VANGUARD. The Vanguard will kick off the main event in Buffalo -- and even which still appears as if it might be wide open, in spite of SCV seeming to lose ground on the leaders this weekend. Unlike any of the top four, the Vanguard is simply the most innovative and does the best at creating something totally different, that is still appreciated by the crowd and judges alike. That's the case again this year with "New Era Metropolis." The music is unfamiliar but enjoyable, and some of the effects are new to drum corps -- beginning with the keyboard interlude during the warm-up which eventually continues to become the beginning of the show, to the now celebrated "New Era" rap/chant near the end. In between, the corps plays and marches proficiently -- with the visual program having the second most movement this year to the Cavaliers. What is keeping the Vanguard from being a serious contender this year is reality -- that their performers just aren't quite on the same level as the big three (Blue Devils, Cadets, Cavaliers). They are very good, but just don't play, march, or perform quite as well as the other three. They're not off by much, but it's enough that they probably won't have a repeat of two years ago when they caught the Devs and Cadets on championship week to share the title. Because of their visual complexity compared with the Cadets, third may still be within reach. But the Cavaliers and Devils may just not be realistic this year.

THE CADETS. Hats off to the creative team of the Cadets, who must be working harder this season than anyone else. What appeared to be a fourth-place show at best a little over a month ago, now appears to be solidly in third -- and possibly still an outside threat for the top spot. No "Juxtaperformance" still doesn't tie nicely together, but that's the whole idea with the four very different selections, that appear to meld transition from one to the other much better now. This corps can really play and perform, and it's selling these very familiar selections much better now than earlier in the season. Their musical scores are not a fluke. Next to the Devils, they do play better than everyone else. But while the visual program is better, it's still not in the same league with the other contenders, and probably will keep this corps from another gold medal. Scatter drill works once in a while, but the Cadets still employ this much too often this year. With a less complex visual program, it takes a little less visual practice to perfect it, meaning the corps can spend more time on cleaning its music and guard work. The Cadets are really performing well, but just seem to lack the championship quality to their show this season.

THE CAVALIERS. Fasten your seats belts because the Cavaliers take fans for the most visual wild rides in the history of DCI with their "Four Corners" program. It is probably true that the Cavies and the Blue Devils/Cadets have taken opposite routes to their title contention this year -- with the Cavies appearing to create a drill concept first and then fit music to it, while the Devils/Cadets clearly started with music first, and fit drill to it. The end result, the Cavaliers are visually stunning, but not musically as sound as either of their closest rivals -- but maybe not far off enough that they'll still be able to ride the visual package to another DCI championship. This corps starts moving from the first note, and stops very few times throughout the duration, moving quickly and seeming effortlessly at times from linear to curvilinear forms. In the process, they unleash DCI's top color guard, which has equipment airborne throughout. Musically, the ballad is beautiful, the snare high-hat segment and tom cymbal feature are well-received, and the "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" tease memorable. But while the Cadets were known for "music is motion" in some of their past shows, the 2001 Cavaliers must be know for "motion is music." Whatever, their overall package appears to be championship caliber and it has to be a favorite next Saturday night. Finals' night fans should hope so since the Cavaliers do the best with their post-championship victory concerts of any of the top three, with the members appearing so happy to perform one more time, and displaying class in everything they do -- right to marching away from their concert to their ever-popular Cavalier bass beat.

THE BLUE DEVILS. The Blue Devils appeared to be in form to win the championship over a month ago with their "Awayday Blue" program, and that's the greatest obstacle for the Devils. It was so clean so early, that they really had to worry about peaking too soon, and they probably still have to worry about that -- in spite of posting the highest score of the weekend on Saturday night at 96.25, including an astounding 19.40 in brass and 19.50 in percussion. While that all sounds impressive, their score was slightly inflated by one reason -- their competition Saturday was with the corps that right now appears destined for fourth at finals in the Santa Clara Vanguard, not the Cadets or Cavaliers. Are the Blue Devils that much better than the Vanguard performance wise, yes -- but not compared to the Cadets or Cavaliers. That said, the 2.45-point spread did appear a little wide over the Vanguard. The Blue Devils are once again perfection in every caption, a point that was underscored musically for fans who stuck around for their victory concert. If they have any weakness to exploit, it's visual -- and that's not because they're not good. The program's very good and very effective at staging the proper segments of the corps where they need to be throughout the show -- the most important task of a visual designer. It's just that the Devils don't offer nearly the visual feast that the Cavaliers do. Will the Devils ride their music and perfection to the title, or will the Cavaliers be visually superior to the Devils while remaining close enough in music and performance? That appears to be the issue central to this year's championship, and similar to the issues raised between the Cadets and the Cavies going into last year's championship week. Glad there's now a tie-breaker.

All roads lead to Buffalo. This should be fun!

Mike Ferlazzo

Friday August 3

Philadelphia, PA (DCI)

I just got in....great weather, big crowd. Franklin is old but picturesque, and has a fine sound due to mucho concrete.

I missed the first unit, an exhibition band of some sort....sorry.

Micro-magic (exh.)...some nice synth work, and some decent ensemble horn playing and flag work. Hope to see a big and competitive Magic corps back on the field in the near future.

Troopers: respectable start....full sound out of 38 young horns, and percussion made a solid effort tonight, too. Some nice moments both musically and visually. They have much to build on if they can get members to stay.

Southwind: very full-bodied horn sound with good blend and intonation; interesting music and visual book...competent percussion....biggest negative is they need to hype impact points more....this is a tough year, so Saturday night is unlikely unless they really turn on.....

Colts: impressive opening musical statement that also recaps at the end of the show. They are proficient in all captions. Mellos seemed a bit shaky tonight. Show does seem to drag a bit musically in places. Although they are solid, their spot in finals is still not etched in stone..

Boston: show is wonderful visually, with fine integration of the guard. Music has some fine moments, but not the continuity or emotion of last year. Perc. was solid tonight, making recoveries quick on some minor ensemble pulling by the brass.. Brass is inconsistent in tone quality and intonation in places. I am having trouble deciding where I feel they will place, although it is not a top 5 show this year.

Bluecoats: full horn sound with much impact. Well written horn and percussion book. Some minor ensemble timing issues probably cost them a place tonight. Some cleaning this week will earn them a solid finalist spot.

Phantom: The best musical book on the field tonight! This also earned them the largest crowd response. Fine musical arrangements tnat are not only true to the originals, but played with much emotion and excitement. Fullest sounding hornline of the evening. Percussion is very musical. Some minor ensemble pulling tonight, but they really sold the musical product, which is stellar. They certainly belong in the top 5 next weekend, and could conceivably move higher. If they had 2 weeks left, Phantom would be a very dangerous contender.

Cadets: Young Person's Guide was much improved tonight, and performed well. Moondance lacks jazz nuances in the first half..turns, inflections, etc...which make it come across as "too straight" does improve with a small brass ensemble that has some nice jazz phrasing, and then they the hornline uses power to sell the end. Unfortunately, the tune just doesn't fit the rest of the show. Closer had some phenomenal horn playing. Unfortunately, the final pushes require sustained power at brisk tempos for too much time, and they run out of gas. Drumline was the cleanest of the evening....very musical and very clean. Although I don't think this is the title show, I had them on top tonight.

Cavaliers: stellar visual program and visual performance. Percussion was creative and very strong as well. Brass/Musical arrangements, however, lack continuity, and several endings just don't go anywhere emotionally from a musical standpoint. They also had some noticeable hornline performance problems tonight for a contender. Corps comes across as "drill with musical accompaniment" as opposed to vice-versa, and I am somewhat puzzled that this product has been winning.

         (Actual)	(Mine)
Cavs       95.25	 93.0
Cadets     94.50	 93.5
Phantom    89.95	 91.7
Boston     87.35	 86.3
Bluecoats  86.65	 86.0
Colts      84.65	 84.0
Southwind  80.90	 82.0
Troopers   73.14	 74.6

Reaction: top 2 scores WAY too high.....not that clean yet.......Phantom underscored.....the rest ok................General observation....everyone (with the exception of Phantom) has so much emphasis on drill/visual demand that there is not enough devotion to the musical product.



Troopers: To start off, the 3rd person coming in was so out of step he/she was marching a hemiola.....not a good sign. I will say this, for not being a "full" corps they managed to create some sound. This was good. Now, lets get on with the review.....The Copland Tribute was a nice idea musically, however, it was also nice in the 90's and the 80's and the 70's when so many other corps and high schools have done it. Its been done to death. I did enjoy the Zdechlik Chorale and Shaker Dance, however that too has been done a lot in the marching activity. I realize the troopers are all about tradition, however, if you want to play with the big boys, then I think its time to re-evaluate your stance on some traditions. The drill was very traditional in nature, which left me thinking...there is so much more that you could be offering the audience and the kids who have to perform. It was very vanilla, very bland....let's see the Troop come out and be innovative.

Southwind: Boy those are sure some yellow jackets you got there. They sure do catch the eye of the audience really quick. I was really pleased with the drill that I saw with Southwind. I really appreciated the geometrical aspects of it. I would say that if you work on your diagonals that you will improve greatly. Musically you had a nice open sound. The battery everyonce in a while did tend to over balance, but that may have been due to my location.

Colts: I enjoyed this show. The visual package was good. I enjoyed the fight scene with the use of the traditional shields, as well as the leaning cross at the end of the number. Ballad was very rich and sonorous. The new uniforms are a nice touch as well. I will say this however, there were points in the show where it drags. I would address these areas and perhaps do something to add to the visual package.

Bluecoats: This latin show left a lot to be desired in my opinion. I realize that people love the show, but I really found it to be musically boring. The difference between the highs and lows were minimal. The 3 colored triangles were a nice idea for effect, however the orange one combined with the amber color of the guard outfits causes the guard members to almost disappear on that particular one. The drumline was quite solid and the guard had a good show. The drill left me unsatisfied as did the horns.

Phantom Regiment: This was a strange show for me. Its actually two shows in one. The Bartok is a wonderful piece of music and the kids performed it admirably. Their visual design is pretty good. The solo dancer is outstanding. The Shostakovich had great moments. The opening statement was powerful and balanced. The middle section seemed to lose intensity...I didn't like the drill for this section, especially the "dance" or whatever you would call it that the horns were doing. The Recap on the other hand was spectacular. The horns were terrific, the drill made more sense and the guard was integral to the strcuture of it. I'm still not sold on the uniforms, baby poop brown and white doesn't do it for me.

Cadets: Let me start by saying that I am a fan of the Cadets. With that being said, a month ago when the Cadets were in Philly and I saw the show I hated it. After a second viewing and with a great deal of changes, I won't say that I love the show, but I don't hate it anymore. The Young Persons Guide is a great opener. The horns are playing the crap out of those runs, however, I am not seeing movement during this. I know that I may be asking for a lot, but come on, this is the Cadets, one of DCI's elite. The Soprano(trumpet) that just screams in the beginning really grabbed my attention. We then get into Moondance. I like the way the kids perform it, I just have to wonder why they perform it in the first place. Its an ok blues tune, but I'm sure that there are better ones out there. I'm not sold on it. Bizet's Farandole is a wonderful piece and again the corp performs it well. I wonder though what has happened to the whiplash drill and Music is Motion aspect of the Cadets. I was hoping that they would have added more of this element by this stage of the game, but its not there.

Cavaliers. I LOVE THIS SHOW!!!!! The drill writer is a genius. The guard writer is a genius. The composer is a genius. The drummers are animals!!!!!!!! The guard work and drill work is so good. What a concept. Having seen the normal top 5 with the exception of SCV (who I plan on seeing later today) I believe this is the best corps in DCI today.

All in all I must say that I left the show this evening with feeling a lack of satisfaction(exception CAVIES) Perhaps its because I have spent the past few weeks viewing older DCI tapes. I honestly believe that the Glory years of DCI were the mid to late 80's. Not necessarily from a conceptual view, but just from a musician's point of view. There was an energy to SCV's 86 Festive Overture that lacked in the 01 Phantom Regiment. There are drill expectations that one expects from the Cadets that weren't met. As a fan of the activity I state this review not because I hate DCI, but because I love it.


Well, it's 3 a.m. and I've just gotten home, but I wanted to write this review while things were fresh on my mind.


I like Franklin Field -- I marched finals there in 1976 (I guess I'm dating myself) -- but, the place is difficult to get into and out of and the crowd control was horrible, at least early on. For that reason, I have no review of the exhibition units because "late-comers" were climbing all over me to get to their seats. I want to go back to Allentown next year. The souvie wagons are great up on the hill and I miss those sugar-coated treats they have in A'town.

I will say this about Micro Magic. They were absolute proof that electronics should not be allowed into DCI. Also, even though it's not nice, I was very HAPPY, that we didn't get to hear that "medley of Carolos Santana tunes." The PA annoucer cut them off at the bud.


Although they still have a LONG way to go, I was very happy for them tonight. I hope for the organization to stage a comeback similar to Boston's. They had a few nice moments in the show. The opening "sunburst" was totally missed by the crowd, which led me to believe this group did not have a lot of corps history to go on. The final flags were especially nice from a visual standpoint. Keep up the good work, Troopers.


A solid performance. The guard is somewhat disjointed from the show design, but this group is moving in the right direction. Their hornline needs more volume on impact moments. But their drill was effective and musical. I am pleased to see the progress this group has made over the past few years.


The program is coming along nicely. I sometimes felt like I was watching a colorguard program with drum corps accompaniment, and their marching really needs to improve. The show also lack the emotional peaks that last year's had. They will make finals, I'm sure, but not in fifth place as last year.



Having now seen the Colts and Carolina Crown, I will say that it's a toss-up to me which will reach finals. The Colts seem to have a better drill and their horn line has some nice impact moments. This show will be nice on video.


BLOOO! There were people around me who actually thought we were booing the "'coats." Again, adding to my feeling that I was around a non-drum corps crowd. But, that's another topic for another time. The show is solid in all areas. The "building company front" in the next-to-last number is very tasty.


They have a GREAT hornline! They have a HUGE hornline! They probably were the loudest group tonight, and when they turned up the voulume, they really got the crowd going. Unfortunately, it seemed to me, their drill writer sometimes didn't know what to do with ALL THOSE HORNPLAYERS! Also, they need to work on marching basics a little more. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the show, and Festive Overture was a nice finishing touch. It's nice to see Phantom on the upswing again.


I saw this show about a month ago, and was truly surprised that The Cadets would have a show so lacking in visual. The entire middle section (at that time) was "wander/stand around." Well, what a difference a month makes. They have added a lot to Moondance and the ballad; however, the stuff they've added isn't up to the level you would expect from the Cadets. It's pretty generic stuff. I will say that they obviously had the number one hornline tonight, and I still don't see them winning with this program, but they won't be relegated to fourth as I originally thought. I read on their site that Marc Sylvester is coming back to join them. Do I see a z-pull in their future? Who knows? Also, the opening horn run they've added is very nice. It builds gradually from a few players to the entire ensemble. I would like to see them marching during this run, or during the one they've added at the end. There are still points in the show where their lack of motion in very obvious. However, it has become a very nice show, and I compliment them on the hard work they've obviously put into it.


WOW! This show is a feast! And a lightening-fast feast at that! They have the entire package -- highs, lows, emotion, the works! Their hornline, which was not hitting impacts a month ago, gave me goose-bumps tonight! The drill is unbelieveable. I couldn't beleive how fast (I heard from someone 220) they were moving in the closer. I don't know how people say it's just like last year's show. It's got so much new stuff that I'm going to have to see it at leat three more times (which I will) to catch some of it. It's impossible to know where to look next...but, wherever you look, something facinating is going on! And the way their guard in integrated into the show is perfection. I hope they win their fourth title with this show. OUTSTANDING.

By the way, does anyone know what the highest score going into Quarterfinals was? I can't remember anyone scoring a 95 in the past at this time of the year. It seems that I remember winning Allentown scores always being in the 92-93 range. Just a thought. I wonder what BD will get tomorrow...

Enough for now...I'M TIRED!

That's my review...flame away.


First of all, let me just say that I enjoyed all the corps last night.

Secondly, in the past I used to take notes. But now that I'm holding a 2 1/2 year old on my lap during shows, that no longer happens. This is from memory.

Reviews in order of appearance.

I did not get to see Spirit of America.

Micro Magic (1st viewing) - I don't know if drum corps fans are used to someone from a performing group grabbing a mike and saying, "How are y'all doing tonight?" No one really knew what to do. They later told us that they were going to finish with some Latin music, but then the announcer said, "Micro Magic, from Orlando, Florida," and they turned and left. Timing issues, I'm sure. TICK!

Troopers (1) - Mr. Pilato, if you're reading this, the idea to have each corps draw for position at each show is a bad one. I don't want to see Troopers in between Phantom and BD, say. In the first position, I enjoyed them. They seemed to be on tonight. For only having six mellophones, they can play! Going to a drum corps show should be like reading a good story... it should build.

Southwind (1) - A very strong positive response to this show. Some nice strong hits and a relatively mature sound from the hornline. The bright yellow jackets and red guard unis lend a clean, sharp look to the corps. Weapons did not have a great night tonight. The second number got a partial standing ovation.

Boston Crusaders (3) - The opening drill is changed. I like it - it's exciting. Has anyone noticed other than me that BAC's guard throws weapons all the time? For the opener, their entire guard is on sabres and rifles. I just think that's a mark of a guard that's doing a lot of work and doing it well. The brass line of Boston, however, is in over its head. It's possible that they place dead twelfth at finals. Part of the problem is that they are simply trying to do so much visually and the other part is that they never get a break. The brass is constantly playing. That's an arrangement and show design issue, and IMO needs to be looked at. They actually were on tonight, much better than the midseason recordings I listened to on the way home, but I had Bluecoats in front of them anyway. They appear to be being rewarded for the their degree of difficulty and the percussion line is very good as well.

Colts (1) - Boston has changed their opening drill and given the old stuff to the Colts. I really like the uniforms - smart. Nice show design, clear to me. Love the backfield battle scene during the percussion feature. Nice mellophone line. Sorry to speak in such generalities but it was a first viewing.

Bluecoats (2) - The first really good brass section of the night. When you hear a good brass line you realize what the other corps are missing. Corps like Colts, Southwind and even Boston somehow sound musically cluttered to me. It's because the brass is not consistently cutting through the percussion and sustaining and clarifying the music. From Bluecoats' first note, they dominated. Sustained it all the way through the show, some good, good soloists, and nice body work the whole way through. Friends, give some credit, it is hard to do body work while playing. It's hard, period. Visual judges should give some credit for that stuff as well as marching; after all, marching - one foot in front of the other, right? The drill is not top six, but as long as they don't mind placing ninth, I'm fine with that. Way to go, Bluecoats, you've sold me yet again after I wasn't sure whether or not to buy.

Phantom Regiment (1) - Highest crowd response of the evening. I just want to make two comments. Firstly, although people give batteries flak for tacet, Phantom's middle number from Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra is why it's done. It was so authentic-sounding. Secondly, the new ending to Festive Overture works. It is back to the early 90s - the snares rushing the front sideline from backfield - it's 93!, but then suddenly it's 1990 again and the multicolored flags come from the front sideline and fill the field. Add that visual element to a musical finale that just makes so much sense to us drum corps fans and you have a screaming stadium. It will be a moment in Buffalo.

Cadets (2) - They also were on tonight. The opening runs before the fanfare of "Young Person's Guide" were a surprise to me. I can't believe that some people complain about those extended sixteenth note runs in the show not being marched. Clues are being sold at the Cadets souvie trailer tonight. Grab two! To me, the show flows just fine. You know, those comma things are shaped just like rifles, they've just got a far softer look to them. It's not as if it doesn't look like a weapon. The snare feature in Moondance is aggressive and got everyone yelling. Oh, another thing. They've got a wonderful warm sound in the lower brass which in my mind you would not get with G's. I am beginning to like the Bb horns more and more. IMO, you are going to have less and less worries about it once you hear great lines on Bbs. I am a traditionalist in most things and will miss G bugles but you cannot say this is not drum corps. I was really impressed with Cadets tonight. Despite the gap tonight, it's really not that big of a gap. But can anyone keep up with...

Cavaliers (2) - They're marching faster than any Cavies unit I've ever seen or heard. From moment one, this show does not falter. Who thinks up these things in visual? The brass line the last few years is simply a notch above the Cavaliers historically. In addition, the finger cymbals used by the tenors in their feature and the suspended cymbals on each snare give a unique look and sound to the drumline. I noticed some performance issues in visual which I thought might hold them behind Cadets. But apparently not. Cavies captured GE and visual tonight, with Cadets taking music. It is still up in the air, but when Cavies have the product, they usually perform it and win.

Can't wait for tonight...

Chip Frontz
Crossmen 1992

This review may sound a bit negative-so if you can't take it, don't read it. If you read this group, you know I am a bit of a Cadet fan, so keep that in mind too, esp when you read my comments about the outcome-I am biased, so take it in context. I saw the show from the 50 yard line in the upper section of the lower deck. Sound was good, even though I was under the overhang a little bit.

The crowd: Although it seemed like a good size crowd... like the last show at Philly, the crowd didn't seem that "into" the show. Much more of a participant crowd than a spectator crowd. Half the audience, at least, was late for the show. Our section was disturbed till the final two units with lost souls looking for their section (hint- U means upper deck...). Perhaps bad traffic or parking was to blame? I just notice this more and more at shows.

The weather-was as much as you can hope for in August in the East. It wasn't too hot. It wasn't too humid. Heck, there was even a little bit of a breeze.


Exhibitions: (IMO-these should be prior to the national anthem and official start time)

Spirit of America Band-this group put on a decent, mature sounding expo with simplistic guard work and drill. Brass section of 30 or so put out decent amount of sound. Good selection of "Americana" tunes kept crowd at bay (most of which hadn't arrived yet or had no problem loudly looking for seats during this show)

Micro-Magic-I feel for these guys, but I am not sure this is a good idea for the Magic organization. I guess it keeps the Magic name out there, so in that respect it is a good thing. But creative staging, some marching by the brass and guard (at least a little more) and some rehearsal would have helped the cause immensely.
I loved Magic and I look forward to seeing them back next year. They are missed. The kids in this unit seemed to be having a good time, and that is the most important thing. So-bravo.


Troopers-It is great to see these guys. IMO the drill designer should be spanked. Way too much time spent between the 40 yard lines, poor staging of the sections and brass sounds. The corps would have been better served by simpler arrangements of the tunes, esp brass parts. On the flip side, the show grew in quality and energy, and the ballad and closer (Simple Gifts) got the crowd into it. This corps, with the great history and traditions, deserves better than the program they were given to perform.

Southwind-First big brass hit of the night. Good drill with nice staging elements. Each caption did a good job of projecting energy and the message of the music to the audience. Bright brass sound. Good guard focus to the press box. Hate the bumblebee unis, but I guess that's just a matter of taste. It is just hard for the silk line to create any "volume" over all that color.

Colts-Corps did a good job of the projection of the show theme. I really enjoyed the drill, and each section was strong and balanced. This show and corps are solid top-12 material. We'll have to see if their presumed competitors agree with that statement. Nice individual marching.

Boston-The crowd was really into Boston's show last night. The guard contributed a lot to the program, with lots of tosses (and catches). It seems that the talent level in the corps is really a step up from last season, but does the corps have the will? I guess by the score, yes. The ballad-theme from "The Mission" is a haunting tune that should "drip" out of the horns. Instead, it had a little too much "push" sound to it. Slowing the tempo a little bit would help. The opening and closing statements this show made were among the strongest of the night, both musically and visually. There was a guy down from me who was conducting and swaying and dancing to this show the whole time. He was maybe 50, and his kids were cracking up. Seeing this makes me remember: God, I love this stuff!

Bluecoats: Strongest year from them since I guess '95. Good drumline. Hornline is top-heavy, but has a great sound which does fit the program well. Guard is strongest I've seen from them. Drill is very appropriate. I loved the tango tune, and the dancing from the corps was very well done. A clean and deserving "top 8" program. Go Bloo..

Phantom: First viewing of Phantom for me this season. I really enjoyed them. They were my favorite of the night, from a sheer goose-bump kind of way. The corps is much improved from the past couple of seasons. Guard is well staged and uses good technique and communicates the music great to the crowd. The drum line, even with the down time, has a tough program which is pretty clean and very supportive to the horn score. Pit had good voicing and nice emotional impact. Brass line was stronger than last years, and really poured it out in the closer. Perhaps the only thing missing from the program was the typical Phantom ballad. However, I liked the understated statement this years made. It was a great contrast to the opener and closer. Go Phantom! Crowd fav last night (at least in my section) Thanks for a great show. Loved the closer and the final push. While drill is not as tough as top drills, I liked it a lot. A good drill, IMO, stages the voicings well, conveys emotion and energy, and this one does that.

Do not read on unless you want to hear my opinion:

Cadets-Brass section seemed tired tonight. With that being said, they were still in a different league than any other unit on the field last night. The quality of sound was the best I've heard since Star left the field other than some of the great BD lines. Middle voices were outstanding, esp Baris for warmth and mellos for clarity. Low end was outstanding... with a warmth and depth I have never heard in any corps with only a dozen players. People who think they should be running while they play the chromatic runs really need to get a clue. However, tag-on opening statement of the show, a chromatic run through the brass leading to a big hit, was ineffective. Drumline was very clean and has a musical book that they are conveying very well.Guard has undergone a lot of restaging and rewritting. I am sure they will be clean for finals. Last night, guard did a good job of projecting the emotion into the stands... esp during the dance segments. Backfield silk work during Moondance was very simple and not clean, so I imagine it is being replaced. Corps proper drill is getting clean with most sets and drill moves reading well... some interval problems... and some rushing getting to sets. Snare line does not march as well as they play, IMO. Closing segment of show and opener are both getting "wows" now. I had no problem with the score they got... this program still has a lot of room to grow. One additional gripe: the ballad doesn't really flow well musically, with a poor, repetitive melody that doesn't resolve fully. I could say the same thing about the opener which has lost composer intent... IMO. Perhaps this, and the choppy and too short closer is what is holding down the GE music scores? Certainly not the quality of sound or dynamic shaping, etc.. which was all over-the-top good.

Cavaliers: okay... of the top four this is the corps I've seen the least, and heard the most about. They are also, traditionally, one of my favorite corps. That being said, I was not impressed, and I do not agree on how the program is being judged. The crowd around me, however, liked them and seemed to agree with how they are being judged. You've already heard a lot about the program, so I'll spare you. From the opening impact until the closing note: individuals were sticking out in the brassline, esp middle voices. Fracking and a lack of sound and clean attacks and releases. Good tone and dynamic shaping, however. Unsupported sops...with a thin, frack quality. No way this line should beat BD like they did the other night, or score only .1 below Cadets like they did last night, IMO. Guard was very good, although it's program lacked much new compared to last year. Silk work was by far the best of the night. Deserved high guard. Drumline was very well staged and arranged but the booked seemed watered down... and they lacked the performance maturity we have grown to expect from these guys the past few years. Drill was very demanding, esp from a "direction change" standpoint. Many interval errors last night, and a lot of marching-affected playing (or lack of playing) last night. I do not like the "original music" at all. It was an amature attempt at best. Many spots in the show, the music just changed directions from an emotional or flow standpoint just to fit the drill. I really think music has to come first, and from this standpoint (read Cadet gripes as well on this topic above) the Devils are in a league of their own this season. Bottom line is, I thought Cavies were overscored in GE music, Brass & music ensemble. This performance did not deserve a 95+, more like a 92 or 93 something. Guess it doesn't hurt to have Jeff Mitchell judging GE music and training the other judges on what to award.

So, to wrap this up: I enjoyed Phantom the most, really appreciating the drill coming after the musical arrangements as a priority... and the staging which allowed the performers to sell the music. IMO-Cadets changes have improved the program, but have hurt the music in terms of flow and meaning. IMO-Cavies brass is not worthy of the scores they got last night and the music is taking a big back seat to drill. That all being said-BD now has my favorite show of the year, and I will be rooting for them tonight and in Buffalo. Cadets brass & percussion lines may win it all for them, however...if the judges reward what is actually getting on the field. Or-judges may award Cavaliers' contrived program first, with a crowd awed by all the cool drill moves not bothered in the least.

Overall-a strong line up of corps, and a great year. However, I would like the trend to shift a little to emphasis music over drill. IMO. I miss Star in this respect.

Gotta go. Hope I didn't offend anyone. Just one guy's opinion.

Support all the corps. Drive safe. I getting run over by people determined to go 80+ on i-95 last night. Gotta love it.

George D

270 pictures from the 8/3 Philadelphia show now at

Great night for drum corps in Philadelphia. Arrived early to find the souvenier area packed with souvie trailers. Couldn't find some of the corps. Turns out they were around the corner. Guess if I came from the other direction I would have found them.

Allentown vs Philly: Overall I'd pick Allentown because logistics are much less an issue and the food is way way better and cheaper ($3 for a bottle of soda?) and available all night long (concessions closed before retreat started). I love the better lighting and more comfortable seating at Franklin Field, plus it is only 20 minutes from home. Can't beat that.

My seat was on the 50, 14 rows up in the lower deck. Good sound, visuals fine. Lights great and close enough for some good pictures. Camera was being held together with a rubber band which broke early on. Was able to tie it and keep things going. (Tonight - bring extra rubber bands.)

The exhibition performances were fine, though I wouldn't want drum corps to morph in either direction. Neither performance was particularly exciting. Plus there were still lots of fans entering the seating area. The most clueless ones had seats in the upper deck and had no idea that was the case. [Note to DCI, need to better direct people to the right seating area]

Toopers were classy as always. Nice music that the crowd could enjoy.

Southwind really got the crowd going. A number of people standing mid-way through the show. They look and sound great. Still can't hum a bit of this show but I enjoy it more each viewing. Guard work was solid.

Seemed like a lot of Boston fans just behind me. Maybe their energy kicked off something on the field. This was by far their best performance this year. I felt that 'we're not settling' attitude. Emotion and energy were just flowing. The guard work was the best I've seen from them this year. Lots of equipment work. I love the energy of the pit, they are so into the show.

I love the Colts because they almost always connect with me at an emotional level and that emotional connection is why I keep going to drum corps shows. This year is no exception. From the opening pit section through the closing reprise ("Sing the mighty power of God!") the show is emotionally packed, musically and visually. The guard is so much fun to watch up close. They have the most expressive faces of any guard this year. Great job.

Bluecoats have one of my favorite shows this year. I love the tango section, the cymbal feature, the guard work, the whole performance. They were staying just 15 minutes away and I hoped to get to their practice but stayed too long at the Cavaliers practice. Gotta plan better next year. This is the show I left humming.

If Phantom played like this in Indianapolis, there would be no more dome - they'd have blown the roof off the place. This is another corps playing like they are not settling for their 'slot'. Very emotional show. Visually much more stunning with drill changes at the end. My mom's favorite of the night, and that is quite rare for PR to be her fav. Seemed to get the best crowd response.

Cadets were my son's favorite. He loved the moondance drum sets and the two time signatures going on in YPG. Following Phantom I was a little too drained to connect with the show. It was very good and definitely can take it all. Very entertaining show.

Cavies were my favorite tonight and I think my daughter's (though she won't say). I am totally impressed with this show. I love watching the snares and tenors, which is why I was particularly happy they won. Unlike Cadets who do the lamest encores, Cavaliers really give you a show. Not only did we get the full 2001 show and Over the Rainbow, but also a movement from The Planets. They play and look like champions.

Enjoyed all the corps last night.

Oh and I got to meet Boy1230 and still thought it was a good night. Imagine that :)

Christopher P. Maher
Maher Associates, Inc. - The Drum Corps Repertoire Database

Thursday August 2

Lynn, MA (DCI)

I will try to post a quick review.

(5) Colts: A very good show. I was surprised at how good their visual show was although there was a major 3 car accident on the field during one move. I don't have much else to say about it. It was just a very good Colts show all around. I predict that they will be somewhere between 9-11. They were close behind Boston last night.

(4) Boston Crusaders: Their show is very good. I was suprised after reading all the bad reviews. I thought they had improved 10 fold over the past month. Their show seems considerably harder than that of the Crossmen but the Crossmen are much cleaner. If Boston can clean the show up a great deal over the next week, I think they will place around 6th but if not, they will hold between 9-11. There are some great moments in the show. The ballad is great but the first set when the corps is moving backfield got some crowd reaction for looking so dirty. I really could not tell what the form was supposed to look like. I do like this show though. It is a bit farther "out there" than any show I have seen this corps do but is still very cool.

(3) Crossmen: This is one of my favorite Crossmen shows. They have come a long way from last year. They will probably break into the 90's very soon. Crusaders will have to work hard to move ahead. This show deffinately got the best crowd response of the night. The visual show wasn't particularly memorable but the corps was on musically. People around me were commenting on how there uniforms kind of hurt their visual show. They use a lot of nice effects to help them in GE. The 4 rows during the big band section got a great response. Tne corps just looks like they are having fun out there.

(2) Cadets: I like this show. The opening is great. Moondance sounds very cool. They did a good job with the arrangement. The part of the show where the two drum majors are conducting in two different meters got some nice crowd response and was much better sounding than a month ago. The ballad where the corps is in poses and some people are laying down on the field sounds very nice. (impressive tone quality) They had probably the coolest drill of the night which surprised me. They have some dirty parts where, if cleaned, they are in the running for the title. On a side note...I was against the Bb horns but this corps did have a great sound.

(1) Cavaliers: I was a bit dissapointed. Don't get me wrong...they sounded and looked great. They deserved to win last night. I am just not a huge fan of the show. They have a few really cool drill moves as the Cavaliers always do. The first half of the show seemed pretty cool but it started to drag on after a while. It was very clean. They really utilized the whole field...front to back...endzone to endzone. I wish they hadn't ended the show so far from the 50 though. The drill looked like it would have been cool but the from my angle it was hard to see. (I was on the 45 yard line near the top)


Charlotte, NC (DCI)

My girlfriend and I arrived at Memorial stadium just in time for the beginning of the show. Our seats were very good surprisingly. On the 45 just above the middle of this rather tall municipal stadium. 28 rows up im guessing. Great weather for this one. Clear skies and temp around 75 at the 7:30 starting time. GREAT CROWD!! LARGE! On to the review!

Micro Magic (exh) I can't wait until this group fields a full corp next year. Their performance was pretty cool. Those guys get a decent sound out of the 10 or so horns out there. Cool arrangments. GO MAGIC 02!!!..

JSU Spirit (81.1) The hornline is great! I really thought that Spirit would hit 82 tonight. But what do i know. The drums had a decent show but the corps overall drill seemed very easy. Some roughness in footwork definately hurt them tonight. The gaurd from what i remember was pretty good. Spirit got some spread out Standing Os from the large crowd. The ending is really cool. Nice percussive visuals. It would take a good bit of cleaning for spirit to put themselves in a position for a finals spot. It is not however impossible. Great job this year guys.

Kiwanis Kavaliers (69.4) I like the show ideah and the corps is obviously giving it thier all, but it is just not selling. The percussion book is fairly easy and likewise is played decently. The drill for the second half of the show is really dirty. If it were cleaned they would attain leaps and bounds in their total score. I like the Kavaliers but they need to do some major cleaning.

Madison Scouts (87.2) WOW! Very good start for the scouts. The percussion and hornline sounded great tonite. The middle part of the show just doesnt grab me but the ending????!!! I dont think i have ever been so excited by a scouts show than i was at that ending. Not since the pirates of Lake Mendota. The horns play a great power chord and then just as you think its over they kneel down and blow your face off! One thing that is and may hold them back is the lack of difficult or catchy drill moves. Also some dirt in the feet. small but basicly and effective one. They are looking at anywhere from 8-12 at this point for finals. awesome show guys.

"INTERMISSION" no way was i making it to the consessions. I couldnt even get out of the stands.

Blue Knights (85.75) I was impressed with the Blue Knights. The cartoon show is cool. I do however think that the show is not very hard from a musical standpoint. The drill is pretty hard and i do not agree with the ideah that they do too many body movements as stated in some post. Maybe they have already cut some out but tonite was good in my opinion. The guard was decent but needs something more to help sell this show. Looking at a run at anywhere from 11-13 come finals or semis....good luck guys and gals.

Glassmen (91.15) Hornline was good but seemed a little off with balance. Loud but there were some individuals in the low brass particularly second baris that stuck out bad. The guard looks great and the percussion is pretty darn clean. As always the drill is difficult and may be keeping them from catching a top 4 corp. Im not saying that they have dirty drill but they could definatly improve in this area. Nice power Major chords as always. This show is more entertaining than last years who in my opinion. Although I do think tha tyou just need to let last years show grow on you. I thought that maybe they were slighted a little in score. Just a tad. anyhow the glassment are in the hunt for possible a 4th place upset or as low as 6th. No lower though. enjoyed the show guys and gals.

Santa Clara Vanguard (93.55) What a show! It just hits you out of knowwhere in the opening statement. The drill was fast furious and pretty darn clean. The hornline is loud as heck but the drill does effect the quality of sound. I have heard a cleaner sound from scv before. At any rate they are definatly in the hunt for that top spot on finals nite. I love the chant. "New Era" Many of the high school kids liked it too. Great visuals in the percussion and damn what a fine percussion section it is. anywhere from 1-4 at finals. Thanks for this great production SCV.

Carolina Crown (86.25) The home corp! Well recieved by the crowd. After tonites show i really can say that i have never seen such a great performance out of crown and its not even finals yet. This is the first that i have seen of the construction of wooden planks. It was really cool There has been lots of changes since i saw them in columbia. The Guard is unbelievable. They really help get the show idea across. The hornline was very powerfull tonite. I dont know wether it was them knowing there was family in the crowd or what but the hornline was louder than glassmen in places and im not playing around. They do seem to loose just a little gass in the end though. The percussion was rediculously good. The drill is fast and furrious but needs some cleaning. If they clean this up i can see c rown hiting as high as 9th. I do think that the 16th note run at the beginning of the show needs some more punch. The Ballad is really good.. GO CONTRAS!!. crown has picked it up this year and has a great show concept. They are now selling it. anywhere from 9th to 12 at finals. Its all up the them. They have the show and the talent.

Well thank you for reading my review. I hope i didnt offend anyone as i tried to be very open minded in my approach. Great show!


The annual NightBeat DCI show went on without a hitch last night, Thursday. The sun was out and the skies were blue. A good showing last night. Each corp performed well.

In order of appearance:

1. JSU Spirit- This was my favorite show musically. I've always had a warm spot in my heart for Spirit and i'm thrilled to see them doing so well.
*positives- JSU performs very well. The music is rich and full and the brass performs the heck out of it. The drill was interesting to watch and the train they formed at the beginning was enough to get my vote from then on.
*negatives- TOOLS OR NO TOOLS, THAT IS THE QUESTION... and the damn answer is, NOO TOOLS!!! This is something that needs to be taken out of the guard book. It does so much damage to them, performance and presence wise. Because, the guard is good! Visual staff,PLEASE, either let them dance or use weapons. I'm actually upset over the low impact this shadows over these guys and girls. FIX it!!!! :)

2. Kiwanis Kavaliers- I was pleased with this corp. They held there own and was bigger than i was expecting. Nice to have an international friend to perform for and with us in the states.
*positives- The performance level of this group is high. They have a real future ahead of then and from what i gather, they've always been a good group. I happened to like the guard unis and they really performed their book and won me over.
*negatives- More sound from the brass. I know they can do it, that's why it needs to be there. If it's with in their scope to add some more folks, watch out!. I didn't like the one prop they used for their show,however. It either needs to be bigger or the colors richer and more eye catching.

3. Madison Scouts- Well, i guess loud is in cause the crowd lost their marbles during this show. Madison is on the rise and they should be after some "lows" in their past.
*positives- The opening hit is powerful. Visually and musically, it just takes your breath away. Though some say their drill seems too simple, i like the way they cover the field. The guards presence and performance level can challenge all of dci.
*negatives- More emotion in the music. More highs and lows and mediums than just highs and one or two lows. If Madison would push the emotion of their music as they push the endurance and sanity of their players, also watch out!

4. Glassmen- I was glad to see these guys in person again. I've liked them for a while and like to check up on then every now and again.
*positives- The opening set set the mood of this show. Intriging and different. This was classic Glassmen and they performed it well. The red guard unis fit well with the corps black and cream uniforms. The music was unfamiliar which made hearing it all the more intriging. I loved the pit's use of bells and chimes toward the end of the show. I kind of had a Star of Indiana moment there (they're my babies, you know).
*negatives- At times i didn't know if the music/brass was suppose to be that low (soft) or were they just getting covered up. I was like, this could be very subtle and beautiful, but is that the intention. This could damping their overall effect some. We'll see. Good luck guys!

5. Blue Knight- I'm finding myself growing warmer and warmer toward the Blue Knights. And seeing them in person only added to that. Very colorful show
*positives- As i said, really colorful show. The guard unis were soft yet playful looking. I happened to like the warmth it added to their program. One of the highlites had to be where the guard had the tambarines and knelt down and the drummers played them. I and the crowd loved that. Good performing guys!
*negatives- Well, they changed their approach. Change is usually a growing experience. As it is for the Blue Knight. They will learn and grow. See what works for then, what doesn't. And go from there. I really liked your show and enjoyed your 'change or style.'

6. Santa Clara Vang.- What a performance. This will probably be a classic for then. I'll visit New Era Metropolis anytime!
*positives- As i heard someone sitting near me say, the show is smooth, flowing. From the drill, to the music, it has a fluency about it. The visual effect is on the money and the guard should be in the running for their respective title.
*negatives- At one point during the opening song,'Short ride fast machine',they were playing back field and i thought, my goodness are they ever going to turn back around. Kind of tested my nerves, there. The only other thing is, the New Era chant, which was the bomb, kind of tests the boundaries of their show. This is a big risk that makes Santa Clara all the more 'cool'

7. Carolina Crown- Performing right after Santa Clara, they proved once again they are relentless as ever. Their Industry package is trade mark Crown. Two thumbs up!
*positives- Crown performs very well. The opening of the show was highly intrigueing. Alot of variety and different stuff going on. Great GE. Also, i loved the second movement with the tires and all. The choegraphy was beautiful and i find myself thinking about alot. The colors were also very beautiful. I loved the closing tempo change towards they end. Very effective
*negatives- Well, the music book, not the arrangements or performance of it, but the content itself, doesn't quite rich the scope and potential of the visual program Crown offers. It had it's moments but i think in the future, Crown should try to compose/create some 'all new' music that complements their stellar visual packages.
*one final note, the color guard choegrapher deserves an Oscar for this guard book, it's just captivating*

Good show, long day. That's what it's all about!

Felipe Allison,
Clover S.C.

Ok, I went to Nightbeat so I'd thought I'd offer a little review for anyone that might be interested. I would have typed it out earlier, but I got back home at 2:00, then was up at 7 to do the whole band camp thing, and I 'just' woke up from taking a nap. (...yawn) but anyways, this is mainly dealing with the percussion section as thats what Matt and I are into, so if you're looking for a corp by corp show analysis skip to another post, sorry:)

MicroMagic/Spirit/Kawanis/ review due to crappy service at a certian Chilie's right out of Charlotte and then the usual incompentcies of the Nightbeat Staff versus a Satdium not really built to accomadate a large crowd moving in and out. Watched KK from the side, then we were all intending to go see Madison...we were in line under the stadium after they performed so we could get into our seats....and guess what...congestion was so bad hardly anyone that was waiting to get inside was able to get in...and then the lady running that section (section 19 if anyone else had any sucky expereiences with this) stopped people from coming in a good bit before Madison ever played. That REALLY sucked. In order to get to our seat, we watched Madison from the side, then by passed the crowd by coming in from the FAR right and walking through the bleachers until we hit the usual crowds---but at least by then we were inside the main arena of the stadium. Once again, not a fun experience.

in the lot- watched Madison warm up for a sec since they were right where we parked. The snares are using (gasp) dynamics this year. The part they were working on (that turned out to be from the drum solo) had a very tasty phrased roll that we...shall we say....were not expecting. They still consist of a bunch of great players that don't sound quite as good once they play as an ensamble, but I do have to say it was light years ahead of this show/line last year. Can't say too much about the show or execution from a field standpoint, as we just caught them from the side.

Glassmen warm up- ok, so I was with a Glassmen alum, and although he wasn't under Colin M. we had some high expectations of this line, and I have to say they really delivered. They spent the part of the warm up we saw tracking a few sections of the book, the first segment and then an interestring accent/tap with press roll segment. Very good line, and awesome writing...i was also hyping the bongo drum that went for the second spock on the tenors. It's interesting to see how different guys approach their craft by how they teach....if you listen to some of these guys, you'll find the guys that are just all into playing licks and teach by simple repetition and praise and or negative feed back...then you have the guys like Colin M. and Paul that think in terms of musicality and phrasing and just want they want accomplished out of a certian passage of music. If you don't know what I'm talking about, i would really suggest you check them out in a warm up or practice site and check it out. It really is 'different' from the whole..ok, we're going to play from lick A to lick B thing.....

ok, now, on to the shows

Glassmen- I think i remember hearing (and I could be wrong, so please be nice) that these guys are basically 2nd in drums behind Dev's, and I could see why. There was a little loss of time by someone during the accent/tap phrase that they rehersed during warm up, but besides that there were only a few gray areas and only once was something obviously out. The show in general, although I am familier with none of the music (and no one i was sitting with bought a program) was extremely catching. Their soloist during the ballad really drew everyone into what he/she was doing, and besides BK's rendition of An Amercian in Paris (which despate reports on here I actually though was quite moving) was my favorite 'slow' musical moment of the evening. Their front ensamble's book from a hard and fast run perspective I don't belive was as challanging as Crown/even BK/or SCV, but they do get props for some really cool sylistic things and differnet kinds of drumming going on in the show. Besides Crown they had the most entertaining 'opening 30 sec's' due to a wonderfully percussive and rhymaticly interesting pit intro.

BK- Ok, i have compeltly oppsite feelings about this show.....I remember saying right before the opening 'dut' that with their rep, this show was either going to be really good or really bad. Next thing you know, Dut dut dut dut (insert stock roll off here) then opening note....we started laughing and said well, i guess that answers that question.Not to be compeltly negative, the highlight of the show for me was the ballad, A small snippit of An Amercian in Paris by Gershwin. I think the drumline had an on night, although they sounded 'young' (i guess thats the best way to describe it) they really didn't give enough away to say, 'man, that just really wasn't very good.' So i have to say i was plesently surprised by that...second of all, I really was impressed by the front ensamble..all expect for the one gal on a marimba I think towards the left. I've never actually been turned off to a performence because of one invidiual before, and not to be compeltly negative, but I was not into the whole obsessive squatting then standing back up thing while they were playing. It was made even more distracting that she was the only one doing it (or at least to her degree) Regardless of the ligh and whimsical music they were playing.....I didn't add very much, and it didn't help that if they WERE going to do that, EVERYONE should be doing it. (at least in my opinion) The fact that wasn't the case for me didn't add to the show, but detracted from it. All that aside, they added back the end of Black Market Special. (Not sure WHEN they did this, i forget to ask jenn after the show) In other news, Ralph H. has apparently quit/resigned/whatever....from what I was told it was due to the poor way in which the group is run, and although I in no way talked to a majority, I think at least a few members share his setiments. Regardless of placement, it'll be interesting to see what direction that corp goes with next year.

SCV- Wonderful visual program, and I even have to say I enjoyed New Era Dance. Beside that, it's pretty much in the same style of SCV programs for the past couple of years, which is to say if you've enjoyed them thus far, you're going to enjoy this show, and if you havn't, then this show probablly isn't going to change your opinion any. As a funny little aide. From our perspective, Jeff P. seemed to be out of position more then I think he should of been for the beginning of August not only on this show, but on the rest of them as well. The highlight though came i think at the end of some soft section with not much going on, and you can see him talking feverently into the recorder, with Jim C. looking at him with his hands up in the air as if to say (what could you possiblly been talking about) Now of course, this probablly isn't the way it happened it real life, but just after watching Jeff. P. run around the entire night, at many times to no avil(and I felt sorry for him during G-Men's the the the left... to the...heheh:) it was funny sight indeed.From a percussion perspective...I was really quite disappointed. As a disclaimer, some of the folks I know who's opinion I respect have said they are hypin, so i'm perfectly willing to accept the fact that they might have had an off show, but that snare line gave way too much stuff that was not even grey but just down right 'out' to have only been beaten by Crown by a .1 Also, I'm not a bad ass tenor player by any stretch of the imagination, but although musical the tenor book didn't seem..well..all, at least from a pure technical standpoint. It almost seemed like they try to be so musical, they wind up being musical just for 'musical's' sake, and kinda leave out the good old exciting drumming aspect. On the up side, their bassline was smoking...and the pit was comperable...easily the second best of the night. (although G-men are right behind them in that area..i think SCV has them in terms of difficulty) Their vibe player on the far left was playing some NOTES. also..i do like the way they start the show, with the vibe solo while they're introducing the corp...

Crown- I have YET to see a drumline so exposed in so many sections of the music as this one. I think Glassmen's book is a tad more diffcuilt, but (and this is not to bag crown in any way) due to the lack of volume in the hornline you can hear each and every note the battery plays. The one thing I don't like is the tuning of the snares....the 'wet' sound tends to turn things that would be dirty, and turn them into a more unreadable 'grey'. From an execution standpoint, there were a few things that were this shade of 'gray', but for the most part....if you like drumming, this is the show for you. There almost seems like there's a little drum thing every few min. into the show (with the exception of the ballad) The cymbal thing was ok, and really one of the only cymbal moments in the evening that I really recall, but it focused more on good writing, use of a decresondo to set up the asceding section and the clever use of the timbre's of the invidual instruments. And finally the pit....oh the pit.....yes, I know I'm baised, but I doubt there's a pit in DCI this particular year that can outplay these guys. Everything from a technical standpoint to the invidual phrasing within the runs to the fact of their wonderful sound was truly just a wonderful group of players. Sandy and Mark are doing a great job with them. The hornline seems much better in then in previous years, although they still lack the sheer volume of some of the other groups. Still, thier hornbook is I'm sure an absolute monster to play on the move. As far as the overall show.....I don't know why so many people have a problem with it. It wasn't my absolute favorite, but I feel like I 'got' all the sections, and that they accomplished what they set out to do.

Ok, thats about it. Just one last thing? Is anyone that is involved not just with drumcorps but also music in general a wee bit bemused with the apparent fact that Madison could have a compelte train wreck in the show, and still have thier placement booed when they announce the scores? It almost seems like it's just 'the thing to do' after they perform, regardless. Now, if you genuintly feel they should have placed higher and you want to express your opinion, that fine, but it seems rather funny when people boo the judges regardless of the outcome. My best friend said that their execution was pretty poor, and I think the score for the drumline was pretty much on the monies. I don't know, I guess there needs to be a crowd favorite, but its funny when you look around and 3/4 of the stadium is booing, and the other 1/4 is either rolling thier eyes or laughing, or not doing much of anything.

Finally, for the quote of the night, me and some friends were discussing the paragraph above, and about how some people don't like, say, Glassmen's show because it's too 'out there' (which i didn't think it was, but thats just me) To me, an interesting show is one thats performed well. Regardless of the concept, something being executed well is fun to watch, something not being executed well isn't. Oh well, just something to think about.

Thats about it, everyone have a great day....woo hoo.

(btw- I wrote this for's not an offical document and it just contains my opinions. So don't email me a list of every single word thats misspelled unless you're doing it to amuse yourself, of trying to prove your superiroity to someone you don't even know, because quite frankly, 'I' really don't care:)

Levi Harton

Wednesday August 1

Rome, NY (DCI)

Tampa Bay Thunder, I really liked this corp. For a second year corp I thought they had a lot to offer believe their score was a bit low. They where much more intertaning then the Patriots.First time I have seen them and hope to see them next year and I think they will just improve from this year. Patriots. They where not as intertaning as the Thunder. And week drumline. Not sure why the big difference in the score. Could it be that Patriots are from up the road in NY and Thunder are from FL?

Troopers. God I have loved this corp. for a thousands of years. I was hoping for more out of them tonight and it didn't happen. They where small and music just didn't kick in. I was surprised to see only 6 mellowphone. Their size hurt them in projecting their show a lot. I hope one day they will get the bodies they need to make some nose. I have to say they had a much more intertaning show last year. I love you Troopers.

SouthWind- NICE loved theses guys. When they came onto the field all I could think of was the great Blue Rock. I think they are doing very well after the jump to Divs. 1. They had a nice size corp. Horn line that could play and a sweet drumline. Their GE was very creative. Crowd was into them big time and got a standing O right off the bat. Really nice corp with great size, talent that can go no place but up from here with this corp.

CROSSMEN-Wow. Nice improvement over last year. There drumline and horn line where much improved. They had some very nice horn solos and a drumline that was rocking. They defiantly play to the crowd and have some of the old time intertaining qualities that the corps of the 70's and 80's had. CAV'S- WOWx2.What can I say about theses guys that you guys probably don't already know. They're great. They where more on the Blue Devils tonight think there drill is more creative then BD.And there music was more recognizable then BD. They crowed loved them and standing O and many places in the show. Drum line rocked. Hornline smoked garde was great. I mean what can I say. They where the crowed favorite for sure.

Blue Devils-Nice show. It looked like to the crowed and me that they where not on like the Cav's where tonight. It took about 5 minutes into the show for the crowed to get them. Trust me there a great great corp and am not knocking them. Just tonight it should have been Cav's night.

Comments. To the lady in sec4,rowF, and seat14 who talked on her phone in the middle of the Cav's show right to the end. (She sat right next to me). Get your head out of your ass. Very very rude. OK have fun and flame way

Ronald Whalen

Tuesday July 31

Erie, PA (DCI)

I just got home from Erie,PA and what a show. There is a lot to talk about so here it goes:

Lake Erie Regiment- Nice job guys. You keep getting better every year, I'm very impressed with what you are doing. I don't like the new unis though, looks too much like Spartans and what Spirit used to wear. Good sound for 12 horns. Strong Bari section. Sops were bright and throaty at times, but every person out there played there stones off. Good GE for being a smaller corps. Entertaining show. 69.45

Americanos- First off I love the concept behind their show. I'm a huge fan of the paintings of Salvador Dali and I have been to the museums in Paris and Florida, but this show, while extremely sophisticated, was way too hard. The corps never hit me with any impacts that were extreme highs. Intonation in the mellophones!!! They were about 50 cents sharp the whole show. Their pit was extremely strong, I believe I counted 10 or so in their pit. I think this is the first time I have ever seen this corps. Nice job, keep up the hard work! 75.95

Jersey Surf- Another first time corps for me, and I have to say that their hornline shocked me quite a bit, but their marching left quite a bit to be desired. They have some serious players in their line. They are playing Pat Metheny and doing an awesome job. Their 32 brass players produce some great sounds. They have a squealer soprano player that loves to play with the crowd, lit us up in the closer. Great notes on top, but got a little squaky and raspy for a while. But none the less I was cheering and it put a smile to my face. I don't know if it was new people but there were missed marching phrases everywhere! People missing stepoffs and starts, direction changes. It's late in the season and this isn't good. I think they could be at least 2 points higher if they could march. They didn't have much foot technique and their pants were dirty which kind of detracted from what little style they had. None the less they still suprised me, and did a great job. 83.55

Pioneer- Well I heard the opener and I went and got a soda. Not impressed with any aspect of the show, but I only saw it from the side. 77.15

Colts-I still love the new unis. They look great and the hornline has some hand movements that look great with a split color top. I like this show. Marching very well, I think they are stronger than last year. They have a decent sound, but it gets airy and harsh at times. The upper brass, sops in particular, have tounging issues with consistency in attack. I was very impressed with the drumline. There is high demand in the drill for them and they are performing it very well. I did notice Bass 3 sticking out on most of the runs though. Nice bari solo! The sops were fighting intonation in the small ensemble in the ballad. I would have liked a bit stronger finish. The show is strong, but there are a few let downs. In the ballad there are some bad releases and some breaks in the ending chord progression that just don't fit. We were all expecting the cadence, and it kept being interrupted by pit metallics....I just didn't like that. Good show! 84.7

Cavaliers- WOAH! Holy shit! I was throwing babies! This show is tight, clean and very well designed. As usual they are marching their stones off and it's very readable and crisp. The hornline has an incredible depth to their sound. Very full and well balanced and in tune. I was amazed at the sound the were able to achieve. They Have every subtlety and nuance in their show and they are performing it. Drum line is tight as usual and has great interplay with the corps except for the ballad section, they are just kneeling in the back. The only downfall that I see to this show in comparison to the Cadets is that the Cavies book is just a little bit easier in terms of technicality. But in my personal opinion the drill is beyond demanding and they are doing a chordally and timing difficult book, while flying around the field. I had Cavies over Cadets by a point at least. 93.75

Cadets- I watched them rehearse today and I feel that tonight was their best visual and guard performance, but the hornline sounded very rough. Their sound was harsh and not resonant at all, IMHO. Their drill is no where near as demanding as Cavies, and the GE isn't there like it is for Cavies. But Cadets do have a technically demanding show in terms of technique and timing. One section has the entire corps doing 16th runs at different times for about 10 seconds. It was cleaner in the afternoon, but still very impressive. They of course have the cool Cadet drill moves, a few toilet bowls into diamonds or boxes, and they are fairly clean. Their guard is MASSIVE! I counted 40+. That is just way to many. Take 10 away and put that back in horns and pit. The guard was dwarfing the corps in the ballad. Moondance was good, too much backfield and the transition from the mello solo into the ballad just doesn't go well with me. It was very odd. There were a few individuals sticking out of the hornline, and it's obvious that their upper brass is MUCH stronger than their lower brass in terms of raw power. I was right on the 50 and all I heard in the big impacts were upper brass. Cavies didn't have that problem so you can't say it's a Bb thing. I had Cadets second 93.8

A few more thoughts- Cavies are amazing and should have won. I would also like to add that I had never heard any of their music until this night and I LOVED it. It was massively entertaining even to the people behind me who had never seen a show before. They wanted Cavies to win, even though they knew Moondance. So for all of you who say that corps should stop playing stuff you don't know and play more familiar stuff, you should take this into consideration! Also I don't like these curved rifles Cadets are using. They look funny and don't have that great SNAP we all expect from real rifles. I don't buy the anti-violence thing. How many people do you know that have been killed by a rifle that is used in drum corps and marching band? I don't know any. Everyone knows that they are still guns, they have the same shape, we aren't fooled by them. Overall a great night for drum corps. Good stadium, great weather, and a good time was had by all. These are just my thoughts on the show. Every corps did a great job. Please don't flame this post because I'm sure I spelled something wrong in here!

Aaron Evens
Rochester Crusaders

Hampton, VA (DCI)

I want to start off by thanking everyone involved in this show... I had a wonderful time, the stadium was clean, and the people working were friendly! I will say that the announcer was terrible... no offense intended, but I am not sure any of his blurbs weren't met with mispronunciations, stumbles, or a variety of other vocal 'flubs'.

Micro Magic (6 G, 13B, 4P)
I wish more up and coming corps would take this route. MM performed a show that was entertaining to the crowd and spoke well of their organization. Brass seemed to have a rough night in spots, but considering the amount of rehearsal these guy's have/had I was impressed. Brass Machine was really nice, and the runs were surprisingly clean. They did a great deal of Blast-like drill and even included electronics. I didn't mind the electronics, but it did remind me that I don't want to see them implemented into today's DCI corps! The show was well-rounded and entertaining. The guard members were very neat to watch and had several flags that I recognized (I believe some were from Magic's past). I am glad to hear they are going to continue this until once Magic hits the field next year... I think many of today's upstarts should consider this as a way to build a local and regional fan base before trying a big tour or full sized unit. Thanks for making it to VA Magic... and I am looking forward to seeing you on the competitive field in 2002 (and I hope you return to your DARK roots!... ie Fantasia, Danny Elfman and Cirque de Soleil style)

Spirit of America Marching Band
Ok, this is not the same unit that tours Europe every summer (I know, I marched with the European one in 1991). This unit hails from MA and was a welcomed addition to tonight's show. They are a summer band I am assuming, and are all-ages. They performed an original work called 'Freedom' that incorporated a variety of American themes into the mix. Most notably was the Simple Gifts tune, which was expanded upon in some neat ways during the latter half of the performance. The brass of this unit was large enough to be highly competitive as a Division III corps. They had a well-rounded and balanced sound. This was a great band presentation... there was one section of vocalists and clarinets that gave me a chill-bump or two (and it has been A LONG time since a BAND has done that... and I do judge marching band competitions often). The entire production sounded like the score to a movie... with very eerie beginnings that brought back memories of The Last of the Mohicans or Blue Devils 1995 opener... I was drawn in. This band PERFORMS! I will say that they PERFORMED better than a few of tonight's other units. Intonation was quite good throughout, with only a few troubled areas... and my, oh my, they had the richest Bari sound I have heard since Phantom 1996. Those 4 performers made the show for me. The reason I didn't have a problem with the band at this show is they sold the show. 90% of the bands I see or judge are simply playing music and marching drill... these ladies and gentlemen like their show and made the audience like it. I hope to see them again next year!

4th place 81.2
After seeing them in Herndon, VA I was a little disappointed. Being a huge fan of the original music... I thought Spirit's interpretations left a lot to be desired. Well tonight, 90% of those issues were gone and I truly enjoyed the program. These guys are not out of the Top 12 hunt... and I was a little surprised they weren't closer to the Blue Knights at tonight's show. These guys are aggressive, and sold their performance! When the hornline opens up, their quality of sound is incredible... the problem is when the volume backs down so does the support. This makes the softer, more difficult passages quite dirty... some were just as dirty as I saw them a month ago. There are some great effects built into the show... like the mass horn articulation passage, but it isn't working. I am not sure with only a few days left... they are still scored so thickly in the dirty passages. This show is in some serious need of a good watering. While Crown has made tons of changes and cleaned... Spirit hasn't and it is apparent. I would love to see this show in Finals.. but unless they can really clean some of these issues... 13 or 14th will be there's. I will say that the biggest improvement was the fact that Spirit got their groove back. The jazzy sections that were so weak in Herndon are now incredibly nice, and the highlights of the show. Blues in the Night, Porgy & Bess, Let it Be, and Gone With the Wind all snuck into the show.... I had to go back and listen to some of those shows... I LOVE SPIRIT! I hope that next year they can do another show like 1987 or 1990/1991... either direction would be a strength! Can't wait to see what these guys do with these last few days of rehearsal!

Kiwanis Kavaliers
5th place 69.3
Being a huge fan of them from 1995-1997 I was extremely disappointed. The show started with the gorgeous statement that was only about 1/3 of the volume it needed to be. The crowd didn't respond... and that was why. The opener is filled with very familiar themes that have been simplified to be 'cleaner' I imagine... but it was a bad choice. The famous melodies are really un-effective in the state they are now. Also I was confused by the double-time run-a-thon in the opener. It made the corps looks visually week and had a HUGE impact on their overall sound. This corps needs a new design team! The Character play by the corps was great, lots of nuance in the musical line and visual after the opener that worked well. I just wish the horns could project. Is it harder to project on a Bb? The percussion were a pleasant surprise... I usually don't notice the drum work... but tonight I did. They seemed like the semi-finalist caliber they were a few years ago. Now I will say the movement they took from On the Town to represent 'Traffic' was incredible. It is one of the more difficult pieces in the musical and it worked incredibly well. Everyone sold this section. The corps came alive, it was great. Lonely Town was nice... but lacked the breath support on the low end. I really hope that Kiwanis can survive... but in order to attract the higher talent... they really need a package that is well within the means of their performers and perform it well. Tonight it looked as if someone let the air out of KK's bag... and it was sad. Maybe next year they will do Porgy & Bess or something like that... one can only hope!

Madison Scouts
2nd Place 85.9
Well I was really wondering if the scores Madison were getting this year were deserved based on their performance, or if they were remnants of 2000. Well I have to say it must be a combination. Madison performed with a great deal of confidence tonight and had the most wide-open sound and performance level tonight. I actually thought they would be around an 87. The problem with Madison this year isn't the performance, it is the design. Brass are leaps and bounds over last year, although they seem to be a bit Baritone heavy. The percussion didn't stand out as bad tonight... meaning they were probably quite good. Guard is a huge improvement over 2000. They still aren't Top 8 quality... not sure why there isn't a winterguard staff like so many of the other strong corps have... or maybe they do? I will say that Madison isn't visually where they need to be. There was quite a bit of crouching, leaning and bad posture... I am definitely not used to seeing Madison perform from an M&M standpoint like that. I think it will hold them back. There were also some ensemble music tears that seemed to be very unusual.

Design: It seems like the visual design is relying on 'gimmicks' or 'tricks' rather than smooth transition, form development, and instrumentation placement. There were some really nice moments, and then other moments that it was just horrible. I was really surprised in some areas. The horn book is incredibly thick and it shows. Yes it means they are loud a lot of the time... but the orchestration is covering up the natural resonance of an in-tune hornline and making the members work twice as hard to produce a high volume of sound. Madison stays loud 85% of the show, so when the other 15% comes into play they sound tired, out of breath, and just not of a quality one expects from the Scouts. The ending is meant to generate the same crowd reaction they have built into their show since 94. It brings the house down... but not like it has before. The ending is milked, and milked big-time. Some of the choices for the guard are great and very effective (ala Boston 2000) but some are just weird. The ending didn't generate a reaction form me like other people... I don't react just because of volume... there were holes in the sound, splats, people sticking out of the ensemble, and holding over on the release... I thought it sounded more like a college marching band than the Madison Scouts I truly love. After seeing a great deal of this year's corps... Madison will be anywhere from 8th to 11th in my opinion.

1st place 89.55
Glassmen won this show by leaps and bounds. I will say that when their score was announced there was so much booing that I got madder than I ever have at a drum corps show. People were hurling obscenities and insults. I was glad to finally see one band parent from a local school stand up and yell at someone saying... 'They are kids, how the hell can you boo a kid' and he is right. Whether or not you agree with a placement or performance.. you should never boo the efforts of any youth. When they asked people to stay for the victory concert, someone behind me yelled up to the press box 'Yeah right man you are full of s*** if you think I want to list to that pile of crap again'. I couldn't believe adults were being this immature. The HS students beside me thought Madison should have won, but they still gave Gmen a standing ovation and were much more mature than their 'elders'.

I did stay and watch the victory concert and WOW! They produce a wonderful full sound, and really impressed me much more than their field performance. 5th isn't out of the question... maybe 4th isn't either?


Glassmen entered the field with a menacing advance. They all looked 10 feet tall (something I haven't said since Phantom 96). Technically this corps is incredible... performance wise not. They are incredibly clean, visually more clean that I have EVER seen them... but they don't sell the show. They seem reserved emotionally. Guard was the best I remember ever seeing Glassmen, Brass packed a punch, but never quite opened up their sound. The backfield drum segue was heart pounding and extremely intense. This is one well designed show! Flag and guard design are quite tasteful (am I saying that about GLASSMEN???). I was really impressed by the Sabre design. It seems most corps aren't using saber anymore... and I was glad to see them tonight. Upper Sops had a very nice quality sound (one of them was in my mellophone line in 99 with Blue Stars), but the lower sops had a great deal of trouble in the softer sections, often sounding 'teeny'. The Contra sound was incredibly nice... maybe the strongest contra line out there this year? Visually Glassmen could contend for the title... but the thing that will hold them back this year is their emotional performance. Technically perfect and boring isn't good. The corps performed the victory concert... I loved every minute of it... just transfer that to the field.

And you can't write a review of the Gmen this year without mentioning the Fleugel soloist! WOW!!!! (BTW they also had a mellophone soloists who does an incredible job as well)

Blue Knights
3rd place 83.55
I have to admit, when I first heard that BK was doing Cartoon, I jumped on Napster and downloaded the song. I wasn't impressed. I listened about 10 times before I could 'hear' the drum corps potential. When I heard they were throwing in some other ideas and themes... I thought... GREAT!... that will work well. I was wrong. Blue Knights were a huge disappointment for me tonight. From the moment they walked on the field, I was noticing posture problems everywhere. Visual is usually the BK strong point, especially in drill design. There were some bad choices in the design, mostly in staging, but also there were some design flaws that makes the visual hard to perform. BK seemed to be trying so hard that they 'overshot' the performance. There were many ensemble tears. The brass actually did have a nice ensemble sound. There were several flow issues between the pieces. Namely between the first and second piece... was very abrupt and disturbing. The visual image that was created by BK is still apparent, and works for the most part... especially in the drum feature... it was great! Sops got very nasty during the second half of the program, Contras had a nice sound, but had some major timing problems. I really wish they would cut about 14 of the whistles... too much was not effective and actually annoying. Is American in Paris a curse? The arrangement was not good at all and was performed at a very low level tonight. Kiwanis in 1998 and Glassmen in 1996 both seemed to have bad seasons with American in Paris... maybe it is a curse? Overall I was expecting the score to be much closer to Spirit. I was actually expecting an 82.0. I can't see BK making finals this year, much like 1995... the show just isn't there. 97-2000 were some great productions, and was actually hoping BK would move up into the Top 3-4 or continue their 99/2000 route and do some David Gillingham music... but they haven't. I just hope BK doesn't have to rebuild AGAIN.

Thanks to all the performers for giving me a wonderful evening of Drum corps (probably my last until I go with Carolina Gold to DCA championships over Labor Day weekend). I just wish the audience was a little more supportive of this youth event rather than treating it like a college football game!

Oh well

Chris Green

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