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

Page Eight of Reviews

Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when they are available or submitted.  The following reviews are solely the opinion of the reviewers.  If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author, all reviews are signed with an email address.  If you want to add your review to this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to:
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Saturday July 21

San Antonio, TX (DCI Southwestern)

All Day

Here's my lengthy 2001 DCI Southwestern Championships review.

My disclaimer. If you think that I don't appreciate the work that goes into these shows by the performers, then stop reading and go away. I don't feel like discussing this with you. I do realize what goes into these, and while last year I tried to stay away from criticizing performances and stuck with music selections, this time I'm going to get a little more in-depth. I tried really hard to be open minded about each corps going in. Some rewarded me for doing that, some didn't. As with everyone, even judges, it' s a matter of personal preference. If you liked someone more or less than me, of course that's your right. Feel free to discuss it. Do not, however, attack me for believing as I do. Ok, end of rant.

Wait. My other disclaimer. I wrote this at one sitting, so I may remember stuff later that I forgot to add in here. So, if you see me commenting on stuff later, that's why! :)

We arrived at the Rivercenter Mall to park about 9:15. It's only a 15 minute walk to the dome so we got there comfortably in time. Surprisingly, most of the souvie booths were already set up. Got a few minutes to peruse them and to buy my 2001 program, but we quickly settled down to watch some little corps. Weren't that many people there, which was a shame. Our seats were on the right 49 yard line, on row 28 (which was 2 rows from the back of the lower deck, but still *really* close.)

***Revolution, San Antonio, Texas***
First corps up was the hometown corps, fielding their first year of competitive show. They still had the Phantom Legion uniforms, and a much larger colorguard this year. Musically, t'was much improved over last year. Much, much better. Their opener, the overture from Grand Canyon, has a couple of wonderful brass fanfares in it. Percussion seemed overheavy, but it might have been the dome. Also, their parts didn't really stand out in my mind. Chorale and Shaker dance (think BK '91) was played well, but might be a bit overambitious for the size of the corps. Quite nice to watch, though. If they keep improving at this rate, we may have a D1 corps here yet. :) One member had a gold trumpet; I assume it was hers rather than the corps.

***Esperanza, San Diego, California***
Next up were the boys from California. Played a show called, "Songs of Ceremony," although it might as well have been called, "Songs of David Holsinger." These guys were intense! While the crowd wasn't exactly singing along to the music, they easily kept everyone's attention. Some wonderful brass moments in the show. Also some not-so-difficult but solidly written percussion licks. I'd recommend this show as one to watch again. They did have an entire section of gold horns. What was up with that? I thought it wasn't allowed?

***Taipei Yuefu, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC***
It was really neat to be able to see these guys for the first time. Their DM said they'd only been in the US for 4 days yesterday. I shudder to think what they might be like had they been able to afford a longer tour to now! Their music consists of (what the program says) contemporary Chinese music. Personally, it sounded like contemporary American band music, so they fit right in. You know, discordant melodies that you'll never remember, lots of cue hits, etc. Gotta say, though, they did it quite well. The visual package is what everyone's going to be talking about in this one, though. Their drum solo is pretty much eighth notes, but you go around dancing while you do that and see how easy it is. (Especially you, the loudmouth on the left end of my row who kept badmouthing them, LOUDLY, while they were on. Get your fat butt out there and try it.) Guard did a kung fu-like routine during the solo. It was a blast! They were my wife's favorite corps out of the 2/3.

***Allegiance Elite, Calgary, AB, CN***
Reduced numbers this year. I counted (well, it wasn't hard) 2 snares, 1 tenor and 3 basses. 9 pit, though. Seems a little out of balance. They played music from Beauty and the Beast. (Broadway version) The DM looked great out there. Everyone near me liked his full-length cape. The red slashes on the back made it look like they were about to play Jurassic Park 3, but that's okay. Their one contra played his heart out, and gave them a nice low sound that you wouldn't have expected to hear. The drums were WAY too loud today. It obscured what the horns were playing. The whole program seemed a bit shaky, but it wasn't a bad show. They minimized the use of the title track, which I am soooo thankful for!

***Seattle Cascades, Seattle, WA***
Seattle's show was entitled, "Veneration." Wow. If this corps has been in a neck and neck race with the Vanguard Cadets, I shudder to think what VC's like! This show is terrific! The entire package is there, drums, brass, visual. Green and orange seem to be the colors of choice this year for your guard; Seattle chose green. I'm shocked. They were easily the most athletic corps of the early going, and even of some of the later D1 going. Again, this is one where you're not going to go home humming melodies, but it goes together really well. Their DM was a delight to watch.

(On an aside, there was a surprisingly high number of African-American drum majors today. I think that's great! I hope it reflects a trend of growing interest in D&B. Also noticed that a lot of corps this year are marching cymbal lines, which is also great to see.)

We didn't hear any scores announced, so until they had put it on the web page, I hadn't seen 'em. I agree with all of the placements. I might have put Seattle a little higher, though.

Between shows, we went and visited the "Souvenier Marketplace." Or as I liked to put it, the lower concourse. I bought a little Canadian flag from the Kiwanis booth for my brother's girlfriend from Edmonton. Troopers had some nice stuff, but most of it was blue and yellow. Don't particularly like to wear that combination of colors. Revolution didn't have a whole lot, but a nice tour shirt! Southwind had shirts with quotes from Notabando!!!!! Do they know who he is? How'd they get permission? I was wondering about that all day. The DCI proper booth had some nice stuff. Everything you've seen on the web, though. Nothing new. Banners by Barbera had some nice infant wear, so we got a little suit for our future marching member. (we have to be careful right now, 'cause we still have a week to find out whether our baby's going to get to be a Cavalier or not!)

I bought the latest drum shirt from the Blue Devils, as well as their DVD. Guy sitting next to us told us that I wouldn't be disappointed. :) Also bought a Glassmen shirt and the Cavies 2000 championship shirt. Forrest with Drum Corps Miniatures was there, and I bought a Phantom contra off of him, but he was out of all of the others that I was looking for. Darnit. I'd budgeted a lot of money to go there, so I got a few more shirts. :)

It's just a personal appeal from me, but I'd love to see more white and grey shirts made by the corps. I just don't like to wear dark colors. I prefer more athletic-apparel type stuff.

Anyways, we settle back down for the first big corps.

***Troopers, Casper, Wyoming***
Ok, maybe not big corps. They looked smaller than the Cascades. I really enjoyed their show, though. I liked it a lot better than last year. They duhted very, VERY loud, but most of the corps today did that. (Well, except BK who shouted it, but that was intentional.) Copland works good for them. Don't really have a whole lot to say about them, really. Solid.

***Spirit, Jacksonville, Alabama***
I wasn't sure what to expect from them. I know a lot of people online had been liking them, but I wasn't sure how I'd feel seeing them in person. Well, after seeing them live, I love them! The show is not really Southern flavored, but they weave melody bursts of their old favorites (Old Man River, Georgia On My Mind, Let it Be Me) throughout the show. They had a couple of scatter drills where a "conductor" would shout things out. Here it was, "Next Stop: San Antonio" and "Last Stop 'Til Buffalo!" Crowd enjoyed that. To answer everyone's next question, yes: they could still be a finalist corps. Wouldn't take a whole lot. Some cleaning and tweaking, but I don't think wholesale changes are necessary at this point. I still don't like the uniforms, but they do indeed look good on turf.

***Kiwanis Kavaliers, Kitchner-Waterloo, ONT, CN***
I've never liked KK's black uniforms. I'd prefer that they wear the ones like their DM, with the white jacket with black chest and black pants. But, under artificial lights those sequins sure look good. They had a prop of a bridge / subway entrance that they parked on the right 40, and it was very distracting. Soloists kept getting up on it, and the bassline began their opening form on there, but otherwise it got in the way. I don't think it helped the show any.

***Southwind, Lexington, Kentucky***
The corps was smaller than last year, which was a shame. I really thought this would have been the year that they challenged to make the top 12. It's hard to say what they're missing this year. The music is pretty good, and they execute really well, but there's just ... something ... missing. Firestorm is a great closer. I'd like to see that again.

***Colts, Dubuque, Iowa***
They became my wife's favorite show of the afternoon session. The Colts uniforms seem almost custom designed for this show. The guard has some good threads as well. Sinfonia Voci has a chorus that gets stuck in your head. That's about all I can say for that! It's a good song, though. Allemande features the brass doing a courtly dance in the backfield. The battle scene is the highlight of their show. I was entranced watching the percussion until a gentle nudge from my wife pointed out that in the backfield, half of the brass were holding shields and the other half were attacking them with their horns. It was a great touch! In the Dome, Non Nobis Domine really came off well. Full, rich orchestrations. Of course, I don't know if that was the reverb or if the brass is that good. If they are, look out! Once More Into the Breach is a fairly short excerpt from Henry V, then a reprise of Sinfonia Voci. Percussion is using gray on gray Premiers this year, which looks good and fits with the medieval theme. (Think: Armor.) We had them 2nd, behind Madison and over the Xmen.

***Pioneer, Milwaukee, Wisconsin***
What happened to Pioneer's drumline? 5 snares and two tenors? Somebody get hurt? Everyone else on RAMD is right - the black pants look good. I also got a chance to see one member up close on the concourse and they look really good in person, too. The guard uniforms, though, are awful. Quasi-Civil War uniforms, and they do some military looking marching in the first twenty seconds, and then they start dancing. It looked almost like a Monty Python routine! You get over it, though. Gettysburg actually makes a pretty good transition to the field. America the Beautiful isn't as bad as I was expecting, but it wasn't exactly making me want to stand up and salute. Performance wise, I thought it was fairly solid, closer to Southwind than they were.

***Madison Scouts, Madison, Wisconsin***
Neither my wife nor I can figure out what's missing from this show. After hearing it, I don't know what the judges are looking for. This show was without question the boldest, loudest and most exciting show of the afternoon. We both had them absolutely in first. You could feel the intensity radiating off of them. Their show to us still looks and sounds like a top 6 show. Of course, we're not judges, and you'd be well advised to remember that before you start bashing me or the Scouts. But for us sitting on row 28, all we could figure is percussion performance wasn't as strong as the rest of the corps. There is a great little 30 second transition before Symphonie Pour L'Orchestre Americain that ends with a single rifle toss that the crowd loved! Ballet in Brass's drum solo was exciting for the cymbal tosses over the snare/tenor line, but there wasn't a whole lot of meat to the feature after that. A little bit of drum to drumming, and triplet hits on cymbals behind them a la Danza Pasillo in '95, but not too complex. They had some great screaming solos throughout as well. I dunno. The final note goes on and on, with members falling to their knees as it goes on. Think of '97 Crossmen with some theatrics added.

***Bluecoats, Canton, Ohio***
I haven't really liked a Bluecoats show since 1996. There have been some isolated moments, but not where I'd sit and watch a show again. This one, however, might be one of the best I've ever seen from them. The opening statement is a blast a la Madison, and the opener seems a little long, but it's the middle tango piece that makes them so great. It starts with the corps broken into three groups, each doing tango steps while the guard dances. It's little stuff, like a head toss here and a leg kick there, but it look so cool with the music! The music, speaking of, starts slow and quiet, segues into a loud fast climax, and then reprises the slow quiet part. The 'Coats show how horn body movements really can add to a show. Back to the opener for a second. There's not a really exposed drum feature here, but there's a 8 or 16 measure segment at the end of the opener where the tenors are camped on the 50 playing a continous set of runs right up to the final hits of the song. You'll have to see it on the videos, 'cause on the CD's it'll lose something being covered by the brass, but it was really cool to see live.

***Crossmen, Newark, Delaware***
I don't like Harlem Nocturne. There. I've said it. It just has two 8 measure melodies, and they're played like a theme and variations. Just doesn't do anything for me. Their second song, though, (Flyin' Home?) grabs you no matter what. It has a great battle between the snares and some guard versus the tenors and some guard. Sorta like the Cadets last year, except that the guards doing tosses too. Their ballad was kinda anonymous. Firedance, though, is one of those songs that will always be on the Crossmen 's Greatest Hits. They have what seems like an endless supply of screaming sopranos. Actually, all throughout the show they have a higher number of soloists than the competition, and it's kinda neat to hear.

Ok, I should be ashamed of myself. I actually, for the first time in my life, skipped a corps. The only defense I have is that my wife was pregnant, she was hungry, and I didn't feel like dealing with the rat race once the early show was over. Thus, I can't offer a review of
***Carolina Crown, Fort Mill, South Carolina***.

In the interim, we went to what has to be the funniest named restaurant on the Riverwalk: Steers and Beers. Pretty good, but quite pricy.

We returned to the A-Dome at 5:30 to find out that they weren't going to open the doors until 6:15. By the way, the high yesterday in San Antonio was between 100 and 110. Not good on the Dome's part. I'd love to know whose decision this was, DCI's or the facility's. They kept us outside until 6:45.

More souvie reviews: The Cadets had a lot of stuff, but not a whole lot that I wanted. The Cav's have a neat hockey jersey, and BK has a whole lotta stuff with the lion rampant on it. Glassmen didn't have a large selection, but the neatest (cream / black) polo of any corps. Kiwanis had mostly Canadian stuff (flags / pins / etc) and less corps stuff. Still bought a flag, though. The Blue Devils and Santa Clara had the most visited booths of the night. If I'd have had any money left, I'd have bought their new mousepad. As it was, I'm ordering it next week instead.

For the late show, we were sunburned, dehydrated and very tired. :(

Then the hammer dropped. I didn't see a lot of bootleg recorders, like I did last year, but this year seat squatting was in vogue. People would just come take an empty seat and hope the owners didn't show up. The three seats next to me (which were purchased by a teen and his grandparents by the way. We saw them in the afternoon.) traded butts like every other corps. I don't like people standing up next to me and screaming to the next section over, "HERE'S SOME EMPTY ONES!" Darnit, I paid a lot for my seats. So should you if you're going to sit there. Jerks. Plus, this one lady kept kicking my knee.

My only other general complaint. The staff got to sit in the section next to us. I realize that they're encouraging their people, but once the show's about to start, they need to shut up. We don't need their voices on the recordings any more than we need the fans obnoxious shouting. There weren't many corps that did that, but enough to warrant comment.

***Colts, Dubuque, Iowa***
This show was technically a little more sound than their afternoon performance. This time, I watched the horns during the battle sequence, and it's wonderful!

***Madison Scouts, Madison, Wisconsin***
Madison seemed tired after the afternoon performance. I can't blame them. It seemed like the zip they had earlier was gone. In the closer, they do a trademark Madison face right, back up and spin to face the front move. One horn member fell over onto his back, feet in the air. To his credit, he recovered quickly and hit his spots great for the final minute of the show. I still would have put them up higher than they were. (See my earlier comments - I just think that this isn't as bad as the judges seem to!)

***Phantom Regiment, Rockford, Illinois***
I love Phantom. I really do. I just didn't like their 98 show. All of the others, sometimes I'd love them on the spot (96) or after a few listens (97). This one, I liked on the spot. There is an insane amount of horn dance in this, and they don't sacrifice the drill to accommodate it, either. The theme of the marching is wedges. They appear all throughout the show. Never a flying one, though. :( Would've been nice. Maybe they're holding it for finals? Hopefully? The music is well written and very well played, but seems a little thin in the low registers. Again, might've been the dome. The middle piece (Game of Pairs - Bartok's Concerto, 2nd mvt) seemed a little short, and flows directly into Festive Overture. I was a little disappointed when we hit the brass chords at the beginning, because they weren't as loud as you'd think they should have been. In fact, it seems like the entire show was fairly restrained from them. I think that's what dropped them tonight. There's certainly no problems with balance in the show, and the guard is top notch. Tonight, I think it was a matter of Glassmen just seeming to have fresher legs and less tired lungs. As usual, Tommy was beloved by the Texas crowd.

***Bluecoats, Canton, Ohio***
The second performance by the 'Coats tonight seemed about even with their first. I didn't see anything new, but my wife said that the tango soloists in the middle were spectacular. She also thought it odd that in almost every dance the guy had, he'd push the girl away. Don't know if it was a matter of intent, or just that the dances were added one piece at a time. This is a terrific show! I had them 8th, over Boston.

***Crossmen, Newark, Delaware***
Like the Bluecoats, the Crossmen didn't seem to have that much better of a show than they did in the afternoon. Noticed this time that the contras have a neat pointing - head bob thing on the front sideline after the playoff part. Snares use a neat cymbal thing on their snares during part of the closer. Otherwise, I wasn't more or less impressed than I was. I had them in 8th, behind Phantom.

***Glassmen, Toledo, Ohio***
Glassmen were on tonight! Wow. I can feel ok that they passed Phantom on the judges sheets, because all of the intensity that Phantom didn't seem to have, they did. Their opener gained steam as they went along, until they're fairly flying by the end. The crowd responded in kind. The ballad (Ginastera's Pampeana?) has what'll be remembered as the soloist of the year. He did crack one note, but he has a massive solo. Between him and the pit, it almost has an electronic feel to it. Lots of low marimba that reverbs under the solo. The final two songs seemed like the opener in that the corps started a little sluggish, but are sharp as glass (ha!) by the end. It'll take a few listens to fully appreciate the music, but even on one viewing you can tell that the great potential is there.

***Cavaliers, Rosemont, Illinois***
The Cavaliers to me represent the best of the DCI visual caption in 2001. Massive amounts of drill moves, each one could be the centerpiece of some other corps' show. They have been and continue to be the standard by which all other corps' marching programs are judged. The last minute or so of the show has been changed since the last bootleg recordings, and it seems to work a lot better. Lot more references to the funk melody in the 3rd movement. There was a couple of lines tonight that didn't show their normal sharpness, but they were at the beginning and seemed to be ironed out by the end of the show. Okay, now musically. The first movement could have been pulled from their show last year. To me, that's okay. If it works, keep using it. Sorta like 1993 being in the mold of 1992. The 3rd movement is probably my favorite song of the night / afternoon / morning. The Cavies sell it really well. While I miss their classical music, and hope that they return to it next year, I certainly enjoyed the show tonight. I thought they should have won everything but high brass.

***Blue Devils, Concord, California***
The Blue Devils to me represent the worst of the DCI visual caption in 2001. The corps is nothing more than a framing vehicle for their dance ensemble. Can't even call them a colorguard when their most used piece of equipment is a hat. If you couldn't tell, I didn't like this show. I had them 2nd at the end of their performance. I felt that their superiority musically was offset by the Cavaliers superiority visually. For all of the ballyhoo, the snare/bass thing was kinda short. Would have liked to see them pick them up again at the end. Seems like a waste of money, otherwise. I didn't like the music. Very discordant, and only slightly jazzy. It also seems like they stuck a tag ending on the opener and closer simply because they have been since 98. It doesn't really fit the context of the music. Visually, they do have one nice moment (and a reprise later) where they're sliding a box along the front sidelilne and the row on the far left runs through the form as it's moving to become the front rank. There's also a couple of good moves in the ballad where the percussion is moving with the mass form while being the only ones facing backfield. Otherwise there's not a whole lot of drill to get you excited. Especially after the Cavaliers. Also, for all of the comments online, they weren't particularly cleaner or dirtier than any of the other top corps. Well, except for...

***The Cadets, Bergenfield, New Jersey***
Cadets were winners of the "Messiest Corps Tonight" award. Their marching was awful. One member fell down and lost his hat. Twice members ran smack into each other in the line. Once a spinning flag caught a horn on the head. This is the end of July, not mid June. This should not be happening. I could have easily seen them in 5th, not 4th. Musically, though, this show is a treat. There are tons of horn runs. Vintage Cadets. The ballad (Vide Cor Meum) is kinda short, but well done. Actually, because of how long Moondance is, all of the other songs seem a bit too short. During Young Person's guide, my wife noticed that both DM's were on the podium, and asked me why. I told her to notice that the corps was playing two different things in two different meters. Very nicely done. Moondance takes up the majority of the show. My only complaint with it is that there's not a tenor feature anymore. They're just parked on the trap sets by the pit. Takes some of the teeth out of the drum solo.

***Santa Clara Vanguard, Santa Clara, California***
I can just see the letter.
Dear Mr. George Hopkins,

We can't help but notice that you've taken the opener from our 1981 show to use as yours in 2001.

As a result, we shall now be using your opener from 1991 in *our* 2001 show.

Nyah, nyah, nyah.

With Love,

Santa Clara Vanguard

p.s. If you play Phantom of the Opera in 2002, we shall be playing Rocky Point Holiday.

The last 5 years running, I've seen their show the first time, said, "Well, this music just doesn't grab me at all. I've never heard a more discordant mess." Then, 6 months later, I'm listening to their show more than any other. 2001 is going to be like that for me. I sat pretty much disinterested for the majority of the show, until the New Era chant. The body language was great. Along the lines of, "I'm chanting. Huh. I'm dancing. Yeah, I can dance, can't I?! Dance, dance, dance. Look at me dancing and chanting!" It was cute. I'm going to have to be diplomatic here and recognize my own limitations. This is a show that's going to take time to grow on you.

***Blue Knights, Denver, Colorado***
Why BK chose this year to become more fan friendly, I don't know. Personally, I liked that they took some less traveled routes and made you like 'em along the way! The snares were using Pearl indoor models tonight. Why was that? Are they doing that the whole year? Speaking of percussion, they completely overpowered the rest of the corps tonight. The lack of balance was really obvious. Selection-wise, I didn't recognize any of the music until the Warner stuff in the last two minutes. My wife caught more of it than I did, so I assume it's just me. :) As a bit of an aside, why is it that slide whistles and slappers and field whistles are used to denote, "here's the whimsical, childish part"? It's really cliché at this point.

***Boston Crusaders, Boston, Massachusetts***
I'd love to know how this lineup was set. Putting BK and Boston after the big 4 wasn't smart. Even if both of them were performing at the level of last year, you don't put the 5-6 corps after the 1-4 ones. The crowd was less responsive than they might have otherwise been. Anyways, to Boston's performance. Personally, I really enjoyed this show. It's got a little bit of everything, and a lot of African rhythms. The segment from The Mission was mine and my wife's favorite part. Marimba Spiritual was okay, but it wasn't as good a transition from percussion to brass as Stained Glass (SCV) was last year. Harmonium seemed too short.

The retreat came pretty quick and smooth. That was nice to see. They talked to Rondo and Dennis DeLucia, who announced that there were 11,740 people there tonight. Show me. I'd have said 20-30,000. Can't judge the size of crowds, I guess. The crowd was unhappy with Madison and Phantom's placements. I was unhappy with Madison and Phantom's placements. I was infuriated by the tie. Why was the tiebreaker rule not used? Not 5 minutes before, Dennis was talking about how great it was that a tiebreaker was in place now. I believe that this is indeed a competition, or else why even keep a score? Ties just take the competitive aspect out of it. Sorry. That's my personal rant.

I figured that since the Blue Devils won, they'd either decline to play an encore, or they'd just play their show and leave. Since I didn't like their show, we just left. With my luck, and my love of encores as chances to hear stuff *other* than the show, I'm sure they played like 30 songs or something. If somebody was there and heard what they did, please let me know!

It was pretty easy getting back to the car. No traffic on the road to get to the highway, either. I don't know why that was. Last year, it was a mess. Got home at 1:30.

Overall, I was kinda disappointed by the show. They seemed sloppier than last years. Those fall downs, a few run ins, a lot of distracting duhting and a *lot* of dropped flags / rifles / sabers / apostrophes. When I first sat down to write this review, I also thought that most of the corps were disappointing musically. I have to revise that, though, upon writing this, 'cause I could find so many things to like! I do enjoy the fact that everyone's so close this year, and I think that if the cleanups that should be happening do, then we're in for a great treat come Finals week.

f you've got questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at If you feel like discussing this online, then post back. If you feel like attacking me for having my opinions, then go away. I'm not playing that RAMD game.

Thanks for reading!

Mike New
Lockhart, TX

Hey everyone, lot's to write. pardon the spelling and grammar in advance. Great great great great show. My last of this season. Really enjoyed it. reviewed in placement order as I lost my program (good beer in san antone)


Kiwanis - First viewing. Nice book, nice ideas. The kids are dying from about the 4 minute mark on. The prop on the front looks a little cheap (banged up and stuff). They have a nice show, but they have a lot of work to do.

Troopers - First viewing. never never never give me a variation of the sunburst. Just do it! no slow then fast. just set that puppy up and let the applause begin. Again, nice ideas, really enjoyed the Choral and shaker dance section. I hear they are getting more kids soon from another corps. This will help. Still love the uniforms.

Pioneer - First viewing. always impressed with them. I don't know why they can't make the push to the next level. They seem to have talent and good ideas. I'll keep hoping.

Southwind - First viewing. These guys have the horses, but the show doesn't do it for me. Boring tunes, hard to follow. The kids are performing well though. They are being taught well. Good style, good sound, and well performed. It's the 'what' that's killing them in my opinion. When the partnership with Madison happened, I was hoping for the Co-ed Scouts. I'm still waiting. Really proud of the UCF and Lake Howell kids with them tonight.

Spirit - First viewing. The are on the right track. Great music choice and I wish magic would have done the "train" move when we did the Muddy Water Blues stuff. Really nice. They had the single most memorable moment for me musically with the train sound backfield - it was nothing short of amazing. they have a great sound. HUGE. Nice writing. But they are filthy. Major spacing issues, bad mvt tech. They could make a push, but they will have to do 6 hour days for at least through Murph. No disrespect, they have that thing set up to run into overdrive in the next few years. Overall, it's great to see them in old uni's, and they should be very proud.

Crown - I feel bad for them. I think they have one of the best packages out there. But MAN, is it dirty. It's also one of the hardest shows out there this season and the kids are dying the last 3 minutes. Drums were WAAAAAY too loud for this barn(I'll get to this later). Talking to some of the UCF kids after the show, they seem to be at a defining week in their season. I just don't really know what they need - it's either a day off, or 2 rehearsal days. Lot's of changes since Orlando, all for the better. The wood planks at the beginning are very very cool, the tires don't bother me and from our seats (bottom of the top level right on the 50 by the video cam) they really created an interesting backdrop for the corps. Metal is cool. I just dig it, but that doesn't make it clean. I hope they can max this show out. Horns sound great but tired at the end, colorguard is excellent, drums are really nice but loud all the time.

Colts - First viewing. nice show, pretty clean. The music is boring to me. But they seem to be a better performing group than last year. Colorguard is much better. Drums are nice. Horns sound great. But the music choice leaves me flat. Colts and Crown are a study in contrasts for me, colts are clean and heady, crown is really cool but dirty. I would put my money on crown having the advantage here, but you never know.

Madison - First viewing. yep. that's what I paid to hear. Many contrasts within this corps. Horns where by far the best to me (felt happy when they won brass) of prelims. The octave stuff right of the line in the sops was first rate. Drums are always one of my faves, they are one of the few that still drum. Drill to me has always been the achilles heal but this year it seems better. Then there is the guard. They just don't seem to be contributing to me. The costumes are drab and look out of place to the Kenton music. The work is not clean at all, they don't move well and the book doesn't fit the visual at all. And again, I mean no disrespect - they are one of the few corps that I really really like anymore, it's just weak in a very important area. Their filed entrance is still the best and they should be top 5 for thier beginnings and endings alone in my book. The middle part of the program is a little wierd to me - the Lambamba thing for 64 counts seems totally out of place and the ballad drags. The drum solo is great and the cymbal toss stuff get the crowd going - you may say sell-out, I call it trying to entertain the audience. Go Madison.

Bluecoats - First viewing. they have never been one of the groups I have particularly enjoyed over the years, but this year, they are fantastic. By far the best balanced hornline of prelims and they created the most enjoyable moments for me. I would never program a ballad for as big a part of the show as they did because I would be scared that the audience would lose interest. But from the timp solo to the end it is just stunning. The arrangements are chilling. The horns sound magnificent, the colorguard is passionate and enjoyable. They just get it. The whole show is put together well and has all the elements. But the ballad just sticks out in my mind. Man, that hornline sounds like silk. Best blend and uniformity for me. Drums were a pleasant surprise and didn't get in the way. Congrats Bluecoats! Great job! Count me in yelling "BLuuuuuuuuueeeeeeeee" from now on.

X-men - Love the show, one my faves in the past few years. Great arrangements, great players, great drums, fantastic colorguard. Much cleaner than orlando and the drill seems a little more difficult looking than I remember it. The horns got eaten up a little by this stadium. That could be an issue down the road in the bigger houses. They owned orlando, but they appeared in the middle of the pack in terms of communication ans clarity here. Cool to see Al Chez hanging out and being interviewed by the announcer after the show (interviewer didn't do a good interview though, lame questions). Soloists again, seem like the only 'real' players at the show (meaning that it doesn't seem like the umpteenth time they've played this show) very professional. Maybe a little too good. If those 2 dudes can read (a drumcorps virus), they should be getting paid to play instead of paying. Good sound, great control, amazing style. Some intonation stuff, but it doesn't matter as long as you play with good style. Colorguard is cleaner and starting to really perform and you can tell they are having a good time - I like that more than emotional trauma guards anyday. Drums sound great and play well, but the writing grates against the horns every now and then, some stylistic interp issues I think, but it is still good. I don't like the feel in Firedance, but it all works I guess. Still one of the best shows this season.

My group pretty had everyone in the order of finish except we had Kiwanis ahead of Troopers and Crown ahead of Colts.

Finals - review in placement order.

BK - First viewing. eek. Was hoping for more. Heard the drumline was amazing, but they disappointed a little. I don't get the book at all. I finally perked up during the Warner Bros theme at the end, but everything was really really confusing. I had heard it was supposed to be a cartoon type music thing, but I didn't recognize any of the themes (and johny quest is one my faves!) The drum solo doesn't sound like Blackmarket Juggler at all, big disappointment. They went on way late in amongst BD and Cavs and SCV and the difference was way too apparent. By my groups opinion, we think crown has better potential than both BK and Colts, this could be bad for BK. I won't see anyone anymore, but this really was the only disappointing performance of the evening for me.

Colts - they went on first and we missed their show :(

Madison - Same as today. Sops were a little tired but still great. Consensus is that this is an underrated brass line. They are better than the press and the numbers. Drumline is good. CG is still the issue. too bad. Love them. We all had them higher than BAC (coming up.)

Bluecoats - Again, didn't disappoint. I can't say enought about how good they are. They received my groups 'biggest surprise' award. I wish I could see them again this summer. We had them higher than BAC also

BAC - First viewing. Great show. It is not clean at all. They have made tons of changes when we talked to the staff afterwards. Horns sound great. Drums sound great. Colorguard is very very good. They are marching ok right now but it is really really hard. More physically demanding than crown, but crown has a lot of characterisations in the program that make it diff. The ritual theme is a little too hard to follow at this point. It's kinda like Crown, only on a little more technical level. you can tell it's good, but you just don't buy it yet. Man, the colorguard throws stuff everywhere. I don't know about top 5 yet, but they were at this same spot last year and they have shown that they know how to clean. We'll see.

There is a clear separation up to the next 7 corps at this point in the season. We would have had bluecoats here and made it 8, but we are nobody.

Phantom - First viewing. WOW!!!!!! Nikk - be proud my man. Just a great show. Well designed, well performed, and well received. The reports of Phantom's low brass demise have been greatly exagerated. The most impressive thing to me is the staging of the intro to "Festive" They are in Egypt and it sounds just fantastic. Our consensus had them in 5th ahead of G-men and X-men. What do we know anyway.

X-men - Great. gamers. no probs for the second perf of the day. I still get the feeling they need to open up a little in the big stadiums to max the book out. It will be a shoot out for tv this year.

G-men - First viewing. After the opener we all looked at each other and said "what the f--- is that???" The goods - the drill is 10 steps up from last year. The horns sound great, the drums are excellent, the colorguard is great. but.... these tunes gave me a headache. I just don't get it. I can't take anything away from placement because they really are performing at a high level. I just found myself reading the program during the show. The opening drill sequence is pretty special - really cool. This is a solid corps. They are excellent. It's just not my thing. Too deep for me.

Cadets - Thank you George and whoever for being the first people to do the online warmup facing the crowd. There are just some things that make you hit your head and go "Duh!!!" I understand the tradition of warming up back-field and getting the game face on. But I didn't mind it. Shoot, if devs did F-tuning from the front sideline before the show - I would LOSE it!!! Anyway. It is a lot cleaner. They have gutted Moondance. It is the best part of the show but it just sits there. And that to me, is the problem. The horns are excellent. Colorguard - too big. Gives me a headache. They are really good though. The silent toss of the non-rifle-for-rosie-thingy was really nice. Drumline is good but not memorable. We talked afterward and said the biggest let-down for them this year is that it doesn't seem like there are any "Cadet" moments in this show this year. Especially when you compare it to last year. All the gimmicks pushed that show over the top. i think George and his staff understand the entertainment aspect of drumcorps a little better than anyone (even madison - did I say that???) but it seems like they are intentionaly trying to NOT be cadets. Where is the amazing drill move?? where is the innovative drum stuff and the kick-ass throw down stuff?? I'm all for it, that's they're gig. But I don't go to McDonalds for a hot dog. We'll see.

SCV - First viewing. I want to love them, the last few years they have become my standard for excellence. That being said, the show takes too long to get going for me. I love "Short Ride" but I didn't think it worked for cadets. SCV is playing it much better than I remember cadets playing it, but it just seems long. I also found myself saying - 'where are all the cool visuals they usually do??' but From about 2 minutes in - the show just gets better and better and better. This hornline is strong. Percussion seemed the best and most tastiest of the night to me. Colorguard - great. the new era chant is - well - great. The best part is when the audience is initially shocked, then they smile, then they start grooving with it, then they start applauding, and it grows and grows. Just a great moment. Good for them. The show ends great, but it just seems like it's one or two ideas short of the money this year. damn.

Cavies - I would have bet the house that they would be leading the pack by now. But it doesn't seem to have gotten any cleaner than orlando. Or maybe so many members are geting good that it makes the individuals stick out. who knows. it could also be the stadium. Like SCV, it just seems a thought or 2 short of Devs right now. But I still like the show. I think it's a notch better in design than scv. But both groups are obviously a little behind Devs right now. The drama for me is good though cause the way I see it, it's set up to each corps strengths as to who will pull it out. SCV - find the one idea that kicks the program up, Cavies - make your amazing drill a little cleaner, Devs - perform the s--- out of it.

Devs - I tempted to give them the walk to the ring, but that is too easy. The guard is MUCH better than I remember them and I think Scott C and them know how to use these big guards a little better than cadets. I still don't like the costumes though. I still say that the standstill is has more excitment than the field show. Drumline throws down the best this year. It is soooo obvious that they are the best on the field right now. They have that swagger. Hornline is amazing as usual but the book sounds like every other devs book - thats a good and bad thing for me. Good that I can count it, bad that it doesn't show that much variety from previous books. But the current climate wants something to count on - and Devs delivers this year - big time.

Overall - what a great weekend. I am really proud of all the kids and the staffs.

final thoughts -

1 - no matter what the corporate line is - the sound is TERRIBLE in the dome. You totally lose the clarity of the horns and the bass drums boom around the place for what seems like hours.

2 - There are beautiful women in Texas ;)

3 - the riverwalk thing is really cool.

4 - the announced attendence of 11,800ish was pretty awesome.

5 - If I was the winning DM, I would hold the last not of America/Oh Canada for about 45sec. Not just 4 lame ass counts. Its over 700 brass players for gods sake!! Oh well, I can dream can't I??

6 - The seafood at Dick's was amazing

7 - I shot a 92(42 on the front 9 yessssss....) at the Quarry (great course!!) and humiliated my friends on friday! hahahahahahahahahahah

8 - drumcorps is cool, but it could be cooler. And woodwinds and electronics won't make it cooler, it will just make it different

9 - This is difficult. The G's are louder than the Bb's. It seemed pretty obvious who was on what. I will admit that I didn't think you would notice a difference, but you do. You may flog me at will, but please - just one more corona and another look at some of those blondes and brunettes walking around the river walk. mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmm

10 - the biggest downer for me is hanging out in the parking lot after the show and watching 2/3 of the kids lighting up cigs! I will never legislate choices, but the 'do drumcorps to get away from mom and dad so I can smoke/drink/screw' image brings the whole thing down for me a little. ok, I'm over it.

Hey everyone - have a great rest of the summer. Travel safe. Wish the UCF Wind Ensemble good luck as we have been invited to perform at the Dvorak festival in Prague and Budapest from Aug 9th to the 19th. I don't get to go to finals, but I get to eat Borsht!!! (sp???) I promise not to come back with a 19 year old wife named Svetlana!! (ok, maybe a 21 year old name Natasha).

Good luck all and enjoy the rest of the season!!!!

Ron Ellis
UCF/Disney/Magic yada yada yada

Here's my humble opinions on Saturday's spectacular in San Antonio...

What a day of Drum Corps!!! Going to the entire prelims and finals events, that has to be the most Drum Corps shows (not number of corps) I've seen in one day since DCI Quarterfinals when we still had top 25 instead of 21. My first impressions are that shows for corps in the bottom half of top 12 through 17 are much stronger this year (and more enjoyable) than last. In somewhat of an anomaly, of my four favorite shows of the day (Taipei, Seattle Cascades, Crown & Phantom) only one made finals, and that one was given one of DCI's all-time smears with their placement and scoring (I'll get to that) The other is that no one has really seemed to demonstrate a "championship" show yet, so the last 3 weeks will be really interesting. None of the top four have a really inspiring music book at this point. For convenience, here's my corps by corps take on both shows (combined):

Revolution -- Wow. Not bad at all for a 1st year corps. The drill was written at their level. Brass has a lot of rough edges, but have some nice power for their size. A nice little exciting show was received very, very well by the home crowd. Great to see some support for them from San Antonio. Maybe this Texas corps will stick. I hope so!

Allegiance Elite -- Hmm. I felt like I was watching a mid-80's show. Kudos, though, for choosing music everyone could enjoy. Nice to see some characterization from Beauty and the Beast in the DM uniform, etc... Horn line is struggling and overall there is lots to clean in the show. It's just great to see a corps from Canada still around. They seemed very, very young. I don't see them making II/III finals, but if they can keep these kids around, the future looks good for these guys.

Taipei Yuehfu -- Wow! This too me was one of the most entertaining shows of the day. You can tell that they just flew over a few days ago, as the constant practice over the next few weeks will be very, very beneficial. The show at this point is very rough around the edges, but it is powerful and exciting. Musically, the Asian music is rhythmically pounding, yet also musical and exciting. The middle section, with some great martial arts choreography from the guard is a lot of fun. The horn line is large and powerful, with a nice dark sound. I love the uniform as well. Helmets much like Phantoms, only improved, as the plume is elevated on top a few inches before falling backwards (something Phantom should consider to make them taller). Looks like Taipei will repeat as International Champs, as they seem much stronger than last year. I sure want to see them again in Buffalo. Thanks for coming over & come back every year you can!!!

Esperanza -- Tasty. These guys are so classy. At first, it's very annoying to see the mixture of brass finishings on horns, but it's quickly forgotten as they get into their show. While many have said the uniform needs to go (it is very band like), they look nice on the field. Horn line produces a nice full sound, and their intonation seems to be improving since I saw them in Concord. Strongest section with these guys is undoubtedly the guard. They are rock solid for Division II and should be a treat to watch in Buffalo.

Seattle Cascades -- Wow! Seattle is on a mission and the Drum Corps World better look out. Division III title last year, Division II this year, and look out DCI finals within 2 years at the rate they are going. My only hope is that they are spending within their means and are in this for the long haul. Seattle's show is truly exciting, despite the modernistic music that seems to be the latest annoying DCI "bandwagon." In their case, it works, and works well. The show has grown quite a bit from Concord, and they wowed me then too. Horn line is cleaning nicely, yet still has some nice raw power. Guard is fantastic, and could beat some Div. I guards. This show actually pulled me out of my seat a few seconds BEFORE they were finished, which is quite rare these days for a smaller corps. It's gonna be a battle royale with Mandarins, but I give the edge to Seattle for the Div. II title. They also have a fantastic shot at 16th or 17th in Semis this year. Good luck. I can't wait to see this show in Buffalo either.

Kiwanis Kavaliers -- Tasty, too! Kiwanis has taken a step up over last year's effort, in my opinion. The show has a New York theme, and is quite classy. The horn line is small, but plays within their means and has a nice style established for them to work on polishing for the next 3 weeks. They will struggle mightily to make top 17, and probably won't, but could make top 21 with the show if they can clean up. I hope so. I'd like to see them get back to their 14th place quality shows, and maybe get Canada back into finals some day.

Troopers -- Like 'em! Troop is doing some things right this year, and is finding a way to retain their tradition yet take a more modern approach. The Copland show fits them well. Horn line has some nice sound to it, with lots of room to grow over the last few weeks of the season, and the drill is nicely written at their level. Guard is a major weak point at this juncture, from my perspective. Flag work was rarely if ever together. Ironically, the rifle line seemed much stronger than anything I saw on flag. While staying basic with their work, at least they were together, and until a drop at the end, had me watching and rooting them on. One unfortunate thing seems to be that the DM doesn't have the usual intimidation and bravado that you expect from Casper. I keep rooting for Troop to get back to a finals caliber corps, but this corps at least has an outside shot of marching Saturday in Buffalo, if they really work at it. Most of all, I just love the fact that they are still around.

Pioneer -- Solid. Is this the year they start to leave the Irish shows behind? One can only hope. This show is about 90% civil war and 10% Irish. Musically, I like what they are doing, and unlike some, I don't find the America The Beautiful phrases to be cheesy. The corps puts out a nice solid sound that sounds bigger than they are. Guard is utilized nicely throughout the show and add greatly to the theme of the show. I like the nice touches such as dividing flag silks in the opener (1/2 the guard on gray silks, half on blue). Subtle and well thought out. They may be in a real dog fight with Mandarins and Seattle Cascade for the last spots in Semis, but they have a great shot.

Southwind -- Ok, I liked them better with a 2nd viewing (after seeing them in Dallas). Musically, it grew on me quite a bit, although nowhere near last year's beautiful show. I think the Brahms piece is my favorite at this point. Drill does have a lot of blocks, but seems more demanding than last years, and at this point, they have a lot of cleaning to do, as they are not marching nearly as well as last year. This show has a ton of room to grow, but where are they going to go? I don't think they can pass Crown, Scouts or Colts to hit Finals yet, but they should be a very solid 14th or 15th and could threaten if they clean the heck out of the show (guard needs a lot of cleaning too)

Spirit -- Alright! What a solid improvement over the last few years. I think this is their best show since making finals in 90. Horn line is LOUD and powerful, without overblowing. Nicely done. Drill wise, after the nice train image in the early stages of the opener, the corps is not memorable, and I'm sure that will hold them back. The guard is a huge step up from where Spirit has been (granted, that is not saying that much if you look at the last few years). Musically, they sound great. The show loses a lot of musical momentum, though as the book just isn't that enjoyable after the first few minutes. I don't think they can pack enough into the book to pull into Finals, but this is a great step in the right direction for Spirit & I how the relationship with JSU is long and fruitful. I thought the new unis were great, too. Welcome back as a serious competitor, Spirit!

Carolina Crown -- Wow! I honestly thought they had made finals after watching them end the afternoon show. This show reminds me of what I would call Crown's best years (The Stormworks and Chess shows). It's great to see their old design team at work and the YEA influence/cloning gone. IN looking at the recaps, I don't understand at all how they could score so much lower in ensemble Visual than they did in Performance Visual and Guard, and I think that judge cost them today. Musically, the first 2 thirds of the show (Wood & Rubber sections) are great, and vintage "old school" Carolina Crown (if there is such a thing for such a young corps). I think the closer definitely loses something at this point, though. Horn line is not top of the line, but they were better than I was expecting, and do have some power, although the edges are still quite rough. Guard is phenomenal -- a pure joy to watch. I definitely would prefer watching Crown to Colts, but that's just me, and I feel like they would have knocked BK out today if they'd had the chance.

Colts -- Welcome back to entertainment after last year's debacle. Colts have a nice show, although, it doesn't do for me what it seems to do for many who have seen them this year. Musically, there are some memorable themes, and quite a bit that doesn't move me around them. Drill is impressive and Colts are marching ok, although they looked dirtier than their scores to me. The "battle scene" is fun and they generate some great intensity with it. That's one of the things that I've always loved about Colts (except last year) -- their intensity, and that is definitely back. It's gonna be fun watching the battle between Colts, Crown & Blue Knights for the last 2 spots in finals ( and Scouts better look out for all 3).

Blue Knights -- Yadi, Yadi, Yadi. Seems like this show is only going through the motions. Musically, the departure is nice, but it's stuck in no-where land between fun and serious at times. Visually, the corps is just not pleasing at all. The drill is a big mush that is way to compact. Do they ever get out of tight, hard to read formations? What happened to those great spread out, exposed breakneck BK drills of the early and mid 90s? I sure miss them. Guard is extremely weak, and deserved their last place score Saturday night. What happened there? They used to have very solid color guards until last year. This show is not hard to watch (I do like it), but it's a far cry from the American classical direction they had going in the early 90s, and I wish they'd go back to that style.

Madison -- Wow! These guys are fun again. After being hard to listen to, and even harder to watch (how can a guard be THAT bad?) last year, this show is tasty! Horn line has power that is a pure joy, with a sound that is not as thin, tinny or unbalanced as before. Kudos for that! Guard is not a strength, but at least they are not the eyesore that they were last year and I love their moment at the end of the show (although it will be much better if they can stop over-hyping and clean it). Visual is the Achilles heal for this show -- they just don't do much other than having a morphing figure 8 drill repeating quite often. The corps really needs to start over with new ideas in the visual arena. I do love the show, though, but I think they are placing about right due to the lack of visual difficulty and creativity. The first 30 seconds and last 60 seconds are vintage in your face drum corps, though and a reminder of what much of the activity is lacking -- pure, fun and exhilarating.

Bluecoats -- Blooooooooo! I love this show. The horn line is fantastic with their deep, dark sound. Musically, the corps is already very clean (will this hurt them later), although not quite as demanding as some others. Very loud but never anything but great tone and color. You can sure "hear" those 32 talented Texans in this corps. I absolutely love the middle tango section of this show. Horn line feet visuals are wonderful. The show is mesmerizing (although not pull you to your feet exciting). I don't care too much for the guard uniform, but I like the use of the triangles and they are solid throughout the show. Should be a good battle for Blue, but they have a great show at 9th this year.

Boston -- Powerful. The absolutely only thing missing from last year's barn-burner show last year was volume. Well, they reversed it this year. This corps has a deep and powerful horn line with a nice wall of sound. What they don't have is great music, like last year. This show is a much tougher sell. I'm sure I'll like it more on further hearings. Their marching is not up to last year's standard at this point either, but there is also a lot more demand in their drill. Drillwise, yes, there are some similarities to last year, but I disagree that it's a simple regurgitation of last year's drill. So what if some moves are the same? If it's great, use it. (Many corps could use that lesson -- wouldn't we all like to see Madison's rotation company front (95), Phantom's merging/diverging blocks (89), Vanguard's "T" (99 & thankfully '01) or a host of other tear the house down moves again?) My biggest complaint with this show other than a lack of great music is color choice. The guard uniform is quite ugly (mustard), and their choice of silks is down right nauseating. That's quite a shock after last year's beautiful, tasty visual look. Not sure where this show is going to land yet. I could see them anywhere from 6th to 9th, but most likely 7th or 8th.

Phantom Regiment -- Wow! Wow! Wow! This is not the Phantom of the last 3 years. I hope the judging community recognizes that soon. (I thought they were until tonight). The corps is literally flying on tempos (It seems that they sped several tempos up since Dallas 2 days ago) and drill. And the guard (boy, are they great) is flying too. This color guard has the potential to rival their mid-90s top 3-5 place guards. This truly is a virtuoso show. Horn line did have a few tears tonight (not sure about their seeming decision to increase tempos right before a big show) and I think the dome acoustics muddled some of their many many flying runs. Drill is much more demanding and interesting than recent years and the subtle uniform change (black sashes) has made a tremendous (positive) difference. My gripe? Phantom was literally ripped a new one tonight. No way in hell did they deserve to drop 2 points from the Dallas show and lose to a corps (Glassmen) they have consistently beaten for the past 2 weeks. Do I smell politics from a former Glassmen Dan Acheson-led DCI? I sure hope not. That Phantom was screwed was something I heard mentioned over and over in the concourse leaving the tunnel, so I know I'm not wrong with the fact they should be in 5th right now. I'm sure their timing in performing tonight (DCI needs to address that if they keep this format for next year) did not help? To have a corps that has been cruising in the 5th place zone to go on like they were in 10th (I know it was a blind draw) is tough. The best news for Phantom is they have miles they can grow with this show (especially to clean musically), so they have a high ceiling for scores and it's up to them how high they can claw their way up to. This is absolutely the most difficult music book I have ever heard a horn line attempt.

Crossmen -- Let's Party. Crossmen have a great show this year (though not in Phantom's league). Horn line is much improved and does a great job selling the late night jazz club feel. Al Chez's influence is unmistakable. Guard is solid, though not of quite the caliber of their guard of a few years ago. What this show lacks is visual demand. There is way, way , way too much park and bark and too little drill. That shows in their rep score in GE visual and may hurt them more as the season progresses. A nice show from Crossmen though, and the volume from the horn line is great. Thanks, Crossmen!

Glassmen -- Cool. This is a very cool show. I did like it more the 2nd time around, too. Musically, it's a little too unmelodic and dissonant (especially the opener), but the percussive feel is also cool. I'm quite tired of a few of the g-men trademarks like the tilted heads, but I also like some of what they do as well. Guard is not nearly as annoying as the typical Glassmen guard and drill is pretty solid too. What they can't do is hold a candle to Phantom musically or with Color Guard. Their drill also has some very "ugly" moments where members are forced to run with very unpleasant results. This is my favorite Glassmen show of the last few years, though, and I think they should have a solid run to 6th this year.

Cadets -- nice. fun. ok. This show is all of those -- but it just doesn't go anywhere. The horn line sounds great. (Gino has worked miracles up there). Musically, I like all four selections, but don't "love" any of them, and nothing much other than the ballad really seems to move "me" (and I have seen them twice now). Moondance is fine, but it does go on forever. Speaking of forever, so does the time go on while this corps does no "real" marching. They bookend with some nice drill in the opener and closer, but this is the least I have ever seen the Cadets march. I don't know why DCI tries to describe the show as typical Cadet mile a minute -- Cavaliers, BD, SCV, Regiment, Glassmen, Boston and Colts all move more and faster than Cadets. The guard is solid, but not at that vintage Cadet level either, and they are not overly inspiring at this point in the season. Never count these guys out, though, so I look forward to seeing them again in Buffalo and see what they've been able to do with this show.

SCV -- Cool. I told someone right before scores that SCV and Cavaliers seemed to be equal. Guess what? they tied. SCV has an innovative show with some very cool moments. The horn line is dark and strong, but maybe a little too dark. They lack of Baritones (all Euphoniums) leads to a dark low sound, but also one that seems to lack a little brilliance and clarity. The sops are often lost altogether in the sound (oops, excuse me, the "trumpets" and maybe that's why. PLEASE go back to G bugles!!!). Guard is strong, but not tight or clean yet. If they do tighten up, they could contend for top guard honors.I don't understand how they won GE music, but then again, none of the top 4 really have a "wow" music program, so maybe I can. I guess they do deserve that, but it's more or less by default. I love the New Era chant (although it was lost somewhat to percussion in the dome), but the closer otherwise goes nowhere musically and is very "un" melodic. Drill is great, and will wow once cleaned. This could be our winner, but then you could say that about Cavies and BD, too.

Cavaliers -- Cool. What an innovative visual show! Drill is way cool, with a great four file "thing" morphing sideways in the middle of the show in the middle of the field. I love some of the closing sets to each section, too. Musically, this show isn't doing it for me yet. Not much to hang on to and enjoy at this point, although, again, there is some "cool" stuff. Guard is great, but I sure wish they had some better silks to look at. Very uninspired flag design this year. Guard uniform is the weakest I've seen from Cavies ever. Can they win? Maybe, but they need to find ways to beef up the music book and put more emotion into the show if that is to happen.

BD -- GUARD! That is an awesome color guard, and they should have one guard hands down in my opinion. It's strange, as I didn't enjoy this show musically nearly as much this time as I did in California. Not sure why, other than it didn't seem as fun or musical this time around. The dome also seemed to affect them more than anyone in terms of the drum line overpowering the horn line. (Who would have ever thought at BD horn line could be overpowered, but they were by their own drum line and many, many other corps' horn lines -- DAMN THOSE Bb HORNS!!!) I thought this show was untouchable the first time I saw it, but it seems more human on the second viewing. They do have some great drill, though, and they move much more than Cadets.

Well, there you have it -- my 2 cents (sorry it's a little late). A message for the top four -- you are awesome, but imagine what you could do with music that speaks to the heart and soul, too! Please find it again for next year.

Harvey Phelps

Hi folks ... spent an incredible weekend at the Dome all day Saturday and TBA convention since Monday. (Sunday sort of disappeared since I was writing articles for Drum Corps World all day ... check out the reviews in this week's mag!)

I don't know if anyone realizes this yet but ... DCI is selling top 12 videos from the San Antonio performance. Forty bucks ... what a bargain! They have been on sale at the TBA convention since Monday and will start going on sale via the website and DCI's home office later on this week. Watching mine tonight!

Corps I didn't see in Dallas who impressed me in San Antonio:

Revolution - movin' on up! Clean up the brass playing and you will be in Div. 3 finals! Did anyone else notice they got 2nd in drums in the morning contest?

Troopers - mostly new staff this year and it shows (in a good way)! Much cleaner than I ever remember seeing or hearing them. Too bad it probably won't make a difference placement wise ...

Seattle Cascades - wow. Don't miss this supposedly Div. 2 corps. They belong in open class and will probably make semis if they are going to Buffalo!

Taipei Yuefhu - you have GOT to see this corps if you get a chance. Very big and powerful, and the Asain approach to drum corps is very interesting, especially their drum solo.

Spirit - I truly think this is Spirit's best show since their return from inactivity. They really nailed it Saturday afternoon. Performance levels remind me of their terrific 1998 show (the year before the Brian Setzer show).

Crown - all the weird stuff works for me. Cool show concept.

Crossmen - WOW!! The smoothest, most laid back jazz I have ever heard in drum corps. Are those senior corps soloists pretending to be underage in this corps????

Cadets ... show concept is nothing stellar ... it's Juxpretentious (okay, had to get that out of my system) The show flows a lot better within each of the 4 songs than I was led to believe, i.e. the drum solos now actually sound related to the music rather than just drumming for drumming's sake.

Vanguard - absolutely love the show. New Era .... New Era. I am pulling for them to win it all at the last minute. Great stage concert Sunday at the convention. (The audience of band directors really ate up New Era!)

Blue Devils - came out of nowhere (no appearances for a week prior to SA) and smoked everybody else. Performed like they owned the field. Last year's show didn't do much for me but the fun is back in this show.

G vs. B-flat bugles: I really, really tried hard and couldn't tell a difference, at least in the dome. I also noticed that all of the B-flat corps except for two - Kiwanis Kavaliers and the Cadets - made a point to use a lot of non-B-flat keys in their arrangements. SCV and Cavies as a matter of fact played a lot of G and D power chords on their B-flats - not easy at all to tune, props to the performers! Kiwanis and Cadets on the other hand used B-flat related keys almost exclusively and they sounded like very talented BANDS. Talked to Michael Cesario at the convention and he offered the opinion that this may be because the music they chose locked them into those key areas, and the more I think about it, it makes a certain amount of sense. Switching corps - I have always admired SCV's brass for their deep, dark sound across the line - listening to them play in the concert hall on Sunday - they seemed even MORE so on the new B-flats!! (Send In The Clowns has jumped up a half step from C to D-flat if anyone's interested ...)

Lastly - and this was the most pleasant surprise of the weekend - I really, really enjoyed getting out and talking to the kids in the corps. Drum Corps World is really pushing its writers to include quotes from corps members in our articles whenever possible (you'ev noticed if you've been reading). Every single kid I talked to was friendly, open and glad to talk for a few minutes. I met rookies, kids from Texas, kids from corps I hadn't seen for years, and even a guard member who was in her 7th year of corps and was actually still in high school. It was really refreshing to hear about someone who got involved in drum corps at such a young age - something that just doesn't happen down here in Texas.

So that's it for now ... start pestering DCI about those San Antonio videos! :)

Eric Senzig
Ft. Worth, TX

7:30 PM Show

It was a nice day for drum corps. The alamodome is a neat venue, but I prefer the outdoor venues better anyday. The echo was not horrible, but it was bad enough that you had to really try hard to hear the nuances of the sound from each corps.

A note to band directors, chaperones, and parents: I agree that it is a great idea to take your high school band or some group from your band to these shows. I am a band director myself and if I could have had my entire band there I would have. . . .but please in the future instruct your kids on how to act at these events. There is a time to talk and holler and clap and scream and get up to go to the bathroom, concessions, etc. The group around me was unaware of how to act, and there was no director in sight. I only saw one band parent there with them that was doing her best to keep them under control. People pay good money (too much money) to see these shows, and it is a shame to have the experience tainted by annoying talkers, etc. who do not know how to act. (off soapbox)

On to the show . . .

I really tried tonight to place all my biases and preconcieved notions aside and just enjoy everyone's show. Here are my thoughts on what I saw and heard.

Colts- I missed the first half of their show, but what I saw was much improved over last year. They look and sound a great deal better, and the guard work really compliments the music.

Madison Scouts-I like the music much better than last year's selections. Now with the positive out of the way . . . there is a tremendous amount of dirt in the drill. They sound MUCH better than they look. The hornline has improved from the frackfest of 2000 and is back in good form. The feet of this corps need some major work. There is no clearly designed marching style. Also, there was not one completely clean set in the whole show. I kept waiting for there to be at least one set that would just hit and get the crowd going, but it never happened. A small portion of the crowd booed their 10th place when it was called out. I thought they would be 11th or 12th.

Phantom Regiment-I enjoyed the music book, although I would have went with a whole bartok show instead of festive at the end. The flow was not there. They have added a lot of visuals, but they are not clean yet. The show is well designed, but still very dirty. I also can't get used to Phantom doing Cadets drill. I do realize some of the staff is from the Cadets, but it does not work as well for them.

Bluecoats-If they keep doing stuff like this I will be come a big fan of theirs. Although I sometimes like their music book, I usually am not a fan of the show design. This year they have a good hornline, good music book, and the drill is very effective. This is probably my favorite Coats show since I started following DCI. I could see them climbing even more and surprising some folks.

Crossmen-This show is very much like last year, only a better drumline and everything is cleaner. The show is fun, loud, and had the crowd from the beginning. I do think the middle section gets bogged down when they start whooping and hollering instead of marching, but it is obviously working for them.

Cavies-I was really hoping I did not like this show. I must admit I have never been much of a Cavies fan. They really impressed me tonight. I enjoyed their show a great deal. I do think they have a total package when it comes to the design, and when clean could contend. My only complaint is that while this is original stuff, it is set up and designed exactly like last year in terms of the moods and tempos of the show. The drill is slightly more demanding than last year, though. It could come out on top.

Glassmen-Why do people say they are boring? This was a great show! They are very clean, and from about midshow I was sure they would beat out the other middle tier corps for the 5th spot. One thing I like about glassmen is that they are not afraid to try something new. I do realize there is a strong contingency against doing anything new in drum corps. . . .new is bad, m'kay. . . .but this really works. I would not be bothered a bit to see them stay in 5th or maybe surprise one of the big boys.

Blue Devils-I just don't get it. Yes the show is clean. Yes cleanliness should be reflected in the scores . . .but so should show design and general effect. How in the world are the devils winning GE?!!!!!!! There is very little melody to draw on in the show, and drill wise other than a few cool moves it is the typical BD drill, nothing special. I give them credit for producing something very clean for this point in time in the season, but the show did not grab me and the others around me (and yes I am familiar with the music, so that was not it). I definitely think (hope) they are caught and passed by the time Buffalo rolls around.

The Cadets-I must admit I am one of the biggest Cadets fans out there. I wanted so much to see them contend and kick some butt tonight, but I was let down. Musically they are stellar, in fact no matter what their placing in Buffalo I could see them winning brass again. The arrangements are awesome, and they can play the heck out of them! Now for the disappoiting part. . .what happened to the design team? There was not one Cadets drill move in the entire show. Phantom is doing more Cadets drill than the Cadets are. The drill is pretty drab, nothing too awfully exciting. The ending drill is pretty good, but other than that nothing to write home about. Also, the guard work is not up to par. I was hoping the naysayers were wrong, but they were right. The Cadets need to be the Cadets and quit trying to do . . .ummm. . . .whatever they are trying to do this year (visually speaking).

SCV-All I can say is wow! Why is this corps not already way ahead of the pack? This show is amazing from start to finish. I really thought they had BD tonight by at least a point. Everything from the guard to the drumline, to the hornline, to the design is nothing short of awesome. I did nothing the design of the past few years could be topped but this is better. The music is exciting (who cares if you haven't heard it before or can't hum it) and the drill goes with the music. This was the only show of the night where the standing O came right at the last note and lasted for a couple of minutes. I really want SCV to take it this year.

Blue Knights-I am a fan of BK, especially the last 3 years. Seeing them tonight made me question them changing styles this year. Maybe that is the reason for the drop this year. The show has its moments, but overall is still dirty. I kinda laughed at the end section where they stuck a couple of measures of trittico in the looney tunes music. I hope they squeak into finals, but only if it is deserved.

Boston-They have bit off more than they can chew I think. I am not sure why you go from such a fan friendly show to a very academic show like they have this year. I really loved the ballad, but other than that the music does not do too much. The drill is very demanding and the guard demand is up, too. . .but why are all the tosses by the guard done facing backfield? Someone answer me that question. The improvement in the hornline is noted, but other than that, their in for some reality this year.

My overall thought after seeing these 12 is that the top 3 can win. I wanna put Cadets in the mix and say 4, but I honestly just can't do that after seeing them tonight :-( Anyway, I hope SCV pulls it out, but Cavies and BD (of course) have a great shot. Email me with your thoughts or opinions on any of this. Just calling it like I saw and heard it.

Michael Bodine

Hey everyone...first of all...I want to say that as a color guard person...I love the Alamodome! You are definately going to get split opinions on this particular facility. The acoustics are actually very good for a indoor facility. And the temperature was great! So...onto the reviews...but remember that I am a color guard person, so kind of lean a lot more to the visual aspect of things rather than the musical.

COLTS - Very nice show about chivalry. Some interesting drill things going on. Visually seems to be very even. Not a lot of highs and lows. Color guard is very large. I heard a comment last night "they are the best high school color guard in DCI." Color choices are nice, but needs a lot more variety from a staging and lower body contribution stand point. Great performance tonight though. My prediction is that this corps and Carolina Crown and Blue Knights will go head to head for the 11-13 spots.

MADISON - WOW! This a corps that knows how to bring a crowd right into their show. Great hornline. Nice musical shaping using multiple tonal color througout the show. Some stylistic problems at times from section to section. Drumline needs to WAY clean it up. The main problem with scouts is their feet believe it or not. Lots of timing issues and form control problems with this corps at this point in the season. The color guard is a nice compliment to the show....thats the problem...they are just complimentary. Rifle line is one of the best we saw tonight....flag line needs to go back and break the counts down as well as spatial pathways. I think this corps has the potential to jump a few notches before the season dies down.

BLUECOATS - Sure is nice to see these guys back...and with SO MANY TEXANS! Hehe. The opening number is just kind of there...they bring you into the show during the Tango number. I liked the use of the colored tarps on the field for the guard....temprorarily takes you off the field and gives you new visual setting with complimentary drill from the hornline. The feet thing got old after a while. Definately needs more variety in foot movements. Great idea, just put some variety in this particular part of the show. One of the better Coats guards we have seen in a while. I think this corps is slotted right where they belong.

GLASSMEN - Hmmmm....very different show. I can't really say that I like this show or dislike this show. It had moments that I REALLY liked....during the ballad...and moments I really didn't care for...the stomping of the feet by the hornline during the opening number. When I watch this reminds me of the direction that Star of Indiana took during its latter years...very weird and very dark. I'm sure there were lots of messages and meanings in the show...but don't think the average audience member got it. The use of design and color in the guard is definately strong point...nice match of audio to visual blend in the musical and visual coloring.

PHANTOM - BIG step up from last year. GREAT guard! This corps is definately going to be fighting it out in the middle of the pack this year. Nice use of emotional musical phrasing by the hornline. The percussion line seems to only know one pattern...Agressive. At times this hurts the musical presentation. Okay....don't get all mad here...the main problem with Phantom this year, is that at numerous time throughout the show, the visual line does not follow the vertical and horizontal musical phrasings. There...said and done. Great show and fun to watch though.

CROSSMEN - The jazz style definately fits this corps. One of the best percussion lines I heard this evening...and for me to notice a percussion has to be exceptional. Once again...great guard...but've got to hold onto things in order to be an "exceptional" guard. Hornline has some nice moments...but honestly, my attention was pulled to the quality of the percussion....this may be the problem this year for this group. Not to mention some dirty feet. Very audience appealing show.

CAVALIERS - Four Corners concept works well for them. Nice musical blend from section to section. Drill is great. Dirty at times...but i think this is from the amount of distance that is being asked to be covered by the members in a short amount of time. This corps has great field coverage. They know how to use every part of the field. Was a really nice change this evening to see a corps use every part of the field in their visual design. Great guard....but I did not have them winning the high guard caption...neither did the crowd.

CADETS - Hmmmmmm....definately a break from past Cadets shows. I just don't know about his whole Juxtaposition thing. I think where the corps is suffering is having to make the stylistic change from number to number. It is handled fairly well...but you can tell they are struggling getting into the style of each number...takes a few measures before the style locks in. Drill moves very slow for a Cadets drill during the first half of show. You finally get vintage Cadets in like the last minute of the show. Crowd liked this show...but general consensus was "this is the Cadets?"

BLUE DEVILS - Folks...this show has the TOTAL package. That is why it is winning. For those of you that have seen this show....step back and focus on the total package rather than a section. This show is designed to win. Those of you who are criticizing the easiness of the drill....they are only making it look easy...there is some really difficult stuff happening on that field. This corps has done some major rewrites apparently in the last 5 days...this was my first viewing so I don't know. This is truly a Blue Devil color guard...great use of color and design...IMMACULATE movement skills....a incredible weapons line. Everyone in the crowd (even those who dislike the Blue Devils, and there were plenty of them around me), had the high color guard award going here. But then again...I wasn't judging...Tony Florio was and I am sure that he saw some things I did not. Great show and very entertaining.

SANTA CLARA VANGUARD - SCV is back! Wasn't sure of what I would think of this show by reading all the reviews on here prior to seeing them. I really like this show. Great hornline. Great drumline. Great guard. Great drill. The problem you ask? I would have to say they have some pacing issues and some minor transition problems. If they can fix these...they will definately be fighting it out with BD on finals night. Only real design problem i see is the during the New Era chant...the guard needs to let go and really get funky...not psuedo funky. Drill is very cool....therefore...dirty at times.

BLUE KNIGHTS - The cartoons thing is a definate break from the Blue Knights traditional musical books. I like the music and what is being done with it. The visual design of this program is really lacking. Not sure what to say...I like it...but then again...there is something missing. Very theatrical guard...I think the hornline needs to adapt a more character approach to the visual design. If you are going to do a VK type of show...then you have to do it all out...not just half. Tough draw for the performance slot for these guys tonight. I think there score and placement are reflective of this.

BOSTON - I honestly cannot review this corps as I got stuck in the urinal line in between corps. Sounded great from the line though! hehe.

Overall....very entertaining show this evening in San Antonio. Every corps in the finals tonight had many Texans filling their ranks. Once again...makes me wonder why Texas does not have a top 12 corps. Bluecoats were even handing out fliers for next year showing that they will be doing their camps in Texas next year. Every corps had a minimum of 10 Texans...some as many as 34.

Went out to the busses after the show and it was so nice to see all the corps kids interacting with each other and rekindling old friendships. It was great to see some of my always brings a tear to my eye to see my kiddos growing up and being a part of something as wonderful as drum corps. Thank you DCI, BOA and Texas Bandmasters Association for bringing this fine show to San Antonio.


OK, everyone, sorry this is so late, I had to wake up the next morning on Sunday and play at a golf tourny at 7:00 AM Ouch!!!!!

Before I start let me say this, the staff at the alamodome was obviously not prepared for this event, they didn't open the doors on time, and then opened only two or three for the entire mob!!!

OK now the good stuff!!!

COLTS-(77.5) Man these guys are much improved. The drill is simple but effective, and the visuals fit in well. The hornline can pump out some sound, although I noticed that when they play at the lower volume levels, the upper brass sounds weak, overall much improved for the years past!!! My pick would have been 12th.

MADISON-(78.70) My props to the brass staff for what they have done for the hornline!! Now I love the music and the corps is putting out some serious sound, however I would like to see more visual impact. The middle of the show needs a little more spoof and this show could be great!!! My pick 11th.

PHANTOM REGIMENT(83.75) I was eagerly anticipated this show, as I have heard quite a few people talk about it, however I'm a tad bit disappointed!! The Brass Line is back, sort of. It might just be me, but the lows weren't as present as I'd like them to be!! Overall I thought that the drill was not very impactfull, and the visuals were ok, just maybe a tad hoaky. I don't see this corps in the top 5 picture. My pick 8th.

BLUECOATS(80.30)- People of the earth, the Bluecoats have a MANEATER HORNLINE!!! This was one of my favorite sounds of the night. They deserved their brass placement and it could've been higher. The drill is very effective and clean!! The Candleabra piece works extremely well for them as does all of their music, very nice arrangements. The drumline is good and gaurd is pretty good, my only worry for them is that the show is really clean for late July and I can't see it going much further visually than it is!! My placement 7th

CROSSMEN(84.45)- I have one word for them, WOW!!! The gaurd is good, the drumline is great and the BRASS LINE IS ANOTHER MANEATER!!!!! I think this was my favorite corps of the night and you know what, I have never been a Crossmen fan. The music kinda freaked me out, because the opener is a tune that the Coats did not to long ago, but it works for the bones!! I was super impressed by the soloists, my hats off to you guys!! What a great corps, I hope to see you on TV!!!

GLASSMEN(84.55)- The music of Imago is very segmented as it is a twentieth century theme. This corps is great this year, horline, drumline, guard are all fantastic, I just don't think this show creates the excitement that the X-men show does, just my opinion!! The drill design is great though, lots of fast paced action. I think these guys and the X-men will battle for 5th all the way to finals week!!

CAVALIERS(89.95)- This corps I think will defend their partial crown!!! This is probably the best drill design that I have ever witnessed!! The gaurd is Awesome, and drumline is outstanding. On other postings I have been critical of Bb horns, and even though I still do not think they're are the answer, the Cavaliers play VERY WELL on them!! I was impressed, the sound was very balanced and loud when it needed to be. Still the trumpet sound is a little brittle, but that is just my opinion!!! Great Show!! My pick 1st

BLUE DEVILS(91.0)- Awayday is a great piece and the Devs are playing it well. The hornline is much improved on the Bb's from last year. The gaurd as always is great and the drumline is smooth. This is another show that I think is way to clean for July 21!! If nothing else is going to be done for this show it will finish 3rd or 4th. I don't think the drill is bad or not effective for them, it is just not in the same ballpark in my opinion as the Cavies or the SCV!!! My pick 3rd.

Cadets(89.45)- I loved the Ron Nelson warm-up they did facing the crowd, this is one of the better brass lines of the night. The Cadets as my fiance put it are doing a BD type show and I think it is great. I had heard a lot of negatives about how the show doesn't fit together, but I think it is ok!! The gaurd is tremendous, drumline smoking, and brassline is great. The only thing that will keep these guys from repeating is the drill, not much impact there!! I like that they are doing something different, my pick 4th. SCV(89.95)- This might be my other favorite show of the evening!! The brassline could be the best in DCI this year and the music is intense!!! This show has some serious potential to it. The corps is strong in every section and the drill is a classic SCV drill, in your face and fast paced!!! I think these guys are a definate contender!! My pick 2nd.

BLUE KNIGHTS(76.85)- Ok, I must hve missed something, the BLue Knights were the 12th place corps there on Saturday???? I think not. The brassline plays with a lush dark sound and the drumline is good!! That being said, the first minute and a half of this show is visually dirty, however the music is not and is being performed very well. I love the Cartoon thing, and I love that they are trying something new!! What would corps be like if everyone did the same thing year in and out?? This show is not a top five show, however it is not a 12th place show either. This corps I thimk will clean up and surprise everyone come Buffalo. My pick 10th!!

BOSTON(81.45)- This corps had the misfortune of being last, but held their own well. I think that harmonium is lacking in GE, and the brass line is having a lot more crass sounds than last year. This show reminds me drillwise of last years except for it is not exciting!! I can see this corps being caught down the road!! My pick 9th

Overall I think this is shaping up to be a great season and I'm looking forward to seeing the final products. These are just my thoughts and really mean nothing!!

Wes Perkins

Tulsa, Dallas, and San Antonio

I just got back to Oklahoma today after a big drum corps roadtrip. After going to the Tulsa show since 96 and the Dallas show since 99, I was given the opportunity to go to San Antonio. That was an awesome show from every angle: great venue, well ran, and awesome corps!

I wish Tulsa would've had more corps (only 5), but it was fun though. Also, if you're attending San Antonio's show next year, call now for reservations...

I'm just looking at the list of corps performing, and I'm going to write some random thoughts. Hemmingway I'm not. I won't cover everyone - not to say that some corps are more important than others. Unfortunately, I don't remember a lot of details on corps I've only seen once, and I was sure as hell not going to take notes...

Revolution - Will all of the female members of the guard please call me?

Taipei Yuehfu - It was fun to see these guys. It's a change of pace to see how other cultures design shows...

Seattle Cascades - Everything that has been said about this corps is true. These guys are awesome!

Spirit - I didn't like the uniforms when I saw pictures, but they really do look sharp live. Ghost Train is a great piece, and I think they're doing a good job with it. There aren't many jazzy moments for those of you expecting something different from these guys, but you will hear a strain of Let It Be Me...

Kiwanis Kavaliers - I saw these guys in 97 (Evita), and I thought they were on their way up. I was a little disappointed.

Southwind - This year's show is similar in design to last year's - mix of contemporary wind and classical. Academic Festival Overture is one of my favorites. They don't have the volume of last year's corps, but they were entertaining none-the-less.

Colts - I thought this show would be cool when I first heard the repertoire, and I wasn't disappointed. I like to see what new design ideas can be shown with themes previously performed (medieval theme of 93 Cadets). I like the drill a lot, especially the opener. Also, Sinfonia Voci is a great tune for a medieval show (Broken Arrow High School 1997). I would like to see different guard uniforms, though.

Scouts - LOUD! (but dirty) I didn't recognize any of the music, but it was definitely enjoyable. I disagree with a few opinions and believe that they deserved their placement.

Bluecoats - I'm honestly not a Bluecoats fan at all. In fact, the only show of theirs I really liked was 1990. But, this show is great. They've got a great brassline, and their playing cool tunes. I like jazzophonic stuff...

Crossmen - DAMN! How Madison beat these guys in brass and GE during prelims blows my mind. I would like to see more drill in the opener. Fire Dance cooks.

Carolina Crown - Don't worry about 13th - they didn't go head-to-head with Blue Knights. I thought the tires were a bit cheesy.

Phantom Regiment - This is my favorite corps. I want to see them succeed, though I'm not biased in my opinions of them. I truly thought they deserved 5th place, though by a large gap under Cadets. The brass line is outstanding!

RANT: My buddy, Brett "Gentle Stranger" Reich, and I were discussing Phantom on the way home. I believe, to a certain extent, that Phantom's shows have been too constant the last few years while other corps have passed them by in show design. To win at DCI, whether anyone likes it or not, you have to haul butt. Maybe not for 11 minutes, but whenever possible. I think that during a drum feature, horn members should show they can march (or run). I was terribly disappointed that, in a year that Phantom could really compete for a top 6 finish, they will be hindered by a few slow moments in drill. I do not like the arch where the body work is done - they should be moving! Their drill is not as boring as was written in the early season, but it's not going to allow them to compete for an upper echelon finish. This is obviously my opinion, and I certainly hope I'm proven wrong and stupid. Phantom was not the only corps to suffer from this.

Glassmen - I really didn't think they should've beaten Phantom and Crossmen, but I'm not too surpised. Though I don't like the opener (like many others on RAMD), they performed it quite well. The show design should allow them to consistently pass Phantom in the next couple weeks. Awesome soloist in the ballad, though he bobbled a bit in San Antonio. The ballad and closer are beautiful. Backfield timpani are cool.

Cavaliers - HOLY POOP! This is the total package. August 11 will be a crazy night. This drill is awesome. I don't think they compromise anything to deliver great drill. The drumline cooks. The overall show design is nothing short of amazing. (In case you can't tell, I love this show). Also, the Cavaliers drum major made one young lady's day in Tulsa when he gave her the medal he'd just won. I realize that medals don't mean much to the performers, but it meant the world to her. This was a very classy move.

Blue Devils - They have a very entertaining show, and it's performed very well. I didn't expect a 1.05 gap between 1st and 2nd (I thought it would be smaller). They've got a couple hot drill moves, but I'd agree with Mr. New that the visual design is nothing like the Cavaliers.

Cadets - It's an entertaining show, but I really haven't much to say outside of that. I thought the deserved 4th, and I doubt they'll move up. Some shows are built to be winners when all the cleaning and fine-tuning is said and done by mid-August, but this show isn't one of those.

SCV - GOOD GRAVY! (I'm running out of material). This show is amazing. I heard the mp3 and thought, "this show doesn't fit together at all." All the disjunct parts really fit well with the visual, in my opinion. When I read the description of the show on the SCV website, I was excited to say the least. It was such an innovative concept, and it didn't disappoint. I love New Era. Hell, I love it all. Myron Rosander has again produced eye candy that fits well with the music.

Blue Knights - If you've heard "Cartoon" by Paul Hart, you may have thought to yourself, "is there a repeat sign every 3 measures?" This song repeats itself over and over. I assume the Blue Knights picked this music so they could just do a fun show. It's cute, I'll give them that, but dirty as hell. I've seen the show 3 times, and all 3 times I've witnessed horns running into each other in the same drill movements. I wish I would've bought stock in a bell and whistle supply company, because BK bought every whistle they could find to put in their pit. I don't blame them for wanting to have fun, but I don't have to like it.

Boston - I don't remember much about this show. I agree that they use the same major drill moves as last year, but I don't have a problem with it. Again, Mr. New is right when he says Harmonium was too short. It's a cool piece, and I could barely recognize it in their show. The musical selections sounded cool on paper, but were a bit disjointed when I heard them together - and they didn't have the theme to tie them together like SCV. May be one of the best 8th place corps in history come finals.

Overall, I must reiterate how much I love drum corps. I applaud all those who march, teach, judge, drive, cook, etc. I had never seen a top 12 performance live before, and I was amazed.

Bring the finals to Norman, Oklahoma!

Kash Barker

Clifton, NJ (DCA)

And I mean REALLY random... not a review, just some "Sunday evening, I'm really tired from the ride home to Baltimore" ramblings....

1.) The tribute to the late Jim Costello was absolutely fantastic... a wonderful way to honor a legend. (For those who weren't there, a medley of "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from Evita was performed by the combined Hawthorne Caballero corps - competition and alumni - as well as dozens of present and former members of several other corps past and present.) Here's a "thank you" to Frank Gerris of the Cabs for coordinating the tribute, and to Cabs Alumni drum major Mike DelVecchio for his well-chosen words saluting Jimmy Cos.

2.) Thank you to the NY Skyliner Alumni corps for honoring the memory of the late Carmen Cluna with a stellar... and REALLY LOUD... performance. Carmen was Sky's marching instructor for many years. I'm sure he was listening "from above" Saturday night with pride.

BTW, after hearing him again Saturday night, I'm now convinced that there is no better baritone player on Earth than Ruben Ariola of Skyliners Alumni. Each and every time out, this guy simply puts on a clinic on how to play that instrument!

3.) It was nice to finally meet Frank Doherty of the Cabs Alumni. (In a New Jersey diner, no less!!)Congrats, Frank, on your anniversary!

4.) The Reading Buccaneers are the real deal this season! When it's cleaned up and the tempos are tightened to really "sell" the accelerando effect, the Bucs' "unwinding" hornline in the Candide closer will be the signature visual move of the DCA season, IMO.

5.) Caballeros were very much improved since I last saw them in Hershey. The middle of the show still needs a good deal of work, but there's time left to get to that. And I'm glad to report that screaming soprano soloists are still alive and well in Hawthorne!

6.) DCA really has some great personalities on the drum major's podiums. Jim Russo of the Cabs, Carol O'Brien of the Hurricanes, Gary Karpinski of the NY Skyliners, among others.... they all bring something different to the table, but they all have one thing in common... they're PEFORMERS, not just tempo-keepers.

OK.... enough of my musings...... good luck to all corps, junior and senior, in the coming weeks!

Fran Haring

The tribute put on by the Cabs was really a great drum corps moment.

In order:

1) HeatWave: The hornline seemed a little fuller than when I saw them in Ansonia, but they had some timing tears. You could tell some horn players had 'deer in headlights' eyes. The drumline grooved better this time. The jam blocks make sense to me now. WOAH Color guard! They seem bigger than the CT show, and they were pumped! The show overall semeed more agressive. Sometimes people overhype and lose focus, probably what happened to these dudes. The ending is MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH more aggressive than my last veiwing! They come at you and bring the fury. The sop soloist was on tonight. The bari soloist drilled a double "C" at the end of the show...and trilled to a "G" above that. The guys probably a sop convert. Overall, the score they got was fitting, as timing tears and ensemble ticks were apparent, but the energy was great. I always root for the underdog. It was also a good night of DM hams with Kulimski and Russo. Showmanship at its finest. They really take you on a DM fun coaster WOAH....

2) Hurcs: WAAAAAAAAAY better than Ansonia. These guys must have done some big time cleaning. The show makes sense now. It's getting tighter. The drumline is much improved, and the pit really added an element to the ensemle sound of the corps I didn't hear in CT. I was impressed with these guys tonight. IMO I thought they should have taken Sky, but hey, who am I? I see Corpsvets toppled Hurcs last weekend, but unless the boys from Atlanta are reeealy good, I don't see them taking Hurcs again.

3) Sky: Got to see em this time. Very cool! The alumni corps was a real treat, and boy do they put out sound. The field corps was good, and they will surely be in the running for top rankings in NY next month.

4)Bush...sorry guys...Italian sausage came a callin.

5)Cabs: It's like that. These guys and gals once again lit the place on fire. They lit that crowd up...its like that said ....'Hey, right here!' and gave em the ole Bayonne Salute. Man, Every time I see these fellows, I can't help but cheer like I have never seen them! Thank you Cabs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6) Bucs: I couold go on an on about this corps. The show is just designed well. The flow is nice, the look is great...all the elements are there. One thing I noticed....they need flare. They dont seem to be aggresive about thier show. It's like robots. They perform well, but they dont seem passionate from the stands. I am in love with this show. I can't wait to see them next month. In one word: Classy.

In general, the show was a great time. The stadium is great for drum corps, puts the fans right in the thick of things. The italian sausages were very good. I am just a little irked that someone still doesnt serve mussels and sauce. Tonight was what drum corps is all about, great corps, great food, and great comraderie. Like a Rock.


Rochester, NY (DCA)

I'm sorry this is so late--I've been very busy and I thought someone else would give a review of the show. That, plus I have something that I think needs to be said about this show.

The show:

Allegheny Night Storm--15 horns, 3 guard, 6 perc., 2 pit. Better than last year. Good soloists. Still a very aggessive show for so small a corps. 5th place--54.10.

Kingston Grenadiers--31 horns, 13 guard, 15 perc., 9 pit, and 2HG. Seemed a bit smaller than last year but still very good. Well balanced corps. Very neat looking corps. 4th place--73.1.

Empire Statesmen--52 horns, 15 (22) guard, 23 perc., 10 pit. Much better than when I saw them in Buffalo on June 17. Fifteen guard members all of the time and adding seven others at selected spots. Strong horline and pretty good drum line also. They finally added some color to their white coat and it's just enough--looks good. Vince Bruni looked pretty dapper! 2nd place--79.5.

Syracuse Brigadiers--63 horns, 34 guard, 18 perc., 10 pit and 6HG. Very good corps--period! Any chance you get to see this corps this year--do yourself a favor--do it! A bit dirty hornwise at times, but I'll speak of that in a moment. 1st place--85.70.

Rochester Crusaders--43 horns, 25 guard, 16 perc., 12 pit, 6HG. Their show--elected to go on last after Syracuse. Great impact with their opening statement and all I could think of was--"welcome to the top 5"! Never hit that level again though. Seems like a few missed opportunities to impact again but they'll have to work that out. All in all I think they're better than last year. The guard is great again and should challange for top guard in DCA. 3rd place--79.0.

Rochester Patriots were an early exhibition and were very, very good. They should do very well in the next few weeks.

Mighty St. Joe's was the final corps in performance and they seem to be getting bigger. They had some problems (I'll address that soon). Still anchored by a terrific Mello line and their single tenors always seem crisp and clean(OK Tom?).

Now I would like to state that I don't think DCA fans should put too much stock in to the scores from this show. For some reason--EVERY corps had big time phasing problems! I'm sure this is evident in what I think are lower than expected scores.

This show will be repeated on Saturday, August 4th in Jamestown, NY. The same competing corps plus Lehigh Valley Knights and Rochester Patriots in exhibition. The show is being held at Strider Field--a beautiful new football field-but no lights! The start time is 5:30 !! General seating--advance tickets are $12.00. Day of the show--$14.00. The show is sponsored by the Jamestown H.S. Band Boosters. Tickets are available at Steve's United News in Warren, Pa and at Yum Yum's in Jamestown, NY. To order tickets call Carl Vullo at (716) 665-3822, Wally Post at (814) 723-2587, or Bob Peterson at (716) 366-3770. There will be a table set up at the DCI show in Erie, PA on July 31 with advance tickets available.

Robert E. Peterson

Thursday July 19

Dallas, TX (DCI)

It's late, but I'm sure there are lots of others like me out there hungry for more show reviews (seem to be less each year).

A great show in Dallas tonight, with a hot lineup to go along with the hot weather. As usual, a packed house in a nice sized stadium. A very well run show by the local band club, and the 25th anniversary to boot.

I missed Kiwanis -- sorry guys, I'll see you on Saturday in San Antonio...

9th -- Pioneer. I was impressed with these guys tonight. I like the switch from the hideous tan pants. Horn line seems more mature this year with a much fuller sound than last year. This show doesn't seem very Irish, but being sick of the annual Irish show, that's ok by me! Drum line was intense, a great Pioneer trademark. Drill wise, not much going on. One complaint is that they don't spread out and cover the field very well at all. They have enough numbers to better at that than they do (not the only one with that problem) They still have a shot at Semis, it seems to me, but they better look out for Mandarins & Seattle Cascades, who I saw on the West Coast and are cooking in Div. II.

8th -- Southwind. Nice warm horn sound tonight from these guys and the guard adds pleasantly to the show with some nice colors. Drill was not as interesting as last year, and the music book, while containing some nice impacts, is not in the same league as last year's entertaining book, with is too bad.

7th -- Colts. What a vast improvement on last year!!! Musically, the music is not that familiar (or melodic in places), but the theme is carried accross well (medieval), and they are enjoyable to watch after last years snooze fest. What's the biggest difference? Field presence. They carry themselves much more confidently this year. It feels like you are watching a corps. I still don't like the new uniforms, but with a more entertaining package this year, they don't seem to bother me as much. Nice volume coming from corps, but the sound is harsh at times. I'm sure that will improve with cleaning. As improved as they are, it's going to be a hell of a fight for top 12, and Colts have their work cut out of them if they are to catch Crown or Scouts.

6th -- Madison Scouts. Well, the crowd didn't like it, but this is were the Mad town boys belonged. My props to them, though, as they are so much better than last year's fiasco. Horn line is back in Madison form, and musically (Perc & brass), they are solid. This isn't an electrifying Madison show like '95, '97 or '99, but it's classic in your face drum corps. The guard is a nice surprise, as they are at least top 12 quality again. What's the show lack? As has been a recent theme with Scouts, VISUAL IMPACT. The drill was simple, and they don't march it cleanly at all. Spacing is a major problem, as is phasing with feet. If the demand isn't there, you have to be squeaky clean, and they are not. I feel like this show could move alot over the last half of they year, anywhere from 8th to 13th. It's up to Scouts as to where they end up. I hope for the higher end.

5th -- Blue Knights. Wow! They can pump up the volume for sure, at least in places. Of course that's much easier to do when your whole horn line is contained within about a 20 yard by 20 yard space! That's my complaint with BK-- they don't cover the field well at all with horn drill. It's too tight and compact. That was really emphasized tonight with their going on after Phantom, who is all over the field. This was my second viewing of BK, and I liked them a lot more musically this time around. They are getting more and more into thier cartoon theme. I'm not sure the show still "fits," but it's getting better. I like how they weave in a few melodic snippets from past shows in amongst all the new cartoon themed music. They just BARELY beat Scouts tonight. They could be battling for a while. Will be fun!

4th -- Blue Coats. Yum. What a horn line from Canton. PLEASE don't abandon those G bugles. When played right, they are so powerful and dark. And that is what the folks from Canton do. They had the best low brass sound (and power) of the night. Yup, even better than Phantom. The music book seems to be a little sparse to me, and that may catch up with them later. But, for now, they are cleaning nicely and have a good package. It's not quite in your face music, but the power and the intensity of the corps seems to make up for that somewhat. Could this be Canton's year to climb back into singe digit placement at Finals? It sure may be & it's great to see...

3rd -- Glassmen. IMAGO...hmmm...I'm-a-goat? (Just kidding). Glassmen have an interesting show this year. I wasn't getting into it in the beginnning, with a virtual absence of melody for the 1st 3rd of the show. But, musically, I enjoyed the last two thirds of the show much better. The guard uniform is still annoying, with the untasteful split front down to the crotch, but is much better than most G-men guard uniforms. The G-crew has a nice intense show, that while not pull you out of your seat exciting will keep your attention. After their show last year, that's a great step in the right direction. Drill wise, the opening set looks like a line off a hear monitor, and it's cool. There are moments when the drill needs some re-writes, with members being pushed out of forms and places with very stretched and unpretty running to spots. G-men can contend for top 5 again, but I see them in the 6-7 range more realistically because....

2nd -- Phantom Regiment. Regiment is BACK. Interesting to see how they are slowly chipping away at the gap between themselves and Cavaliers. Don't get me wrong, I don't think they will catch them, but it could happen, and it's great to see them back in the same neighborhood with the big boys, anyway. This show is everything last year's was not -- fast & furious. There is so much going on visually with this show and much of it happens very fast. While still having lot's to clean, they are marching pretty well and have their best intervals since 1997. Musically, the show is festive (no pun intended) and light. With the speed, ironically it seems that they have more room to clean musically than visually. That's good news, as they have TONS of room to grow this show. And let's face it -- Regiment has always been about the music. That is again the case. Some jaw dropping runs from all sections & by far the most difficult horn book of the night. The horn line has the potential to be up there with some of Regiment's best. I hope they dig deep and get there. Most improved award from last year to this one has to go to their guard, and they are fantastic. Reminds me of those top notch Regiment guards of the mid '90s. Their guard is actually in the same league as Cavaliers -- maybe not in "innovation," but certainly in performance, and that's what matters to me, anyway.

1st -- Cavaliers. I definitely need to see this show again. First impressions were, well, a little disapointing. I feel they are pretty dirty visually for the 2nd half of July. Some of it IMHO is the drill writing & music tempos which have them quasi running in many places, and it just doesn't look impressive or clean. There are some WAY cool drill moves along the way in this show, though, don't get me wrong. Musically, the Bb switch is hurting them, as they just don't have that classic Cavalier power chord quality right now. The horn book is not very interesting in most places. This is definitely a visual first, music as an after-thought show. The guard is quite innovative and interesting, but I have a major complaint with color choices. The uniform is not attractive, and the colors for silks and not a plus either. I expect much better from Cavaliers in that respect, as they are usually some of the best with that. I don't know that Cavies can catch BD or SCV, having seen both of them in Cali. I think they are scoring a little high at the moment for what they are executing on the field. I wish them well, as I want to be thrilled by them just like I was last year.

Well, that's it -- my humble opinions. Overall feelings -- after a 3 year hiatus, it's great to see Phantom back, and also great to see Colts, Scouts, Glassmen and Blue Coats stepping it up a notch. The fight for those last 2 Finals spots is going to be unbelievable this year between Colts, Scouts and Crown. And finally, yet it again it's unbelievable to see so many corps with 20-30 members from Texas each, yet no major corps in Texas. If only I could win the lottery.... :)

Bud Phelps

Every year, it's the same thing. I spend the winter, spring, and early summer hearing how drum corps is dying and then I get to my first show and see filled parking lots, long lines, packed stands and excited fans.

It was no exception tonight -Drum Corps was alive and kicking in Dallas. The 100 plus temperatures from the last week dissapated and the evening was very comfortable. Something akin to a cool breeze was even felt crossing over the stands. It was a little humid, which I believe affected the volume and clarity of several of the Corps. However, it was still a wonderful night for Drum Corps.

(just a quick note - I don't know what this new artificial turf they have at the Lake Highlands stadium, but it's almost too green and perfect. It looks almost computer generated. Plus, it must be slippery since there was some slippage tonight)

On the shows (I don't want to hurt feelings - all the kids tried hard and did great, but it is a competition and it's basic human nature to compare. Also, this is my first show of the year so I reflect mostly on my general impression - as I see more in the year I get more into the detail of each performance)

Kiwanis Kavaliers (10th place - 61.10, I had them in 10th as well)
This is a very nice and intelligently planned show. It has a lot of the sophistication, arrangement wise, of a top 8 or so Corps. Unfortunately, the execution was just not there tonight. The kids are giving their all, but there were marhcing problems and volume and tuning problems tonight. The NYC theme is great and it meshes well with the guard and the score (much better than several of the higher placing corps of the night) I appreciate the efforts of the corps members and look forward to them achieving what this show can be.

Pioneer (9th place - 67.40, I picked them 8th)
I always have tremendous respect for the designers and administration of Pioneer because they accept what their Corps is and it's size and it's talents and consistently program a show perfectly within this context. The theme is Irish in the Civil War and to be honest I saw a lot of Civil War and very little Irish. (though the theme is an interesting one and I hope they will expand the theme next year with Irish in the Korean War with a special tribute to MASH's Father Mulcahy) Execution and sound were strong tonight. Percussion, brass and color guard were very sharp. I also like the black pants - this uniform works better in the sunlight than I believe it would under the lights. Kudos to Pioneer, great job tonight.

Southwind (8th place, 74.5, I had them 9th)
For the past two years, I have been taking a major ride on the Southwind bandwagon, but this year the show just does nothing for me. I think the music is holding them back. There is some nice drill and the marching was excellent, but the music does not connect with me at all. In short, a nice show and a quality show - but in a night of many outstanding memories, not a memorable one.

Colts (7th place, 78.5 - I had them 5th)
Within the first ten seconds of this show, I was hooked. That wonderful feeling when you get your first taste of true drum corps in over a year overtook me. Goosebump city. I have always respected the Colts, but never have been in love with them until tonight. Wow. Excellent job in design, music and execution. This Medieval theme is presented perfectly and the show is filled with beauty and excitement. This has to be, by far, my favorite Colts show ever. It spoke directly to the crowd and the crowd responded with the first standing 'O' of the night.

Madison Scouts (6th place, 79.50 - I had them 7th)
Where, oh where have the Madison Scouts of 1995 - 1997 gone ??? After an initial hit of considerable power, the show went nowhere for me for about 8 minutes. Drill was okay, guard was okay, music was okay (nice screamers) - but I kept waiting to be wowed and kept waiting and waiting. These are the Scouts for God's sake (just a note on the guard uniforms - I never comment about this, but these are pretty bad - they are dark and drab to the extreme and miss completely the theme of the show) However, I gotta tell you in the last two minutes of the show, something happened - the sleeping giant awakened. They became , for an instant, the freakin SCOUTS again. The last two minutes was the most exciting Scout moment since 97. Full of power, and surprise and bringing the crowd to it's feet with a deafening cheer. Astounding ending to this show. Maybe this bodes well for the future of the Scouts. Just show me those two minutes over and over again - that's all I'll ever need.

Blue Knights (5th place, 79.6, I had them 5th as well)
It's kind of an off year for BK, I believe. I think the idea of temporarily changing the style of the usually serious BK to more cartoon/comedy type music looked better on paper than it translates on the field. It's sort of like when Pat Boone released that album of Heavy Metal songs - it just doesn't seem to fit right. Also, although I am not a firm believer in the sanctity of all recognizeable music, I think this is one show that definitely would benefit from all recognizeable music. What use is cartoon music if we haven't heard the music before ??? At the end, the Corps brings out the Looney Tunes theme and the crowd turns on immediately. I think a whole show like that would have worked much better. There are some rough edges to this corps that we havent seen the past few years ( at one interval it seemed that every horn hit each other). The kids do look like they are having fun though. (one very rude comment shared by most around me concerning the BK Guard - one needs to earn the right to wear a bare middrift - it's not a right guaranteed by the constitution)

Bluecoats (4th place, 82.15, I had them in 6th)
Outstanding show from the Bluecoats. Very controlled and tight.. These kids are talented and they are in a groove right now. Execution wise, I think this show is getting to the top of it's game. The music and drill is effective to a degree, but not entirely memorable. I dont think the music communicates the skill of this corps as much as I wished it did. Great volume and more assurance from the horn and drum lines than I've seen from the Coats for a while. Congratulations to the Bluecoats for taking a step up from the last couple of years.

Glassmen (3rd place, 84.65, I had them in 3rd as well)
I think Glassmen take a major step up this year. Drill, percussion and brass continue their brilliance of the last few years, but now the music seems to sing for the first time in a while. The first song is allright, but the best thing it does is get you to the second song - the ballad. Now, I don't know the name of this song (it's not in my program) This is one of the most beautiful ballads I have ever heard in drum corps. Sorta dissonant, sorta sad - but, my God how lovely. This is going to be in my CD player quite often. And the soloist... wow. I can't think of a time when a soloist has been asked to carry so much of the load for an entire song of a Drum Corps show. I think the soloist got 3, maybe 4 ovations throughout the song. It's a great show, but that soloist steals the whole thing.

Phantom Regiment (2nd place, 85.75, I had them in second also)
People have said on here that Phantom is back and sure enough... This is, by far, their best show since 97 (I realize that Im the only person that loves the 97 Wagner show). Festive Overture is a personal longtime favorite (born for me with SCV in 1985) and when Phantom hits the first chords of the fanfare, I felt I was given the keys to Drum Corps Nirvana. It won't make you forget SCV and it could be speeded up a little, but you know what - it works and it works in a different context for Phantom that we've seen in a long time. This show is light in tone, very funny in parts. However, it's light in a way that you know that the Corps could bowl you over with their power and darkness if they wanted to. I didn't catch the drill problems that others on RAMD have mentioned. I thought it was good and added some nice visuals. Great show, Phantom.

Cavaliers (1st place, 88.90, I had them in first, the whole stadium had them in first, the people who bring their lawn chairs and sit outside the endzone fence had them in first, people just driving by had them in first)

Drum corps heaven, from the first note till the last.

Again a great night in Dallas. Thank you to all the corps members and staffs and fans (except for the lady behind me I had to ask to not talk during the shows)Drum Corps lives for at least one more year.

Shawn M
Dallas, Texas

OK guys, this is really quick because I have maybe 20 minutes before we leave for San Antonio ...

TERRIFIC show last night. ABYSMAL parking. There literally were no parking lots. Many had to walk 10-15 minutes from somewhere else (residential neighborhood) to get to the stadium ...

Did I say TERRIFIC show last night? EVERY corps entertained. Wow!

Kiwanis Kavaliers - Cool, jazzy opener of Times Square from On The Town. 38 brass, some solid fundamental playing at times but lots of sloppy releases. Marching was very dirty. Tons of dance and movement in the guard, but not a lot of flag or weapon work. Their show is On The Town and it has some potential - corps members hail from all over the world.

Pioneer - yeah, they're still the same relatively small, spunky Div. 1 corps they've always been. Show opens with a beautiful mello section chorale, and there is a phenomenal mello soloist in the ballad - highest I've heard a mello played in a long time, and with such control and tuning! The brass line struggled a bit as the show went on. Drumline is very capable, and the book integrated some authentic rudimental drumming. Star formation in "America the Beautiful" reminds of Star of Indiana, 92 ...

Colts - hello, they're back! This show *really* reminds me of the well designed shows of the mid 90s, all the highs and lows in the right places, very recognizable and ear-pleasing musical selections and arrangements, and an entertaining program. Brass sounds very mature! The battle scene, where the low brass players pick up shields and do a choreographed "battle" with the high brass, gets lots of audience reaction. I have them in finals this year.

Southwind - I am wondering why they aren't scoring higher. Very strong brass sound here, very aggressive double tonguing (and lots of it) in the opener, which is New Era Fanfare by Jack Stamp. Bass line has cymbals mounted on the top of the drum, used in the closer ... great rifle toss to set up Firestorm (the closer). Surprisingly, the corps' performance got better as the show went on. Great job guys!

Madison Scouts - HOLY COW!!!!! This corps is truly going ALL OUT to win audiences and blew everybody away. They are moving up the standings as well ... only 0.1 behind BK tonight! 1st chord hits a split second after "You may take the field" ... and the corps never lets up! The bari line sounded a little weak with the melody in the opener ... terrific soprano soloists ... incredible rifle line (I am told the rest of the guard is a weak link this year) ... several moments in the show reminded me of the '95 show, staging and design wise ... last chord is held out for an impossibly long time as the brass kneels and the guard performs front and center. I don't care if DCI places them 25th, they can come play for me anytime! DAMN this was a fun show to watch!

Bluecoats - really liked this show of Michael Daughtery. 32 Texans in this corps, most of any corps performing tonight! Brass line is powerful and clean. Many visual references to tango dancing - first in the guard, during the ballad, and later in the brass block, as they float a block while doing steps to the tango while they're marching. Funny, but after all the minor-key feel of Red Cape Tango, the G major chord at the end of the show felt out of place. Don't mind much, though, they're still playing G bugles. :) This show was entertaining in a more subtle way - only two points behind Phantom - wow!

Glassmen - Sheesh, this show fairly screamed Star 93 to me. Two or three sections of the show had very punctuated, pointillistic, melody-less, what-the-heck-was-that music. The corps also utilizes a lot of very strange squatting poses while playing in place. The drill is very aggressive this year and has corps members flying everywhere. The closing drill reminds me of the old Wedge-O-Matic, only it uses triangle outlines instead of wedges, allowing for a quick expansion to a 25-to-25 company front for the closing set. I should also say that for every weird section of music there was also a great, now-I-can-follow-it musical selection. Oh my, what a talented fluegel soloist! If I'm not mistaken, the corps plays G bugles except for the fluegelhorn, which I noticed was in B flat. IMO - cleanest battery of the night - man can they play tight!

Phantom - very much a Virtuoso show! In-your-face technical demand that never lets up, both in drill and brass playing. Brass is much cleaner than the drill BTW. INCREDIBLE sop/mello runs - 8 measures of nonstop16th notes in the opener and not a tick to be heard! I could go on and on about how intense this show was, but in summary, they really remind me of the "old style" Regiment, very classy, intense, powerful, but with high demand in the show. They are definitely back in the top 6 this year.

Blue Knights - obviously a down year for them - much younger and inexperienced corps. I LOVED this show! Why can't more corps let their hair down and not take themselves so seriously once in a while? Very "Cartoon"-y, fun, playful, irreverent feel for the whole show. Brass book is HARD and they are struggling at times. Lots of bluesy sections. FYI, the piece "Cartoon" is a nonliteral, musical amalgam of every great cartoon convention - chase scenes, confused villians, gorgeous femme fatales, breakneck musical runs, etc. - and the arrangements convey the same feel. Not everyone "got" this show though. Black Market Juggler started out this season as verbatim from the old Bridgemen solo (all 2 1/2 minutes of it) - apparently the judges didn't like it, and Ralph (who is ill and not yet on tour) had to cut most of it and rewrite some original stuff - only the drum-to-drum roto tom solo remains. To make up for the lost time more was added to the closer, including some at-first subtle and then very obvious references to "Merrie Melodies" and even a hit from "Trittico". (Apparently Jonny Quest was never in the program, it's just a chart they learned for standstills and concerts.) If you look and listen carefully you will notice a lot of subtle poking fun at other corps and drum corps conventions in general! Don't give up on this show, it won't make top 6 but it sure is fun anyway!

Cavaliers - Yes, the Four Corners concept works. The entire show was breathtakingly designed and performed. 2nd place at worst for this corps this year. Incredible guard and battery. I'm out of time here ... maybe later I'll explain how the whole Four Corners concept plays out if I have time. The jazzy jam section in the 3rd segment really reminded me of Niagra Falls from last year ... just plain amazing.

And ... this is possibly the greatest compliment I can pay a corps ... the Cavies made me forget they were playing Bb brass! Honestly, I couldn't tell a difference between Bb vs. G. To me it's more about how the show is arranged than what they play ... listen to Cavies, and then listen to Cadets, and then tell me which corps sounds more like a band. (Cadets ... ugh! Please arrange some non-flat keys, Mr. Bocook!)

Gotta go -- see y'all in San Antonio!

Eric Senzig
Ft. Worth, TX

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