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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2002 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews
As posted to R.A.M.D. and submitted to Sound Machine

Page Ten 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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Friday August 9

Madison, WI (DCI Championships)
DCI Division I Semifinals

The past couple of years, I have posted a review of semifinals from my whole family. Each of us provides a short review or statement of our impressions of each corps performance. I have always gotten a lot of positive comments for doing this, so I thought I would continue the tradition.

To help put the comments in perspective, here is a short bio of our backgrounds. I marched from 78 to 88, and have been to championships every year since 78. my wife is deaf, so her comments focus almost exclusively on the visual aspects of the program. She has been to championships in 91 and every year since 93. My daughter is 10, and she has been to championships every year since 96.

Capital Regiment - 77.35
He said - They seemed happy to have made semifinals and knew they would not move any higher, and just relaxed and performed their show. They did a nice job.

She said - They had a nicely put together program.

The little lady said - They were pretty good. I liked the drill.

Carolina Crown - 81.8
He said - They had a very dirty performance today. The guard was drop central. I will enjoy listening to their show on the CD's, but I do not like watching their show.

She said - They had a pretty original idea for a show. It was just was not executed very well. All of their mistakes really hurt the overall show.

The little lady said - They were interesting. I liked the heart flags.

Colts - 83.9
He said - They had a great show tonight. They really turned it up a notch. Great guard.

She said - I liked the colors in the guard uniforms and equipment. They complimented the show nicely. They were much more exciting than Crown.

The little lady said - They have nice costumes and flags. They were pretty good.

Madison Scouts - 84.85
He said - Awesome job today. They were much better tonight - visual was much cleaner, and the guard did a much better job. They should have beaten BK.

She said - Very good job. They actually march, and it's clean and readable. They move at a slower pace than in previous years, but the show is very well executed.

The little lady said - I liked the drill. The guard costumes were so cool. The drum line was good - they were jammin man!

Blue Knights - 85.5
He said - They were better tonight, but I still had some fear and was trembling in the opener because there were a few moments when it almost fell apart. There were some intonation problems during the ballad, and the closer was very intense tonight.

She said - Their show was harder than Madison's, but it was not nearly as appealing.

The little lady said - They were weird, but kind of interesting. I liked the flags, and I loved the music at the end.

Cascades - 85.95
He said - They had a much better show tonight. There was more energy, they were cleaner, and the soloists did a better job. They could still sell Prelude Fugue and Riffs a bit better though.

She said - I really liked the whole show. It is areal crowd pleaser. The drill is fantastic.

The little lady said - I liked their costumes and their flags. They had really great drill, and the end of the show was awesome dude.

Magic - 87.1
He said - They really performed well tonight - tons of confidence and bravado. The horn line is fantastic, the guard is really good, and what a drill!

She said - They really lived up to their name. A truly magical performance. The ending of the show was really exciting.

The little lady said - I liked their drill. The flags were also really nice.

Spirit - 86.75
He said - They were a bit dirtier tonight visually, but they still performed with a great deal of energy. Their show is just not one of my favorites.

She said - They were pretty good. They see,ed to have a lot of energy.

The little lady said - They were ok.

Crossmen - 90.65
He said - They were really hot tonight. They definitely cranked it up. The guard was on - much cleaner. The drill was very exciting.

She said - I love the colors, and that guard is truly awsesome! I love the visual. They move so fast. When did they get a drill?

The little lady said - I liked the colors in the flags. They were really loud. I liked the drill - especially the first part of the show.

Boston Crusaders - 92.45
He said - Their drum line and guard are their strengths. I just hate their show. They did not deserve to move up tonight. Behold, the power of cheese!

She said - They are attempting to capitalize on the events of 9/11. We have already had plenty of memorials. This is drum corps, so do drum corps! I thought the show was stupid.

The little lady said - they do not need those big honkin signs. they don't need to sing. They didn't have as much guard work as Crossmen. They were just OK.

Glassmen - 92.25
He said - DRUM LINE! Great flow to the drill, though no great moments. Awesome fluegal soloist.

She said - I really liked how they started slow, then built and built and got faster and faster.

The little lady said - I liked the colors in the flags, I liked the guard costumes, I liked the music. It was nice.

Bluecoats - 92.25
He said - They had a hot performance tonight. The closer really cooked. They should have maintained 6th place.

She said - They didn't do anything for me. They were pretty blase'.

The little lady said - I liked them. The music was jazzy, and I loved it. I liked everything about them.

Phantom Regiment - 92.8
He said - They have such a powerful horn line. The use of color in the guard uniforms and flags is very well coordinated, and it makes a realy impact. The lack of exciting drill during the musical impacts hurts them.

She said - Powerful colors, visual spice and flavor. An awesome visual package!

The little lady said - Very loud music, and the colors were so bright. The guard uniforms matched the flags really well.

Santa Clara Vanguard - 95.7
He said - They were much better tonight. The visual was cleaner, the horn line sounded better, and they had more impact. they should have moved ahead of Cadets.

She said - An absolutely awesome program. They were very entertaining. They remain my all time favorite corps.

The little lady said - They were nice and loud. I liked the big purple flags. I loved the drill, and I especially liked yelling "Vanguard"!

Blue Devils - 97.55
He said - Boy, did they light it up tonight. Absolutely on fire! The crowd was very into the show too (someone yelled "Bang the drums harder!" at the end of the Gershwin number when the drum line was wailing, wolf whistles at the hair action, standing ovations, etc.). Awesome job. They deserved to move ahead of Cadets.

She said - They have it all. Truly awesome. I thought the hair was funny. I liked their show much more than I have in the past years. The guard is amazing. I could feel the drums thundering away in the middle of the show. Awesome.

The little lady said - They were nice and loud. They were on fire. They made my ears bleed! I liked the girls hair.

Cadets - 97.0
He said - Thye performed with more energy tonight, but they sacrificed quality as a result. Mellophone TQ&I in the opener was not good. Their show simply lacks substance - not much meat on that bone.

She said - The color guard is really amazing. The changing into the military uniforms in front of everyone is just plain stupid. The drill is not really much of a drill. There just is not much structure to the whole program.

The little lady said - They didn't need to be dressing in front of everyone, and they didn't need to say the pledge of allegiance. Other than that, the dancing and the guard work was really really good.

Cavaliers - 99.05
He said - Nothing else compares! The horn line is simply the best I have ever heard.

She said - one word - Champions!

The little lady said - I thought they were really loud. I loved Fight Club. I liked the square flags with the different colors. The drum line is really good.

Tim Kviz

Don't have a lot of time, leaving in a little bit to watch Revolution rehearse ... here goes ...

Capital Regiment: nice uniforms, clean and powerful brass sound, nice choice of music. I think they made the right choice to move up to Div 1 next year; they look ready for it.

Crown: not at all surprised at the big drop in score, as tonight's performance was really flat. The Greek Gods theme somehow didn't pan out for them this year. (Or, maybe the judges just got tired of hearing "Javelin" from so many different corps this week ... =p )

Colts: Don't remember much about them, but they seemed to have a lot of energy tonight.

Madison: Ironically, no discernable crowd reaction at all when their score was announced. I had been told to watch out for a God-awful drumline, but they seemed pretty competent to me - it was the guard that was just plain bad. And as I heard from someone else earlier in the day, tongue in cheek - "and let's put them in yellow and black to draw attention to them in the closer!" I really thought they could have made finals if their guard were as good as the rest of the corps, and, to a lesser extent, if the drill was a little more ambitious. I can't for the life of me understand why they would use a different drill writer for each section of the show.

Blue Knights: "Fear and Trembling" ... uhhh ... Star of Indiana, they're not. From the same source earlier in the day: "Not so much fear and trembling as really pissed off." Like Star '93, I might grow to like this show a lot more upon further listening, but it didn't wow me last night. Oh yes. This show could be subtitled "Vast Overabundance of Unnecessary Body Movement". I seriously think that in the ballad, there was about four times as much movement as actual drill. They might have gotten a few extra tenths and moved ahead to finals if not for an awful tempo tear in the opener.

Seattle Cascades: Only my 2nd viewing of the season - didn't seem to have as much energy as they did a couple of weeks ago. Maybe it's because of the bigger stadium. Glad they made finals, looking forward to seeing them again.

Spirit - see above.

Magic: Tommy, Steve, Ben, everyone else on the staff, and everyone in the corps ... CONGRATULATIONS! Knockout performance last night. Brass went over the edge a little bit, you could tell these kids wanted Finals really bad. Drill has finally cleaned up. 1st Div. 2 corps in finals and they deserve it.

Crossmen: Left the stadium to go find something to eat. Do not read anything else into this ... I wanted something other than stadium food, at stadium prices, with the long wait in line. Great, great corps and program, can't wait to see them tonight.

Crusaders: Excellent show, a teeny bit surprised at them climbing to 6th, but no complaints either. Show has come a long way.

Bluecoats: I think that the Coats have the most breathtaking ballad of any corps this season. Beautiful stuff. Bjork ... who'd have thought?? Michael Daughtery + drum corps = lots of fun. :) More on this corps after a 2nd viewing.

Glassmen: For all of the corps' attempts to brand themselves as Boring, I find I can actually follow the show. Here's a better analogy ... (for all of you SAT lovers out there) Glassmen is to drum corps as "smooth jazz" is to jazz. After the fanfare like opener, the rest of the show seemed surprisingly light. Well done, of course, but light stuff.

Slightly Off Topic Pontification: add the Glassmen to the list of corps that sound like marching bands because they play in B-flat key areas so much. With the vast majority of top 12 corps playing B-flat horns nowadays, I realized last night that I wasn't even paying attention while listening to various brass lines ... unless the charts were blatantly B-flat-centric. Gladly, it didn't happen often, in fact, only twice last night (see a little further below).

Phantom: WOW. I was very, very impressed. Brass line was so powerful, and the guard was phenomenal. I really think their score should be about 2 points higher. Or, maybe it's just that so many corps are executing well this summer, that to an extent the scores are more a reflection of ranking than achievement. But ... WOW. This corps pinned me to the back of my seat. Awesome show. AND they are still doing it on G bugles. :)

Vanguard: Hmmm. I thought I knew Copland's "Organ Symphony", but I guess not - I didn't immediately recognize any of the music. The funny thing is, every time I thought the corps was wandering off into the territory of obscure music, they would reel me back in with their great performance. End of the closer was very energetic. "VANGUARD"!!!

Cadets: The opener has been so completely reworked since I saw them a month ago, it's unrecognizable. And, IMO, from a musical standpoint, it's a change for the worse. (See previous pontification on B-flat-centric arrangements.) On the flip side, they have taken away some of the obtrusive military cadence in "Field of Dreams" - which is a close second on my list of favorite ballads this year. Makes it much more listenable. I like the guard singing the lyrics to "On The Town" while performing, but I'm not sure anyone beyond the first few rows could make out the words. And, you know, after hearing all of the uproar about kids donning firefighter gear on the field, I didn't see it at all last night. At least not at the big finish in the closer, anyway.

Cavaliers: Two words. Complete domination. Mark McGahey, Dave Klemmer, Gale Rask and company are to be commended for instructing one of the best sounding hornlines in DCI history. I'm sure all of the little effects in their show have been discussed ad infinitum on RAMD, but the one that made me think "why didn't anyone think of this before?" was when the whole corps was marching silently, except for the brass players keeping time ... by tapping their valves on their bugles. Genius. If they get a 99.8 tonight they would deserve it.

Royal Airs: very impressive! Over 3,000 years of drum corps experience in this corps, and the average age is something like 53! Wild audience reactions at the phrase "And now, on the STARTING LINE" ... and at the starting gun soon after. 17 snare/tenor snare drums, very impressive looking. Marched very well, and played with better TQ&I than some DCA corps out there. I am very glad I got a chance to see a little bit of history in their performance.

Most popular souvie item: Cavalier sticker tattoos being given out at their souvie stand.

Coolest shirt: the Bluecoats shirt that has the swirling bugle logo in the upper left portion of a sketch of an American flag. A close second: shirts from various corps about electronics in DCI ("not now, not ever").

Coolest shirt unfortunately sold out: Revolution's spoof of the Gold Bond label. ("Quadruple strength - soprano, mellophone, Buick, and contra power!")

That's it ... more later, after tonight ...

Eric Senzig
Ft. Worth, TX

Hi all. Well, I had to cut my DCI Finals trip short due to some unexpected problems at school regarding the use of our practice field and check in times that have changed with our dorm situation for band camp.

However, I really enjoyed Quarters and Semis, and can't wait for next year. So many great stories this year, so many good, solid shows, and the entertainment value was quite high this year.

WOW, Cavies score was amazing, but deserved (even though I am not sure any corps really can achieve a 99.05). Under the current system this is what you will get from time to time. This was all interesting since they had some problems last night, but all the corps did, so it all averages out. I just love Cavies show, and from top to bottom they have the most complete design. The music and drill just compliment each other so well, and there is not one wasted step in this show. Everything is seemless, integrated, and well coordinated. Bravo, Cavaliers. You deserve the title that you will likely win tonight.

The Blue Devils and Cadets both put on outstanding shows last night. Cadets had some major problems musically, but they also nailed some visual things that were giving them problems earlier, and their percussion was AMAZING! BD is the right corps for 2nd place. I had been thinking that SCV could pull into 2nd, but after seeing BD and Cadets again last night, there is a big difference between SCV and those two. BD has such an entertaining show now and may very well win high brass, even though the Cavaliers are incredible at brass as well. It will be close. Only .2 seperated those two after quarters in brass. I thought the Cadets horn line sounded amazing last night. Very professional sound from top to bottom which I feel they do better than most, but the cleanliness was not quite there. Their book is more demanding than one might think, and at the same time it is no where near what they have done in the past (same for the drill). While I do love their show this year, and the Pledge gave me goosebumps, I will agree with many on here who have stated that their 1995 show was superior. It was. This show is not nearly as good as 1995, but for the drum corps fan you can do a lot worse than to watch this 2002 version of the Cadets. Very entertaining, and they did receive two standing ovations last night. Most corps only got one or one and a half. I am sure they will thrill the crowd tonight. BD should really light up the audience tonight, and the Cavaliers will wow them and take home number 5. Bravo guys!

Boy did SCV have a nice show last night. In many ways, they have as many wow moments as Cavies do. Just incredible depth in the horn book and the drill, and their percussion played very tastefully last night. I love the guard, but they are a bit sloppy. Phantom Regiment was so much more pumped last night and just nailed their show musically. They probably had the most power last night, or at least right there with Madison and Crossmen. If Phantom was marching a bit cleaner and had a slightly stronger percussion section they would be top 3 this year. Having said that, they were magnificent in all respects, and I love what their percussion line plays. Tasty writing.

I thought Bluecoats had 6th last night, but Boston was "ON." I have been critial of their horn line, and the upper brass is still weak, but they played a solid, if not excellent, show last night. Personally, I really like the banners. It's as if they are narrating their show without actually having someone speak into a mic. The statements are general and patriotic, but they really mean something and the emotions they describe perfectly fit the music that they are playing at that moment. Some will think this is cheesy and therefore decide to attack it, etc. Hey, you don't have to like it, but you also don't have to make others feel bad for doing just that. I like it and feel it adds a great deal to the show, but that's just me.

Glassmen should be in 9th in my opinion, although I really enjoy the show. I love the middle tune and the closer, and I love their visual program and percussion section. Their performance level is not that great and I really thought the Crossmen were in front of them last night. What a great, entertaining, and musical show the Crossmen have (great arrangements, Chuck). That horn line is playing some wicked stuff, and doing so quite well I might add. Should be scoring a bit higher in horns.

I was sorry that the Scouts did not make finals. I was pulling for them, and they had a super final show. WOW, that was worth the price of admission and more, and the crowd went nuts for them (as you would expect). Do it again next year Scouts, but just clean a little faster. Loved the show this year. One of my favorites by far.

I was shocked in amazement with Magic! Holy comeback!!! They were so clean, that for a while I was starting to worry about the who was going to get knocked out of 6th or 7th. They look that good folks. I am not kidding. The drill is fantastic, the horns sound mature, drums are clean and musical, the guard is excellent and well s taged, and the last two minutes of their show is really exciting. The Seattle Cascades were also on fire and have such a demanding and well coordinated show. It was obvious that they were not in Magic's league in terms of cleanliness, but they have the demand and the design, so good things are on the way for Seattle. I just loved the Colts. Great horn sound, awesome Michael Klesh arrangements, and great music. I have always liked Gillingham's music, and the percussion concerto works very well on field. Bravo guys.

Spirit of JSU was just outstanding in terms of brass. Love their sound and their dynamic control. The ballad is one of the best on the field. Their feet were very dirty and percussion seemed to overbalance the horn line too often. If they are clean and a bit more musical tonight, their score should go up, but it is hard to clean the feet at the last minute.

I would have scored the captions for last night as follows: Brass
1. BD
2. Cavies
3. Cadets
4. SCV
5. Phantom

1. Cadets
2. Cavies
3. SCV
4. Glassmen
5. Crossmen (yes, not Boston)

1. Cadets (although I, myself, do not like the men changing on the 50 year line. I know what they are trying to do, but it doesn't work)
2. Cavies
3. BD
4. Phantom
5. Crossmen/SCV

Visual Execution
1. BD - Unreal last night
2. Cavies - almost as unreal as BD
3. Cadets - much better than in Indianapolis.
4. SCV
5. Boston

Overall GE
1. Cavies - by far and away the most complete and engaging GE show I have seen in many a year
2. Blue Devils
3. SCV
4. Cadets
5. Boston/Bluecoats (Bluecoats do not get the GE scores they deserve)

Good luck tonight to all. Once again it has been a pleasure to see all your shows, and I wish all the corps the best in the future. Make next year just as good or better.

Go Bluecoats. Go Cadets.
Jonathan Willis

Thursday August 8

Madison, WI (DCI Championships)
DCI Division I Quarterfinals

Here are my thoughts on Quarterfinals. Weather was perfect all day. The temp could not have been over 80 degrees, low humidity, and there was a light breeze. Perfect weather. Vantage point was on the 50, 3/4 of the way up on the lower deck.

Mandarins - What a sophisticated program for such a small young corps! They had a really fantastic performance. For the small horn line they have, they put out a full, balanced sound. There si no one section that is stronger or weaker than another. A very balanced program. The closing music and drill was really exciting. I don't know where this corps gets these kids or what they feed them, but once again, Mandarins have put together and performed an incredible show.

Capital Regiment - When did they get to be so big? They were much larger than Mandarins, but they did not produce as much volume. They had quite a nice sound though. They have a nice program - didn't bring down the house, but it kept your interest. They did a nice job performing it too. They have a good drill, but the guard seemed to be an afterthought for most of the show. They were not integrated very well into the drill. The drill still had plenty of dirt to go around as well. I was surprised they beat Southwind and Mandarins.

Magic - Absolutely awesome! The design of the show is terrific, and the kids performed the snot out of it today. They looked like a finalist quality corps from the start. All sections are impressive. The closing drill sequence is amazing, long, and clean. They had the crowd on their feet well before the end of their show, and on through to the conclusion. They earned their spot and then some. I actually thought they should have beaten Spirit.

Pioneer - Overall, they did a nice job this afternoon. The balance between the horn line and the drum line was much improved today, as compared to a few weeks ago when the drums overpowered the horns. They were a bit dirty, but performed well. They seemed to be enjoying themselves today, and as a result, their show was fun to watch.

Troopers - They made soem nice changes in the past 2 weeks. They added an almost sunburst near the end of the show, which got a nice reaction from the crowd as usual. They did a nice job of performing the show. They seem young this year. I hope tht talent returns in the coming years, so that we might see them rise again.

Kiwanis Kavaliers - They really had some power in the horn line. Some very nice impacts, and a very good job performing today. there is still soem visual dirt, and occasionally there were soem tone quality and intonation issues, but nothing huge. Their score and placement seemed correct to me. Nice job KK. Hope you can build on this next year!

Southwind - They had a great performance today. Their yellow uniforms really stood out against the turf. The horn line did an especially nice job in the opener - they really grabbed and captured your attention. The weakest aspect of their show is probably the drill design. It is just not as complex or demanding as the corps in the next tier. I do not understand how Capital Regiment beat them. I thought they deserved the last spot for semifinals.

Madison Scouts - Madison was on today. The horn line really cranked it out, and the drum line was cooking. The guard still has some issues, but they are not that significant. The marching was fairly clean - only a few noticable problems. Yes, their drill is not as difficult as some of the other corps they are battling with, but there is plenty of demand. Tons of exposure - with white striped pants to boot. I thought they had beaten BK, and I thought they should have been right on the heels of Cascades.

Carolina Crown - Crown was a bit flat today. They received only polite applause at the end of their show. You can tell the kids have got some serious talent - it just is not being used. The show they have been given is simply not that good. The horn line never really gets very loud at all, and there are occasional tone quality issues even at the lower volumes. The guard had a lot of drops, and their feet are still all over the place. There is still plenty of drill in the drill, and the design of the drill is not that good. Their placement was correct, though I thought their score (even with the penalty) was a bit high.

Colts - They had a very solid show in all captions today. The guard is really very good. The all rifle line work is clean an makes quite a visual impact. The drill is fairly clean, but problems with maintaining intervals remain. Their show has really grown on me this summer, and they have continued to improve their performance level. I thought Madison had beat them (even without the penalty). Nice job today!

Blue Knights - I thought they were a little off today. They got much better as the show progressed, but the opener was a bit shaky. Their show is such a tough sell, because it is so dark, dissonant, and obscure. When they are not absolutely nailing every aspect of the show, it just does not come across well. There is some really terrific one handed action that goes on with the pit near the end of the closer that is really impressive. The closer was pretty intense today, and the crowd started to respond. Unfortunately, by the time they really started to get everything humming and the crowd into it, the show was over. I did not think they beat Madison.

Spirit - They had a great show today. The horn line was playing very good throughout the entire show. Drums and guard were also on. There was a bit of visual dirt, but not all that much. Their opener has grown on me, but all the dissonance and bursts of sound take some getting used to. I thought that Magic beat them, though not by much.

Seattle Cascades - They did a solid job today. They were not great, nor bad. I have seen them perform with a higher degree of energy and excitement earlier in the year, and if they can do that again, they might be able to move up. They have watered down the brass book quite a bit in the past 2 weeks, which was rather disappointing. This included several of the sopranno solos. Even with the watered parts, the sop solosits still had some issues. Crank it up a knotch tomorrow night guys, or you might find yourself getting bumped from finals. Nail it, and you should be in.

Crossmen - They were absolutely on fire today. The guard was really on, and the horn line simply sizzled the entire show. For the opening drill move, the horn line started off the field and up in the tunnell. The additionaly movement from the tunnel only added to the excitement of the opening drill sequence. I was disappointed with the amount of watering down of the brass book in the opener. The watered down version does not really help the corps placement, and it sounds likeit has been watered down at times. I would have rather they keep the parts that were watered in the show. Great job tonight Bones!

Bluecoats - What are they feeding these kids? Energy coming out their ears. An absolutely fantastic performance from them today. I think they might be the only corps today that actually beefed up their brass book since Indianapolis. Some very nice sop solos added in the closer. The guard is fantastic. All rifle work was eye possing and fit the music very well. Score and placement were well deserved. If they continue to crank out exciting performances the rest of the week, they should hold on to 6th place.

Boston Crusaders - I am sorry, but I just don't like this show. Every time I see them, there seem to be more banners. Staff - you have a terrific guard. Utilize them please- stop making them carry around silly banners! There was a major tear between brass and percussion in the closer, and plenty of visual dirt. I had them closer to Crossmen than Glassmen and Bluecoats.

Glassmen - Another strong performance. The drum line was simply astonishing tonight. 3rd place in drums was right on the money. The soloists were awesome, but overall, the horn line is a bit rough in spots. The guard is great, but the drill is a bit weak. I don't see them passing Bluecoats, but BAC should not be able to touch them.

Phantom Regiment - Other than the opening chord being a bit rough, their show tonight was fantastic. The horn line had a much improved sound over my last viewing 2 weeks ago. The brass book in the opener was watered down a bit, but in this case it was a good thing. The previous version was a bit too thick to really be heard well outside. The new version comes across clearer. They have strength in all captions. They have a lock on 5th place.

Santa Clara Vanguard - Other than the sop soloist that had trouble throughout the show, they were on. They have cleaned up a ton in the past 2 weeks, and really sold the show tonight. I cannot believe the improvement in the guard. The closing drill sequence was phenominal, and got the crowd quickly to their feet. I thought they beat Cadets, and it was a toss up with BD.

Blue Devils - They came to play - and play they did. Devils smoked tonight. The soloists were nails and really lit it up. The horn line got 2nd tonight - not sure I would have put them that high, but they are much improved. The guard is just incredible, and the drill actually has some excitement. I absolutely love this show! I thought the beat Cadets handily, and they were neck in neck with SCV.

Cadets - They did a good job tonight, but not a great job. They have made even more changes to the music in the opener, and have further stripped On the Town down to what sounds like sampled sound bited intermixed with percussion breaks. Add to that a closer that is much the same (snippets of America from WSS, Appalacian Spring, and possibly Fanfare for the Common Man). There is not enough marching, guard work, or cohesiveness to make this program work. There simply is not that much meat on the bone. This show pales in comparison to 95, and is filled with cheese. I thought BD and SCV kicked their butts.

Cavaliers - simply amazing. They are in a class by themselves. They posted the second highest score of all time, and I would bet money they will break the record on Saturday night. The championship is theirs to lose. Even if they have a mediocre performance for them, they should win. They are that good!

I am very much looking forward to semifinals. I just hope the judges actually judge the performances and do not slot. There is a lot of opportunity for movement given the competitiveness this year. It would be a shame to see everything set in stone based on todays placements.

Tim Kviz

Hello all, and happy Semifinals day to all drum corps fans out there.

Well, yesterday was a great day. I unfortunately did not get into Madison until mid way through the show, so here are some observations of what I did see.

My Placements (IMO)
1. Cavaliers 97.4
2. Cadets 96.4
3. BD 95.9
4. SCV 95.8
5. Bluecoats 93.5
6. Glassmen 93.1
7. Phantom 92.4
8. Crossmen 91.5
9. Boston 90.4

These are the only corps I saw last night. I will be able to review more today.

Ok, there is no doubt that the Cavaliers are the Div. I Champions this year, but they are not close to 2 points over Cadets or BD. No Way. The Cadets were really on last night. Great crowd response as always. The audience all started to applaud loudly during the Pledge: "one nation, under God..." I would have given them high brass and high percussion last night. WOW. Smokin' horn line and those drums are just amazing. Yeah, they don't move as much as in past Cadet shows, but there is more drill than people would like to admit. The only tune in which they do some free form and park and bark is really Boogie Woogie, the rest of the show is quite solid and well marched. Their marching technique last night was much improved and their forms really hit.

Cavies were just amazing as always. Great overall integration of all the elements. Top visual design and execution, and their horns and drums are also outstanding. Guard was a bit sloppy. Lots of demand in this show and they upside potential is amazing, but they didn't garner as much crowd response last night. The first 2/3 of their show is filled with light applause, but nothing that has the crowd going nuts. But hey, that doesn't mean the show is bad. In fact, this show is incredible.

Blue Devils were incredible and I just love this show. One of the most enjoyable on the field now, but beware all, SCV is lurking and may just pull into second come finals. The Vanguard was hot last night, and I would have had their brass and percussion in 2nd (under Cadets). Interesting, because I actually would have had the Cavaliers in 3rd in brass and percussion. But not by much--we're talking tenths here.

Judges, please give the Bluecoats their due. I love Phantom, but they were not on last night. Many evident marching and visual tears, and two obvious music ensemble phasing situations. The Bluecoats should have been in 5th. They were just incredible, and their horn line sounded like BD. What a sound and great charts. I also thought the Glassmen were amazing last night. They are so solid from a visual standpoint and probably should have beaten Phantom as well. Their horns were good, and their drumline is INCREDIBLE! WOW. Phantom is amazing and their music is as good as any of the field, but they were not clean last night. If they nail their show, then they are porbably a solid 5th place this year, but if not I like Canton to take that spot.

I thought Crossmen were amazing and should have been higher in score. Great repertoire and their horn line was awesome last night. Drums are tight and musical now, and their guard did a wonderful job--Bravo. This show looks more like a 93 to me. Boston was also very good, but their horn weaknesses are glaring. Upper brass was having major problems establishing pitch and pulse, and the articulations were inconsistent just as they were in Canton this past Sunday. I am amazed at the horn scores they get. When I saw the Madison Scouts this past Sunday, I would have put them way over (a full 1.5 to 2 points) Boston in brass. I am really at a loss for what the judges are hearing in this horn line. Great overall show for Boston, but they should be placing much lower. JMO.

Most entertaining (judging from fan reaction):
1. Cadets
2. Bluecoats
3. Blue Devils
4. Crossmen
5. Phantom
6. Boston
7. Cavaliers
8. SCV
9. Glassmen

However, all shows were very entertaining and the crowd response was very good last night.

High Brass
1. Cadets
2. SCV
3. Cavies
4. BD

High Percussion
1. Cadets
2. SCV
3. Cavies
4. Glassmen

High Guard
1. BD/Cadets
3. Cavies
4. Bluecoats

High Visual Ex
1. Blue Devils/Cavies
3. Cadets
4. SCV

High GE
1. Cavies
2. SCV
3. Cadets
4. BD

More later,
Jonathan Willis

I just flew home from quarterfinals. Great weather, and a good stadium for sound....good crowd, too.... Here's my thoughts....

Mandarins....had to watch from tunnel, as I missed the start time change. They were proficient, especially had some lull spots from a musical excitement standpoint, and there were some horn quality issues at times...nice job, overall, though..

Capital Regiment...this corps is progressing..big sound. Again, some youth quality issues in brass at times, but they are coming along, and got into semis due to a penalty on Southwind..

Magic....WOW...they cranked out a job, and they showed strength in every caption, and fortunately were rewarded. Great horn sound...full, in tune, sustained without waiver...and the drumline was quite good today...I thought perc. # was a little low. .One more job like this Friday and they will be in the big dance!!!

Pioneer....small horn line (I think it was around 28) but they work hard. I felt they could have done some more fun things with the guard in "Consider Yoursef;" any rate, good to see them hanging in there, and hopefully they can grow.

Troopers....nice visual package, and competent percussion...horns had quality issues today. Hopefully they will continue to mature and grow.

Kiwanis...I thought they did a decent job effect wise today. They still had performance issues which plagued them, but not nearly as severely as early season. They put out a very full sound at times. They have much to build on if they can hold on to their kids. Music effect number too low...

Southwind....surprised me....I wasn't totally sold on their arrangements, but they played pretty well. I felt they were solidly 17th..a penalty put them out...I felt they were underscored a bit....

Madison....hornline played a job today, and imo should have broke 18 in both music effect and brass....the ensemble music number and percussion number seemed more accurate....color guard number killed them. I felt that number was a bit low, and if you are going to call a spade a spade there, than do it in music, too, as they are superior to several in front of them musically, and not by a few tenths, either. and they didn't march badly today, either. Significantly underscored.

Crown....the inability of the brass to break mf, and lack of musical emotion makes this show not work. Capable kids, strong drumline, ok drill, but weak musical program, and there were still some glaring individual problems...much waivering of tone on the move. Placed correctly today.

Colts....some decent arrangements..big guard was effective, but they had some musical ensemble issues which did show up....ok effect-wise, but not in same boat as Madison as score indicates....

Blue Knights...folks this corps had some serious tone quality and ensemble issues in brass, and this didn't show up....effect-music did not sell at all, and was too high...guard number helped them alot...not my thing, but it did seem like the guard was pretty good......I had them out, and neck and neck with Crown....

Spirit....nice job today....not razor clean, but good. They had some emotion happening, and they have some strong dynamic contrast that they are achieving. I had them just under Magic...

Seattle...smoked the first 3 minutes, then performance level drops a bit, although not as much as last Saturday. Drill is fine. Drumline is a bit safe and not great...due to this, they are not out of the woods yet. Whatever happens, to go from Div. III to this product in 2 years is quite commendable.

Crossmen....they sold the show well today. Still having some minor performance problems on some of the tougher stuff and they are not razor clean, but I think the show has more substance to it than Bluecoats....

Bluecoats....brass plays behind the beat to a point that things don't quite sit right, but they do it together somehow, and they have a full sound. It's a good show, and they are performing well, but I don't think they have the difficulty exposure as some who they are beating, and the score seemed very high to me....

Boston....I could use more impact out of the hornline, and the show is a bit too subtle for me. However, they do perform quite well, with no real weaknesses and an excellent drumline and visual package. I feel they are stronger than both Bluecoats and Glassmen....those 3 were quite tight in score....

Glassmen...I know that I was a bit harsh on their product at East....they were better today....they march a tough drill quite well, and the drumline was quite's the music effect that needs work, others, they have trouble reaching the upper level dynamics, and they don't have a strong soprano line...there were some brass issues, but they were better than at East....

Phantom...stellar musical book, and they play with much emotion which sells it. If they had another week or 2, I think they would be right up there with the 4 in front of them, and clearly looked and sounded much stronger than any of the corps who finished behind them...

Santa Clara....surprised me....last year I thought they were "just drill"...this year, they have a very interesting, avante-garde musical book, which they play with great dynamic contrast along with a great drill. It's a hard show for them to nail, but they are getting there rapidly....visually they sometimes remind me of Cavies, but they play SO much more...... horn job of the night, period. "They came to play", and they did. Solid horn sound that did not waiver, and they make it sound easy, strong sopranos were stellar. Drumline continues to improve....they don't quit...not my favorite Devils show, but they perform very, very well...... Cadets....quite entertaining, and they played drumline by is well-written and fan friendly, yet the demand, especially brass, is deceptive, because it is there....I had them winning a nailbighter over BD for 1st...

Cavaliers...visually they are wonderful, and people love their drill, antics, and guard. Perhaps they play enough to please the average fan, but not me. Also, they do not play many difficult things while moving, but they park on the difficult sections, and the percussion interludes are so extensive that their brass doesn't play nearly as much time as much tacet time...there were some significant performance brass issues tonight...cracking, etc., to the point I have to question the perception abilty of the judge...this line is nowhere close to Devils in performance excellence, and their music numbers, except percussion, seemed quite inflated. I had them winning visual and 2nd in drums, and I felt those # were right on, buti had them in 6th in brass performance and musical effect, and thus 4th overall.

Blue Knights
Capital Reg.
 My score 
 Actual score 

and to all a good night!!!!


Sunday August 4

Canton, OH (DCI)

Some honest thoughts about tonight's Canton show:

Kiwanis- Horns much better than last time, guard worse. Go figure.

Seattle- Pretty darned good, though the horn line went about 4 minutes without playing and marching at the same time during the middle of their show. They had some very nice visual moments with drill, color, music, etc.!

Crown- Horns awesome, rest of show lame. They need Michael Cesario or someone to come in and fit the pieces together. It seemed like five different people did their own sections and then just jammed 'em together.

Madison- Much better than last time I saw them, with great horns tonight and some decent drill. The guard is very distracting, mostly due to crappy uniform stuff. I actually thought they were better than Crown tonight by a couple points.

Boston- Liked 'em better last time, mostly due to them adding way too many words and pictures in the past couple weeks. I felt like they were saying "you're not smart enough to figure this patriotic stuff out by yourselves, so we'll give you a picture book to follow along".

Glassmen- Okay at best. Is any marching judge actually watching their feet, which were horrible tonight? How about all the leaning and out-of-step people? Does that count for anything? How about all the horn "fracks" during the show? Since they got a 91.7, I guess not.

Blue Devils- I like it. It was lively, colorful, fun, and loud! They deserved this score tonight!

Bluecoats- Probably the best hornline tonight, but I doubt recaps will show it. The sound is just amazing from top to bottom in purity, clarity, balance, blend, and intonation! I'm not sure how they're scoring below Glassmen overall, since the complete package is much more enjoyable. I guess that's what these discussion groups are for, right? (-:

A big crowd, but way too much announcing going on. I enjoy shows without constant running commentary. Had lots of fun anyways, and I'm totally warmed up for Madison!!!!!

To bed.........


Good Afternoon to all,

Below are the scores from last night's show in Canton. Actually, the show is held in Massillon, Ohio at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Massillon is a suburb of the Canton Metro area. For those who are not from this region of the country, the legendary Paul Brown (founder of the Cleveland Browns and then the Cincinnati Bengals) coached HS football in Massillon and helped them win many of those 22 Ohio State Dvision I Football Championships. The stadium complex is incredibly impressive, holding some 22,000 people when filled. Last night, the entire performance side was packed. I would guess that there were 8,000, maybe more, people at the show. I just love this venue for drum corps.

1. Blue Devils 95.6
2. Glassmen 91.70
3. Boston Crusaders 91.0
4. Bluecoats 90.0
5. Seattle Cascades 84.85
6. Carolina Crown 83.65
7. Madison Scouts 82.90
8. Kiwanis Kavaliers 73.8

My awards for the evening:

Most Entertaining
1. Madison Scouts - WOOOOOOW! These guys were on fire tonight. I just can't believe the score. I had them at a solid 86 or 87. Should have been in 5th place. Their brass line was one of the best of the evening, and their sopranos were the best. I am baffled by the judges opinion of the Scouts. I know the guard is somewhat weaker, but they did a magnificent job last night. And overall, the Scouts marching was excellent. Their drill is outstanding, and they have the best drum feature on the field! What a great show. Ladies and gentlemen, if you can, make it to Madison and be sure to see this show in quarterfinals and semifinals. It is easily one the most entertaining shows on the field, and the crowd is going to go nuts.

2. Bluecoats - Excellent performance last night. The brass was in tune, musical, balanced, and very powerful--2nd loudest of the night under Madison. This show is so entertaining. The grooves that they develop make you tap your toes, and the way they compliment the music with drill is just fantastic. I don't think they got the credit they deserved last night. I had them above Boston and Glassmen. What a great guard the Bluecoats have, and their drum line is musical and shows much improvement over what I heard at Indianapolis. I see them as high as 5th (if Phanton is not on), but most likely in 6th or 7th.

3. Blue Devils - Very impressive in all captions. I just love this show. The opener made more sense to me last night and manages to keep that Ragtime feel from beginning to end. Their second number is even more fun, featuring some amazing horn rifs, bebop licks, and a groovin' shout chorus that just drives to the end. WOW, what fun this show is. The brass was superb. They have power, but they also have grace and beauty, they are in tune and balanced, and they create such amazing colors at times--especially in the baritones during the ballad section of the show. The drill is not all that demanding with lots of park and play, but it is just perfect for this show (which is more important than demand). Their marching excellence is always first rate, and last night was no different. This is a very good show, and the Blue Crew will definately put some pressure on both Cadets and Cavies (and SCV) come finals. I am not sure it is chapionship caliber, but it kind of had that look to it last night. Very impressive, BD. Bravo!

4. Boston - Excellent patriotic show and one that had this crowd in Canton on their feet. I actually love the signs at the beginnig of the show and also the sign at the end "Let Freedom Ring." I get goose bumps at the end of their show, and when they all lay on the field in the American flag formation to close the show you can hear a pin drop. Then the standing ovation begins, and it was loud last night. Their brass is good but not great, although they get one of the best contra sounds on the field this year. Their high brass, along with Carolina and Glassmen, had many problems with people sticking out, fracking, and poor intonation in many spots. This is why I had Bluecoats over them and Glassmen. I see this show as high as 6th (if they nail it), but more likely 8th. Great show!

5. Seattle - What an impressive opening statement. After some backfield building, they hit you over the head and the sound is magnificent, in tune, together, and the music is fun. I love all the Bernstein stuff, especially Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs. Brass is excellent, but solos are having difficulties. The guard does a beautiful job of portraying all that is going on musically, the percussion is musical, and the visual program is quite demanding and makes sense. I love this show, and it's not just a Cadet knock off, they have really given each of these tunes a unique feel and sense of artistry. I see them as high as 10th and as low as 13th.

6. Glassmen - Holy Drumline, Batman! Yeah, now that's a drumline! Whew! The Glassmen waste no time in letting you know what drives their show musically and they showcase the talents of this line as well as any. This is one of the top 4 lines out there. Their brass section is not as impressive, and I would have put them below Coats and Madison, but they are quite clean and very musical. I actually love their closer, a tune called Javelin by Michael Torke. Very spirited tune with fanfares and beautiful, lyrical melodic lines. If you want to hear this tune, just buy the Summon The Heroes album with John Williams conducting the Boston Pops. Javelin is track 5. It really works well on the field and the Glassmen do an amazing job of selling it musically and visually. Yes, some of the opener is a little boring and not really engaging the audience, but this show hit me in a more positive way than at Indianapolis. I find it far from boring now, and from the middle to the end is quite effective in all respects. Good guard, and their visual program is really what keeps them competitive with Bluecoats and Boston (and Phantom). I see them as high as 5th and as low as 8th.

7. Kiwanis - I love the superheroe themes and Kiwanis does a great job with this show. What a way to begin a show. Having them as the first corps of the night was super. They are quite large this year, very powerful brass, excellent drumline, and a nice overall visual package. They lose some momentum in the middle of the show after their stunning opening statment, but the velocity and excitement of the music at the end of the show is very satisfying. My only real complaint is their uniforms. I just hate all black. I really think it hurts them in terms of visual GE, but that's just me.

8. Carolina - Wonderfully rich, dark brass sound. They never really hit you with a lot of volume, and I kind of like that. They have established a unique sound for themselves this year, and they do it quite tastefully. The music is nice, but not super spirited. Maybe it's just how they present it, but they don't get a lot of response out of the crowd. The ballad is gorgeous. Drumline is outstanding, especially the pit--WOW! Nice work. Drill is good but very dirty, and the guard is very good, but also dirty. They probably have more to clean than all the corps here last night, but they are running out of time. I see them as high as 12th, and as low as 15th. A good, solid show, and if they nail it they could be dangerous.

Best Brass
1. Blue Devils - Very musical and best articulations and phrasing of the night.
2. Madison Scouts - Amazing sound, control, demand, and musical shaping. I am at a loss for their scores.
3. Bluecoats - Incredible sound, solid intonation, good dynamic contrast, some phasing/timing issues and still a few people sticking out during the mezzo-forte and piano sections.
4. Seattle - Great control, solid intonation, excellent demand, weak solos
5. Glassmen - Best soloist, good overall balance and blend, weak upper brass
6. Boston - very weak sops, best contra sound of the night, excellent mellos, good demand
7. Carolina - beautiful sound, nice intonation and control, weaker players really stand out though
8. Kiwanis - awesome power and control at top of show, poor soloists, weaker players sticking out in lower volume sections

Best Percussion
1. Glassmen - They are a machine!
2. Blue Devils - Very solid line from what I saw last night. I know Boston has beat them some, but I would not have had the Crusaders over BD last night.
3. Boston - very musical line, they support the ideas of the show without distracting or taking away from what is a beautiful patriotic show.
4. Bluecoats - solid line with excellent musicianship and great writing. If they are clean and if the tempos lock in at finals, this line will help push the Coats into the top 6.
5. Madison - Best drum feature on the field this year. What great staging, incredible demand, I mean they just come at you and do not try to hide anything.
6. Carolina - another incredibly musical line, and the pit was one of the best of the evening
7. Seattle - safe, but very musical writing, and the line plays with taste and good knowledge of the music.
8. Kiwanis - excellent snares and tenors, solid writing, the staff could have exposed this line more and allowed them to help showcase their overall superhero theme a bit more.

Best Guard
1. Blue Devils - excellent staging, body work is the best, love the unis and the flags
2. Bluecoats - what great use of solid colors and staging. technique is quite solid
3. Carolina - very large guard and very exposed so the weaknesses are too evident
4. Glassmen - effect use of colors in the show and they are really worked into the drill better than most
5. Boston - they portray the patriotic feelings quite well, but more could have been done at the beginning to help the audience better understand the patriotic feelings intended in the show. This would have made the scrolling open of signs more effective.
6. Seattle - Flag work is close, but still quite dirty
7. Madison - very solid performance last night. Beautiful flags, but the unis are not helping in terms of visual GE and even music GE. What incredible improvement they have made.
8. Kiwanis - Nothing really stands out here, except some of the work in the opener which is quite good.

Loudest Brass
1. Madison
2. Bluecoats
3. Blue Devils
4. Seattle
5. Glassmen/Boston
7. Kiwanis
8. Carolina

Best Soloist(s)
1. Glassmen - Flugel Soloist
2. Blue Devils - all trumpet solos were excellent
3. Madison Scouts - soprano and mello soloists were excellent
4. Bluecoats - soprano soloists were very good, some cacked notes and some control issues
5. Seattle - nice solos all around, but they are difficult and the kids are still having difficulties
6. Boston - simply do not make enough use of solos, but have some excellent small ensemble sections
7. Carolina - also do not feature soloists as much as others
8. Kiwanis - kids had lots of articulation and control problems last night

Most Demaning Drill
1. Glassmen
2. Boston
3. Bluecoats/Madison
5. Blue Devils/Seattle
7. Carolina
8. Kiwanis

Best Marching
1. Blue Devils - Far and away the best technique and execution
2. Glassmen - although not clean, their style is quite good
3. Bluecoats - style is excellent, but not all members are consistent with it throughout the show. If the Bluecoats clean the M&M they will beat Glassmen.
4. Seattle - Excellent style and technique is solid
5. Madison/Boston - Madison is really sharp as far as technique, and if they clean the drill a bit more this will showcase just how good their marching is. I hope the judges start to notice what I saw last night. Boston, in many ways, has more dirt in their visual design than the Scouts, but their individual style is very good.
7. Carolina - very dirty show
8. Kiwanis - also quite dirty with both technique and drill

Well, I hope you enjoyed this. It was a great night for drum corps in Northeast Ohio, and I look forward to seeing everyone in Madison. I will try to post reviews of quarters and semis while up in Mad town.

Jonathan Willis

Saturday August 3

Philadelphia, PA (DCI)

Greetings. I just returned home from East, and here are my reflections.... Good crowd, another hot night temp. wise, though it didn't seem quite as bad as Fri...

Kiwanis....I apologize but I had to wait around 4 years to get a soda prior to the show, and missed part of them...I did get to watch about 2/3 of their show from a tunnel entranceway down low. I thought they improved markedly since I saw them early in the season...most of their brass performance/quality issues come at lower volume levels, but these problems were not nearly as glaring as earlier this season. The hornline had good impact tonight and was connecting with the crowd at those points. Drumline job was adequate. I felt their score was a bit low...material-wise is not finalist level, but they are performing what they have fairly well any rate, much to build on.

Crown....same problems as last night....hornline dynamic range only exceeded mf once briefly....several individuals stuck out of the brass ensemble, and this was evident where I was on the 50 yd. line UPPER DECK. Whereas the drill is demanding and not badly performed, there are problems with continuity and effectiveness of musical arrangements. Wavering tone quality on the fast tempos was also quite evident. Intonation and blend are fairly good at times, but they lack power. The show garnered little crowd response, and the fact that this show topped the Scouts' is ludicrous. They managed to get a 16.7 in Music Effect to Madison's 16.9....I gave Madison an 18.0 and Crown a 15.0. Folks, there is no comparison between these two hornlines....

Scouts...after all of the negatives regarding their visual program, I was expecting visual trash, and I didn't see it. Is it a top 5 drill? No. Did they march decently and did the drill present the music well? Yes. Actually, all of their visual numbers were respectable tonight, except for guard. Did Crown have a better guard...yes....2.1 POINTS better, NO...I saw lots of uniformity problems in Crown's guard tonight, but it didn't show up in their number. Also, I noticed a .9 penalty against the Scouts....I have no idea what for....The only corps that rivaled them in dynamic range and playing range of the horn was BD, and they get no credit for this. Drums were decent but do have some room to clean. There is almost zero doubt that even if the CG does a respectable job in Madison, this will be the HAMMER that puts them out, and they should be trouncing some of the corps in front of them in both brass and music effect.....sad.

Spirit....nice job tonight. Although I am still not a fan of their dissonant opener, they do make good use of dynamics to make it work, and they can hit a ff when called for. The rest of the show contrasts nicely, and they have a full horn sound which they manage to maintain to the end. They are getting things together nicely and have no glaring weaknesses, and this could be good for them this week.

Seattle....I was surprised...they played their opener quite well. Brass seemed out of gas stamina-wise the 2nd half of the show, and this caused tone quality and impact problems, although this was not reflected in their Music Effect score. The drum book is "safe" compared to others....probably smart though, with the line still developing, and they are not going for something they can't play...I thought perc. could have been more musical also..too many heavy bass drum unisons...Drill was strong...Whatever happens, what they did in 2 years is amazing...I don't think they are "out of the woods yet" though...

Boston...strong performance level in all sections....strong visual I said last night, 87 Cadets Appalachian was SO much better, that I expect too much, and in this one, I get too many "lulls"...I felt they were a bit overscored...

Crossmen....they were better tonight than last, with strong impacts that sold to the crowd...visually, the show is coming along and they still have some room...visual effect # seemed low....they have some pit/brass ensemble problems in the ballad which need fixed now...Percussion did a fine job tonight I felt this show was strong tonight and slightly ahead of all three corps ahead of them...some noticeable booing of their placement, so I'm not the only one...

Glassmen....opener was nice and well-performed. Then, their show was over...a highly dissonant 2nd tune did not develop or sell well, and there were noticeable individuals sticking out of the ensemble...strong drumline, and decent visual program, but the brass lacked impact, and the music just doesn't have a strong emotional curve from an arrangement standpoint..brass # and music effect # too high....overscored....

Buecoats...They played well....the show is ok, but it just didn't grab me, and I wasn't excited about the musical or visual programs...good soloists..they are competent all around, but I didn't get too excited about their arrangements...overscored....

Blue Devils....they are truly not giving up, and visually tonight quite excellent...brass had the richest sound of the evening which they sustained...I am still not buying the Channel One arrangement, but they play quite well. Percussion is improving rapidly....Performance - wise, they came off as being pretty "on" tonight, and I had them winning tonight in a nailbighter...

Cadets....they were strong percussion hands down....I'm still not getting the raw impact in certain places as I did earlier in the year, and there were some timing issues and some minor visual issues as well. They need to dot every i and cross every t in order to have a shot...I had them in 2nd .5 down, and they won by .05.

My Score
Actual Score

Goodnight!!! GB

Well it was one hot and sultry evening in Philly! Got there around 5:30pm and to my surprise they were not letting any one in to the souvie area till 6:00. The lady running the Kiwanis souvie stand was dying to have a Star Bucks Mocha so I went for a long hot walk to get her one, and like I said it was hot!

Picked up some of the DCI DVD's and A Glassmen shirt just because I liked it.

Well any way here is my pathetic attempt at a review.

Kiwanis Kavaliers..........Wow has this corps showed alot of growth this season, most notably the horn line. They did a nice job projecting, and they are just starting to get that full rich sound you expect from the div. 1 corps. Visually this corps has also improved however they are really under developed and lack the training and intrigue of drill desing to really maximize their show. All in all, big improvement over last year and I wish them continued success and growth for next season.

Madison Scouts........I am sorry to say this just is not a strong show for the Scouts. I do recognize they seem to have a talented brass section but I found the arrangements to be a little dry and not what I would expect from them. Visually this corps lacks continuity of drill design and complete thoughts. Although it seems people want to blame the color guard, it is not the only part of the visual program that is suffering. I can see the guard has what seems to be many young men new to spinning. Everytime this corps sets up a visual moment I find problems with the development of that moment and then they seem to tear it down with no thought to making it a logical progression to the next visual phrase. Just a "set it up and move to the next drill set" kind of approach with out embelishing or nuancing the down moments of the drill. I do want to emphasize that the young men of this corps march very well and display good technique, it seems not to be a problem with how they are doing it but what they are doing. Well I do hope that they can acquire a stong visual staff for next season because I can't help but feel that this talented corps is being cheated. JMHO

Carolina Crown.....Ok I did like this production a little more this time. I personally feel it is one of the stronger brass lines Crown has ever had and the perc seems very talented. Ok so what's the problem? Well let's just say I never got to take a breath thru this show. The guard is very good but fraught with individual breaks given the constant challenge of equipment and movement responsibilities, it just gets to be TOO MUCH for the eyes. Their seems to be a constant conflict between the corps and the color guard for attention and very few moments they work in harmony together. I really appreciate the book from a writing aspect but sometimes less is more and this program could afford to explore a little less at times to maximize the finer moments and let the performers gain much needed control over the program. I'm just not sure they will be able to pull it all together for next week to put a bid in for finals. They are going to need a flawless run and given the book at times I'm not sure they will achieve it. We all know that somtimes in finals competition performers give just a little more and they are going to need that for sure!

Next up Sprit of JSU......WOW!!! I know alot of people don't like the opener but I think it's perfect given the show is From Darkness into Light. They sound very dark and disturbing in the opening and maybe it's me but I think that is exactly what they are going for. Boy has this corps improved visually, they have a few minor issues based on performance breaks but the whole package is well presented and has a good level of continuity to the visual phrases. Truely the first corps of the evening to put a program on the field that all sections of the corps were able to handle, perform and convey to the audience. The ballad is nothing short of beauty in motion, very fine moment for the corps and I think at this point they would all need to fall on their faces to not get in finals. Good luck to you Spirit I will be rooting for you all the way!

Seattle Cascades......Truely another surprise of the evening, it was my first viewing of their program this year. I must admit I enjoyed the Bernstein a lot even though some people are sick of it. I think this corps also seems to have it all together in all the sections as well. I did not think they performed as well as Spirit before them but they certainly were in the ball park. Nice overall sound generated from the corps and an overall feeling that the members were enjoying what they were doing! They all seemed to be having a good time.....and that is what it's about is it not? Well no glaring visual problems that I remember just a need at this point to clean some drill up and present an overall cleaner package, just a little messy in places. Ooops forgot to mention that this corps had some outstanding soloists even despite the fact their mellos had a few cracks. I would say a lot of the members seemed to me to be a little younger than some of the other div. 1 corps and thus a slightly different level of maturity of performer was apparent, but maybe that was just me. Well anyway I do believe this corps will also be difficult at this point to knock out of finals and Its kinda nice to see a new addition to the top 12. Best of luck Cascades!

OK.....the next 3 corps in my opinion are so comparable to one another it's quite scary, could go anyway at finals IMHO. I should say four corps Glassmen included but I will get into that later.

Bluecoats.....Go BLUUUUUUUE! What can I say but I LOVE this corps again this year!!!! They have a toe tapping musical book, a driving percussion and a visual feast of a color guard. I have no problems with this show at all, it is just a joy from beginning to end and looks like the members are all having a blast. I think this is the strongest visual program the Coats have ever put on the field. The program takes off with a beautiful city sunrise and progresses into a urban day extravaganza! My first chills of the evening came in their ballad which I might add was gorgeous. They will without a doubt set the Madison stadium on fire! They took the field with confidence and their soloists were incredible. Like I said I can't even begin to try to place them at this point, any where from 5th to 9th is conceivable - it will just depend on the performance of the day I suppose. The Madison crowd will love this show for sure!

Crossmen.......This corps had a spark last night that I just have not seen from them yet this year! The hornline was on, the percusion was on and the color guard performed with conviction. I must admit I do lose the corps at times and find myself watching the color guard. So in that sense I could not tell you a lot about the drill other than what I did notice was clean and well executed. I have always loved Strawberry Soup, have performed to it before myself, I do think that they might be tiring out just a little bit by the time they get to it. Would just like to see them with a little more stamina and energy to pull of the last few minutes of their show. All in all great performance and another corps that will fit in anywhere from 6th to 9th given their performance in Madison.

Boston Crusaders.........I'm not sure they had their best performance but still put in a wonderful showing! They certainly have a visual edge over Coats and Crossmen but I think their hornline is just a little bit weaker. May just have been the performance of the evening. Well anyway what a beautiful color guard that is incorporated so well into the overall staging and design of the program. I have heard people say the show was a Cadets remake and I beg to differ. I think maybe they took an idea or two from the show and put their own Boston twist on it. I really didn't have any qualms with the picture screens they used and it was tastfully done and classy. I must admit they did stir up a few emotions in me, I felt myself choking back a tear during the ballad. I do feel they may have a little more room for growth given their performance and their visual edge. Another corps that could end up anywhere from 5th to 8th I believe.

Cadets......Where is the drill? Ok they revamped Bernstein's On the Town and I'm not sure I like it as much as I did before, took me a little longer to get into the show than prior showings. Is the show packed with GE?.....yes. Is the hornline and perc outstanding.....yes! I will be punished for this I'm sure but here goes....I fould a lot of the show to be cheesey and borderline untasteful at times. I think the guard is very talented but now that a lot of the other corps' guards are handling their equipment better, Cadet's equipment book looks slightly underwritten. A lot of up-down-up-down with the flags and not much exploration of planes that other guards are offering. The dance is full of energy but doesn't explore the range that some of the other guards are attempting. Ok here's the next one does a park and bark like Cadets but by the 4th one it just gets a little old. I found the visual program to be more of a stage production than a drill program! Boogie Woogie is certainly a highlight of their program that I can get into - I just wished they offered a little more drill. I guess maybe my expectations were too high but I must admit I was overall disappointed at the program's growth from prior viewings. I think that this program had a lot to offer early in the season but maybe a few wrong turns were taken in it's overall design that will leave them vulnerable in Madison. Who knows?

Blue Devils.....Wow......I must admit I am shocked they did not pull out a win last night - could not have been any closer as far as score goes! The hornline sounded and played like a million bucks. Let me tell you folks this corps is marching this year, I have never seen a Blue Devil program packed with so much drill and the color guard who is normally it's own separate entity was staged and incorporated very well into the design of the program. Boy can those kids dance with their equipment while they are also doing some pretty demanding drill too. I did not care for the music book when I saw them early, however they rewrote alot of it and it is working very well right now. I really thought they out-performed Cadets and when I looked at the recap it seems Devil's percussion may be the factor that determines their overall placement next week in regards to Cadets. I can't wait to see what happens in Madison but from where I was sitting I think Cadets really need to look who's tapping them on the shoulder! At this point I think Blue Devils have the better program and just need a couple more days to tweek and refine. Good luck Devils!

Glassmen.....OK. This was a very difficult program to evaluate after following Devils. They were the last corps on the field and yet I remember the least about their show. I do remember that all sections of the corps were strong. They had a well developed visual program and I did like the music. The flugal horn soloist did not disappoint and has a beautiful tone quality. The corps uses a lot of body movement within the program to boost the visuals and they do it very well! I would like to have seen them perform back to back with Boston, Crossmen and Coats to really see how they fit into the grand scheme of things. At this point I would have to say they are also vulnerable to corps behind them right now. I have liked a lot of Glassmen's shows in the past but they always seem to take a while to grow on me. Who knows maybe seing them in Madison 3 nights in a row will help me to get into their show a little bit better. Well anyway good luck Glassmen and I really liked your shirts!

Well off to Madison,

I know some of you read my 15-part review that was posted on RAMD as the show was taking place (with the help of NanciD). However, many of my comments were choppy because I was typing with my thumbs (on my Blackberry) as fast as I could, while simultaneously trying to watch the corps perform!!! My review was good for initial thoughts and first impressions, but now I'd like to comment on some things after having a day to digest what I saw.

Blue Devils:
I really liked them. Going into the show, I had heard many people say they were boring. However, being a former sop player, and a huge guard fan, I couldn't disagree more! I just loved their show. I think they have come a long way since the beginning of the season. I'm not a big fan of the DCI scoring system, but it looks as if they are going to pass Cadets the week of finals. It's funny to think how close Crossmen were to them at the beginning of the year!

I didn't mind the American theme that these two corps had. However, I did not appreciate the use of props. The pictures and the written signs were so over-the-top! It really jaded my entire opinion of their field shows. I just couldn't enjoy them after seeing those things. It was especially hard to stomach seeing that they performed back-to-back last night. I really hope the Cadets don't do anything additional with the WTC/Firemen theme at Finals.

That being said, the Cadets enore was pheomenal!!! Originally when they announced that BD had lost by .05, I was so disappointed. After seeing the encore, I didn't mind that the Cadets won whatsoever!!!! They were totally jammin'. Their trumpets were on fire. And, I LOVED the guard in the encore. I have never seen that before, but it was really a sight to see. At the end of the encore, the Cadets did a second encore. I was so excited, but I did not appreciate some of the hand gestures the members were doing. They were acting like college football players after scoring a touchdown. I thought they could have used better judgement, and acted more professionally. Don't get me wrong, though, the Cadets victory concert was my favorite part of the night. I liked it more than all of the field shows combined!

Color Guard/Visual:
One thing that I noticed that really separates the top tier corps from the bottom tier corps is the visual program. The corps with more challenging visual and color guard programs tended to score much higher. I LOVE the color guard aspect of drum corps. However, I am sad that it, along with the visual program, has become the main driver of scores. I think that music should be the main driver. I have yet to see the Cavies this year, but I cannot WAIT to. In the past, though, I have always enjoyed the visual portion of their programs MUCH more than their musical portion, and the judges never seem to fault them for lacking musical exectution or, more accurately, musical entertainment.

Madison Scouts:
Many things about this corps, and the way the activity treats this corps, make me sad. I'm sad that their color guard program has deteriorated so much since 1999. They had some killer guards in the late 90's. I thought their '97 guard rivaled any in DCI. I'm not sure why exactly it has deteriorated, but I know there are many factors. Part of it may be the lack of talented guys willing to march drum corps. Much of it may be the difficulty they've had retaining strong staff members. Some of those factors include low pay, importance placed upon hiring staff from alumni, and the lack of emphasis the guard typically has in Madison's shows. One noteable exception was '97, which the guard was featured in a lot, and was a phenomenal year for them. Regardless, the CG members have worked their ##### off this summer, and it shows. Their work is not overly difficult, but it is fairly clean. It just took them until August to make it so.

Starting in '00 the top 3 or 4 corps in DCI really took their drill to another level. Unfortunately, Madison did not do so. If you watch the Cavies the last 2 or 3 years, and then you watch the Scouts, you can see a marked difference in the degree of difficulty and execution. That being said, I think Madison's visual progam is still in the top 6 or 7 in DCI. As you can see, the judges and I clearly disagree.

I have no comments on percussion because I'm not qualified to make them. I thought their drum-line was phenomenal, but I have no basis for arguing that they should score higher. What makes me most sad about Madison is that the brass line continues to be strong (IMO top 3 in DCI year-in and year-out) and the judging community does not give them credit for that. I can tell you that last night they rivaled BD's brass. Their were loud, powerful, precise, and exciting. Their brass alone should be placing them in the top 10, making finals with ease.

I agree that Madison's shows in '00, '01 and '02 have been sub-par for Madison. I vehemently disagree that their placings have been fair and accurate in those years, however.

Loved the show, and loved the entire CG on rifles!

I thought their show was very entertaining! I liked it much better than some of the shows that went on significantly later in the evening...

Seattle and Spirit:
Congrats to both of them for their Cinderella stories. It would be huge, for obvious reasons, for either/both corps to make finals.

For those of you that missed my top 5's from last night, here they are!

Most entertaining (and most important IMO):
1) blue devils
2) madison (they may have been #1 if they would have performed later in the program. it's so disappointing to see them when it's partially light out and when people are still finding their seats)
3) bluecoats
4) cadets
5) glassmen (this really pleasantly surprised me)

Best color guard:
1) blue devils
2) cadets
3) glassmen
4) bluecoats
5) crossmen (be nice, staff!)

Best brass:
1) blue devils
2) madison
3) bluecoats
4) glassmen
5) cadets

Best percussion:
i'm not really qualified to say, but I really liked BD and Glassmen!

thx, D_C_I

My thoughts:

on the stadium:
thank GOD we're going back to Allentown next year. They ran out of WATER??? Hello? UM... what? They blocked off the traffic pattern of the souvie area so you could only get in and out one way... Can you say horrible??? IT WAS A NIGHTMARE...

Anyway.. on to the shows.

I just want to say that I found EVERY ONE of the corps to be awsome.. I so enjoyed the entire show... but my thoughts are as follows:

Kiwanis.. I didnt care for them when I saw them early in the year... but man have they come a long way baby. I feel if they can maintain their young members over the next few years? They will really move up... They are truly getting their bang for their buck with this young corps.. wonderful job.

Madison... one of the most gut wrenching shows to watch.. To see a show that COULD and SHOULD make finals.. and due to overall breakdowns.. might not... Its disturbing, and due to the lack of prolonged boos at score announcemnt, but not totally misunderstood by those watching. GUYS.. CLEAN IT UP.. GEEZ!!! I am not a guard guy.. I dont compare guard technique, silks, when someone like me finds that the phazing in the guard is DISTRACTING .. what does that say? They really could have something.. but why isnt it clean??? Also.. the high leg lift in the drill? Looked as if half the members have Epstien Barr virus... I SO feel this corps has 'the horses' to be in the top 12.. but they are the masters of their own destiny... and they really come across as dirty.

My opinion on Madison.. they are being 'squeezed out' of the top 12 by corps like Bluecoats, Crown, etc.. who are maturing in SO many ways... Madison is standing still.. and these other corps have 'raised the bar' on themselves.. I LOVED Madisons show.. but from what I can see? THEY are their own worst enemy folks...

(also.. one of the nicest drill moments with the angular box movments up and back? Great... awsome.. loved it..)

Crown.. simply put: great corps.. full sound.. great guard work... really like them.. Should be interesting to see who places where...

Spirit.. I am so impressed with them.. One of the best sounds they've had in YEARS... can I even say DECADES? Visually interesting moment with the blue flags and irredecent flag poles.. beatiful... Nice sound... good drill... I am looking forward to hopefully seeing them in Madison on Sat.. night.. One cute side note: a young girl came up to the upper deck where we were sitting and as we talked she said she was a conductor for Spirit.. and she said "Id hate to be the ones who knock Madison out of the finals in their home town".. and I said.. "well.. you might have to get ready for that"

Seattle.. wow.. big big big.. they had like 20 members last year right? LOL (just kidding).. All my friends were kidding with me about Seattle.. because I am a Cadet fanatic.. they said I should enjoy the show more than anyone.. And after it was over they all said the same thing.. It was a great show.. Wonderfully executed.. nice moments.. sure the soloist had a problem.. but I really think as i said with Kiwanis.. they will keep a lot of members and continue a climb... Should be interesting to see where the placements come out on quaterfinals... its going to be crowded .. I just feel that its going to be who steps up to the plate that night and hits the 'home run'...

Boston... love the show.. I did get choked up a few times. I have to say though.. and NOT TO DRAG DOWN BOSTON.. NOT TO ATTACK THEM, ETC... but I still feel .. if there are those out there who admonish the Cadets for 'intentional emotional heart string pulling".. well.. Boston does it too with the "subtitles".. They got rounds of applause for showing banners with "home of the brave' etc... Great show.. very enjoyable.. But again.. notice all the reviews that are comparing it to Cadets 87.. I had said that a while back and was attacked for my thoughts..... I dont say its a COPY of the show.. I am just saying that certain aspects are very similar...Loved the final set in the flag formation. Overall.. I like their show IMMENSELY.. but I feel somethings missing...

Crossmen.. wow.. loved the opening drill... love this show. The use of the irredecent flag poles in the ballad is a WONDERFUL visual... great idea.. Horns did an amazing job.. percussion was hot... I think they should be scoring higher.. marching technique seems to be sound.. One of my friends who is an alum ventured a guess that maybe just maybe that due to the 'issues' brought up on here regarding the staff that its possible they have been worked hard, not worked smart all summer.... They may just be on cruise control.. but man.. they still have it .. Put them out there.. Bones on the back sideline.. you could TELL they were jazzed last night.. and it showed.

Bluecoats.. oh my GOD.. The best corps they have EVER had in my opinion.. What a sound.. amazing ... that Ballad???? I cant wait to hear it again and again.... guard work is awsome... just really loved them.... I even 'bowed' repeatedly to a mom and dad of a member sitting behind me after the show.. LOL

Glassmen (ok..out of order.. sue me) what can I say.. they are technically and mechnically amazing.. clean.. sound is beautiful.. but.. how can I put it best: Its like making out with your second cousin.. techincally it is a lot of fun, but somethings wrong that you just cant put your finger on.. Its missing emotion.. I think they need to figure a way to tap into emotion more.. and once they get over 'that hump'.. more and more people will appreciate what they do. I am looking forward to seeing them in Madison.. I want to hear and see it again.. Hoping it will 'hit me' better...

Blue Devils.. amazing amazing amazing.. What a great job they have done re working this show... Horn line is stupendous.. drums seem to have their problems.. but nothing to really get on them for.. My one complaint is: does the guard EVER get a drill sheet? No drill EVER for them.. they just make jazz runs and form 'loose' box shapes.. Its annoying because they are AMAZING.. But they are not integrated into the show.. They do amazing work.. but they cannot march in a form I guess.. They did one 'pinwheel' on the 50 to a straight line.. well it was SUPPOSED to be a straight line.. Obviously the staff knows they cant dress and cover and throw them out on the field "wherever they (the battery and horns) arent'... truly dissapointing... But I will say this is the first BD show I have really really liked in a LONG time...

Cadets... of course my favorite.. but I have to agree with some that have said 'where is the drill'.. No big 'gotta see' moves... The overall show is amazing.. and one they will talk about for decades to come.. I just feel that in these four days leading up to Madison they are putting in something.. they always do... But man.. wow.. amazing.

closing thoughts:
marching percussion should march.... enough with the standing still... Sure there are quiet moments.. but figure out something to do other than just standing...

Bbs as loud as G? Um.. definately. Madison lays back and wails.. BD and Cadets match that volume .. sorry to the old timers who need to argue this point.. but youre wrong. Plain and simple.

Madison: maybe the point in your show where the guard plays bongos hurts your drum score? I dont konw.. I still am bothered about them.. they are killing themselves.. ugh.. anyway..


From a novice point of view..mind you by profession i spend countless hours breaking down football i hope not to insult anyone with my layman point of view.

Let me start off by sayng, Good bye Franklin field! A nice field but restaurants are few and far between. There was no space in the surrounding area... I very uncomfortable situation. I must say that the show was very good. I saw about half of the corps in june and i was amazed at the changes and the improvements.

Kiwanis - A solid performance. The hornline was much stronger than they were earlier in June. I liked the sound and power. The music was more enjoyable because of that. The marching is improved...not an impressive drumline. However they are like night and day. In june i couldn't stand the show because the music wasn't up to par but they are REALLY working hard. Those kids are doing a great job. I've finally bought into the show.

Madison- they had me from the start. They have always had a place in my heart. It pains me to see the low scores but honestly...the other corps are visibly better. The music is fine..a solid drumline. The hornline lacked some punch in comparison to the other higher placed corps. They are ions ahead of Kiwanis and the higher placed corps are ahead of madison. If i could see that the guard was lacking then the more educated fans will pick them apart. They just don't look comfortable out there, plus the aren't good performers..the lack of experience parlays into a group that shows no confidece. They are out there looking like , please just let me get through this show! That is sad because it is a very..very fan friendly show. I would just like to see the performers look like they are confident.

Crown- The guard is much better from when i saw them 5 weeks ago. I like the show... I find myself watching the guard than actually paying mind to other units.but an overall strong performance.

Spirit- the hornline was incredible...they just kicked butt last night. the drumline is muched improved from june. I saw them as a sloppy unit in every phrase weeks ago. I hope to see them in the finals...

BAC- I was really amused by the visual changes in their show. Regardles of your opinion of them... it does add something to the show, especially the pictures of Jackie Robinson, Einstein, the fireman, the other I can't remember. As for as the many qoutes being displayed, enough already... I found myself pondering the thoughts and losing track of the show... it was like one of those desk calendars you get for xmas after awhile. I liked the music, the horns were good, you can really appreciate them as well as others when you see the show more than once. I really enjoyed the music... eventhough they beat the BD's in drums earlier still can't believe it. They were okay but not overwhelmed with what they were playing. I thought they were scored fairly.

Gmen- came in with the notion that this was not a fan friendly show. I liked it... I was really impressed with the drumline. it sounds like they overwhelm the horn line at times..the music is good. However the horns aren't on the same level as the drumline. They won me over and i had preconceived notions. Guard uniforms..are ugly... they look like basset hounds.

Cadets- GREAT show..i love the devils but i have to give them much credit. It was like I was at a rip roarin party. The drum line was strong..the horns were live and had some punch. The theme was excellant a celebration about good times in america. But as Tom Brokaw points good were those times? Think about all those groups that were persecuted in america. But i'll stop being a cynic. it is really nice to see a corp portray american life, music as an art form. that may be the one bad thing about corps.(we don't see enough of it, yes exposure is great but america has some great orks as well) Thankfully we have the xmen,devils and bac to remind us that we have some great composers, musicians that have meaning in America. sorry for getting off track. The cadets are great entertainers and they do capitalize on events and emotions but so what the crowd was in approval. The guard members are great dancers... from that point i wonder what are the thoughts of the old school guard members... wearing those skirts, boots,etc. As good as the show is i had thoughts of the 95 show and i wonder if that is good or bad as far as creativity goes. it is great for the performers because they were 7or 8 at the time but we all have memories. Do corps get molded into particular styles?

Devils- impeccable..clean to a point where the i's are dotted and t 's are crossed. The guard and hornline just steal the show. Who would've thought that the guard and horns can dominate a show (over the drumline).i drove the 200 miles to see them!!! (the guard) I just had a feeling that they wouldn't beat the Cadets in Philly this year. It was like they had to battle the Spirit of 76 in Philly, with Ben Franklin et al. I guess it will be close in the next few days.

Crossmen- would the pit benfit from amplification? I love the opener but the percussion is to soft to to get a true groove... especially when you hear it on the CD (southwest championship CD). It is a real sweet passage as well. I saw them weeks ago and the horn line left me disappointed but this time they were on. I always like the percussion... it is nice that the guard imho and overall visual is much improved from last year. Will they catch BAC... hmmn... that is the million dollar question.


Denver, CO (DCI)

Well. . . my predictions came through. . . I paid for tickets, didn't listen to any judging tapes, had a beer, enjoyed myself, and didn't care about the scores. . .

So. . . here's my review. . . though it may not be what you're all looking for since I am such an "insider" in the activity.

My wife and I drove down to Denver from Fort Collins beneath threatening skies. The rain held off, but the humidity level was up. Showtime temps were just about perfect -- between 70 - 73 degrees F.

Got to the stadium (Invesco Field at Mile High!) at about 6:20 pm. Show was supposed to start at 7:00 pm, so we thought no problem. We didn't buy tickets in advance so we waiting in line at the ticket office for about 40 minutes. While it seemed a little slow, we met many nice folks from all over the place including many former members of the Troopers. Time passed quickly! Got our tickets up on the Club Level -- in the 300's sections. On our way up to our seats I ran into some folks I used to teach at the Colts (still marching -- good for you!!), many Loveland HS band kids who I teach during the fall, and more friends from so many years of doing this drum corps thing. . . I was afraid I might miss the show!

"Hi" to Art (Cavaliers driver), and Tom & Bev Ford (Now working DCI souvies), Jimbo (buddy who works with Pioneer), and everyone else I ran into. Felt like old home week!

Took the elevator up to the Club Level. OH MY GAWD!!! This is the first time I've been to Invesco Field. This place is unreal!! My words wouldn't do it justice. Imagine the nicest convention hall you've ever been in, soundproof it, decorate everything with the Broncos logo, have more TV screens, refreshment stands, clean bathrooms, and fill it will thousands of Drum Corps Fans. This is the nicest place I've ever viewed a drum corps show. EVER.

We walked off the concourse, went through the glass doors out to our seats and saw the most beautiful field, incredible views from every seat (I don't think there is a bad seat in the house!), and saw two state-of-the-art big plasma video screens (which would later show almost constant high camera angles of the drill, and some nice interviews given by various directors, judges, VIPS, etc. -- run by Casey Smith). It was almost mind-boggling.

The sound? This place was built to be loud -- home field advantage being a big deal here in Bronco country. As a result, I don't think they could have come any closer to designing the perfect place to host a DCI Finals if they had tried!

Here's hoping. . . Now. . . on to the show. . .

Pioneer kicked the show off very nicely. This was my first viewing and I enjoyed to energy and fun projected by the corps. "Oliver" works for them. Small hornline delivers some nice sound, and while they are sometimes overbalanced by the big drum line (relatively speaking), they are usually staged well. Field is condensed by posting the pit in the back (about the back hash I think) in an arc. Good role playing by pit members, and a reasonably good colorguard. Highlight for me was a very nice arrangement and performance of "As Long As He Needs Me". Very enjoyable performance and nice audience response.

Southwind was next up. They looked positively huge, and its nice to see yellow and black on the field for this old Bridgemen fan! Other than the Toccata and Fugue that opened the show, I can't really recall any titles of the other pieces off the top of my head. Show explores traveling from Dark to Light. Opener was indeed dark. Probably the most dense brass scoring in their musical book, and they had a little trouble projecting that power up as a result. Pretty good drum line, featured throughout, and the flag colors were a nice color enhancement to the corps proper. Show definitely got better as they went along. Some tough drill staging made some ensemble timing quite challenging, but they usually were quite good. Nice power at the end. All in all, a well-received program even if they were initially announced as being from Montgomery, Alabama!

Troopers. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Troopers. They are the first drum corps I ever saw other than the corps I marched with. Obviously the audience in Denver feels the same way. I do not remember what the music was, but I heard some nice sounds, especially from the low brass. Colorguard has some nice rifle moments, and the ladies were pretty good this night. Drum line has some dirt, but it's nice to see them taking some chances with exposure. Some fairly challenging drill at times, which tends to take its toll on the musical performance -- but I like where the Troopers are heading. Crowd was quite appreciative.

Next up were the home-town Blue Knights. As expected, they got a loud ovation just coming out of the tunnel an onto the field. Very cool backfield warm-up (don't know what it was) which set a nice expectant mood for the show. My wife leaned over to me and said "I didn't know the Blue Devils were here!" She hadn't seen them since the new uni's came out a couple of seasons ago. Drum line was good, though a bit dirty in some exposed spots. Horn line dances. A lot. Sometimes this is nice, sometimes it is a distraction. Split focus and all that. Brass line plays fairly well. Colorguard is good, but sometimes hard to see in the dark gray uniform. Obvious visual demand and a good drum line are strengths. Some nice pit sounds as well. Lots of BK Alum in the stands made this a nice "Home Show" for BK.

About now I was expecting an intermission. There wasn't one. . . which was nice! Fresh beer, a plate of chili fries, and we were ready for some more drum corps!!!

Colts came out onto the field and immediately grabbed everyone's attention visually. They were the first corps of the night not to be wearing black pants. Quite striking uniforms. After the "Amen" chord progression for a backfield warm-up, the Champagne brothers set about getting this show moving. And move they do. In contrast to the Blue Knights, the Colts drill is quite wide open, and the placement of the colorguard is absolutely pleasant to watch. The color choices for the guard (unis and flags) are my favorite of the year from any corps. Backfield sound is well utilized and creates a nice musical effect at the beginning of the show. Brass line overall is well-balanced, though could use a little more punch in a couple of spots. Performance problems in percussion and marching are holding the corps back just a bit at this point. Guard is wonderful -- best I've ever seen from Colts since 1995. Many around me thought BK was going to be in trouble after this very good performance.

Santa Clara Vanguard. Drill and percussion are the highlights for me. This effort is so much better than when I saw them two weeks ago in San Antonio. Percussion executing at a high level, and the drill is seamless. It is a joy to watch their marching execution and their visual ensemble control. Colorguard seemed a little off tonight with the weapons. Drumline had a great moment at the end of their opener -- in-your-face unison snare "goks" that were just so aggressive that you knew they came to play! From this high, it was much more obvious what the visual intent was, using the triangles, circles, and diamonds for the various shapes highlighted through the drill. Guard was a little awkward in the "Diamond" portion. Great power out of the solid forms at the end. Was this a new ending? Look for great performances from them in Madison.

Cavaliers. Well. . . what is left to be said? These guys do everything very well. Best brass sound they've ever had in my opinion. Controlled, centered, GREAT intonation, balance. . . they are wonderful. Might be the best brass quality I've heard on a football field since Star of Indiana in the early 90's. Drums are musical, and they MOVE! Colorguard was "ON". The "Tron" uniforms are unique, and they outline effect they have on the performers really gives a unique look to what could be a risky dark gray uniform. Let's talk about the drill. . . George Zingali and Steve Brubaker would be proud. There's a new force to be reckoned with and it's been coming for some time. I don't think I've ever seen such a completely coordinated visual package. There are no wasted moves. . . heck, no wasted steps. Everything is done for a reason, and the reason is "effect". The audience was spellbound. My wife leaned over and said "they are so smooth -- they make it look effortless -- like they're floating". True enough. Do they have things to do yet? Most certainly. Some fuzz in the visual ensemble, and some minor disagreement in ensemble musical interpretation between the percussion and brass, couple of minor tone quality issues in the trumpets. . . but I can't wait to see this show again. Cavaliers earned a SCREAMING standing ovation from a crowd that still had its eyes spinning!

Phantom Regiment had the unenviable task of following this stunning performance. Good visual performance, and the opening statement may be the loudest thing on the field this summer. The brass line is right up front in a company front and lets loose immediately. Following the Cavaliers was tough -- because this effect mostly relies on volume, and the quality and projection of the hornline was noticeably off in comparison. I will not harp on the brass line, because they do many things well -- but they play VERY loud and VERY sharp much of the time, and sometimes for so long (end of the opener, end of the show) that there is little in the way of musical contrast that demands your attention. Contrabasses have that classic PR sound, and the baritones have some wonderful exposed lines that simply sound great! Middle voices are a bit muddy, especially on articulated passages. Sopranos fare better with their exposed sections, especially in the opener. Percussion was well integrated into the musical program, though not particularly memorable at the end of the night. Colorguard performed well, especially on flags. Nice color choices, and very classy uniforms. I noticed the scores in Colorguard from the night before, and kept my eyes open in anticipation of anything unusual in their performance. Apparently they were "ON", and definitely earned their colorguard placement this night. Some things standing in their way right now appear to be the second-to-last production that seems to wander, and general musical balance issues that are quite within their grasp as we close the season. If they do their homework I think they'll be quite exciting in Madison, and definitely in that 5-6-7 mix. I'm sure they were frustrated at not being able to crack that 90 barrier, but a good performance nonetheless.

Final scores you already know.

This was the first time I have heard the new Grand Finale tunes. "America" is nice, but I like "God Bless America" even better. I was quite amazed at how good this sounded, and it's obvious that every brass section out there was playing the "music" and not just blowing their brains out. That was especially nice to hear.

It started to rain during the announcements of the scores. Not a downpour, but good motivation for the corps to leave the field quickly.

Cavaliers stayed and played their encore, much to the delight of the audience! Percussion warm-up, then the brass line played "Jupiter" from "The Planets". Next up was a standstill of their opener. Then, "Stars and Stripes Forever" which I must assume is their parade tune? Finally, they closed with "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". I love this tune and they played it beautifully.

Denver needs to host DCI Finals. Great crowd, great stadium, great sound, great weather, great evening of drum corps!!!!!!

Hope you like my first review of the season.

Chuck Naffier
Drum Corps "Insider"

PS -- I ran into Steve Vickers after the show on the main concourse. It was nice to catch up with Steve, and we talked about his great efforts in putting out the History of Drum Corps book -- fun times!

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