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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 Five of Reviews

Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when they are available or submitted.  The following reviews are solely the opinion of the reviewers.  If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author, all reviews are signed with an email address.  If you want to add your review to this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to:
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Saturday July 6

Hayward, CA (DCI Pacific)

A disclaimer - I am a Vanguard percussion (pit) alumni. That should explain things when you wonder why I'm not spending a lot of time talking about color guard and visual. My husband is a Blue Devil brass alumni, so therefore I feel I can only comment reasonably well on the musical (percussion moreso than brass) aspects of drum corps. Sorry!!!

A few brief complaints first, just to get them out of the way:

1) I found the two announcers (both were former corps members and current bay area radio personalities) annoying. They reminded me of the fictional Bill and Marty KBBL radio team on 'The Simpsons'. My husband found them entertaining, so it must be a taste thing.

2) It also annoyed me that people were let in and out of the stands and left to wander up and down the aisles during performances.

3) I was REALLY pissed at the teenaged kids sitting across the aisle from me talking and laughing VERY loudly during Esperanza's performance.

Bottom line, am I the only one who thinks there should be some kind of short "drum corps rules of etiquette" flyer handed out at the ticket gate at every show so that people know what is considered rude at shows??? Arggghhhh!

Anyway, enough complaining! Overall, this really was a GREAT show. The weather was perfect (clear and a tad chilly but very tolerable), the stadium great (very steep with no real bad seats), and the crowd very appreciative of all the performing units. I thought that every single performance last night was excellent and inspired. It's been a while since I've had that kind of experience at a drum corps show.

First up was the Blue Devil C. Always adorable, what can you say about them other than that you just love them to death every year? They played a spy music theme show. Loved the "fuse" going across the front sideline during the Mission Impossible theme! You had to be there to understand, but damn, too cute! We have an 18 month old daughter, and as BD C was taking the field, some woman yelled out as loud as can be "GOOOO TAYLOR!!!!". I leaned over to my husband and said "sure, she's annoying now, but that'll be us in about 5 years". =:oD

Next up - Mandarins. Wow!!! They fielded a huge corps this year, for Mandarin standards. I've seen them blow away Division II with 10 horns, but this year they had about 30 horns and they were TIGHT! The whole corps was tight. They played, I think, some Sparke and Holsinger, and pulled it off really well. A great start to the competing corps!

Blue Devils B came next. They're also dramatically improved from last year. I can't recall their music (something about jazzed up rock n' roll, I think) but it was a pretty cool show that had me tapping my toes the whole time.

Impulse came next. They're show was Cuban music based around the I Love Lucy theme. I'm not a huge Impulse fan (personally, I find them to be a really cheesy, weak version of Velvet Knights) but this show grew on me as it went along. One of the color guard members is there only to portray Lucy, and one of the two drum majors (a hispanic boy, of course) portrays Ricky. As you can imagine, Lucy just keeps trying to get into Ricky's "show" and keeps failing or pissing Ricky off. In the end, she makes good. I don't want to give anything away now, but they corps played really well and had a lot of spunk, especially at the very end where Lucy gets up on the podium and takes over.

Esperanza was next. This is the corps during which some kids were laughing and talking really loudly across the aisle, so I was distracted and couldn't focus as much as I would have liked. I can say that they were DRAMATICALLY improved over the past few years, and impressed everyone quite a bit. Strong in all areas - musically and visually, with a nice sound. I marched with their corps director, Alan Cox, for two years....congrats Alan if you're reading this! Great job, looking forward to next year!!!!

Finally, to round off Division II, Vanguard Cadets. I hate to appear too critical, because I do love the SCV Cadets and think the talent level is awesome. They are doing an amazing job of training kids to be in the Vanguard A-Corps - they really do look like a smaller version of the A-Corps in terms of their "look" and visual style. I'm just not a fan of the music that the staff chooses each year. It's not very accessible, but of course that is ONLY my opinion. However, SCV Cadets are very strong, and will probably do well again. Semifinals again this year? Maybe not, as competition overall seems to have improved in the drum corps activity, but definitely top 25 for sure.

Next up was the Senior Corps division, starting with the River City Regiment. They are from the Sacramento area, and had some hot soprano solists (former Freelancers?????). They are small, but good and reminded me of the Renegades just 2-3 years ago. Who knows! Let's hope they increase membership, cuz they were fun!

Renegades came next, with the self-proclaimed "Loudest Show on Earth". I love these guys! Pardon my french, but they're louder than shit!!!! I love the uniforms - if you haven't seen them, what does the term "Renegade" bring to your mind? They all look like....well, 40 year old Renegades, dress in all black, with long black coats and sunglasses. I had to say my favorite thing is that they have Larry Dastrup, probably one of the greatest DCI soloists of all time (he was the main BD screamer in the late 70's to early 80's) and he doesn't even march. His entire role is to stand there on or near the sideline and wait to play really high and loud as much as possibe whenever possible. God, it's GREAT - this guys chops are as good as way back when too! If you get a chance to see these guys at DCA in the fall, you won't be disappointed!

Real quick recap of Division I, as my daughter is waking up from her nap and time is extremely short......

Seattle Cascades - WHOA! These guys are no joke! Top 12 material for sure, my favorite show of the night for sure! They play rehashed Garfield from the mid-80s, but who cares? They play it well, and differently. Loved this show, keep it up and go all the way to finals!

Pacific Crest - excellent overall, but a slightly lower level of quality from the past few years. This is A GREAT CORPS folks, keep your eye on them. When they decide to take the corps on a full DCI national tour, look out. They will be in top 17 for sure, if not higher!!!

Madison - LOVED this show. I'm not a Madison show, but this is my favorite show from them in many years. The Spanish theme, especially the opening when they come onto the field, was great!!! Horns and drums sounded really nice, not too overblaring, and seemed to surprise even one Scouts alum sitting behind me. One probably very stupid comment - their guard uniforms start out looking really comfy, but then towards they end they shed them and wear these bright yellow body suits. Maybe it's their guard's physique, but these suits made many of the boys look like they had really chunky, womanly hips and butts. Seriously! It was WEIRD!

Blue Devils were next. A friend of mine had already seen them in Orlando, and told me they were boring except for Channel One Suite. I have to agree. Not only did I not like their show much, but they seemed to be "off". I don't know how to describe it other than saying they didn't seem like The Blue Devils. Horns weren't very tight or loud, and even the drum line had some really nasty, ripped but exposed rolls. My husband said their brassline is REALLY dirty for July, which surprised both of us. Channel One was GREAT (hubby marched 86 BD, when they won w/Channel One Suite, so he loved that part.....of course our friend George, SCV 85, leaned over and said "wow Rich, that's the best I've ever heard Channel One played" and immediately suffered a severe beating about the neck and head with the show program). The Madison alum sitting behind me commented that BD's guard looked like a cross between the "A Clockwork Orange" gang and the staff of a Chuck E Cheese pizza parlor. PERFECT description, if you haven't seen BD yet and are wondering about these guard uniforms.

Vanguard went last....I am conflicted. The corps is strong in all areas, but the music is horrible. It's just completely inaccessible and leaves the audience sitting on their hands. This particular crowd was receptive, but it's a crowd full of Vanguard alums. I'm disappointed. I know the staff gets really pissed seeing alums dissing the corps, and I am NOT dissing the kids or their performance....I'm dissing the musical selection. Ever since 99, the corps' musical choices have become very esoteric and keep the audience at a distance. In short, not an entertaining show at all, which, like I said, disappointed me greatly. However, I felt both SCV and BD were equal, and the scores reflected it. Both corps are strong and powerful....we'll just see what happens down the line when they both meet w/Cadets and Cavs again. Sounds like Cavs will go undefeated this year. Can't wait to see them on TV (won't get to see them live....darn!)

That's all for now! Baby is awake and crying. Hope I didn't bore y'all!

Martha (Leeson) Garcia
SCV 84-87

The last show I'll see this season, so here we go:

The Venue:: CSU, Hayward Stadium
One word, fantastic!! We paid for the $20 seats, which got us about halfway up the lower section right on the 50 yard line. Perfect for sound and visual. The stadium was a bowl with very steep bleachers, so no one's view was blocked. When the sun went down the city of Hayward lit up along the bay, giving a stunning backdrop to all performances. The worst part was the announcer team of Dirk and Jerk, or whatever their names were. Their mics didn't work consistently, they talked through every corps warm-ups, and at one point asked Esperanza if their corps was ready as they were entering the field. Retards. Otherwise, the place rocked.

Blue Devils "C":: 36.90
Everyone loves these tikes. Very talented. Great show every year. I still think the flame moving down the "gunpowder" prop is the best visual I've ever seen. Gold star for leaving to a cadence. Great job.

Senior Div.
River City Regiment:: 56.70
My boys! Great to see them again. Everyone should see this corps at least once to realize senior corps are on the rise. Great music, fantastic solos. Many people were converted to RCR fans merely by their presence on the field. Nice to see my big drum out there in a corps show. Go 32"ers!!

Renegades:: 68.70
These guys are good, and they know it. The loudest show does not disappoint, as I had to pick my face off the ground. You guys did sound better at Lodi, however. It seems that all the Renegades are is the Sop section and their band, because no other section gets featured nearly as much. Hey, I love high notes, but mix in a big low brass moment or something. And at their size, there was some massive phasing problems throughout the show. Any ways, I still think they are supremely entertaining. Any corps who marches 7 basses has to be.

Impulse:: 67.00
A little shaky in the beginning. The drum line seemed over-anxious, rushing a bit in places. It all eventually evened out and provided us another glimpse into their VK history. I think their score would improve by 5 points if they just spent more time cleaning up drill. Still, the most entertaining show their is, with something for every type of corps fan, perhaps even those non-fans. The drum line jammed pretty well, and the final blast to the audience the Lucy was the first true goose bump moment. God I wish they could get a little respect. Great show, all the way around. Plus, mega points for leaving to a rockin' cadence.

Blue Devils "B":: 71.75
The opener was very solid, musically and visually. I still want to know who picked those guard uniforms, bleck! The drill did seem rather simplistic, but what it lacked they made up in sound. Both the drum line and the brass were very much "on". The color guard, however, was not, but that seemed to be a reoccurring theme throughout the night with several drops for all corps. Good show for such a small corps. It's easy to see where BD gets their quality players.

Esperanza:: 74.85
Seriously, a fantastic show. As long as they keep their numbers up, I can see this corps doing what the Cascades are now doing, taking the jump to div.1 and shocking the corps community. I liked their new uniforms, very classy. The brass seemed a little unbalanced, high to low, but still very solid. I really liked the brass solos, one right after the other. The guard flags complimented the overall look of the corps, high GE in my opinion. Drum line was probably their weakest point if there was one. Really a great show, though. Very well marched, one of the best of the night.

SCV Cadets:: 75.20
Very good opening with the tom-tom feature lead-in. The drum line was strong throughout the entire show with quality solos. The balance in the brass was very good. Sounded much improved even from just a week ago. They are still marching a div.1 style show, at least drill wise. Very difficult. The only problem I found was the music of the show seemed a little sparse in parts, leaving empty moments where almost no one was playing. Other than that, everything was excellent. The guard was definitely the best in the division. They look bigger every year. Perhaps they should go div.1 under a different name while continuing to be SCV's feeder corps, alla Crossmen and Cadets. In my opinion, the best corps of the night in their division.

Mandarins:: 76.65
What happened?!? You guys got off to a great start with the opener, hitting the incredible brass run with perfection, but then everything went south. There was a huge, by corps standards, tear between the brass and drum line at one point, and the forms and spacing were off the whole show. The drum line was clean, per usual, and the brass was pretty good. I felt like the past couple of years that the Mandarins are trying too hard to be the best in Div.2 when they don't have to. There is so much happening visually that the musicality gets lost. I don't particularly like the musical selections, although the closer is rather nice. And what was up with the one black snare? Honestly, I have friends all over this corps, in damn near every section, but they stole this victory. I sincerely hope they fix things or Magic is going to beat them.

Pacific Crest:: 72.80
Best low score performance of the evening. I loved every minute of this show. I truly didn't want it to end. The moves in the opening are stunning, and the brass hit every mark. The forms were excellent. I like what they did with the guard and the wire-metal cubes and big yellow ball. Very appropriate for the Cirque du Soliel music of the show. If anything, the drum line was a little dirty. Other than that, an absolutely wonderful show. I wish they could find some funds to get themselves to finals. If not, then they are a damn good reason for a West coast finals. They would easily place in the top 12.

Madison Scouts:: 76.35
My opinion, a good show, but not a great show. They did get a low score, but so did everyone but SCV. The warm-up maneuver was amazing. As for the show, overall there was too much walking to forms, but maybe drill will be added later. And even when they were set, the forms were a little off. The guard had a tough time with several drops. The brass was high, loud, and fast. Very nice. But what stole this show was the drum line. Holy crap! Where did these guys come from? The bass solo was amazing, only to be followed up by the just as amazing tenor/tympani solo with a trailing snare solo. Best drum line solo of the night, well until they left to their cadence which was even better. This show should be called a "drum line fans dream". And yes, I do think they are getting shafted for some un-apparent reason. All the fans got what they came for, excitement!

Seattle Cascades:: 77.85
These guys amaze me. First they rise in div.3, then they damn near conquer the giant (mandarins) of div.2, only to continue to rise to the upper echelons of div.1, giving much more established corps a run for their money. The first thing that stands out is how mature they've become. The brass is very well balanced with great sound from every section, and the color guard is fantastic, probably the best of the evening. Like Esperanza, the drum line was really the weak spot, with a little work needed to be done on marching. However, the drum line trio during the groove section was phenomenal. They got the biggest cheers from the fans atop the stadium for their incredible rotating triangle form. The choice of flags was very nice as they went with the corps appearance. I don't know about the hot pink under the jackets, but whatever, it looked good. Hopefully they can keep rolling and make a run in the coming years. Very good show.

Santa Clara Vanguard:: 83.35
The first hit of the show is fantastic. Certainly the best show opening of everyone. The brass was right on and the drum line was very clean, but the guard, like nearly every other corps, had problems. I wasn't too fond of the reflective square frame thingies. The drill used much of the field, which was refreshing, but the music didn't excite me, as the show seemed to just move along with no true melody. The drill was marched very clean and every form was hit. I don't know what to think of this show. It was very good visually, and musically it was clean, I just don't see it as a championship show. Of course, in recent years, who knows what makes a championship show. Looking at recent scores, I think this one was inflated because it was their home show and they wanted to get them as close to the top as possible to appease the crowd. The cadence as they left pleased the crowd immensely. Many bonus points.

Blue Devils:: 84.15
In two words - almost perfect. The brass showed why they are considered the best at nearly all shows, and the drum line was clean as always. I personally liked how the bass drums got to use the cymbal racks. The guard was good, but not up to their normal amazing presence, as there were a few drops. The forms were perfect as was the marching, but it always is. And anyone who thinks BD marches an easy show will be very disappointed as the drill looks very difficult. I really liked this show musically and visually, and should be a first or second finisher. The only problem I had with it was the ending. They push everything to the front and appear to be leading up to a big finish when they just stop at some random high note. I was really craving a big finish for such a good show. And House of the Rising Sun sounded awesome. My pick for #1 this year.

Bonus:: SCV Alumni Corps
For my money, this was the best show of the night. No, they didn't march, much, but it was an incredible moment. They had three parts to their "show". First they played a medley consisting of pieces from music they played which was composed by great classical composers such as Copland and Debussy (sp?). The second section was the "Championship season" medley which combined selections from the years in which they won championships. Very nice piece putting together the old with the new. The final medley was the "broadway" selections, which my fiancÚ enjoyed tremendously. Phantom, Saigon, Evita, just to name a few. They ended this final selection with a reprise of the bottle dance, which brought the crowd to their feet. I got serious chills. They played about 25 - 30 minutes of music, great great great! I wish they marched as they would give the Renegades one hell of a fight.

There you go. A wonderful show. I hope we West coasters get treated to this kind of show every year as this was one of the best. Good luck to everyone in Concord tonight.

~Nick "the Slick"

Hershey, PA (DCI Atlantic / DCA)

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh....the home show. started the day chasing rehearsals.....seemed my luck changed as monday, i all but flew to see Coats and got there in time to see em pack up. So, get to Cabs...the lunch time run thru!! Had a great view of the Latin guys in the pit. And Mr are a legend in the activity, but trust me, you do not want this tone deaf drummer playing tympani.

Also go to see Bush and Boston for a bit, as well as Spirit's final run thru of the day. Thank you to all the central PA schools who housed corps. The easiest time EVER getting into hershey's parking Joe Security guys on steroids, no ego...thank you sir, park there have a great time. And we did!

I wont try to match any other reviews...all views are my own. Also, I take into account the fact that it is July 6th and I do not expect corps to be crystal clean. I sat on the 45, my back againts the press box.

Bush....this show can be a great vehicle for you guys. Brass had some stamina issues, but jeromey cut thru well in his solos. Right now, IMO, your percussion is holding you back...performance wise, and to a point, design as well. However you have the greatest of gifts drumwise if the staff can milk it...youth. They do not know enough to quit. When cleaned and w/a few additions/deletions along the way, this show could make some noise. I hope to see it do so.

Bucs......First show jitters were apparent. Right now, the biggest thing your show needs is a good kick in the ### tempo wise...the drill is nice...the hornline has a great sound...guard awesome as always. But blah. slow. I think the design is well done as has become your forte, it j8ust needs some life thrown into it. bass drums the best section percussion wise, but snares have some very interesting segmental stuff going on within the line...2 here, 2 there etc.....that will translate well....i said it at the Forum, i'll say it now....add some bodies, kick tempos in the but and you have a chance. til that happens, you will be where you are. Fan Freindly adaptions of 92 Star and 87 Cadets, that even 'mom and dad" drum corps could follow.

Cabs.......key issue here....holes and a drumline together for 4 weeks. Fill in the holes, get them up to speed and the drill will obviously come across better. drumline needs a lot of time together...they did nail some stuff, but it seemed like there 3/4 different techniques going at once. Guard right now, besides Jimmy, is the best thing on the field. And.....I didnt mind not seeing the pinwheel. It will grow on me. The arraingments are very true to 75 Chachos, so huge props there. I look forward to seeing how far you guys and Bucs come next week when i see ya at Reading.

Brigs.....big. loud(tho not as loud as past years yet) the em more. they didnt do a lot tonoight for most of the crowd. They do move more than last year, especially the snares. the BD stuff in the beginning of the show is right off the cd/video, even the monkey drumming. very active drumline, but something w/the bottom heads on the snares....from up high, the tuning sounded very muddy. The killer quads are back and are a small show in themselves. great soloists, and a guard thatwill be in the hunt. Yes...Brigs are good...and more prepared than most. can they maintain? That is the question. friggen good. The music, while unfamiliar to me, was very entertaining, and the biggest thing it lacked tonight was a little GE...seemed a little flat, but yes, they are back. The new unis looks really nice, and some killer flags that helped fit the ethnic feel of the music(yes i noticed flags)

Kiwanis...sorry...i had to run to the bathroom....I missed you this week. sounded good from downstairs and Christine said you guys improved a lot since Lansdale.

Spirit.....what a difference a week makes....the feet have cleaned up, and i am not sure why the score was where it was. the second half of the show is the best right has the most drive and energy. perc and brass continue to play well, it seems the visual is the hold up. i still think you have a great chance. And...thank you for the parking lot concert of Salvation and Georgia...i set down my drink to go listen.

Blueocats......d### kiddies, this corps is for real, and they beat Boston to prove it. Very active drill, guard uniforms that DO NOT have some d### shade of yellow.....heh, they even show off some body! drummers rejoice...killer tenor line, great snare line and bass line has come a long way. sound, and tons of notes. traffic indeed will be come a show highlight as the season goes on. These guys will be in that pack of like 6/7 corps who want to break 90 and scare some people...and this year Blue may be able to do it.

Boston......Ok...yes, the AS stuff is very 97 cadets, yes they do a variation of the company front that disloves and resolves and several similar body moves. Ya know what??WHO CARES?? They do it well...very well. best drumline BAC has had since they began their finalist run, and in the Artie Shaw tune, they let their hair down and jam. The ballad.....i liked the sninging....tho the words didnt come out very clear all the way up where i sat.

cadets....Cadet haters, you wont this year. This show continues to to grow and is a memorial w/an American flag and pole off to the left. New this week was part of the Pledge of Allegiance in the ballad.....yes, they defied the court and did it. Was told by a Cadet booster we havent seen the last of new stuff. They are going to milk this all the way and i hope they do. Boogie Woogie kicks ###, and the closer was more hyped than last week. multiple standing O's, and by far, the best corps here, and the favorite too.

Crossmne...opener seemed flat tonight. However, it seems the perc has the groove feel down better. Ballad came across very well upstairs. and Strawberry will kill. I agree w/what someone else said about every snare book ending in does go overboard. You guys will be in the hunt...keep cleaning and work on the GE.

Who did I see in the lot? More like who didnt I see! well....I didnt see DCP guru George (grrrr...i told you to call me) security let the tailgating go longer this year, and I am proud to say it was my crew and the Baltimore Brigs crew who were last in the lot(and since we all had Shore ties, it was ok, as thats Hershey tradition!) Fran....your mother in law has the tape....make sure Barb gets it. and btw...I hope you all stopped down to say hi to Mrs seemed so right seeing her back on the track in her scooter. hey Mike from LC....did you spy on me enough? lol...see at your monster home show. Also met Eric Senzig, DCW writer/rAMD reviewer and brigs brass member this year...he comes up from texas...thats dedication!

Five Star......great job, great show. thank you and see you again next year.

Jeff Ream

Brigs, Cadets and Crossmen Find Hershey "The Sweetest Place" Saturday Night

HERSHEY, Pa. -- The Cadets and the Syracuse Brigadiers thrilled a full concert-side HersheyPark Stadium crowd to score convincing wins in the junior and senior competitions respectively at Saturday night's Hershey Spectacular.

Under nearly perfect weather conditions for early July, with practically no humidity, The Cadets put a five-and-a-half point spread between themselves and second-place fellow YEA brethren Crossmen (84.90 to 79.40). While they were no match for the crowd and judge favorite Cadets, the X-men still made a statement with their difficult contemporary jazz show for a comfortable two-point spread over third-place Bluecoats (77.40), who nipped the crowd-appealing Boston Crusaders (76.70) for the bronze medal.

The Hershey crowd was also delighted by the successful return of Magic of Orlando, which appeared to very much belong in the talented competition field, despite being the only Division II corps of the night -- recording a surprisingly low 79.75.

The four-time defending Drum Corps Associates' champion Brigadiers are seeking one for the thumb this year, and appear poised to do that on this night with a dominate victory over perennial contenders Hawthorne Caballeros (78.05) and Reading Buccaneers (71.40).


Brigadiers (3DM-67B-28P-29CG-9HG) appear very much to be the Blue Devils' senior and East Coast equivalent as they powered their way through "Picasso Sketchbook," which is actually a show of BD classics. The opening moments of "Spanish Fantasy" are very Devil-like -- complete with the corps proper revolving around the color guard, the percussion (7S-4T-5B-12PP) kicking in the right Spanish feel -- complete with high drumming among the battery before the largest hornline of the night cut loose with a wall of sound. The marching technique of Brigs also compares favorable to the Devs, moving effortlessly with great form and posture through what appeared to be a more demanding visual program than last year. The feet moved crisply through "Day Danse," which includes the Devil high-sticking "swim" from the battery as it crosses quickly beyond the front sideline from right-to-left. While the brass appears to drive this corps, all sections appear solid again this year. The brass soloists are splendid in "Guaganco." The closer of "All or Nothing at All" is where the corps needs to do its most work now -- with the feet struggling a bit and the unit losing some energy over the course of the selection. It does include a tasty percussion feature that showcases the snares on mounted thunder drums. The crowd also marveled at the flag toss over the brass, as well as a well-executed high rifle toss toward the end of the production -- which brought about a rousing standing ovation.

The Caballeros (3DM-49B-22P-29CG-10HG) opened the evening's show with the recycled Muchachos' program from 1975. It certainly is the right vehicle for this corps, which got the crowd's attention in the opening moments with its trademark soprano soloists during the familiar "Pictures of Spain." The first full corps set revealed at least seven brass holes right now, and even though all parts are performing the opener well, it lacks clarity at this early stage of the senior season. "Pines of Rome" does seem a little out of place among all the Spanish flavor, and lacks some of the projection from the corps proper -- although the wedge of slow-spinning multi-colored silks is a real highlight. "La Fiesta" is a drum corps classic, and Cabs do it justice with its warm brass sound, and fire-colored silks. While the drill appears to have better overall design this year, it lacks some imagination in this selection. "Carnival Jive" got the crowd literally swinging, leading into the percussion feature of "Ritual," which offers a lot of notes from the pit, but some direction and clarity from the line (5S-2T-5B-10PP) right now. "Gregorian Chant" and "Concerto De Aranjuez" are both beautifully arranged for the brass, but need some attention to the feet right now -- particularly at the slower tempos. The red fade-designed silks are beautiful and the right accent to the rousing finish. The Cabs have a lot of room to grow with this show with much cleaning ahead, particularly in the percussion.

It was "opening night" for last year's DCA runner-up Reading Buccaneers (3DM-42B-34P-30CG-7HG), and that may explain the third-place finish for their "Anthems of Freedom" patriotic production. The opener, "Star Spangled Banner" from "American Ballads" was bold and brassy -- despite marching at least 10 brass holes -- with high rifles tosses and well-executed percussion (8S-4T-5B-5C-12PP) support. Visually, the Eric Kitchenman design has a lot going on, and it was well-performed with good technique in the opener. The opener finishes with shimmering silks with an American flag designed outline against a red field -- some of the prettiest of the night. "Appalachian Spring" opened with rousing tempos through the familiar strains of the tune. While many corps have played this number, the Bucs' arrangement seems closer to the Santa Clara Vanguard's then any others -- right down to the wonderfully contributions from the percussion section, which appeared aggressive and yet musically expressive. Like the Vanguard, the snares have a slight lean to their black Premier drums too. Unfortunately, as one would expect in the opening competition -- particularly with so many brass holes -- the horns began to run out of steam in the middle of that number, and sounded even more fatigued in the closer of "Flag of Stars." The show concludes with a rousing patriotic finish, capped by a company front that looked like it was missing a lot of teeth tonight. The Bucs survived their first show with a production that has much work ahead, and much room to grow. The color guard was one of the best among the seniors, while the percussion might have been the most musical. How far this show go will depend on the development and closing of holes in the brass. It may not have quite the intrigue of last year's show, but it also may be too early to get a good read.

The Bushwackers (2DM-38B-22P-18CG) made great strides as they moved up the DCA ranks last year -- all the way to fifth with an undersized, over-achieving corps. But this is a new year and Bush has its work cut out for it if it wants to repeat that Cinderella run this year with its "The Myths of Fire" program, which includes the corps covering its traditional blue accents on its uniforms with red to accentuate the theme. It seems to have lost some of the identity it re-established last year -- particularly in the color guard which had multi-colored aqua uniforms and a beautiful arsenal of complimentary silks that might have been some of the best colors in the senior ranks. This year's guard opens with florescent orange chains against their red uniforms, and begins the show in a connected form that unravels -- similar to the way Bucs' guard opened their show last year. The first two selections of "Inferno" and Vesuvius" don't connect right now with the crowd, although its lack of response tonight might have been because Bush was on last among the senior juggernauts. That said, there is a lot of dirt right now -- both musically and visually -- from a corps that marched and played with such good technique and control last year. Visually, the corps appeared in much need of improved body control and technique through the first two numbers, which musically feature a lot of notes that don't seem to flow. The percussion (7S-3T-5B-7PP) is bigger than a year ago, but also lacking real cleanliness -- particularly obvious when it is featured. The brass appears to be marching four holes at present, with the guard having possibly more. The drill is expansive, and is highlighted by a Phantom Regiment-like wedge that crabsteps from the left-to-the-right. The show climaxes with a dramatic "Firebird Suite" push, featuring beautiful aqua/orange silks, but curiously no battery contribution. This show has some nice moments, but there is much work ahead for Bush to hold serve in the swelling DCA ranks this year.


The Cadets (2DM-36CG-63B-33P) continue to add upon and improve -- if that's possible -- their "An American Revival" show. Not having seen the Cavaliers, it's hard to believe that anyone can beat this fan-friendly show -- but then again, all indications are the Cavaliers have taken the visual program to new heights. They would probably have the edge on the Cadets visually, even though Marc Sylvester's drill is much better than last year -- particularly the fast-paced "New York Memories/America" closer. The guard's singing in the "New York, New York" opener is a great touch. The block rotation into the first full impact certainly gets the crowd's attention, and shows the power of the unit's talented brass, which still seemed to be marching one hole. "The Place Where Dreams Come True" is just a hauntingly wonderful Cadet ballad, which comes to life with the beauty of the horn line against the multi-meter segment with the military beat of the distant drums backfield. The number now features a show stopper, with the full corps stopping in the middle to recite the questioned segment of "The Pledge of Allegiance" during a raising of the flag. What more can be said about "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," except it flat out rocks and may be the crowd favorite of the year! While the closer may not be as memorable, it probably will by Madison and is the area that will probably get the most attention over the coming month, even though it already features some of the old Cadet-styled lightening-fast drill. Don't see this show if you don't want to stand, because it drives the crowd to its feet several times.

For my second-straight viewing, the Crossmen (2DM-62B-31P-36CG) had the unenviable task of going on last -- this time immediately following the Cadets. That was a curious draw tonight -- since last Friday's show in Lansdale was their "home show" -- and unfortunate because the crowd response would have also been wildly enthusiastic if they hadn't just followed the Cadets. As it was, "The Signature Series" of contemporary jazz drew respectful applause for difficulty of the production, but not for being the favorite of the night to that point. But that didn't seem to matter to the Crossmen, who clearly projected much better than Lansdale when we were told by a corps tour parent that they were noticeably off. Not tonight, as Methany's "Heat of the Day" was articulated tightly -- both visually and musically. The trumpets navigate the note-rich book with such clarity and really set up that first big impact, which also features some high octave energy. They've changed the staging of the high-hat beginning from the snares, now putting them to the left of the pit, instead of immediately behind, and it gives a better feel to groove. The number might be the best opener in Madison, and sets this red hot show in motion. The "Candle in the Window" ballad is the perfect lush compliment, and features great control. The backfield screech soloist successfully hit his note tonight too, after missing in Lansdale. "Strawberry Soup" ultimately will determine just how high this corps will go and whether it will reach new heights. It's good right now, but needs to be great if they're going to take out the real "big boys" -- like the Vanguard. The upper-register trumpet soloists are still losing some steam -- nothing that Al Chez and the boys can't fix -- while the battery book needs a little more meat. Still love the "Huertas are us" section in the tenor feature. The color guard, while good, is still also more of a background player this year. It obviously has the talent to play a bigger role before it's all said and done too. Just some tweaking here and there could allow the Crossmen to inhale some rarified air in Madison.

The Bluecoats (2DM-64B-32P-32CG) are a fan favorite in Hershey, which has no problem greeting them with a vocal "Bluuuuueeeeee." Maybe it's because former Westshoremen and Reading Bucs percussion caption head legend Dan DeLong now oversees the 'Coats line (8S-5T-5B-5C-9PP), or that there are a lot of members from Pennsylvania, or just the fact that they're always fan friendly -- but he support seems to be getting stronger in Chocolatetown. "Urban Dances" is a great vehicle for this corps, beginning with the urban sounds from the pit and the contemporary dance backfield by possibly the most talented guard in 'Coats history. That guard is on all rifles for some quality work throughout the opener of "Paradise Utopia from 'Concerto for Bass Trombone," which features a fast-paced Eric Kitchenman drill. Maybe it's the fact that the Bluecoats have not aborted their white pants and shoes in the era of the all-black to hide the visual dirt, but their performance seems crisper because it's done well and is so exposed. The ballad, "New World from 'Dancer in the Dark,'" is wonderfully choreographed -- from the single danger to open the number, the ballet positions struck by the brass while it plays, to the movements and dancing of the battery and the guard backfield. The corps does indeed put the "Pedal to the Metal" in the closer, as it cuts loose, while the guard spins appropriate bright yellow flags with a checkered "victory lane" accent. The percussion is also featured, with the tenors capturing the most attention during their figure-eight feature. There appears to be no weakness in this corps, which is at least as good, if not better than last year -- but fighting to hold eighth in a year where most of the top 12 and other challengers have also improved.

It's hard to believe that the Boston Crusaders (2DM-62B-29P-34CG) have only been out in competition for a week, while others have been out for much longer. That might have made the narrow difference between themselves and Bluecoats (77.40 to 76.70) for third last night, since Boston appears to have one of its best corps ever and a well-designed "You Are My Star" production. Patriotic themes are big with the crowd this year, and they loved this show from the start when the guard unveiled large scrolls reading "America," "Land of the Free," and "Home of the Brave" to the wonderful opening sounds of "Appalachian Spring." Speaking of the guard, it went from having possibly the worst uniforms in the top 12 last season, to the best this season with their classy cream-colored outfits with gold accents. The corps shows great control and maturity with its first impact -- performed during a backwards step-over by the brass that they repeat several times in the opener. The designers know how to body shape well with this corps, and it does it so appropriately in the opener, which also features a well-executed rifle toss, and percussion feature (8S-5T-5B-11PP). While this is one of the more mature Boston percussion sections to start a season -- playing on all new cream-colored Dynasty drums -- it is largely a support unit for the corps through much of the show. It may lack some of the demand of its nearest rivals, except for its opening break. "You Are My Star" takes harmonious singing to new heights and is well done, although the return to singing near the end may have been a little overkill. Nonetheless, the work by the guard on double white flags compliments the piece perfectly. The corps shows it jazzy side as it loosens up during Artie Shaw's "Concerto for Clarinet" -- led by the jazz set drumming by the battery in the pit. While "Simple Gifts" brings the show to a predictable climax -- right down to the closing dissolving and body-shaping company front that the Cadets parlayed into a title -- it works very well and drove the crowd to its feet. This show has also the design to keep this corps in the thick of things for the middle of the pack come Madison. But because it had its first show so late, it needs to play catch-up in the cleaning department to max it out.

Spirit (2DM-64B-32P-24CG) seemed to be a little off its game at this show -- at least compared with Lansdale -- and paid for it as it has seen its scoring surge slow of late. Because "Darkness into Light" and the music of Holsinger's "Easter Symphony" is on the esoteric side, it needs to be performed very crisply and with great energy if it is going to carry this corps to finals. Last week, it seemed good enough to do that -- but not so much on Saturday. The color guard, which indeed is much improved from last year, particularly had an off night, with several drops on rifle in the opener. The brass also seemed to have a few individuals sticking out on this night. Still, the crowd enjoyed the opener, particularly the percussion feature -- more specifically the cymbal head-choppers and jump through the tenors. The ballad is just a wonderfully conceived, high-quality package -- with the saber work being so well-designed. The guard changes to brighter silks to illustrate the emergence of the light from darkness that was despair. The closer seemed to really lose some energy tonight, with some more rifle drops, and the brass sounding tired. Spirit was well-received for how well in performed, but it was more respect applause tonight than true enthusiasm. Still, Spirit is on the cusp of a finals run and no doubt its staff will be working overtime to find just the right improvements it needs to crack the top 12 again.

Kiwanis Kavaliers' (2DM-54B-37P-24CG) had some improvements in clarity over last week, but still appears simply too young and inexperienced to make a big climb in the ranks this year -- despite its much bigger size and earlier competitive schedule. The group has added a gold stripe accent down the middle of its black hoods, which should complete the black-and-gold uniform. "Hall of Justice" is nicely received by the crowd because it can recognize the music of super heroes -- even picking out the "Johnny Quest" theme, despite having it referred to as "Flash Gordon" for a second time in the program. In the actual "Flash Gordon," the guard simply needs to be much better spinning those lightening bolts. It's a nice idea that's just not being performed well right now. Yes, the brass does get some good impact at standstill hits, and the 10-man snare line is solid -- but not outstanding -- during its feature, but the whole show lacks the design to carry it that far. Maybe that's because Kiwanis merged with a Division II corps -- the Tampa Bay Thunder -- and the end result is a corps that is much bigger, but still young by Division I standards. It's still got a long way to go before making semi-finals, even though DCI's decision to crack down on its Division II/III declaration rule may mean it doesn't haven't to vault over as many corps to get there.

One Division II corps Kiwanis is going to have a tough time beating is the reborn Magic of Orlando (2DM-54B-28P-23CG), which was the first junior corps in competition Saturday and immediately unveiled the sophistication and control that distinguishes the junior circuit. "Desert Winds" is so nicely designed by many of the Blue Devil staff for this corps' return to the field, and the Michael Cesario pretty purple uniforms with vibrant red diagonal compliment it perfectly. The "Desert Winds" sounds are appropriately captured by the pit throughout the program, while the rest of the percussion (9S-4T-5B-10PP) lays down a complimentary book with many big unison Devil-like accents. No, it's not particularly dense or as intricate as many of the top D-I corps, but it shouldn't be -- at least not this year. Since DCI has ruled this corps must go Division II, the show is designed to win a D-II championship, and then see how far it can go on the next level. If the first full impact by a splendidly balanced brass section is any indication, it could do just that -- although the competition for the D-II titled should be as intense as the battle for Division I's Top 12. While the opener does tend to get a bit monotonous, the ballad is a high point of the show and musical treat. All the corps' seemed to like getting a great backfield sound against the concrete facade of HersheyPark Stadium, and Magic might have been as good as any. The corps showed wonderful expression and control throughout the number, which was well-received by the audience. The closer seems to be the corps' weakest number right now, although it may just have been fatigued a bit after coming from a show in New Hampshire the day before. The lavender-clad color guard, while being somewhat invisible at times of the show, really provides a splash of color in the closer -- spinning solid flags that are various shades of orange, pink and red. A nicely-designed show with a balanced ensemble for a comeback corps. The Hershey crowd loved having them back!

The U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps provided a lengthy but well-received exhibition, followed by the corps being played back onto the field for a full retreat by a high school All-Star drum line from the Harrisburg area. The retreat moved along crisply, followed by encores by both the winning Brigs and Cadets, who played two songs apiece. All and all, a perfect night for drum corps, and the Five Star Brass people should be commended again for putting together a top competition for the holiday weekend. These people know how to organize, promote, and execute a first class drum corps competition, and could probably tutor others on how to do it right.

Mike Ferlazzo
Avant Garde '83
drum instructor, 1982-present
drum corps journalist

Michigan City, IN (DCM)

I arrived in Michigan City at about 4:30 pm and it was absolutely gorgeous weather. A perfect summer afternoon that would later turn into a perfect summer evening. I drove by Michigan City High School to check out the Cavalier's practice. There were a fair number of spectators that had the same idea as me. I watched them rehearse the last part of the first tune and the first part of the second tune. It seemed like they were having some issues, but I don't get to see many rehearsals so I don't know what the standard fare is. Anyway, I couldn't stick around because I still needed to go buy a ticket and I was starving!

On with the show! Ames Field is one of the finest, no it probably is THE finest small stadium I have ever seen. Brick facade, brick wall surrounding the grounds and pretty tall as well. I sat on the 25 yard line 20 rows up (out of 25 or so). I had a very good view of the field but wasn't in position to feel the full brunt of the hornlines. Now to the reviews.... in scoring order:

Racine Scouts - 32.85: It was announced that they are the oldest continually active drum corps in the US, celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. Way to go Racine Scouts! A very small corps, although this one had a much smaller guard than the other three Div. III's. That adds up to very little GE in this show and it showed up in the score. But it's pretty hard to do anything spectacular with 8 horns, 8 drums, and 4 flags. They did well with what they had, which is play. They played a few patriotic tunes and the crowd loved it.

Dutch Boy - 38.20: They were a late edition to the show and man it was nice to see them! Definitely not the Dutch Boy I remember from the last time I saw them (early '90's) but a little Dutch Boy sure beats no Dutch Boy! They had a spanish themed show that was a lot of fun. The guard was pretty large for this size corps which I think is a good thing. If you can't overpower someone with your hornline you at least give them something to look at. The closer sounded like it was a bit over their heads at this point but overall a solid effort.

Bandettes - 39.30: This corps is much better than they were last year when I saw them. I think last year they tried to do something a little over their heads. This year the show was written more for their level. I'll call this show "Four Corners Lite" The show was titled "Thinking outside the box" or something to that effect. They outlined a 13 yard square box and the entire corps stayed inside that box for the entire first piece, which was "A Few of my Favorite Things". Let me tell you they fully explored every square inch of that box and I thought it worked well for them. When you have such a small corps, defining a space like that can help you seem bigger. After the first tune they started exploring the field outside the box, ending with a jam session on the front sideline. They have some real nice players in this group! Great job!

Lake Erie Regiment - 39.55: They played "The Firebird" and at first I was nervous. Symphonic pieces like that are tough to pull of with really small groups. But, I was pleasantly surprised. They were able to handle the horn book for the most part and the arrangement worked for a group that size. Like Dutch Boy, this Regiment had a large color guard which really added to the show. They also had a platform sandwiched between two ramps that they made extensive use of during the show to create 3D marching effects. Overall a very nice job.

Pioneer - 55.10: They had the enviable position of going on after the Glassmen. I really liked this show a lot better than when I saw it in Toledo. What a difference 3 weeks makes! The color guard now has uniforms and everyone seems much more comfortable moving the tables around. The pit has been moved onto a long line of platforms at midfield as opposed to being clumped on the 50 yard line. Still can't hear them very well though. The girl begging for food during the set-up was fun. Some people behind me yelled "(I think her name or something), we'll feed you!" It was good for a laugh from those sitting in our area. This corps seemed larger than the last time I saw them as well. Not sure if they really are or not but they put out a better sound then I remembered.

Capital Sound - 57.30: This was my first ever viewing of this group and you can tell they flurish under the wing of the Madison organization. Dedication to entertainment value is their philosophy and it is blatantly obvious in this corps performance. The gumby outfits in the middle of the show were pretty much as everyone has previously described it. I didn't watch the rest of the corps because the gumbies were so entertaining to watch. I love "Carry On My Wayward Son" as the closer. It's a good song that works well on the field. The drum solo was awesome too. This corps received the first rousing standing O of the evening, and it was well deserved! I hope I get to see them again.

Capital Regiment - 64.75: This show improves every time I see it. The forms are much cleaner now than they were a couple of weeks ago. I love the music and the horn line is very powerful. They do some nice small ensemble work at the beginning of the closer as well. The drumline is rocking and the color guard is doing some good work. I can't wait 'til I see Magic next week to see how these two stack up. There's going to be a battle at the top of Div II...

Phantom Regiment - 80.95: This show rocks my world! It's probably my favorite of the summer (of the ones I've seen). The music is so powerful and it's so typically Phantom! The low brass really shines through (although they were on my side of the field a lot so that may have helped!). Since there is so much to love in this show let me focus on the two things that stuck out at me that need fixing. The forms are muddy right now. I don't know if that's bad design or bad execution but one of the two needs to be fixed to make a serious run at the top 4. The second thing (and this may just be personal preference), the color guard needs to be front and center for the grand finale. You have this awesome hornline coming down your throats and all the color is relegated to a block along the back side line. Other than that, this show rocks! The rewritten opener works really well and has an added musical impact point. The crowd was stunned to hear they came in 3rd (No booing though...). No offense to the Glassmen because they got a rousing round of applause when they were announced in second. I was shocked as well. I gave Phantom the advantage in Music GE, Vis Ens, Colorguard, Brass, and Music Ens. I'd give them the advantage in Vis GE too if they could fix those forms I knew it would be close but thought it would break the other way.

Glassmen - 81.50: The Battery-operated Glassmen. Their drumline is still smokin' but they don't touch the Cavies (more on that in a minute). But they hold their own and sound awesome! People complain and complain about the Glassmen being boring and playing rhythmic as opposed to melodic music. This show is built in 4 pieces. Only the second tune has no discernable melody. The opening statement is absolutely wonderful and gave me my ONLY goosebumps of the the night! Just the way they built that chord I guess. Overall, I think this show is still lacking something though. Some sort of drive or something. It seems as if they are just going through the motions. The closer sounded different than before but I can't be positive if they changed it. I thought it lacked focus before and it seemed better last night but it could still be better. IMO, this show was marched much cleaner than PR, although individual technique wasn't even close to PR. I don't see a lot of growth left in this show. It leaves me feeling like I did last year about PR with all the body movements, etc. That show, and the Glassmen's show this year, will go as far as they can clean it. I think that'll be a long way, but in the end I think there is more meat in Phantom's show and, in a role reversal from last year, that will push them over the top in the end.

The Cavaliers - 88.25: When I saw them in Toledo 3 weeks ago I left a little disappointed in the music. After downloading the mp3 and cranking it in my car I came to appreciate just how amazing their music book and hornline are so I came into the show expecting to be blown away! The Cavies music is UNBELIEVABLE in the stand-still! Their sound is incredible. By far the most impressive horn line they have ever assembled in my 13 years of following D/C. They play with such control.... every section perfectly in balance. The musical arrangements are perfectly written to make the sound as deep as can be. And their battery rules the world! Musical and much more flashy than last year. Unfortunately they did not play the second tune from their show in the victory concert. The chords in that piece are amazingly rich and resolve in THX fashion. Yes, the audience is listening!! That said, the field performance left me cold. I wanted them to peel my face off but they never did. This show is so "in control" it's hard to get really excited about it. Everything I'm seeing is awesome. Everything I'm hearing is awesome. Somewhere, something's not working. Maybe it was my seat that wasn't working (way out on the 25 yard line). I was also sitting next to a lady who was completely unimpressed so that dampened the mood a little as well. I still think this show can win but I don't think it's untouchable. Yet. I hear a new ending is on the way and that will do wonders for this show! Although, cutting loose just a little would go a long way as well. The last 2 years I KNEW I had seen the next DCI Champion after watching the Cavaliers, this year I don't have that same gut feeling. Although last year I didn't get that feeling until I saw everyone else in Indy whereas in '00 I didn't have to see anybody else. I just knew. We'll have to wait and see.

Patrick Gotschall

Friday July 5

Nashua, NH (DCI Atlantic II / III)

OK I saw Magic with Div 2/3 competition for the first time. Although the spread was large, it will not last. Magic is fairly polished for what they have. the problem is what they have is ridiculously safe. Little velocity in the drill, lots of whole notes from the brass and a percussion book that rarely ventures beyong 16th note rolls. The guard got their ass whipped by the Spartans (it should have happened on Wednesday in Everett. Overall Magic is remniscent of Capital Regiment last year...big, safe and relying on volume. When the Div 2 corps with more mature programs came along (Mandarins, Cascades, Spartans) they lost ground. I know Magic has big names on the payroll but didnt see many on tour with them last night. To all those who think this show will carry them into top 17 waters you may want to be more concerned about staying on top in Division 2.

The spread to Spartans was distoted due to some fool who judged field brass. His scores were way out of whack and numbers management very poor. Nashua is very close if not ready top pass Magic in most visual captions.

Spartans were pumped to perform in front of hometown crowd. Still think drums are too loud and brass book is very simplistic but they certainly do project an air of confidence. Guard is starting to really take over the field. Hopefully their lack of sophistication in the horn show will not be the achilles heal. They should have beaten magic in field percussion.

East Coast Jazz was much improved from Everett. Corps seems to be more focused on balance and coodination than they have in the past. This really separated them from Patriots and Surf. Guard did a better job of projecting but still has lots of work to do to be on the level of Spartans. Soprano voice was more evident than in first 2 shows but sounded strained at key moments.

Patriots are really struggling to maintain any sense of communication. The show is very flat. Kids looked tired out there. The guard is miles behind where they were last year at this time. I expected more from the battery based on their initial outing in Malden.

Surf have lots of work to do to make any sense out of their show. My biggest problems were with the over use of the trap set on the field and the staging of the corps. With the pit scattered all over the right side of the field they kept the horn line on the left for just about the whole show. it made for a very sterile sound. Not what we've cvome to expect from Surf. Hope they can make this one work.

Raiders are also struggling but for all the right reasons. Complex musical program. Guard needs to be beter integrated to make the visual presentation work. Don't know if the show will have the legs that Pictures did.


Rockford, IL (DCM)

Racine Scouts (34.05)
My Score: 27.5
This show needs a huge amount of work. It completely lacks entertainment substance. The design seems elementary enough, yet the corps is apparently having difficulty in execution in all areas. Tonight's showing was definitely weaker visually than musically. The guard was the worst section in my opinion. It seemed at times they didn't realize that they were performing in a drum corps. Mistakes were frequent, as were the accompanying mutual smiles and giggling between the guard members. I question whether they even had any planned work for the show. The guard is definitely holding back the corps. The judges were polite in giving the Racine Scouts a 34.05 tonight.

Bandettes (41.35)
My Score: 40.5
The Bandettes are actually coming along pretty well so far this season. There is much cleaning left to be done. However, the show design isn't too bad; it really has the ability to complement a corps of this size and type. The guard looks fair. I would have enjoyed the colorguard performance more if there had been a larger group performance, as opposed to the continuous "showing-off" of the soloist. The brass section sounds okay. Overall an average performance.

Kilties, Sr. (48.05)
My Score: 42.25
I made the mistake of thinking this was a junior corps when they first began their performance. I thought it was pretty cool how they had the kid in the pit wearing a fake white beard and wig. Anyway, there is some real talent in the brass section of this corps. The crowd really liked them. They have spunk. They had problems visually, however. I would have enjoyed a guard soloist-dominated show in this case. The show design is pretty boring and doesn't allow for much GE. Nevertheless, they do a pretty good job with what they've been given to work with.

Capital Sound (58.90)
My Score: 51.5
This is a very cool show! This was the first show of the night that impressed me. The crowd really liked it too. There is a lot of work to be done visually and musically, but the show design is so cool! The green guard costume things were so funny... the crowd couldn't stop talking about them. Lots of neat guard props and costume changes. They have a really cool drum major this year too for kicks. This show has so much potential. I really like the musical selections too. "Carry On Wayward Soul" was awesome. I really enjoyed hearing that in a corps arrangement. The words of the woman next to me at the end of their performance pretty much summed up what I thought after seeing the previous three corps perform: "Thank you, Jesus!"

Capital Regiment (64.85)
My Score: 62.25
I LOVE THIS CORPS!!! They are sooooo awesome! This really creates in me a greater respect for Division II. The show design is fantastic! Performance is still weak but this corps is much farther along now than they were this time of the year last season. The guard is hands-down the best part of this show. They have improved so much from last year. This was one of two corps performances tonight that gave me goose bumps (the other was Phantom). I really think Capital Regiment has a good chance to win Division II and make Division I semifinals, regardless of what they may be up against this year. I'd also like to see them move up to Division I by next year or the year after. Southwind's placement above Capital Regiment tonight was a fluke and their marginal lead won't last long.

Southwind (65.55)
My Score: 61.75
I hate to see division I corps perform these kinds of shows. It had no entertainment value to me or the rest of most of the audience. The guard had a pretty clean performance. The corps excels musically but lacks the GE it will need to pull itself ahead of many other division I corps this year. I definitely don't see finals in Southwind's future this year. They're going to have a hard time placing above the better Division II corps near the end of the season.

The Cavaliers (87.25)
My Score: 87.25
Everyone knows about this show so I won't say much. The guard was pretty good but I thought Phantom's guard was cleaner tonight and had better substance. It's cool how the guard costumes start to interlock and really bring out the true meaning of the show's theme, "Frameworks." I don't like this show as much as everyone else... what can I say? I'm a rebel. They were very precise musically and visually tonight and definitely unsurpassable. I hope they peak early. I don't really like this show and I'd like to see someone else win this year.

Phantom Regiment (80.25)
My Score: 80.25
Phantom is my favorite corps of all time so I'll try not to get too excited about their review. This is THE BEST show they have had in years. The colorguard is just amazing! I love the rifles. The brass sound this year is unique and truly awe-inspiring. This tribute to Shostakovich is long-awaited. I love the musical selections. I expect some rewrites for the end of the show placing the guard in the crowd's face where they belong. Potential? This show has tons! With a lot of cleaning visually and musically (especially in the brass clarity), Phantom has an easy shot at top 3 this year. It's probably too early to say this but I think this may be the corps to top both the Cavies and Cadets in finals this year regardless of tonight's results. Tonight was their home show and their performance wasn't the best... you could tell they got excited and kicked the tempo causing all kinds of problems everywhere. Nonetheless, the crowd ate it up... the energy was just amazing!

My next show is "Thunder on the Mountain" in Kennesaw, GA, on Wednesday, July 24, so I'll probably do another review for that show too. Looking forward to seeing some new corps' shows this season.

~Ryan Giesel

Holmen, WI (DCM)

Here is a review of the Holmen DCM competition held August 5, 2002 - The La Crosse Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps Home Show. This was taken from the La Crosse Tribune of Saturday, July 6, 2002. It was written by Terry Rindfleisch of the Tribune Staff. He regularly covers the Blue Stars news and posts the scores in the La Crosse Tribune (Wisconsin). You may use it on the website, if you wish.

By Terry Rindfleisch
Of the Tribune Staff

HOLMEN, Wis.- It was the La Crosse Blue Stars' night to toot their own horn.

Drum corps fan already knew the Colts of Dubuque, Iowa, would win the Blue Stars' home show competition, River City Rhapsody, and they knew the Troopers of Casper, Wyoming, would entertain them.

But several hundred people came to Holmen High School's Empire Stadium on Friday night to catch their first glimpse of the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps' 2002 show.

The Blue Stars shined on the field with a large, bold brass sound for a Division III corps of 60 or fewer members. Some people commented that they have never heard a bigger brass sound from the defending Division III world champions.

The young drum line for the Blue Stars was impressive in a show centered around four musical numbers that the corps introduced to the drum corps world - "Jewish Trilogy," the Blue Stars' corps song; "The Inferno"; "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables"; and Leonard Bernstein's "The Overture to Candide."

This summer's show, called "Three Decades," commemorates the 30th anniversary of Drum Corps International. The Blue Stars were one of the five original members of Drum Corps International.

The Blue Stars' show was entertaining and visually pleasing. The Blue Stars still are working on the coordination of the syncopation in marching and performing in "The Overture to Candide," which still is a bit rough.

For the record, the Colts won the competition with 74 points. The Troopers were second with 67.1 points, while the Americanos of Menasha, Wis., the Blue Stars' rivals in Division III, were third with 60.85 points. The Blue Stars performed in exhibition.

The Blue Stars arrived in La Crosse at 3:30 a.m. Friday after three parades in Chicago and a competition in Whitewater, Wis., on the Fourth of July. They took first place in Division III in the Thursday competition scoring 56.70 points. The Blue Stars finished fifth overall in the contest won by Capital Regiment of Columbus, Ohio, which scored 64.4 points.

They will end a weeklong tour today with a competition in Mankato, MN.

Submitted by Esther Frost

Thursday July 4

Whitewater, WI (DCM)

Hello! Just got back from Whitewater, and I thought I'd check in with some random notes.

Racine Scouts (34.90) - of the neater uniforms in the activity. Love the American Flag squad with the Boy Scout uniforms - does that take me back!! I really appreciate that the staff keeps this eight person horn line in tight for cohesiveness' sake. This may be the only corps I know of that confines their field coverage to between the 40 yard lines. It takes courage to do drum corps; it takes even more courage when there's so few of you out there. Very tasty mellophone duet. Also, I appreciated that the percussion was taught to not bury the horn line. Played a very nice medley of big band standards.

Blue Stars (56.70) - Opening statement in Jewish Trilogy very solid! I noticed some trouble in holding the form during the quiet section of the opener, particularly in the circle at the right hand side of the fifty. Also, the form at the end is made up of a number of files. Folks need to cover those down, as they are very judgeable (this seemed to be a recurring problem with a number of corps). Pretty nice field coverage from a small corps in the 2nd number. Nice solo work in I Dreamed a Dream. Opening statement in Candide - glad you took a fire hose to it and gave the melody line to the pit. The sopranos were having a real tough time playing it earlier in the season. I don't mean this to seem like a bromide, but this corps' made a lot of progress since I saw them at Sun Prairie.

Capital Sound (58.95) - Very Nice show. Pink Floyd on a football field - what a concept! My general thought was for this corps to keep working on the fundamentals - hitting the forms and working for rhythmic clarity to make those impact points even more solid. As I watched them I couldn't help but wonder - this guard came within .5 of the Madison Scouts earlier this season...

Capital Regiment (64.60) - Very impressive full field coverage for the opening statement. Some very nice soprano - mellophone call/response work in the opener. Please cover down those files at the end of the opener. Nice mellophone work during the ballad. I noted that I really liked the way the picture hit at the end of the ballad section. The low brass sextet going into the closer was gorgeous. Company front in the closer didn't quite hit. Still, I appreciated how nicely designed it was, and I loved how it came forward slowly and majestically. Generally, I liked the flag work throughout. It seemed that they really knew what to do with their solo moments. Note to whoever was complaining about excessive buildup in the opening announcement for the corps - they got it! The spiel sheets both before and after their performance were mercifully short.

Southwind (64.15) - Tocotta and Fugue for the opener. Got a real nice sense of rhythmic clarity from the horn line; very much needed to keep this from sounding like mush. Brought back fond memories of the late '70s Phantom Regiment. Speaking of Memory Lane, I also liked hearing Marche Slav('77 Crossmen). I don't think I'm explaining this correctly, but the snare drummers changed to different drums for this number. The mount was off to the side, like the old days of marching snares with slings. Very different kind of sound - a refreshing change. Perhaps someone who has seen this corps more often can explain what they were doing and why. I just know I liked the sound. At a couple of points in the show, there were noticeable points of silent drill. I'm used to those points being setups for something visually neat - especially unison flag work. Instead, I got nothing. Is some content to be added down the road?

Pioneer (59.40) - Boy, have these kids improved musically since Madison's April Open House! Many people have commented on the pit placement. For what it's worth, I liked their placement upstage. With the horn line this small, the entire percussion section needs to play down. This just seemed to be an accommodation for the horns. I heard the pit just fine. Although I'm not a big lover of props on the field, I was OK with the "picnic tables." They add height to the visual compositions, shrink the field a bit for the horn line, and provided some interesting moments, such as when the horn players bounded over them to play a lick. Generally, I was impressed with the work the staff and the kids have accomplished to make the most out of a smaller corps. Here's hoping they can hang on to these kids as a nucleus for coming seasons.

Royal Airs Reunion Corps (Score: Who Cares???) - They're huge. They turned around in the left end zone and played Abide with Me as their warm-up for the juniors lined up for finale. The kids loved it. Loved the person who called out, "Rip my face off," before they stepped off. If I remember correctly, they go from the twenty to the fifty in a horn line (must be 90 of 'em) company front. Watermelon Man is their concert number. They're marching for Alexander's Ragtime Band, John Brown's Body, and It Was A Very Good Year. The crowd loved 'em. Those of you going to Rockford, Racine, DCI semifinals, or DCA are in for a treat.

Went over to shoot the breeze with RA after the show and was treated to Abide With Me and Ballyhoo March from about 50 feet away. Amazing! Nice folks, too. For those of you who remember the '73 Blue Stars, Cisco is marching RA. He was one of the soloists when LaCrosse played Malaga that summer.

Well, time to hit the hay. Next stop: this Sunday in Racine.

Jim Anello

Wednesday July 3

Bristol, RI (DCI Atlantic)

First off, Happy Fourth of July to all! And what better way to celebrate the eve of the fourth than with a drum corps show in Bristol, RI!!

It was a VERY hot, humid day in New England and this clearly had an affect on some of the performances this evening. Luckily, the show was scheduled to start one hour later than usual this year, so the sun only wilted the first few corps. Kiwanis was the first up and got the worst of the sun - of course their black uniforms and masks/scull caps didn't help things. This resulted in one performer succumbing to the heat and losing his/her lunch at the end of their show.

Being the home of the former Matadors and Picadors, this was definitely a drum corps audience. And being the eve of the Fourth in the town with the largest, longest running Fourth of July parade in the nation, this audience was primed to party, enjoy, and celebrate the birth of this great nation (the optimal venue for a performance by The Cadets this year). I was at the show with my sister, who has attended this show with me a number of times, and my soon to be 7 year-old nephew. I will include some of their observations in this review. My review will follow the order of performance.

Kiwanis Kavaliers (8th - 61.75) - While they seemed a bit off from Beverly, they did a good job with this entertaining vehicle. My nephew was able to pick out the Spiderman and Batman themes and loved the bat capes at the start of the show. They should have received a special award for maintaining their stamina throughout the show in spite of the severe weather and their black uniforms with masks/scull caps.

JSU Spirit (7th - 72.4) - I got into this show a bit more than at Beverly. Musically, it got a little tedious for my nephew so I told him to keep watching the color guard, as their uniforms will keep changing. He thought that was cool. I still feel, as I did after seeing them in Beverly, that this show does not have the across-the-board demand that will be needed to be in the top 12 this year. But, if they are really clean and emotional, and the tougher shows of corps like Crown don't get as clean, they could have just enough to squeak in.

Crown (6th - 73.6) - Virtually no crowd reaction to the guard outfits. My first viewing but I thought there were a greater variety of colors before - tonight there were only soft yellow and pink togas. My nephew thought it a bit funny at first to see boys in dresses, but quickly accepted it when I told him about the theme. Even if you don't like what the guard is wearing, you really need to get past it and watch what this guard is doing. As has been their trademark, the equipment work is possibly the most difficult of any corps out there. They have so many tricky backhand, behind-the-back, odd-angle, etc. tosses and catches that it's hard not to notice. Horns seemed a bit rough and weak in spots, but did a solid job at this very difficult book. And the drums really did deserve to best BD!

Crossmen (3rd - 78.15) - Bad performance order certainly held their score down. They were a bit rough around the edges in some of the marching tonight and the opener still doesn't quite gel. But with the demanding licks the horns are playing while racing around the field, this will take a while to clean and make consistent. The guard was stellar as usual and did a lot to bring personality to the show. While I think Boston's guard is spectacular, I don't see why the Crossmen are scoring so much lower. I found the ballad more emotional than in Beverly. Strawberry Soup needs a bit more punch to send this show over the top.

Boston (4th - 76.4) - This show flowed better than in Beverly, but still has some sense of being disjointed. I am not a fan of singing drum corps - vocalization (like Garfield 84 or SCV 01) is fine. But leave the choral work to trained singers. They do an adequate job - but, without amplification, you can barely make out the words. If this is the case in the tiny bleachers in Bristol, it will play even worse in a championship venue. When they do the drums and horns thing, it is wonderful. They have such a great horn sound and get a really warm, lush tone from the tubas. I think it's the arrangements, but I feel there is a significant lack of lower-mid voices in much of Appalachian Spring - many of the chords seem too narrow and in the higher register. My nephew thought that they should have tied with the Crossmen for second place tonight - he put BD in fifth.

Bluecoats (5th - 75.55) - Well, I'm not sure if I heard an off night or if I just don't hear what so many other reviewers have. But, based solely on this performance, I have renamed this corps the Blahcoats. The show just didn't go anywhere - it seemed to stay at one tempo and one emotional level. My nephew seemed to agree in that he started to get restless, bored and napped on my sister's shoulder. Even on a better night, this vehicle doesn't seem to have the GE that will bring it higher than 8th in Madison.

I've now heard Phantom and Glassmen, and seen Crossmen, Boston and Bluecoats. Based on what I've heard and seen, I would say that it will be a fight between Crossmen and Boston for fourth and fifth place at finals. Of course, I have to leave room for the possibility of SCV sneaking in there. However, it doesn't sound like SCV's show will be able to best the solid Music GE scores of Crossmen or Boston, and probably won't be able to best their horn or guard scores as well.

Cadets (1st - 84.5) - Like I've said before, I feel sorry for any corps that has to follow this show. The audience was emotionally depleted by the time The Cadets walked off the field! They added a monument structure around the flagpole to help it stand out and a quote from the Pledge of Allegiance during the ballad. I heard of this addition just before arriving in Bristol and thought it seeded a bit pandering. However, it worked very well into the flow of the show and was the perfect punctuation point for the story line at that point. These guys are just doing everything right this year. Horns, drums and guard were clearly the best tonight - the heat just didn't seem to phase them in the least. My sister and nephew both had a great time during this performance and put them way out in first place.

Blue Devils (2nd - 82.1) - They did a more spirited performance than Beverly, but it still added up to a show that needs work. I believe they made a few more changes that gave punctuation to the music, making it easier for the audience to know when it was appropriate to clap. However, it's still a show that has only moments where the average viewer can understand/enjoy the music. My sister put it well by saying that they seemed to be very talented, but left the average listened out of the equation. She said that it might be more enjoyable to the more educated drum corps die-hard, but she just couldn't follow it. She wanted them to just play one song for long enough to enjoy it, rather than just 10 seconds of this, then 10 seconds of that, then back to 10 seconds of this again. My nephew was impressed that they came all the way from California but was impressed with little else, even though I told him before the performance that they, and The Cadets, were the two best corps at that show. Oh, I should also mention that they now have a park and bark section in "House" that is longer and more stationary than anything The Cadets are doing. So, all you BD fans who were complaining about this aspect of The Cadets show need to take notice!

BD heads back West now and they have already sent the pit equipment and guard's hats back in their trailer. YEA!, being the class organization that it is, was there for their friends from the West and gave them use of the pit equipment and drum major's stand of the Crossmen and Cadets. We're so lucky to have BD returning to New England in August! Two local tours in one season is a rare treasure.

You all know the judges take on the show, so here's my nephew's. He put The Cadets way out in the lead with Crossmen and Boston tied for second. The only other corps that he remembered was Kiwanis due to the superhero theme, so he put them in fourth. He put BD in fifth simply because they were the last he heard and he couldn't remember that much of the other three. But, I would say that the nap during Bluecoats would indicate something!


Frankfort, IL (DCM)

Heres one for you: Frankfort,IL.

Kingsmen: Much better than the last time I saw them but still need a lot of work.

Colt Cadets: Sorry to say I missed the field show on this on but the music sounded OK.

Blue Star: wow, they played realy well. could be a Division contender.

Marion Glory Cadets: Did OK but I think they sounded realy out of tune!

Cap Reg.: Nice show! Looks like writen for Div 1 but had some holes. It looks like they are moving in the right direction.

Colts: Great sound! Well balanced hornline and pretty good guard. I havent liked the Colts tke past couple of years but they realy gave me a suprise. Guard unis look realy good on the field.Guard had some drops that were realy visable and distracting. Cant wait to see this show again.

Cavies: Whatever youve read its all true. They wowed me quite a few times. Horns are increadible. Drum line is as hot as ever. Guard was good but cant wait to see them clean up a little more. The drill seems to be at a different level than in the past. Amazing show! They realy move and the chant is realy cool.


Tuesday July 2

Wausau, WI (DCM)

Tonight was a warm night for Wisconsin with temps in the low 80's at the start of the show, nothing compared to the humid heat during the midday.

My view point was directly on the 50 yard line 24 rows up which was almost the top at this stadium.

Bandettes 38.15: Again a small corps but I must hand it to them for doing a terrific job with what they have. There is one lady in the guard who is tall and good looking who does some great work which was a joy to watch. The one contra player in the middle of the show is really playing some notes and was very talented, amazing to listen too. The show has some thin plywood frames that boxes in the field which goes well with "think out of the box". I feel that they should maybe paint them to make them more noticeable, the plain wood didn't do it for me. The beginning of the show was a bit dull sorry to say with the end getting the crowd into it by having them clap along. Very technical playing at the end, but was a real joy to listen to. They do not have a marching battery but had the EQ being played on the pit; mounted bass drum rack. Overall nice to see where they are, I give so much credit to the young ladies.

Americanos 53.60: The corps to whom I'm an alumni to. Drumline seems to be their strong point. Brass on the other hand is the weakness. They have really improved the show from my first viewing at the Appleton show, but the brass work is indeed very sloppy and choppy to say the least. I love the music and the guard work along with the power of the drumline, but the corps will not go much farther without some intense work on the brass players with their sound quality. Hoping they pull it together soon.

Blue Stars 54.45: Very much an Americanos size corps. The brass was a lot better than the Americanos. Their music was a lot more hummable than when I saw them at the first show in Appleton. Not much else sticks out in my mind with this corps, which at this point in the season will really hurt them. They need to add some things that is different and will catch the audience and the judges eyes which will make them remember this corps more.

Capital Sound 57.80: Large corps with an enjoyable selection of music. The crowd really ate up the green goblin figures with the guard and didn't stop talking about it for at least 5 minutes after it had ended. Their closer was much improved over the Appleton show and I could actually recognize the tune, which I had no clue what it was back then. Bass drums overpowered the corps quite a bit tonight, had the sound that they just put new drumheads on their bassdrums and were quite boomy. I'm sure they'll break in the next couple of days. Overall, nice corps, and hope they push hard the next month.

Colts 71.75: They actually went on last tonight and the crowd didn't sell into it. The guard work and use of flags were a big strong point with this corps. Though strong, the guard had a really off night and did not catch a lot of tosses, very disappointing. At one point one rifle totally lost it and looked completely like she didn't know what she was doing for about 35 seconds of the show! Brass had an off night too, not much power tonight. The dynamic contrast that I witnessed at the Normal, IL show was not there by any means tonight. My guess with the midday heat and humidity and hard work during the day caught with them at tonight's performance. Get some rest and do better tomorrow.

Phantom Regiment 79.80: They blew everyone away with the power of their brass tonight, and being one of the loudest hands down. The deep low rich sound of the marimbas was so overwhelming, really a highlight of the show. There is a bass drum break in the middle of the show that will make all corps envy them, well done times 10! Overall a top notch performance with great music. Still a lot of room to grow so this show will for sure grow a lot in the coming weeks!

Cavaliers 85.50: They were 3rd to last to go on tonight and followed Cap Sound. I'm going on the limb by saying this, but I strongly feel that this will be one of those shows where people will consider it one of the greatest shows of all time. I'm serious about this. Brass didn't seem to have the power like Phantom or the Colts, but the quality and just how in tune they were was amazing. I will not forget the difficult split parts in the horn line that was just nailed tonight. Very rhythmic and prolly one of the most difficult horn books I can ever remember. Drumline is so solid with playing the notes and visually adding to it that I'm having a hard time seeing just what they will improve in the next month to make it even better. The concert bass drums and surdos give off such an explosion of sound, it's nothing I have ever heard before. You can feel it in your bones, and that's no joke! The marching and drill visual book is so impressive. Overall, I can't think just how they can improve on a show that is so well executed already. Hope this isn't an early peak, but who knows; they are the Cavies!

Overall it was an awesome night of drum corps. Lots of missed guard work tonight and I don't ever remember so many bass drum mallets being dropped so many times at a show. But the quality of the performers is the highlight of tonight.

My next show is DCI in Madison. Hope to put a review on then.

Dave Peters

Monday July 1

Woodburn, OR (DCI Pacific)

Good evening all. Let me start off by saying that tonight was a perfect night for drum corps. Not a clould in the sky, no wind, not too hot, not too cold. There was a change of venue tonight from normal; instead of having the show at Leigon Field, the moved the show to Woodburn High School. I miss Leigon Field because there is no track, the corps are in your face. Anyway, on to the review....

The show started off with a small brass ensemble from the Madison Scouts playing the national anthem, very nice.

Oregon Crusaders...48.35
This corps has grown up tons since last year. They are very much improved in every caption over last year. They still have a long way to go though. The brass can play fairly well standing still, but a lot of feet can be heard in the music. Percussion plays well, but don't blend well with he brass. Didn't really notice the guard, they need to be incorperated into the drill design instead of always being separate. If this group keeps up it's progress for a couple years, they could have a very good thing going.

Pacific Crest...71.30
When I first saw this corps in '97, i thought, "man this corps is really going places." This hornline can seriously lay it out. The drumline is great. The colorguard is great. The difficulty of their drill is what is holding them back, but that is because their show is designed to max out by the end of their season, which in in july. Once this corps decides to do a national tour, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Madison Scouts...73.30
Let me just say that what is holding them back is their colorguard. It's july and their work isn't done, what is up with that? Anyhow, I love the rest of the show, the opener is awesome, I love the '87 version, and I love this one too. the second tune really did a good job of giving the idea of being at sea. I LOVE THE DRUM SOLO!!!! the part where the tenors and the tympani do their thing together is classic. The closer is balls out and reminds me of '97 big time, which is good. Once the guard gets it's s%it together, this will be an excellant corps.

Seattle Cascades...75.80
This corps has top 12 written all over it. Every section is solid, and has room to grow. The Rosander drill is great. Visual is their strength, and it is obvious after looking at the breakdowns from Kelso. This show is basicly a "Cadets greatest hits" show, but there is not a damn thing wrong with that. When I saw that they were playing "Prelude," I thought fo sure that it would be watered, it's not. When the corps breaks into sections they smoke, espesially the low brass. I can't wait to see how they do in madison.

Santa Clara Vanguard...80.60
I never thought I would live to see the day when SCV put on a Cesario uniform, but I have. They are still classy clasic SCV though (thank god). I like the all-green back, it really makes a statement when the corps turns around. The show itself isn't my favorite Vanguard product ever, but it is still awesome, with some great moment, and chills. If they ad a little more GE to the show, they could really mean business come Madison. I am very happy that the hornline is cleaner than last year, no more fraking trumpets(Short Ride). Drums as usual top notch. Guard equipment work is awesome. I can't wait to see them go up against BD, I'll be there next weekend in cali, my first trip to cali in a couple years.

This was the first time I have ever heard Madison sing "You'll Never Walk Alone," I hope it isn't the last time either.

Any NW people making the trip for next weekend?

Ben Smith
Argonauts 94-96, Northern Lights 97-99.

Ok time for review, my last of 3 shows til Q-finals in Madison. Because of that, I'll go into a little more detail than my previous 2 reviews.

Stadium - not the usual location in Woodburn. Before it was set in a small stadium surrounded by huge trees in the middle of a neighborhood. Tonight it was set at a fairly large high school, probably Woodburn high school but not positive. Field looked in decent shape and had a track around it, and stadium was probably 40 yards long, metal bleachers with a cover. Weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky. The show announcer even mentioned that it's rained only 1 time at this show. Rain in Oregon, hah!

Anyway, show was sold out, and delayed a bit by the organizers so everyone could get a seat. General admission folk had to sit in bleachers right in front of the track. Glad we didn't pay to sit there. Ended up sitting on the left 40 facing the field, 2nd to top row, but honestly it wasn't far up so reading drill forms other than line coverage wasn't like UW Husky stadium or Kelso this weekend. Talked with a guy who marched french horn in the Black Knights corps in the late 1960's (Illinois corps I think?) between shows.

Scouts opened the show with a small horn group, played the anthem.

Show announcer actually asked the audience afterwards to turn to the flag and say the FULL VERSION of pledge of allegiance. Pretty cool. Of course some people shouted the "under God" part. Hope none of the Scout horn guys were from Canada or another country, would have been ackward I think! Wonder if any of the corps members know about that whole news story.

Oregon Crusaders - Guess they removed the "Southern" part of the corps name. Now they're based in Portland. Didn't know that. The hornline/drumline is wearing the black/white unis that we wore in Marauders and the female guard looks like SCV's black uni from 92. Had a better show musically tonight than the previous two, but Stormworks (see Carolina Crown 1995) is just too hard for a group to pull off that is this small. Hopefully they will continue to grow for next year and will sound better.

Pacific Crest - Kelso was an "off" night for them, and they returned tonight with some meanness and power. Hornline is pretty sweet, and the drill is starting to clean up. Horns/drums have a black uni with shiny green/blue triangle on bottom half & white pants, guard is co-ed, wearing a mix of blue, purple, and white skintight designed material. Horn/sIf the corps director reads this, PLEASE TOUR NATIONALLY! They could make Semi-finals easy. Wish them the best of luck, great corps.

Seattle Cascades - They continue to impress me. Drill cleanliness has obviously been a focus, as has dynamics in the brass parts. Watch for the guard members to poke each other with flags in the rear. Haven't seen that before at a show. Horns/drums are wearing a black/white uni with a chest flap (like Freelancers in the past or even 01-02 Blue Knights) partially covering a shiny green/black sash and black pants. Guard is co-ed and has black pants & jackets covering some hot pink flashiness beneath, which they show off during their "Riffs" piece when the corps goes crazy (and so does the audience). If things continue this way for them and they focus on cleaning and adding more excitement, top 12 will be theirs. As a NW guy, I'm very excited about this as it's never been done. 17th was the highest by any NW corps in DCI history (we did it in 92, and they did it last year).

30 minute Intermission - I feel sorry for the ladies. They have to stand in huge lines for the bathroom at almost every big event, sporting or musical. Lots of good lookin women at the show tonight. Too bad I'm taken. LOL

Madison - Crowd favorite tonight. Drill was slightly better than last night and tempo sped up a bit in a few places. Maybe a little too fast. Near the end of the closer the hornline forms 3 or 4 spheres round the solo guard guy, and they rotate the circles. A couple horn guys ate grass because of it but recovered quickly and saved their horns from certain death. Guard starts the show warmup with the silver conquistador hats and metal plate armor but removes both before the real show starts. The guard uni is maroon, I think, with maybe some brown or red color. Lots of orange & redish flags. To me, I think it's too much of the same color and another would work better with madison's green and red unis.

SCV - I think the crowd would be more into this show if they could have seen the drill. Indeed, the drill is championship material, once clean, but the music leaves everyone in their seat. Only time will tell if that leaves them out of the title hunt. SCV's new horn/drum unis are starting to grow on me. Looking at it from the front, the top is split left to right with a big white slash, with orange/red on the right arm and "xmas tree" green - lighter than 97-01, on the rest, as is the pants. Co-ed guard is wearing all black body suits ala Star 93.

Retreat - olympic style again, cool! Madison played the corps on the field, but still took forever. What is with one corps going on the track at a time? It's almost like they are afraid of any retreat games (horns & drums from different corps banging together). Come on guys, toughen up, bunch up and get on the field.

Again, the scores:
Division I
80.60 Santa Clara Vanguard
75.80 Seattle Cascades
73.30 Madison Scouts
71.30 Pacific Crest
Division III
48.35 Oregon Crusaders

Big shocker for those that didn't see or read scores from last night in Kelso. Crowd favorite was Madison.

I'm going to complain now, and LOUDLY. This new America/O'Canada was CRAP! More worse than my dog's farts and messes in the backyard. Way more worse than your 5th grade band memories. During the O'Canada section which SCV was playing quite well, at least one of the other corps was playing the America theme!!!! I wanted to yell at the brass instructors in all the corps for this pile. Show announcer tried to give the whole, "it's early, that will sound great in August" routine but come on, if you're going to play it, you better know it! They didn't play it at all in Seattle or Kelso, and for good reason. For all the older alumni marchers and Vets in the stadium, I bet they wish they had a barf bag. Toss this piece or clean it up, and fast.

Everyone played off the field, except Scouts, who gave us another wonderful vocal performance of You'll Never Walk Alone. Noticed alot of Madison alumni join the corps to sing it. SCV blasted people's faces off (General Admission had the best seats in the house for this part) during the encore and another Send in the Clowns.

As we left the stadium I saw alot of Madison members chowing down some strawberry shortcake. Glad to see that even with the move of stadiums, the Woodburn tradition continues...

That's all from me. Feel free to email me. See everyone in Madison and don't forget to bring your riot gear, just in case! :-)

Evan Sowerwine
Soprano Bugle
1994-95 Cavaliers
1990-93 Marauders

Woodburn Oregon - 13th Annual Drums of Fire
Ok this review thing is new to me so bare with me and we will all make it alive in one piece.

Venue- Beautiful Woodburn Oregon surrounded by the Coastal Mountain range on the west and the Cascade Mountain Range on the east. If you look off into the distance you see a snow capped Mt. Hood. Clear blue sky with a slight breeze out of the Northwest. The field was in great shape as Oregon is the grass seed capital of the world. Stadium was interesting. Calling in for tickets I asked for best available. She put us on the 45 at the very top of the stadium. Did I mention there are only 12 rows and the stands run 20 to 20 and are fully covered with an overhang? No back field to speak of. None the less, it was like being in an indoor hall all the sound got trapped in the stands and even the pit was pulled in nicely. It was drum corp heaven! This is a community supported show so there was a large amount maybe 1/4 of the crowd were seniors. They ate it up. I sat next to a couple who looked about mid-70's and they whooped it up along with me. What a hoot! Anyway, Scouts brass ensemble played the Star Spangled Banner and then the announcer said he would like to do something special and proceeded to ask everyone to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. Did I mention the show sold out and people were on the track?

Review - Show started at 7:35 PM, not too bad.

Oregon Crusaders D3 - 48.25 - Nice welcome from the crowd as you might expect. These kids give it 100%. I counted 4 sops, 2 Contras, 6 mids and 1 bari. 3 snares, tom 4 basses and 5 in the pit and 6 guard. One of those Contras can really crank it out. Great effort by the kids but the musical selection (Stormworks) really seems to expose this small of a line. It also seemed a little, how do I say, abstract? Hard to get into? I did like the silks, as they were very complimentary to the group and didn't overwhelm.

Pacific Crest 71.30 - Wow! Wow! Did I say Wow! Exciting and fun are the words that keep coming to mind with this corps. Hornline has a nice punch and they have some db's coming out. They are having a good time and they know you know it and they pull you in. I have never heard this show "Selections from Cirque du Soleil" but it was very nice. They did a great job of incorporating the guard into the show but didn't distract. I think the guard unis compliment the show and work well with either men or women. Some really nice solo work during a duet and then quartet by the upper and mid voices. Pretty balanced horn line that was very mellow, similar to turning your EQ off on your stereo. Nice drum line and pit. I will comment on M & M (as we older folk call it) at the end of the overall review.So overall a great show that really works and entertains. I'm sorry that the rest of the country won't get to experience PC in person. They do add something different to the activity.

Seattle Cascades 75.80 - I do need to start off by saying that the announcer probably hyped the corps up to the crowd while they were on the field setting up. It was fun and I think the cades' and the crowd enjoyed it. I do want to start out by saying that the program coordinator and brass arranger Lewis Norfleet has done some really nice things with these pieces. I know Lewis through work at Oregon State University and his finger prints are all over these arrangements. Interesting start with On the Town that transitions into Jeremiah. Good job by the horn line on this one but I guess I am so used to Garfields mellos on this one. Simple song is scored into a duet/call and answer solo which works very nicely. Prelude, Fugue and Riffs sounded a little muddy and I'm not sure it is the playing or scoring. The baritone soli sounds forced with the riffs. I got the feeling it might be a little harder for them to switch styles and swing. The hornline is very good and I really didn't notice any weak spots. Nice sound and loud too! The drum line was fine, didn't really stand out. The pit complemented the shows textures and varying loud and soft moments very well. The guard looked nice but was distracting at times with the dancing. Fun to watch and my wifes favorite.

Intermission - Announcer explained the judging process (as best as anyone can) and gave some DCI facts and actually held a Q and A for the crowd to ask questions. It was actually fun.

Madison Scouts - 73.30 - You could feel the anticipation before they even started to line up for the warm-up. The crowd kept watching for them and not knowing what to expect. They scores of the Kelso show were being thrown around the crowd so I don't think they knew what to expect. Whoa baby! The warm-up sets the crowd up for high expectations and did they deliver. By far the loudest group tonight, but surprisingly balanced. The brass are really blending well which allows the sections to stand out when they are called upon. The drum line is pretty darn tight. The most cheers and crowd response by far and in places I wasn't expecting. I think the crowd really enjoyed this "junkyard dog" approach to drum corps. Guard didn't stand out much, which when I marched was always the problem of them wanting center stage. Unis aren't bad at all but I guess I'm tired of seeing spandex and peoples belly buttons most of the night. The last number Conquistador/Save El Dorado transitions nicely with the native/ethnic drumming creating and nice quiet yet driving feeling. Did I mention they passed out neck braces before the show? What a sound. I can understand what people are saying about the show design when critiqued on the variance of textures and moods. They come at you full force and then back away then are in your face again. But most of the time they are in your face. There are numerous discussions on why this or why that isn't working but the crowd is going just as nutso as before and the crowd and the corps just seem to feed of each other. Nice to have a few standing O's scattered throughout the show. Like I said before I will comment on the M & M later.

Santa Clara Vanguard - 80.60 - Strong corps but missing something. If they had a different show I think they could really fly. The show seems to hold them back. They seem reserved and really want to let it out but the music is fairly restrictive. The uniforms are interesting. I now understand some previous posts. For those of you who can't grab the colors quite right in your head think of the fast food chain Quiznos and those are pretty close to the shade of red and green. Not bad but I'm old school. I really enjoyed the snare line sound. It was nice not to hear the chop sticks on formica sound all evening. I think the show has potential but the talent of the kids can take this one only so far. The guard work was a little distracting. Actually it was the poles that just were too busy. They also utilize folding boxes which are also awkward in places but are nice when grouped together. The silks in the guard where very nice and worked well. I enjoyed the ending of the show and these guys and gals can blow it with the best of them. The pit was very nice and seemed to play a key part in the show with mallet work and auxiliary. Boy do they have a nice concert bass drum. Pitched perfectly for those big fat horn line hits.

The if you got this far section.

Here are my lumped comments all rolled into this paragraph. Marching by everyone looked really the same. Kind of messy. Remember I'm only 12 rows up but I did see a lot of individual issues in all corps. SCV seemed to have the most easy on the eyes drill. Other than that not much else to say. I do want to say that I really am getting tired of the same old square rotating block to triangle and back and forth. Not sure what I am asking for but it's been done before over and over again and please don't compare a front to rotating geometry. So I wasn't overly impressed with any marching tonight but you know what? I really didn't care because I had a great time.

Finale - Madisons Drum line played on everyone with a really cool street beat. The drum line seems really tight. I would like to hear other thoughts as the season moves along. Corps had the option of playing of the field. Crusaders did the thud ...thud...thud thing off. Pacific Crest let loose with parts of the opener(?) and then did the thud...thud...thud thing. Madison came up front onto the track with all the staff and support crew and sang You'll never walk alone. The crowd gave them a standing O for quite a while and then it got quiet. You could have heard someone thinking of a pin dropping. (Bias showing here) I was very proud as they sang and then everything comes rushing back. They finished and walked down the track and waved to the crowd. As they exited the track people around me who noticed my corps jacket were patting me on the back and saying all kinds of nice things and I think at that moment I understood what Madison is about and means to the crowd. Cascades didn't even thud off. They walked off, no playing, nothing, nada, zilch! As SCV was setting up for the victory concert and I was walking down the stands I had a older gentleman stop me and say "You boys really know who you are and what your about". I just smiled.

I can't wait for finals no matter what it brings. See you all in Madison.

Bill Callender

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