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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 Six 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 13

Cincinnati, OH (DCI Atlantic)

Hi all. Scores are elsewhere, as usual. Impressions will be mainly percussive.

This is a good treatment of 'Wind and the Lion'. The corps is strong for the first year back. Battery tuning is poor; with 9sn/4tn/5bd and can't hear them well behind a modest-sized hornline that puts out.

I don't like the elongated "A" on the uni front. Compared to the older, "classic A" it just looks droopy. The corps can project well in all sections, but again, another obtuse show. Opener had squats, squawks and gunshot impacts out the wazoo, and I ask, "[sigh], ever hear of that musical device called MELODY?"

Battery only marched 3 BDs; I don't think I've ever seen that in a Div I performance, ever. It hurt the ensemble sound; if this is a 5-person line, then it looked like BDs 3 and 5 were missing. No bottom from field perc.

Horn show sounded like it was held back. Percussion good as usual from this corps, but not quite the 'polish' I remember from them last year. Oh well, only July 13th. And hey, guard and guard staff? Do you realize a LARGE percentage of the crowd is and at your ridiculous outfits and male prancing in togas? Just thought I'd let you know. I don't think that's the reaction you had in mind for your show; might want to make a note of that for future productions.

A very well-designed show overall, and excellent treatment of Appalachian Spring. Battery solid, but I was seriously disappointed at the fact that they drop their equipment for nearly 5 minutes of the show. I like the fact that they are trying to get a different timbre from their battery tuning that other 'cookie-cutter'-sounding lines. This is the first line in years whose bass #1 isn't an 18" or a 20". Looks like a 22" or a 24". BD tuning needs some work, though ... snares and tenors cut through OK, basses sounded weak.

And hey, brass players? Stick to brass. You're quite good at that, but you can't sing, you don't know much about good vocal production, and even if you did, it AIN'T gonna sound good outside. No body to the sound at all, crappy blend due to the M/F makeup of the corps (and their lack of singing ability) and ugly and strained sounding. Wait until DCI OKs amplification and reverb boxes before you try this.

Wow, this corps just rocks the crowd. Strong everywhere. Great design; MUCH better than last year's hackneyed production. Feet were very clean tonight IMHO. This show is #1 or #2, take it to the bank. I'd bet on #1 because of the theme.

Man, this show is friggin' HARD. Brass demand, especially, and for the most part, they pull it off well. Battery has a new kind of flavor for a Lee Beddis line, nice to hear the variety in timbres and percussive treatments. The corps, however, had a MAJOR tear at the end of the closer, a big ensemble rip, but it's during a drill move that looks damned near impossible. I'm sure that big rip dropped them under Boston.

Anyway, that's my take. I didn't sense that all the shows were flat, like another person mentioned. Show was well run, crowd was polite and the hamburgers were cold (at least mine was).

Mike in Ohio

Here's my take on the Cincy show... nothing spectacular just a few thoughts.

I'm not convinced that the East beats the Midwest for entertainment this year. For the Cavies there's a Cadets. For the Phantom Regiment there is a Crossmen. But the Bluecoats beat out BAC in my book for entertainment value. Not to mention Madison, Colts, and Southwind who all have very entertaining shows IMO. Oh yeah, the Glassmen are good too! Although even though I like their show 6th overall out of the midwest (Div I only, because the two Capitols have very fun shows as well), I still like them better than Crown and Spirit. Maybe that'll change once I get to give the East coast another viewing.

Magic - Hold the phone if you think Magic is going to walz through Div II. They have an outstanding program with a rifle line that really made me take notice but I've seen Capital Regiment 3 times this year and think they have an excellent shot at taking out the Magic. It'll be a dogfight, no doubt, but from my vantage points I saw a more demanding program coming from CR than from Magic although I think Magic is performing their show more cleanly. It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out. Both have great programs....

Spirit - I think I need to see this show again to make a better judgement. It's good but hard to get your head around in one viewing. I loved what the guard did with the color schemes, lightening as the show went forward. And I loved their hornline. They had some extremely effective dynamics toward the end of the opener when they were alternating playing from one side of the field to the other. Very cool!!! Other than that, I think they need to work on the dynamics a bit. Very flat, IMO. They need more contrast.

Carolina Crown - I was expecting horrible guard uniforms and they really weren't. I understand they changed them recently so I guess the change was good? The men's toga's looked quite appropriate. Although I wasn't around in ancient Greece so I really don't know what they should have worn. The guard also added snake wigs for the closer to look more like Medusa. That's an improvement from what I read where they only handled snakes during the closer (which they still do). I have the same complaint with this show as I do with Spirit. They need more dynamic contrast. Also, fix the ending! It's over and nobody knows it until the DM turns around. That series of jabbing chords doesn't provide any closure to the show. Other than that, the show was pretty well contructed and is a toss-up as far as Spirit is concerned. I don't think we've seen the end of the flip flopping!

Boston Crusaders - I liked the opening and closing of this show. Basically all the Copland stuff. The quotes were pretty cool too. Not cheesy like I was afraid it would be. The middle two pieces lost me though. I liked their singing in '00 and even in the couple of years before that. This year it didn't work for me as much. The piece after that didn't do a lot for me either. Maybe it will grow on me. I didn't particularly enjoy the Bluecoats and Cavaliers on first listening either and now I love their music programs. BAC's guard seemed to have some issues handling their equipment, but overall were pretty nice. I was surprised though to see that they finished higher than the Crossmen. I just don't see the same level of demand in their program.

Crossmen. WOW! WOW!! WOW!!! This corps is smokin'! Hands down, the best Crossmen show I've ever seen. They've finally done something to top '92! The show is so good that it's the only show I've ever seen that literally felt like it was only 5 minutes long. Both at rehearsal and at the show I thought, "What? It's over already?!?!" I watched them rehearse for 4 hours in the afternoon and met the member I'm sponsoring this season. She's an extremely nice girl and has had a crazy last month or so due to medical reasons. The fact that she's even marching at all is a miracle and kind of inspirational too! I won't say anything more since it's really not my place to do so but if anybody goes to a show with the Crossmen, yell "Go Kate!" before they start. Just don't hire a plane Back to the review.... what I saw that night was awesome but they didn't perform it quite as well as I saw them do it at times in rehearsal. They have a month to gain that consistancy though so I'm not worried. This corps has some chops and they have a drill to match! I would not at all be surprised to see them finish in the top 3. I haven't seen the westerners yet but I can say without a doubt that this show has the legs to beat everyone in the midwest (save Cavies). PR would be a close one. I haven't seen the changes they made but the Crossmen aren't quite done with their show yet either! It'll definitely be a battle. Things I like about the show? The opener cooks! The ballad is breathtaking! The closer is powerful! Things I'd like to see changed in their show? Do something with the trumpet solo in Strawberry Soup. It sounds like they're screwing up (which based on my multiple listenings I don't think they are - at least not every time) and it lacks power big time. It sticks out like a sore thumb compared to power of the rest of the corps during this tune. The impact points all throughout the show could also be extended just a tad to send the audience over the edge. I think that may help out the ending as right now the two little hits after the main power chord kind of fake you out that you're getting more instead of just ending it. But, overall I was very impressed! Lots of movement (read: RUNNING!) and lots of notes and they are performing it on a very high level. The integration across the sections is there (i.e. the guard work matches up to the musical book AND musical staging very well). Marching technique also looks very good and uniform across the corps. I think if they can develop a swagger to go with everything they already have in place they will drive this show right into the belly of the Fab 4!

Cadets - Lot's of hype on these guys coming into the show and they definitely delivered. I don't really care for music like West Side Story, New York New York, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, etc. but these guys maximized the music in every way possible. It probably still won't be my favorite musical program of the year (hard to argue with Shostakovich, the Crossmen's jazz selections, and the Cavies THX like selections IMO) but it definitely got my toes tapping and lifted me out of my seat! Musically I did love the opening statement and the ballad. The ballad is absolutely gorgeous and the pledge worked well (although it would work just as well without...). Boogie Woogie was fun and it's staged in such a way that the crowd can't not react to it. If they had stayed on the field it would have been just a another jam session. Designers take note: If you want to maximize crowd reaction, interact the corps with them a little closer. The closer needs some work IMO. They are cramming way too many themes in there and they are all getting lost in the process. See the Cavaliers show this year (and last year as well) for how to write a reprise that works. From what I heard, their guard was off last night but if that's the case there isn't a corps out there that wouldn't want the Cadets guard, this year, on an off night. They are that good! Coming out of this show I was hoping to get a better read on who I thought was going to win it all if it came down to the Cavies and the Cadets. I just don't know. My gut is telling me Cavies simply because they have such a clean and well integrated design. My seats were kind of low last night so I couldn't get a good read on the Cadets drill, but their whole show set-up from beginning to end seemed very cluttered. A lot of their work was done when they were all bunched together. I think the only time I saw them truly spread out was during part of the ballad. I'm looking forward to seeing it again as they continue to tweak the drill and the staging. Maybe sitting up high will help as well.

I didn't stick around to watch the victory concert, although I did see it from the side because I met up with Dave B. from the Soundmachine Discussion Board and talked to him for a half hour or so. Very cool guy and I look forward to catching up with him, Kate, and the rest of the corps later on tour! Go Bones!

Patrick Gotschall

DeKalb, IL (DCM Championship Finals)

Picture perfect night. Huskie Stadium is still the best venue for a show in northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin, with one key, annual flaw: DCM warms up corps too close to the stadium, with drums echoing off the high-rise dorms to the north, trashing quiet moments of corps in performance. Corps should warm up two miles out and bus in when warm in DeKalb. These echoes are a serious distraction to many audience members, whose heads you see turning in the stands.

AMERICANOS (2nd Div. 3, 58.33) - Best part of their show, for me, was the color guard design and execution. With only 9 members, it was still very effective, particularly the use of the curved rifles. This is a somber and serious show, even the normally lighthearted Clifton Williams "Fiesta". I missed the fun Americanos of old. Horns sounded tired, probably because they did the prelim show earlier today, and likely rehearsed after that.

BLUE STARS (1st Div. 3, 59.45) -I enjoyed the overall drill design, with effective motion and use of field for a small corps. Strong drum line. I liked the color guard in "I Dreamed to Dream(?)", dancing with the hats. Again, though, the horns sounded tired, probably for the same reason as the ĎCanos. And whichever staff member thought the neon-split-green-pea-soup color and orange, used in the CG, were good choices to complement the red-white-and-blue uniforms, needs to get a clue. Terrible color design this year shackles an otherwise good guard performance.

GOVERNAIRES (2nd Senior, 57.90) - Showmanship and fun were big highlights of this 75th(?!!) anniversary production. I loved the burlesque/cocktail waitress routine in the CG during the Party Time closer. Also chuckled over the "Wonder Dog" warmup which sailed right over the heads of most younger members of the audience, and enjoyed the Drum Major/Master of Ceremonies. What could have been better? During this show, I noticed that the large woman sitting in front of me was displaying more buttcrack than a refrigerator repairman. I shouldnít blame the Govies for that, but I wouldíve, if Iíd been the GE Visual judge!

MINNESOTA BRASS INC. (1st Senior, 72.95) - Great show! Excellent choice of musical book, and high level of execution. I loved all the old-fashioned visual flourishes in the drumline. Terrific use of color and great new look all-around. This is really picky, because for a senior corps with limited rehearsal time, they march very well, but if I had to hit something that needs work, Iíd identify the big form pivot in the opener which lost all form and shape tonight.

PIONEER (8th Div.1, 63.85) - Best designed Pioneer show in my memory. The staging, with the pit in the middle of the field, and the way they use the mauve tables, is highly creative and effective. Great color scheme. Execution is quite good; I think the scores are low mainly because of their Division 2-sized numbers; I think theyíd easily win Division 2. The arrangements from "Oliver!" were an excellent choice for this group, though the ending needs more punch. The use of the bodhrans by the drumline was a great idea for Pioneer, but was not developed much. Next year, Iíd give pass out bodhrans to the entire hornline for the percussion feature.

SOUTHWIND (7th Div. 1, 68.15) - Accessible and entertaining book featuring a Bach Toccata and Tchaikovskyís Marche Slav and two other classical pieces from different eras (who woulda thought it could work? but it does). Very good show design, excellent color sense, and good use of field. What needs work? More punch at the big moments, and they need to clean the intervals and straighten their lines. I did enjoy this show very much, though.

COLTS (5th Div. 1, 76.50) - In the first flip-flop of the night from prelims, the Colts passed the Scouts handily, and they earned it, sounding a warning bell for the Scouts trying to make finals in Madison, as Colts and the surging Cascades were two corps Madison beat last season but are facing "trou-ble!" from this year. I was not familiar with this musical book featuring pieces by Joaquin Turina and David Gillingham, but I liked it very much. The opener by Turina is gorgeous and beautifully staged and brought the first extended goosebump moments of the night for me, only to be followed by more goosebumps in the closer. Straight lines are coming along well, but more attention to intervals should pay off in scoring. They also had some holes tonight, possibly from injuries or illness.

MADISON SCOUTS (6th Div. 1, 73.55) - I was very pleased to see substantial progress in the color guard and in visual execution, but thereís still a ways to go in cleaning intervals and straightening lines. Itís doable, though, if they keep at it. They were not overplaying at all tonight, as they have on occasion in recent years. They got good crowd response, but it wasnít as dominant as it has been in recent years. They should lose the blue flags, which are visually jarring. I liked the conquistador shields and helms on the color guard and some drummers, and wished they hadnít shed those early in the show. Visual design is better than recent summers, but still lags the Colts and the others ahead of them.

BLUECOATS (4th Div. 1, 80.95) - Another unfamiliar but big goosebump opener ("Paradise Utopia", Christopher Brubeck). Gorgeous visual design and good music execution throughout. Good entertainment value in the other musical selections that were new to me, by Bjork and Michael Daugherty. Strong use of color and visual design. This show is much cleaner musically than visually. They will continue to gain if they can get some serious cleaning done on spacing intervals, pivoting forms, and straightening lines.

PHANTOM REGIMENT (2nd Div. 1, 82.75) - All right Phantom!, whoís been nipping at Glassmenís heels for a month and finally passed ahead of them in the other prelim-placement flip-flop tonight. There is nothing fancy in the new drill design in the closer, just good old powerful block forms pulling through, and throwing a chevron, but it works quite well. I do agree itís a big improvement that fits the Phantom tradition. Terrific use of color guard and color schemes. Phantom has a much more challenging musical book than Bluecoats, and it still needs cleaning, as do the feet. Nothing seriously amiss, just general cleaning and polishing are needed throughout which can continue to propel them forward well over 90 if they can pull it off. Solid hornline, too.

GLASSMEN (3rd Div. 1, 82.55) - Very strong drumline which gave the only serious caption challenge (down only 0.2) to Cavaliers in prelims. The flugelhorn soloist is again strong, though he has less to do here than last year. The big problem is the musical book, which is boring and unmemorable and has very low audience impact, other than some big moments from the drumline. Also, mark them down for poor use of color. Purple and blue were poor choices given the color guardís tan-based outfit. Lots of extra notes and running for the sake of difficulty also dilute audience impact. I wanted their show to end early, quite frankly.

CAVALIERS (1st Div. 1, 88.85) - Hereís a corps thatís been pushing the visual design envelope for years, who somehow finds yet another way to kick it several notches higher again this year. Minor cleaning of difficult parts still leaves room for improvement in scores. They are smooth as glass in brass, though, where you want them to tear your face off. Iím almost sure the horn staff is doing what theyíve done before, telling the hornline to just concentrate on playing as musically as possible right now, and then, in two weeks or so, they are going to start to cut them loose. If they donít do this, if they keep it as low-key as it is, the Cadets may indeed pass them by, or deserve to pass them by, based on reports of the very high audience impact of their show that I have not yet seen. The Caviesí show has somewhat limited audience impact for now, most of the way through. Most fans are very impressed, but not knocked out, until, that is, the Green Machine gets to The Chant-- and then suddenly, WOW, right through to the end. Itís not brass playing thatís driving the wow, yet, though, but I think they will contribute more wow to come. Last year, I didnít care for the Cavaliersí color scheme -this year, itís very compelling, as is the overall color guard design and execution. Terrific drumline, too. A fitting champion for DCMís 25th anniversary show.

CAPITAL REGIMENT (Exh., Div. 2 champion) - Having these guys follow the Cavaliers was unfairly anticlimactic. It was hard to stop thinking about what the Cavies had just accomplished. But Cap Reg has strong visual design, style, and use of color, which help the show a lot. The musical book with pieces by David Gillingham, and Steve Wood & Daniel May, has limited audience impact and is not readily memorable, giving it an older-Cadets/current-Blue Knights-wannabe feel. Iíd wish for better choices, here.

ROYAL AIRS ALUMNI (Exh.) - A taste of tradition, more enjoyed by most other audience members than by me. I loved the 27th Lancersí Alumni corps in Foxboro, because it brought back lots of memories for me. Many younger folks there didnít get that show. I didnít get Royal Airs tonight. I wasnít in drum corps when they were there, and this just didnít do much for me. But lots of other fans in the audience who didnít know them back in the Ď50s and Ď60s, either, enjoyed them more than I did, and most old-time die-hard fans were loudly appreciative.


Just got back in Beertown from DCM. Went there with my brother Mike (Kiltie/Madison alumnus), his wife(former Village Greens/State Street Review member) and our good friend Don Hunt(also a Madison alumnus). Here's some random notes on what we thought of what we saw and heard.

Pioneer(63.85) - the staff continues to make great strides with the limited number of folks they have. Hang on to them and build for next year.

Southwind(68.15) - still perking right along. Marche Slav is VERY nice.

Colts(76.25) - easily, the best Colts corps I've ever seen. Nicely conceived drill, solid marching and a very good guard. The second and third tunes in their show are gorgeous. Need to look them up on Corpsreps. My sister - in law remarked, "I'm no Colts fan, but they were really impressive." Now that I think of it, I think the spread between them and the Bluecoats should have been a bit closer.

Madison(73.55) - don't know about any penalties, but these guys looked and sounded flat or tired to me. You know me - I really WANT to be excited by this corps. But, it just didn't happen for me tonight. If this is the performance level they're putting out, I don't see how they're going to make finals in Madison. My brother actually thought they were a bit boring. When's the last time you heard the words boring and Madison in the same breath? As far as I was concerned, the spread between them and Colts was justified, and this was before I heard anything about penalties. I sure hope this is justa one night abberation. Otherwise, this corps will be watching finals with me on Saturday night. Given how competitive corps 8 through 15 are, 15th place is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Bluecoats(80.95) - not much to say except that this is a really solid corps. Sorry folks - it's nearly 3:00AM as I write this.

Glassmen(82.55) - more accessible than years past, thanks in gret part to their drum line. Don't know just how clean they are, but the sticking they use - particularly their snares - makes them look very flashy on the field. Is that kid in the second piece the same one who did last year's extended flugelhorn solo? He did a nice job tonight. My friend Don really got into this corps. I found them a little dry, but that could change with more viewings.

Phantom Regiment(82.75) - gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous horn sound. Great mellophone licks WHILE MARCHING. What is it about this corps and Shostokovich?? They seem like they're made for each other. Very large, impressive guard(the purple uniforms are great). Very impressive field coverage. For my part, I thought the spread between them and Glassmen should have been a touch higher, but that could change as I see the G-men more often. My brother and his wife also got into this corps in a big way.

Cavies(88.85) - even more impressive in a larger stadium. I found the horn show to be very emotionally engaging - not nearly the academic exercise that others have written. There's not much more improving this corps can do - after all, they're about 11 points from a perfect score now! But, I hope they can get a little more volume out of their horns. But, maybe this is a g vs. B Flat thing...

Capital Regiment(Exhibition as Division 2 Champ) - I remarked at Whitewater about how impressive the guard's flagwork was. My brother and his wife agreed. They REALLY know what to do with those moments they have the stage. Impressive UNISON flag work. Low brass folks - the sextet that starts their closer is wonderful. I got goosebumps. The whole closer is very moving. Assuming the cascades make it into the top 12)yeah, I know that's a big if), this corps is very likely to be DCI's next new member in Division I's top 12. Not this year - but soon.

Royal Airs(Oh, baby...I love it when you pin my ears back!!!) Now you're becoming M&M experts?? You actually straightened out the snake in the company front during the closer. My sister-in-law hadn't see you play and march before. She loved your performance. Don Hunt thought you were great, as did my brother.

Minnesota Brass - sorry, we got there too late to see you perform, but we heard you as we walked past the south end zone going into the stadium. Sounded great!! My brother and I will see you at DCA. Based on what I heard, it should be a gas.

In general, we remarked on the way home that the entertainment level of all the corps was much better over past years. Something to like in every performance.

Jim Anello

I'm going to try to keep this review rather brief in's Sunday morning, but for those of you who know about the DCM Championships, and the long, long day of events all day Saturday gathering with friends, former alums, tailgating.......then the get the picture! I'M TIRED!

Once again, a perfect day in DeKalb. About 84, low humidity, no wind. The DCM staff did a wonderful job with the show this year (as they always do!). My seat were on side 1, 47 yd line, about mid-way up the stands. Due to waiting for some late friends (time flies at a bar), I didn't get into the show until Southwind. So, I will start with....

Southwind: this show really has improved over the summer! I really like the black and yellow theme throughout......makes for a sharp looking corps. Overall, a nice show to watch.

Madison scouts: as my review stated yesterday, I can see where the corps is have some serious programming issues. however.......last night, I actually liked the show a little better. People around me seemed to think that the show in prelims was better, but I thought finals was better. I thought it'd be close to Colts....and I actually placed Colts ahead of Madison.......but that margin was a bit big, IMO.

CLASS-ACT MOMENT: During retreat, Colts accidentally went down the wrong yard line, causing a little chaos and confusion. the other corps past colts had already begun setting their blocks, and Colts looked like they were only going to have 5 yds to set their block. The DM from Madison came over, talked to Colts DM's, and then scouts shifted their block, sharing a few yds with Colts. knowing how seriously some corps take retreat blocks, I thought it was a great gesture for scouts to do what they did to help smooth out the situation given the innocent mistake made.

Moving along..............

Colts: I really have started to like this show! many people have talked about how they dislike the CG unis, but I disagree....I like how they complement the corps unis. Nice program overall......hornline has a nice, strong sound, and drumline isn't bad either!

BLUUUU: I'll echo my thoughts from prelim review: new "crowd" fav for those looking for a "scouts-type" show. hornline really cranks in a few parts of the show, and the drumline has a few nice licks too. Colorguard appears to be working hard on the equipment, using an all-rifle line a few times.

PR: Crowd reeeeeeaaaaally enjoyed this show tonight. the hornline took it up a notch, and you could tell they were doing their best to sell this one to the judges tonight, to make their move on Gmen. the crowd could feel it tonight too, as they were already standing at the end before the corps made it into their final form. durmline still was a bit off tonight.....but I wonder if maybe it's just the way they are tuned? And when you have a 70+ person hornline....well, of course it makes a difference! The main thing I see between PR and Gmen is that PR's drill is a bit more easy, allowing PR's horn scores to be a tad higher too. this may hurt them a little down the road.

Gmen: I thought gmen also opened it up a notch in finals too, but maybe to the sacrifice of some cleanliness. One MAJOR difference in the music programs between Gmen and PR is that Gmen have a much more rhythmically challenging show than PR. in Gmen's 2nd tune, there are soooooo many horn parts that are over-layed over one another, with the drumline playing intricate parts too, to complement it......then top it off with drill that moves all over, from 30 yd line to 30 yd line. Just one slight mistake, and there can be some serious phasing....which, I think i heard last night. If they can clean this, look for their execution scores to rise. drumline didn't seem as on as prelims either. GOOSEBUMP MOMENT: the fanfare going into "javelin" is AWESOME. That is going to be a favorite listen on my CD's this year.

I think that this battle between PR and Gmen will go on all the way through Madison. The margin will always be close. Gmen really needs to seriously consider some changes to improve their GE music scores if they want to make any serious moves aboove PR. Gmen were 2nd or 3rd in everything except GE music......where they placed 5th. That is seriously going to hurt their scores when crossmen, boston, and others join the mix.

cavies: definitely the crowd fav. their show was on tonight. The drumline didn't have as many problems as last night, and the hornline was wonderful. I still wonder how this show will last the whole summer without being challenged by another corps, but I guess time will tell!

Thanks to the RoyalAires for a GREAT performance! To hear all those horns, doing traditional marching (and, at times, not-so-traditional!!!!!). it was wonderful. What a way to wrap up the 25th anniversary of DCM.

Now, it's 4 long weeks till Madison for me................


Reading, PA (DCA)

Ah, Albright Municipal stadium, in the city Doug Liuex knows like the back of his hand...Reading PA. Stadium is not too high, not too low, seats are comfortable, food is inexpensive, and except for the light pole on the 50, the view is awesome.

the DCP/RAMD who's who was in effect....first off, CV, I apologize I did not get to meet more of you, but I did get to meet the famous Jeff Pastor(who i hope liked what i said last night and will say in a minute) of course Glen Hazelwood....the hair looks good bro, and...i'll save that for later too. Met the Legendary Bucky Swan in the parking lot.....not only can he still play, but he is funny as h###. Jeromey, sorry...well no...i'm glad I missed the prom dress lol. Saw the Peashey Brothers....gee, no family resemblance there! behind me in the stands...a row of Steel City Alumni, led by my buddy Mike Siglow....and he was in good form last night. and from the Skyliners, Mikey....finally good to meet you and tell jean she cant hang. In fact, after walking down by staff row, i saw so many people i cant remember all...and i didnt drink much.

the show.....seated 40 yard line, side 2, 3/4 up the stadium. Bucs, Cabs, Bush, Surf and LVK were 2nd views., nice corps! Not sure what the music was, but it was well performed, especially by the brass section. Perc book was kinda easy, and they were some ex issues, but hey...this show will be really fun to watch in August. The only thing i didnt like was that the show was too up and down....I imagine that wil work itself out. during the drum break, the pit goes asian w/the percussion toys....including a nice lil race around the Taiko drums...someone near me called it a chinese fire drill. Visually, a very nice guard and some feet issues, but it's July and they have alot of time to correct them. I truly look forward to seeing these guys again. improvement in the 2 weeks since I last saw them. with tempos bumped up, the show flowed a lot better, and the execution of all sections improved. The show still feels a little like as much of Disney's Millenium that could be crammed in was crammed in, but it's a lot better. Still love the fact the you have battery guys playing horns and also playing in the pit at times in the show....I told Frank Nash that gives the kids a lot of musical exposure. Brass sounded a lot better, andthe feet was MUCH improved. I too look forward to seeing these guys.

Spartans..........WOW. I liked em a lot, especially the Samson and Delilah ending...not at all a Phantom knock off. Huge drumline...8 snares, 4 tenors and 6 basses, and they can play.....especially the bass line. excellent field coverage, and some very interesting ideas visually, that when cleaned up, will look great under the lights. This corps should be in the D2 hunt at Madison.

Jersey Surf...HUGE improvment since Lansdale. First they have new unis....looks like the whole corps is outfitted in the latest Blue gear from Hot Topic or Pac Sun. Show is mostly done and now they clean...drums again are the best section, and brass has come along, but still needs some work yet. Another show that is very up and down, and it seemslike they tried to get as many tunes in as they could. Humorous moment in "I feel pretty" when the guard up front puts pink tutus on, especilly on that guy...he sold it really well. Pit staging has paid off with few ensemble issues (they are scattered on side 2 fromt the sidleine back) and movement thru the pit is frequent for the battery but not much for the brass. I too wanna see how this show plays out in madcity.

we took a CV starts setting up their pit. I know Glen has his phone on him because he calls people so they can hear the show. So, I called...he siglow and I had a chat and reception from field level was pretty good. Pastor said he wanted to kill him when he saw him on the phone, so I apologized just to be safe...Glen...have your phone off at DCA or

Now.....I may hurt some feelings. rarely do i complain about scoring, but last night, especially after viewing the recaps, I have some issues.

Corpsvets. Jesus H Christ what a show. afew brass attacks could have been better...typical for July. percussion program had a much better book than last year and executed very well. drill is not top 5 DCI level but it was marched pretty well for July. Color guard was well staged and performed well..Kate I knew you from your smile the second you hit the field. Visually, battery has some moments to work on, but the brass and guard looked ok.

So why the h### were these guys 4 points behind Hurcs and Bush?!?!?!?!?!?!? Tank was all we heard it would be , Blues in the Night kicked ###, especially the solo work. Pit is performing very well..I cant remember one front to back issue. and shows you like performing...dude, you looked very Sandy macneil out there...start planning on being a showmanship trophy contender. Ladies and Gentelmen, the scores are deceiving...this corps is good and should be scored near Hurcs and Bush. i cannot wait to see this again in Scranton.

Hurcs.....huge improvement from last year. Drumline is very good, but tends to overhype and it affects cleanliness. Music is Fanfare.....very interesting arrangement.....horns have a tough time w/some of the notier passages when having to move fast and far. mass was well done, and ballet Sacra is a little rough...tho i did like the Mag & hits in there. Guard unis do not stand out next to the green corps unis....and it was nice seeing theold Hurricane hats back. Biggest issue for the corps right now is the brass is having some problems making some of the sets. Also, the props/incline thingies werent used at all, and seemed to be a distraction. Either that or I dont understand their purpose.

Bush.....won brass tonight, which I can agree with...hornline played much better this week. drums are still an times, the book just doesnt seem to fit the horn book. Visually looked better than last week and the guard seemed to improve a lot. I love ya Bush and I am holding out hope for you...this show could be top 5. percussion is where you need the most work, and I hope it gets better. and hey Jaybo, I hope the review meets your approval9i call it as i see it). unis werent ready yet. Ok, I can live with that. Percussion is now pitted, and I counted 21 brass...dunno if they had holes. the corps sounds like Sky....very NYish. good solo work from Screech and the other guy. i would reccomend since the percussion is all pitted, that some of the batteryish type book be looked didnt fit at times being up front. You're doing jazz, go more for a jazz band feel up there. Great NY ending, tho the brass was tired. Considering the rumors, one could expect you to be very very bad. if you have holes, fillem up, get a few more guard members, and you will beok come Scranton. oh, and I am the guy who yelled "Go Westshore" for my fellow Shore people up there, and again, thank you for carrying our flag.

Cabs.....big improvement in a week. Looks like all but 4 of the holes brass wise were filled, and i hear rumors of more drummers to come. tempos and energy was up tonight...brass line looked and sounded better. Pictures of Spain is starting to sound like Muchachos....and so is La Fiesta. That sop soloist has tough shoes to fill playing Kievitt's solos, but he is doing great for mid July. percussion has also improved, tho there are still a few techinque issues to address. the flags in Pines of Rome. You too got a lot better in one week. Christine loves the mello book...tons of notes well played. You guys cant be counted out yet.

Bucs.....Jesus, what an improvment. After seeing Cabs Iwas ready to give it to them. All sections improved tremendously in 7 days......and I gotta be honest, your percussion section impressed the h### out of me. Rich, you, your staff and your members should be have a line that could make people scared in August. Flag of Stars sounded a lot like Star, and thats a good thing. App Spring was much improved. Closer also got very close to goosebumps. Kudos for when the American Flag is presented in the begginning and the end for having Al in his Marine dress blues guarding the flag. Excellent guard design and staging, especially the flags that are desinged like the US flag. The Bucs are still in the hunt folks, and this will be fun to see in September.

next review...Madison week!

Jeff Ream

Friday July 12

Riverside, CA (DCI Pacific)

Every year, after each CA show I tell myself that I am going to crank out a review when I get home. Never happens. So, here comes #1:

Riverside Community College has hosted this show for many years. The stadium is not the highest around, and there is a track, but the crowd always seems to be one of the best each year, and responds well to everyone. If you are not familiar with the RCC Marching Band, they are a world-class program, with many members that march corps before and after they are in RCC. This show seems to bring them all out of hiding each year. Announcer Bill Locke is one of the few that can actually pull off humor while doing his job. Its not "DJ" style. (ex: "For those of you too cheap to buy a program, the next corps is..."). He also did several plugs for So Cal Dream, the new Senior Corps in Southern California that is always recruiting. (This was just another plug, by the way) My seats were top row, on the 50 :D I saw the shows in Hayward, Concord and San Diego so far, so my opinions might cross shows a little. Tonight I was joined by my wife (we're both brass players) and two "first-timers" who have never seen drum corps. Period. Not even a video. Hard to imagine life that way.....

National Anthem: Performed by several Blue Devils horns, 11 I think, and it was fabulous. Very good balance, and excellent sound quality from the players. What would you expect? I am trying to think of another activity where people would actually critique the National Anthem.

San Diego Alliance: I was worried the first time I saw them when I counted only 8 horns, but they are getting full use out of them. This horn line produces a good sound, and the drum line is balanced as well. Personally, when I see 8 horn players, and 9 members in the pit, I say grab a horn! I have seen small groups all play horns, then all play drums for the drum break, then go back to horns. In this case, 2-3 pit players would suffice, and 4-5 more horns would really boost the sound.

Oregon Crusaders: Didn't see them up in Northern Calif. Not sure why. Although larger, they are not as clean as Alliance. The members are really working at performing this show, and it seems to be a challenging program. More cleaning all the way around must take place to catch Alliance.

Mandarins: Since I go to all the Calif. shows every year, I am very familiar with the Mandarins. Always a smaller corps, very clean horn line, good package. I am happy to say they seem to be a notch up this season! I don't know if they are bigger, but the horn line has more volume than I can remember, and they are very balanced. Some of the drill looks very difficult, especially the final move. Even though they look great, taking Division II out here in Calif. is no easy task anymore.

Impulse: Can always be counted on to get the crowd going. These guys bring a level of energy and enthusiasm that is missing from many of the corps. They have a show centered around Lucy (from "I Love Lucy") trying to find a place in the corps. This is one of those shows that you keep enjoying because they throw a couple new things in each time. (or maybe you just see it for the first time!) Without a doubt the best part is the ending! The crowd loves them every show. As far as their low scores, I feel it is accurate. The drill is still very dirty, and there are a few exposed sections where the brass quality is not good. The drum line is very fun to watch, and have some cool solos. Overall, I like the show, but am a little disappointed at their seeming lack of progress in improving the quality of the visual.

Esperanza: This corps has made a huge leap since last season. Pretty darn clean in brass, drums and drill. I like the music, and the members convey the intensity well. I agree they could benefit from a louder low brass section, which might have to do with the small contras they use. Colorguard is awesome, probably one of the best of the night. This corps is right behind Mandarins.

Blue Devils B: This corps has gotten smaller each of the last few years I believe. They seem better than last weekend, with the drums looking very good tonight. The music simply does not make an impression. Not sure what could be done to make the show more entertaining.

Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets: This corps seems to be getting bigger each year. The drumline is very strong and used effectively. The brass also sounds quite mature. The show is very challenging visually, and so far the members are doing a very good job of performing it. I feel that when they get the drill cleaned, they will pass Mandarins and Esperanza.

Intermission: Thoughts from my guests; they liked watching the drumlines and the way the "sticks are all the same height, that's cool!" They enjoyed Impulse and Vanguard Cadets the most. I indicated that there was much more to come...

Pacific Crest: Ah yes, California's secret weapon. Unlike others, I will not beg this corps to go on tour. How many groups are wiped out when they try that too soon? Not that Pacific Crest is unstable by any means. Congrats to the staff for sticking to their mission, and keeping it local, allowing kids the chance to do more than just corps. They may decide to tour nationally very soon, but when they do, it will be well deserved. Now the show. A big thank you to the Pacific Crest staff for talking and giggling through the entire show while they stood right behind us. :x Despite that, this show is fantastic! The brass puts out a wonderful sound. I love the opening with the menacing chords being played backfield before the turn and then getting blasted. Lots of impact points in the show. Impact is good. My only issue with the show design is the company front near the end comes too soon. After the big push, I wish they would carry the momentum all the way to the end, but they a couple other things first. Still, I love the show, and it is very fun to watch. The main challenge is to clean up the drill, but not bad considering the difficulty of some of the forms, and the fact that they only practice on weekends!

Seattle Cascades: Wow. They were great last year, but they have jumped to a whole new level this year. They are earning these scores, ladies and gents. First major volume impact of the night, in my opinion. Drill is very clean, and the show is entertaining. Show really starts cooking in the "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs" Colorguard is very good. After several viewings, they are clearly a level above Pacific Crest. Great show!

Blue Knights: Thank you for coming to California! What I remember the most is that they moved their pit around a few times, which I had never seen done. Pretty cool. Other than that, I just didn't get into the show much. Lots of body movement by the corps, which couldn't really be appreciated from a lower stadium. (We'll see tonight in Glendora) The hornline seemed to have talent, and we kept waiting for some power display. There was a spot near the end where they built a huge wedge...but didn't let it fly, then slowly built into a company front, and...didn't let it fly. Two teasers and no payoff is the way I saw it. Can't comment one way or another on their chances for Finals.

Blue Devils: The last few years I have been disappointed with their shows, specifically the music choices. Came across as really choppy etc. NOT THIS YEAR! This music is awesome, and the hornline is incredible. The ragtime is cool, the solos are great, House of the Rising Sun is a great ballad, Channel One is a very cool arrangement. I love everything about the show. It seems the show allows this fabulous hornline a chance to show everyone how good they are. Tonight, it seemed there were a couple phasing problems, which might have hurt their score. Can't wait to see it again and again at the next shows.

Santa Clara Vanguard: The last few years shows have required a few looks for me to begin appreciating their music. This year, however, after I saw them in Concord, I feared that the music was just too abstract, and lacked emotion. Well, darn it, its starting to happen, the music is slowly beginning to make a more positive impression on me. This corps is just playing the hell out of this book, and their musicality is selling the show. Dynamics are incredible. The visual package is easily the best of the night. The drill tonight seemed noticeably cleaner than in San Diego. I have to say that their volume challenges Blue Devils, although they are so different. SCV low brass dominates, while BD upper brass is the strength. They earned the win tonight, but who knows what will happen in Glendora..... Note: saw an SCV Aussie under the DM podium. Found out it is the "9/11 Hat" to commemorate the event, and represent all the people who were, or could have been involved in corps.

Victory Concert: We could not remember SCV beating BD in California for a long time, so it was a real treat to hear an SCV concert tonight. VERY impressive, and very enjoyable aside from the moron talking on his phone throughout whole first tune. Not only the standstill help me enjoy the music even more, but we got to watch the cymbals kick ass the whole time. Send in the Clowns was a real treat as well, and always silences the crowd.

Overall a fantastic show tonight, with so many great performances. My guests loved the big corps, saying they lived up to my pre-hype. They also loved the SCV cymbals in the victory concert. The only problem at this show is the same as every year - people standing behind the back row and talking. We buy our tickets, let us enjoy our seats.

I just realized how long this has become. Hope it was informative. Off to an SCV rehearsal (10 min, from home :P ) and then Glendora.

Brad Foster
RCC '93-'96
SCV '95
SoCal Dream '02-RIP

Okay folks this is my first review and will be my only review of the year. Iíve been around the activity for 30+ years and these views and opinions are just one old farts flames please.

Okay here we go....Oh Wait...have another disclaimer. As I review I will be subjective and blantantly honest. BUT....I want to make one thing perfectly clear any critism I embark is directed at the staff and directors as ALL the kids on the field last night gave it their all and performed the show/vehicle that their organization gave them. If it wasnít good then the staff hasnít done their job.

Enuff Said...

Oregon Crusaders 52.35 - Was impressed with the size of this young corps. They performed well considering that their show is WAY too overwritten for the age/talent level of the corps. This caused the show to be a distraction most of the time as the kids just canít play all the notes and runs etc... their arranger wrote. But hats off to them there were good moments of ensemble and drums and guard held their own. Think if they water down the horn book theyíd add 10 points to their score easily. After all this is division III corps and not competing with division I corps for the most notes played.

San Diego Alliance 55.40 - Was a enjoyable show. Staff did a good job of writing the show to stay within the kids talent levels and it works. Good fundmentals lent to a enjoyable crowd experience. Some nice ensemble sounds from the horns, guard work was good and drums had some good licks.

Impulse 63.90 - Okay here we go again. Hats off to the kids in Impulse, they performed the heck out of the show and put forth a tremendous amount of energy. Kids you did good. Now the Bad Side, While I love the VK/Bridgemen antics, the STAFF let the kids down, The horn book is flat, tired, has not the energy or life to it that would bring the humor and energy the kids have out.... itís like the kids are rarely to go and lay it out there but the music just lulls the crowd to sleep. A few moments the horn line had some meat in the book and they let us have it. But think they are on the right track, MM needs work, drum line was unremarkable (but that's not a bad thing just wasn't noticable) probably due more to the small size, but the full size horn line filled the field. The lucy antics and guard were enjoyable.... think it would be cool if the whole guard was "lucy" complete with peiticoats like in "rat race" Score wise I had them about 3 points higher. Future is very bright for this corps.

Blue Devils "B" 70.10 - Not as big as Impulse or the other Div. II corps but these kids can play. Show was fast paced, enjoyable.... only thing missing was the "excitement" .... seems to hold over to the "A" corps too must be something in the concord water this year.

Vanguard Cadets 74.15 - WOW this is some "feeder" corps, it's a full fledge corps. Was exciting and took over the field from the first note. Good sounds coming from the brass and percussion.... soloists were a bit off tonight. Drill moved and kids kept up. The guard added some very nice "touches" to the show. They will do well in Madison...could surprise a lot of people. Had them a little closer to Esperanza.

Esperanza 75.30 - DOUBLE WOW - drum corps the old way .... Weekend warriors.... itís a shame this corps isnít heading east, with daily rehearsals this corps definetly would be in the hunt at finals. Strong in all areas of the corps, the staff has developed a wonderful vehicle for these kids. You gotta see them to appreciate what they are doing in that organization. Hats off to the kids for their performance and the organization for its vision.

Mandarins 75.55 - Love the uniforms. Great opening statements and drill moves in the opener. Show flows from beginning to end. Strong book, drill and color guard will have them in the hunt again at Dci. Again kids performed and sold the show to the crowd. Congratulations.

Pacific Crest - WOW!!!....Great Drum Corps and a throw back to the old days where it was just a weekend thing. Put these guys on tour and practice day in and day out and they would be surprising alot of people at finals. Horn line played well, guard and drum line each held there own. Nice ensemble work in all performed this show and sold it...had them scored a little higher.... good things will come to this organization....great job to the corps and hats off to the organization to providing a outlet for the kids that still gives them time to be kids and enjoy the summer.....major kudo's

Blue Knights 74.00 - (Be warned this is rough) Their show is titled Fear and Loathing.... well itís appropriate as I fear ever seeing this show again and would loath sitting thru it. This has nothing to do with the kids who perform this show... strictly the staff did a horrendous job in designing this show.... at times it could have the qualities of the Cadets "airplane" show but it crashes and burns. The Good points, there were some great horn impacts and horn body movements, and eye catching guard work...but inbetween these is a horn book that may have "technical" wow in its writing isnít "wowing" on the field. This vehicle is one that I canít imagine the kids being able to sell when thereís no passion or excitement coming from the arrangement. But they did accomplish to put fear and loathing to the crowd... unfortunately, but that's the staffs fault not the kids.

Seattle Cascades 78.90 - SATURDAY NIGHT BOUND.... this corps has it all this year and will be at the big show on Saturday night. Kids have talent and the staff gave them the show to kick in the door. Drill moves, horns play, drums lay it down.... Now they can start cleaning and watch the score go up. Congratulations.

Blue Devils 85.45 - Hmmmmmm.... Thatís what I was saying during the whole opener, where was the horn line. This is not one of BDís better years. They have the talent and energy but the staff let them down with the arrangments. The opener has good moments and wonderful pit and guard interaction but youíre always "waiting" for a big impact and melody to make you stand up. Never happens. Rest of the show is the same way. Drum feature on the side with snares and toms moving is incredible and without their drum line it wouldnít be a good year at all. One thing I found interesting is during the drum "feature" they drums are so loud that you canít hear the horn line and they are "blasting" away... interesting never remember BD ever covering up the horn line. Guard was great and lots of talent shame they have them parked on the left side of the field out of site so much. I would have had them at about 83 tonight.

Santa Clara Vanguard 85.80 - Nothing bad to really say about SCV and nothing really good. Not sure if it was just that it was a long day in the heat or if itís the show. The horn line is solid and can play the notes, soloists were off tonight, drum line was tight but the whole show just seemed to be like listening to a brillant speaker who talks in monotone, you know good things are going on, but you arenít getting excited by it. But did have them over BD by a small amount. Thought it was about a 83.5 show.

Overall thoughts, was a great night and all the kids performed their hearts out. My hats off to them. I do wonder after seeing Blue Devils if they are getting some "name" scoring. What I mean is if Colts, Carolina, Bluecoats would be doing this show with the same talent and performance level they are would they still be at 85 or back down in the 80-83 pack.... It should be a incredible time at Madison and I hope the judging community will be fair to all the corps and judge the content and performance on the field and not "names and history" (in other words slotting). I personally think after seeing all the corps so far this year, that 3-10 is a dog fight and any of the 7-8 corps could be 3rd this year if the judges arenít afraid to let a "powerhouse" drop if their show deserves it.

Oh yeah..... my most pleasant surprise and enjoyable corps this year Bandettes. These girls perform and work well as a ensemble.

Again.... my opinion.... thatís all.

Joe Old Fan

Buffalo, NY (DCI Atlantic)

Here's my Buffalo review in under 100 words...(if I'm lucky)

73.20 Patriots - Good job considering the smaller numbers.

85.15 Magic of Orlando - Yes! Welcome back! DCI Div. II Champions!? (I know many have predicted this already)

67.95 Kiwanis Kavaliers - Masks make them look more like wrestlers than super heroes. Awesome job though! Best I've ever seen them.

77.30 Carolina Crown - Hard to get into.

78.50 Spirit - Thought they were better than their score.

83.30 Boston Crusaders - Another crowd pleaser. Top 6 by end of season?? You never know!

84.80 Crossmen - LOUD! (and very good)

89.45 The Cadets - WOW!! OH MY!!! My first two reactions! They were incredible and by far the best show/performance I have seen in years. As everyone knows the audience gives multiple standing O's throughout. Nothing like having the horns blow your face off! :-) They had the crowd begging for more.

Ok, so that's probably over 100 words, but too bad!

I know there are a lot of Cavie fans out there and are probably anticipating a 3-peat, however I am going on record as many have to say it will be a tight race, but I like the Cadets to pull off the victory and do I dare say...break the record of 98.8?


I just spent a week following the shows in NY. Just one word....WOW!

First, I am glad I missed the killer heat at the beginning of the month. As a parent, I was so glad to see how well the corps, especially the Patriots look after their kids. They are really strict about keeping them hydrated and having protection from the sun. When I marched 30 years ago, it was not uncommon to see half the corps drop when we crossed the finish line. It really makes you appreciate how much effort goes into keeping the kids healthy.

Some highlights from the week....

Ogdensburg - 2 things Wet! and PLEASE get some new stands. $48 for the 3 of us to sit at ground level at the 10 yd line in the pouring rain was not a bargain. Add the obnoxious bandos sitting behind us and I had to pretty well write off the show. Despite a rain delay, poor Crossmen had to do the full show in the rain.

Glens Falls - Much better stadium, $24 for the 3 of us to sit half way up at the 35 yd line and no rain! I finally got to see Cadets! Great show!

Hornell - Brand new Astroturf and a covered stadium for $36 for the 3 of us. Got to sit on the 45 yd line & when Cadets did their encore of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, they moved right in under the overhang, catching the sound - AWESOME! We had a friend join us whose son used to march a few years ago. He says Boston Crusaders & Cadets were worth the trip.

Buffalo - Got to go up high for this one - It was our first chance to get a real good look at the drill. Baseball stadiums are not the best for drum corps, especially with the guard having to roll around in the dirt. Tickets were the most expensive ($22 tickets were sold out, and we bought 2 X $18 tickets - My husband sat this one out. ) Having a show in downtown Buffalo at rush hour on a Friday night? The corps had a long walk to the stadium & Magic got stuck in traffic & there was a 15 minute delay before the got to the field.

About the corps...

Patriots - small but pretty clean for this early. Their drill shows sophistication beyond some of the open class corps. I admit I'm bias, but they are looking good. Despite improvements noted throughout the week, I was disappointed that their score did not move.

Kiwanis Kavaliers - the little kids in the crowd love their show. You can see them get all excited when they do Spiderman. A big full corps for them and some nice spots in the show. Their dance is fun, but needs a little cleaning up.

Spirit - Love their cymbal line. Nice movement and we always watch for their jump over the tenors. I heard a definite improvement in sound quality over the course of the 4 shows.

Carolina Crown - Male guard uniforms distract from the show. Heard a lot of negative comments. Once I got past this, they have a fairly solid show - nice brass sound.

Crossmen - I am not as excited about their show this year - they got me as a fan last year. However it is a good show, nice horn features and is entertaining.

Boston - I've never been a big fan, but they have won me over this year. We sat & watched them practice for a while and I am really impressed. I have them over Crossmen, and although I love their singing, a friend who sat with me in Buffalo did not (she hadn't been to a drum corps show in over 15 years). Highlight for me is "A Gift to be Simple".

Cadets - At first the guard uniforms (or lack thereof) threw me off, but by the end of the show, they seem so appropriate. Even us non-Americans get a lump in our throats at the end. The crowd goes wild when they recite the Pledge of Allegiance - but nothing like the response to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. This has got to be the best production piece to come out of DCI. I love it! At the end of the show I have to remind myself that the guard is not professional and the corps is all 21 & under.


Just a few thoughts about last Friday's Buffalo show. I apologize for the delay but thought I'd post 'em anyways.....

Patriots- Still a talented corps, though smaller than their usual size. The guard still seemed to be very proficient and drums and horns were very capable, but the show was only moderately involving. Tempos seemed very cautious, so there wasn't much excitement.

Magic- They're back! A great re-start for this corps, with a big corps and talent in all sections. They've kept the show very much within their ability range, but they're selling it very well. The horn line is very strong and with continued drill cleaning they should be in great shape to take Div. 2 in Madison!

Kiwanis- As posted before, they do have one of their larger groups in recent years, though the black hoods along with the all black look don't present much of a striking visual image. The horns had some nice moments as well as some rough tones, the drums were well-balanced even though it's a huge line, and the guard is still very talented. There were some nice drill forms for each theme, but they still have lots of cleaning to do.

Spirit- After all the positive stuff I've read here, I expected a lot more. I like last year's show much better from a design and performance standpoint. The horns are very good, but the show design did nothing for me. Most of the people around me were distracted by other things about a minute into this show, which is not a good sign for keeping people's attention. There seemed to be many odd moments of staging, with guard members crammed into very small areas.

Crown- The guard uniforms didn't bother me as much as some people here (remember how bad those Phantom ones were?), though some of the bad choreography (especially by the male members) did. I thought the horn line had some of the best moments I've heard from Crown, yet the show seemed to need a real ending. While it's not my favorite show of theirs, there are some good things going on. I think they'll finish ahead of Madison once they meet head to head.

Boston- Wow....I was very impressed! After seeing this great presentation, I was very surprised that they were behind Crossmen (though I know they passed them on Saturday). The visual package is definitely there, and the people around me (not friends of mine) enjoyed the small touches like the "land of the free" and "home of the brave" banners. The guard was outstanding (and huge!) with uniforms and colors that added a very classy touch. The horns seem solid, though I too could do without the singing. But, I really like the show and see them continuing their upward climb!

Crossmen- I'm a big X-men fan, but this show left me cold. After reading the program about Strawberry Soup becoming a "signature" piece, I kept hearing Madison's version of the past running through my head and liking it more than the Crossmen version. There are some fast drill moments and great drumming as usual, but the guard wasn't very clean on this night and the music never really seemed to "light fire". There seemed to be a lukewarm response in the upper deck, which certainly wasn't what I expected after reading all the great reviews here!

Cadets- Another great show, with lots of memorable moments. Yes, there are times when they don't move a whole lot, but there are so many other great parts of this show one must forgive an occasional pause. Bugle Boy was a highlight of everything I've seen this season and they seem to be having a blast performing it. They definitely sold the whole package very well, with great horns (though not as strong as I've heard from Cavies- most apparent in the America/O Canada finale), another awesome guard, and fantastic drums. The ending drill is typical Cadets and the whole show was very fun to watch and listen to.

Empire- A very fun show, with lots of nice touches. The patriotic opening was very well done, and the rest of the show, while still rough in spots, was good. The picnic blankets seemed to get in the way, but seeing flag designs on the back I'm guessing there's more to come.

The show was well run, with some great TV images on the scoreboard! It was fun seeing guards warming up and other behind-the-scenes images between corps. While baseball stadiums aren't my favorite and there seemed to be lots of judge noise in the upper deck thanks to the roof, it will still a fun evening. I'd drive from Ohio again to see it!

And thanks to Cadets for the fun encore of Rocky Point, the Jetsons, and Bugle Boy! Keep up the great work in keeping us all happy!!!!!!!!

Phil in Ohio

DeKalb, IL (DCM Championships)

At first, I had only planned on watching parking lot activities, but decided to go into the show right about intermission. that means I didn't see many corps, and my gen adm ticket left me pretty high up, off to the 35 yd side 2. The only corps I had a chance to see was PR, Glassmen, Bluecoats, Madison, and Cavies. Actually, not a bad line up for post-intermission!!! So, here's a few brief thoughts about what I did see..... of course, my opinions only!

PR: Overall........ a "nice" show. this show really doesn't stand out to me for some reason. Maybe my expectations were higher, but I was left "flat" at the end. What I will say, however, is they have a full, rich sounding low brass sound. definitely a difference when you compare hornline numbers...... I think I counted 70 brass. Noticeable difference when followed by Glassmen's 50-something horns? Percussion........... I don't feel they add to the show. they are without a doubt a level below Glassmen and cavies drumlines. Nice colorguard work. Over the next few weeks, watch percussion and GE effect scores to see how far this corps will go.

Glassmen: Ok, I last saw this corps in Toledo. Back then, I said this show "lacked" something. Here I am, about a month later..... HOLY *&% ! This show really has grown in maturity, and as a program. This drumline is unbelieveable. Plenty of notes, great technique, name it. hornline is immensily improved, but.... was not at the level of PR. (maybe due to hornline #'s?). However, if they've improved this much in 1 month..... there's room to grow! Glassmen tied with PR, but this show seems to have more room to grow, and move up. Glassmen really move with drill..... more than PR, IMHO. NOTE: just noticed that gmen got .2 pen. Hmm....wonder what for? Nothing obvious in the show that I saw?

One last thing to say about Gmen: After watching this show, I really have to say I'm TIRED of hearing about Glassmen being "BORING"!!!! I believe they have one of the more "memorable" melodies, they do "Javelin" great..... I feel it is a very accessible show. Please, people.... give glassmen a chance! Sometimes I really wonder about the power of suggestion..... people who "hear" Glassmen have a boring show, then when they go, they already have a pre-conceived idea about the show. No joke: I heard at least 3 people hum the theme from Glassmen's show on the way out the stadium!

Madison: Um....... here's another show I really hoped would have changed for the better since Toledo, but sadly, not the case. Hornline has two volume levels...... soft, then really loud. yes, they get the award for "loudest hornline", but that's about it. drill was still considerably dirty, and there are few difficult moves of any kind. colorguard seemed to have problems also (they scored below cap. reg.... and before you say "but cap reg is div II, and is scored differently", that's not the case in prelims in's all the same panel, same sheets).

Bluecoats: remember how everyone used to LOVE a madison show, and feel that they were not only entertained, but also DESERVED the score? Ladies and gents, here's the "new" madison........ BLUUUU! I don't mean to imply that they are "like" madison..... and I'm not saying Bluecoats don't have a history of their own. I'm simply saying this corps is quickly becoming a DCM favorite. Fun show, accessible, and the kids really seem to enjoy it! Won't get into specifics here........ very nice show. I like it!

Cavies: I know everyone's been thinking that cavies have a show that will win. win DCM? Absolutely. Win DCI? They might want to look over their shoulder for some of the other corps (cadets, etc.). Don't get me wrong, I like this show. But, it just doesn't seem to have room to move! Glassmen and PR have closed the gap to 5 pts, where it used to be 8+. Drumline was not very clean tonight..... had some problems in very exposed areas of the show (tenors and snares). Overall...... great show. But I can see where people are conerned they will peak early. A little breakdancing and singing in the middle of the show isn't going to lock the championship!

Ok, these were just a few thoughts this morning. It's going to be sunny, high of 82, and low time calls for clear skies, temps around 68-70. What does that mean? time to hit the pool, then get ready for the show tonight! got to love dekalb..............


All right, I posted one rambling review of the JSU show and thought that was all I'd write. But I feel compelled to make a few comments about DCM.

Thank you Beth, director of parking, for being so polite and allowing us to park close since one of our party suffers from arthritis.

Only saw the Friday show (Div. I prelims) this year. Overall, I was pretty excited earlier in the season about how the battles for #1, #5, and the last spots in finals look to be highly competitive. Also, was pleased to see so many corps that I haven't seen yet (Boston, Crossmen, Seattle, etc.) getting good reviews. But now I've seen a lot of the corps, and I don't think this year compares well with others entertainment-wise.

Although I marched years ago, I am not a dinosaur who thinks all modern corps is bad. On the other hand what happened to shows like '85 BD, '91 Cavies, hell, '99 top 3? Overall, YAWN!

OK, the shows...

Missed Cap. Sound (sorry). Cap. Regiment had a very full sound, executed nicely on all fronts, and had a pretty enjoyable show. The corps is quite impressive this year.

Pioneer - I understand why the pit is in the field - to frame the small horn line, and to keep the percussion from overpowering, but it's not particularly pretty. Given the current makeup of the corps, however, I can't argue with that aspect of the design. I have never found their shows very interesting, but I think the Oliver music is working well for them. And although I'm generally opposed to lots of crap on the field, they do a reasonable job with the platforms. Overall, I like them better this year, but wish they could be as big and strong as in some past years.

SW - A few years ago I really wanted this corps to be the next one to break into finals. I also wanted BK to be the next one to break into top 3 and Glassmen to be the next new winner. None of that is going to happen anytime soon. SW has a passable show, and I get the impression that they have a very young group. Based on that, they're doing fine. But they're definitely getting weaker each year.

Colts - I usually find them boring, but I quite liked their show this year. Staring at the scores over the last weeks, I have tried to divine which corps (Spirit, BK, Crown, Colts, Seattle, Madison) would be in finals, and which not. Just looking at the scores, I was guessing BK would not return, Seattle would make it in, Madison would be in, Colts in, Spirit just missing, and Crown out. Shall I diagram that?

I was wrong. Seattle will be in, Spirit probably in, Colts have a good chance, Madison WILL NOT MAKE IT. The closeness in prelims was unjustified, and the Saturday scores better reflect the reality I saw on Friday.

I love the Madison organization, but it must be said: fire your staff. All of them. After the show, I saw various Scouts walking around behind the stadium and I just wanted to go up and hug them in sympathy. What was staff thinking when they put together this show? Were they thinking? Do they think?

A friend who saw them first said they were "frightening." The word is a perfect description. From the cheap conquistador guard uniforms that they lug around just for the warmup (look like props from Lost in Space) to the train wreck visuals, and the dirty dirty music and marching execution. This show has nowhere to go. And I see no evidence that the staff knows even how to clean the crap that has been written. If you compare Madison with, say, Kiwanis and Troopers, then it holds up. But when you think about what a magnificent corps this has been, it is sad, sad, sad. What is the posing during the drum break? And don't even get me started on the uniforms the guard ends up in... I cannot imagine that Colts could end up behind MS. I'll stop because I don't want to beat a dead horse, especially when it's a horse I've always admired.

Bluecoats - Sound great, executing well, decent drill. I would have had them closer to Phantom, although Phantom's horn book sounds more difficult. Bluecoats definitely have the superior visual product, and they are at a good point in terms of execution right now. One detraction: I HATE smiley guard. You know, the fake smiles painted on their faces. Reminds me of the most repulsive guard member I have ever seen - a guy from X-men during one of the Orlando years - who constantly mugged at the crowd, his jaw flying open in fake surprise and his eyes big every time he caught a double. YUCK. Make them stop. They're not competing to be Miss Illinois Corn Cob '02.

Phantom - Nice big, open sound. But many intonation problems, and several splatted attacks. The intonation could be because they came out early and had to wait until after intermission. With the cool night and no on-the-field warmup, the sections were out of sync in their tuning. BTW, all of the corps had some intonation problems, again, probably because of the cool temps. But Cavies and MS took advantage of their warm-up time. Didn't help MS, though. Strangely, I heard lots of low brass and sops, but no middle-voices from Phantom.

I was really hoping that reports of improved visual program for PR were true. GONG! Thank you, JP Morgan. Easy, uninteresting drill. Much of it lined up on the yard lines. SLOWLY evolving, baby-step forms. And when the tempo is really slow, why not a graceful double-time sweep over the field (a la Cavaliers). Guard's use of sickles would be more interesting if they did anything with them.

Visually, another waste of talent. I did like the music; their arrangements are better than the last few years. Phantom was one of my favorites til the mid-80s. I also loved their '91 show, and Claire de Lune is my favorite soft piece of all time. But in the last several years, they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to have a good visual package.

BTW, are Cadets using rifles this year, or still spinning random marks of punctuation?

A brief digression: bugles sound better. Bugles sound better. Bugles sound better. Those who disagree or claim that you can't hear the difference are tone deaf.

Glassmen have a very mature sound (albeit, very "trumpety"), but a smaller one than PR's larger horn line. But they are still the first corps to have a really good drill. And I thought their individual technique was far better than Phantom's, but the scores didn't support that. I would have this corps a good two points over Phantom. I think that of all the Friday scores, Phantom's was a gift. Obscure music, yes, but a solid G'men show. Despite the scores, I think they have a definite edge on PR. Will be interesting to see them against X-men and Bean Town. Their only problem of the night: big phasing issue on side 2 horns during the first 30 seconds.

Cavies. Oh, God. Can I write this in disappearing ink?? I want them to win very badly, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the jingoistic competition. (Frankly I don't give a rat's ass about the Pledge, and anyone who knows the cynical history behind it shouldn't either). More importantly, they have pushed the visual to a new level. However, unlike past years where most of the "wow" moves come toward the end, they are spread throughout the show. Unfortunately, there is STILL no real musical GE in the first half of the show, so some of the incredible visuals are not being supported by the music. And it is the music composition, not performance.

This year's horn line is even better than last year's, and the percussion section is really a machine--we're talking unbelievable! But adding music GE is tough, especially now. It's one thing to rewrite drill. It's another to rewrite music, which then requires drill adjustments as well. I was told by a Cavie alum, however, that there are going to be a number of changes to the first half of the show. I don't know if these will keep the undefeated season going, but I fear that without them continued success is questionable. I had a nightmare last night that the only way for Cavies to win is to jettison the first three minutes of music and stick in "Mars."

They have changed some of the closer drill. Still need to add more since it's still not that eye-grabbing. Anti-climatic, somewhat. Very messy final set, but probably because they're just learning it. Interesting note: the guard remains the weakest link this year. They don't seem as proficient as the last two years. The unison work is not unison. The uniforms make them look fat. They're good, mind you. Just not the overwhelming talent we've seen.

Note: If I ever become blasť or project a practiced air of indifference about my favorite corps winning shows, shoot me. I've seen staff members of all the top four at one time or another become practically bored with success. I don't care if I just won for the 30th time in as many shows, I'm gonna be damned excited. And the staff members that aren't excited need to be sent home. Let those of us who spent our years nearer the bottom of the pack take their place; you can bet we'll be enthusiastic.

So, the year is looking less entertaining than I had hoped, but there will be some very interesting dynamics in the competition. Will DCI reward the feel-good, patriotic, heart on your sleeve, incredible horn line, high music GE, low drill demand Cadets, or the meticulously executed, visually stunning, low music GE Cavaliers?

Tick, tock....

Chiu Mee

Thursday July 11

Madison, WI (DCM)

This was an exhibition show. So no scores to complain about.

The Venue: Camp Randall. YIKES!! The street outside the concert side regular entrance is closed to traffic and all torn up. The stadium entrance on that side was closed. The small parking lot on the north side of the stadium where they have the souvie trailers set up during dci final is also all torn up. They had you enter all the way over at the other side of the stadium, and seating was on the visitor side! This is going to be a problem if they don't complete some major work in the next four weeks.

Pleasant surprise of the night #1: The Bandettes. Wow. 10 horns. One contra (or, to be precise, euphonium). And she played the hell out of that show. That one girl carried the whole low brass section by herself, and what a musician! And, all 10 of them played very well as an ensemble. Music well arranged for the small horn line - few gaps in the ensemble. I was impressed. And, I saw something I never saw before: the guard came into the stands during the show.

Pleasant surprise of the night #2: The Scouts guard. From reading RAMD so far this summer, I was prepared to see a lot of problems with the guard. OK, I'm a brass guy, but, the Scouts guard looked Just Fine. To my eyes, they may have been a Little below Phantom, but, they look very good to me. No walking around to their next spots like I've been reading, etc. Truth be told, I was more "let down", if I dare say it, by the brass than the guard. The beginning and end of the show are great, the middle, well, I'm sure it will grow on me. Anyway, there I sat, confused, trying to figure out what I'm missing with the guard. This brings me go Pleasant surprise #3: I sat next three very affable guys who are driving bus for the Scouts, so I got the "inside" scoop. They said the guard specially has really improved the past several days. "You should have seen them in Concord, yuk," is how one of them compared it. So, don't throw in the towel on the Scouts just yet.

This is getting long, so, other thoughts: PHANTOM. Wow!! Awesome show, as usual. They've been scoring ~ 5 points ahead of Madison. You know what, that's about right, IMO from last night's show. And right at the end, shades of '89... If you haven't seen it, you'll get it. Colts, Southwind, Capital Sound all very strong performances. Better than last year. Thanks for the show, everybody.


Wednesday July 10

Escondido, CA (DCI Pacific)

Division II / III

51.85 Oregon Crusaders - Sorry, I missed you! You know, it can be difficult getting your family out of the house at times...

58.65 Alliance - Had to watch the show from the wings. And I couldn't get a good view.

65.70 Impulse - Wow, much improved! They've cleaned noticeably and it shows. Lot's of fun things to watch for. Brought the house to a good, standing ovation with the "extra" ending.

I have noticed that these few Div II/III corps were struggling with their ballads. Something to work on.

78.10 Esperanza - Criminy, this show is growing on me! What difference a month makes in practice. Horns are tight and working well together. Drums aren't so overbearing and play well. Guard is outSTANDing. And they've got me looking forward to seeing them again. I heard some '93 PR in their show?...whoa, cool...

Division I

75.40 Seattle Cascades - They must have been tired/had an off night - because I didn't see that "drum corps attitude" in them tonight. They wear white pants and shoes, right? Feet and forms were (seemed to me) very Clean. I need a second viewing.

71.30 Pacific Crest - I dunno if they were just getting used to (I think) new additions to their show, or if it was a long day of practice, or if they are just resigning themselves to their anticipated placement, but they just didn't seem inSPIRED like they did a month ago. But did I say that I LIKE THIS CORPS?!

72.35 Blue Knights - WOW. They have the VEHICLE, with all elements necessary to propel them into finals. IMO all they have to do is CLEAN their forms and they will be in there. Think of SCV's forms last year...? They can do it, and they put on a good show!

83.20 Santa Clara Vanguard - I. Words expressing absolute and abstract relations; difference, variance, variety; diversity, moods and tenses, subtle distinction; nuance; differing; diverse, distinguishable, distinctive, characteristic; distinguishing. Show appears to be growing into the "typical" SCV show. And very will done at that. I liked the ending.

84.00 Blue Devils - My daughter and I watched them practice the night before so we kinda knew what to expect (we could see the "things" of the show that they were working on). I heard different people humming I Got Rhythm on the way out to the parking lot.

Drum Major only retreat. Impulse and SCV were the only drum lines to play themselves off of the field. What the heck! ...sigh... BD did the victory concert. 65(?) horns - not bad!

Dan Saeger


Oregon Crusaders - 51.85, 4th Place: Somewhat young and small (14 horns). Their show was entitled "Stormworks" by Stephen Melillo. The obligatory thunder sound effects, umbrellas as guard props, etc. A nice effort with some ensemble problems when in motion. Drums can sometimes overbalance the brass, even though the battery is rather small. White cadet style jackets and black pants.

San Diego Alliance - 58.65, Bronze: Only 8 horns tonight, but they added a top bass and another tenor. Attention to detail must be this corps' motto. If they only had 24 brass players that could play and march with this kind of intensity...They are playing music from the motion picture "The Usual Suspects". The drum line plays well, although the new additions have added a new dynamic as they work to catch up with the others. Horn line marches well and produces a full sound. Very deceiving in regards to their size. Individual marching technique seems very good. This is a surprisingly entertaining and well-balanced show for the numbers on the field.

Impulse! - 65.70, Silver: I Love Lucy was a crowd pleaser tonight. They have improved since I saw them last. Both brass and percussion seem to be playing with more confidence. Still love the Mylar snare drum heads that are featured. Their opener still seems to be like theyíre walking through mud. The tempos seem so lethargic. The crab-step in Pagliacci by the entire corps is interesting.

Esperanza - 78.10, Gold: Can't wait to see what these guys do in Madison. There is a maturity of sound coming from this group that separates them from the rest of the field. Color Guard is monstrous! Div. 1 quality IMO. Drum line continues to make strides and is playing some notes. Definitely the class of their division tonight. 20 points over Alliance and 12 points over Impulse has to tell you something about this group. We'll see how the stack up against SCVC and BDB this week. They could pass both of these corps and Mandarins cannot be far away if they continue this pace of improvement. They could use more power from the low brass, likely due to the small horns their contras are using (size DOES matter I suppose!) Lots of great body work in the brass. Drill is well written and generates excitement. Uniforms are a tremendous improvement in the overall look of this group.

Div I

Cascades - 75.40, Silver: OK They are for real. Beautiful brass sound. Very good drum line. Nice execution of the Bernstein book. Uniforms could use more color, as they are mostly black & white, with a touch of green. Some individual marching problems, but the black pants and shoes hide it well. I would be very surprised to see them miss the Saturday show this year, although BK might make it interesting.

Pacific Crest - 71.30, Fourth: Almost the same color scheme as Cascades with a ton more white (pants and shoes). Marching problems much more visible, although I don't think any more prevalent than Cascades. I love the Cirque du Soleil music. The CG unis fit the theme and the use of the cubes is effective at times. I love the exchange to the members who were squatting inside the cubes, then suddenly standing up to make the catch. Some H2O on the drum line as some parts were eliminated as they crab step across the front sideline in front of the horns. Last time I saw them, this was dirty and very exposed. It also was overbalancing the horns due to their placement. Now they have a short tacit which opens the way for the brass lick to be heard. Good call.

Blue Knights - 72.35, Bronze: I love certain elements of this show. The pit placement for the opening number is very creative as the keys are actually on the field. The horns end up intertwining through the pit and it makes them seem more a part of the show. With the help of some guard members (and after the pit players perform some dance work with the guard), the instruments are seamlessly rearranged a couple of times as the show progresses. The Shostakovich and Barber music is done fairly well. Solid brass and drums. Actually a pleasant surprise at their level of performance after their mid-season break. I thought they were fairly strong and should the right there for a spot on Saturday night. CG unis are a bit much, especially on the males. This show will grow on me once Iíve seen it a couple of more times.

SCV - 83.20, Silver: The new uniforms are nice. You can really tell they are green from the stands. High drums tonight. While not as flashy as BD, they definitely have a high quality sound and are playing clean. Their snares are consistently the best sounding in DCI. This show is coming along as evidenced by their rapidly closing the gap on BD. Visually, this show is a treat as they move well. The best overall visual package of the night. Forms were clean although the music was not particularly memorable. I will get a better read after Iíve seen them again.

BD - 84.00, Gold: After watching BD rehearse over the previous two nights, I was much more familiar with their program. They had gone through a major rewrite of the opening two numbers. These segments will undoubtedly improve with repetition, not that they were poorly done last night. This show is extremely fun. Ragtime might strike some as "cheesy" (a direct quote from another review) and I can see their point, but at the same time it is very well done and the new drill should help a lot of visual problems.

Some magic must happen when these guys put on the uniform. I had watched a run through the night before. The show was performed well and you could tell it was a good show. But at the contest, they took it up a couple of notches. I love many of the nuances of this show. They have a percussion rack on the front sidelines that is well used. The rack consists of about 4 "stations" with snare, toms, cymbals, and hi-hat. The pit makes use of them at first. Later on, the tenors unhook and play stand up drum set. At another time, the snares and tenors do a sort of round robin where the various players rotate to the rack to play a few beats, then step away to continue their normal battery parts. If you watch the kits, they are never without someone playing. The transitions from person to person are seamless. If you saw BLAST, it is not unlike the Earth Beat segment with the guys trading off on the timbale rack. Another equally impressive moment comes when the bass drummers move over and play hi-hat and rides patterns with their right hands, while still playing their split parts with their left. Very subtle, but well done. These moments are scattered throughout the show so it is not overdone.

Gershwinís "I Got Rhythm" comes next and contains some very challenging licks. It goes into Rob McConnellís "Fascinating Rhythm". According to Corpsrep, the Sentinels of DCUK also did these two pieces in 1983. The sops and snares play a unison lick with lots of notes. It is readable, but will need to be cleaned to get the credit. I can see them eventually changing it to a fewer number of players in order to make it clean. Weíll see.

"House of the Rising Sun" was night and day better than it had been. A total goose bump moment with some incredible solo work. The "Hair Dance" by several members of the guard is very sensual. Their hair is beautiful and they make great use of it. Very unique indeed. The show has been building to this point and then transitions to Channel One Suite. While I wish they would do a more expanded version, this one didnít disappoint. This BD show has really grown on me and I hope they can take it to the next level by August. If you let yourself, you may just enjoy the heck out of this show, no matter where it places.

SCV has closed the gap on BD to 0.80 for the last couple of shows. I think they will end up beating BD sooner or later. Whether they can remain there at the end of the season is questionable. I think the biggest surprise of the night was the dominance on the Div. II/III sheets by Esperanza. They should break 80 soon. There are going to be a lot of people in Madison reciting the old Butch & Sundance line, "Who ARE those guys?".


Venue was a recently renovated stadium at Escondido High School after an alum gave several million in exchange for the name "Wilson Stadium". The site was beautiful with solid/steep concrete bleachers on home and visitors sides, making for excellent audio sound retention. (i.e. loud) The field looked to be in nice condition, deep green, well marked and well groomed. Weather was excellent, crowd estimated at 2000 with all but the peripheral GE occupied. Facility was perfect for drum corps except not enough rest rooms (even us dudes had to wait) and not enough concession stands (huge line for food).

The Esperanza Organization continues to put together very well run shows. The evening ran smoothly, only a few minutes late with a Drum Corps announcer that gave simple, to the point introductions with NO editorial comments...perfect. Well done Esperanza.


OREGON CRUSADERS: I always vow to never show up late for drum corps events, just to see the big corps. I dig the smaller corps and all of us need to support all of them. Oregon did some things well, but could have done better had their music not been so damn hard. Complex syncopations, fast pace put this young corps on a limb. I enjoyed their show though.

ALLIANCE: Only marched 8 horns, as opposed to 14 last year. Despite this they are twice as loud as last years group. Only two sopranos and 1 contra, but they held things together with clean attacks and good intonation. Mild overblowing in the middle and low brass. It must be frustrating for the members to fall in enrollment, but despite the numerical setback they have made a leap in talent from last year.

IMPULSE: Significantly better than 2 weeks ago at the Alliance show in San Diego. Drill has some marching problems, but the improvement in the balance and volume/ phrasing in the brass allows this silly I LOVE LUCY show to be really enjoyable. You CAN"T be silly on the field if you suck... and Impulse does NOT suck. They still are not scoring well, but the performance level, particularly in the middle of the show with feuding brass lines has great crowd appeal, particularly for people who have never seen drum corps. The final IN YOUR FACE section began to part my hair.

ESPERANZA: The Seattle Cascades of the Southwest. Complex, accessible drill with a variety of tempos, excellent volume variation. Very balanced, musical sound without any notable balance problems. No standout individuals, but top tier div ii ensemble sound. Music is difficult but easily handled by the corps. Very fast paced ending with lots of movement. I think there musical style is SCVesque, but they bring in Cavalier like block movements. Div 1 caliber color guard. Reed Richardson did a fantastic job on the show composition writing up to, but not exceeding the talent level of the corps. New uniforms look great, mostly silver instruments out there, but 1 or 2 brass instruments remain...hopefully to be replaced with revenue from this 2002 hosted show. Alan Cox and his staff have done a fantastic job with this corps, I predict top 3 in div 2 at Madison. Not bad for their 3 rd yr in existence!

SEATTLE CASCADES: This show rips. Very musical sound, loud ensemble, totally accessible on first listen. They are pretty clean now musically but they have some upside potential in their feet. They are likely top 12, and seem to be pulling away from Madison and BK.

PACIFIC CREST: Saw this show several weeks ago and liked it very much. Had a few balance problems tonight. Marching cleaner but is Not clean. Cascade is a tough corps for a nonelite div 1 corps to follow. Good volume.

BK: Have heard lots of critical stuff regarding BK prior to seeing them. Their product is different. The music is not terribly accessible, but the show is so visual with the corps members moving more than some corps color guards, I found the show very entertaining. Solid, powerful brass line. BK is innovative with there theatrical presentation that adds to the viewing experience. I applaud them for their distinctive signature, and sticking with a style that defines them. Unfortunely for some, you have to be a freaking GREAT corps to play on an August Saturday night these days, and I think BK can do it. Cascades were not 3 points better than them, and they were more than a point better than PC, in my opinion. Thanks to them for coming to San Diego.

SCV: Again, not a lot of super positive things said about this show coming in..... I must DISAGREE!!! This is classic SCV. Could not recognize a single tune but I found the music approachable like all other SCV type shows since 98... Fast, lots of POPS... dissonant cords. Cleanest marching of the night. This will not win this year, not because it isn't a great show... but because it will take something absolutely extraordinary to snatch the title in 2002.

BD: New intro to Ragtime. About 16 new bars in the beginning with just the pit... the corps starts in a big circle a spirals around to a tight circle in the middle of the field to start the trumpet solo, ragtime is now faster and speeds up noticeably during the trumpet solo. This corps absolutely stole the show tonight. I have followed Drum corps for about 10 years, and that was one at the best trumpet sections I have EVER heard. It sounds like they have got 12 guys with high Gs in there back pocket. Clear, in tune and soaring over the entire ensemble. Fantastic soloists. Opener has been beefed up, and I suspect closer will come next. Channel one Suite rips, but not a ton of movement and NOT the musical climax. This is one of my favorite BD shows ever. I thought the scores were low. There is NO WAY that ANYBODY is 4 points ahead of these guys. A few pacing problems in the transitions in Ragtime and C! suite are easily fixed. If they modify the closer and are able to clean they might... could... maybe... possibly catch Cadets/Cavies.

Despite all that is said about the evolution of drum corps over the last several decades... there is NO QUESTION that the package of movement and music required to win is more demanding now than ever before.

Let the past go... enjoy the current... and welcome the future.

This is my last show of the year.....worse than December 26 when you were a kid.


First let me say that I've never posted a show review before, and I wasn't planning to this time either, so my comments are based on random recollection, not careful notes. I just wanted to share a few thoughts that were brought to mind reading the other comments...

As far as the general show organization, it was a mixed bag. Wilson Stadium is a *great* Drum Corps venue in terms of seating, sound, and field condition (not to mention the fact that it's a lot closer than having to drive all the way down to Southwestern College like we used to!) I was concerned when I got my tickets and saw "Row 1", thinking I'd be stuck at ground level watching the pit all night, but I am pleased to report that we had the best seats in the house, as the stands are perched above a ~10 foot wall. There's still the track, which adds a bit of distance, but overall the seating is great. However, I agree with the complaints regarding bathroom capacity and food service lines (though it must be said that once you actually got up there, the food prices were extremely reasonable - thanks!) One problem that hasn't been mentioned was parking. We arrived more than half an hour prior to showtime and the main lot was already full, and with no signs or attendants to help drivers to find spots there were a lot of people following each other blindly through dead-end driveways looking for non-existent backup lots before heading back out to find street parking. Also, one of the light standards behind the stands was buzzing extremely loudly throughout the evening; after a while you could sort of tune it out (and of course, it wasn't an issue once the Div I corps were blowing), but during the first half and the quieter passages it did get annoying. The crowd was pretty good - appreciative and enthusiastic, but reasonably quiet during the actual performances - a definite improvement over some shows I've been to. I also agree with the previous reviewers praise for the announcer; got their names right, introduced them properly and professionally, and left it at that. Good job.

Oh yeah, one more comment before the review: In case any Corps directors are reading this, I'm throwing my vote in with the other drumline cadence fans out here who are *BEGGING* you to play street beats while exiting the field after your shows. Two corps did so this evening, but we want more!

Oregon Crusaders: Lots of problems typical of corps this size, particularly phasing in some spots, but the kids were really working at it and produced some nice segments.

Alliance: I was amazed at the sound level these guys managed to generate considering how few horns they had, and for the most part it was pretty clean! Really outstanding work for such a small corps, though their stamina seemed to fade in the second half of their show.

Impulse: An OK show. The Lucy theme is a nice idea, and well written, but I thought their performance didn't do the show justice Wednesday. A lot of sloppiness. The final "Lucy" note after the show appears to be finished was a stunner, though, and well-played.

Esperanza: Sorry, guys, I just don't have a clear recollection of this show. I know it was an improvement in execution over Impulse, and I noticed that they were the first corps of the evening that really kept the energy level up throughout their entire program, but beyond that, I don't have any specific comments. I'm sure seeing all of the shows a few more times this weekend will help me differentiate them, but the first viewing of these mid-level corps in any season tend to blur together for me until I learn the material. So sue me. =)

Seattle Cascades: No blurring here. This corps is the real thing, quintessential Drum Corps. Loud, beautiful, precise, powerful, energetic, classy! I look forward to seeing them again this weekend, and on Saturday night in Madison. The only problem I saw was a high number equipment drops in the first half, but there's time to clean that. Of the many great things I could say about this show, I'll just say: COLOR. The dark uniforms look great (black w/ dark forest green accent) and make a perfect backdrop for a gorgeous assortment of beautifully vivid flags in just about every color. The visual design of this show is fantastic, and it works with and enhances the music.

Pacific Crest: A quality show, but PC had the unenviable task of following the Cascades tonight. No particular problems that I recall, they just didn't seem to have the *oomph* that I'm used to seeing from them. Ah well, you can only get 50% better every year for so many years, and then you have to start to level off sometime, right?

Blue Knights: I liked the concept of bringing the pit onto the field and having the rest of the corps intermingled with them. This was really well-executed without being overdone, and did not feel gimmicky at all. Other than that - bit of a blur. Need to see them a few more times.

Santa Clara Vanguard: After reading about how esoteric and inaccessible their book was, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the music was just fine, and they played the hell out of it! Drumline was jammin' too! I like this show a lot, and it seemed really clean for early July, but, boy the competition up at this level is tough, isn't it? Which brings me to...

Blue Devils: Thanks BD. Great, familiar tunes, solid hornline, ripping soloists, the whole package. Speaking of the whole package, if you haven't seen "the hair" yet, trust me, you *want* to. =) The cymbal racks were well-utilized (unlike some similar devices in previous BD shows), especially when multiple battery players rotate up to the rack and back out in very tight traffic. The winner tonight, for sure. In August, who knows?

Kudos to the powers that be for getting the drum majors back on the field promptly, scores announced smoothly and professionally, and ensuring that there was still time for a victory concert from BD. All in all, a superb show. Thanks, Esperanza!

Finally let me just say (though I know I'm preaching to the choir), every time I see a show it amazes me that this activity is not a national mania. Who could sit in front of this spectacle and not be utterly blown away, demanding more? Ah well, we can dream, can't we?

Dave Moser

Monday July 8

Ogdensburg, NY (DCI Atlantic)

Stadium is even smaller than the one in Bristol! Folks were in their lawn chairs and on picnic blankets around the edge of the field except for the pit area. After the division 2 corps went off and Kiwanis was ready to start, the rains came. Barely got the rest of the corps in after the delay.

Patriots - Lots of talent, not yet enough power for this show. Good color guard and feet, good individual sounds in brass.

Magic of Orlando - Color guard suffered from wet grass and equipment, otherwise OK. Needs more development of phrases and dirt cleaned from all sections.

Kiwanis Kavaliers - Drums need to lock in, brass should address intonation and phrasings. Gold edge on purple flags would be nice.

Spirit of JSU - Must get cleaner in brass, and must pay attention to ALL sections, not just hit points.

Carolina Crown - Color guard and brass a bit tentative on wet field, but both better than Spirit, especially the brass.

Solo and small ensemble section of App. Spring better, rest of tune lacks punch. Color guard is consistent but feet need help.

And then the rains came FOR REAL! No falls and high energy and "Damn the Torps" attitude = score!

Dave Ballard
Submitted by snail mail from "On Tour"

Sunday July 7

Concord, CA (DCI Pacific)

Went to both shows. Had good seats at both. Took a friend to the Hayward show. Never seen drumcorp. Kind of interesting to see what his reaction was. I missed some corps performances on both days.

Div. 2

Manderians: As usual, very good in all areas. Great looking unis. Much better than the long coat type. With Magic in div. 2, they could be challanged by them and SCV and maybe Esperanza and others. They have a chance but not a lock.

SCV Cadets: They look so much like SCV. Great performance. Drumline is the strength. They can drum like a div. 1 corp. My friend thought they had the best forms in this div. Nice job.

Esperanza: Sorry, missed both performances.

BDB: Small but they pack a punch. Drumline was smoking. Close to SCVC in that dept. I don't care much for the colorguard unis. They didn't stand out. Over all, nice job on both nights.

Impulse: Fun. Very outhere show. They are there to entertain, period. Show is somewhat sloppy but they make up for it with pure fun. My friend took notice from this show. His favorite in this div.

Senior Div:

River City Regiment: Nice sound from this new group. Renegades started out small a few years ago so i look for this corp to grow. My friend thought they were cute, especially during the hand/arm motion section.

SF Renegades: Crowd favorite. Huge sound. Love the all black look with shades. This corp is has grown so big in just a few years. I hope they do make it to DCA with a full corp to compete with the best of the seniors.

Div. 1:

Seattle Cascades: Wow, never expected them to be this good so soon. Top 12 a great possibility. They may be a future DCI contender. They certainly have the show right now to be in the top 12 if not higher. The drill flows so smootly. I think they will turn heads back east.

Pacific Crest: I do wish they could do a national tour. Probably the best corp most people have not seen. I must say I really was not into this years production like the last few years but over all a very solid corp.

Madison Scouts: Ok, I've read most of the posts regarding Madison's fall these past years. To me, they still have the sound. The marching is not perfect but this is a solid show and can't imagine it not being a finalist. They have a sound like a top 5. Guard is a different story. They are too good to be so bad in this caption. Way too many drops, especially in Concord. This show would be so good if they had a top quailty guard. Kind of sad. Score seemed low to me. I figured a 78 or 79. But i'm not a judge so go figure. My favorite music both nights.

SCV: Beautiful looking show. Drill is incredible. I just wish it was done to different music. Very abstract music. You want to just get out of your seat but the music holds you back. They will contend down the road but can't imagine the crowd getting into it. Regarding the new unis, they look good. It's a good show but not a classic SCV show. Good luck in Madison SCV.

Blue Devils: I've been critical of BD this year. Saw them at family night. Was not impressed at that time. Bought the new 2002 CD and could not get into the music. Was a difference in 3 weeks. Hornline was up a notch in Concord than Hayward. Great performance in Concord. Guard is soo good. Saw only 1 drop. I enjoyed them more in Concord than Hayward. My friend noticed that they use the entire field more than any other corp. I'm still not convinced they will be # 1 in August but they will contend for a top 3 spot.

Over all: Great show on both nights. Nice weather. Seattle is the most impressive to me based on them being so good. My friends 3 favorites are in this order:

Blue Devils


From the stands on the 50 yard line, row L. Bar none it was one of the finest drum corps nights here in Concord for me in a long time.

Madison Scouts: Thanks for making the trip out west. We already know about most of the issues you are dealing with on the field so I'll try not to even go there. I will say this the drum line was really smoking. Especially the snare line cutting threw some cheese like a hot knife. My condolences to the tuba guy getting broad sided in the drill during the final push. I'm suprised he was able to get back up and continue on. The brass line is very talented and had their moments of greatness. Marching? What was THAT? Cut! Come on guys. I still have hope. Look forward to watching you in Madison at finals.

Seattle Cascades: You have arrived. To say you are the finest corps ever from the NW would be huge under statement. Very mature corps. Best tuned drums line of the night. Pit had and incredibly rich sound. Brass line was very strong and in tune. They also played with lots of intensity, volume and emotion. Color guard, wow, enough said. Show flows very smoothly from beginning to end with an outstanding drill. Over all production is communicating very well with the audience. Can they make top six at finals. Maybe. Reality check. Yup there on fire folks but there is still a big difference between them and SCV and BD.

Santa Clara Vanguard IMHO this is the one of the most talented hardest working corps I have ever seen The guard OMG, the guard. They are like gazelles on steroids. They won't need any mosquito spray on the field the flags will keep them away no problem. If there is another guard any better it would be hard to believe. Drum line is very strong, intense and they can seriously march/run. The pit set up in a huge arc was also very impressive. Brass line is playing extremely difficult charts very well. The drill is another master piece of kaleidoscopic delight. Over all modern production is not very easy to get into. Not the kids fault here. I'm sure the staff is also working very hard and will find the hook some time in the next month. Never count these guys out.

Blue Devils: Boy do I love this corps a million times better live than on the internet. They just played the snot out of their show tonight. A very entertaining show. Thank you drum line for not playing a gazillion notes. I know you have the chops and for once you got to show them off in all the right places at the right time. Kudos to the staff, awesome charts, especially the cymbal feature with the tenors and snares. I won't give that one away. The horn line really projected with finesse and power standard BD over the top talent here..Guard is also very talented and dances like it's nobody else. Like the hair also. Their drill is not as demanding as SCV but the overall 'pizzazz' rocks and does the trick. I went down to the track for the victory performance and stood about 3 feet away from the pit a little to the left so I could watch the snare line. Whoa!

Snapettes Mom

Cortland, NY (DCI Atlantic)

Well, I've never posted on RAMD before, but have been reading it for a few years. I hope you like it! I also lean towards brass peformance and general visual things. ( i play trumpet )

The weather was perfect, and the stadium was actually great! It's brand new, and is still about 90% done. I sat top row, in between the left side 45 and 50. The crowd was definately dead (one of those crowds where when you clap anytime besides the end of a song, you feel like you've interrupted everybody's thoughts).

Magic - I've heard a lot about them this year, and was looking forward to them. Their size is nice, although it allows for more feet to be heard through the horns. I feel awful because I pretty much just remember the volume they produced, and not too much content. The theme is a pretty good idea, and the last few sets of visual were pretty nice. Good job.

Kiwanis- I have to say I wasn't into the hood thing. It makes the corps look like they're hunched over. The show was enjoyable, and props to the corps for trying to balance 10 snares, a bunch of tenors(4 or 5?) and 5 basses with the not-so-big hornline (although I could still see and hear the issues of balance) I didn't think the superhero show would work, but it kind of does! Good job.

Crown - I've been looking forward to seeing/hearing this show after all I've really heard is the talk of the guards togas. The hornline plays well, and the guard is pretty good! A nice part of the show is the pit run decres. to the sabre (or rifle?) catch at the end. Cool stuff. The end of the show is nice as well - overall good job, and the nice part - lots of room for improvement in the hornline.

Boston - I like this show! The core of their sound is much more mature than the Crossmen. Nice rich tones. The only thing is, where can this show go visually? (As far as additions or changes, not cleaning) After it was done, I said "Very cool". After thinking about it, I realized that other corps seem to have left room for major improvement visually. I thought the very end of the sho needed some kind of visual tag, mainly because Simple Gifts could have just a way more exciting, velocity-filled ending. But nice job! I always like the music you pick. I really really liked this show, keep working hard. Nice things to come in August.

Crossmen - I noticed this season that the Crossmen's scores are much higher than usual, and now that I've seen them I know why. They are performing much better this time of year than usual, and much cleaner than usual. I don't know if I agree with people's ideas of "this show can go all the way". The show is missing something - something I don't really know now. It's VERY entertaining, and should go places. If I had to make a prediction it would be to watch the gap between Crossmen and Boston to become closer.

The Cadets - I'm a huge Cadets fan, and this year is something special. I've never seen a corps this time of year look so confident - and AWESOME. One thing is nice - the B flat horns sound better year after year. I have to say in 2000 the sound kind of spread and wasn't always in tune, but this year I didn't notice that at all. It's very in tune, very rich, very nice. The ballad is absolutly incredible, I loved it. The dynamic contrast was excellent. The guard is friggin awesome. Boogie is, well, everyone knows by now it's awesome. I got a chance to see the Cadets rehearsal as well, and I've never seen a brass line/instructor hype the use of air as much as I did yesterday, it was great. I was always hearing " stop I can't hear you breathe" or " you didn't breathe enough" or " remember to not make your lip muslces work too much" - I think I heard each of those about 10 times each in 2 hours. Me being a classical player who listens to the NY philharmonic and Chicago Symhpony more than anything else, very cool. This is a show I wouldn't mind seeing over, and over again. It's great!

Jared B.
Cadets fan. (and all other corps too!)
The Juilliard School

Nice new stadium, grass field, high angle seating. Cooler temperatures and less humidity are REALLY showing up in the corps' performances, especially in the brass. Everyone had their best show of the season so far here in Courtland.

Magic of Orlando - My first real viewing of the corps. Lots of dirt, but a strong corps and good show. A great place to be in early July.

Kiwanis Kavaliers - Good energy, brass had some punch and color guard did better. Their best show to date by a good margin.

Carolina Crown - Brass is really starting to hype the stylistic points. Drums are solid. Dirt in all sections is holding down their scores.

Boston Crusaders - Brass has a full gas tank tonight, but did bobble stuff in the solo and small ensemble section work in App. Spring. Color guard doing well, but feet still need work.

Crossmen - Horns found another level tonight, but still flubbing some notes. Drill starting to clear up nicely. Color guard is looking for consistency.

The Cadets - This show can win, but book lacks complexity to do so with anything but a PERFECT show. Color guard was AWESOME.

Dave Ballard
Submitted by snail mail from "On Tour"

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