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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 Seven 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 20

San Antonio, TX (DCI)

First off let me tell you guys how wonderful a show this really was. I was more than impressed with the talent that is going on in the activity. I actually wrote a review early this morning, but my damn computer cut out on me after I had finished it around 5:00AM. So here we go take two. I am going to review all the corps that competed.

Revolution- This corps is very young and I think it has a definant future as far as I am concerned. Please San Antonio and Texas support this corps so we can have a corps for years to come. Thanks for performing.

Troopers- Much improved. This is the best Troopers corps that I have seen in quite sometime. I enjoyed their music and the horn line was pretty god. It was a small horn line of only about 40. Gaurd and Drums were ok, but there is only so much you can do with those numbers.

Pioneeer- This is another improved corps, although I had the Troop beating them. i was not all that impressed with their horns and they were much smaller than even the Troopers. The show was Oliver the Twist and I did not really like it. Drill was pretty fun. They brought out benches or large rectangular boxes to stand on and do features. In the closer they took them back field and turned them upright and hid behind them. This was a great idea, ala a Wintergaurd except for one thing. If you are going to do something like that paint the backdrops please. They were brown but were tarnished and scratched up. This made a good idea into a lousy effect.

Kiwanis.- Where did you's guys get all of those horn players ehh? J/K. This corps gets my most improved award. A big corps with a giant horn line. The music and the show I had issues with. I think a hero show is a great idea for a high school show, but not for a Div. 1 corps. The work was easy and the drill was very dry. They play very well, but they do not move so well. There were quite a few missed visuals and body's were all over the place. Never-the-less, the best Kiwanis corps I have ever seen!!

Southwind- This is a fine corps. I have always enjoyed listening to them. I think that there is not enough demand on these kids. They are maxing out their show now. If they had better writing this corps could potentially be a top12 contender in the future. As it stands, Toccata and Fugue does not work well on the field and does not even come off as being dark. I disagree with a post that said they lack umpph. They have it, but there is no difficulty to their show.

Colts- I was very impressed with last years corps. Based on scoring from this season I was expecting to see the same type of thing, but I did not. I am sorry to say that I was very dissapointed in them. The horn line was very very raw. There ballad had many moments where sections were fracking in exposed parts. They do not seem to support in the lower dynamic range very well. I heard numerous dropped phrases and they did not finish their impacts. Also, unlike last years drill, nothing reaches out and grabs me. They were dirty as were a lot of the corps in the early show, but the design did not jump at me. Sorry. I do not see them as a legit threat to the top 12.

Crown- Someone recently said that they thought that crown was very dirty and that you could not read their forms. I have to agree. They are fielding probably their best horn line I have ever heard. It is taught by my man Jason Buckingham so the kids are playing with a great dark sound. That being said. I don't feel that this show is set up well. Again going back to last year I felt that their production was fresh and innovative. This year they seem hokey. The guard uni's don't bother me on the males, but the pink and yellow togas just made me loose concentration. I think the drill is too packed in and they spend a lot of time between the 40's. In the long run i think these guys too will be left out for Saturday. Great drumline, awesome gaurd, although other than the lightning bolts, I don't like the equipment, and a much improved hornline.

Scouts- Sigh! They won both horns and drums in the morning show. That being said the gaurd is awful. I love the Scouts, and they have a strong corps except for the gaurd. People are saying that if they clean they could make it, I don't think it is cleanable. There are some just basic technique problems that should have already been developed if you are going to be in the gaurd of a great drum corps. Not only was the work not together, some members seemed down right lost. One guy dropped his pole as they were just doing drop spins. A mom next to me remarked that she had only been to marching shows for a couple of years and that she knew that they had a serious problem in the gaurd. a 13.9 compared to some 17's by the corps in front of them will kill them. I also think their is something missing in the corps itself. I cannot put my finger on it. I enjoyed their show, but it does not make me jump out of my seat like Madison normally does. In'97 my wife and I used to take our uni's off fast to run to the edge of the stadium and watch the Scouts. There was an aura that is missing now. I can see the pain in the members face, I hope things get better, but i do not see them in finals unless there are some serious changes.

BK- 11th-afternoon 12th finals- I have watched many posts about my former corps so I wanted to see this show first hand. If you are a fan of light hearted shows, this is not for you. One word can describe the show, Dark. I love it!! I would like to rename my corps the Evil Knights!!! The show draws you in with a very stately opening and follows into an even darker ballad. The the closer, the Barber Piano Concerto is just down right mean. The guy next to me said it best. The show builds tension and they get louder then softer then louder then soft until the closer and then wham, they send you running through Hades!!! There is much dirt, in both the drill and the book, but they're are marching by far the most demanding drill of the corps around them. The drill is awesome, it is packed full of visuals and stellar jazz running moves. When these guys clean up, Watch Out!!! I talked with the staff afterwords and they said the judges really dig it, they just want it to be cleaner!! Keep it up Evil Knights!!!!

Spirit- 12th place going into finals 11th-finals- Well done Spirit- you guys will be a force for years to come. The college sponsorship will only make things better and better. On to the show. I like it overall. The hornline and the music is good. The drums and gaurd are pretty strong, and this is a good drill. The feet are a mess right now. I see quite a few different marching techniques as I look form individual to individual. And body posture and horn facings are a problem right now. If these things can be fixed I think these guys are in like flynn!!!

Seattle- Wow, again let me say Wow!! and this is your first year in Div. 1 are you kidding me? Great job guys. This is a wonderful program that includes a great drill and an awesome hornline. The battery is decent as is the gaurd. I really enjoyed this show!!! That being said I think they have left the door open to Spirit and BK to pass them. They are extremely clean for late July and BK and Spirit are not. When these guys clean up it will be very interesting. Seattle's only small flaw is their small ensemble work which is not sounding to good right now.

X-men- Man these guys got hosed and the crowd booed a little. I love this show although there is something missing in strawberry soup, it seems a little slow maybe? The trio at the end fracked some but my goodness, I'd say that this is the best corps I've seen the Crossmen have. The hornline plays some serious notes and has a rich sound. The drill is the best I've ever seen from them. I really think this is top 5 material. Drumline is good as it always is as is the guard. Maybe a little tweaking needs to be done on Soup, but definantly a high caliber show.

Bluecoats- Attention ladies and Gentlemen the Bluecoats have another man eater hornline this year. I am thoroughly impressed. These guys have a fun show, but it has a much more difficult visual book than in years past. They are performing at a high level in all areas!! I even like when the drum line dances.(see what you've started BK, tsk, tsk) This definantly can only go up.

BAC- Ok, I admit it, when I first heard their show title before the summer I picked them to fall out of the top 12. I am eating my foot as we speak with a little salt and lime. What a magnificent program. I love the American flag set at the end and I really dig the show as a whole. The visual aides are nice, I thought they would be corny, but they really added to the production. The singing was good this year. I liked it much better than in years past. The crowd liked it as well. Great job, well deserved.

Phantom- Folks this could well be the best pure sounding hornline in DCI. The guard is also phenomenal. I really enjoy the music and the hornline does a great job of playing it. Now, what will keep these guys out of the top 6 is drill. There is nothing to their drill. This show would be so much greater with some visual impact. The maneuvers and the style of drill do not fit the music. The guard work is well done and is as it should be. If these guys had a drill this year that provided some ummphf, they would be able to walk home with a DCI title. They have not had a challenging drill in my opinion since about '95. Fix this and you've got a winner. Best hornline of the night in my opinion.

G-men- I must say that I normally like the G-men, but I could not seem to get into them this year. They have a serious drumline this year, but the brass is no where near as talented. The were some very ugly moments when the trpts. would stop supporting and allow their sound to crash. I do not see this remaining in the top5. In fact I honestly believe we could see BAC, the Coats and X-men in 5, 6 and 7 come finals.

SCV- What an awesome corps. I do not like the uni's at all. Against the light green field the new green looked like mold or something. This show cooks. It is intense and angry form the first down beat. They have a much better hornline and this is the best guard that I remember seeing from them in a while. I would agree that the drill is definantly top 3 but, the music is not. I think that they will dog it out with BD for 3rd until finals.

BD- People had been saying that they move more than they have. Really, I didn't notice. Maybe it is because they are not flashy when they move or that there is not much break neck speed to them. That said, I like this show, I enjoy it from a musical and guard prospective, I think though that down the road the drill designs as they stand now will eat their lunch. The crowd really dug the soloist as I did as well. Awesome job, will battle SCV for 3rd the rest of the way.

Cadets- I am not a Cadet fan, but WOW!!! This is a shear emotion show. Boogie Woogie is absolutely the best thing I have seen in a while. The drill is much improved this year from the past couple. The drums are unbelievable as is the gaurd!! Hands down the best guard in DCI. Not even close!! The hornline is good, there are a few feety sounds in the opener, but that was about it. An absolutly amazing show. I think they have a shot to catch the Cavies if they keep working on cleaning the drill. There is certainly enough impact.

Cavies- Just when you think you have seen the best visual package the Cavies come and one up it!! I love this show. What a beautiful hornline, the ballad chord release thing sent shivers up my spine. Wonderful dark sounds. The drill is unreal and the visuals are as well. I like the chant, but I really like the visuals that are done when the crops is in side the frame. Great job, far and away the best battery in DCI again. They are well on their way to a 3-peat.

Final thoughts- What a super day for Drum Corps. The quality of drum corps is definantly on the rise. There are so many story lines this year and a variety of shows. For those of you that want entertainment there is some. If you like abstract there is some. If you like mean and dark there is some of this too. I got up at 7:00 AM yesterday and went to sleep at 5:00 AM this morning. It felt like being on tour all over again with those hours!!! Great job by all, what a great summer.

Wes Perkins
BK '97 '98

Sorry I'm late but I just got in from what was a great show... thank to all the corps I got to see... all you guys are the greatest... but there was an occuring theme to the show I noticed from almost everyone... "DIRTY" everyone had a lot of dirt in their shows.... so here we go in no particular order...

Southwind: didnt see
Pioneer: didnt see
Revolution: didnt see
Colts: didnt see

Blue Knights: I didnt see I heard them..... well at least I thought I did... most of everything I heard was back field... I thought I was on the wrong side of the Alamodome at one point actually, no kidding... but what I heard was ok there was nothing that got me going really I didnt think what I heard was good enough for the night show, but I guess I had to see it to get the full effect of it....

Cascades: their show was really dirty... there were time where you couldnt even tell what the form was supposed to be...but on the other hand their sounds and their visual package was very good...I really liked the music and how it was arranged, and hats off to the soloist in Simple Song that was truly beautiful on a song that is one of my fav. Bernstein pieces... but their score was a little bit inflated for the day show.... I thought what they got that night was about where they should've been...even though the night show a little cleaner it was still dirty once they get it down, there gona be a force to reckon with.

Crown: excuse me on this one because I dont remember the middle of the show because I feel asleep... honestly this show did nothing for me, and I usually like what Crown does... but this was one of the most boring shows I've ever seen... nothing they did visually really struck me and made me go "hey that was cool"... and about the guard uniforms, yeah how about NO....

Madison: who I thought was the biggest surprise of the whole day.... after reading all the post about dirtiness in the feet and all this stuff, it WAS NOT THERE AT ALL.... but the colorguard was simply embarrasing... BTW so all of you know... all of you think Madison doesn't give a care about the judges and scorees... youre absolutely wrong... I hung out with a lot of the guys the night before and theyre totally not happy about what going on with them, and its sad because they know what it is, and even the colorguard themselves know, thats exactly why they had an hour sectional right after their performance.... anyway back to what I was saying..... Madison was really clean yesterday in their feet, and form wise... they just lack a few visual knock here and there they could do something with..... but they did the coolest visual when the entire corp broke down into the Caoperia Martial Arts...... that hornline is the best hornline I've heard in years... I would put this one against 95, and this one would win because the sound was more compact and darker, by far the most sound produced at the entire show..... drumline was on that day, I felt they should've won that caption too, but for some unobvious reason the Crusaders beat them.... you know its not the entire colorguard that hurting them....... just those guys from the X-Men, how do I know because I pointed every single one of them out during the show... at one point they twirled flags the opposite direction as everyone... so do I agree with Madison's overall score??? No.... why?? Because no one during the afternoon performed as good as they as a complete package but you cant do it with such a bad guard... Madison wouldve been better off this year without the X-Men.....

Sorry about how long that was, but I had a lot to say about that......

Boston: "dirty, dirty, dirty"...they're opening set where they're standing to get started never even made it.... the middle was in nowhere's land and I don't understand I guess in order to be placing this high in the DCI ranking now you don't have to play in tune, or play without phasing problems because Boston had both of these, and bad....... I was really looking foward to hearing that show, instead I should've went and gotten me a soda because it really disappointed me..... it was a cool concept, and they picked out good music, but the arranging, and the playing of it did nothing for me both times I heard it... their score was inflated also... they were in no way better than the Bluecoats.

Bluecoats: BLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!! I absolutely loved this show it was entertaining from top to bottom, and I've never been really big on them, but now theyve gotten a new fan...... nice sound especially in the opening chords and melodies... their drill is lacking a bit that's partly why they haven't started pushing the Glassmen and Phantom, but if they worked and tried to add a litle bit more pizzaz to the drill, they could do it.... GO BLUECOATS... keep doing what you're doing and you'll start being a headliner soon... even though you guys were one Saturday night.

Crossmen: nice show, nice design, but I thought they lacked the energy in their show tonight... I don't know, maybe it was being on that bus from Houston the night before or what, but they didn't seem like they were totally into it last night... the ballad was absolutely beautiful... especially the last note which I though was as good as you can make that note sound... it was full, controlled, and in tune...... the Crossmen had a bold sound, at time a little to bold in the Baritone section... but they've come a long way in one year, and I thought they were right where they should've been........

B.D: again...... dirty.... the opening move was pretty bad... the entire show they had bad interval problems all over the place, but overall its a great show... after "It Dont Mean a Thing" the music gets kind of flat to me.... Channel One just didn't have that Blue Devils pizzaz last night... I think they were maybe tired or worn out too because when I saw them warming up a lot of the guys looked dead to the world.... the guard is the highlight of the show though to me... it was soooooooooooooo great, I'm not sold on the uniforms yet, but the things they did were great......

Glassmen: I think thoce new shirts they were selling were telling the truth a little bit to much......... the highlight of the show for them was the soloist in the ballade... amazing tone and technique... I dont think ive evern head a tone like that in DCI ever on any recordings.... he is simply amazing and he kept me from totally blowing off this show.... there was one point where they were Mojoin' in the show... I don't know why because there was no need to... they didn't get a very good crowd response either... that entire show was just flat to me and I honestly don't know how they beat Phantom........

SCV: I like this show..... drill is great, they way they sell the show's title and the design of the show is great...there's one thing that is keeping them from retopping B.D., and that's people sticking out.... you could literally point out people in the show because they were playing so loud at time when they shouldn't have....and there was a "trumpet" player that played extremely loud and flat the entire show... at the end of thw show, the thing that hurt them the most, the form never hit..... the diamond didn't form at all... the middle of it looked like over 1/2 the corp didn't know their spots exactly the way they should... and that's not the last thing you want a judge to see... you want them to see you stick your last move with ease.......

Cadets: WHY ARE THEY SCORING THAT FAR BEHIND THE CAVIES??? They were definitly crowd favorite tonight... and boy did they please....... this show got me out of my seat the entire time..... I'm not totally sold on how they changed the ballade though, I liked they way it started the begingin of the summer better than the pledge of allegience but it was still beautiful and moving..... whoever their colorguard and visual instructors are need to be really comended for what they did in this show..... it was just soooooooooo energetic... and the part in the closer with the "release" toss........... WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!!! I've never seen a rifle line stick a toss like that before....... all in all, I honestly thought the Cadets had what it took to finally break the Cavies streak of not loosing... but when you break the shows down it boils down to this..... the Cadets just didn't move as much as the Cavies this year... which isnt normal for the Cadets, but I see and upset happening come finals week....... and I'm on the Cadets ship for all its worth........

Cavies: this is just like last year... I'm not entirely sold on this show, dont get me wrong... it is great, but its not nearly up there with the likes of 2000 and 2001... this show has its moments but it doesnt make you gasp everytime they hit a set.....they didnt really crank up the tempolike you expected them to except for that one may be the fact that they move more than the Cadets, but during a lot of their hardest moves and sets. It was just the drumline playing and that happened a lot of the time....and I think something like that should have an affect on their score.... I thought their score was inflated partly because it wasnt the Cavies I expected, they had a little bit more dirt than the Cadets, but I mean they still do great things.......GO GUARD!!!!!

Phantom: "THEY'RRRRREEEE BAAAAAAAACK" putting them on last was a great idea because they cranked out some sound...... next to Madison and the Cadets Phantom had the boldest sound.... when they hit the slow part in the closer it absolutely brought me to my feet for the rest of the show....."BUICKS" (phantoms baritones) just amazing, unmatched all show... they were very intense,and dark... whatever Pete Bond did to them this summer was great... I haven't heard a sound like that from Phantom ever........ what's keeping them from top 4??? The closer....... the drill is just way to easy, they don't do anything to make you go "ooohhhh" they slow the marching tempo down and instead of bringing it back up and making a smoking closing statement, they left you dry.... but my one of my friends who marched told me that they've already revised the drill for the closer and they're gonna start learning it next week.... so hats off to Phantom... you guys really impressed me...

Before I go I have to say one thing..... I don't think that retreat is taken nearly serious enough.... you're playing songs to honor your country and you goof off and make it sound bad..... people from the Crossmen, Cascades, Spirit, and someone else I couldn't point them out seemed like they didnt even care they were holding and blasting their guts off in soft spots...i mean come on guys... have a little bit more respect for what you're playing, and what you're playing it for.......... and one last thing..... I don't think you guys should count Madison out at all... they came out and the did what they needed to, and they said that's what they plan to do the rest of the summer, because they're tired of being counted see how close they are.... 13th place.... it's all left up to the guard now... any progress in score has to begin with them and also end with them.... if not, then there will be a Madison-less finals, but lets not hope for it....they've got the hornline and the drumline to make a push...."COME ON GUARD, IT'S CRUNCH TIME" hope you guys enjoyed the review.

Shaka Hawkins

Blue Knights - 12th - 78.50
I may be a little biased toward this corps as my cousin marches in their snareline, but I thought they were pretty good. If nothing else, they're at least a lot better thanthey were last year when they did that stupid Blue Toons show. This corps is definitely very talented and I was pretty impressed with their brass. Unfortunately, the show isn't really that enjoyable. It consists of some Shostakovich Piano Concertos, which, when I heard about, I thought, "hey cool, BK is playing Shostakovich", but it ends up just being too dark and too esoteric for the audience to enjoy upon first listen. Hopefully, their staff will learn to design a decent show sometime soon. I though their on-field warmup was pretty cool, though. I'm a big fan of their '99 Trittico show, and it sounded like they played part of that as the warmup. I think they deserved their placement in 12th, no matter how bad I feel for my cousin.

Spirit- 10th - 79.95
This is definitely the best Spirit I have ever seen. The last time I heard them was at the Dallas show in '99, and this is like a completely different corps. I love the way the baby blue looks on the corps. They just have this presence on the field now that was non-existent with those crappy cream-colored things they used to wear. The opener might remind some people of the Glassmen's 2001 show, what with the random punch chords tied in with some body movement. I was a little worried that the whole show might be like that, but they pleasantly surprised me. Their ballad is absolutely gorgeous and definitely something that everyone should get to listen to this summer. After seeing a few of the Spirit kids in uniform in the stands, it appears as if this Spirit corps is fairly young, which I guess is a good thing considering how well they are doing. I think this corps has a very bright future and will most likely finish in the top 12 this year.

Seattle Cascades - 10th - 79.95
It is so incredibly hard for me to believe these guys were in Div 3 just 2 seasons ago. They play a whole lot of Bernstein stuff, and I think they do it quite well. Profanation was done very well, as was Preludes, Fugues, and Riffs, and I never object to hearing Make Our Garden Grow done on the field. The only complaint I have is that they took the green sash out of their uniform. Maybe I just wasn't sitting close enough, but it was really hard to see anything other than black and white on their uniforms. Hopefully they'll change this sometime in the next few years. Overall, I thought their show was very good, and look forward to seeing their progress in the future. It's so great to have another corps break into the top 12.

Crossmen - 9th - 83.80
I was really psyched about hearing these guys after only getting to see them from the side at the Dallas show. Unfortunately, I think they had an off night. The music was really cool, and they have an awesome hornline, but they just seemed to lack emotion. One thing I do think is really cool is the fact that they are marching a 6-man flugelhorn section. I always hear a lot of people complaining that the middle voices sound thin with just the mellos, but it appears now that at least 2 of the corps (scv and xmen) are experimenting with different alto voicing. The flugel line definitely adds another dimension to their sound, bridging the gap between the mellos and trumpets. I love what the Crossmen have been doing since their 2000 show, and I hope they continue doing it in the future. This show has the potential to be higher than 9th, but I guess only time will tell.

Bluecoats - 8th - 84.20
I may be a bit biased toward the 'Coats also because I plan on auditioning there this Fall. But anyway, I missed these guys in Dallas because of one of my friends had somewhat of an emergency, so I was definitely psyched to see their show. This show is definitely very cool and very entertaining. The corps looks like their having a whole of fun performing this show, and that's what all about, isn't it? The brass is very solid and they handle the high visual demand pretty well. Honestly, I didn't go in expecting a whole lot, but they were really impressive. They should do very well in Madison.

Boston Crusaders - 7th - 84.55
I definitely dig the Boston Crusaders this year. The show is somewhat similar to the Cadets' show, in that it has a patriotic theme. Throughout the whole show, the guard has these things that I can only guess are overhead projector screens like the ones you see in schools all of the time. Two guard members whole each side and then walk away from each other, revealing a message printed on the screen. They said stuff like "Liberty is Unifinished Business" and "Land of the Free", and other various patriotic stuff. I think the effect of the screens was pretty cool, and it was always fun to try and figure where the guard members hid after they closed one of the screens. In the middle of the show, the whole corps starts dancing around and playing jazz, something I didn't ever think I'd see out of Boston, but it's done very well. The crowd got really into this part of the show. I love the way this how ends, and apparently, so did the crowd. The whole corps makes uses of their uniforms and the guard use their flags to great effect by getting the shape of an American flag and laying down on the field. The hornline was the red stripes in the flag, some of the guard the white stripes and the rest of the guard was hold holding flags with stars on them. All in all a very neat effect that the crowd dug. They sing again this year, and I think it's done very tastefully, and definitely adds something to the show. Good ol' BAC, always singing. =) I'm looking forward to seeing these guys butt heads with the 'Coats and Xmen in the future.

Phantom Regiment - 6th - 85.80
I've been a big Phantom Phan since 2000 and it's nice to see they've got another very good show this year. I believe this is the first time they've played Shostakovich since their '96 show, though I could be mistaken. Either way, it's very nice to have the two (PR and Dmitri) back together again. As Forrest would say, they're like peas and carrots. The show is definitely very dark, but in a good way, unlike BK's show. The hornline is very good and something I'm very happy about is the fact they're doing a real ballad this year. I can't say that I liked last year's "ballad" very much, as those of who you saw last year's show can probably relate to. With such dark music, though, you would expect them to be in black uniforms, instead of the khaki/white unis. Maybe they'll go back to black sometime in the future. Near the end of the show, be sure to look for the PR logo drill form. But anyway, it's good to see PR continue on their journey to the top. On another note, PR gets my vote for best souvie shirt. Look for the dark grey shirt with the PR logo in the center.

Glassmen - 5th - 86.15
A lot of people seem to think that the Glassmen are boring, but I'd have to say I'm a pretty big fan of this year's show. They're no Cadets, but the show definitely has its moments. The music is very pretty and executed very well. The amazing flugel soloist is back again, though it isn't nearly as technical a solo was it was last year. Either way, it was done beautifully. Though I wish PR was beating them, I can see why the Gmen are scoring so high. They have a great hornline, and as always, they march very gracefully. I laughed when I saw their souvie booth, as they've seemed notice people think that they are boring, and have created shirts to poke fun at themselves. There are three says BoringT, another says "BorinBb, We took the G out of Boring", or something to the effect, and the third one, "Glassmen, Boring our way into your Hearts". I think it's cool that they can poke fun at themselves. If the kids enjoy what they're doing and don't mind the fact that most people think they're boring, then hey, more power to them.

Santa Clara Vanguard - 4th - 89.30
First thing I noticed was the new uniform design. They've taken the dark green on the pants and jacket and lightened them up a lot. It took a while to get used to it, but I think it was a good decision to make. I usually get to listen to SCV's show a few times in mp3 before I actually see them live, but unfortunately this year it doesn't look like anyone has any bootleg recordings of them. As such, it took a bit for me to get into this show. I'm sure it will be great after I listen to it a few times, but I can't say that I could sing any part of the how right now. I think they'll do well again this year, but most likely will be stuck in 4th, like always.

Blue Devils - 3rd - 90.35
It's amazing the difference a couple of days can make. These guys were so much better tonight than they were on Thursday at the Dallas show. I think they've changed the show around a bit since then, and it definitely made a difference. After Thursday, I pretty much figured that BD would be stuck in 3rd this year, but who knows...I can see them making a climb to at least 2nd. Who knows...anything can happen. The show was very entertaining tonight, and I didn't get the feeling that the arrangements were choppy, as some people have said. The guard is amazing, and the hair as a prop thing is really cool. The soloists were on tonight and overall it was just a great show. Props to BD for doing an entertaining show this year. None of that Awayday Blue crap we got stuck with last year.

The Cadets - 2nd - 90.50
These guys were also a notch up from Thursday night. I think the opening drill move has been changed a bit, and they also added some pictures of advertisements and such from the 40's on the sides of those big black blocks that the guard and soloists stand on. Boogie Woogie was awesome, as usual, and the hornline just seemed really on tonight. I think the best part of this show is when the all-male rifle line starts spinning their rifles and yelling stuff out. I can't really explain it too well, but it's definitely awesome. There were so many parts of this where I got the chills. The part where the guys change from regular clothes in military uniforms gets me everytime. I don't know what to say other then that. This is definitely one of the best Cadet's show ever, and even if they don't win, it won't matter, people will remember this show for years to come.

The Cavaliers - 1st - 92.45
I don't know if anyone is going to be able to touch these guys this year. The hornline is amazing, the drumline is phenomenal, and the guard smokes. I dig the music and the drill is awesome, as usual. Also, it seems as if the Cavies have maybe found a new trademark dance move. They did this thing a few times in the show where they turned back and forth, and moved their arms like they were running or something. Kind of hard to describe, but I think if you see it you'll know what I mean. I don't really know what else to say other than that I think this is the best hornline drum corps has ever seen. I don't see anyone catching them this year.

So that's it. This was definitely the best DCI show I've ever been to. There was not a single show I didn't enjoy. This is such a spectacular year for drum corps, I can't even begin to explain how great this show was. One of the coolest parts of the night was the guy I was sitting by. He said he was on the Cadets' bass line in the 60's the first year they allowed rudimental bass drumming was also drum major sometime in between '60 and '65. It was so awesome just talking to him about all the corps and hearing all of his stories and stuff. It was so cool to talk to an old timer and not get the feeling that drum corps now is somehow inferior than what it used to be. His name was Ken Samara, I believe, but someone feel free to correct me.

But anyway, that's about it for now. Feel free to leave comments about the review as I spent a good deal of time on it. Maybe next year I'll be on the other side, performing for you guys.

Jay Mendoza
Dallas, TX

I may be a bit longwinded so bare with me. I wanted to jot down some notes after each performance but decided it would be a pain so I am doing this by memory, this being the first and only time I will see all these groups this year. So I won't cover everyone equally, just the ones that I can remember. I am a snare drummer by trade but think I have a pretty good ear. I hardly watch the color guard unless they are being featured.

I had perfect seats for viewing drill. I was as close to the 50 as possible on the first row of the 2nd deck. 3rd straight year I have had these seats and I plan on being there next year. GREAT SEATS!!

disclaimer: I marched in high school band and have followed drum corps religously since 1990. I have been to at least one show every year since 90 and have been to San Antonio 4 years straight now (this was the first time I didn't have to drive back to Houston the same night...THANK GOD!!).

Caroline Crown: The drum line is great. Unfortunately at times that is all you can hear. I felt like they should have been playing with a more powerful Div 1 corps. At times the brass was barely there. If this was the corps where the guard guys wore the togas...not flattering. I really wasn't that impressed with the show overall.

Blue Knights: I have never been a big fan but came in with an open mind (I will repeat this for Glassmen) It is very dark show as so many have stated before. The brass is very powerful when they lay into it. I still do not like the dancing brass. It seemed like there were as much body movement as playing notes. In the afternoon show, I saw one poor girl who either just learned the show or had a REALLY bad day. She was a couple beats slow on every movement, like she was watching the person in front of her and then copying it. It carried over into the drill after they stopped doing body movements. I enjoyed them much better during the evening show even though they dropped a place. It is probably a show I will like on cd, just not something I could watch over and over.

Madison Scouts: UGH!! The guard!!!! I hate to see the score so low! I thought the show was great. I tried to watch the show from a judge's perspective and see where they are scoring so low. Half way through the show I realized I hadn't even looked at the guard once. I watched for a while and knew exactly why they have been scoring where they have been. One review said something about how it looked like some had just learned the show. I could not agree more. The rifles were so tentative, like you could feel them thinking what move is coming up next instead of it just flowing out. Does that make any sense?? The drumline was fair to good, very typical Madison drumline. I did enjoy the timpani/tenor seems so obvious, but I don't remember seeing that ever before, very cool. The brass was great. They blow me away, thought they had top brass by a mile for the afternoon show. The drill, for some reason, reminded me of 92 City of Angels. It had a lot of rotating and expanding lines. It was all done fairly cleanly and at a high level of difficulty. They were really running at some points. The problem is obviously the guard...visual and GE visual will always be scored low when this is such an issue. I wish them the best and hope they can resolve that part of their show. I do believe they will be in finals at Madison. FYI: my dog is named Madison, gotta love it.

Seattle Cascades: I am mainly impressed with how fast they have come-on in Div 1. I think it is great and hope they build off their tremendous success from this year. With that said, it is a very entertaining show and will be a crowd favorite at finals in Madison (you know how the crowd always loves the underdog). BUT I don't remember much about the show. I remember whispering over at my wife during finals, "watch this, this is cool" and then she ooed and awed at the appropriate parts. I just don't remember what they did to inspire the oo's.

Spirit: I missed them in prelims and wasn't too impressed with their show in finals. After seeing finals, I thought that there is no way Madison should have been left out even with the guard issues. I see them being edged out of finals come Madison.

Boston Crusaders: As with most of the shows I got to see twice that day, I enjoyed the second viewing much more. My wife was unimpressed even though they do a great job of tugging at your emotions. The singing was much better during the evening. I heard more individuals during the afternoon show which really takes away from the effect. In the evening, it sounded much more like a choir: balanced sound, nice tone. I am usually not a big fan of singing during a show (I am one of a few who didn't like 2000 show) but this was pretty good. I didn't like the phrases written on the scrolls only because they had problems with them in both shows. Fix the problem so it isn't a distraction and I might appreciate it more. At the end of the evening show, a banner reads "Let Freedom Ring" but it didn't open up all the way so they ended the show with a banner front and center that read "et Freedom Ring". The pictures are great during the show except for Marilyn Monroe. I don't know why I haven't seen anybody else mention this but she looks NUDE!!! You can hear giggling from the high school kids when the picture is unraveled and I found myself staring at it for a while trying to see if she really was topless or not. I asked my wife if it was because I am nearly blind but she agreed it seemed like a strange picture to put up there with JFK Jr and a sorrowful fireman from 9/11. At any rate, the show will continue to be a success. I see them behind Glassmen by quite a few points in Madison.

Bluecoats: Sad story of the evening. We were staying at a friends in San Antonio so we wouldn't have to drive back to Houston that night. We planned on leaving early but were held up for whatever reason. We would have been fine until we got to the dome and parking was a nightmare. We waited and waited to get into what seemed like the last parking lot on the planet. It wasn't pretty, there are some serious idiots out there. All that to say we didn't make it in time to see Bluecoats. We caught the last 2 minutes of the show waiting to get to our seats and it sounded great. I am really happy to see them place where they are. I can't wait to see them on the dvds.

Crossmen: A lot of visual dirt but overall a very fan-friendly show. I enjoyed last year's show more but still a very entertaining show. My first thought was they seemed to be moving a lot quicker than past bones show. Percussion feature is top notch and really enjoyed Strawberry Soup. *sidenote* my wife gets so excited when she recognizes past tunes in shows and I wish everyone could see her face light up when she heard the first few phrases. * I remember being impressed by the guard although no specific segments stick out right now. Great show, I am sure they will make a move on Bluecoats and BAC.

-I will list the remaining corps in order of entertainment value starting with the least and going to my favorite of the evening

6. Glassmen: I have never been a big fan but came in with an open mind (told you). For me, Glassmen are difficult to take in the first few times. The more I watch/listen to the show the more I like it so I am sure, eventually, I will like this show...BUT...the other night I didn't care for it very much. They are very good, very clean, very powerful but just don't reach out and pull you in. It is done well but I couldn't help but think to myself during the show, so who is on next. I really hoped I wasn't going to be another one of those people that seem like they have such a closed mind but what I can I say. I am sure it will grow on me but for this first viewing, it didn't "do it for me".

5. Close call but it has to go to SCV. Unlike Glassmen, I KNOW I will like this show after watching and listening to it a few more times. It is done so well. The guard is absolutely awesome and drumline as always blew my mind. I was most impressed by the drill. I would put them second behind Cavies visually, absolutely flying at break-neck speeds. The four rotating blocks at the end really gets the crowd going for that last musical push. It is a very exciting ending to a great overall show. They deserve the high scores they are getting. I actually see them closer to BD, Cadets, and Cavies. Oh, the low brass sound surpasses any that I can recall. "It is like a bath in chocolate!!!"

4. Phantom: This could be long....I was lucky enough to watch Phantom practice a lot on Thursday about 5 minutes from where I work. They worked hard on the opener and keeping the tempo up during that segment. That evening I watched the drumline work on the same segment both standing still and marching a block around the parking lot (basically a circle around my truck..AWESOME!!!) Then from 9-11 they did a full corps rehearsal. The guard seemed like they had just added some backfield prop stuff during the ballad which might have been why their score was a little low Sat evening (6th).

As has been stated a dozen times here, the brass sound is superb!! When they line up at their opening position in a company front and hit you with that full sound, GOOSE BUMP CENTRAL!!! It was honestly the first time my wife and I had goose bumps all over that night (sat night).

I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the show in San Antonio. I think only because I watched them practice certain parts and noticed other parts that seemed to be dirty. So during their show, I listened and watched for those rough spots and most of them were still a bit dirty. I think the final run through Thursday evening after a day of rehearsing in the hot Texas sun was better than what they put on the field in San Antonio. I think if I had not seen them rehearse in Houston, I would have been more excited about the show in SA. Overall I think it is a great show and hope they will close in on SCV, after passing Glassmen but 4th or 5th being the highest they could score. I agree with someone who said the closer drill is lacking. I was disappointed when I first saw the final moments Thursday evening as well as Saturday in SA. BUT both times, as soon as I saw that leg kick out, I knew it was the end of the show and immediately stood up to applaud. Maybe it was because I was on the first row but it didn't seem like anybody else realized it was the end of the show. It wasn't until they put there horns down that everyone starting applauding and slowly getting out of their seats...not the reaction I expected.

I also think the drumline had an off night. I hate to admit I didn't like how the snares sounded within the hornline. Their features sounded muttled, but of course what didn't given the horrible echo we all had to deal with upstairs. The tempo seemed great during the opener (which is what I think is the highlight of the show). It was pushing the entire opener and definately added to the overall GE.

Last thing, although I like the color of the rifles and how the guard is elogantly dressed, I don't like that you can't see the rifle work. They match the uniforms in the background too much. Even during big tosses, you can barely tell if they are together.

3. BD: The last 3 are probably the most 3 entertaining shows from one year EVER...or at least that I can remember. BD rocked from top to bottom. Their jam fest is just as much fun (ok, almost) as Cadets. The drumline is incredible and guard left my wife screaming her head off. You can really see the talent in the bass drumline during the feature. They play the high-hats with their left hand while playing runs on the bass with their right hands. Absolutely freaking awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed this show which left me thinking, there is no way Cadets or Cavies could be more entertaining. The only corps to leave my ears ringing at the end of the show. They can sustain an incredible volume!!

2. Cadets: Again, everything you have heard about Bugle Boy is correct. If you could only watch 3 minutes of any show this year and you don't care about visual, watch this segment. Just when you think it is over, they go up a notch and part your hair. It is the only moment that night where I wanted to scream obscenities just because noone would ever hear me. IT WAS AMAZING!!! I can not say enough about that part of the show. NOW for the rest. The guard and brass is also mind-boggling. The visual portion is what will keep them from winning DCI this year and even possibly getting 3rd. (yes BD is that good). My one BIG complaint is when the 4 or 5 guard guys get dressed at center stage. I completely understand the significance of the moment but hated watching it. It would have been just as effective if they walked behind a screen carrying the uniforms and come out the other side a minute later completely dressed. I love the idea but really was distracted by how it was done. What can be gained by watching 5 guys zip up their pants? big time DISTRACTION!!! Otherwise great show and I can't wait to blare Bugle Boy on my new speakers.

1. Cavies: WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW Do I need to write anything else? After Cadets, I thought there was no way Cavies could be better, again, I was wrong. They were amazing and hands down the best of the evening. I was not expecting such a great brass sound...beautiful ballad!! The visual package is like nothing you have ever seen. It easily surpasses the last 2 years and is as innovative as you thought the last two years were when you saw those shows for the first time... make sense? Drumline was clean clean clean and believe they would be on top...I just checked and saw they got 2nd to Cadets. The guard was not as impressive to me as BD and Cadets but still I didn't see one drop or any obvious dirt. My complaint was they seemed to get fairly dirty visually at the very end. There is SO much running during the last segment, it got to the point where it seemed like people weren't making their spots and music was fading quickly until the parked and blew the last power cord. One guy tripped and just caught himself before he fell before the final note.

But check this is designed that way. Not the guy almost falling but the fading music. During the encore, I payed attention to the volume during the finale to see how much of a difference there was. Guess what, the show designers know what they are doing. I am not saying I necessarily like it but it seems logical to not have the hornline overdue it while there are running to their spot and then park and blow once they can catch their breath. I would love to see the same experiment done (ala 93 Star) on a cavie to see what kinda heartrate, bp, volume of air, etc, these guys are putting out there.

Overall, what a great show. I left absolutely amazed by how difficult the top 12 shows are getting. And I am so happy that I got to see everyone and not have to travel to the Mecca of drum corps (where ever it might be each year). Best of luck to everyone involved and keep up the incredible work!!! Sorry if I missed your favorite corps, I did my best for 4am.

Andy Brown

Clifton, NJ (DCA)

Just a very quick review, this is only my own personal opinion no disrespect to any of the corps.

First DCA show this year.... Overall, great night for drum corps, everyone was superb.

Brigadiers 85.05 First Place - no question, the best of corps of the night; however, they need to work on some of the facing problems and tone quality at times. I heard some individuals sticking out.
Soloist - especially during the first tone, you guys need to blend a bid more.
Soprano came on, stop dragging, keep up with the tempo.
Mellophone - [I love all your parts] you need to be a bit more confident when you play. You have some wonderful parts, so please play like you mean it. J
Baritone - I'm sure you will take care all the tapering on heard tonight.
Contra - great parts, however you also had some timing issue tonight.
Pit and Percussion - great job tonight, you guys were hot.
Marching - ummm not quite there, I saw a couple of individuals out of steps and having problem with the drill. You guys can definitely march better then that.

Overall, great work guys. It's still early in the season, I'm sure your staff is aware of all theses issues. I can't wait to see you guys Labor Day Weekend. If you work on some the above issues, tapering, timing, individuals sticking out and some of the rhythmic things you are going to be HOT HOT HOT! The word is Ensemble. You guys are definitely making it harder for the rest of the corps. Great sound, loud loud loud and even more loud [I love it]. Excellent repertoire good work!
******* My pick would have been still 1st Place *******

Buccaneers 79.50 Second Place - overall good show and great tribute, I like your drum line. Lots of problems in the horn line, timing issues and people all over the field, it seems as if they where new. Your guard it's very talented, I most say I had you guard in second. I don't know much about guard, but you did some cool stuff. Horn line wasn't as good as last year; however, the drill is very much demanding. I'm sure guys will be fine by Labor Day weekend.
*** My pick would have been 3rd ****

Caballeros 78.45 Third Place - Guys what happen the first minute of the show. I know I know, traditionally this is never your best show. What a sound though! Were you guys loud or what! Guard was outstanding tonight, by far the best guard tonight! Not sure why you didn't win. Again, I truly don't know much about guard, but you guys were on fire. Very impress with the work.
Mellophone - You guys were on tonight! I heard lots of great things.
Baritone - Some individuals sticking out especially during the GE moments
Soprano - You guys sounds extremely well at time.
Pit and Drum line - WOW! I wish I knew how to play drum, what a great book. Lots of tones at time way to many, one 4 of you but you guys are smoking. Nice drum feature, keep up the good work.

The problem with this corps is the blanks and the drum line. Overall, very entertain, sound quality was also good. Work on the opener and the end of the show. Drill and ensemble, the sound and the talent is there, now you just have to combine the two. I truly did enjoy your show at lot. I know you're going to kick some as** come Labor Day weekend. Soloist were EN FUEGO tonight [on fire]
***** My pick would have been 2**********

Bushwackers 75.95 Four Place - great sound and love your drill. Overall good show, work on some of the transition problems that you guys had tonight and some of the timing issues and you'll be fine.
***** My pick would have been 4**********

Hurricanes 75.20 Fifth Place - a lot better then last year I can't comment too much on you guys since I only saw half of your performances.
***** My pick would have been 5**********

Skyliners 63.1 Six Place - Two words for you guys surprisingly loud for your size and very entertain.
*** My pick would have been 6 ****

Okay, this was supposed to be a quick review. I'm getting tired of writing... oh well, thank you all for such an enjoyable night, my 12 dollars were worth paid. Once again, these are my personal opinion, so let's not take anything personal here. Best of luck to all!

Spanish Heart

Hamilton, ONT (DCA)

To start with, if you're looking for scores, I didn't stay to get them. I really don't care who wins, I go for the music.

The International Pageant returned to Hamilton, Ontario tonight to a very appreciative audience. All tickets were general admission and over a thousand corps fans turned out to see the first senior show in this area in years. A quick glance around the crowd seemed to indicate that many of the audience were 45 years or more and were looking forward to re-living the golden years of this show in the early 1960's when it was sponsored by the Hamilton Viscounts.

Both national anthems of the United States and Canada were played by the G.A.S. Alumni corps consisting of Hamilton Firefighter, Toronto Signals Regt., Simcoe United Alumni and other alumni members. This was a nice touch, having drum corps do the anthems instead of a scratchy recording. The best part was the soprano player wearing a genuine 1960 Jolly Jester uniform! The red and white clown suit of the Tastee Freeze boys looked great out there. That was worth the price of admission for me.

A number of exhibition corps preceded the actual 4 corps DCA competion.

First up were the Hamilton Firefighters. Perhaps the first alumni corps in existance, they were formed in 1962 by the City of Hamilton Fire Department. They wore new uniforms tonight; a Caballero type blouse with red cummerbund instead of the traditional Firefighters uniform of the past. As an ex-member of this corps I was partial to the old uniforms but they really looked all right from the stands. Featuring 25 horns and 5 snares, 4 bass and timbales (Go Turk!) they were a big hit with their old time corps sounds under drum major Rick Dixon. Loved the old fashioned rudimental wide open drum line. Snares on slings! And pitched so that humans can hear them, not dogs. Even Earl was well behaved tonight. Great job to my long time friends in this corps.

Next were the United Alumni of Simcoe, Ont. These folks are ex-members of the old Simcoe Royal Blues and Golden Lions along with Flying Dutchmen and others in area. Drum line pushes a cart that has their drums mounted on it. No slings, no harnesses...just push that thing along and enjoy the drumming! Their book of Havah Nagilah, Never Walk Alone had the crowd tapping their feet and humming along to music they actually knew.

Toronto Signals (Second Sigs) took the field with a nice sized corps complete in their military red tunics, haf-busbies and, if you look closely, spurs on their boots! This corps was probably the one that started the corps movement in Canada in the mid 1950's. They would be a military trumpet band on one day and then be the Marching Amabassadors at a corps competition in the States the next day. These guys put on a simple, clean, fun show complete with glockenspiels. They do a very military style show, reminiscent of the corps shows of 1960, complete with a colour presentation! Their salute to Britain was entertaining. Missed them playing "John Peel" tonight... Always enjoyed them and you will too at the Alumni show in Scranton for DCA's.


I saw my first drum corps show at this very stadium in 1959. The first corps I ever saw was Preston Scout House...and there ON THE STARTING LINE with the sun setting behind them they were again! A large hornline of 36 plus, a large drum line consisting of snares, tenors and "swinging" tenors. Drum major and guard members wore the short-shorts we all remembered. Rest of the corps in Scout House aussie hats, red shirts and black pants. They hit the crowd with the traditional "Scout House Fanfare" and roared off the line in a company front to "Men of Harlech". Concert was a medley of beloved Scout House tunes and they exited to "Waltzing Matilda". As they trooped the stands with the old arm swing going the crowd stood and cheered for these folks. They will be in Scranton, Scout House AND Royal Airs...That's just too much!

Okay, so the Alumni corps were nowhere near DCI or DCI quality. But to anyone with a sense of drum corps history, especially at this stadium, this was a great way to start off the show by giving us a perspective on where drum and bugle corps came from....especially in this area. The older people (probably 2/3 of the audience) loved these shows and many fond memories of International Pageants past were rekindled.

The first DCA competing corps was Alleghany Night Storm. They had 10 horns tonight. Man, there is no where to hide in this corps!! One soprano player handled all of the soprano parts. They do an ambitious show with a very small corps and are totally exposed. Great guard work accented their classical musical program. It's a challenge to go out and duke it out with the big boys every Saturday night but these folks performed this program fairly well. If they can get larger in the coming years they will have a very solid core of hard corps vets to build on.

Next out were the Rochester Crusaders. Cru is no stranger to Ivor Wynn Stadium, having participated in every International Pageant ever held there. I remember seeing the Grey Knights there before the merger in 1965. Donny Allen led the corps tonight as drum major and even jumped in with some nice solo work and duet work. Latin music of Arturo Sandovar was part of the show. I wish they had about 15 more horns to flesh out the line, but their first big horn "hit" pinned the crowd to their seats and earned appreciative applause and comments like, "That's what I came to hear". It seems like a more difficult book than the last couple of years. Drum line was hot and intense. Crusaders looked and sounded great tonight.

Hometown Canadian favourites Kingston Grenadiers had the crowd in their pockets because of the venue at first, but once they began playing their Gershwin book they PUT the crowd in their pockets. What a treat to hear well played, exciting and recognizable music! From start to finish the crowd ate this show up. The guy next to me was even singing some of the words, just like my mom used to do when we went to shows. Tight percussion and a good guard complimented their 36 horns. Enjoyed the guard member who rested on a park bench for parts of the show, only to get up and dazzle us with rifle work. This corps looked really good tonight and I was proud of them. Remember when they wore the Hamilton Viscount's old uniforms?? You guys represent Canada well. Again, I wish you had about 15 more horns, but your balance and execution were there tonight.

Empire Statesmen under Dave Bruni took the field as the last competing corps. Featuring a read aloud poem with the corps playing "God Bless America" in the background and spinning into a huge horn hit, this corps announced themselves by pinning the audience to their chairs once again. New uniforms are outstanding. Several St. Joe's Alumni vets are stretching their competitive legs with Empire this year. Good for you!! Your chair is always open in LeRoy when you decide to "retire" once again! Again, recognizable, crowd pleasing music that everyone knew pulled the crowd right into their show. Excerpts from West Side Story and Summertime had the crowd on their feet for 3 standing "O"s. Joey Pero worked the crowd tonight as he made that horn talk! Two guys on bicycles playing horns weaved their way thru the corps just missing some judges. I think they were representing one of the more unusual musical groups in Holland...entire bands that do a field show while riding bicycles. Crowd enjoyed that touch. They get better every week....

Burlington Teen Tour Band was doing the final exhibition when I was on my way out of the stadium. These kids have been to the Rose Bowl 3 times, once even leading the parade. They seem to be in transition...moving from a rather strict, military style marching band and now exploring the more drum corps-like style of field shows. Their guard was attired in a much more corps-like performance uniform and they were doing the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. They are perennial favourites where ever they appear and the "red coats" are well on their way to becoming a more diverse type of marching band. Bands of America watch out!!

As I said, I did not stay for the scores. I would mention that this was a very well run show. Started on time and no gaps. Hamilton Firefighters and Empire Statesmen are to be congratulated on their co-sponsorship of the show. Lawrie Branch, ex drum major of the Woodstock Imperials and Kitchener Flying Dutchmen (sr) did a great job on the microphone tonight. I just wish that Mighty St. Joe's could have been at this show. I would have loved to perform in front of my friends in Hamilton just once. Maybe next year...

Bruce Lindsay

July 20, 2002 -- Hamilton, ONT...Perfect weather greeted the return of drum corps competition to Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium after being absent for a decade. Four competitive senior corps and four alumni corps delighted an audience that filled the stands from field level to the pressbox and out 30 yards to either side of the 550-yard line of this revered CFL stadium. The corps were thrilled with the fan response and the organizers were encouraged by the fan and corps turnout. All involved look forward to next year's edition of the show.

The Empire Statesmen held the audience in the palms of their hands from the very first notes of their moving (pun fully intended :-) warmup of "America the Beautiful" behind their announcer's reading of a Jack Buck poem to the last notes of their medley of songs from "Porgy and Bess", earning three wildly enthusiastic standing ovations from the fans. The corps also elicited applause for their soloists, oohs and ahhs for their guard's dancing and equipment work, and even giggles for the soprano-playing bicycle messengers during "Officer Krupke", a touch reminiscent of "Blast!" Empire Statesmen also impressed the judges, not only earning first place, but sweeping all captions.

(My candid comment: I was looking for a quote from Gadget here, but by the time I had finished with the other corps, Empire Statesmen had disappeared. Sorry, Gadget! :-( )

All aspects of the Rochester Crusaders' visual program have improved since last year. The drill challenged the members, who marched it surprisingly well, and intrigued the spectators with its flowing composition and details of motion and color. The guard spun and danced with sparkle, sneaking past the Empire Statesmen's guard in the Design Effect subcaption of the Color Guard sheet. The brass players joined the guard during the percussion feature as 59 people were spinning flags, sabers, and rifles--great color and wonderful effect! The brass played their horns well, too, getting the audience to clap along during "Oye Como Va" and give the corps a standing ovation at the end of the show. The music pleased the members, too. Baritone player Steve Burstall stated "I really enjoy playing the music. (Arranger) Donnie Allen did a very good job this year--it's just challenging enough!"

(RAMDer one interviewed! :-)

The Kingston Grenadiers looked very sharp in their new red-plumed Aussie hats. The best competitive corps in Canada marched and played as sharp as the looked, staying within range of the Rochester Crusaders in Brass and Visual and handily defeating them in Percussion. The brass played with much better tone quality and intonation than they had even at the ends of the past two seasons. While the drill was not as complex as it had been the previous two years, the corps marched it with much greater confidence and precision than the 2000 and 2001 programs. The percussion showed the greatest improvement from previous editions of the corps. Quad player Adam Correia related that "our drumline is smaller, but it's a lot tighter. There's a lot of talent and energy in the line. I'm very happy with this year's line."

(RAMDer two interviewed! :-)

Allegheny Night Storm played their most accessible show in the past three years with Dvorak's "New World Symphony". Staff member and percussionist Adam Street agreed with this assessment. "The staff is more cohesive this year and is giving the members a drum-corps friendly show--enjoyable to perform and easier for the fans to enjoy." The highlight of the show was the guard, which looked good even standing in a pose. They also danced well, spun well, and recovered quickly and gracefully from mistakes. Even though six of the 35 members failed to make it north of the border, the corps gave a very brave performance and managed to earn a sincere and enthusiastic response from the crowd.

(Didn't know any RAMDers here, or I'd have interviewed them, too!)

Four alumni corps representing Ontario's storied drum corps past performed before the contest. Members of all four alumni corps present (as well as a few not performing as units, such as the Jolly Jesters) massed together to play "Oh Canada" at the start of the show.

(They also played "The Star-Spangled Banner", but I missed it).

The Hamilton Firefighters, one of the show's co-sponsors, played their parade and standstill repertoire, including "What a Difference a Day Makes" and "Brazil", in a concert formation. They paraded off during their last song to a standing ovation.

(Literally paraded off!)

The Central United Alumni of Simcoe marched into their concert formation, where they played rousing arrangements of "Hava Nagilah", "Never Walk Alone", "Scotland the Brave/Auld Lang Syne", and "Malaguena". The audience clapped along to the songs and applauded their soloists, but gave them a standing ovation as they marched off to their drum line playing their steet beat on their trademark rolling drum carts.

(Not a bad idea for a non-competitive corps full of "Old Farts" ;-)

The Toronto Signals Band performed a full field show, with "The French National Defile" off the line, "What do you do with a Drunken Sailor" as their drum and bell solo, "The Maple Leaf Forever" for color presentation, "Saint Louis Blues March" in concert, "British Grenadiers/Scotland the Brave" out of concert, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" for a second drum and bell solo, and "Rule Brittania" as the finale. The audience clapped and sang along to the music and then gave the corps a standing ovation at the end.

(Forgot the honor guard changing to all Union Jacks at the end--nice old-school GE touch!)

While the other alumni units merely evoked the past, the Preston Scout House Alumni Bugle Band sent the entire audience through a time machine back to the late 1950s during their performance. Not only did they sound just like they did back in their competitive glory days, but they marched as if they were still competing, executing as if judges from the Royal Canadian Legion were standing by with tick sheets on their clipboards. The result was two standing ovations for the corps' field show. Despite the successful illusion of time travel, two changes were apparent to close observation. First, the corps was no longer playing on their original brass lacquer finish Bb piston/slide bugles from the 1950s. They have been replaced by a full set of new silver plated three-piston Bb marching brass, including trumpets, fluegels, french horns, baritones, and euphoniums. The Scout House purchased the set with a CDN$56,000 grant from the provincial government. Second, there are now women in the ranks as the corps accepted alumni from other corps. Despite these changes, the spirit of the corps remained the same.

(You can tell I liked the Scout House!)

The Burlington Teen Tour Band performed its field show while the competitive units formed up for retreat and then played the DCA corps on while standing in parade formation.

(Glad I covered this show!)

Vince Lamb

Friday July 19

Houston, TX (DCI)

Well, just a little after midnight CST and here writing down a few observations from my upteenth exSightment of Sound show here in Houston,TX.

Held on the wonderful campus of Rice University, this is astroturf, hot muggy Gulf of Mexico weather.

Overall, crowd seemed subdued but a big crowd nonetheless. For somereason, all the hornlines did not seem as loud as before. Maybe it was because of the new key Bb instruments?

Preshow -- Percussion One. High school independent drum line.

Crossmen -- good everything.

Phantom Regiment -- guard reminded me of the Troopers. Old style uniforms, dark blue and black leggings, then they shed them later for like these red and black silk slips. Wonderful horn sound.

Cadets -- Oh boy. Boogie Woogie is *the* song this season. Wonderful dancing by the guard and wonderful playing by the entire horn and percussion. Definite crowd favorite. The guard, I love those different-style uniforms for each member. That is my favorite thing about them, that someone/people designed it that way. Smokin' battery, I think best of the evening. Snares especially good and with 6 quads. WoW!

Intermission -- The very good announcer interviewed Neil Laravee from Cadets over the stadium system and it was a good exchange of a LITTLE bit of what the Cadets music philosophy was. You don't see this too often at all and it was a great idea. Wish more shows would do this type of thing.

Cavaliers -- Oh my Gawd. Sheer recollections of the movie, "Tron" with the guard uniform. And all that kewl "dancing" moves the entire guard and horn makes! It was so kewl and fun even these old people in their 80s were saying, "Man that's really cool" cause it was!!! Sort of reminded me of last years, "New Era" rap dance by Santa Clara. Best horn line of the night, wonderful tones. The show really really works. It's different to say the least. The shiny red poles and frames the guard uses are put to very good use. And the drill is absolutely amazing.... Cavaliers are really destined to take the championship again.

Glassmen -- Ok.. sorry I went and got a soft drink.

Blue Devils -- The Rag Time was really good and it was different from years past of BD. Not really in your face but delicate in a way. Guard is OUTSTANDING. The color of the everything is just really really attention grabbing and with the bowler hats of the guard and Fosse-style dancing, it all works. House of Rising Sun was good. OVerall horn line seemed to having phasing problems and seemed not up to par as past years. The marching was good, but the design in the closer is really subpar. It just isn't as good as Cavies or Cadets. Sorry to say this but this is not a top two show. The ending 5 minitues just doesn't clinch it. Channel One Suite is very differently arranged and it's good.


Okay, this is a day late since I spent another day in Houston. . .so I have had some time to think about the show last night. Rice is a nice venue, but because of some rain earlier in the day the show started late and it seemed every corps (especially the guards) suffered a bit from this.

I had my fiancee with me at the show. She is a non musician somewhat corps newbie, so I will interject some of her thoughts throughout also.

Anyway, on to the show. . .

CROSSMEN They were not nearly as on as they were the previous night in Dallas. You could tell the wet turf was gonna mess with the guard's right from the beginning almost. The groove was just not quite there tonight, but with that said I still love this show a great deal! I think if they continue cleaning they have a great shot at top 5. I don't see them staying behind both PR and GMen.
Fiancee says they were not as "fabulous" as the pervious night.

PHANTOM This was my first viewing of this show. The positives are that this is one of the most improved guards of the season. The opener is totally sold with some great guard design, and I love the uniforms also. The hornline is great, also. . .but there were a few points in the show where I heard some heroes sticking out. What I did not care for is that the visual design seems a bit safe to me. It is moderately effective, but the demand is not nearly as high as Glassmen and some of the other top corps, IMO. This is definitely a step in the right direction for Phantom, but I don't see them higher than 6th unless some changes are made.
Fiancee said the guard should have done more layering. A good portion of the show the guard is all on the same equipment at the same time.

THE CADETS They were also not quite as on as in Dallas. The guard had about 5 drops from what I noticed. Even though this was probably not their best show to date, I still think the point spread is much too big between them and Cavies. . .more on that later. This is an amazing show that has the crowd from the first downbeat to the last cutoff. Awesome!
Fiancee says "I think it rocks!"

CAVALIERS Well, it is not quite what I expected in certain areas. I had listened to a recording of the show many times, and I especially wanted to pay attention to how the crowd reacted to the show, both to the visual and musical elements. For probably the first 2/3 of the show, the crowd around me hardly reacted at all. The pointing chord stereophonic thing got some oos and ahhs, though (very cool!). Then the crowd finally seemed to get into the show when the box/groove section began. Now, granted this is a big stadium, so I can't say what the entire crowd's reaction was, but the hundreds of people within earshot of me just did not seem to get into a lot of the show, aside from the Cavies' girlfriends about 10 rows up. Now, I will say this. . .they have an awesome hornline, they march much better than last year, are relatively clean for this time of year, and the guard compliments the show well. . .BUT why does the hornline never get above mf?. . . very reserved hornline. So, I got home today and checked the recaps and I wanna know what the GE Music judges are smokin? You can easily see why Cavies are dominating certain captions. . .it's clear cut. . .BUT if GE has anything to do with the crowd's reaction to the show, then the Cavies should be scoring in the middle of the pack in the GE Music subcaption behind corps like Crossmen, Blue Devils, and The Cadets. This is where I think there is some inflation involved and where the point spread is just too large. Unless some changes are made, I hope this show is passed up.
Fiancee says she did not like the Tron guard unis (she mentioned N'Sync video), but she liked the flag matching to the unis in one part of the show. She said she just was not excited until the box.

GLASSMEN This show may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it is far from boring. The soloist was very on tonight. What I like best about the Glassmen is that they are not afraid to take risks. From the music they pick to their drill design they take a lot of risks. There are about 4 or 5 points in the show where the entire corps is spread throughout the field almost to end zone, and often times with soft music going on. Its a good show by a good corps, but I did enjoy last year's show more. I think the only weakness they have right now, and it is not that bad, is their guard. The guard just seems to nt be on the same level as the rest of the corps.

BLUE DEVILS The improvement in one night in this corps is amazing. Those who are wondering why their visual scores are rising while all the changes are being made. . .well, they deserve the scores. Not only that, this show has gone from a show everyone said had no flow to it, to a fun, exciting, total musical/visual package. Along with The Cadets, I feel the Devils have a championship show with a total package that once is cleaned should be amazingly tough to beat. I am hoping these 2 corps end up duking it out for the title.
Fiancee said their guard interprets the music better than anyone, and she enjoyed the costumes.

Sidenotes. . .

TX is hot!

We sat right in the middle of a pack of band members from Sharpstown in Houston. I always get worried when I sit down in the middle of a pack of band kids for obvious reasons, but they were well behaved and provided some interesting commentary between the corps' performances.

Dan Potter did interviews in between some of the corps performances on the field with different staff members. Jeff Fiedler was asked how many years they have been doing original stuff and he made a comment saying a lot of the Niagara show was original. Now I have heard that piece several times, and I thought most of it was taken right from the piece. Anyway else have a thought on that?

So, it was a great show and well run. Blast was a sponsor and did a lot of advertizing for its TX tour.

Michael Bodine
Ass't. Band Director, Teague ISD (TX)

Southbridge, MA (DCI Atlantic II / III)

I have attended every local Div2/3 show in the area and I was really interested in seeing how well the corps have improved at the midseason point. After a two hour rain delay the show started and the weather held off.

Silver Nights (exb.): These kids do an admirable job for their size (6 horns, 7 drums, 3 guard). They have one of the hardest working baritone players out there. They play a nice arrangement of the Planets which is no easy task given their size. The local crowd really cheered them on and can I only hope they get recruitment going to be back in competition next year.

Targets (57.10): Being an old North Star guy, I really enjoyed their arrangements of old Mangione tunes. Their soprano soloist is very talented and has great range. He does a nice mellophone solo (ala Bonnie Ott) during "Chase the Clouds Away". In speaking with a staff member, this kid is only 13 year old!! Look out for him in the coming years. While the soloist is very good, the corps as a whole hasn't improved much from the start of the year. They are very entertaining but they need to work on the playing/marching concept a lot harder. Keep up the effort kids.

Taipei Yuehfu (73.30): WOW!!! This group blew me away compared to last year. They are smaller but that doesn't take away from their performance at all. Very powerful brass line playing unfamiliar, yet accessible music. Their drill, although still somewhat dirty, is one of the most interesting in the division. They do a great job of playing off the oriental feel during their drum solo with authentic drums and the horn line doing karate moves (similar to last years' guard). The crowd ate them up and was very disappointed when the scores where read. I and the fans around me had them in 2nd tonight. I'm not sure what the GE judges where at but they definitely out performed the Patriots and ECJ. Look out for them in Madison for sure.

Spirit of Newark (53.5): I felt really bad for these kids following a performance like Taipei. This seems like an extremely young corps. They do some interesting things with African drums during the drum solo and the crowd really enjoyed their tribute to the black high school marching bands. They end the show yelling "The Spirit never dies" I hope this group continues on with their efforts and I'm sure will improve with age.

Cadets of NYC (65.7): I have posted on this site on how I really like this corps. I have to say I was rather disappointed with their performance tonight. Yeah the drum line can still crank it up but the corps as a whole doesn't seem that improved from the start of the year. Marching is definitely a weakness that distracts from an otherwise pleasant show. They seem to get their act together during the closer of "Knights in White Satin". If they could apply the same to the first half of the show they could do well in Madison.

Patriots (79.15): This corps is known for playing "new age" music, and I really enjoyed their book last year. After several viewings. I'm still having a hard time getting into it. It all sounds the same throughout with numerous section exposures without a lot of melody. That being said I concentrated on the drill and guard. Their guard was on top form tonight! The crowd really responded to every toss they did and the huge red flags at the end of the show work very well. They seem to have some holes in the drill that I didn't notice before... maybe some sick members? They also need to work on some technique issues. If they could do something to spice up the music and clean drill, they should be able to pass ECJ. I had them in 3rd tonight.

East Coast Jazz (79.20): This corps does a nice job with some classic BD hits. The lower brass comes across nicely but the soprano line still seems to struggle with the book. The guard added some new equipment but didn't have that finished look that the Patriots and Spartan guard portray. They had obvious holes out there.... I've see all year..... come on guys time to close them up. This corps has always come on strong by finals. I hope they do soon because they don't seem to have improved as much as the others. I had them in 4th.

Spartans (83.10): Definitely the most polished unit out there. The guard was non stop from the dance moves during the opening baritone solo to the flurry of flags in the closer. They scored a 17.0 and are well on their way to taking top guard again this year. The horn line really came through tonight.... although they never seem to catch a break from the field judge. The moron had them with a 13.9.... 4 tenths above Cadets? Funny how they took high GE with all the supposed field errors. They should have been around a 16 or so easy. Drum line is greatly improved from the start of the year and they have one of the hardest working pits out there (check out their drum solo if you can). There is still some phasing issues during the Samson & Delilah portion of the show that need to be addressed. I noticed several new drill changes and some nice horn visuals that where added. A very strong performance by this group. They seem to be hungry to take on Magic, CR, and the West coast favorites. Should be interesting indeed come Erie and Madison.


Thursday July 18

Dallas, TX (DCI)

It's real late, but I wanted to submit these really quickly.

Cadets - 89.1 Good show, no Great Show! Lots of emotions and great crowd appeal, but I still wonder: where was the drill designer for Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy?

Blue Devils - 88.55 Good, clean, mechanical, typical Blue Devils.

Crossmen - 83.1 Wow, talk about hard! Man! I cannot see how Crusaders tied them! I placed them about 2-3 points above BAC.

Crusaders - 83.1 Good clean show. But to me not especially outstanding. Maybe an off night.

Bluecoats - 82.6 Nice crowd appeal and really good horn sound! Way to go Blue! Keep it up and you'll have the top 6.

Carolina Crown - 78.05 Heard them from the tunnel, but what I heard didn't really move me at all. Get the guys out of the togas! It's got to be embarassing!

Spirit - 77.6 Nice progress from last year, although the show music was a bit 'out-there'. Just a bit too much esoterica for my expectations from this group, but a decent job nonetheless.

Madison - 77.35 I really can't see the great amount of foot dirt that is so discussed. Yes there is some, but in my view, I saw more dirty sets and transitions in Crusaders show. Awesome horns and GE!! Maybe I'm biased, but I just don't see the problems that the judges see. But then that's probably why I'm not a judge.

Southwind - 70.05 Pretty good show. Nice progress from recent years. Seems like Kentucky bluegrass is good for Southwind.

Pioneer - 63.65 Nice show, but I was expecting a bit more sound from these guys with the number of horns that they have. Maybe their instructors will let them 'cut loose' in another week or so.

Why no full retreats? Is this a DCI thing or a local show thing? I really miss seeing the corps back out to get their scores. Oh well.. Overall, nice show as always put on by LHHS.

Respectfully(hopefully) submitted.

Bryan Dickerson

It's about 3AM, so forgive anything that sounds too weird. The show went very well. . .a great night of drum corps. This was the 26th annual show put on by this high school band booster group, so it was run well.

May I suggest in the future. . .don't let corps warm up so close to the stadium once the show begins. Colorguards were warming up right across the street from the stadium, so not only could we watch them while other corps performed, we could also hear the Dr. Beat.

Also, some sop/tpt from an early corps got directly behind the visiting stands and attempted high notes the rest of the freakin show. I would love to know what corps this guy/gal was from. They had to know that everyone could hear their attempts, so it seems like something deliberate to me.

Anyway, on to the show. . .

I actually enjoyed this show a good bit. I like the staging with the pit and the platforms on the field. With as small a corps as they have, it worked to their advantage, and I heard the pit just fine. I think the design of the show was smart, but there is still a ton of dirt there.

I love this show! The design is right on the money. Everything works together to sell the darkness to light theme. It is amazing to me what 2 years of great sponsorship can do for a corps. They are light years ahead of where they were last year. I think they may have recently added a couple of new guard members. There was one girl who was off the entire show. I would have put them ahead of Crown (more on that later). I think this is a definite finalist corps. Its all about the cleaning now. . .I would change nothing about the show. They got a huge Standing O at the end of the show.

This corps needs a good dose of oomph. The show lacks a lot of energy, and to be honest, the design of the show is just kinda blah to me. It has a lot of file/rank/block moves in the show, and seems very safe. Looks like they marched some holes tonight, also. Another thing. . .the almost all black guard unis need to go. With all the black in the corps unis, the guard almost gets lost unless they are using some of the larger equipment, which was not that often.

Some of the things I was expecting to be bad were not that bad, and some were worse. The individual marching technique is not bad at all. . .fairly uniform. What this corps lacks in a HUGE way is attention to detail. Several forms just don't hit and a lot of the body movements are not there either. Then, there is the whole guard issue. They are definitely getting the guard scores they deserve. Almost the entire show, the guard was off. . .as in early June off. This is hurting them big time. Also, the yellow velvet they use in the end and the conquistador unis they use during warm up need to go. Now, the positives. . .the hornline is smokin'. Much like last year I was left wishing they had a visual on par with their music/brass/perc performances. The entry with Conquest was great. They are definitely still a crowd favorite, but the boos were quite faint when their score was announced. I think they do have a shot at Finals. It will be close because there are just so many corps who have raised the game, but Madison has a good show to perform, they just need to clean the poopie out of it and workworkwork on the guard!

Well, first let me say I thought Crown was on the right track after last year's show. . .being very creative, improved hornline, better design, etc. With that said, I think this year is a step back instead of forward unfortunately. The good things are that this is the best hornline they have ever had. . .very much improved! Percussion is still strong, but nothing amazing that I noticed. On that note, please do something visually during the ballad with your percussion. I don't care for that stick them in the back of the field routine. Anyway, what does not work is just the flow of the show. There is no cohesiveness to the design, and what makes it even worse is some of what the guard is doing. I had come to expect big things from Crown's guard, but was very let down tonight. They definitely deserve the guard scores they have been getting also. However, I did not mind the guard unis at all. I definitely expect Spirit to pass them, and I think making Finals for them is gonna take a lot of work.

I liked this show a lot more than I thought I would. They do a lot of nice things with Appalachian, and the Artie Shaw stuff is a lot of fun. The guard does a lot of nice things to enhance the show. There really are no big weaknesses in this corps. Good hornline, much stronger percussion, and a very improved guard. What I think will hold them back and keep them in the middle pack of corps is their visual demand. It's just not there. Also, the signs they use. . .at first are neat, but the more they use them in the show, the more I felt like I was at a BOA competition. They do use the disappearing/reappearing company front, but do a much different treatment of it than Cadets did in 87. Its not as copycat as I anticipated, which I am glad about. Good show from a good corps.

This is just a fun show! This is one of those shows you are watching and saying "I wish I was out there." (or at least that was what I was saying) The music is fun and catchy, the guard is probably their strongest in a long time, and the percussion book is very tastey. What could end up holding them back is their visual demand. They have plenty of it, and it is showing a bit. I liked the fact that the battery does visuals/body movement the entire ballad. The opening of the show is fantastic. . .very good use of the guard. I expect them to be right in the middle of the 12.

One word. . .WOW! This is the best show the Crossmen have ever put on the field. The opener definitely had its groove tonight, and the visual demand, especially at the end of the opener is amazing. The ballad works big time, as the guard uses a combination of some huge golden rods and some beautiful silks to make it come to life. Out of all the versions of Strawberry Soup that I have heard, this is my favorite. Those who complain about the Crossmen park and bark. . .they were listening. They rarely stop moving during the show. I expect this corps to challenge the top 4 and if not that, I will be shocked if it gets lower than 5th. I was amazed!

Rumors of this corps' demise could not be more false. The changes they have made both visually and musically are working very well. The show flows, the music cooks (although the Gershwin is too choppy for my taste), and the design is now there. They move a lot, and believe it or not, there are not many box/diamond moves in this show. The guard is amazing. They were in the middle of the field before warm-up doing some stretching, and one of my kids commented that that was what an athlete does. Once the show began it was clear that this is a very athletic guard. They are all over the place and spin like crazy. With that said, the problems right now are just about being cleaning. This is not at all typical BD late July clean. A handful of forms did not hit tonight, and some pretty obvious lines were out of place. I know they are making changes with more to come, so I am not sure whether or not they will have time to clean enough. They now have a show that could challenge for the title. . .we shall see if they can clean it enough.

This show gets another WOW from me. I expected a bigger point spread between them and the Devils just based on cleanliness. As for the show theme which has been a hot topic of debate. . .you can speculate all you want about their motives for doing this show but the truth is, it works in a HUGE way. From the downbeat they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. I like the changes in the opener a great deal. It is more fast-paced with a bigger ending, which sets up the ballad nicely. The pledge works well also. . .very tastefully done. Nothing more can be said about Boogie that has not already been said. It cooks! The closer will probably undergo more changes, but you can already see some great things in the works. Sylvester is definitely a welcome change, IMO. Now, let me say a few words about the guard. OMG! Other than one rifle drop, the guard was flawless from my vantage point. The flags are together every step of the way, and the rifle work (all male) in the closer is amazing. The whole changing into the uniforms/boxers thing is pretty neat. There were a few giggles when they first walked out and then it was apparent that this was meant to be something solemn and important to the story. So, with all that said, I really could care less where this show ends up in August. I hope it wins because it is just one of those shows. . .but regardless of 1st or 15th, this is a show I will remember for a very, very long time.

A few side notes. . .I polled the 30 band kids I took as to who they enjoyed the most. Everyone said The Cadets without hesitation.

Did anyone else know Bluecoats are now also stationed in TX? They have 51 kids marching from TX.

Yelling "Go Bones!" would have been better had you chosen to do it before or after the show, sir. . .instead of in the middle of their ballad.

I am off to the Houston showdown tomorrow night, but I will not get back in until sometime on Sunday, so I am not sure if a review will be coming for that one.


Michael Bodine
Ass't. Band Director, Teague ISD (TX)

As usual, was a great night for Drum Corps in Dallas. Stadium was absolutely packed and a strong 10 corps line up. To make it even better, the weather was mild, so no July furnace to cope with!

Pioneer -- I appreciate the effort the kids are giving. The show however, did nothing for me. The horns produce a nice sound. But, what has happened to Pioneer? They keep getting smaller and smaller. The certainly should not be in Div. I. The Pioneer "attitude" also seemed to be missing. I don't see how they are even scoring in the mid 60s to be honest. The props and stands do nothing for me either and restricts their show to almost entirely in front of the front hash and between the 30s.

Southwind -- I had such great hopes for this corps after their strong finish in 2000. They seem to be slipping a bit each year since then, though. They seem to be missing some of the deep rich brass sound they were developing previously. The drill also does not inspire. I don't see them coming in above 16th or 17th at DCI. Maybe a second viewing will be more favorable?

Madison -- Wow. They have really improved since the NorCal shows 2 weeks ago. The marching is still very dirty, however. They are in a dog fight with Spirit, Crown, Colts and Blue Knights for those last 2 spots in Finals. They are not out of it, however. Their show seems to lack the complexity that Spirit and Crown bring to the field, however, so they are going to have to clean the heck out of their show. The volume seems to be lacking in the opener, but the really open up and sound great in the 2nd half of the show.

Spirit of JSU -- Well, I had them above Crown tonight, but I can understand placement. This corps sounds absolutely great. They have major visual problems at the moment however, as they are not marching well. If they can clean up the marching and really work on M&M, they should make Finals for the first time in 12 years. The brass sound is rich and deep, and the guard is improved over past years' efforts.

Carolina Crown -- This show has certainly improved since the Orlando show, as you would expect. To me, however, it just doesn't have enought "umph" and the ending is extremely flat. I still hate the guard outfits, but at least the guys are wearing pastel togas (now off -white) any more. Still, the colors on the rest of the guard just don't work well. It detracts from what is another strong guard. The drum line is smoking while the horn line is improving. Can this show make finals? Yes. However, I would give the long run nod to Spirit & Scouts over Crown.

Bluecoats -- Man, do these guys sound great. The sound they are putting out is powerful, rich and dark. I like last year's show design better than this years, but this is a solid effort from Canton/Cedar Park. I think they are headed for the 9-10 spot at DCI though. We will have to see. The color scheme of flags for the guard is outstanding and the opening move, while simple, is beatiful and effective.

Boston Crusaders -- I don't see how they tied Crossmen at all tonight. I was kind of disappointed with this show. The music seems to be very disjointed. I understand the idea of quoting a lot of well known musical statements, but they seem to not develop any one statement long enough. The drill also seems to lack the definition needed to make it really effective. I don't see the comparisons to 2000 at all in terms of performance and show enjoyment. However, it was only my first view of this show, so that could change with more viewings. Crossmen out execute them, though -- with a more difficult show.

Crossmen -- Wow, are these guys groovin and smokin hot. I was very impressed with Crossmen. Vintage style & incredibly loud and powerful hornline. The new silver stripe on the corps uniform really gives them some pizzaz previously missing, too. For those who say Crossmen or Boston making top 3-5 though, I just don't see it for either one. Crossmen seem to have a good shot, though at the 5-7 range. Thanks for a very enjoyable show!

Blue Devils -- I owe 100 apologies for my early season review from Orlando. These guys have worked miracles with this show. It seems that musically it has almost been entirely re-written, and it works much, much better. They have also pumped up the volume. The guard is absolutely sultry and electric. I would now not count them out from getting at least to second. I actually enjoyed them more than Cadets tonight -- a total flip from Orlando.

Cadets -- Maybe they had an off night? I just wasn't nearly as impressed with this show as I was in Orlando. It is still fun, though, don't get me wrong. I just wasn't brought spontaneously to my feet as much this time around. It seems they have changed a lot of drill, and I'm not sure I like all the changes. They don't seem to have enough drill to seriously challenge for a title. Kind of like the 95 show in that respect. They don't march at all in the seriosly long "Bugle Boy" section of the show. Perhaps the whole problem tonight was they didn't seem to perform as well. The energy and fun seemed kind of forced. Perhaps they are just focused on S.A. Tonight marked the 2nd show in row their score has dropped slightly. They better look out, as BD is breathing down their neck.

I do know one thing -- the competition is fierce this year. I can't wait for San Antonio tomorrow!

Harvey Phelps

A great night for drumcorps filled with exciting, crowd accessible shows.

Not a hot night, but a very humid night which tended to subdue the crowd and the corps' somewhat(and the scores, obviously) Wasn't a sell out, but was filled to the goal lines. It's funny to spend a year on RAMD and beginning to think that Drum Corps must be on its last legs and then going to my first show and seeing thousand of fans and having to stand in monstrously long lines for everything. (just a hint for those who regularly go to this show - at intermission, dont stand in the hideous lines for the bathroom on the seating side, you can get over to bathrooms on the other side of the stadium from the north end of the field in about 1 minute and there is no one there - you'll thank me next year.)

Took two new friends who knew nothing about Drum Corps - one loved Cadets and the other BAC.

Pioneer (63.65 10th - my pick 10th)
I was more impressed than I thought I would be with this Corps. It's a small corps but they do an effective job of staging to being the corps closer in and alleviating (sp?) some of the negatives that come from their size. Music from Oliver is arranged well with some recognizeable tunes in the mix. Whoever said that the size of their drumline is overwhelming the brass is absolutely right - give 6 of those guys horns. Decent but why aren't they DIV II ?

Southwind (70.05 9th - my pick 9th)
A decent corps with a decent horn book. Nice brass sound and decent drums. Lack of interesting drill and GE is holding them back. The music is there, there's just not a lot of excitement.

Madison Scouts (77.35 8th - my pick 8th)
The boos are starting to die. People are starting to realize how much the Scouts have fallen back. For years I've listen to Captain From Castille from the 1987 show on my CD and wanted to hear it live and it was a disappointment - it just kind of sat there. There were about 3 moments of greatness in this show (and they were great) but it was just surrounded by 10 minutes of okayness.The Scouts should be tearing your face off and they seem to be slipping into the 'polite applause/thank you for what you've done in the past... next' area.

Spirit (77.60 7th - my pick 5th)
I wasn't lucky enough to be around during the glory days of Spirit, so I don't know enough to say that they are back - but all I can say is that this is the best Spirit show I have ever seen. Edgy and obscure - but loaded with power and GE - there's this horn movement in a block from side to side at the beginning that was the first 'drum corps' moment of the night. Outstanding in all areas. I can't tell you how impressed I was with this show.

Carolina Crown (78.05 6th - my pick 7th)
Much better than I had heard on here. The togas on the men in the guard are okay - it's the prancing around in them thats a bit odd and created some titters in the crowd. Music doesn't do very much for me, but is done with heaps of power. It's dark and reminds me a lot of the 95-96 shows. It's probably my favorite Crown since 96.

Bluecoats (82.60 5th - my pick 4th)
I love this show. Bluecoats brass is up close to Devils level I believe. Didn't know the music but it worked well for them. The 'rush hour' segment is classic. Last year I thought this was the best Bluecoats show and this may be better. Good crowd response and just an overall success.

Boston Crusaders (83.10 - 3rd (tie) - my pick 6th)
A decent show with accessible music. The singing was incredible and goose bump inducing. Very powerful drum and brass. Great drill. Over all high level of achievement. Except.... this is another patriotic show along the lines of Cadets and BAC has moments where they have these banners that they unfurl with patiortic sayings like 'land of the free' 'jazz-America's music' and 'Liberty - unfinished business' and these don't work - at all. They completely removed me from the show (unlike any of Cadets patriotic moments). You know the old saying - if you want to send a message call Western Union. Please BAC - you are doing a great job without these. Put them in the back of the closet back in Boston.

Crossmen (83.10 - tie for 3rd - my pick 3rd)
Great show, the Crossmen just get more powerful every year. The best drill they've ever had. Great moments during the ballad with colors and reflective poles (ala Phantom in 96). Strawberry Soup needs to be sped up a bit - it doesn't move me as much as the great Madison version in 1993. A great show and definitely a chance to make the DVD.

Blue Devils (88.55 - 2nd - my pick 2nd)
Who are the people out there who don't like this show ? I am never a big BD fan but I love this show - almost right up there with 99 for me. The music is entertaining, the guard is, of course, perfection and the brass and percussion rock. I saw loads of GE out there. (loved the percussion feature on the right hand sideline). This show works - at least for me.

Cadets (89.10 - 1st - my pick 1st)
What can you say - we've reached the point in Drum Corps history where the Cadets are more entertaining than the Scouts. The Cadets had them eating out of their hands. The show is perfectly staged and the crowd was into every minute. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy was one of the most frenetic crowd-charged moments Ive experienced in my 20 years of Drum Corps. Great Great Great. My only complaint is a somewhat lack of the breakneck drill I usually love in Cadets - but it's just a small quibble with a program that works this well. Unlike the BAC patriotic moments that were a bit obvious - everything, even the controversial pledge element were handled tastefully and artistically and intelligently. Who knows - maybe YEA is good. Thank you Cadets, I cried for the first time in years at a show.

Drum Major only final. Then it looked like it was over, much to the dismay of the hard liners who wanted a victory concert. The Cadets decided to offer up a victory concert and those of us that were left ate it up. (and after last night - I'm not ever worrying about the whole G/Bb thing - this was LOUD)

What a great night - thank to all the kids and staffs and all those out there who are working to make Drum Corps fun again.

Shawn M.
Dallas, Texas

Monday July 15

Murray, KY (DCI)

Murray is a nice town with a great stadium that wants more drum corps. First, they have ample parking (both in the lot and in the stands). At 6'4" 260 lbs I appreciate the space. The stadium gave great views of the movement, but you weren't close enough to have your eardrums pierced (darn). They also made an interesting announcement that Eklipse is organizing a drum corps to perform next year. Anyone in the Murray, KY area was invited to apply.

The crowd applause-o-meter would have had The Cadets way, way out front, Phantom second, Spirit third and Southwind 4th.

I decided to spend the night watching the dreaded feet. It was July 15th, so the sloppiness should be going away. Here's the way I had them.

Glassmen - 1st
The Glassmen followed The Cadets, so their boring factor was really accentuated. I think they deserved 3rd overall, but I was trying to concentrate on the feet. The Glassmen were the best marchers last night. They have a complicated drill and they perform it very well. I'm not a fan of the Glassmen, so this is hard for me to admit.

Phantom - 2nd
There's not much separating these guys from the Glassmen. I don't think their drill is as difficult as the Glassmen's or performed as well. I love their new ending and they had the crowd eating out of their hand.

The Cadets - 3rd
All 12 of their sets were perfect . Honestly, I don't think you can base them on 20 possible Visual Performance points when their either standing still, shifting slightly for the drums to move through, or just wandering about the field a huge chunk of time. I'm glad they won, great show, but why DCI insists the caption placements must follow the final score ordinals I'll never understand. The Cadets have an awesome show that may win the championship, but their drill shouldn't finish in the top 5.

Spirit - 4th
The next three were close. I was disappointed by everyone below The Cadets. Come on guys, its mid July. Clean up the intervals and the lines please. I like spirits show and fan applause level would have had them 3rd, but they have room for lots of scrubbing too.

Colts - 5th
I'm sooooooo disappointed. The Colts have not made enough progress since I saw them last in Crown Point. I felt they might make top ten then, now I don't know. My first reaction when they finished was, "If these guys are cleaner than Madison, Madison shouldn't be in finals". These guys were probably still coming down from their DCM championship high, so I'll wait and see in Indy.

Southwind - 6th
These guys were ugly early in the season, so my expectation level on the visual side was very low, but they've really improved. Their obviously closing the gap on corps like the The Colts in the visual department. I really don't understand their score.

Crown - 7th
I'd love to watch a tape of this show with the Visual Performance judge. I can't see how he can argue that Crown beat Southwind last night (and that's no praise of Southwind). Except for a few rare mistakes, everyone is stepping about right, but Crown's intervals and lines were the worst of the night. They definitely get the, "Is that a box or some kind of circle?" award. Someone please compare Crown/Southwind at their next show and debate this.

Overall, it was a great night.

David Wright

Sunday July 14

Santa Ana, CA (DCI Pacific)

By the way I found Madison's missing Visual staff,,,,,,,

3 Scouts teaching Cascades color guard and show writer is also ex Scout.

BD just picked up Madison's best drill deisigner (he wrote City of Angles part two) Jeff Schoultz....

BD has changed the first 46 pages of drill,,,, they will learn the next 46 pages ... and also changed their music ....... this is per their staff who I sat with for their performance.

SCV's new uni's Kick Ass,,, they are HOT!! look great on the field and make the Corp look tall and thin with a BIG V shape. SCV's guard is good but the horn line for this corp takes center stage (unlike BD). SCV guard wears all black like the past few years but added the exact white stripe across their chest that matches the horns, Very cool. The crowd ate them up, Do your home work because there is a 4 count silence break where the crowd yells in unison VANGUARD! or SCV,,, you will know it when you hear it....

SCV weapons have a good (fast) guard book but, are still dirty. Black and White flags in the closer are a GE treat for the eyes.... closer is the strongest part of the show.

Cascades: going for 9th, 8th place..... why not. if you want a visual idea of what they are like,,, Take Glassmen horn line marching style 2000 ish and add Crossmen color guard ie: first year of birdland...... you got Cascades. Very solid drum corp.... but,,,, Cascade needs to find it's own nitch. Because they are playing all cadets music/greatest hits, it's easy to like this show...but nothing new from this new top 10 Corp.... This Corp is 45 years old but is breaking through on Cadets coat tails. I really liked Cascades and I think everyone will be surprised when they view this group at the end of the season,,, Congrats to Scouts Alumni now teaching Cascades...


BD Sabers RULE,,, 12 in opener and those kids can spin.... BD marches 20 Rifles for closer and they are SOLID! Ragtime is a great piece for BD and the the spectators..... The "Hair Line" is fun and works well,,,, you'll see.... Good news, the BD's show ending will be re writen, for those who have seen the show, we all know why..... I am glad to see BD back with a good GE show...

Vk 84-85
Scouts 86-88

Easton, PA (DCI Atlantic II / III)

First of all, the show was run very well!! Kudos to the event staff.

Now for the corps: (I'll review them in performance order)

SPARTANS (1st - 79.90) "Guardians" (music from Ben Hur, Gladiator, Mummy, and Samson and Delilah) I was rather surprised to see this corps taking the field first tonight since their scores have them at the top end of Division 2. The hornline is alot smaller than I've seen it before but I didnt miss the larger line. The 26 I counted played very well and filled that stadium. Drumline is huge (8 snares) and seems to be playing very well. Guard rocks. They start the show spread across the field with a solo baritone in the middle. Wearing a really striking red outfit. The show is complete and is strong from beginning to end.

TAIPEI YUEHFU (5th - 63.90) "New Additions to the Archives II" Wasnt too sure what to expect, never saw this corps live before. Impressive! The had what looked like the largest hornline of the night (28). Drill seems to be quite difficult, lots of movement. All sections are really performing well. Guard work seemed incomplete in one section. I had them scoring alot higher than what they received. Regardless of how they finish this season, it was a treat to see this group!

SPIRIT OF NEWARK (6th - 47.45) "Music of Our Homelands" This group fielded 13 brass, 10 percussion, and 7 guard (if I counted correctly). This great little organization reaches out to inner city youth and "hats off" to them for putting together a neat little package! The members looked young but didnt see just how young until the event was over and I was standing along the fence as they marched off from retreat. I would have to say the hilight of the show was the percussion feature towards the end, every member strapped on percussion and took to the field.. FUN! The show was incomplete, missing the closer. Good Luck to the whole organization!!!

CADETS OF NEW YORK CITY (4th - 64.70) "A Season of Faith's Perfection" What a neat show! Somewhat dark in its overall feel, aggressive, and it keeps moving! Cadillac of the Skies was impressive! Nice to see Nights in White Satin used again. Lots of sound produced for only having 18 brass players. Drumline seemed solid and held their own. Guard - same story! Show appears to have not totally evolved yet, and still some cleaning to do, but it could fair VERY well at Division 3 in finals week.

JERSEY SURF (2nd - 74.40) "Our Side of the Story" (based on West Side Story) WOW!!!!! Saw them on the 28th in Lansdale. Since then - new uniforms, rolling platforms, changing guard uniforms, a finished show... THEY'VE BEEN BUSY!!! I need a 2nd viewing of this one! The show is FUN FUN FUN!!! Im not always a fan of seeing West Side Story done AGAIN but they make it appealing as I've ever seen it. All sections are playing beyond what they were a few weeks ago. The pit is scattered between roughly the 50 and 35 yard lines (I think) and work is done by all other sections within these areas at times. The uniforms are very fitting now. During the America section of the closer they tagged in the National Anthem - LOVED IT! This group is headin for Division 2 finals - it needs to be there!

LEHIGH VALLEY KNIGHTS (3rd - 67.90) "Reflections of Earth" As one who marched in this corps back in 93 and 94 when it was the Chieftains, I couldn't get enough of seeing how far this group has come. Rod Yetter - NICE WORK!!! Great job to this entire staff! Every section is there in great detail. Not many 2nd year corps are this good. The show is similar to the Cadets' Championship show of 2000 - and they do it justice. Another corps that I firmly believe will make it to finals... and the audience let them know it.

Once again, the show was run very well! Wilson HS had great seating and the field looked to be well kept. The weather held off and the temperature was excellent for the performing units.

RECAP of scores:
1 - Spartans - 79.90
2 - Jersey Surf - 74.40
3 - LV Knights - 67.90
4 - Cadets of NYC - 64.70
5 - Taipei Yuehfu - 63.90
6 - Spirit of Newark - 47.45

Good Luck to these corps and the rest of their seasons!

Jeremy White

What a great venue for a Drum Corps show. Field is close to the stands which makes for some awesome impact moments. It was a very nice Sunday afternoon in the Lehigh Valley. Very large crowd on hand, noticed several High School Bands in attendance at today's show which is always nice to see.

The show was well run, my hats go off to everyone who put on today's event. The highlight of the day was retreat when all the corps played America/O Canada, this was especially nice because there were only Division 2/3 corps here today. Unfortunately, it appears only Spartans, Surf and Lehigh Valley knew the tune and were able to play it.

My seat was on the 50 near the top, had the opportunity to sit next to some old Chieftain people, it was nice to see them there watching the very fine product the came out of the reorganization of their corps. They were certainly come very proud alumni today.

Onto the corps - My 2 cents!

1) Spartans 79.9 - WOW, what a class act this organization is. Another fine production put on the field this year. Color Guard is simply amazing. There remains some balance issues with the brass and percussion, however I'm sure they are well on their way of addressing this. This corps should be a finals contender come Madison. Corps appears larger than in years past. However, what I found most appealing was the corps fine behavior off the field. All their members I ran into at the food stand were very polite. They were very interested in watching other corps and did a nice job supporting them. Hat's off to the Spartans organization.

2) Jersey Surf 74.4 - Although I appreciate their "Side of the Story" I don't believe they have sold it to the audience as of yet. It appears the show is not yet done. They cart out several large carts on the field and only use them a few times during the show. It's very distracting to see the members kneel behind those backdrops. As far as the pink "tu tu's", I think they are a riot and the crowd loved them! Although, I don't think they stand a chance being a finals contender this year, I do believe Surf once again will put out another great product come Madison.

3) Lehigh Valley Knights 67.9 - Corps was on fire today in front of a home-crowd today and the crowd let them know it. You gotta love it when a corps gets a standing "O" before even playing a note. Greatly improved since Lansdale. Some people have compared this show to the Cadets 2000 show, I disagree as I feel the staff of LVK have done a much better job creating a more "musical" show. It looks like they are gaining a great deal of confidence and are performing much better as a result. Color Guard is amazing. Clearly can be in the Division 3 title hunt should they keep improving at this rate.

4) Cadets of NYC 64.7 - OK, what turns me off more than anything in the world? A bunch of members screaming they are "number one prior to performing". After all the preseason Hype about this corps I was expecting a lot, and left rather disappointed by the Garden State Circuits lone entry into todays contest. Closer is the same as last year which I find unfortunate (they could have changed the arrangement at least). Pit only had bib pants on and no uniform tops and it looked like guard uniforms were not yet finished? However, the percussion line is amazing and really carry's this corps. This line will be able to compete with most Division 2 lines. Certainly will not be a threat to make finals this year but it's really nice to see a corps from NYC this year, keep up the hard work guys.

5) Taipei Yuefu 63.9 - Not sure how these guys ended up behind the Cadets of NYC however it was great to see a corps travel like these guys have. Chose music from composers from their homeland. Personally found the show to be a bit boring at times, however some great moments. Brass line has some nice moments. Marching will hold them back this summer.

6) Spirit of Newark 47.45 - Umm, not sure what to say here, however It appears that their show is not yet complete. They have some very cute adorable little kids marching. Keep up the hard work Spirit and good luck to you.

Carl Slovinsky

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