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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 Eight of Reviews

Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when they are available or submitted.  The following reviews are solely the opinion of the reviewers.  If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author, all reviews are signed with an email address.  If you want to add your review to this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to:
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Sunday July 28

Centerville, OH (DCI)

Glassmens clinic was interesting however not as informative as it could be. They broke up first into sectionals and VERY briefly showed the audience how they did warm-ups. The audience was allowed to join the corps in its respective sections. That was kind of cool. Then the corps got together and went through visual basics. The audience was able to take part in that. Then they went through snippets of their show and broke down sections. Normally the audience would be allowed to ask questions but the audience was rather shy I think. I spent a lot of the time watching Crossmens rehearsal. Which was nice.

I apologize for not catching Marion's performance but the traffic was so bad going into the stadium that we weren't able to get in in time. However I like the guard uniforms and I having watched them practice after their performance I think the guard has made a major improvement. Interesting flagwork and weapons work from the guard staff.

Capital Regiment has greatly improved from the last time I saw them in Columbus in the beginning of the season. The guard has some timing issues however, but it wasn't a total show buster. The piece Avalanche is great, still minor timing issues with the odd time signatures (they just don't seem to be entirely comfortable with it yet)

Seattle Cascadeshas shown why they have been giving everyone a run for their money. Probably not their best performance from what I understand, however being my first viewing I was impressed on how intense they were for such a young corps. Word to the snare drummer who dropped his stick in the solo, carry a spare or let the judge get the stick for you, don't pick it up. However he jumped back in without missing a beat. The drumline's first solo wasn't to bad. Tenors slopped through it but nailed their second solo later in the show. All in all an impressive show.

I failed also to see Madison being that it was right before intermission and it was the only chance I would have to see some old friends. Judging by the scores and input from other corps I didn't miss much.

Boston Crusaders had a very feel good show, with Aaron Copland. Their show was entitled, You are A Star (?), or something like that. Throughout the show they had various signs popping up. Not very memorable and I felt that Crossmen had a better package.

which brings me to...

Crossmen...Pat Metheny was an interesting opener. Enjoyed it immensely especially with the snares on the hi-hats in the opener. Not the best guard they have ever fielded but they looked very tired in rehearsal. They had good and bad moments. Strawberry Soup has to be one of my all time favorite songs for drum corps. Very reminiscent of Madison's 93 version. I don't believe they are getting the score they deserve but hey I am not a judge.

G-men...Good show. I caught it from outside the stadium and behind a fence. So I could only see a portion of the show. The guard was a little stronger. The rifles were cleaner than in the last show I saw of them. The drumline still carries the corps. They added some more percussion in the "ballad", well not really a ballad, more like a chorale. (the mello solo) That piece is such a great piece, reminds me of Disney in a way though.

BD...I now understand why they are not in first however I enjoyed their show. The Joplin piece in the beginning was interesting and funny. Very different. There was a 4 or 5 year old girl in front of me who absolutely loved that song. I think it was more fun to watch her reaction to the piece than the piece itself. Not sure what everyone was talking about with Channel One ?? I found it very recognizable and interesting. I think it was a great fresh revisit to a good piece. And House of The Rising....was interesting to. The drumlines little run around the percussion rack was very amusing, if not somewhat cheesy. But effective. The guard was good but after talking to a friend in the guard afterwards, it was not their best performance by far. Some good solo work from the sop line.

Retreat wasn't to long, but long gaps between scores, and no scores for DIV II and III.
The Finale was good. Still don't like the new arrangement, but was rewarded with God Bless America by all the corps. Very good arrangement and performed very well.
My last show of the season before Finals so I am glad it was a good one.

Thanks and goodnight

Des Plaines, IL (DCI)

Tough arrangements and drill were a reach for the Mandarins, but they were mostly up to the challenge. The show starts with Philip Sparke’s "Year of the Dragon", with blistering horn runs familiar to drum corps fans from the 1997 Cadets production. Some of these runs still need work, or watering. Large triangular flags in the closer provide a nice visual touch. More impressive for challenge than entertaining to the audience, overall, though, as the staff is counting on difficulty to carry the scoring; I prefer a more crowd-friendly approach. (88.45 Div. II scoring; only corps so scored; all the rest of the scores and placements which follow are in Div. I)

Troopers (6th, 70.50), on the other hand, have pitched their charts and visual design right at the level of their kids, and cleaner performance is a happy result. They were powerful and effective in the big hits, particularly in the reprise of Javelin and in the "Into the Storm" closer. Casper no longer tries to field a full-sized corps (about 38 brass, 16 field & 7 pit percussion, 12 colorguard, 2 dm), and choose to make limited use of the field; this held back the visual impact for me, to a degree.

Pioneer (7th, 69.85), stage the pit in the back (which I personally think makes for a more balanced sound - I wish more corps did this) and also use tables to limit the depth of the stage, which takes the corps wider across the field. Though the numbers are similar overall, with fewer horns and color guard but more percussion than Troopers, they make much better use of the field with this visual design. I think the colorguard (with only nine members, tonight) is very effective in adding to the "Oliver!" show. My views were sharply at odds, though, with the GE Visual and Colorguard judges, who placed the Troopers notably higher than Pioneer in these captions. I would wish for better blend in Pioneer upper and mid brass voices at times.

Blue Knights (5th, 82.50) have come a long way (duh!) since I last saw them at their season opener in Oswego in mid-June. They were much cleaner tonight, with strong brass and percussion sections that registered quite distinctly with the audience. I have to say that the design of this show is not a favorite of mine, a common problem for me with this corps. The crowd in Des Plaines liked them better than I did, though, almost to the level of SCV. This show is very dark, with limited range of emotions and moods that should limit its scores according to the judging criteria. Like Phantom, much of the musical book is based on a Shostakovich piano concerto, and yet, I far prefer Phantom’s design approach. Denver titles their show "Fear and Trembling". The scariest thing about it is the Rocky Horror Picture Show guard outfits and male guard face makeup. One thing BK would benefit from working on is visual intervals. Even in the sets, there were very uneven gaps in spacing quite apparent even in the 21st row where I was sitting. Up another 30 or 40 rows in a big-stadium judging booth, this would look worse.

The Colts (4th, 83.65) use much better contrast of moods and a more accessible book by Turina and Gillingham. Though their horn and drumlines are not as strong as BK’s, I personally far prefer this show. I did think the Colts would benefit from working a bit more on brass ensemble in "Concertino", where the hornline is spread in small clusters across the field. On the scoresheet, they stayed ahead of Blue Knights by scoring higher in visual and music GE, colorguard, and music ensemble, which covered lower placements in brass, percussion, and visual performance.

Phantom Regiment (3rd, 89.55) have changed the visual design of their ending again, with new minor touches. Each time, it’s getting stronger and better. They’re also using a long white banner across the back of the field that I don’t remember before. They were clearly cleaner than two weeks ago in DeKalb, and their score reflects that. The audience loved them. The colorguard is very strong. This Shostakovich program is a powerful show that will have them very much in the squeaky tight race for fifth place in Madison, and I hope they pull it off.

This was my first look at Santa Clara (2nd, 92.90) this summer. Though I like the music, which some SoundMachine reviewers have criticized as bland, this one is going to break the five year running streak of SCV having my favorite show overall for the summer. It is a disappointment in one very key regard: the color design is a nightmare, really, really bad. The SCV staff is trying to employ huge splashes of very strong colors, with little regard for what else is already on the field, and in ways that do not enhance the music. The opener is plagued by large displays of blaze orange. Folks, they’re not hunters or construction workers, and there’s already a lot of green and red out there, no duh! So what’s with the orange? What does this do for anything? Even worse are the massive, floating-butterfly dark purple flags used in the lush sweep of Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2. Instead of subtly complementing the music, these flags are a major, ugly distraction. Yuck. The bright yellow and silver diamond boxes in the closer are more gimmick and flash than substance. SCV, if you want to use big displays of strong colors like orange and purple, you can’t dress the corps in red and green. Exhibit A: Phantom Regiment. Corps uniforms of white, black, tan, or gray are relatively neutral and allow for a much wider color guard equipment palette than SCV’s strong red and green. If you’re going red and green in the uniform, you have to stay relatively neutral and complementary in the color guard. SCV here bludgeons the senses with poor color and equipment choice and dilutes the impact of a strong musical performance. Too bad. In the last two weeks (I’m comparing what I heard last night to an online mp3), I think they’ve also added an additional percussion lick right at the end that confuses the audience and delays the applause. If I’m right, the original ending was better. SCV was second in all captions except colorguard, where Phantom deservedly passed them by. SCV was third in audience response, several notches below Cavaliers and Phantom, in Des Plaines. I like the new unis, and the Myron Rosander drill, while not among his most innovative or best, works well. Just get somebody with better taste to design color and choose color guard equipment. Please.

Cavaliers (1st in all captions, 96.10, still undefeated). 96.10 two weeks before finals? Wow. They are impressive and very entertaining. This is an amazing show on so many levels. They should run a clinic in color design for SCV. The Green Machine also uses bright orange and various shades of purple, but they use it much more intelligently, as a minor accent in color guard equipment, instead of a poleaxe to the skull. Visual design and performance were wonderful, with one suggestion for improvement: where I was sitting, row 21 on the 38 yard line, many diagonal lines on the left side were not straight early in the show. (This may not be as apparent in the booth if visual judges are near the 50.) The hornline is still the most musical group out there, though impacts still need punch. The drumline was remarkable, though only .2 ahead of SCV, which surprised me; they deliver the strongest musical impacts for the Cavaliers. The colorguard is totally dominant and propels the show forward in big strides. Way to go, Cavies!


Saturday July 27

Indianapolis, IN (DCI)
DCI Midwestern Finals

12. Colts-Much improved. I saw them in Bloomington, IL on June 27 and was not very impressed. They impressed me tonight. Very solid performance from all sections tonight. Like the entire guard on rifle. Not the most difficult work but very effective.

11. Seattle Cascades-Very nice show. Nice to see some new blood in the top 12. Really can't comment to much on them since this was the first time I have seen them in 2 years. Great job for first time Div I.

10. Spirit-Did not think I was going to like this show when it started, but it got more entertaining as it progressed. Good to see them back. liked the choice of colors for the guard.

9. Crossmen-WOW never been a big fan of the Crossmen till now. Loved the Pat Metheny piece(Heat of the Day?) Strawberry Soup is always a pleasure to hear. Guard not as strong as years past. Usually don't like sequins on uniforms but works well with the corps rather bland(in my opinion) gray and black.

8. Boston Crusaders-Again WOW This is my favorite Crusader show. The show was very well designed. The Patriotic theme was handled with dignity. Love the ending with the corps in the flag formation. Beautiful!

7. Bluecoats-Another corps that has improved a lot since Bloomington. Very enjoyable show, great brass. Don't think they are pulling off the Urban Dances theme very well. Once the show started I forgot all about the "Theme." Not that it matters they don't need it. Show works just as well without it.

6. Glassmen-I really want to like the Glassmen. They have some great drill, an incredible Drum line, some good brass and a really nice color guard. So why do I always end up reading my program during their show? Still it did hold my interest longer than usual. Maybe I just have a short attention span when it comes to the Glassmen. Very good crowd response to their show so maybe it is just me.

5. Phantom Regiment-Great to see them back in the top 5, now if only they had a top 5 drill. Could challenge the top 4 in brass and color guard but the visual program will hold them back. It is performed well but lacks the difficulty and excitement to push them any higher. (just saw the recaps think their brass score a bit low)

4. Santa Clara Vanguard-Music is pretty inaccessible on first viewing. Just couldn't get interested in it. Visually a lot of nice things drill wise. I thought the color guard was improved from the last couple of years. A very good show but not one of my Vanguard favorites. Like the new Uniforms, have read a lot of comments about the shade of green being to bright but against the light green astro turf they looked nice.

3. Blue Devils-Great music program and color guard(as usual) but overall not a whole different visually than last year. Not sure yet if I like this new arrangement of Channel One. It just never seems to go anywhere(if that makes any sense) Still this is one of my favorite Blue Devil show in recent years.

2. The Cadets-not surprise by the point spread between Devils and Cadets. Never really cared for On the Town. I bet Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy sounds great in an open air stadium (sound very muddy in the dome) I read about the Pledge part of their show and didn't think I would like it but it is incorporated nicely. Guard seemed to have some problems tonight with equipment. Drill did not seem to be up to the usual Cadet standards. Seemed very compact. They never really opened any of the forms out and stayed pretty much between the 30's. Thought the point spread between them and the Cavaliers was about right.

1. Cavaliers-Loved the new ending with the fight club reprise. Don't know were to begin with this one. Drill-incredible, Guard-phenomenal, Brass-amazing, Percussion-outstanding. They have the total package this year. Don't think anyone can catch them this year.

Overall I think the shows this year were a lot more entertaining than the last couple of years. This is the year of the back flip in the color guard, saw at least three tonight.

My placement /opinion
1 Cavaliers
2 Cadets
3 Blue Devils
4 Phantom Regiment
5 Santa Clara Vanguard
6 Bluecoats
7 Crossmen
8 Glassmen
9 Boston Crusaders
10 Colts
11 Seatle Cascades
12 Spirit

Jon Lineberry

I finally got to see my first DCI show of the year and I was not dissapointed. I am going to do this a little different from what I have normally done in the past (reviewing each corps in order of performance). The following remarks are my opinions about various subjects such as entertainment, demand, placings, etc. My brain is still swimming in terms of how I feel about all the corps. Often times, when your first show is a large event, such as the Indianapolis show, it is difficult to take it all in and come out of it with clear thoughts. Having said that, here is what I am thinking at the moment, knowing full well that I will need to see all of these groups one or two more times.

1) Who will win DCI this year? The doubt. They really are amazing this year. great drill, brass, drums, guard, and the show simply flows well. What they do so well is use simple sequencing of drill moves with the music to create a sense that the drill is demanding yet readable. They make it easy for the viewer to understand and process all that they are doing. The Cadets and Blue Devils, and SCV to some extent, have complexity in their shows but at times they are visually quite choppy. Complex drill and overall show demand for the sake of demand doesn't work, and although I don't think there is a corps out there that is trying to do this kind of thing (designing a show is hard stuff), there is a delicate balance between demand and seemless show design, and ENTERTAINMENT.

What the Cavaliers do so well is take a simple idea, start that idea with one section, broaden the idea some, then a bit more, then expand that to the full ensemble, and then move into something that stems from that idea (visually speaking). However, the music is doing the same thing. Their show is incredibly rhythm oriented. They establish various types of grooves, develop them, use mulitple variations, etc., and just build on that until the audience is completely captivated by the music and drill. The fight scene at the end is incredible. It is a sight to behold and has set them apart, for now, from the rest of the pack.

The Cavaliers were by no means clean, and the dome caused some time problems for all the corps, but if they max out this show on finals night, it's all over. DCI can start engraving the trophy right now. Thank you Cavaliers for a wonderful show. Refreshing, entertaining, and complex and competitive.

2) Order of placement as I saw it last night: (This includes captions)
1. Cavaliers (high GE, visual)
2. BD (high brass)
3. Cadets (high drums, guard)
4. SCV
5. Phantom
6. Bluecoats
7. Blue Knights
8. Glassmen
9. Crossmen
10. Seattle
11. Spirit
12. Madison (OK, this one was carried over from prelims)
13. Colts

3) Let's Talk the Madison Scouts! This is a great show. Fun, entertaining, great brass and the drums are playing some wicked stuff. Yes, the guard is obviously inexperienced, but I thought they did a nice job of selling the show yesterday. A little more work and they will be quite good for finals (yes, finals). The drill is excellent. What a great opening statement. The marching still has some minor detail problems, but mainly in the Contras. Overall, Madison's marching is much better than the Colts or Spirit regardless of what the judges say. There are two or three contras who are still learning some drill and stick out often. As they clean, and as the guard grows and matures, this show will rock in two weeks in Madison. Mark my words, Madison will make finals, and not because of some DCI plot to get them in. They will earn it. I had them above the Colts yesterday, and I know they beat the Colts the night before. I not only see them beating the Colts (whose show I really enjoy) but they will also beat Spirit of JSU.

4) Speaking of Spirit of JSU, what a ballad these guys have this year! WOW! Great stuff, and the whole show is fan friendly and well done. Could do without the opening statement, but that is just MHO.

5) Most entertaining shows: (IMHO)
1. Cadets
2. Cavaliers
3. Madison
4. Crossmen
5. Bluecoats
6. Boston
7. SCV
8. Phantom/Seattle
10. BD/Spirit of JSU
12. Colts
13. Carolina/Troopers
15. Blue Knights/Jubal from the Netherlands (exhibition)
17. Kiwanis
18. Southwind
19. Pioneer
20. Glassmen

6) Most fan repsonse:
1. Cadets/Cavaliers
3. Phantom
4. Bluecoats
5. Crossmen

7) Most demanding drill? 1. Santa Clara Vanguard - yes, although Cavies have incredible stuff, this show is amazing interms of demand. One other prediction for finals: here is your runner up. SCV will clean this and move past BD (who is very clean) and the Cadets (who have possibly changed their show too much and are quite sloppy in some areas--more on this in a moment).

8) So what's the scoop on the Cadets? Well, the show is a gem even with all its faults. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy is as advertised and just rocks the house. The fans just can't get enough during this section. The "Pledge..." is incorporated very well. I got goosebumps during that section and the audience all started clapping once the word "God" was spoken. Not that I want to get into a political debate on any of this, but it is not done in a manner to suggest this is what they believe or that they are trying to make a politcal statement as a unit. In fact, the whole show is represented more as a reflection on all those things American. Some things from past years and others from today. They pay homage to past American heroes, today's heroes, the horoes of 9/11, and they reflect on past traditions, such as the pledge, or past moments of triumph, such as the flag raising at Iwo Jima. The show is a tasteful and elegant tribute to all things American: past and present. They don't force anything down your throat.

As for their performance last night, the dome really hurt. Pulse pocket was inconsistent in every tune, and Boogie Woogie almost fell apart. Also, I haven't seen this show, or any show, before last night, but they seem to be moving more now than what I was reading about. They marched (controlled drill) a good 75% to 80% of their show. The opening drill is sloppy and is the closer. The music also seems a bit chopped up to me which often tells me that changes have been made. Whether these are good enough to keep them in the hunt only time will tell. They are very good and could win both horns and drums come finals (and maybe guard). Knowing how they clean, their performance captions should be excellent come Madison. The overall GE and Visual design are somewhat lacking when compared to Cavies. However, if you are looking for entertainment, this is a good place to start.

I will write more late about the show and my thoughts. Overall a great show, but the RCA Dome is a tough place to listen to corps. One other comment, almost every top corps has holes in the show. Cavies had 1, Cadets had 1, SCV had 2 I think, and Phantom had like 4.

9) Oh and one last caption. Loudest hornline: Crossmen!At least for my ears they were the loudest last night. All the corps are loud in that dome. Below are the top 5 volume corps from last night.

1. Crossmen
2. BD
3. Phantom
4. SCV
5. Bluecoats

The Madison Scouts are also one of the more powerful corps out there and I would have put them near BD had they competed in finals.

So how do the corps stack up? How would I group them and where do I think they will place come Madison?

As of now, there are not three, but four groups which contain 15 corps combined. Group 1 consists of the Cavaliers, Cadets, BD, and SCV. Group 2 consists of Phantom, Glassmen, Bluecoats, and Boston. Group 3 is the smallest with only Crossmen, Seattle, and Spirit of JSU. Group 4 consists of the Colts, Blue Knights, Carolina Crown, and Madison Scouts.

Group one, as of last night's viewing (keep in mind it was my first), is by no means a cakewalk for the Cavies, but for all intents and purposes they should win DCI this year.

The interesting race is for 2nd place. The Cadets did not appear to be the dominant, well-oiled machine that I have sometimes seen. Keep in mind the dome really hurt their show, primarily due to their use of the drum sets up front. Bugle Boy fell apart in terms of time, and the marching at the beginning and at the end of the show seemed very sloppy. All this may indicate that I did not see a solid Cadets performance, and they may have changed some music and drill. Their show is solid and very entertaining, but I am not sure it's top 2 this year. BD was incredible last night. In many ways, they were the cleanest of the top 4. I would have given them high horns last night. I know Cavies won brass, and SCV actually came in 2nd, but BD was on fire from where I was. In some way, though, I think they have maxed out much of their show, but I have been wrong about that before, and these are the Blue Devils--a great and worthy competitor any given year.

The corps that stood out as being the darkhorse, and I mentioned this in my earlier post, was the Santa Clara Vanguard. There was something magical about their performance last night. It was shades of late 80s Vanguard. I saw in the program that Gordon Henderson wrote some of the music for them. Good to see him back. He helped to define that signature sound that so many fell in love with in the mid- to late 80s. Although many have characterized their music as being to esoteric, to complex for the average ear, I think the crowd at Indy ate it up. Yes, the music is very artistic and challenging to the ear, but they played it so beautifully. SCV's drill is the most demanding in my opinion, and their overall show is well designed, entertaining, and flows almost as well as the Cavaliers. BD and the Cadets are still sorting out design issues and trying to retool for finals. SCV has the advantage of not having to do this (unless the judges are telling them otherwise). My guess is the judges like the overall design and will reward it once clean. Their horn sound was just magnificent last night. My jaw dropped many times. They did take 2nd in both Brass Performance and Music Ensemble. I have seen the Cadets many times when they have made my jaw drop, and that is how I felt about the Vanguard last night. They will take 2nd come finals. Cadets will clean and hold off BD (by the skinniest of margins), and BD will take 4th. You can make a case for flipping BD and Cadets and I will not argue with that, but I really think SCV has the goods to take 2nd and may put a scare into the Cavaliers come semi finals.

Also, just my 2 cents worth, but I really don't care for SCV's uniforms. They are not so bad when they are facing front field, but when they are facing backfield the all green does nothing but take away from the visual GE of the show due to the uniforms blending with the grass. If SCV were wearing red tops and white pants I really think they would be a point better. White exposes more errors, yes, I know, but this group is marching just fine right now, and white also highlights your strengths and brings about much needed contrast.

The Cadets, as entertaining as they are, must figure out a way to make "On the Town" work. In my opinion, and who am I to tell the Cadets what to do, but while watching their show last night I just felt that the type of music they needed for their show had to be more jubilant, heroic, or reflective in nature. On the Town is nice stuff, and I love Bernstein, but it takes away from the show's "pay homage to and salute our heroes" theme. Also, the closer needs more America the Beautiful, which when they do it is wonderful. The closer I heard last night was a bit disjunct and didn't give me enough of those final feel-good patriotic moments until the closing quote from the national anthem (...and the home of the brave). I would have loved to see them use John Williams 1st movement from his American Journey (2002 Winter Olympic Album) as their opener. That's the kind of feel they needed. What's neat about that work is that Williams uses a quote from his "Land Race" from the movie "Far and Away" which the Cadets did use in their 1995 production.

As for the Blue Devils, I thought there horns were smokin last night. Their opening drill and music is just awesome. I wanted more of that ragtime feel to continue, but just as you start to get into it they cut away and use snippets of themes. The music becomes a bit difficult to comprehend. It's not that the music isn't good, and we know they play the heck out of it, but the ideas are going by the average ear at a rate that is too fast for people to react to it. I think the judges are having the same problem. BD was very clean last night and they took high visual execution. This is one area that is holding back both Cadets and SCV. SCV needs to close the gap with BD in this area in order to do what I think they will.

Scores come finals, as I see it now:

1. Cavies 98.9
2. SCV 97.6
3. Cadets 96.9
4. BD 96.5

The second group is a tough call, but I like Phantom to hold onto the 5th spot. Wonderful hornline, solid drums, and their visual package is not as bad as advertised. There is nothing in their show from a visual perspective that stands out and make me want to stand, but it works with the music. The only things keeping them from challenging SCV, BD and Cadets are musical nuances like articulations during softer passages. At this point they are not as balanced, blended, and together as SCV. During the big chords Phantom sounds amazing, but their weaker players are sticking out during softer passages. The Bluecoats are also having this problem.

Speaking of the Bluecoats, here is my pick for 6th. Look for them to overtake the Glassmen and achieve their first top 6 finish ever. Bluuuuuu is BACK! What an incredible show. Enteraining, competitive, demanding, and well performed. The ballad is incredible, the opening drill and guard writing is excellent, and the total show design is first rate. They are for real and I am not sure the Glassmen have the goods to stave off the Bluecoats.

The Glassmen are an interesting topic. Yes, their show is not the most fan friendly. The music is quite complex, not very humable, and doesn't provide for the extreme highs and lows we come to expect from most corps. Having said that, they do a wonderful job of creating a more sophisticated overall GE. Their horns are a weakness for them at this point, but the drumline is amazing, the guard is quite good, and their drill is challenging and makes excellent use of the whole field. If this show cleans and the horns can pick up their performance scores, the Glassmen will make it difficult for the Bluecoats to pass them.

The last corps in this group is the Boston Crusaders. They had the misfortune of going on first at Indy. I thought their show was tasteful, well executed, and in many ways more effective that the Cadets. Let me preface by saying that the Cadets get more audience reaction to their show primarily because of the high level in which they perform it, and because the big GE moments in the Cadets' show tend to express more (like Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, the Pledge, America the Beautiful, and the ballad from "Field of Dreams"). But the Crusaders have more consisten GE of this type, whereas the Cadets are fighting with their opener and closer to try and achieve more consistency. If Boston can clean what they have, they could easily jump to 6th, but it is doubtful they would catch Phantom.

I see it this way come Madison:

5. Phantom 94.8
6. Bluecoats 94.1
7. Boston 93.9
8. Glassmen 93.8

I will post a follow up to this post about corps from 9-15 tomorrow or Tuesday.

More later,
Jonathan Willis

The RCA Dome IS an acoustical nightmare for drum corps and it is impossible from the perspective I had to make any real musical analysis (other than the very generic type). I think it was announced that the crowd was around 8,100 and it was nice to see lots of people there.

General Reaction: The top seven corps are amazing. I really think everyone is pushing the envelope this year and the quality of shows is higher than in recent memory. There isn't a boring show in the top seven or even eight or nine. With that said, the Cavaliers have raised the bar further than anyone, and the excellence they achieve in not only the programming, but performance wise, is very inspiring to watch. I went to their rehearsal at Carmel and they are simply the best.

The Colts: I think the Colts and Cascades have to watch out for themselves down to Madison because I think Colts, Cascades, Blue Knights, Madison Scouts and Carolina Crown are all shooting for the 11th and 12th spot. It will be exciting to watch and fireworks to be sure. The Colts have a strong program this year and a wonderfully fun colorguard to watch. They have improved their visual technique so much and are really succeeding this year.

Seattle Cascades: I was very happy to see them perform and was dissapointed to see many recycled material. From the musical selections to many drill moves, the show was executed like an 11th or 12th place corps but the show is lackluster. My friend who marched Star said they were better last year than this ,and I didn't see them to be able to agree, but I thought Colts had an edge on them. Regardless, nice to see some new blood!

Spirt of JSU: I think a lock for a Finals spot and I'm happy for all the members... I'm sure they are all very thrilled and they have reason to be. They have an interesting show. Its much more aggressive musically and visually than last year and I believe two weeks from now they will have cleaned it to the point they will be a lock on 10th place. Congratulations on a great season so far.

Crossmen: There show has a lot of energy and doesn't let that energy down. The colorguard, I fear, isn't quite as good as what we have seen from Crossmen in the past. They don't have enough demand in their drill or music book to do much damage to the corps that are placing above them at this point.

Boston Cruaders: Loved the show. Didn't care for the singing or the signs they revealed throughout the show. It reminded me of a marching band from Florida and I just wish they weren't there. The one sign I did like was "Let Freedom Ring" as they belted out a very patriotic tune. Definately a goosebump moment and I love them for it. It is such a great show and a gorgeous ending.

Bluecoats: I love this show so much I wish they could crack up higher than 7th, but with the overall talent in the corps this year, it is definately a compliment to be where they are. They have a wonderful hornline and the show is so exciting. The ballad they play is one of my favorite musical moments of the night, to be sure. My favorite Bluecoats show of all time and one of my favorites overall this season. Great colorguard!

Glassmen: The announcer, as silly as it sounded, interviewed the horn soloist after the show and asked him for his response to the crowd commenting on the boring factor of the Glassmens shows recently. What a slap in the face. I would have slapped him back. They are not boring this year even though I did not enjoy them at all at the Toledo show much earlier in the season. Javelin is a wonderful piece for the field. Competitively, I think they are a lock for 6th or 7th place.

Phantom Regiment: I love Phantom Regiment and I love their show this year. They are one of the crowd favorites. Their music book has soo many notes and they perform it as you would expect them to. The colorguard is great and beautifully clad. The sicles (sp?) they use this year at first look like the Cadets "commas" from last year, but they work very well with the show. Its a great program and I hope they remain in the top five.

Santa Clara Vanguard: They have so much more demand than the Cadets show, but aren't performing at their level yet. Contrary to what others have said, I think their music is very exciting and reminds me of a mix between their 99 and 00 show. The drill is great and my prediction is they will find their way to second place. If they were as clean as the top three, they have the only show that could touch the Cavaliers. The guard is, I'm sorry to say, a lil sloppy for this time of year. But the hornline is a notch above last years as is most of the program.

Blue Devils: I don't like jazz so I really don't like the show. Their drill..... is typical Blue Devils as is the guard. They have some great soloists. The show starts off so promising and goes down, and down, and down. And honestly when it was over, it took me a minute to realize they had finished because I had zoned out. Probably because I didn't care for the music, but a point nonetheless.

The Cadets: People are eating up all the controversy regarding their show. I just as much mentioned it to my friend briefly and some woman turned around and gave me her "unaskedfor" opinion. I could care less if they do the pledge of allegiance. If its a political statement, that sucks because I dont' want to go to a drum corps to see their political statements. I dont feel differently after seeing their show though. They dont' tell you what to think about anything... they are just being patriotic for most of it. So I miss the big deal folks. What is it? The guy next to me asked, "When did the Cadets go silly? They used to be cutting edge and that was just silly." It kind of was silly, and cheesey and honestly there wasn't that much drill. They stand in place and do scatter drill way too often. It was just them having a good time and rehashing a lot of their 1995 program. It will not be first place or second place. It will be a classic show, however, and the performers on the field do a wonderful job. Especially the colorguard.

The Cavaliers: Extremely strong is every single caption. They are being rewarded for putting on an extremely demanding show, musically and visually. Its one of the best drum corps shows ever from one of the best drum corps and I hope everyone who wants to, gets to see it and enjoys it. The ending has been rewritten and is VERY VERY exciting. Multiple standing ovations. Congratulations Cavaliers, keep it up for two more weeks and you deserve it.

It is a great year from drum corps and a great reminder after reading all the dramatics on the newsgroups why I love drum corp. Thank you to all of the corps for such an amazing day.

Chris Garber

first of all...overall it seemed like a much smaller crowd then last year. DCI should work on selling more tickets maybe? I got pretty good seats because I wanted to hear less echo more brass. They were between the 40s and just high enough to see the forms. I'm a brass player so I know NOTHING about drum lines. The air conditioning was NICE. Now, on to the show...

Boston - I missed because we had problems figuring out where to park. I really wanted to see them, I heard great things about their show.

Crossmen - Everyone talks about the Crossmen like their show is on fire, but to me, it seemed liked they lost steam after their opener. The hornline had some great licks in the opener, and the opening drill segments were great too, but overall, this show really did not move me very much. I will say that their overall visual package is improved.

Cascades - I enjoyed this show. Some have called it a "Cadet's greatest hits" show. I personally dont think so, I think its simply a Bernstein show being performed pretty well by an up and coming corps. The drill by Rosander could have been a little more original. He recycled some of his own moves that he wrote for SCV. The Prelude, Fugue and Riffs arrangement was not as bright as the Cadets '91 version, but still fun to listen to nonetheless. The guard was quite interesting. They dont seem to have the mature look that other top corps have. Maybe that will come with time/age?

Spirit - One of the best horn sounds of the night. What an incredible hornline. The drill was demanding, a little dirty. The guard wasnt intigrated into the visual program as well as other corps in Spirit's range.

Colts - Good showing. It appears that they've picked up the Cavaliers marching technique...with mixed results. Better visually then in years past. The show seems safe. Nothing really jumped out at me.

Bluecoats - I heard a lot about how great this corps was going to be this year. Definitly better then the Crossmen. Much more upbeat. I dont remember the middle of their show but the piece that they closed with was definitly fun to listen to.

Glassmen - Not boring, but not the most exciting show either. It was a great show. I dont think that the hornline sounded that bad (ive heard people bashing their hornline this summer). Visually, I dont see how this show was that much more demanding then Phantom or Crossmen. I also dont see how them being dirty is an excuse for them being behind. They didnt seem that dirty, though in general tonight, I didnt see a lot of straight (clean) lines from ANY corps, save one or two.

Phantom Regiment - Great opening piece. Powerful hornline, probably the loudest of the night...and by that I mean overall, not just "park and bark" sections. This colorguard should finish in the top three. Unlike last year, these talented girls are being utilized in the show. The drill isnt a "cakewalk" like some people have complained. However, it isnt as difficult as the 4 corps ahead of it. Loved the Russian sickles (sp?) and the old school Phantom staging in the ballad. The hornline seemed to loose a lot of clarity near the end of the show. Was it the dome or just Phantom playing too loud for 11 minutes? Also, being sandwhiched in between two Bflat corps made Phantom's hornline sound a little rough at points in their show. I really liked this show though. If they worked hard and added in some "WOW" visual moments, I honestly think that they could get 4th.

Santa Clara Vanguard - This show was a dissapointment for me. Visually it IS demanding. ONe of the best visual packages out their. The music doesnt really do a lot for me though. This show reminds me of SCV 2000...forgettable. And what is the deal with those reflective, box guard props? They looked terrible. They also did not look very "SCV" (i.e. classy). The uniforms arent bad, just strange. Rather than thinking "Christmas corps", it seems like SCV would be more appropriate delivering calzones/pizzas this summer. Maybe the dome ruined their musical program for me. I wont say that I hated this show, I was just expecting SO much more.

Blue Devils - This was a show that I was NOT expecting a lot from and boy was I wrong. I really enjoyed this BD show and I usually dont like the Devils. The guard is excellent. Probably the best utilized guard all night (and by that, I mean they aren't OVERUTILIZED either). Of course, the guard uniforms looked a little tacky, but BD's guard has worn worse. For music made in America...i dont think the visual program ever sports Red White and Blue anywhere (except for the Blue Devil's uniforms). Love the drum line and the cymbal rack. How do they do that? And how does the poor guard guy trapped in the percussive maelstrom not crap his pants? Yes, the opening was hokey...almost east coast but it was very enjoyable. They must have done a total facelift because this was my 2nd favorite program of the night. Channel One Suite was recognizable too. The tempo was a little fast for my taste, but it fits the program. This show is comic, emotional and sexy. The general effect was there folks. Just give them time to clean this show. WOW!

Cadets - Well..they got second with it in '95, so I dont see how they can do any better then that this year. I liked this show. Im not gaga about it like all of the other posters. I agree with most on some things. Yes, the Pledge of Allegiance is done quite tastefully. Yes, Boogie Woogie rocks. Yes, the Cadets could use more drill. To be honest, I thought this show was pretty flat. 1995 was my rookie year of drum corps and I got to see "American Quintet" almost nightly. That is one of the greatest drum corps shows of all time. This year's show seems to be forgettable, save the BWBB section. The arrangement of "On the Town" was not that memorable. I find the guard men dressing/undressing somewhat distracting and distasteful. The show seemed to be pretty busy at some points too. I didnt know what to watch. I really did not like the war paintings on black guard boxes. Also, they dont as great a job utilizing the full drum sets this time as they did in 1995. I dont think they scatter as much this year as they did back then, but their drill wasnt really that bad. It was dirty (as usual) and it had its moments (as usual). Overall, as you can guess, I find this revival inferior to its 1995 counterpart.

Cavaliers - I dont think that ANYONE will beat this corps. They have it all. Rest assured Don Warren, this will be the year that your boys take home high brass. What a horn sound. I have never heard anything like it! And they march incredible drill while playing too. Their staging is impeccable. It appears that they've learned a lot since 1997. What does their visual designer shoot up/snort/swallow to write this stuff? Granted, I dont think that this is their greatest visual program ever. 4 Corners was superior in demand and design. However, for what they accomplish visually with the sounds that they are making, this show is incredible. And, like you've heard, they arent even that clean yet. Will this be the first corps to break 99? They may JUST recieve a perfect ten in brass on Saturday night in Madison.

In general...a lot of people think that this is one of the best years ever for DCI. I feel mixed on that idea. A lot of the musical programs this summer are lacking. Also, it seems like corps have opted with extremly "busy programing" rather then straightforward power. You are all welcomed to disagree but these are just my opinions.

Here are my predictions for finals
1 Cavaliers
2. Blue Devils
3. Cadets
4. SCV
5. Phantom Regiment
6. Boston Crusaders


Here are my thoughts on the combined prelims and finals show in Indianapolis. There are pros and cons to performances in a domed stadium, but I am not sure the pros outweigh the cons. After seeing the show in Murfreesboro the night before, and Evansville, IN the night before that, I just don't think that drum corps in a dome is a good thing. The acoustical twilight zone is just a nightmare. It's awful to listen to, and causes problems for the corps.

The crowd at finals was large and was very enthusiastic. The prelims crowd was much smaller as would be expected, but they were probably more enthusiastic than the finals crowd. My vantage point was at the top of the lower deck just outside of the 50.

Jubal - They had a good performance today. They struggled a bit with the turf and the acoustics in the dome. There were several people almost falling resulting from scuffing feet on the turf. Their concert number, which received a standing ovation in Murfreesboro, was pretty loose tonight due to the acoustics in the dome, and they did not perform as well as a result. Their show is accessible and entertaining, and it is designed appropriately for the talent of the corps. They have some really exceptional soloists.

Madison Scouts - They had a pretty good show. It was not great today, but was solid. The guard did much better here than in Evansville the night before. The lack of wind clearly helped them. I struggle a bit with their scores though. While I don't think they should be much higher score wise, I do think they are better than several of the corps that passed them. Their ensemble visual is cleaner and more readable. There is demand, and the design compliments the music well. They are not far behind Crown, BK, Colts, etc., but I think they should be at the top of this tightly knit pack.

Kiwanis Kavaliers - It's good to see their numbers up this year. Their show is designed well for the talent level of the corps, and they are doing a good job performing it. Right now, they just really need to work on cleaning. There is plenty of dirt there for them to clean, and once they do, they will be really fun to watch.

Southwind - They are really coming along. They have a nice show, and they are doing a good job of performing it. I don't understand how their guard is beating Madison, because they have plenty of problems of their own in that area. I do not understand how KK beat them, or why their score dropped so much from Evansville either. In my opinion, there is not a 10 point spread between them and the 15th to 13th place group. It should be more like 5 points.

Pioneer - I was surprised by how small they were this year. Despite their size, they are doing quite well. With the strength of the Div II corps, I am not sure whether they would make quarterfinals if not for being automatically seeded in due to their Div I status. They have a nice show, and are doing a good job of performing it.

Colts - They had a very strong show in both prelims and finals. There are moments when the entire guard is on rifle which are very effective, even though the work itself is not all that difficult. The main problem with their show is the visual dirt - especially the intervals. If they can clean up the drill a bit and work on maintaining intervals, they have a good shot at taking a finalist spot.

Troopers - They were pretty good for their size. They put out some sound for a small horn line. I am not crazy about the reverse sunburst. I guess I like the traditional Troopers - like them to stick with the tried and true that we all love and expect. After all, it's just one drill move. I was a bit surprised by their musical selection. They were not typical fare from Casper, but they did a nice job, and they are performing the show well. If they can clean it up, they should fare well in Quarterfinals.

Carolina Crown - I like the musical selections and arrangements this year. Both brass and percussion do a good job of playing and performing the book. I don't like the guard uniforms or trite concept they are once again trying to cram down our throats. I'm sorry, but the music does not exactly exude Greek mythology and myths and legends. If they were to simply wear complimentary guard uniforms and spin/toss rifles, flags, and sabres, I would like this show a lot more. The guard really is not that good. Every major toss had at least one drop, and the catches were not clean. The guard bodies and feet are all over the place. Often times, they are literally running (not in time or step) from place to place on the field. It's just a god awful mess to look at. The drill is still quite dirty. How they beat Madison is simply beyond me. I do not see them making finals.

Seattle Cascades - WHAT A SHOW AND PERFORMANCE! The horn line is tackling some really tough stuff, and they are doing it quite well. The arrangements are excellent, and the mellophone soloist in Jeremiah symphony and Mass is absolutely awesome! The soprano soloist had trouble in both prelims and finals. The guard is good, and compliments the show well. The drum book is a bit easy, but at least it's relatively clean. Myron Rosanders drill is fantastic (as usual), and they have perhaps one of the most exciting drill move sequences of all the corps on the field. They received a standing ovation after Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs. Finals, they were a bit off timing wise (probably dome acoustics related), but really laid out a powerful performance. I think they have a great shot at a finalist spot. Great job!

Spirit - I liked this show better than I expected I would based on their repertoire and what I had read. The overall visual design is relatively easy compared to the corps that are close to them, but they are cleaner as a result. They were much stronger in Indy than in Evansville - much more confident in both marching and playing. The guard is not always integrated into the drill very well, but it is not a major detraction. The guard is better than the past few years, but still needs the most cleaning. They have a very good shot at a finalist spot in my opinion.

Blue Knights - What can I say? I like the show better than last year. I don't like all of the body movement, and wish they would just march. Their horn line is much improved over last year; however, their musical selections are a tough sell. They selected some very modern, very difficult, and very inaccessible on a first listen pieces to play. I love the Barber piano concerto they are playing for their closer, but it would be a very difficult work for even one of the top corps to perform and really sell. Their lack of cleanliness only makes it more inaccessible. I do like the show myself. I just don't think the average fan will enjoy the show. This is one that you have to listen to over and over again to really enjoy. If they can clean, they might make finals, but with so much competition it might be hard for them - especially from a GE perspective.

Crossmen - I really like the Crossmen's musical selections. They are very accessible, exciting, toe tapping, and the arrangements are good. The guard is not quite as good as the past few years, but they are still entertaining the watch. Occasionally, it looks as though their field position was an afterthought when the drill was designed. The drill is much more difficult than previous editions, and it is much dirtier. They are scoring right about where they should be. If they do not clean up the drill, Seattle and Spirit might pass them. Overall, they have a very enjoyable show, and will definitely be one that I listen to often when the CD's are released.

Boston Crusaders - This is one show that I just don't really like all that much. They have to have the weakest soprano line of all the corps in finals in Indy. Overall, the horn line is a significant step down from the past few years. They simply do not the quality, richness, and depth to their sound that they have had the past 3 years. As a result, it often seems like the percussion overpower the horns. The arrangements are OK, but not that great. The guard is good, but they have too many drops. I personally did not like all of the banners with patriotic messages they open throughout the show, or the pictures of American icons. They garner crowd response because of the nations wave of patriotism resulting from the events of last year, but is it entertaining to read banners opened all over the show? I don't think so. At both Evansville and Indy, there were large band contingents there, and I overheard many of them talking about the "cheese" factor to their show. Even the high school band kids thought it was cheesy - what does that tell you? Sorry, I just didn't care for it all that much. They will make finals and they will receive enthusiastic applause when they open their patriotic banners - behold, the power of cheese.

Bluecoats - This is one exciting program. That horn line is fantastic! Power, balance, control, intonation, and great arrangements of some really entertaining music. The guard is exceptional, but not always integrated into the drill very well. The drill is demanding, and they are marching it pretty well. There is obviously still some cleaning left to do, but Glassmen better get working or they will find themselves down another place. They have really continued their improvement that began a few years ago. Great job Coats!

Glassmen - I like their show this year. I don't find it boring. It's not my favorite, but it is enjoyable to watch and listen to. They had a solid performance for most of the show, but struggled just a bit towards the end. The soloist is absolutely fantastic! The overall flow of the program is exceptional. The whole program fits well - music, drill, and guard. There just are not any big exciting moments visually that really grab you, which is what hurts them the most in my opinion. I don't see them passing Phantom, and I think that Bluecoats could beat them if they don't crank out a terrific performance in finals.

Santa Clara Vanguard - I have no idea what the judges were watching tonight, because SCV really cranked it up tonight. A major improvement over Murfreesboro. The drill was much cleaner and the guard was more together. The horn line and drum line really turned it up a notch. I thought they had moved ahead of Cadets tonight for sure, and possible BD. They still have the most to clean visually compared to the rest of the top 4, but they are in the hunt to move up.

Phantom Regiment - PR had a very strong show tonight. The horn line turned it up intensity wise and lost a bit in tone quality, which probably hurt their brass scores. But it should have helped their GE scores. They had more impact tonight - not dome related impact either. Their arrangements are exceptional, and the whole show is just plain exciting. Their achilles heel is their drill design. It simply does not max out the musical moments or flow really well with the music at times. Otherwise, this year's edition of Rockford is outstanding! I think they will finish in 5th.

Cavaliers - What a show tonight! The drum line was much cleaner than in Murfreesboro, the guard was better, marching was better, and performance was better. The score? Definitely NOT inflated! They simply are that good. Yes, there are things for them to clean, but not all that much. They have the best horn line on the field without questions, and have perhaps one of the best sounding horn lines ever. Strength in every caption. My only compliant is that the music is not more accessible. While it is powerful and exciting, you don't exactly walk away from the show humming anything. But at the same time, it's difficult to forget their show - it's that good. I believe they will win the title and will remain undefeated. I really don't think anyone will even come close.

The Cadets - Seeing this show ruined it for me. After listening to early season MP3's and reading the reviews, I was excited to see this show. What a huge disappointment. There is not much drill, there is plenty of standing around and milling around, most of the drill is packed in between the 30's, and there are not any wow moves visually. The guard is exceptional, but they spend so much time dancing, changing into military uniforms right in front of everyone, saying the pledge, dragging around the boxes - give me some work please! The opener has simply been butchered. They took a great piece and tweaked it down to little snippets of the melody, followed by percussion breaks. Musically, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy is the only thing that stands out. They play the snot out of that tune, and the crowd goes wild. There is just nothing on the field to watch of much interest. At least in 95, they danced on the boxes while the drummers played on the boxes, then the bass drum feature followed. This year, it's just milling around playing music and the guard dancing on the boxes. It is simply far less interesting. This year's edition pales in comparison to the 95 version. And all the pictures, changing clothes, the pledge, etc. - shameless gimmicks designed to try and garner some semblance of entertainment. Just like BAC, I don't buy into it. I want to be entertained with drum corps - playing, marching, guard work. Their performance in Indy was no improvement over Murfreesboro, yet they improved their score and spread on SCV. That was not deserved at all. Cadets were much the same, and SCV advanced in a huge was in Indy. Cadets should have dropped below SCV. They will have a hard time keeping BD back, that's for sure.

Blue Devils - I absolutely love this show. Finally, a BD show that gets me excited, tapping my toes, and out of my seat - and not just at the end of the show. I love everything about it. The soloists are incredible, the guard is fantastic, the drill is a major improvement over previous years, and the charts are just plain exciting. The horn line and drum line are still rough around the edges, and are placing lower those captions - deservedly so. If the horn line in particular can clean up a bit, they will easily pass Cadets, and just might hold off SCV.

Overall, I was very impressed by the line up in finals. All of the corps were very entertaining, and the quality of the performances overall seems to be improving over last year.

Tim Kviz

Ottawa, IL (DCI II / III)

Terrific 2/3 show in Ottawa last night. The stadium is very low, maybe 10 rows high. The audience was pretty responsive, but not overly excited, except for during a few corps. Before I review, let me just let you know I marched & aged out of The Blue Stars, so I'm obviously biased.

I like what Americanos are doing this year, however, the show seemed a bit flat to me last night. Maybe because they went on first. The guard is strong, especially when they all spin flag. I just wish they would do that more. In my opinion the show hasn't gone very far since DCM, but it's still a very strong show that should do well in Madison.

Marion Glory Cadets
Best Div 3 guard of the night. Even though the guard is small (7, I think), they are very strong spinners. Visual scores have to be pushing this corps along. I thought they deserved to be ahead of Americanos tonight. Their performance level seemed to be higher. Watch the pits facial expressions; they do a great of connecting the audience & really selling the show.

I had never seen this corps before (or heard of them for that matter), I was impressed. The opener is strong and got a pretty good response from the audience. The guard members are strong dancers, and they use that to their advantage. However, I thought they lacked some technique on weapon (bad heights on tosses, inconsistent free hands..that sort of thing). Their performance level was higher than Blue Stars last night, but I don't know if they have the difficulty level to stay head of the Blue Team. This week will tell, all in all great showing for the Texas corps.

Blue Stars
As alum, I love this show! The opener, Jewish Trilogy, is the corps song. It gives me chills every time I hear them play it. I love guard girl in the shorts, all she needs is a red umbrella! Visually, their drill moved quicker than any other Div 3 corps out there last night. The guard is not the strongest, in fact I would have had them in 4th last night (the guard that is). However, visually what the rest of the corps is doing more than makes up for what the guard might be lacking this year. The hornline seems to be the strongest in many years. I marched in the 93 Candide show, so I love the closer! The flags are the same design as the closer flags in 93, love that! The closer has probably improved the most since I saw them at DCM. I think this audience missed a lot of the subtle references to years past. This show is going to do very, very well for them in Madison in front of a crowd full of alumni!


SCV Cadets
I enjoyed this show, but nothing about it really stood out to me. I really liked what the guard is wearing, very similar to SCV 2000. Being the first Div 2 corps of the night, their large hornline seemed to catch the crowd off guard. Div 2 is going to be tough in Madison, but I'm sure this show will be right there with the rest of them.

Capital Regiment
I've seen this show 4 or 5 times now, and I like it more and more every time. I really enjoy the music, especially the closer (same as Colts this year). The guard is strong and obliviously well trained. They have great technique and it shows on every piece of equipment they spin. I thought they would be close to Mandarins (which they were). In my opinion, this is one of the strongest Div 2/3 shows out there this year. It's a total package show that should do very well in Madison.

I'm always very impressed with what they do and this year is no exception. Visually, the corps is moving very quickly throughout a lot of the show. The show is very challenging and still seemed a bit rough in parts. Knowing Mandarins, there will be nothing rough about this show come DCI. The thing I love the most about this corps is that they are never afraid to push the envelop!

The crowd loved this show! Definitely strong, most likely the Div2 Champion, but it just didn't do that much for me. Don't get me wrong, I liked it! I just wasn't jumping out of my seat or anything. My sister said it looked like someone washed their guard uniforms with a bunch of red socks. Visually the guard uniforms aren't adding much to the show. I thought Capital Regiment had a stronger guard performance last night. All in all, this show really isn't a Div 2 show, it's a 17th -15th place Div 1 show. It's great to see them back and so strong!

There you have it. Like I said in the beginning, it was a great night of shows.


Somerdale, NJ (DCA)

Just when I was looking around at all the "oldies but goodies" in the stands in Somerdale last night (myself included), I realized that I was seated next to and behind some of the youngest DCA fans in the stands. I sat along side of 3 brothers the oldest of whom was about 10 years old or younger and in front of me was a little girl whose father was about to play a solo in his drum corps' very first competition ever. It was a pleasure sitting with these little drum corps fans. They were enthusiastic and well behaved. Here is a review from comments made by these children during the show. Enjoy!

Carolina Gold: My young seat mate and I were commenting that their guard's uniforms looked like "teletubbies". We noticed that there was no green teletubby and we were informed by our new friend in front of us that they indeed DID have a green teletubby but that he could not be there today. She was not insulted by the teletubby comment, she knew exactly what we were talking about. We all liked the purple teletubby best. He was funny and good with equipment. Once when he made a mistake he put his hand over his mouth. We all laughed. Our new friend's daddy played soprano and we liked his solo. We clapped a lot when they were finished because we thought they were really good. We stood when the American flag went by and took a lot of pictures of the teletubbies.

Skyliners: We thought their drum major was funny and nice. When he said "We're doing this for YOU!", we all yelled "YEAH". The cool thing about the Skyliners was that their drummers were all on the front of the sidelines where we could keep an eye on them. We particularly liked the snare drummer who was running back and forth to other drums. My seat mates were mesmerized by the little girl holding the fire fighter's helmet. I explained to them that 2 ex-members of the Skyliner's had died in the World Trade Center and that's why she was holding one of their hats. That part was sad, but the little girl did a good job and we liked her. We liked the NYC baseball caps on the drummers. We clapped a lot at the end because we thought they were really good.

Hurricanes: The Hurricanes drum major is very nice. She waved to us and we waved back. The Hurricanes were bigger than the first two corps. We like their color guard very much and their Honor Guard had a black flag honoring 9-11-01. The drum major waved to us again at the end. That impressed us the most about the Hurricanes.

The Caballeros: Their drum major is crazy! We practiced taking off our fake capes and throwing them to the ground. This kept us occupied for a little while. Their drum major has the biggest smile and we definitely thought he was crazy! A couple of times when their horn line stopped playing, we yelled "wooooo" and clapped. They had a soprano soloist who was kicking it. We loved him. Their color guard was big and good.

The Buccaneers: The Buccaneers started their show with an American Flag presentation. There was a guy who marched with them who had on a Marine's uniform and we thought that was cool. We loved all their flags. They were red, white and blue. When they had the red flags up and they hit the light just right, you could see an American flag in them. That was cool. Then the same thing happened with the white flags. It was cool watching the flags change. We liked their drummers a lot and a lady told us that there horn line was really young, so we clapped for them a lot.

The Brigadiers: WOW! We thought thought these guys were really good. Their drum major has a special salute that is very involved, but after several tries, we had it down and were reading to compete with him. The drum major had blonde hair like Eminem. He was cool. We loved their drums. We loved their horns. And we really loved their color guard and the yellow flags. When the horns and drums stopped playing we yelled "Woooooo" again like we did with the Caballeros. As the Brigadiers left my seat mate acknowledged that he would LOVE to march drum corps and he will! He said he would like to march with Bush. When the drum major saluted at the end, we saluted him back the same way, standing at attention. We loved this corps.

The Bushwackers: Here's when I found out that I had been HAD! My little neighbor starts screaming "Go BUSH". I looked at him and said "You like Bush?" He said "Yeah, I love 'em". This is when I learned that this was NOT his first drum and bugle corps competition! I don't know how many times he had seen the show or why it was his favorite but it certainly was. We loved Bush's drum major. He had a pussycat on his podium with him. We don't know why he did. We don't care why he did. He just did and that was cool. The little girl thought that the back drops on the field were so beautiful that they should have them on the whole field! We like it when drummers hide behind beautiful backdrops.

Intermission: No not! They just tricked us into thinking there was going to be an intermission. We laughed because we had already figured out there wasn't going to be one as soon as we saw the Jersey Surf on the field! And we were glad too, because little sleeveless arms were beginning to get cold. We guessed that everyone must be getting cold because when the announcer said "No intermission" everyone cheered!

The Jersey Surf: The lady behind us started talking. She didn't like the new uniforms. She thinks they are bad. A man told her to SHUSH! And she did shush, after she said she didn't like the uniforms one more time. We LIKED the uniforms and we didn't like her talking while the Surf were playing. We thought they were cool and when they dressed up in tutus and put on the colored hair, we laughed so hard. We were trying to find out which of the ones were the boys. The boys had on the tutus too on top of their jeans and the funny hair. We loved this part. I told them that they were playing "I enjoy being a girl" and they just cracked up laughing. We had fun checking out their hats. We liked everybody saluting at the end.

We loved all the corps. We had a great time and it was a privilege for me to sit with this group of young drum corps fans!

Jackie Fritsche

Friday July 26

Murfreesboro, TN (DCI)

Weather - good
Crowd - large and receptive
Corps - great!
Here are my comments in the order of finish.

Jubal - Very nice job. Drum corps in the Netherlands is a part time activity, and there is no age limit. As a result it is really more like senior corps. For as little practice as they put in compared to teh junior corps, they did a very good job. They started out a bit rough around the edges - nerves perhaps - but once they settled in, they did a great job. They received a standing ovation during their show - and deserved it. They were very entertaining. I am glad they were finally able to tour the states.

Crossmen - Overall, they have a good program. The music is accessible and entertaining. The guard is good, but they are not always very well integrated into the drill at times. Overall, the drill is a big step up for Bones - much more demand than prior years. The drill is still a bit dirty, and that is hurting them.

Bluecoats - Holy horn line Batman! What a sound!!! Percussion is strong, guard is good, and drill is good. I have the same criticism about guard integration for Bluecoats - could be better at times. They have a fantastic program, and and performing the snot out of it. I really enjoyed their show. They deserved to top Crossmen by several points. If Coats can clean and really perform, they could be moving even higher.

Glassmen - I like this show. It is not my favorite, but I have to admit I like it. The fluegal soloist is fantastic! The overall show flows quite nicely. Their drum line is fantastic - beat BD and deservedly so. If GMen want to take it to the next level, I am afraid they will need a different drill designer. There just are not any big visual moments that stand out in their program. There is plenty of demand, and the drill compliments the music well - just nothing that grabs your attention. I loved their shirts - making fun of themselves about being boring. Quite funny.

Phantom - NICE show tonight. The horn line is really coming along - best sound from them in years. The guard is excellent. My main criticism of PR is the drill design. The drill does not compliment the music well in my opinion. At the big musical pushes, the drill is not doing much, and during down points, the drill can get crazy. To max out the moments, it really should be the other way around. They are giving up GE points. They have a good shot at 5th this year, but I do not think they will go higher than that. The arrangements are great - another PR classic!

SCV - I really like this show. I had to listen to it several times before watching it to really get into it, but now I love it. Very classy program. The drill is classic SCV - very demanding. Also, still plenty of dirt to clean. The horn line is strong and balanced, and the drum line is cooking. The guard is really their achilles heel at this point. If the guard and the drill can be cleaned, they could finish 2nd.

BD - After all the criticism I read on line, I was not expecting much. What a surprise! I love this show! Very entertaining! They received a standing ovation during their performance - one of three during the evening (the other two going to Jubal and the Cadets). Their horn line and drum line are a littel rough around the edges compared with what we have come to expect from BD. The guard is incredible. How Cavies beat them in guard is beyond me. Their integration into the drill is not great at times, but it is still effective overall. The drill is a step up from prior years - much more demand and excitement. If the horn line can crank out a clean performance, they should have no problems passing Cadets.

Cadets - After reading all the hype, I must admit I was thoroughly disappointed. The only section of their program that I enjoyed was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy - and just the music, not the visual. The opener has been changed from the MP3's I heard from eariler in the year - and not for the better in my opinion. It sounds all chopped up. In fact, the entire program lacks consistency and flow, other than BWBB. The rest of the show seems like it was sampled from a variety of tunes. There is way too much standing around and milling around, and not enough marching. There are no huge exciting drill moves. The guard changing clothes in front of everyone was tacky. In fact, most of the show was pretty cheezy. They have simply over tweaked a weak program, and I fear there is little they can do to help it further. I think they will likely end up in 3rd or 4th place.

Cavies - Awesome! The horn line is THE best horn line Cavies have ever put out. They have an amazing sound. The drum line had a bit of an off night - litte dirt here and there - and deserved their 2nd place finish. If they have a clean performance, they should take high drums too. Top guard? I don't agree with that. BD's guard is simply amazing. Cadets is good as well - just not enough work for my tastes. Their score was deserved, and the spread is correct. They are just that much better then the rest. They are a lock for 1st in my opinion. I don't think anyone can touch them.

Tim Kviz

Let me begin this review with an apology. In my review of Kennesaw, I was a little too hard on a couple of folks in the Scouts. The guy in the weapons line, regardless of my opinion, was busting his butt to do his job on the field. I noticed last night as I was at ground level for the America/Oh Canada, God Bless America that the kids in front of me were TIRED. I forgot how hard those summers were, and I can only imagine what it is like now. The kids work hard in oppressive heat day after day to entertain us, and last night reminded me. So, guy from Madison, go out there and keep on giving it YOUR BEST. I'll cheer for you in quarterfinals.

The MTSU stadium is an EXCELLENT venue. Our seats were ABOVE the effect judge's right on the 50 -- incredible view of the drills. My only wish is that the back stands were more concrete than metal, but they only slightly affected the sound bouncing back.

JUBAL (Judged Exhibition)
I was pleasantly surprised. I think touring with DCI corps is only going to be a GOOD thing for this group and the Drum Corps activity in Europe. I like the guard uniform, and the horn line had some nice impact moments. Drill and marching are an issue, and that can be upgraded in time. Thank you, JUBAL, for making the trip.

CROSSMEN (8th - 84.55)
I was really looking forward to this show. I loved the Crossmen in 2001, and had heard so many great things in reviews of them here, especially their opener. Perhaps the oppressive humidity had something to do with it, but they just seemed a little "off." They have a very nice program, but it never reached out to me, as did last year's show. This was just a first viewing and I'll probably grow to love it by finals. Those guard uniforms look rather WARM.

BLUECOATS (7th - 86.05)
I enjoyed seeing the Bluecoats from a higher perspective. They do a nice new effect with the tier-colored flags in the opener, doing a magical transformation to all bright yellow flags which was very effective. The urban chic look isn't to my tastes, but when they add the color to the guard uniforms, it improves them tremendously. Keep up the good work, Bluecoats! Thanks!

GLASSMEN (6th - 87.95)
Their mellophone soloist is incredible, but he did not get quite the showcase this year that last year provided. This corps is SO talented, and they are very well trained. Why then, do I not feel any attraction to this show? It's a mystery to me. The hornline had a nice dark sound, they have a great drumline, a talented guard and a clean drill, but I'm just not excited or motivated by what I see. I am so looking forward to their staff taking the group they have and building a program that is a challenge to the kids and rewarding to its audience as well. Good luck in Madison, Glassmen!

PHANTOM REGIMENT (5th - 88.00)
I did not like Phantom on my first viewing of them last year; however, as the season progressed, particularly the three Buffalo performance, I grew to like them VERY much. They have a great sound, an incredible guard (please change the opening rifles to white), and a good, but not great drill. What they don't have is intensity and emotion that I'm sure they are working on. I look forward to seeing two weeks of improvement on this show.

SANTA CLARA (4th - 91.95)
The "rubber band" flags get my award for the most creative innovation of the year. Did those come from WGI? But, while I love the above-mentioned flags, the boxes are ineffective and cumbersome. The corps is very talented and there are some beautiful moments in this show, but there are also some weak transitions and a bit of choppiness in the flow. Also, the show is not as "affecting" as their recent efforts have been. Perhaps two weeks will be enough to add some emotion and move up... We'll see...

BLUE DEVILS (3rd - 92.65)
I saw the Blue Devils in Jacksonville over a month ago, and except for the "hair guard" and most of the music, it seems like a whole new show. They have great musical transitions; however, the visual isn't quite where you would expect from the Blue Devils. Some forms not reaching completion is very unlike BD; but I expect them to be much cleaner and much closer, if not past the Cadets by finals.

THE CADETS (2nd - 92.65)
This was my first viewing of the show, and I forced myself to remain objective, to not let the reviews, neither positive nor negative, affect what I had to say about this corps. Maybe I remained too calm. I was not drawn into the show at all. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy is well performed, but I can't stop thinking about those BOXES (someone behind me said the sailor looked like Moammar Khadafi), they were walking all around them, dancing all over them, but not MARCHING. The complaint I've had with the Cadets for a long time has been that when they march they are wonderful, but they don't seem to do enough of it for me. The Pledge left me indifferent; I didn't care one way or the other. But the crowd DID enjoy it. It seems to me that, come Madison, those two gray "structures" framing the half mast flag are going to transform into two other shapes altogether (WTC, anyone?). The guard was great as usual and I do like the stars flags in the closer. The American flag formation there is GREAT. I look forward to seeing the show again. Maybe I'll enjoy it more on a second viewing, Thursday in Madison.

THE CAVALIERS (1st - 94.85)
This show has the obvious, the subtle, the amazing, and the awe-inspiring. The hornline was incredible and the backfield section was one of the most beautiful musical moments of the night. I do not claim to be a musical judge, but my idea of Music GE is the goose bumps I get. I got goose bumps several times during the Cavaliers' show. They've added a new high-flying twist to the "fight club" segment, and I want those of you who are going to see the show, to notice when the guard is putting down the "rhythm" squares stage right, the location of the last horn player to the left. It's incredible the way these guys fly across the field. And as good as they are, there is still room for improvement. I would like to see the hornline have some more volume on a few impact points, but then I remember 1995, and having the same feeling until Thursday of DCI when the corps turned around for the first impact in Mars. I have the feeling they are going to be pumping up the volume very soon. The show is a magical one, and I can't wait to see it again. Exceptional job, Cavaliers!


Hey, here's a short little review from Murfreesboro.... it's more color guard oriented then anything.

Cavies - ok so yeah im a little partial but I thought they were amazing Cadets were cleaner but the stuff Cavies do is amazing the program is great. It's a almost perfect full package... I could stand for the music to be a little more exciting but get it works for them.

Cadets - so let me start by saying I am not the biggest Cadet fan around.... but after seeing them at Murfreesboro I have changed my mind....they are out there just having fun and being amazing at it. I absolutely fell in love with this show. So much energy it really gets the crowd into it and on there feet!

Blue Devils - don't kill me on here anyone, but I'm not much of a fan, but I enjoyed them more then I did last year... ok about the hair thing and the girls..... it didn't do much for me I think it just happened to be a bunch of girls who have long hair and can dance incredibly, I enjoyed their performance.

Glassmen - every year they seem to get better... there show this year seemed more exciting and more entertaining then the past, my favorite Glassmen show so far...

Phantom - like I said, this is a more color guard oriented review.....WOW !!!! thank god there's still an all girl color guard out there that is just incredible.... those girls are beast's spinning, they are amazing, I loved them you can tell. They know their crap cause they are ready for DCI.

Crossmen - the opener I thought was amazing, they have some cleaning up to do and somethings aren't as strong as the opener, but like I said, I absolutely loved the opener... I've heard "In The Heat Of The Day" before but never on the field, and I aboslutely loved it....


I took my boyfriend to his first Drum Corps Show. After each corps's performance, I recorded his reaction:

Bluecoats: "It was kind of cool, but chaotic."
Glassmen: "Wow they're using the whole field. Were they bad? I liked the first group better."
Crossmen: "I really like that, all the sections were good, my favorite so far."
Phantom: "They were better than the other three, but I like the red and black guys more."
Blue Devils: "They were so cool! I can't believe how much better they were than all the others."
Vanguard: "Hunh... so-so I guess. I really like the Blue Guys."
Cadets: "They were really good, but I thought ‘Under God' was put in the pledge during the 1950's."
Cavaliers: "I couldn't stop laughing... they were so neat to watch. I still like the Blue Guys the Best."

My only comments on the evening were that I didn't know it was possible to completely rewrite a drum corps show, but the Devils did it and now it's a great show. I also picked up on the 'Under God' not fitting the time period, just put in there because of the recent events. The Cavie's are so much fun to watch and the melody rewrite make the show much easier to follow.

Thanks to all the kids working their butts off to make me stand up and cheer!

Lee Helena

The stadium: big, metal, about as nice as you could ask for. I remember playing at band competitions here when I was in high school. Some of the big moments sounded awesome off of the back side.

Weather: kind of cloudy... enough to keep you from frying in the stands. Not too hot.

I really enjoyed this contest and I have noticed a significant increase in attendance over the past 3 years. The crowd for the cavies clinic before the show was huge...I'd say there were a good 800-1000 people down on the field and another 500-800 in the stands watching. Way up from last year.

Jubal: I brought 10 people with me this year, most of which had never heard of DCI before hearing about it from me and I remember telling them before these guys went on that they probably wouldn't be that great and that it was more of just a nice thing to let them play at the contest because they are from Europe... well I couldn't have been more wrong. These guys put out some serious sound for a group their size, I thought I would have to be apologizing for their lack of entertainment and assure my friends that the "good" groups would be on soon, but they were really impressed. Yeah the drill was a little sloppy but overall it was a good package for what they had to work with. I also really liked the guard uniforms.

Bluecoats: wow, these guys really impressed me tonight. Great brass. It may not mean much but all of my friends thought that they were one of the best of the night and said that entertainment wise they were right up there with the cavaliers. Don't know if I totally agree with that, but I was definitely very impressed with the show. The closer still needs some work but I think by championships it's going to be a lot better. Look out Gmen.

Glassmen: I must say I definitely wasn't "bored" this year. And I use that word on account of their new t-shirts, I love the idea... totally hilarious. They have some of the most innovative and creative merchandise. The drums were tight tonight, very nice. I agree with one of the earlier posts that commented on their brass being a little green/ reserved. They had their moments but there was definitely room for some more power and confidence there.

Crossmen: believe the hype! These guys have covered some serious ground since last year. You could tell they really wanted it tonight. Very aggressive and I absolutely love the drill. The entrance from the top is just great; you can't take your eyes off of it. By far the weakest trumpet solos of the night, the three soloists at the end really came up short. I was disappointed by their placement, more than any other group of the night. I do see that their drill needs some cleaning, but GE- wise this show really jumps out and grabs you... very exciting.

Phantom: based on what I had seen score wise this year I was starting to wonder if the PR we know and love was going to show up this year, and I would have to say they showed up tonight. There is talk of their drill being too easy for them and I would say that I did notice that a little, but its not really that weak. I would say that it was somewhat predictable and there wasn't much in it that really made you "ohh" or "ahhh". Good strong brass sound and all in all a very good performance. I was glad to see them come out on top of glassmen.

BD: I was very shocked to see the voting had pushed BD before SCV, I know they are close this year and a lot of people want SCV to pass them up, but still I mean... it's the blue devils. They must have really turned their act around from the reviews I have read. I was very entertained by this show, they sell it. I loved the girls with the long hair.. really creative. The guard outfits really catch your attention. Trumpet solos were by far and away the best of the night... I really enjoyed all of them, traditional BD. The drill in the beginning was just great, the closer did seem somewhat weaker but its still good stuff. I think they can pull ahead of the cadets to take the silver this year.

SCV: Well I have read that everyone loves the new Uni's.. but I am going to have to disagree. That shade of green just doesn't agree with me, its just a shade or two off of grass green and I think the backsides are just too plain... they need something a little darker to match their style. I did like the show, but like most other people, I had a hard time getting into it. You want to soo badly but they won't let you. I do like the drill more than I have in the past... it's a good amount of moving around... not too much standing there and I think that's good. The guard didn't do much for me... just seemed like a lot of their flags didn't go with their whole color scheme and I thought the shiny squares were a little tacky.

Cadets: Well I had gotten my hands on an mp3 of one of their earlier shows and I was really looking forward to this show. Not only because I liked what I heard so much, but because of all of the entertaining moments that I had read about beforehand. Well for starters, they really cut up the opener... I know it needed to be shorter but I think they might could have edited it a little more smoothly. The one thing that disappointed me the most was the pledge.. and not because I think its stupid or cheap for them playing off of the media to get reaction or any of that.. I was fine with it when I had heard they put it in.. my problem is that they destroyed a BEAUTIFUL musical moment there at the end of "field of dreams" . UGH. The mp3 I had from the beginning of the season had them building up this really strong moment at the end and then holding out an awesome chord that was held out for a good 10-15 seconds before it resolved. Well instead of holding that out like it was before, they drop way down so you can hear the pledge and then do a quick crescendo at the very tail end for the resolution. I say boo... do the pledge if you must, but think of a better place to put it, and leave field of dreams like it was... I would get kinda watery eyed before, but this one just left me wanting a bunch more. My friends were also let down. And another thing... less standing around and more MARCHING. They just flat out need more of it. We all know they are great at it, and I am not saying they need to take out all of the stand around and blow your brains out moments, but maybe just less of them.

Cavies: of the friends that I brought that were already fans... they were all primarily cadets fans. And after they saw the cavaliers, the all looked to me and said "ok, they won". I think its almost funny how much better these guys are than everyone else. I could go on and on about how awesome every aspect of their show was, but I'll try to filter it down. Drums... wow. 10 snares and they are a sight to see... just simply jaw-dropping good. Brass: I know you have heard it tons of times by now, but I am going to say it again... the cavaliers have the best / deepest / richest / strongest / cleanest / most mature sounding brass line you have ever heard. I can't say enough about them. The backfield chords in the middle are so mystical.. everything is so clean with them. You can pick out every note in the chord every time. These guys are doing for DCI what the bulls did for the NBA in the 90's. they are raising the bar and that's good for two reasons: 1) more fans, more excitement... anytime you can get a dynasty thing going you get more fans for them and more fans of other groups hoping that they will be the ones to beat them. It's a win/win situation. 2) it pushes the other groups to raise their standards as well. I have a feeling that as long as the cavaliers (or someone) can push the envelope, drum corps are going to continue to evolve into even more powerful and exciting entities.

America o Canada: I like the new version, seems that the groups are settling in and becoming more comfortable with this new version. The one part I do wish hadn't changed is the last ohh 4 bars. It just cuts out too soon leaving you hanging.

God-bless-america: WHOA! This is awesome with a capitol A. I wasn't even aware they were doing this piece until they actually played it. Its by far and away the most powerful and touching version of god bless America that I have ever heard or will likely ever hear. This fills every void left by America O canida. Very very powerful.

Closing thoughts.....

I love DCI. If it were a drug I would need rehab... if it were a girl I would need a restraining order.... if it was a book I would have read it 100 times....if it were a movie I'd watch it every day...If it were a pair of socks I would never take them off (ok that one was weird but you get the picture). I can say without a doubt that the day(s) I get to go to drum corps contests are by far my favorite days of every year. This needs to get out to more people. I have taken lots of people over the past few years and I have never received anything but very surprised compliments like... the - I had no idea this kind of thing existed and no idea how entertaining and powerful it could be - kind of thing. If you can just give people a taste of this, they will want more. One showing on PBS every year isn't enough.

Scott Burka

Thursday July 25

Evansville, IN (DCI)

Great show this year. Only bad thing to say was that the left side of the stadium's lights NEVER got turned on. But each corps still did a fantastic job.

Kiwanis Kavaliers - Really fun show. The opening segment was wonderful. Their guard is definiately one of their many strong points. Nothing about this show really sticks out in my head, but it was fun and great to watch. Pioneer - By far the best corps from these folks I've seen in a while. I didn't quite grasp the overall concept of the show, but they played,marched and spun MUCH better than last years corps. The benches should be re - thought... I didn't understand why they were there at all.

Southwind - such a good show for this corps. They played great tonight although i thought their scoring was a bit low. These guys are doing a fantastic job and don't seem to be getting the scores to prove it. Their guard is much improved over last years. I am glad to know that Tracy Wooten, former director of the Northmont High School color guard from Ohio (incredible vietnam and hell shows in the mid 90's) is on their staff this year. They did a great job with Espirit De Corps.

Spirit - awesome show all around. This music is really beautiful and they did an incredible job with it last night. Guard was on as was the brass. I don't remember much about the percussion... I can see them in the top 17, but they'll have to fight with several others to make it in to the top 12.

Colts - I LOVE THIS GUARD!! I LOVE THIS SHOW! This is so incredbile. The music fits the Colts so perfectly. The color guard is continuing their impressiveness from last year. I am SO going to copy these uniforms for my own guard! I was dissappointed to see that they didn't place higher. They really should have beaten Madison.

Carolina Crown - WOW WOW WOW I saw this show in Murray, KY and loved it then, but I love it even more now! Only thing I have to say is that the guard staff needs to ditch the medusa wigs and snakes. The uniforms are great and the flags are absolutely awesome! One question - who on earth wrote their closer for the guard?? That work is NOTHING like the rest of the show... seems to be too easy. Brass and percussion both had exceptional performances and of course the color guard was just fantastic as always!

Madison Scouts - I really didn't like this show. The music is good, it makes sense and all that... but it just has no impressive moments like Carolina Crown or Boston. I didn't get into the show until the closer when the guard striped and put on the yellow and black uniforms with the yellow and black flags. The solo sabre guy was horrible. Great sound out of the drumline... I honestly hope they don't make finals this year.. but they should be up in the top 17.

Boston Crusaders - This show is SO going to be in the top 8 in finals! Such an emotional and impressive performance. The music is perfect and the visuals are great - Jerry Corradino really knows his stuff!! The guard uniforms were gorgeous as were their flags. Will have to compete with the Cadets for the most touching moment - that flag they make with the corps and guard was just wonderful!

William Stevenson

Wednesday July 24

Kennesaw, GA (DCI)

I am a high school band director, and I attended the Kennesaw show, and here's a few of my observations....feel free to rebut or agree!

1) Cavaliers - Completely AMAZING. The best drum corps show I've ever seen. So much attention to DETAIL, control, and a blend of innovation and entertainment make this the corps-to-beat for this year. Very intricate drill..... perfect balance... only a couple of rough trumpet entrances in the beginning of the show.

2) Bluecoats - Had the best tuba section I've heard in a long time. In-tune, precise, and fun jazzy tunes throughout the show.

3) Carolina Crown - MUCH improved from when I saw them in Orlando on June 22nd. Looks like the hardest color guard work of any corps out there (very difficult stuff). An amazing color guard, good brass, and good percussion. The greek mythology theme is interesting and the story is told well through the guard/corps. Marching wise was so-so----- several of the mellophones and baritones had trouble with the closer and the large step size.

4) Spirit - Another MUCH improved corps since Orlando. Drill and music were a bit easier than Crown, but well executed. The music was executed a bit cleaner than crown, in my opinion, but there were some shaky stand-still forms in the dril (interval errors, etc). The best piece is the legato/ballad type piece. BEAUTIFUL arrangement!

5) Madison Scouts - LOUD LOUD LOUD, (especailly percussion), but certainly entertaining as always. Seems like they are sort of from a "different time" ----- although not a bad time. Not very clean, but very entertaining and engaging.

6) Troopers - First time I've seen them in a long time. Holding their own, and not doing too bad. Some obvious marching problems.

7) Corpsvets----- These guys have A LOT of fun..... I laughed and reminisced on the "old style" of DCI gone by. It was extremely entertaining. The soprano soloist was AWESOME!

Hope this helps anyone out there. Feel free to post a rebuttal if you don't agree! I thoroughly enjoyed this show and the wonderful hosts, the Kennesaw Mountain Band/Band Parents. They provided very nice "southern hospitality," and the show was run well! I wish ALL of our band students in high school could see shows like this. It really inspires us and spurs creativity, no matter what your taste or style. A+ to all the corps at the show!


Let me begin by discussing the venue. First of all, the organizers had announced that the show was SOLD OUT for two weeks or so. Why then, do you NOT have a better system of parking? With rush hour traffic and poor accessibility to the high school, it was IMPOSSIBLE to get in. I had to work until 6 p.m. and arrived at 7:20, after waiting in line for 20 minutes to get into the school, to be told "Oh, you have to park a half mile down the road." I paid a premium price, which included parking, and I KNOW the high school lot was filled with general admission ticket holders. Please, don't let people start the show in a bad mood. We rushed back to our excellent seats just in time to see the Troopers finishing up the national anthem, and made it (out of breath) just in time for their show to begin, BUT PLEASE, show planners, prepare better next time, or find a larger venue for the show!

TROOPERS - 68.80
I applaud the Troopers just for the fact that they are still in existence. The corps is better than last year, and I hope to see them continue to improve in the coming years. My question is, "You have a theme that people recognize... Why not play music that meets that theme?" You don't have to play the same songs every year, but pick something that people will recognize as yours. I saw some interesting "vintage" drill moves (step-twos anyone?) that I haven't seen in a while, and enjoyed THAT very much.

MADISON - 79.90
Okay, I'll start with the nice comment. The hornline has a VERY strong sound. Moving on... I could not tell you much about the drill, except to say, I was always watching the guard... sort of like seeing an accident on the highway, you mean to look away, but you CAN'T. The lack of basics training, confidence and showmanship are SO evident. There is one guy in the weapons section who made me think of myself, but I'm a slightly out of shape 44-year-old guy with no rhythm - watching this guy trying to be graceful was more like watching a deer caught in the headlights. And he was not alone. And what's with the guy on the saber with the ponytail? Is this really the image that Madison wants to present as its "feature" player? I guess they do, but I don't get it. Again, the hornline sounded NICE.

SPIRIT - 81.00
First of all, I can't believe their score was as close to Madison's as it was. I believe the kids were nervous, as is often the case with a home show. The progress from last year to this year is evident, and the show has some very nice musical and visual moments. Marching technique is a bit of a problem, but I'm expecting great things from this corps in the future. I'm glad the SOUTH has a program like Spirit on the upswing.

The guard instructor and the visual design team for this corps need to take a long hard look in the mirror. The hornline and drums are doing a great job, and the performance level of the guard is excellent, but the words, "OBTUSE and WHA?" kept popping into my brain. I was not bothered by the guys in the togas, because I guess because I never saw them in pastels, but I WAS bothered by the Medusa wigs (and snakes), the Cupid with wings, the solo guy running through the split company front and many other head-scratching "creative" moments. You have a corps ready to take off, with strong membership, and good basics. I know innovation is good, but innovation, which is not accessible or comprehendible, is NOT. I look forward to upcoming years with Crown, and wish the corps luck in Madison.

BLOOOOOOOOO! From the wonderful visual color progression of the guard in the opener to the slightly less strong finish, this show is a sign to me that the Bluecoats are a corps on the move. I enjoyed seeing a 30-member rifle line, but would have liked to see more UNISON work from those 30. The mid-section of the show is somewhat bland, but I do look forward to seeing what 2 weeks plus will bring this corps in Madison. Congratulations, Bluecoats, on a job well done.

MY OH MY! I saw the show in Jacksonville, a month ago, and I was very impressed then -- BUT NOW! The corps marches, plays and performs at a skill level the likes of which I cannot remember seeing in a drum and bugle corps. My only regret (and this is not the corps' fault) is that I wasn't about 20 or 30 feet higher so that I could truly see the visual impacts that were going on. I made sure to listen for crowd reactions, and there were plenty, mostly ooohs and aaahs, which is a good thing, but I think one reason people don't "get" the show, is because the stadium is basically open in the back (can't wait to hear the backfield stuff in Murphreesboro), and not tall enough for the visual "feast" to be appreciated. The corps has a show which is written for a BIG show venue. This aspect is NOT a bad thing, but I can see how someone attending in a smaller stadium as last night was, would not be as appreciative. I expect the crowd in Murphreesboro will be a whole different story (yes, I plan to review there as well). I wish I had an opportunity to watch this show at least 10 more times in performance mode, but I regret that I'll only get to see it four more (okay FIVE with encore). I heard that they are still tweaking/making changes. An amazing drum corps show, and my pick to win the title.

One other note, I read reviews where people say the Cavaliers have NO FIELD COVERAGE or don't play while moving. They are stretched from end zone to end zone throughout the show, and they are PLAYING while moving, amazingly well. Why do people have to write things that are not true, except trying to bash one corps to improve the chances of another?

CORPSVETS - Exhibition
Okay, there must be some slightly out of shape 44-year old men in that guard and they seem to love performing. So, going back to my comment about the guy from Madison, maybe it's just anxiety. The CV team HAS NO anxiety and they LOVE performing! Thank you, for a nice ending to an enjoyable (exceptions noted above) drum corps evening.


Monday July 22

Baton Rouge, LA (DCI)

It's 2:11 am here, just dropped the kids off at school, had a drink and a sandwich, if you are the spelling police, kiss my A$$.

Left for the show at 3 pm, two driving rainstorms, one hell of a lightning show on the way up. Got to the stadium about 5, Cadets still doing the dog and pony show for the band kids.

5:30 or so, announcement that the show will start an hour late. ( great idea ) hobnob with some other "old timers" and talk shop with a few band directors, constantly being asked " Mike, when are we going to put something togeather".

6:55 pm, my seat is on the 47 about 65 rows up. My principal and his family in the row behind me, an old DC friend to the right, a loud 3 year old to my left.

I'm a high school band director that marched, taught and judged corps years ago as well as presently teaching and judging bands. My comments are mostly directed towards design problems and design concept. EVERY kid I saw tonight was busting their butts to do a great show.

Fun to watch a small corps and what they can do with what they have. Marching and percussion was stronger than brass, brass was stronger than guard. Low brass was getting some nice sounds, but it seems like the staff has ignored the sops. The sops are busting their butts, but someone need to give them some help. The lack of attention to the sops really took away from the rest of the show. The drill was interesting for 22 horns.

Great to see this corps still competing. Drums seemed to be the strongest suite in the deck. Drill design kept my interest, but was not clean at all. Brass had it moments, but you can tell they are WORKING at a better sound. The guard suffered from a lack of basics. I would have rather seen a simple routine that the kids can grasp instead of something attempted THAT far over their heads. The reversed sunburst had serious problems that may have been due to the field conditions?

WOW, what a statement to rebuilding. I found this show to be lightyears ahead of last years. I truly enjoyed this performance. A little TOO cuncussive for me at times, but a good job musically. I'm not sure who is in charge of the pit, but DAMN, the setup of the pit was IMHO, the best pit sound of the night. The balance was VERY enjoyable and truly stereophonic at times. The drill started off great, but seemed a little TOO disjointed after the ballad and affected the clarity of the drill esp. considering that it hid much of the guard work. Why does anyone use sabers?

I was really expecting a lot worse considering what I have read here. I thought the drum and brass really sold the show, the drill design was very disjointed and the guard suffers. At the point where the sabers are split in front of the snare line, the guard members with the blue flags to the rear have SEVERE problems which is directly due to a lack of basics. I don't understand why you would use WHITE sabers for this type of show. First, they blend into the overall white pants of the corps proper and second, I would think that the SILVER sabers whoud be more suited to the theme. Actually thought the M&M was much cleaner than I expected. Why does anyone use sabers........ ok, for a Spanish theme. Found some nice moments in the pit.

Carolina Crown
Sorry, the togas don't work for me. While I understand the concept of the show, I really don't think it carries the weight that a drum corps show needs. Seems as if someone different wrote the last 1/3 of the guard work. The last 1/3 was VERY interesting, but the first 2/3 of the guard work seemed like visual white noise. Speaking of white noise, the kids in the pit are working their butts off, but it seems like the parts are written to sound VERY cluttered.

There were times that that I really started to enjoy some of the musical work, but was so distracted by the marching, I really don't remember the music. I was SOOOO confused by the intervals, or should I say lack of a STANDARD interval that in many cases, the definition of the drill could not be seen at times. Interval has a direct realtion to BASICS. Come on staff, the kids can't do it if they are not taught the proper way. Did I miss the boat? Is the interval not center of spine to center of spine anymore ?

I LOVED the opening. The crispness of BRIGHT uniforms and a clearly defined drill, then add the layering of solid color flags and I'm buying the show. Nice use of rifles, nice use of the solid color flags, great soloist, nice use of the guard overall. Some really wonderful musical moments with a BIG sound. The show is a little too dirty and the maturity of the overall sound is not a top 4, but an overall visual and aural DELIGHT. This is SOLID drum corps IMHO.

For someone who really didn't care for last years show, I was VERY impressed with this performance. Some of the best musical mommets of the night up to this point. I think the drill was written very well. The exposure to error in the guard is something nice to see. The guard work is well written and pleasing to even the most critical eye. The biggest downfall of the night was the soporanos. I'm sure it must have just been an off night. Way too many cracks and bad attacks as well as intonation problems consistant within the ensemble. While I appreciated the great performance, it left me a little cold. At the end of the show I was thinking, "Ok, and ?"

There is not enough time to express my amazement regarding all aspects of this show. I'm not one to often enjoy original works when it comes to drum corps, but this left me, well, can you imagine being 5 years old and waking up in the middle of the night on Christmas eve to find Santa filling your livingroom with stacks of every toy you ever wanted? What did I ever do to deserve seeing a show this great?

A great entertaining show. I thought the dance costumes were the most professional I have seen in drum corps as was the dance work itself. Never have I seen better in those two area than I saw tonight. I found it hard to believe that the same group of people could excell in both dance and equipment work as well as they did tonight. While the musical area of the show was equal to the dance and guard work, I felt the staging and drill itself was not up to the standards set by the level of the performers. I also found that the clutter on the front sideline was distracting to the overall picture. I have heard many people talk about the Pledge being used, OK a little hokey, but I feel it has more to do with the Catholic roots of this group than the symbolism in relationship to the 40's show concept. I had also been waiting for the BIG sound that has been written about on this newsgroup, and I waited, and I waited, OK, theres a kinda big sound, but wait, the horn line is crushed up against the front sideline with many members off the front sideline in the box. It was more like a "track" big sound, not a "field" big sound. It was nice, but left me wanting more depth to the sound.

Overall, it was a great show to watch in a great stadium filled with many appreciative people. While I did not agree with all the placings and some of the point spreads ( or lack there of ) I truly enjoyed EVERY performance. This ticket was worth every cent.

The Other Mike.............
Mike Poche

The 1 hour rain delay really cooled things down. I was with Crown at their housing site all day, and damn was it hot outside! I kept getting questions like "How can you LIVE here??" Anyway, it made me remember just how hard everyone is working all summer. It's pretty damn amazing, really.

Anyway, on to the review.

I got to the stadium a little late, so I had to watch these guys from a low angle. I really like La Fiesta Mexicana, and they did a good job with it. It's not an easy piece of music. A few interval problems here and there, but very impressive for a Div. III corps.

I've always liked the Troopers, and this year is no exception. The standout moment for me was their Ballad, "An American Elegy" by Frank Ticheli. This piece was written in memory of the victims of the Columbine High School shooting. The Troopers did a very good job with it. The drill was pretty neat, and they are performing it well.

Wow. I can understand why this corps has been beating Crown, Madison, Colts, etc. lately. This hornline is amazing, as is the drumline. The opener sounds like comtemporary wind ensemble music, something that Spirit doesn't usually play. However, they performed it well and it came across nicely. The drill is very clean for this point in the summer, and I'm wondering if they are close to maxing out the show. Will their scores stabalize when there is less room for improvement? Only time will tell. I think they are a shoe-in for finals. Biggest crowd response of the night, with the exception of Cavaliers and Cadets.

After all the talk on the internet of Madison being horrible this year, I wasn't expecting much. However, they put on a very entertaining show. The crowd loved the Conquest opener and the Fleur de Lis. The hornline and drumline is pretty good, but the guard could use some serious work. The visual is average. I think they will have a hard time making finals.

The first impression that I had of this show is "dark." It starts off with b ackfield playing, then builds to a climax with the statement of Barber's "Medea" theme. This is definately the best Crown hornline ever. While not as loud as Spirit or Madison, the sound is VERY balanced, controlled, and round. The drumline, once again, is amazing. I didn't see ANY other lines that have the amount of difficult exposed parts as Crown. Though I may be biased, I have to say that the pit is incredible. Lots of notes, and very clean. I don't understand why this drumline is scoring where it is. Anyway, my overall impression of the show was that it is very "artistic." The crowd didn't seen to get into the show.

I was expecting something really fun and grooving, but I didn't really get it. Sorry, but I could just not get into this show. The hornline, guard, and drumline are performing well.

Excellent flugelhorn soloist. Some very nice musical moments in this show. The crowd didn't get into this show either. The drumline and pit are amazing, and should be considered a top 3 percussion section.

Just a wonderful experience overall. While not known for their great hornlines, this year's Cavaliers have a great sound. Lots of different sonorities that work well with the drill. I love innovative shows, and this one didn't let me down. The drill is excellent, with many nice effects. I wish they'd put in more high velocity stuff. Anyway, that rap/dance/jam thing they do is sweet, and my non-drum corps friend loved it. I was a bit dissapointed with the drum line and pit, because nothing really stood out. They are usually very good, but I heard lots of dirt.

They sure know how to design a winning show. In my opinion, this show WILL WIN in Madison. It has all the elements: great hornline, drumline, guard, and __GE__. Lots of nice moments from the drumline, which has been deservedly winning drums lately. I don't know what else to say, except that I love the show and can't wait to see it again.

After the show, I brought an icechest full of Jambalaya to the Crown food truck. It was very funny to watch people. First, they didn't know what it was. Then, they'd take a bite from someone else's plate to try it. Then, they'd get a HUGE plate full of it. The icechest must have had at least 20 pounds of the stuff, and it was all gone within 15 minutes. They also enjoyed the Boudin, though were disgusted when I told them the history behind the food. :-)

Steven Musumeche
Carolina Crown Pit 99-01

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