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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2003 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews
As posted to R.A.M.D. and submitted to Sound Machine

Page Five of Reviews

Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when they are available or submitted.  The following reviews are solely the opinion of the reviewers.  If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author, all reviews are signed with an email address.  If you want to add your review to this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to: scores@soundmachine.org
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Friday July 18

Houston, TX (DCI)

Another great night of drum corps in Texas was seen and heard by all in attendance tonight at Rice University. The stadium there is really great for drum corps, and we had much better seats this year than we did last. I was also at Dallas last night, but had not so good seats in a not so good stadium. I will definitely say I was glad to have a 2nd viewing of a couple of these corps tonight.

Pre-Show. . .Percussion One, a local group of high school kids performed and did a nice job. Something unique for me was having a soloist sing the anthem tonight accompanied by a battery only. It was nice!

On to the corps. . .

Revolution - I am so excited and proud of this group. I remember seeing them only 4 years ago when they were in exhibition with about 25 kids on the field. The growth they have achieved in this short amount of time is amazing. Although the music is not as catchy as some may like, I enjoyed it. It is arrangements of the brass band piece "Connotations". I was afraid of overkill of the theme, but I was pleasantly surprised at their use of the musical themes of the original piece. The design of the show was quite nice. All sections are fairly strong, although at times the upper brass had some troubles projecting, especially the mellos. The corps' strength is definitely percussion. I am not hip as to how well they are doing in div. 2 but I would assume from what I saw tonight they are doing just fine. If they continue their growth and make a name for themselves within this state, then they will be knocking on finals door not too far away from now.

Glassmen - My second viewing was more enjoyable. I really like their projection of sound, and I appreciate the body movement of the show. I still feel the theme is way too understated. There is a world of possibilities that I don't think they tapped into in order to sell it, especially the middle two portions.

Boston Crusaders - While I appreciate their high performance standard and the growth they have achieved the past 4 or 5 years, I could not get over the rehash of this show. It is a complete collection of all the moves (body and drill) they have done within the past few years, as well as music that we have heard more times over than some of us care to say. It is possible to be original while performing stuff that has previously been performed. My beef with them since 2000 (aside from 2001, and especially this year) is that they don't claim an identity. They went out on a bit of a limb in 01 and I enjoyed it a lot, but aside from that everything has been the same thing, IMO. They have a great corps which leads me to say that I feel their performance of the show will get them in at least top 8, but speaking of content, I was quite disappointed.

The Cadets - Remember what I said after seeing them in Dallas?. . . .well scratch that! I was simply blown away with them tonight. I think having a higher view and more near the 50 helped. Also, I feel they stuck the show moreso tonight than last, especially the guard. The drill is vintage Sacktig/Cadets. . .very fast and very effective. Also, it seems the transitions are working much better than before. The warm up is no longer a point of confusion, and once the show begins, it flows. The ending got the crowd on its feet tonight big time (for the 2nd time). The end zone to end zone z-pull was awesome! They could very well end up 4th mainly because there are at least that many contendors this year, but after seeing them tonight I also think they have a shot at 1st or 2nd.

SCV - I have never had a problem with their abstract music picks until this year. As much as I tried, I still cannot get into most of the show musically. It is very effectively designed. . . .the guard is great, percussion very strong, and the visual package is nice. . . but beyond that they did not too much for me tonight. The jam session was nice, and I will say they are the loudest corps I have heard thus far.

Cavaliers - I've thought about what to say about them the entire 2 hour ride home. Let me start off by saying they are very clean, hornline is tight, and all sections are strong. With that said, I feel they are being given too much credit in terms of design. The past couple of years, something we have all been able to say (whether we liked it or not) was that they were doing things noone had done before, and in a way they were "revolutionizing" the activity, at least in terms of visual design. I don't think this is any longer a true statement. The visual is nice. . .don't get me wrong, but I don't they feel they are doing anything different than a couple of other corps I have seen. They move a lot, they move fast, and they are well integrated. Also, the music book is completely forgettable. I've listened to recordings, and I heard it live tonight, and I could barely hum any of it if I tried. The show is full of spinning visuals within the body movement and drill design and the music seems to simply be a soundtrack for it all. They are a great drum corps and perform at a very high level, but this show is not as well designed as "Frameworks" and should not be getting the high music scores it is receiving, IMO.

I would have given Cavies about a 1.5 edge tonight. . . the .60 differential in Music GE and the .40 in colorguard are too much of a spread, IMO.

Without having seen Phantom, I would say that both Blue Devils and Cadets have a shot at catching Cavies. The Cavies have cleanliness on their side for now, but IMO the other two corps have a better "total package" based on effective visual programs and great music books.

Michael Bodine


Thursday July 17

Dallas, TX (DCI)

Howdy, folks! It was a great night of drum corps last night in Dallas. My review is from about the 30 yard line, almost to the top of the stadium (small-ish high school stadium). I was anticipating seeing a few of the shows more than others based on reviews and sound clips I had heard. Needless to say, there were a few surprises for me. I will just review them in performing order. Let me add that tonight I will be in Houston to see the corps there, and will have a better idea of BD/Cavies comparitively.

On to the show. . .

Pioneer - I like the unis so much better than before. Unfortunately, the neon orange they chose for the guard threw the whole thinkg off in terms of a visual color scheme. This is quite different for them in terms of style. The design is more mature, the music has more meat in it. The problem I see is that it may be a bit over their heads. There were a few kids (in the pit and on the field) who just did not know the show. Maybe these are recent additions to the corps. Also, there were ensemble tears throughout the show. . .probably every minute or so into the show it felt like it could come apart any moment. Anyway, I like that they are pushing themselves, and I hope it pays off in the future.

Kiwanis Kavaliers - I was pleased with the fact that they just had a lot of fun with this show. Hornline sounds nice, although smaller than normal for them, I believe. Overall, a well balanced corps with no glaring weaknesses that just needs to keep cleaning their product.

Capital Regiment - It is good to see them growing and maturing. I really enjoyed some of the brass writing with this corps. Some of the chordal writing and inversions used in the hits were unlike anything I hear from most corps. Also, CR makes very good use of their guard to enhance the over visual/color scheme of the show. I was really impressed with Capital Regiment.

Carolina Crown - The worst part about Crown is that they are so young, and I mean that as a compliment. This show that these kids have been given to perform is outstanding! From a design standpoint it is awesome, packed with GE, and is very well integrated. The only thing I kept thinking about was I wish it were a more mature corps performing it. They sound very good, and the guard does some really nice work, but throughout the show you and see and hear those little things that come from a young corps. If this particular show were performed by a much more mature corps, it would easily be top 5 or 6 based on its design and GE capabilities. It seemed the audience was engaged from the first to the last note, and they were the first corps to pull the crowd out of their seats. Also, the new uniforms look awesome on the field. Crown now has a presence they have never achieved before. If this corps and staff stay together for a while, everyone should watch out.Good job, Crown! I really, really hope they make finals.

Southwind - Southwind has a very nice sounding hornline, and the drumline does some nice things, but beyond that the show was lost on me. It is one of those shows that just did not connect, and from a design standpoint is lacking IMO. The guard unis just throw off any sense of a good visual scheme. They are kind of a tan/cream color with some maroon I think also. Along with the yellow and black in the corps unis, this just looked really bad on the field, and not one of their flags enhanced this either. I miss shows from them like 2000 where it seems they pulled the crowd out of their seats. The impact points in this show are missing.

Madison Scouts -This show put a smile on everyone's face. It is soooooo good to see them back! This is vintage Madison, although not quite as in your face as before. If this is playing the game as some say, then let them continue to play the game. They still have that strut, that Madison sound, and they had the crowd from the moment they stepped on the field. The improvement in the guard from last year is amazing. The new unis look great on the field. The trio in the first part of the show had a little bit o trouble, though. They had one kinda bad fall. . .a contra who had a hard time getting back up. I really like the visual improvements though. The company front effect thing they did was nice. . .unique. . .and I liked the fleru de lis throughout. I was wondering why they did not do it in the warm up or during the company front sweep (or whatever it is called) but then I noticed its lacing throughout the show. This show has enough old school to please the Madison faithful, but I like the new direction also. Great job!

Glassmen - Unfortunately, this is another one of those shows I feel is not reaching its potential. It has some nice moments which I will get to, but overall I feel the theme is not at all achieved. I get the air, and I really like what they did with water, but beyond that it seems they just ran out of ideas. Water is the only one I feel they really tapped into. The rain/ripple/wave thing they do when in the small horn huddle is quite neat. I was just left scratching my head about the rest of the show. It is obvious some key members of their staff from last year when elsewhere (or so I have heard). Often times with Glassmen I wonder if the true potential of the kids in the corps has been pulled out of them. This would definitely be a year like that, IMO.

Crossmen - I enjoy and am glad about Crossmen going for the crowd, and still playing some real jazz, but from a design standpoint I wanted more. One problem for me was all the rehashed stuff. The ending to St James was almost identical to last year's opener. They rehashed the drill from the opener also. The guard work seems awfully familiar, as do the uniforms, at least in part. Don't get me wrong, they are doing some nice things. They sound good, the visual is pretty decent although they still p&b a good bit, and they work the crowd. Count Bubba was great, and works very well as a closer.

Blue Devils - All I can say is WOW! I was expecting quite a bit, and they delivered. This show has everything you would want in a championship show. It is fully integrated, has a stellar hornline, guard, and drumline, a great music book, and a very effective visual package. What sets them apart visually is their body carriage and how seemless and smooth their movements are. The guard tosses the entire show and I don't think I saw one drop. I like the fact that they did not choose a crayola box uni this year, also. I have not always been a BD fan, but they won me last night. It was one of the cleanest things I have ever seen live. If we wanna talk total packge, this is the show with everything.

The Cadets - The Cadets have a really nice show. It is music you don't need to hear 5 times to "get", with an effective visual package, a great hornline and drums, and a great guard. I paid particular attention to Malaguena and the time spent not marching. They march much more this year than the past two, and the time spent in p & b is not that much at all. They do a very good job of masking it anyway. My only big beef with them is that they have built themselves on being the innovators, and they no longer do that. I am not at all saying they need to go all original, but everything they're doing now, we've seen before. Sacktig wrote a great drill, but its nothing we have not seen before. The arrangements are really nice, but nothing other than what we have come to expect from The Cadets. I guess I just hold them to a higher standard than most other corps. Its gonna be weird seeing them below 3rd or maybe even 4th, but I fully expect they'll land either 4th or 5th come finals, deservedly. I hope they can go back to that presence they used to have as Cadets. For me, they have lost some of that in terms of design. Great show... but I wanted more.

Overall, the show was run better this year than last. They moved the warm up areas further away from the stadium, and it seemed to stay on time throughout which is good with such a large lineup. I am headed to Houston tonight and will write a review Saturday morning. After seeing the Devils I am very eager to see the Cavaliers. The Blue Devils have everything IMO that a championship show needs to have.

Michael Bodine


Ok, so I was a little sleepy last night to do a review, but here is mine from last night's show. Mine is a little different than TXMystreaux's.

Pulling up to the stadium, it was 104 degrees...disgustingly hot! I was lucky enough to get a seat about 15 rows below the press box on the 50. Side note: I did think it a bit funny that I sat next to guy who marched 2-7 (I marched Boston). On to the review.

Pioneer - I always looked forward to hearing Pioneer because they have always been one of the smaller corps to be pretty clean with a good sound. Unfortunately, this wasn't exactly the case last night. Although, I would have to say that it is maybe because they bit off more than they can chew. All the effort was there, but the show...not so much. I am glad to see them attempting a more difficult show, I just wish that it could have been a bit cleaner.

Kiwanis Kavaliers - I really liked the opener of thier show. It was really "crowd captivating". The first half of thier show was pretty good, but then they sort of lost me. It wasn't necessarily that they were playing or marching poorly...not the case at all. I think that maybe it is just the writing of the show that istn't all that intriguing. However, they did have a pretty nice brass sound.

Capital Regiment - This show was rather interesting to me because I really liked the show, but believe it or not, I think the hornline was trying to play too loudly. I heard a whole lot of the "playing to loudly, hear a splat in the note" sound coming from the hornline. I think the show would be amazingly better if they went for a slightly softer sound.

Carolina Crown - Now, I have really never been a Crown fan, but I have to say that I really loved this show! I was very impressed. I like the look of the cream uniforms, it's very clean and easy to see on the field. The GE for this show is all there. I also thought that they had a great brass sound. Kudos to Crown!

Southwind - I have always liked Southwind in the past, but I was very much disappointed in this years show. The hornline was a bit harsh on the ears and the writing was just not enjoyable. I think the name of thier show was something like Dance Portraits, or something. I for one didn't see how that fit in to what they were playing. I heard no music that entailed dancing.

Madison Scouts - A long time Madison fan....glad to see them back. Loved this show...nuf said.

Glassmen - Going by what I had read from peeople on Sound Machine, I was fully expecting to not like this show. This is not the case however, I really enjoyed it. And, unlike everyone else, I got it. The only complaint I have with the show is that I wish that they had used something other than sticks for the "big hit" in the ballad. Even if the silks had been brown (to go with the whole Earth theme), it would have been something. The sticks, however were hard to see. I really liked what they did in the water part with the balls filled with water. So anyway, my advice to everyone, go see this show with an open mind. You may like it, like me.

Crossmen - Again going on what I heard on Sound Machine, I thought I was going to love this show....but I didn't. I liked the opening with Somewhere over the Rainbow and the guard with all the colors as well as the little hint of birdland in the closer, but other than that, it just didn't do it for me.

Blue Devils - I think they should have called this show "The Phenomenon of Park and Bark". All the loud hit were done while doing this. Although they moved around the field quite a bit, not a whole lot of it was done while playing. As usual the guard was amazing and the hornline too. But again, I think the thing that will cost them the championship this year is the lack of marching and playing.

Cadets - Very enjoyable show. I think that Cadets actually "did" more than Blue Devils. As far as a whole package goes with marching playing and guard, I think Cadets have an edge over Blue Devils. Now, I don't necessarily mean that they should be scroing higher or that they are executing thing better, but there certainly is more there.

So that's it here from Dallas. I'm sorry that I didn't like BD as much as everyone else, or Crossmen either. But I have to be honest. Thanks for reading.

Stephen0298

Leander, TX (DCI)

For the first time, my wife wasn't my companion at this show. She didn't want to go to a mid-week event, and arranging childcare would have been difficult (we maxed out our credit with my parents with the San Antonio event on Saturday). So I dragged my best friend from high school Stephen with me. He was a brass player in HS, and has dabbled a bit ever since. I figured he was a good match for drum corps, as he liked marching band as much as I did back then.

The stadium parking lot was half-closed due to construction, and the other half was full of a row of corps buses on one side, and a row of corps 18-wheelers on the other. So, parking was diverted about 2 miles away at a Leander middle school. I didn't really find it to be much of a bother - in fact, it was kind of fun to watch all the adults cram onto a yellow school bus to be shuttled - but it did cause the stands to fill up late. I know a lot of other people had problems with it.

We bought our tickets at the gate; they asked where I wanted and I told them "as close to the 50 as possible." Well, the closest they had were *on* the 50, but on row 6. Row 6, in what can only be "new math" is actually row 3 of the stands. So we were *really* low, but I thought we were in a pretty good impact zone for the music. So, my review's going to be a lot more music-oriented than visual.

The crowd seemed to be a *lot* older than DCI's intended demographic, and I think it had an impact on the crowd. Just in eyeball scanning, the majority of the fans in attendance seemed to be either parents of marchers or at least that age and older. I think that's why the crowd was so unresponsive. Nobody got a standing O during their show, but everyone got one at the end. It just "felt" like a parents' crowd. And as Stephen - the former band student - mentioned, "how many teenagers are going to spend $22 or $30 to see what's essentially a "band" show?" Hmmm. I've heard that argument somewhere before in regards to the show marketing and target audiences.

National Anthem was pre-recorded. Huh? There's only 480 brass players here tonight.

Troopers (8th - 69.20), Casper, WY
Reflections of the Blue and the Grey
The Great Locomotive Chase
Gently Flows the Amber Grain
Battle Music

Corps has changed the grey pants to black this year and added a yellow sash. I thought it made them look pretty good - they stood out really well against the Astroturf. They enter from the left goal line in a company front, form a circle and then a starburst, all for their warmup. Really nice. I really, *really* liked The Great Locomotive Chase. Music like that is exactly what I want - and expect - to hear from the Troopers. Even from our low vantage point, I could see that they were attempting some pretty difficult drill patterns in the opening. There seemed to be tempo issues and some phasing - the DM kept trying to push them a little quicker than they seemed to want to go - but it didn't really bother me all that much. Gently Flows the Amber Grain is a nice ballad, but it didn't really leave me with any lasting musical memories. The percussion was kind of just parked off to the right during the song - I'd rather them have marched, even if they weren't playing. It's a pet peeve of mine. I thought the battery parts to Battle Music were great, but the song. well, sing "bamp. bamp bamp.. bamp" and that 's pretty much how it goes. They did add a melodic ending to the show, and I 'm sure it's a restatement of one of the melodies here, but I'll be darned if I can remember which one right now.

So overall, I really enjoyed the Troopers show this year. I thought it was a vast improvement from their "patriotic" programming while still staying in their style. It's still a dirty show, but it really does show promise. If it gets cleaner, I think they could move up to challenge the pack at the bottom of Semis. Really. They get some really nice dark horn tones from their line, and the battery is pretty solid. They also put some visuals to their horn/drumline during the show that keep it fun to watch, even from my drill-challenged vantage point.

Stephen did *not* enjoy their show very much. He blamed it on the music - he just didn't care for the Western style of the corps. I don't think there's much the Troopers can do about that - they are what they are. So this one's all in *his* head! (I mean, how can you not like the Troopers' DM at least?!?)

(Oh, and the announcer was a little shaky all night - for the Troopers he said, verbatim, "On the field, from Casper." And just trailed off. That was it. He didn't say, ". the Troopers!" But keep reading - it gets better.)

Colts (7th - 73.15), Dubuque, IA
Symphonic Visions: Ritual, Song and Dance
Cantus Laetus
Harrison's Dream
Blue Sapphire

I only knew a few things about the Colts this year going in - they'd been struggling, they're young, and they had a hecka-long jazz section in the middle of the show. That was about it. Stephen really liked their uniforms - he thought the red and white really made them high-contrast with the field, and for the better. They had 6 contras - same as Troopers - and even with a smaller hornline, their opening fanfare made Stephen sit up and say "oooooh." Heh. I knew he'd be got, eventually.

Musically, the show is really well done. I'm guessing their low and flatlining scores are due to the visual, because I sure didn't hear any of it in the music! This is one of the shows that I'll be listening to over and over on the CD's, I think. Cantus Laetus features a great opening fanfare, and that was the highlight of the piece - the middle wasn't as engaging. For me, Harrison's Dream is the song that the entire program is built around. It stands out more than the other two, and they do use it as a reprise in the closer, which to me always works so well - it just ties the whole show together, no matter what other songs are in there. Speaking of the "what other songs," the jazz section of the show (Blue Sapphire) wasn't as long as I'd heard it was going to be - maybe a victim or rewrites - and they have a nice park and blow in there. I'm amazed that it didn't get more people in the audience excited. Watching them, you really got the sense that they were laying it out there for you. So they're selling the show, at least. I just hope more people are open to buying it! Musically, I consider this at least on par with their 2001 show, another one of my favorites, and - again, without seeing the visual very well - I'd be amazed if this isn't a Semis show.

Stephen said for him, the brass sound they had was wonderful - bright and open, compared to the Troopers' much darker sound.

Blue Knights (5th - 79.25), Denver, CO
Primary Colors
Kaval Sviri
Izpoved
Prologue

I warned Stephen that this corps is a lot more dance-oriented than what we' ve seen so far. The guard uniforms are. interesting. White bodysuits with yellow, pink and blue pastel swaths across them. The pink is up on the right arm and chest, so they look like they're uncovered on quick glance!

Their show, while based primarily on pieces from the Bulgarian Women's Choir, has a lot of tribal drumming in it. I thought the two choir pieces were engaging, fun, energetic, you name it. I loved them! There is *not* as much dance from the hornline in this year's show as there was in 2002, which I actually think is a bad thing. I don't want *every* corps to do it, but I really enjoyed seeing what they'd come up with next.

Kaval Sviri - to me, anyways - sounds like a distant cousin of the Colts' 1999 Flamma Flamma. Maybe it's an Eastern Europe thing? The corps did a great job of marching in multiple meters, too. The soloist at the beginning of Izpoved is laying down on the field at the front of a horn cluster - that got an appreciative laugh from the audience. Once the show hits Prologue (written for the 1999 WGI line of BK, and part of their "The History of Flight" show), the tone of the production changes a little. Prologue sounds a lot like To Tame the Perilous Skies in points, and I think that might have colored my perceptions a bit.

However, I think this is absolutely a finalist show, even if I'm the only person in the nation who thinks they're not avant-garde *enough*!

Stephen did *not* like this corps, however. He commented that, "If I'd wanted to see modern dance, I'd go to a recital, where they do it better anyways." Ouch. I'm guessing that BK's a hit-or-miss sort of group right now, then. Hit me, anyways - I loved both the show and this new style that they've developed.

Magic of Orlando (6th - 78.55), Orlando, FL
Silver Voices
Sinfonia Voci
Abram's Pursuit
Sanctus
Easter Symphony

Ah, the fun of small crowds. There was a little boy behind us, maybe 5 or 6, who wouldn't shut up. At one point in Magic's show, he piped up with, "I hate this band!" While I'm sure we all appreciate his honesty. As a parent of a rambunctious little girl, I do sympathize with his parents. However, he did continue to provide his commentary on groups for the next two hours.

The show is made up completely of pieces that have been done by corps before, so as a fan, I had a pretty fair idea of both how it was going to be arranged and where the impacts were going to be.

The corps starts out in a spread formation, facing backfield, and as performers turn around they're playing on little bells. They're all pitched the same, so as more and more turn around, a singular ringing sound fills the stadium. It's a neat effect, but it takes a *long* time to develop before the first hits of Sinfonia Voci.

Sinfonia Voci and Abram's Pursuit are combined into the opener in this production, and you know what? It really works. Huh. Show me. This was the first corps whose pit really grabbed my attention - their mallets are making some wonderful - and loud - sounds!

The bulk of the show, and I mean that literally, is Sanctus from Bernstein's Mass. You'd better like this piece, 'cause you're going to hear a *lot* of it. For me - too much. Goes on waaaay too long, and I got heartily sick of the musical motif that runs through it (da da da dit. da dit dit da) by the end. I perked up when they brought in Easter Symphony (really about the last 45 seconds of it) and a reprise of Sinfonia Voci, but then the show was over - the Mass section takes up the middle-to-end of the show.

Performance-wise, this is certainly a finals-caliber corps. They're tight, bright, and full of energy. They've got a wonderful smooth brass sound, and Stephen got some major jollies from the soloists. For me, though, the pacing of the show was just so stretched that it bothered me.

As much as Stephen liked the brass sound, though, he did *not* like the program at all. I caught him reading the program to the show during Sanctus. Echoing in some ways his comments on BK, he said, "If I'd wanted to hear concert band pieces, I'd hear them indoors." And this from a guy who was *in* concert band, too. I was feeling kind of bad at this point, as he didn' t care for 3 of the first 4 corps. I kept promising him that there's more styles coming, and it's just going to get better.

For me personally, I was having a ball! 8 corps is a nice number for a show - it gives you a feeling of having seen a lot of corps without the fatigue factor that just kills you by the end of the big regionals. This was the first "local" show I'd gone to since Killeen in 1998, and I'd forgotten how much fun they are!

Intermission

The sun had finally started to go down, and if you've been to Texas, you know what a difference that makes. The weather went from godawful to pleasant in about 20 minutes. Light breeze kicked up, too. We went and got some drinks, and I must say, the Leander Band provided a rather large array of concessions to choose from, at fairly reasonable prices. I got a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water for $4, or about the price of one cold French fry at the Alamodome.

Bluecoats (3rd - 82.60), Canton, OH
Capture and Escape
Time to Take Back the Knights
Prelude: Adagio for Theresa
Mediterraneo
Libertango
Code Name: Eternity

Bluecoats' guard uniforms were really nice - red bodysuits with gold accents. Looked good next to the corps uniforms proper. I wasn't sure what to make of this show going in - the song selection seemed a bit suspect. And I *really* wasn't looking forward to hearing the Bluecoats play Melillo.

Okay, so I was wrong - so sue me! This show is as jazzy as any other they've ever presented. Time to Take Back the Knights has a groove to it that our whole row found ourselves tapping or bobbing along to.

The theme of the show pops up everywhere in the drill - there's constantly a performer being surrounded by a group. In the Mediterraneo/Libertango segment, which has a lot of tango (a la 2001) to it, the guard brings out poles and starts fencing in performers.

I don't really have a lot to say about the show, because it's just so solid and . groovy! People have said that this might be their best corps ever, and I'm inclined to agree. They just carry themselves like one of the "big boys," and is shows throughout the performance.

(And the opening drill sets, where they lean into and then away from the various soloists, is a hoot!) Stephen thought this might be his favorite corps of the night.

Boston Crusaders (4th - 81.65), Boston, MA
Bravo
Danzas de Pasion
La Oracion
Fantasia del Torero
Spanish Fantasy

You may not recognize the names of the pieces, but believe me - you'll recognize the source material when you hear them! This show is a "sequel" to their wildly successful 2000 production, and ends in much the same way that that show ended - with a diamond around a rope drummer playing Bolero. Once they get that out of the way, though, the rest of the material is new.

Much of the drill, however, is similar to the 2000 show in that there's a *lot* of ranks along the yard lines moving and a lot of horn players leaning this way and that. It worked just fine for me, and the audience sure got into it, but if you didn't like the 2000 show visuals, you may not like this one either.

The opener felt a little *too* chopped up in places, like they had some definite melodic lines in there that got half cut out at some point, but if you take it as a whole, it's a fun piece to listen to. I personally preferred the opener in '00 better, but it was the same type of arrangement.

La Oracion is based on The Prayer, most famous I think by Josh Groban. I'll say this for the current BAC writers - boy, they can pick beautiful ballads! I mean, what else can you say? Pit plays a line from "Time to Say Goodbye" during the fade out at the end.

Fantasia del Torero is . Malaguena. Stop groaning - it's not the jazz version. And well, it's not the classical version, either. It's a truly-original arrangement of the piece that doesn't just give lip service to being "original." It's in a *fast* ĺ and just zooms right along. In the opening, the tenors all move to snare, so the big hit at the beginning of the song has 15 snares, centered on the front 50, playing some darned clean rolls and licks. Sadly for me, the tenors then go back to their own drums - I wanted more!

I didn't really hear a lot of Spanish Fantasy in the end of the show. There were a few strains here and there, and one direct part from the piece, but that was about it. The show really felt like three movements, not four.

This show could be their second 5th place finish in 4 years. I really believe that. Of course, the competition is just as razor-sharp at this level, but I think their show has that top corps "feel" and presentation to it. I can't begin to tell you how much fun it is to see all of these corps raising the bar against each other so high, so fast. The intense competition this summer is truly breeding a new level of drum corps.

Stephen didn't have a lot to say at this point, just "wow."

And might I mention that the drum major looks much better in the pure white jacket than the off-white that they used to use?

Santa Clara Vanguard (2nd - 86.55), Santa Clara, CA
Pathways
Orawa
One Man Show
Anima Mundi
Orawa (reprise)

Okay, our erratic announcer's batteries must have finally gone out. In all seriousness, I quote him thus: "Santa Clara's musical selections include the following - Owawa, One Man Show, Aneema Mondy, and Owawa." And finally, "Drum Majors. is your corpse ready?" That one even got a smile from some of the pit members. [sigh]

SCV spent the day at Westwood HS in Austin, right across the street from my office. I spent all day peeking my head out, listening for drums, and about 2pm, I finally heard them. Wandered over to take a quick look, and all I can say is that they're better than I could ever hope to be, even in my dreams. (funny, though, when they were just hacking around while setting up, the tenors kept playing the "Fight Club" beat from the Cavies 2002 show. Guess it gets stuck in *everyone's* head!)

This was the first time I've seen the new SCV unis outdoors, and that green - ugh. It's just a shade too light for me. (Of course, my wife informs me that I'm fashion-challenged, so you're instructed to take absolutely no notice whatsoever of anything I say about clothing.)

The show might was well be titled "pulses" because every piece has a driving rhythm to it *somewhere.* Or it could be called "volume," because they took it up a notch over everyone else. Troopers were about an mf, while Colts, BK and Magic were an f. Bluecoats and Boston were an ff, and SCV just killed my decibel meter. They'd play the same loud chords that every other corps did, at about the same volume, then (I noticed this at least 3 times in the show) they'd crescendo right into the cutoff. Wow.

Orawa (or "Owawa", whichever you like) begins with half the corps on the left goal line and half on the right. The left half plays 8 measures, then the right half plays - and I was listening - there was *no* break between them. Perfectly seamless.

The two halves keep trading off as they march ever closer to the 50, and the drill does a great job in building the tension along with the music. The riffs they're playing are pretty repetitive, but you're not really listening to each note as they ratchet it up and get closer. closer. (Feels a lot like The Canyon from 1999 with that slow build, but this one takes even longer.) When they finally meet, the payoff licks are good, but I'd have made them even louder. Sort of as a notice that the drill segment is over. Eh - may be just me. And if you watch it, be sure not to overlook the mellophone runs in there that remind me almost of Star of Indiana - those guys must be tired by the end!

One Man Show features about 16 horn players lined in a row behind the pit with mutes in their horns. Makes for a neat effect for that driving pulse that underlays the piece. I felt that the pit was a bit too loud for the ensemble, but heard later that it sounded fine from up top - the horns were likely just playing over our heads in the low seats.

Anima Mundi, while originally about the seasons, has been converted into an almost tribal type of piece. Lots of ethnic drums, lots of cymbals. And did I mention how great their cymbals were? At one point in the drum feature, they're actually banging their faces on the cymbals. Good visual, if nothing else!

And that drumline - ay, caramba. Can't say enough good things about them. I noticed that they dropped a snare tonight, though - they had 8 in the afternoon, and 7 at the show? In the closer, the snares are playing stuff that I couldn't even fathom, all while having a stick height that was practically vertical. . wow.

The show ends with a restatement of Orawa, and actually, if you listen in One Man Show and Anima Mundi, you'll hear strains of it. (by the pit in OMS, and the horns in AM.) And it's really, *really* fast. I'm not a great judge of tempos, but I know it was over 180 to be sure.

Without question, and I don't give a care where they place, this is my favorite SCV show since . well, maybe Carmen. I realize, though, that this one is going to be *really* hit-or-miss with people.

Stephen was just getting tired at this point. Didn't have a lot to say.

Phantom Regiment (1st - 87.35), Rockford-Loves Park, IL
Harmonic Journey
Sanctus
Wild Nights
The Lord's Prayer
Ostinato

I read this morning where all of the parents of the Texas Regiment kids were at the show - I believe it! There was a pretty tangible buzz in the crowd before they started. The DM and the opening stuff (look around, get the baton, et cetera) is always great to see.

Sanctus (Canon in D) is everything I hoped it would be. The horns all lean in as their segment to play comes up - that's a neat effect. I said that to myself a lot in this show - the horns do a lot of fancy footwork, leaning, et cetera. Anyways, when they hit the impact and everyone turns around to blast us and the guard starts running with their flags - that was my goosebump moment.

Their hornline is absolutely as good as advertised. High Brass this year? Why not? I can see, er. hear it.

Wild Nights is a fun piece - well, at least the first half. It has a groove to it, set by the pit, that keeps the whole thing hurtling forward.

And this would be a good time to mention that the drumline is so much improved that you wouldn't expect it to be the same group. They've got a definite swagger to them, if not as flashy as some of the other groups. And they do a *lot* of triple sticking, I noticed (rrr-lll)

The second half of Wild Nights is just sort of there. It's a lot more chaotic-sounding than the almost cheery first half, but it doesn't really have a melody to follow. It's almost like listening to an extended musical battle. Which I think is what they intended. It ends on a really loud (though not as loud as SCV) chaotic chord, too, which is unlike Regiment.

The Lord's Prayer, which I'd thought of as that "other" ballad to the show, may end up being the one that everyone remembers years from now. It's classic Regiment - from the low horns carrying the first melody to the huge push at the restatement to the drums actually playing at the end - it's everything you want from your Phantom ballad.

Ostinato is fast. Did I mention that it's fast? How about that it has velocity? And a lot - LOT - of horn runs. They do a neat moment in it where the corps is in an oval, and they trade off runs that travel section by section around the oval - nicely designed. They've added some horn runs to the bottom of the Sanctus restatement as well, which is something that I've thought they needed to do. After that big push, they unveiled their new ending, which while cool - and involves a hop right in the middle of it - was a little bit of an anticlimax as the horns aren't playing while they do it.

All in all, though, this is by far my favorite show of the season. I haven't seen BD or Cavies yet, so I can't tell you about how they stack up to them, but they towered over everyone here at this show. It wasn't a question of who'd win - as Stephen said, "If these guys don't win, I want whatever the judges are smoking" - just by how much. It's a classic Phantom Regiment show. It's a classic drum corps show, period.

As Phantom passed by the stands, I broke a promise to myself. As loud as I could, I yelled "way to go, Chipper" hoping Mike Miceli (of Mike's Memoirs fame) would hear it. I mention this because, if I'm found dead with a throwing star in the shape of a chevron stuck in me, I'd like people to know why I brought it upon myself.

The retreat was DM's only. I've put the scores and places up in the review, but I'll mention that the only placement the crowd had a problem with was BK over Magic. That drew some boos. Otherwise, it went pretty much like everyone had wanted. I, however, didn't see Bluecoats over BAC coming. And I felt the scores were a little wacky - that SCV and Phantom were *way* low. But since this is the only time I've seen them so far, maybe this was just a low-energy night from corps and crowd. Dunno.

Stephen completely flaked out on me at this point. He was too tired, and left right at the end of the scores. Bum. Missed the concert. Oh well, more sound for me. He did say, though, that he both enjoyed it and would be coming back with me next year. So I've made at least a semi-convert.

For the concert, I went down on the handicapped ramp leading down to the track. So essentially, on the track. In front of Phantom's hornline. About to play. Pinch me.

They played their show again, and in the arc they hit that meter-breaking volume that SCV had. The difference was that SCV had it at the end of their power chords - Phantom had it through the whole show. I paid a lot more attention to the drumline - it's much easier to look at them when you can make them stand still - and they really don't bring a lot of visuals to the table. However, they do bring a lot, and I mean a *lot* of notes.

Over all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I liked every single corps, top to bottom. I liked them so much that if the Troopers sold a CD of their show, I'd buy it as quickly as I would Phantom's. I really hope that DCI does in fact bring another show to Leander. Once the construction in the parking lot is done, that will take care of what is probably the biggest issue with the show right now.

Mike New


Wednesday July 16

Enid, OK (DCI)

Wow, how lucky am I? This was my 3rd show to get to see in 5 days, after DATR and Wichita. I planned the swing from KC to Wichita & Enid because that's where my parents are. Couldn't have gotten any luckier with show lineup. OR the seats. The Enid show was terrific, with a great stadium, with a steep pitch and right on top of the field. The field looked terrific, with nicely clipped, perfectly green grass. And, to top it all off, I was on the top row (row 25), right on the 45. I will definitely make the trip back home to see another show in this venue.

I've now seen every Div I corps at least once (also went to Louisville), except for Mandarins & Pacific Crest. I've seen many twice & have now seen Cavies & Southwind 3 times. I can't imagine NOT seeing an entire show if I can help it, as I really appreciate the efforts of all the corps. So -- Here's a FULL review of Enid. I guess I can't see any corps "Enough," unlike a fellow poster. Guys, wake up -- we have wonderful gifts being brought to us by the kids on the field from every corps. It's like smelling the roses. Life is too short not to do it.

Kiwanis Kavaliers -- 1st viewing of this corps (only one of the night I wasn't seeing for at least the 2nd time.). They are much smaller this year, but I actually like this show better & feel they are performing it better. The music is solid, if somewhat restrained at times. The color guard was on the small side, and had an inconsistent impact (at times very nice, and at other times, not so nice). The corps seems to be marching better this year as well. While their show is not nearly as difficult as that of Capitol Regiment, they do deserve to be beating them, as they are miles ahead of CReg in execution in all captions except color guard. Factor in C-Reg's more demand & complexity & you have a close competition between these 2 for now.

Capitol Regiment -- My 2nd night in a row to view this corps. I was very excited to see them this year after really appreciating everything they've done the past 2 years to rocket up the ranks. I have to say I am disapointed. It's certainly not the kids fault, however. The color guard is definitely a super strong point. They are large & aggressive & sharp for this point in the season. The music arrangements, however are absolutely horrible, or they are just not being performed well. I think the book is too hard for the corps, but it also at times just includes arrangements that are not appealing. To be sure, there are other moments of the show where the music is quite nice. It will be a real stretch, however, for this product to get them into Semifinals. From a drill perspective, this drill is not as memorable and effective as last years. Maybe it's partly due to the switch to black pants (Boring!), but I think it's more that this drill is not as wide open and fitting to the music. There are places that are just too dense & unreadable. This seems to be a year where C-Reg has lost a little momementum, although they are certainly signaling their intent for the future with the difficulty found in this show. I wish them luck in their cleaning efforts & look forward to seeing them in Indy & in Orlando!

Southwind -- My 3rd view of them, and 2nd in 2 nights. Wow! This corps is obviously working very, very hard. The show has come so far from Louisville. Seeing them in June, I thought they hadn't a prayer of making Semis, but you know what? They just might have a shot! The show has really grown on me, and they are starting to sell the music. While the drill is mediocre at best, the kids are working hard to clean it, and it is also starting to work. Some real moments of excitement in this show. The color guard is not nearly as strong as C-Reg's guard, but they have some very effective moments. The beginning, with curved poles, however, is NOT effective at all. They do have some great silks, however, and a terrific moment comes in the ballad with some gorgeous gold flags. This corps usually will go on near the sunset, or with the sun still out & low. It works so well with these gold flags. A great design move. The guard also seems to be getting stronger with their rifle and sabre work, with some nice tight tosses & catches. The horn line is solid, but it's time to really get to work on polishing the sound. At times the sound is too harsh, with individuals sticking out & some intonation issues popping up. That being said, for the 1st time since 2000, I look forward to getting to see Southwind several more times with some real anticipation to see what they can do with the some. It's really in the hands of their kids & teaching staff at this point. We just might see Southwind in the hunt for 17th!

Madison Scouts -- What a difference a month can make. This was my second viewing, having first seen them in Louisville. I was impressed in June with the quality of their comeback. I am more than impressed now. I found their horn line to be weak and lacking in confidence in June, but they are really starting to turn it on now. There are still times where the sound quality is not where they were in the mid 90s, with some individual issues & intonation issues, but they are getting there for sure. This is the first time since 1999 that I felt real -- and not forced -- electricity from this corps on the field. I wasn't so sure this corps had a real shot at 6th last month. Now, I think they will be in the thick of that fight, with Boston, Bluecoats & Crossmen. The color guard improvement is remarkable. Field coverage & demand in the drill are there as well. I'm no percussion expert, and I know that's been their weakness so far, so that section may dictate just how far this corps goes. The corps has done an outstanding job updating the Madison style for the new millenium, making relevant, contempary, EXCITING, and yet all vintage Madison at the same time. That's no easy task. They have also really added to the ballad. With some nice allusions to their past with pretty, dated flags, the ballad ends with a bold white flag with the year 2003 on it & boom they move into the closer, thoroughly modern, thoroughly powerful, and thoroughly Madison. That was a design highlight of the night for me from the Scouts. Welcome back, Madison. You have been very missed.

Blue Devils -- My second viewing of them and I was even more impressed this time. They have really turned it up another notch since Denver. The excitement and performance energy this corps brings to the field is tremendous. Their guard truly sells this show and adds so much to it -- much more so, in my opinion, than does the Cavaliers guard this summer. BD's guard thoroughly beat Cavies on the field, from all views -- design, demand and execution. It was nice to see the judges agree, with BD easily winning CG and also winning GE Visual. I dare someone to truly study BD's drill and make any other conclusion than that this is their most difficult drill ever and that it is more difficult to perform than Cavaliers. __AND LET ME STRESS THAT I AM NOT A DIE HARD BD FAN AT ALL__ This show has so much room to grow, as they are still rough around the edges in both marching & musically. I think they have more room to grow than do Cavaliers, unless Cavies make wholesale changes to more than just a few sections of their show. On the other hand, Cavaliers are much cleaner, so it was really a toss up last night -- to which the judges seemed to have agreed.

Cavaliers -- My third viewing of Cavies & 2nd in 2 nights. They really turned on the afterburners tonight, with a much more energized & intense show tonight than last night in Wichita. In watching crowd reaction, I think a lot of people understood why Cavaliers won tonight, but most seemed to prefer BD. My mom came with me to the show, and while not a novice, she's no DC insider either. She walked away saying, I can appreciate what the Cavaliers did, but if I got to see one show again, I would want it to be Blue Devils, not them. As for myself, this show is definitely growing on me. I find myself getting into parts of the show, and particularly the middle section. I still don't think they have their real ending on the field yet, but the newer sections right before the end are great. Musically, I like this show more than last year. Visually, less so. My take on this show is that it's not very meaty. Musically, the demand does not come close to PR or BD. Visually, while very innovative, much of what they are doing is no more difficult than the rest of the top 5, and probably not as difficult as BD's drill. The color guard is impressive as always., but not always effective in this show. Their work is not crisp, and they don't move nearly as well as BD.

Well, that's it from what was a great night. Cavies gave a great encore -- after what was the longest wait for retreat that I can remember in a long time. It was nice to hear not one, but 2 patriotic marches thrown in. Both Cavies & BD came in with an intensity that said neither wanted to lose tonight, and it really added to the energy level tonight. It's going to be a great summer watching these 2 battle it out. They are so close, I don't see Cavies going undefeated this year. IF BD can clean their show sufficiently, I think they will take it all in Orlando.

Don't forget about Regiment either, though. They are lurking in the wings as an awakening giant right now. Probably headed for a PHantastic 3rd, But not out of the running for more, either...

Can't wait for Indy in a week & a half. Everyone that's going to San Antonio, have a blast and --- WRITE REVIEWS!!!

Harvey Phelps


Well, here is my belated review. I would have had it up sooner, but as my previous post states, my computer sabotaged the last one....

DISCLAIMER:I will be revealing what some may refer to as "spoilers", so if you donít want to know, please donít read any further.

P.S.-This was my first viewing of all the corps, but I took extensive notes on each one... (this is gonna be long...)

KIWANIS KAVALIERS-5th place:69.80....37 horns/15 percussion/15 guard/8 pit...Performing the music of the Beatles...They start in what looks like an arc with a line connecting the ends at the bottom. There is a lone guard member in the center of the arc/half-circle. The rest of the guard is lined up horizontally below the form. The guard wears white outfits and start with blue/grey (silver?) flags. They later switch to green/purple flags with a gold swirly design on them. During the opener "Hey, Jude/Eleanor Rigby", there is some add-on melody with the horns, which was nice. Near the end of the opener, the corps forms a small square within a larger square, then they rotate the smaller square clockwise to conclude the opener.

During the ballad, there is some backfield playing (a theme tonight, it seemed...) as one guard soloist works a red, faded to white flag. As this is happening, the pit is on double mallets. Later, the guard members pull out flags so that the entire guard has one. The colors of flags used were: 2 purple, 3 blue, 2 green, 3 orange, and 2 yellow....whew!!

During "Michelle", the corpsí form looks like this... > < . With a horizontal line underneath each "greater than/less than" sign. They float the form to the left, and then float it back and to the left until they finally conclude by striking different poses individually.

In the next piece, the corps forms a square outline with a dancing guard member in the center. They then rotate the square, and eventually wind up with two vertical parallel lines. Then, they make like Boston Crusaders 2000/2001 opening move...(not to knock Kavaliers, itís just what it reminded me of...)

In the next piece, individual guard members each pick a horn player to escort arm in arm, follow the leader fashion. The corps eventually form an arc with the guard dancing in the center. Near the end of the piece, the sopranos/mellophones are on the left side of the field, and they make like Cavies and swing their horns up and over to the right. But leave them facing right, unlike the Cavies, who bring theirs back to center when they do this move...The corps ends the piece with a vocal, "Yeah!"

During the next piece, the corps forms a block that looks like a bowl with diagonal edges... they have guard members in the center of the "bowl", dancing very sultry as they park and blow, which the crowd responded well too...

The final piece is a compilation/reprise of themes in the show. The corps forms a rectangle block as they let loose with another park and blow. As they draw the show to a close, the guard pulls out these very large white flags from the backfield, which was a nice visual statement to conclude. I enjoyed this show musically more than I enjoyed the Bluecoatsí version in 92í...I was hoping for them to let loose a little more, however. It was a fun show, overall with good potential. On a side note, my wife, who is a non-drum corps person, thought they should have beaten Southwind, too....I told her just to wait for Orlando...

CAPITAL REGIMENT-6th place:68.65...46 horns/19 percussion/29 guard/10 pit....I have to say that the uniforms looked very nice on this corps. I thought they were a little too similar to the Coltsí uniforms, though...

The corps starts in a formation that is very similar to the Cavaliers opening form, that is, the horns are in a + shape with the guard forming a square outline around the +. I have to say that I thought their percussion was a strong point for them, but what do I know, Iím just a brass guy....Their guard wears red outfits with black accents (I didnít even notice the black accents till near the end of their show...perhaps they remove a red part of the uniform to reveal the black???) The pit makes the opening statement as the guard works with red/gold/purple flags. I did notice a drop in the guard during the opener, but nothing major other than that. On a side note, the gentleman sitting next to me informed me that their guard had really hurt them the night before, so it was nice to see the guard bounce back tonight...

During the next piece, I noticed the guard working with sabres, as well as yellow/orange flags with a purple stripe. The sops/baris at one point are in a block formation, and strike a pose with their horns pointed to the ground. The corps eventually winds up in two upside-down (isosceles?) triangle blocks to conclude.

The next piece reminded me a little of Phantom Regiment 96í due to the guardsí use of long metal poles, and the fact that they were wearing red...At one point, the corps forms a linear form that looks like the top of an onyx? (That Egyptian symbol...) with the percussion in the center of it. Near the end of the piece, the corps forms a large snaking curvilinear form and the horn players, starting from one end of the form, lean and pose, causing a dominoe effect. As the last member at the end of the form poses, there is a large (rifle or flag?..stupid memory... ) toss.

The next to last piece has the guard dancing with each other. Later the corps forms a vertical, linear snaking form, with the guard to the right, dancing. Near the end of the piece, the guard forms a horizontal rectangular block, and uses white flags with a red stripe on them...There was also some backfield playing during this piece...

The final piece opens with a percussion feature, as the corps does some body sculpting and the guard is on rifles and white/grey/purple/red striped flags. Later the corps forms a diamond with two linear extensions extending to the upper left and upper right, one on each side. They then move the whole form forward as the music swells. The final formation had them in a horizontal curvilinear form with two gaps in it, one on each side (right and left..). Overall, I really wanted to like this show, but didnít care for it. The musical arrangements, IMO, were really not exciting, and just plain uninteresting. The only time they really caught my attention musically was in the end when they started playing new world symphony...It was real similar to Phantomís arrangement for a little bit....I do hope they can work things out, though. I do not wish ill on ANY corps. I just donít see them doing that much this year...(I hope I'm wrong..)

SOUTHWIND-4th place:70.20...60 horns/20 percussion/27 guard/10 pit....Their opening set has the horns in a arc that is tilted to the left with the guard just left of center in a circle formation with the percussion in the middle of this guard circle. The percussion is in an arc similar to the horns. The guard wears yellow outfits with a red \\ from the shoulder. They start by using bent (brass?) poles, and later, blue/yellow/orange flags. I, like TexasPRfan in his review, thought the use of these bent poles was unnecessary and ineffective...The guard staff was sitting right in front of me during the performance, and I almost felt like saying something, as they knew I was writing a review, but I refrained. After all, IíM not a designer, so what do I know? During the opener, the first big hit comes after the corps forms a large upside-down triangular block with the percussion in a horizontal line near the top left corner of the triangle form. Later, the horns form a square outline with the guard in the center and rotate the square clockwise. We were unfortunate at this time in the show to have a baby crying, so it was difficult to hear this portion of the show clearly, as loud as the corps was...Near the end of the opener, the corps performs what looked like a z-pull to me, then went into a company front...

MINI RANT: People, if you have babies, and youíre thinking of taking them to a drum corps show.... DONíT. Leave them with a baby-sitter, or donít go at all. How selfish is it for a parent to take a child that small into the heat? I counted at LEAST three babies at the contest, two very near us. And it was 120 degrees today...sad. END OF MINI RANT

The ballad starts off with a percussion statement. The horns act like theyíre gonna play, then they go, "SIKE!" (O.K., so they donít actually say, "SIKE!", but you could almost hear them thinking it...) The guard uses orange/gold/lighter gold double flags as they dance. At one point, the corps forms a large vertical rectangular block with the percussion in a vertical line to the right. Near the end of the ballad, the guard brings out those silly bent poles again, and stands there with them till the end of the song (maybe they are going to add more work here?...).

The closer starts off with a percussion feature, in which I saw a dropped bent pole (my opinion is they should just lose those things, but...). The guard later works with rifles, and then orange/gold double flags. There is some neat drill here, where the corps forms two blocks and mesh them, similar to Phantom 89í and Cavies 99í...They then make like Cavies and do the "endless movement within the block" move. Near the end of the piece, the corps forms a company front as the guard pulls out these large rainbow flags to cap off the show. I hope these guys can polish things up enough to make it to semis in rain town, and I wish them the best of luck.

MADISON SCOUTS-3rd place:81.75..... 64 horns/30 guard/21 percussion/10 pit...... Wow, what a difference a year makes....Their opening set has the horns in a vertical line to the left of the guard and percussion. Their guard wears red shirts with white overshirts, and fedora-style hats. The guard brings out these hat/coat racks and lines them up in an arc with its mouth facing towards the guard and horns...The opener starts with a statement by the percussion, accompanied by drill. The horns give us their first big hit as the corps moves into a large block and the guard works with yellow and black flags. Two cool parts of the opener come to mind...At one point, the corps forms two (isosceles?) triangles with the guard above with the percussion in the "wedge" created by the two triangles side by side. The corps then slowly backs to the music as they play, "ba da....ba da....ba da..." and it was well executed. The other highlight I can remember comes when the corps forms a large fleur de lis (sp?) then a large curvilinear form with the percussion above.

The Scouts have a good ballad this year. There is some nice backfield playing, and the flags are really cool that they use. They start with a lone guard member with a faded white flag with a fleur de lis on it and the year "1938", the year the Scouts were formed. As the number continues, they keep adding guard members with similar faded flags with different years. As the ballad comes to a climax, we see a guard member run to the center of the corps with a full color fleur de lis flag with the year, "2003" on it....Goose bump city! What a great visual presentation...

During the percussion feature, the hat/coat racks are incorporated into the show some as the guard moves them from the far right side of the field to more of a centered position and dances near them, placing their hats on them, etc... There is also some rifle work here, which was nice to watch with the much improved guard. Later in the number, the tenors make their way to a cymbal/bass rack and "lay it down" as the contras kneel and play...The guard later uses red flags with black accents. There was a nice moment where the horns make a curvilinear "snake-like" form on the left side of the field with the guard on the right. The horns then snap their horns to face right at a dramatic point in the music. Near the end of the number, the corps forms a company front and sort of "crabs" it forward and to the right, in groups of two (every other two horns...) , then form a fleur de lis once again as the guard pays tribute to the "hat bow". They wind up in a form that looks like a whirpool swirly with the percussion in an arc cradling the "swirl".

The closer comes fast and furious....The corps forms a horizontal rectangular block with the percussion in a horizontal line above as the guard works with red/white and black flags. At one point in the closer, some of the guard was dancing and clapping to the music. Other guard members were on rifles. As we near the end of the closer, the guard switches to red, gold, and green (bet ya didnít see that coming...J ) flags, and the corps parks and blows to great effect. They wind up in the end in a curvy company front formation with the guard and percussion above. The guard caps off the show by doing a "Vanilla Ice" pose. I am really impressed with the new uniforms....Man, do they look sharp! When I asked the gentleman if they were designed by Cesario, he just kind of grinned. He said they were originally, but then the Scouts sent them back and had them changed. He said that after that, Cesario wouldnít take credit for it. This is from someone I donít know, so you should probably take it with a grain of salt....Just thought it was kind of interesting....I am impressed with the Scouts this year. I think it is really great the way they have bounced back after being left out of the "big show" last year....I enjoyed them more tonight than I have in 3 years. GO SCOUTS!!

BLUE DEVILS-2nd place:89.65....64 horns/39 guard/18 percussion/9 pit.....I was a bit surprised by this show....pleasantly surprised. I had heard an mp3 of them in june, and was not very impressed with Blue Rhondo ala Turk at all. What a difference a month can make!! I loved their music for the most part...(Iím tired of West Side Story on the field...) and their drill was great! (This surprised me the most) Not to dis the Devils, Iím saying I thought their drill was more difficult than it has been in the past 3 years, and of course, they execute it well. More on this later...They start with the horns/guard in four diamond formations arranged to where they nearly touch each other but donít. There is a lone snare in the center space created by the four blocks. This snare starts the program off as the horns march and play...The guard wears blue turquoise/hot pink/royal purple outfits. The male guard members wear vests...maybe too many colors...As the opener starts, the percussion is moving around up front, doing some "showing off", tossing their sticks as they play, etc. Unfortunately tonight, there were two dropped sticks during this feature, but luckily a guard member picked up the sticks later and got them off the field. After the "showing off" section by the percussion, the horns play backfield louder and louder until they whip around and let us have it.....Another cool part (reference intended...) of the show had the horns in a square block with a long curvilinear line attached to it. As the square moves left, the line slowly, by sections, curls up and becomes part of the square, until they have finally got a large vertical rectangle block of horns. Another great part has the corps parked in an arc, with the guard in the center of the arc. The guard then dances/directs the horns to distort, bend, crescendo/decrescendo the sound. Later near the end of the opener, the guard is working with orange/turquoise flags and the percussion makes its way to the infamous cymbal rack in the pit to the right to do the "switch out" move several times. As this is happening, the horns are in two triangle blocks....one upside down, the other right side up, as the opener concludes.

The ballad had the guard working with orange/purple flags. Later in the ballad, the horns/guard form a large block and float it backwards as the guard dances.

During take five/cool, there is sabre, flags, and rifle work all at the same time. I saw an impressive "under the leg" move by some of the guard at one point. Later, there is some backfield playing, and as the show comes to a close, the cymbal rack is brought out on field and the percussion does their "round robbin" thing on it....not nearly as exciting the second year in a row, but still cool. The horns hit their final note, and then, a lone snare that has made his way out of the "round robbin" and to center field concludes the show with a percussion lick and strikes a pose....probably my favorite part of the show. Now, Iíd like to give my views a little on repeats.....The Devils this year repeat: The horn waaaaahhh... BLAAHH!!!, the cymbal rack "switch out" and cymbal rack "round robbin". These are certainly "cool" things, but they just didnít have the same effect on me after seeing them just last year. I definitely felt that some of this show was "rehash" from last year, but it does still work....I really donít care for that sort of thing normally, when a corps repeats a move, or certainly not a song (95í day danse, etc..). Now, Iím not trying to "dis" the Devils. There are plenty of other corps "guilty" of this...just a thought on it. I hope that the Devils can add more interesting and different things and really "tear it up" this year. After all, Iím a fan of ALL drum corps, not just the top six (which the Devils certainly are...).

THE CAVALIERS-1st place:89.95.....64 horns/38 guard/20 percussion/9 pit.....HMMM.......I like this show. I like the drill. I like the music. And contrary to popular opinion, I found the music very "hummable". Very difficult drill. More difficult than Devils, IMO. I think it was TexasPRfan who posted that the Devils drill was more difficult. I have to strongly disagree with this....thatís really all I have to say about that...(I feel like Forrest Gump...). The corps starts in a "cross" formation, with the guard integrated into the form with the horns. The horns face backfield. The horns start a circular drill that is too complex and intricate to try to describe here. As the first big hit is made, the percussion forms a circle and rotates it, keeping with the "spin cycle" theme. I also noticed the snares doing "circle" visuals with their sticks...neato...Also, near the beginning when the horns are doing that circular drill, the drill starts with four horns in the center of the "cross", and moves outward , adding more and more horns (OK, so maybe I WILL try to describe it...)...as they come near the end of the cross, the last four horns on the end of the cross spin individually before entering the circular drill. Later in the opener, the corps crosses its legs for a second as they park to play, da da da da da da da da.........(uncross) da da da da da da da...then start moving again...a neat visual touch. After this, there is some right side/left side exchange of the melody between the horns, and right here it looked like they had just added the drill here as it wasnít as clean or readable as the rest of the show (I think during the clinic I heard Jeff Fiedler say, "I know itís new, but itís not hard..."?) Anyway, after that, they form three horizontal line with the horns, then do the "Niagara Falls" opening spin move, first the horns in the bottom line spin, then the middle, then the top...another "repeat move" that worked, in this case...They then bevel the lines to the left. During the opener, I saw the contras spinning, among many others...this was pretty cool to see. As the opener ends, the corps forms a square block. In the center of the block, 3 horns spin around a lone guard member in the center of the block...as the last note hits, these 3 horns lock into place in the block, and the guard member gives one last spin, then puts his arms in the air to finish.

Their ballad is one of the best parts of their show, IMO. They have some beautiful music, and some nice visuals. At the beginning, the horns rotate said block counter-clockwise. They wind up in a block that is beveled to the left. The horns face the upper left corner of the field as they kneel on one knee and play. Later, the contras are rotating a circular form as the horns rotate a circular form with a lone guard member in the center. The horns later form a large rectangular block that is beveled to the right as they do the "Niagara Falls" spin move up the block, from the bottom. To close the ballad, the horns spin lines around one at a time and lock them piece by piece into a square block. As the lines "hit", the members in that line spin individually. Eventually, the corps has formed a large square block. To close the ballad, the horns jerk their necks around as the spin around to face back field and sit cross-legged.

As the closer starts, a horn player stands up, faces the audience, and starts to play the melody line, da da da da...then whips his neck around as his sits facing backfield again. This is repeated with another horn, but the horn plays a different "take" on the melody, then sits, just as the first horn player did. This is repeated, sometimes humorously, "BBLLAATT!!" sounds one of the horns, not even trying to replicate the melody...funny. Eventually, we get pairs of horns playing the melody and adding to it, until the corps is in a large block and gives some simultaneous horn/percussion hits as it moves to the right. After this, the horns face backfield and point their horns to the ground. As the horns play the melody, they wiggle their butts, keeping their horns pointed straight at the ground...this was also pretty funny. Later on, the horns form two blocks kind of tilted against each other. As they play, the horn players point their horns to the ground, then back up to the press box as they "bend/decrescendo/crescendo" the music. Also, I noticed a version of the "DNA" move from 95í..but vertical. To end the show, we get a company front. As it moves forward to a halt, two members break out and march in a circle to trade places in the line (think Cavies 2001 where the four end horns dislodged and circled around the block near the end of that show...). I donít think this is their "real" ending. At least, I hope not...was kind of anti-climactic if you ask me...

Overall, I really enjoyed this show. I think this will be a great year for drum corps with a close race all the way till finals. The only thing about this year that disappoints me is the number of "repeats". Look at my Cavies review....DNA, Niagara Falls spin, etc....Devils...cymbal rack, blaaaaahhhhh....BLAAAAAHH!!note, etc.. I just wish their was more originality in drum corps...I think that the Cavaliers have much more room to grow that the Devils, as the Caviesí drill is more difficult, IMO. Keep in mind, I have only seen the Blue Devils ONCE, DURING THE SHOW...I saw the Cavies during the show, and at the clinic beforehand. Maybe Iíll have to watch the Devils a couple more times to compare the two drills. This is, after all, just my opinion after one viewing, so I hope that I didnít offend anyone too badly. Iíd like to apologize again for the late review. It took a lot for me to muster the strength and will to re-write the whole thing, and I hope that you gain something enjoyable from it. Long live drum corps!!! IíM THROUGH WITH THIS REVIEW!!!! YAH!! ITíS PARTY-TIME!!!

Cardman


Tuesday July 15

Wichita, KS (DCI)

What a treat to get to see a 2nd show in 4 days, with a whole different line up. While I don't get to go to SA this year, by the time I go to the Enid show tonight (my parents live around Enid), I will have gotten to see the top 5 and almost all the top 16 in just 5 days. The facility in Goddard is quite impressive and what a great crowd! A Huge crowd for such a location. And a fun crowd. Many don't realize how strong the drum corps heritage is in Kansas, with Skyryders, Argonnne and many other smaller corps from long ago. I sat right next to a guy who marched with (forgive me if I mess this up), the "Mid-Continent Ambassadors" from Wichita in the early 80s. On the other side was an elderly lady who first started following drum corps 50 years ago living in a small town called St. Francis in N/W Kansas that had it's own Drum Corps. She said the small town's nightly summer entertainment was to go watch the corps practice. It's sad to think how DC has dissipated from such deep penetration of the American culture. It was great to see how much she still follows drum corps, though, going to shows every year. We had so much fun talking throughout the night. Hi, Patty!

Now, on to the show, which had a great lineup.

Capital Regiment -- It's great to see another solid Div I corps who I hope is in it for the long run. They seem to have taken a step backwards from last year in all areas but color guard ( a very strong guard). Musically, I don't care for the over-arranged treatment of New World Symphony. Seems everyone is cashing in on the spread an old melody out throughout a show of other music them these days, and this attempt is not overly successful. Visually, the corps does not stand out like last year, and I miss the grey pants. They don't have the same impact with black. This show is a contradiction. At times written above the heads of their young performers, and at other times uncomfortably watered down musical arrangements. This corps may find itself well out of semis, fighting with Troopers for that next to last spot above Pioneer in Div. I. On the other hand, they are quite young, and there is plenty of demand if they turn it on in rehersal. Right now, Southwind deserves to be solidly in front of them. The only area they seem much stronger than S/W is in Color Guard. I hope Cap Reg can keep these young kids together for a few years. If they do, I can see them make the same kind of rise that Colts did in the 90s.

Southwind -- Wow, much improved from Louisville. Musically, a solid show. Their sound at times is a bit harsh, however, with too many individuals with edges to their sound in places. Visually, the drill seems to have been improved since June, and they are starting to perform better. This show is not close thier memorable 2000 show (which deserved to make finals that year over either Madison or Crown, in my opinion). Drill, like BK's is far too compact and unreadable, but does seem more interesting than it was a month ago. CG was not fun to watch at all in KY, but has improved solidly. This corps COULD challenge for 17th this year, although, I haven't seen Pacific Crest or Mandarins and would imagine they are behind both of them. S/Wind has a beautiful ballad, I might add. The closer is pretty effective, too. Nice show & another solid Div. I year for the crew in yellow this year!

Colts -- This group seems to have improved more than their scores have since Louisville. Musically, and their horn line in particular, is definitely their strength. I think their drill (not the kids' fault) is the WORST I've seen from Colts in 10 years. It's a big unreadable blob that sparks little interest. They had some terrific wide open drills with difficulty and great designs in the late 90s. What happened? I think this corps is no better than 16th, and could get pushed out of Semis by Mandarins & Pacific Crest. I know I'm in the minority, but I still hate their uniform -- and particularly the black shakos & plumes. The CG has really been working hard since June and has shown great improvement. I would love to see the Colts return to their success of the mid to late 90s, but it won't be this year unfortunately. They also seem to be getting younger & younger. Maybe that has to do with difficulties recruiting with the bland music they've played for the last 4 years? Could be... This year's music is ok, though. It is better. Just not up to 99 levels or before.

A huge jump in peformance quality after the break.

Crossmen -- Alright! I really like this show. The opening "rainbow" music is great. I really wish the guard would open with flags though, instead of the fabric panels. That would make the openign hits SO much more effective. They do deserve to be getting whipped by Boston in Color Guard. I like this show, and the music book in particular. X-men are another crops with the too-compact, blob drillitis problem, though. A comment from Patty beside me -- that's the most boring uniform of the night. I agree. They do spice up the show visually though with great silks -- right to the "colors" theme of their show. I can see a great battle at Finals between Crossmen & Scouts for 8th or so. I think both Boston & Bluecoats will distance themselves from X-men due to better drills & visual programs.

Boston Crusaders -- A nice show. It stops short of their 00 greatness though. I don't mind the snippets of the 00 show spread throughout, but they don't overly excite me either. To me, they serve best to remind you that the Music book is NOT to the level of what they had in Maryland in 00. In particular, the opening 1/3 of the show is severly overly arranged and does not flow well. Of course, I thought this about their show last year for a while too, but they grew on me. The same could happen again this year. Once again, Cru is marching very, very well. They have a nice style & technique. The color guard is terrific and could very well beat SCV for 5th in Guard at finals. I like this show a lot after a first viewing & look forward to seeing it again. I love the intensity & aggressiveness the kids bring. I don'tmind the visual & musical fallbacks to '00, because they are effective. They don't have the same impact this tie around though -- I think largely because their music book is not of the same continuity and caliber. I wouldn't count them out from a late season tear, as they seem to have mastered that. They might challenge SCV at the end, but for now, they are a good 4-5 pts behind in terms of performance.

The Cadets -- I appreciate the fact that Hoppy's crew has focused on reaching the audience. I wish,however, they hadn't done that at the sacrifice of innovation. I used to love that about the Cadets, but havent' seen innovation from them since 97 and 98. I give a hearty shout out to them, though, for a return to a demanding drill this year, apart from Malaguena, which has far TOO much park & blow & scatter blow. Muscially, the arrangements are growing on me from 1st viewing last month to now, but are still to choppy. The change in guard unis to red is very appropriate. I don't however, like the red silks in RPH. To me, they should change color to set the mood off more from Malaguena. They have certainly improved the musical package from Louisville, however. The guard was disappointing last night. While everyone fought the wind, the Cadets handled it very poorly in comparison to Boston & Cavies. More drops than I could possibly count (not to mention an horn player falling --on an artificial turf field -- at the end. I love the z-pull, and I'm sure it will get more reaction at finals. It doesn't elicit much from a "locals" show crowd though. After seeing Regiment 4 days ago, bias aside, I think that they can take Cadets and finish ahead of them in Orlando IF they clean effectively. They have more difficulty and much more GE. Their horn line is superior and their Guards are at least equal (although with the juding circle in CG, whether or not they will get that credit is debatable). It's not hard to see Cadets in 4th or 5th this year. It's time for some new ideas from Jersey in my opinion. That doesn't have to mean new music. I've heard they are consideing WSS for next year & I would love that. BD has proven you can take the old and make it fresh. the key is making it fresh while maintianing musicality.

Cavaliers -- Clearly last nights winnner, although I think the gap in score was about a point too high. The Green Machine's greatest strength? They are clean, clean, clean. Musically spotless, if at times lacking in volume and excitement. A very nice sound, but not a sound that really fills a stadium, similar to last year's effort. I wish they would find a much more meaty musical book. They obviously have the talent. Can you imagine the power of a show with their visual brilliance matched by an equally stellar musical package? On the visual side, I don't see near the difficulty in this year's drill either. To me, BD, SCV, Cadets and PR ALL have more difficult shows than do the Cavaliers. Cavies, though have made an art out of writing for the judging sheets. I would certainly have BD in front of them at this point. BD's show is more captivating, engergetic and original, in my opinion. We'll see tonight what the judges think in Enid. I was disturbed by the leap in Cavies score since Saturday -- and conveniently in the night before they hook up with BD? That doesn't smell completley right in my opinion, but again, I didn't SEE them on Saturday, so who knows. This show could win again, but it could also be 3rd.

Well, I'm off to the Enid show tonight for the clash of the undefeateds! Can't wait.

Harvey Phelps


Monday July 14

Omaha, NE (DCI)

Man was it hot.
Since the high school I work at hosted Capital Regiment, we got premium seats up in the press box. I think this was more of a show sponsor thing rather than a DCI thing, so I'll refrain from praising DCI on doing something right until I get all the information.

Kiwanis Kavaliers came up first with a HUGE brass sound. I almost felt sorry for them because the drill they have to perform is mediocre at best. Their marching technique is far from mediocre, and feet come through the horns at every step. I've always liked Kiwanis, but I feel that this corps is so much more talented than having to play the Beatles music and ready to be chalenged with a tougher show program. They are, however, very entertaining and aren't afraid to let it all hang out. As I said earlier their brass line has a huge and controlled sound. The percussion section seems much improved from previous years, and the guard performed good, but there was no gusto or difficulty to their program. I think they need to go down to Division II. This corps is fun to watch, but rather small-ish and it seems that dropping down a division would suit them better and make them more competitive, if that's what they want.

Carolina Crown came up next, and I'm beginning to wonder what they have been doing in the brass caption the past couple of years to acquire more talent in that field. I always felt in the late 90's they could have been more of a threat for top eight/top six status if they had a better brass section. The only beef I had with Crown's brass section was that they had little control. They can honk, but their brass section has one dynamic; real freaking loud. They also have very little control and the visual execution left a lot to be desired. Overall, I like the show concept, with the exception of the Greenseleaves closer. This show is entertaining with some impact points, but it is still very dirty. They had some huge problems with the feet and with the dril execution, but the guard is once again great and the drumline, while not as powerful as in previous years, is still very good. It looks as if they have overcome last year's finish and are fighting it out to make it back to the top 12. I just wish they would ditch those hideous looking uniforms.

Capital Regiment then took the field. I saw their final run through at rehearsal, and I like the show concept. They have some great show ideas and the most underrated drumline this summer. I literally thought their drumline was very comparable to Blue Devils tonight and is the obvious strength of this corps. Like Crown, Capital Regiment's biggest obstacle is execution. The hornline plays with little control and dynamic contrast, and while I thought the visual execution was better than Crown's, the feet were almost as bad as Kiwanis. I almost wish that Capital Regiment would have waited another year or two before jumping up to Division I, but that's why I'm at home during the summer. I was a huge fan of their show last summer, and this show has so much potential this year, but it needs a major cleaning job. Up until Madison, who came on next, I thought that the crowd recated very well to this show considering most people would think the Dvorak music is a little obscure. I'm a Capital Regiment fan and I think the past two years can be a stepping stone if they continue in Division I, but the execution needs to be there.

At the risk of sounding like a Madison homer, all I can say is WOW!! Madison has definitely made a 200% improvement from last year. The guard in itself was astonishing to watch because they have come so far from the last two or three seasons when they were the weakest section of the corps. "Jennifo" has done a marvelous job this summer and is to be credited with the much improved sucess of the Scouts. I might sound a little biased, but I thought Madison outmarched everyone tonight. The feet were crisp and clean, and the drill was executed very well. There were some rough spots in the closer, but overall the visual program was conceived very nicely from Jamey Thompson and you can tell that the focal point from day one this season was the visual aspect. You can tell that the corps isn't being as conservative on the drill sheets this year with the company front to open the show. They also had a lot of exposure to error with sets, an I felt the corps had more velocity to their drill than Boston and BD. As always, Madison has a great brass section. I was expecting a lot of obscure music considering the composer, but there is a lot of screaming, jazzy music, and the closer has a latin feel which made the corps fan favorites in the mid 90's. Their biggest weakness is the drumline. A lot of rough sections in the show in both the battery and the pit, but I know that the batter itself is very young and that Jim Yakas can do some amazing things with the drum section provided the opportunity. Madison, you are definitely on the right track back to prominence. Keep it up!!

The Boston Crusaders had what most would consider the unenviable task of follwing Madison, but it obviously didn't bother them. Let me preface this review by saying that Boston should have won this show tonight. They brass section was by far the best tonight, and the visual program is at a level where they can make some serious damage to make the top four; but with the judging system they won't be allowed to achieve that at all. Boston's versions of Bolero and Malaguena are a little "Blast"-ish, but they get the crowd fired up. The hornline plays loud with a ton of control, and the hard technical runs at the softer dynamic levels were what really impressed me with this brass section. The drill, however, is very easy. Very symetrical with some cool effects, but it's almost there. A lot of cool things going on with the visual program, but there were may times where two individuals weren't covering down or dressing the forms which ruined the effects. The feet were almost at the level of Madison's, but they also easily outmarched Devils. The guard has some fairly easy work, but it's very clean at the same time. Like the Scouts, I think Boston's biggest hurdle is the percussion section. Don't get me wrong; they are still very good. However, the 15-man snare section in Malaguena was very rough and dirty. I thought the tenor section was the strongest in the drums, and the snares sound like they're also almost there. I really loved this show and thought that politics played a part in the result and the ridiculous spread.

Blue Devils were last. I was anticipating great things from them. I watched their drumline practice earlier in the afternoon but wanted to make it back to my school to watch Capital. I was so impressed by the percussion that I was under the assumption that the rest of the corps was just as good. I'm sorry to say this as a Blue Devils fan, but this show is successful because it has a lot of gimmicks. Maybe the Blue Devils have been able to catch on to what the Cavaliers have been doing to detract away from performance issues and to load up the show with gimmicks. This is not your typical BD hornline. A ton of execution issues tonight, and a lot of that had to do with the horrible feet. The drill was also executed very poorly this evening, and it is a typical year in Blue Devils visual with very little or no difficulty in the visual program. Back to the brass section, there were several members sticking out of the ensemble tonight, and the trumpets were horrible. Very bright, very sharp (intonation-wise), and you can't hear the midvoices. All you hear is contra.....er tuba and trumpets. Very dissapointing from a perspective DCI champion. The dumline, however, is quite possible the best I've ever witnessed. The snares are definitely one of the best of their position ALL TIME, and the pit is just awesome. The gimmick around the rack is pretty cool; actually I loved it. The guard, as always, is also superb. I've always enjoyed watching Devils' and Cavaliers' guard performing with so much tenacity the years I was marching it was inspiring. If I hear any Westside Story tunes on a field again, I just might have to unload a firearm on the corps. The ballad was also based on Madison's "Concerto e Aranjuez" from '95. Why is this corps which supposedly pushes the envelop each year having to resort to go back to Westside Story for a show concept? All in all, I was very upset that the Blue Devils are eight points ahead of Boston and Madison. I know I'm stepping into a flame here, but I thought that Boston and Madison outperformed the Devils this evening, but the current judging system once again allowed DCI to screw it up.

Overall, a great show. The big surprise was being called down to the 50 yard line as a Railmen alumni and seeing people I marched with in my years with the corps, and so many people that marched before me. Brandt Crocker then gave an emotional presentation to the Ken Whittle, the show coordinator for Drums Across the Midlands, for coordinating the show for 25 years.

I have to admit that seeing all of my Railmen buddies made me a little sad; with the amount of musical talent in the Omaha/Lincoln area, there needs to be a drum corps in this city. A NEW PROJECT TO WORK ON!!!!

Anyway, that's my longwinded review.

Andy Smith


Sunday July 13

Stroudsburg, PA (DCI Atlantic II/III)

Just some quick notes on my View of the 2/3 Show in Stroudsburg. What I must say is that DCI needs to address order of performance when it comes to this topic. Spirit of Newark should never have to follow a corps like the Spartans. Not sure why the Spartans were on first (Competitive corps wise).

I was really impressed with the facilities and how well the show was run. It's a good day when you can put on 13 corps and stay on Schedule at this point of the season. My hats off to the Lehigh Valley Knights organization for a job well done. It's obvious you guys have something special going on as the helpers were simply beaming with pride. What a great place to host a show!

Ok, now for the exhibitions:
Phoenix Kidets - Now, I'm not really sure what they played, but it didn't matter. They have a group of 5-7year olds on the field with equipment and uniforms, it's the most adorable thing you will ever see. Drum corps future for sure.

Quest Cadets - A much larger corps than the first, same age range and a book of parade tunes performed in standstill formation for the most part. Again Nicely done. I'm glad DCI has made room for groups like these to get some exposure.

Now onto the show:

Spartans - Not sure why they were on first, For some reason I found myself all pumped up to see them perform today (after last season). I was left a little bit disappointed by what I saw. Work is dirty, brass line is solid but gets weaker as the show goes on. However, I'm sure by Orlando these guys will be in prime form. Certainly, can't wait to see them again and see their progression. (I placed them 3rd; they finished 2nd)

Spirit Of Newark - Basically a very large group of 10year olds. They do a nice job considering the age range there. I'm surprised that they are in division 2. As they certainly cannot be compared to a corps like the Spartans. (I placed them 11th, they finished 10th)

Citations - It was nice to see this corps back on the field. There are in around the 30 member mark, with some older kids, yet a fair amount of young ones. Nice Pit work. They certainly should improve on last years placement come Orlando. ( I placed them 9th, they finished 9th)

East Coast Jazz - Although I personally find their show boring, I have to say it's clean and done very well. The show does have high potential in design and I'm sure ECJ will be finishing rather high in the ranking this season. (I placed them 2nd, they finished 3rd).

Jersey Surf - OK, I needed a nice drink and some sand to make my afternoon. As far as entertainment value this show has it all. Certainly will be a crowd favorite all season long. From a competitive standpoint this show is the pits. Lot's of "bumper members", which is distressing considering I don't see their drill as too challenging. If it wasn't for the brass line, this corps would be in trouble this season. As for the guard? Most of the division 3 corps had better guards out there today. They have a lot of numbers (guard wise), but the work is just really bad, incomplete and poorly done. However, I'm sure come Orlando, they will at the very least, entertain me. Certainly worth another view. (I placed them 6th actually, behind a few division 3's , however they finished 4th).

Raiders - The first thing I noticed from this corps was the size of the drum line. Very nice numbers, rest of the corps numbers are typical of your division 3 corps. Corps has a very nice show, step up from last season. Certainly didn't see them behind Surf. Also guard was improved from last season. Although I was impressed in all areas the one area I saw as an area for improvement was the brass line. Seemed like they got tired and the tempos went down the tubes. (I placed them as a Tie for 4th [tied w/LVK], they placed 5th).

Quest - Small little corps who's trying to do the Planets. Glad to see the new uniforms (much better than the all black!). Simply, they need to learn the music. Show fell apart during the last two minutes, seemed as though the brass line just didn't have the notes memorized and it affected their marching, etc. However, they are trying hard and I'm sure will improve. (I placed them 10th, they finished 11th).

Phoenix - Much smaller than years past from what I noticed. Overall not a bad job handling the show. The guard is certainly a strong point here, brass line the weak point. Keep working hard and good things will come! (I placed them 8th, they finished 8th)

Cadets of NYC - Nice drumline as always. Overall nice brass sound, guard needs a lot of work. I would say they are about as good as last season this time. Nice solid show that should hold their own come Orlando. ( I placed them 7th, they finished 7th).

Patriots - When they walked on the field, you can just tell they were a corps on a mission. Certainly stronger than years past and possibly can make this a banner year. Simply, just great in all sections. Guard was VERY Large, I counted something like 39 guard alone. Great job Patriots, I'm glad you got the credit you deserved! (I placed them 1st, they got first!).

Lehigh Valley Knights - No question that they are better than last year. New equipment certainly seems like an upgrade for this corps. You certainly need more than one viewing to catch everything going on. Now this is entertainment done well, a show very well put together! As far as the brass line? These guys are pumping out Division 2 sound, during the opening statement your mouth automatically drops when you hear the first brass statement. I want to see this corps back to back with the Raiders. Two quality programs that are pushing each other to improve. I certainly see finals including both of these quality corps! (I placed them in a tie in 4th place [w/Raiders], they finished 6th). Certainly didn't see them behind Surf as well.

What an enjoyable day of drum corps, it's nice to see so many healthy programs out there. Keep working hard everyone.

Carl Slovinsky


Saturday July 12

Denver, CO (DCI)

We went to Greeley on July 11 and Denver on July 12. It was good to get back to back viewings and to check out INVESCO at Mile High. We sat in the 300s, and it was great. The DCI 2004 venue is awesome.

SCV Cadets - small but powerful... percussion appears to be most ready.

Troopers - much improved over the past few years. On Saturday they presented a new set up complete with rifle circle exchange around DM and sunburst. The crowd was most pleased...

Spirit (Denver only) - One of my surprise favorites of the evening. It's all about time - it was fun to pick out the "time tunes" in the opener. The ballad-type number features tributes to individuals and corps of the past... quite a few in the audience were teary-eyed. A few bars of "Let It Be Me" toward the end of the show kept the crowd rooting for Spirit. I would travel to see this corps again.

Seattle Cascades - Danzon Festiva according to the $4 program. I enjoyed watching, but I can't recall any highlights (there were some cool drill ideas!).

Magic of Orlando (Denver only) - Nothing against this team, but I don't care for purple and pink on the field. I liked their presentation of Sanctus from Bernstein's Mass.

Blue Devils (Denver only) - "The Phenomenon of Cool"... I guess I need to see it several more times to find the continuity and pinpoint what is really "cool" about the program. The percussion tends to lead the way with "cool", but I thought the color guard was the antithesis of "cool". But it was my first and only viewing of BD for 2003. I liked Spirit better.

Santa Clara Vanguard (Denver only) - usually one of my favorites... tonight the color guard appeared "off" and was distracting from the overall visual. I would like to see this a few more times.

Phantom Regiment - we made the 20 hour round-trip to the Denver area to see Phantom's rendition of "Wild Nights". We weren't disappointed. The white uniforms have brought back the maturity and professionalism. I hated the guard uniforms when they were setting up at Greeley, but I was convinced 15 seconds into the performance. Those horns are awesome. Very surprised at the spread between BD and PR. Now I'm thinking of going to TN to see it again.

Blue Knights - definitely the hometown corps. It was good to see people coming out in droves to support the corps.

The most disturbing aspect of the two nights was Casey Smith, the announcer. Wow! The inappropriate comments just kept coming and coming (SCV Cadets: "that drumline is good!" - voice inflection indicating that the rest was not so good; Troopers: "they're a lot better this year!" - so they're not good, just better!; Phantom Regiment: "they're a corps that even marches well from the side!" - so the other corps don't march as well or look as good from the side???, etc). The announcer is not the main attraction and should enhance the show instead of distract - I really felt for the corps setting up on the field with his inane chatter resounding throughout INVESCO field!!! I think he was a little put off that he wasn't getting much of a crowd response. I would seriously ponder whether or not to attend DCI 2004 if he announces.

Spent Saturday at Flatiron Crossing and at Boulder. Good times! This will be a great site for DCI.

Jeffrey Alan


Here is my first ever attempted review...

Be it noted these are my opinions, some of you will disagree, that is alright. This is how my eyes saw it...

SCV Cadets: didn't see them, bur heard them. They sound good, their drum line sounds pretty good.

Troopers: Brand new G bugles!!! They have a kickin mellophone section! Brass sounds very well rounded, could use more top end volume, but they fill the whole dynamic range that they use. Entering the field the look hot! The show could use maybe a little more content, but I think the Troop is decided to come back to us!!! Get em Troop!!!

Seattle Cascades: I guess for all the hype I read I was expecting a little more. They sound good but sometimes it seems maybe a little forced. The drill moves, but not much when they are playing. Clean the feet and they go up a good bit more...

Spirit: I was really looking forward to this, I have not seen Spirit scince 1997. I liked the sound, killer sops... Feet were pretty good. I see what they are doing with the whole history thing, it's cool to hear some of those old tunes... But I wanted to hear Spirit... just lost me a little is all...

Magic: Much different horn line scince I last heard them (think 97 as well). They've really improved, their feet as well, look much better. Their preformance seemed a little sluggish... maybe the altitude?

BK: yes I can be a little biased... but I do my best to put that aside. They sound so different than I can ever remember. Andy has really opened up their volume compared to years past. Feet: Step-offs look good, very together, but in between the feet need some more cleaning.

SCV: wow, everyone's jammin over BD's guard, but SCV seemed to have a better night, nice unisons! Horn's seemed a bit shallow. Drums seemed to be there as usual. Really liked watching the show, just don't seem to remember the music.

Phantom: Horns are great! They nail the releases, and Invesco Field Just rang for a few. Feet need some work, it's wierd for me to see a few different beats in the feet for PR. Really loved Listening to them, I want a recording!

BD: Typical BD horns loud and screaming. Drums were there to, I like the depth of the bottom bass. Guard was good, seemed a hair behind SCV IMO...

Side thoughts...

I miss BD from 93 and earlier. 94 till now seems to run together, it seems every year the look the same drill wise, just put some new music to it that sounds about the same...

Placments as I called em:

1) PR
2) BD
3) SCV
4) BK
5) Spirit
6) Magic
7) Scades
8) Troopers

SCV Cadets

Well there's my fist shot. Let me know what I can do to improve...

Robb


Wow, can't believe with 8,500 people there are so few reviews of the Denver show. I'll try to dig from memory and share my thoughts on what was a terrific show, despite some very warm weather & very little breeze.

Vanguard Cadets -- Always great to see a corps with such young kids with a great work ethic. They truly have their parents corps "aura" in miniture. Their shows seemed to have regressed a bit since their powerhouse 2000 show, but still very solid for Division II. Drill wise, some nice moments. Color guard was not a strong point. Musically, some arrangements we've heard from big brother before (watered down, of course). Not overly entertaining from a music perpective, but true to the SCV style.

Troopers -- Wow! What a pleasant shock Casper is this year. The long blue line is showing signs of life as a legitimate Division I corps. New uniforms are a very nice update. According to others the warm-up addition of a sunburst and rifle manuever is recent, and was very well received. Loved it myself & is a great tribute to their past. Their show itself is a nice update on the casper tradition. Thoroughly modern Drum Corps, but accessible and decidely western at the same time. Very enjoyable music with some actual spontaneous applause nice moments. This corps might actually beat 3 or 4 other Div. I corps this year. Drill was much improved over last year, as is marching technique. Weakest link continues to be color guard, but that group is at least step or two up from recent editions. Go Troop! This show could possibly even make those fighting for that last spot in quarterfinals a little nervous, if they continue to clean.

Spirit of JSU -- I'm not quite sure about this corps. Musically, they are great, with a nice mixture of familiar melodies and contemporary sounds. I think their horn line should be scoring higher than they are. The have a very BIG and clean sound. Their drill is somewhat better than past years, but not a "top notch" gaines drill by any stretch. Color guard has really improved over the past 2 years. Biggest weakness to me for this corps is marching. Very messing feet and too many forms not solid as they should be by now. Upon first viewing in Louisville, I thought this corps could be a threat for 8th or 7th. I think they are solidly now down around 11th or so, plus or minus one. They havent' seemed to have improved as much as some others around them. I understand what they are trying to do by refilling the hour glass at the end of the show, but it is very anti-climatic, and really lets the audience down after a nice "1st" ending. On a most positive note, terrific ballad with the "seems like only yesterday" flags and stirring large flag images of Zingali, Royer (my hero), bridgemen & 2-7. A very memorable moment in their show.

Seattle Cascades -- Another nice, high-energy show from 'cades. While their is more demand musically this year, the drill seems less so. Yet, visually, they are nowhere near as crisp & clean as they were last year at this point. CG in particular is not as strong. I don't see this corps making Finals. Probably looking at 15th or so right now. After seeing Colts in Wichita last night, they are way ahead of them, but they are also well behind anyone ahead of them. I do like the show, though, and terrific, colorful flags throughout a well-thought out visual show. I love the energy these kids bring to the field (the whole corps) -- it's very refreshing.

Magic of Orlando -- I'm not quite sure what to think of Magic this year. I've seen them twice now - and they have certainly improved from Louisville. The color guard in particular has come a long, long ways. Very impressive. I think they also march better than their current Visual Performance Scores are giving them credit for. They certainly are marching better than Spirit right now. To me, their music book is disappointing, and not very memorable. As I said last month, their music pales in comparison to last year's show -- a standout for me that still stays in my head musically. I expected more from their all-star design team then what they are bringing to the field. They are in that 10-13 dogfight right now, in my opinion. Still, I like the show, and love that uniform. It's one of the best & classiest in DCI, behind Regiment, Cavaliers and Bluecoats in my book.

Blue Knights -- Wow! A big step up for BK this year, particularly in horn line, A strange moment Saturday night was the announcer for the show (one of 3 who were far too talkative) said that last year's BK Drums Along the Rockies show was their best ever? Umm... I hardly think last year's non-finalist show could touch the terrific 94, 99 and 00 shows from the Denver group. I still hate their current uniform, and long for the grey pants and dots uniform that I always loved them for. Musically, they have returned to their roots this year, with enjoyable, more accessible music. The horn line was a shocking surprise, with good solide power & sonority. Color Guard is improved as well, with nice silks & color coordination in the show. Drill is a disappointment. Like recent BK shows, this drill is too congested and not readable. I used to l ove BK's drills in the 90s -- wide open & fast paced. They are nto the only corps with the current problem of congested, unreadable drills with little field coverage, but it sure stands out with them considering their visual heritage in the 90s. Another corps in the thick of the 10-13 battle. Nice improvement BK! Only request -- please back off of horn line visuals that don't match the music.

Santa Clara Vanguard -- This is definitely a show I want to see again. My partner thought it stunk and was totally bored (and its not a "modern" thing, because he usually likes SCV - until 02 -- and loves the Cavies current style). To me, their are moment sof intrigue & interest, but the show goes nowhere musically in far too many places. In my opinion, SCV has taken a musical step backwards every year of the 21st century, with the decline accelerating the past 2 years. Despite an awesome drum line, they may end up in 5th quite easily this year, and will have to fight off a challenge from Boston for that before the year is out. While many have gone on & on about how difficult SCV's show is, I just don't see it. Yes, their drill is above average in difficulty, but I've seen more demand & acheivement from SCV before. Musically the show is full of driving 8th notes everywhere. THe color guard is weak again, and they should not be scoring as close to Regiment in guard as they are. Still, I look forward to seeing this show again. I might find myself getting into it more I see it. I still think the new uni debuted last year is a mistake for SCV, and it softens their image, perceived intensity and mystique. The green is just too light & soft & their is too much of it. It hurts them from a GE visual perpective in my opinion.

Phantom Regiment -- Ahh Yeah. I will not even try to hide my bias towards Rockford. I've really adopted them as my favorite ever since my corps (Black Gold) folded in 93. But, all accounts are true -- Regiment is truly regiment again. The new uniforms are spectacular and I heard more novice types around me just keep commenting on how classy & beautiful they are. Too enhance that, the old Rgiment "attitude" is starting to appear in places again. Their uniform lends itself so well to those types of head snaps & etc. It's truly like we are seeing Regiment reborn. If they've made slow but steady progress since 99, they have now moved out of 1st gear to at least 2nd. Musically, the show was moving & beautiful -- although I was not as moved as I expected to be. It would be impossible to live up to the hype they are getting from their west coast swing. I wish the melody from Canon would come through just a little more clearly in the reprise hits later in the show. I was most surprised with PR visually. They have been beating SCV in GE visual, and deservedly so. This is a solid top 5 visual product, with room to grow. I saw just as much if not more dirt in their drill & lines than I did in SCV, so I don't buy the argument that SCV has more room to grow. IF PR can clean their visual program to levels they used to prior to recent years, they have a terrific shot at at least 3rd in my opinion, especially after seeing Cadets again yesterday in Kansas. Their music book is by far the hardest in DCI & their soprano line is jaw dropping. They beat BD in Ens Music, and deservedly so. A vastly improved drum line perfectly adds to the musical package. After hearing Cavaliers yesterday, I think that PR is still a little behind, but could very well end up winning the high brass and music ensemble captions in Orlando. Welcome BACK, Regiment!!!

Blue Devils -- Tasty, tasty, tasty. This show is a treat. Maybe not quite up to last year's musical standards, but an even better visual package. I see no way that this guard does NOT win DCI. They are outstanding. We sat next to a mom of a CG member in Denver, and that was fun. Her daughter was one of the "hair" dancers last year. She has bright blonde mid-length hair and it was easy to follow her inthis year's show. A terrific performer! That's what seperates BD's guard from everyone else at this show -- their energy & showmanship. Great uniforms, great silks, great dancing & great equipment work. The true total package, with significantly more difficulty than what we see from Cavaliers or Cadets guards this summer. As good as PR's guard is now (I could see their guard in 3rd at DCI), they aren't close to BD. I can't wait to see the showdown tonight in Enid between Cavaliers & BD. Right now, I'd give the edge to BD. To me, even their drill has more demand than does the Cavies drill. They are not, however, quite as clean yet.

Well, that's it from Denver. Sorry this was so late.

Harvey Phelps


Reading, PA (DCA)

On a perfect summer night under a full moon, the Hawthorne Caballeros "kicked it up a notch" in front of a packed house at Albright College in Reading, PA to win the Big Sounds in Motion Show. I have seen all 3 DCA eastern shows so far and in my opinion all the scores were right on. Bucs,Cabs and Bush were definitely 4-6 points better than they were in Hershey. I'll go with reverse order of finish.

NY Skyliners (5th) 64.575 .. Sky went on first, and although I though they did show some improvement since Bridgeport, the smaller than usual hornline does expose them somewhat. There were some timing problems in some sections but I do have to comment on the excellent mello solo and the guard looked much improved. I really like the music Sky plays. I have dreamed is really nice and I would prefer more of Big Time. They kind of cut it short and went into NYNY. In any event, they are better at this point in the season than they were last year.

CT Hurricanes (4th) 72.516...The Hurcs also have a smaller than usual hornline but that does not seem to bother them. They really project. This show is also a fun show to watch. My eyes were fixated on the guard. Hercs are doing Vegas this year and I know some people have mentioned the hodgepodge of music that they are playing, my answer to that is...so what. They seem to have a lot of fun playing this show with its vast variety of tunes...like Heartbreak Hotel, Mag 7, Viva Las Vegas and an I Dream of Jeannie mello solo. There were some choppy spots in the show and the drumline is very young but they are comming along.

Bushwackers (3rd) 75.25 ..Bush was vastly improved in just 6 days. I thought Bush ran out of gas last week in Hershey but under the lights last night they had much better stamina. Their show moves ALOT and the incredible demand from a playing standpoint did show early season kinks but they are moving in the right direction. Terrific balance in the hornline and for those that didn't see Bush yet..you will love the new uniforms.

Reading Buccaneers (2nd) 78.688 ...The Bucs were ON tonight. They had 25 less horns than the Cabs, but their show is so well staged, and they move and play so well, the impacts are right there. They have their usual top notch guard and drumline, but I think the thing that really sells this show is the drill. Terrific staging during the mello feature of Blow the Man Down, as the baris seem to be in a drunken stuper. The Bari soloist added a nice trill at the end of his solo. If the Bucs get more sopranos, watch out. Yes they were 6 points better than Hershey. They did the same thing last year. They will keep getting better.

Hawthorne Caballeros (1st) 80.825.. The Cabs came out tonight as if they were one of the burners underneath one of Emeril Lagasse's big frying pans. Displaying power, as well as emotion, and throw in the beautiful "Prayer", you have the all the ingredients of a championship show. After the first 2 shows, I thought the Cabs might have bitten off more than they could chew. I changed my mind after last night. The hornline was much crisper and they hit you in the face while doing very demanding drill. The last part of the show still needs more work but it was vastly improved since the beginning of the season. Curt Hawkins can fill a stadium just by himself. He was "on" as usual. It was a high voltage perfomance.

Hawthorne Caballeros Encore....Hey why not. I stayed for the whole thing I might as well review the encore. They performed their show in a semi-circle while the guard did their work in the background. One great thing about encores is you get to hear all the parts. No one is running around at 204 beats per minute. The encore was every bit as kicked up a notch as the field show. This was no go through the motions performance. I was paying particular attention to the last 2 minutes of their show becasue if it sounds like that on field while moving, watch out rest of DCA. The release in the Prayer echoed around the whole valley it seemed.

This was my second time at Albright and I have to say it really is a unique venue for drum corps. It has all kinds of quirks. Metal seats bolted to a concrete foundation, an old concrete foundation. Narrow exits, a press box that extends over the upper rows of the stands sort of like the Tiger Stadium overhang. Light poles that are in FRONT of the stands not behind it. A very narrow track that kicks up black soot. I like all those oddities. The Bucs do a great job hosting this show and they do it all at a reasonable price.

R4umble


The scene...Albright College, Reading PA

ah Reading....the place Dougie told us he knew like the back of his hand in 93. What a shocker to get there around 4:30 and see not one single corps rehearsing on any of the field by the stadium. walk over to the ticket booth, get good seats for 2 hours before the show, harrass Sean Holton, and back to the parking lot.

btw Sean hope the water heater is ok.

good crowd on hand, fuller than i remember Reading for a while. vantage point is 50 yard line, 6th row, so i have basically a great view of the damn lightpole on the 50. feels like West SHore Stadium....Albright you're not a poor school, move the pole. it pollutes the viewer.

First up is LVK, my first view of the year. big step up since last year, in terms of book and performance. the 18 person hornline does have a few stamina issues, but for the most part they pull the show off well. nice arrnagments of the Firebird btw. the battery was especially strong, tho were some mistakes that shouldnt be made at this time of the year...it happens. drill was pretty smooth, as expected when Prato writes, and for a D3 corps, at times they seemed large enough to be D2.

this corps is so fun to watch...slowly sliding up the ranks...it'samazing how far they have come. the corps new percussion equipment looked great....thank you Mr Cook for showing us the class act that you are.

Jersey Surf... I am not going to Orlando this year, and my sadness is that i will not see this show when it is done, til the videos arrive anyways. What a huge improvement in 2 weeks, both musically and visually. The "jersey shore" parts of the show have been fleshed out by now.....waiting to go up on the podium, the Dm does the traditional lifeguard twirling of the whistle. and he had time to kill as getting all the percussion toys seemed to take a while tonight. cool surfboards and beach towels.

Opening blast of Schools Out blew the house down......they sounded like a d1 powerhouse, i mean loud and good...and the crowd let em know it too. Open Wide up next,and the corps moved and performed so much better than 2 weeks ago....tho the hornline seemed out of gas from the opener. next up was Wipeout on the Waterfront, w/Hawaii 5-0 thrown in...genius. pure genius. Some performance issues still, but the way this tune is written is amazing. high 5 to the keyboards for the wipeout lick played pretty darn well.

Next up a cool ethnic solo drum wise....very fun...i missed the guard and hornline drill. the piece reminds of what Blast plays at the end of the show, and the kids did it well. and finally Surf brought us home, and wow....i wish i would see this show again.

East Coast Jazz. Very controlled reniditions of Gershwins Concerto in F and Porgy and bess. maybe too controlled. hornline had a great sound, but felt they held it in too much on tunes that require a little more oomph. corps marched very well, and the guard was fabulous....i personally didnt like the blue guard unis against the red/white/green ECJ unis, but the colors of the flags used seemed to dim that. Pit had some issues within itself and front to back, but the battery was pretty strong and performed. visually i can see why they beat Surf.

Then...the 30 minute break. 8 corps show, 30 minute break. odd which extended longer as someone in the stands took ill, and Mickey held the show up til paramedics could remove them. that was ok. Sky's drumline warmed up on the field.....kept me entertained anyways.

Skyliners... bigger than last year good. in those Skyliner unis, good. younger than i ever remember seeing them...could be good. Sky is not dead, and not as bad as some say. yeah, they have some issues, especially learning the closer that day. but this could be a fun show by the end of the year. soprano soloist seemed to have an of night. the music of Linda Eder is very Sky, but the corps isnt in control of it just yet, tho i saw some flashes of what could be. pit is very good, and expressive, reminding me of the Teleky years.

Colour guard was young, but big, and had a few cool moments too. the silent transition into NYNY means it isnt all done yet, and the newness of NYNY being on the field showed....but give it time. My gut feeling...by years end, this will be most improved. young corps, very energetic staff, and a fun show. keep plugging SKy...yer haead of where you were this time last year.

Bush....big jump in one week. 12 seconds to the moon caught my attention from the get go, especially some of the brass articulation stuff. color guard was especially show stealing in the end of the opener, as the crowd oohed and awed as they passed thru the corps. percussion writing seemed so much clearer tonight and the drumline performed very well. brass still seemed a bit tired at the end of the show, but the improvment is so noticeable, and the show reads a lot better under lights. horn holes seemed filled, except for Bob Stike's hole, but hey he was getting married we can let that slide.(congrats Bob and Tracy). This corps now has my eye as the one that could screw everything up...and thats a good thing.

Hurcs.....first viewing. snares and tenors not wearing hats, and it shows how young they are. wow. I thought Jamie was Dm.....she wasnt there. ok. Godzilla Eats Vegas. interesting...cool welcome to LV sign up on the riser set up one stage 2, which i didnt notice used very much. hornline much more comfortable marching this show as opposed to last years, and Rich is wailing on his sop...a best soloist candidate for sure. I dream of Jeannie made me laugh, and it morphed into the Mag 7...Vegas and Mag 7 i dunno, but it worked, even if the crowd was confused.

Bassline was very good, playing a ton of notes...snares performed well, if the book may have been easy. tenors were honestly not noticeable....i dunno if they are still eing worked in or weak. Brass line wailed during the obligatory Elvis tune and the guard had a field day with it. which reminds me, i liked the guard...the right mix of work and dance stuff, and had a cool ripple saber toss..had to be a 5 by everyone, and it went aound the whole corps. This show too will be fun to see later in the year.

Cabs. what a difference one week makes. opening statement much controlled up to the hit...soprano soloist has that Latin flair. big hit was much better and the corps moved a lot better tonight as the drill becomes familiar. drumline playing the way i know they can and the guard looked a lot better. the new version of the rumps still makes me giggle...that bassline added underneath it just kicks butt.

Ballad came out very pretty tonight, and i love the flags the guard uses.....subdued, yet eye catching.....and the corps seemed a whole lot more confidant moving. seemed there was bit of confusion as the bass drums come down front, and basically are putting their stuff down where guard equipment and members are but that will be worked out.

Drum solo....that bass line feature is hysterical. the crowd dug the water, and you can see these guys have so much fun playing it. what doesnt get caught right away is the snares and tenors running up behind them, merging into one, and when they come in wow. has to be every hand motion conceivable in there, and tonight they nailed it. in fact, the entire drum solo was light years better than last week, except for one roll, and one single. what makes it that more impressive is the movement these guys and gals are doing while playing it...whoever wrote that is either a loon or a genius, and if i were tech trying to clean it, i'd hang out on the sideline.

Into the closer from there, and while tempos pulled a little bit, they held unlike last week. hornline came back in strong and ran with it, and didnt really lose any stamina until right before the very last push. drums were wailing away, and now things seem to be locking in. pit seemed a lot more comfortable, especially on the impact moments, and IMO, this time they should have won drums hands down. but they tied. this is why i dont judge.

ps Jared...love the plates. keep up the great work.

The hometown Bucs up next. I missed the old announcer..."lets give a cheer cause the Blue is here".....he added so much life to the show. Bucs opening statement very well done...the ocean effects and ships bell from the pit came thru nicely.hornline seemed stronger tonight, tho very dark....seemed maybe a lack of upper brass is needed to help roundout the sound. guard performed very well, and the play acting in Sailors dance was nice. a cymbal line to die for...thanks Steve.

Horns did have an issue leading into Sailors dance as they condense into the circle form. but for the most part they held together well. snaeres had an issue leading into the feature when they turn around, but it came back together.ballad was handled well, and the finale, while still lacking a little steam, was much more confidently performed than last week at Hershey. I can definitely see the jump in their score.

Great time at the show... Mow Knox loved thepic of Haley Gill w/Cabs guard. Liz, Rob, Mikey, Sean, Glen, Siglow, Richie, Alma.....loved seeing you all Jimmie Cossetti forgive me, I was sober. Bucky always a treat.

Siglow did not step on Glens kids this year, and hey Glen...lemme know if you didnt find Kevins stuffed animal. Uncle Jeff will help him get a new one. Haley Gill is my favorite child on the planet.

Cabs loved the victory run, especially Matt Ware's creative way to play the end of the show on his bass w/a broken head.

Thats it for me til DCI East.

Jeff Ream


Belleville, Ontario, CA (DCA)

I know how I feel, Any review is better than NO review, so here's my Belleville review. We spent the day in Cape Vincent NY doing a parade and concert in a steady drizzle and gusting winds. But the good folks of Cape were very appreciative and we love the giant beers for $2.00. Unfortunately, due to some over zealous border folks and too many bubbly after the concert, we were late getting to the show, and missed St. Joe's. (I really wanted to see them) and because of the full house, as usual. I got to "stand" at the 35yrd line. So no chance to check out the drill tonight and my numbers maybe slightly off. Cool, windy night with clouds threatening all evening, but good crowd on hand.

Brigs: Full corps. First half of their show was seen from the endzone (burger truck location) but once I got my spot, I felt I was watching last years show. I prefer this years music, especially the Chase tune, but definitely no sudden urge to "stand" and cheer. I found last years show bland & this year seems only slightly better. I hope they add some oomph! Definitely best pit & battery tonight. The guard seem polished, but the uni' s hurt my eyes and I wish someone would tell the hornline, not to play to the upper deck, when there is no upper deck, then perhaps the crowd would've felt more like giving a couple spontaneous standing O's. I look forward to the Cab show down.

Grenadiers: 30H/9s/4q/5b/5c/6p/20g     Huge drumline! Too big for the hornline, severe overpowering. I really wanted to get excited for the Grenediers, but the show just didn't do it. This is only their second show, so lots of hesitation and forgotten parts. 7 point jump from first show with Lot's of room for improvement & growth. Horn line was very hesitant. The arrangements seem good, but another 10 horns would sure help. The drumline had the busiest book of the night. Definitely "in your face" with Extreme exposure. The guard is the biggest in years, but almost invisible. Opposite of the Brigs, they need more color and better staging. With lots of work they'll be there. Go Grenediers!

Crusaders: 46?h/7s/3q/5b/?c/6p/15?g     I haven't been a big Cru fan over the past couple years. Something about the music? But, THIS I LIKE! WOW! and I'm not a classical lover. Love the new uniforms, perfect for the show. First corps tonight that would've got me out of my seat several times, if I was sitting. Great hornline. The drumline has a very "safe" book, they could beef it up a lot. The guard was small but well staged and noticeable. Most enjoyable show of the night for me.

Scout House:40h/ 20?d     (found a seat in the stands) Slightly smaller than at last years DCA show, but I think they put on a better performance. Horns had more power & with a couple new numbers , the crowd loved them. They put on a full field drill with confidence and received several standing O's.

Toronto Sig's:22h/ 12d     I really felt for these guys, because of the day they had. They were in Cape Vincent with us, earlier in the day.(rain & wind) They must've found the same over zealous border folks as we did. (1 Ĺ hr to get across) Then their bus broke down. They were announced as a no show earlier in the show, but made it at the last minute. They put on a spirited performance and got the crowd off the bleachers several times. Truly deserving of a "Toughing it Out" trophy.

That's all for now,
Larry Callaghan

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