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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 Six of Reviews

Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when they are available or submitted.  The following reviews are solely the opinion of the reviewers.  If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author, all reviews are signed with an email address.  If you want to add your review to this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to:
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Friday July 25

Murfreesboro, TN (DCI)

Montoya's Murfreesboro Madness!!!

Greetings to all out there in Drum Corps land. I have had some time to digest what I saw and heard last night and want to share my thoughts and feelings. But first, let me start with a little back-story. Feel free to scroll to when the reviews start J

Will this review be biased? Somewhat. I feel that there are very few people in this world that can give a totally unbiased review. Having said that, let me tell you who I am, and then I will let you decide my bias.

Who am I: I am from Austin, Tx. I have a degree from SWT in Music Composition and have one year of my Master's in Composition from U.T. completed. I have taught at James Bowie HS for 4 years. I am a percussionist. I have not marched drum corps. If I had, I would have tried out for the Madison Scouts. If I had made it, it would have been 1998-2000. My brother is my first connection to DCI. He marched Euphonium in 2001 and 2002 with The Cavaliers. My other connection is that I am the Pit Arranger for Revolution D&BC from San Antonio, TX.

Why did I go to Murfreesboro: I am teaching at The Sewanee Summer Music Festival in TN. I have been here since June 28 and won't be back in TX. Until August 4. My DCI fix has been somewhat fulfilled through DCP, Sound Machine, KaZaA, and MIRC, among others.

Likes/Dislikes: I am a huge DCI fan. I try to keep an open mind, though sometimes (Cadets 2001), it is hard. I like variety in my Drum Corps, so having different types of shows suits me just fine. As I am exposed to marching band and BOA's in the fall however, I hate to see that stuff on the DCI Circuit (BAC 2002).

Onto the show...

I arrived at MTSU and watched the last part of the run-through of Madison Scouts. Met up with my pal who is on Percussion Staff. Talked about stuff, and even touched on the Madison Percussion Judge "Conspiracy." Then went and saw the SCV "clinic." I say it that way because I think if I were a 14 year old boy, I would enjoy it. The only thing that I enjoyed was hearing the individual sections and then seeing the Bass Line in those Awesome Foam Hats!! Found my seat and waited patiently. I was in section 1SS, row 23, seat 23. I was on the 30-yard line. I will spare you the play-by-play unless it was new and WOW!

BLUECOATS: My brother's girlfriend is in this corps. Her name is Amanda. He calls her Manda Bear; like Panda So if you heard it, I was the guy who yelled out "Go Manda Bear!" I really liked this show. I consider this a concept show. I think with the drill and music, they conveyed the Capture and Escape concept quite well. I think they really sold the dancing and body movements. However, I do also feel the Tango is a bit out of place. I think they just wanted a down time moment? The drumline was a little dirty tonight. I thought this was a great start for the night. I can't think of too many Bluecoats shows I have liked. So this would be the first one for me.

BOSTON CRUSADERS: Anyone who knows me, knows that I love "Red," their 2000 show. Some may say it's overrated but I still love it. Any who, it was a good show. I thought the dancing was overdone; by dancing I mean the clapping and stuff during the pit feature of Malaguena. This was an example of the BOA stuff. The 15 snares were really cool, actually quite clean, for 15 snares. I can see why they brought back parts of 2000, as it worked for them. This show could take them pretty high in the rankings if it's clean. But I think its gonna be neck and neck with Bluecoats.

MADISON SCOUTS: As much as I think it's become cliché now, the Scouts are back. I really enjoyed their show. It is light years ahead of what they have done since about 1999. I really feel the last time I was entertained by Madison was in 1999, JCS. This is a great show and a great step in the right direction. The drumline is weak. But from what I learned, they have a VERY young line. So this speaks well for the future. The guard is improved dramatically. I felt they did the fleur de leis (sp?) a bit too many times for my tastes. Oh well. This is a definite finals show.

SANTA CLARA VANGUARD: I was pretty hyped to see these guys. They did not disappoint. I actually thought the highlight of the whole show was the Cymbal line. Great stuff. They executed their concept quite well. The drumline is smoking! They do have a "Cavies" type drum break, but there is a huge difference: SCV is throwing down more notes. The beginning was a bit shaky with some slight phasing. I wasn't a fan of the ballad, but everything else had me excited. I feel that they bit off more than they can chew with this show however. It will be tough to break into the top 3. I don't think they will be in danger of falling to 5th though.

THE CADETS: For the record, I have no really beef with The Cadets. True I am not a big fan. I really only like a couple of their shows (1992, 1993, 1999, 2000). Last year I was really mad at the whole exploitation thing. My dad, a Vietnam Vet, walked out of the Alamodome last year and said, "I am a Vet, and to me, that's exploitation." Strong words. Having said that, this show was friendlier to me than last years. They play well and march well. But its three different numbers that have no bearing on each other. I thought they played Malaguena very well. In fact, they sounded great. But they had the same problem that they had last year with BWBB; they blew their load too early. They didn't have the steam for RPH. The drumline was good, but not as years past. The guard to me was non-existent. Yes they were there, but I never noticed them one-way or the other. The z-pull was nothing to write home about, as I feel it's not innovative anymore. I guess I am spoiled by all the new stuff. It was cool to see them stretched through the field though. Even though you could see it coming a mile away, I felt it was out of place. I think that Cadets will wind up either in 3rd place or 5th place.

BLUE DEVILS: I loved this show! It had me grinning the whole time. It was great to see them start off with a great throw down of notes on snare. I think the drill is harder and more complex than anything they have done before. The guard was really good. They were featured well and pulled it off wonderfully. The gimmicks work for them such as the Cavalier Doppler effect, the hack-a-rack, and so on. Think the scatting is kind of lame though. But when they snares scat a solo, and they play, that was cool. This is a great package that will have them competing for the Championship to the very end. Having said that let me say this. I really don't understand those who say BD should be winning brass. To me they are too crass. They let it rip, don't get me wrong, but I feel like there is no restraint. I felt Cavies, PR, and Cadets had better sounding brass lines then BD. Oh well, some people just prefer that sound. The drums threw down some cool stuff tonight. I thought the merry-go-rack was overdone. But hey, it worked. And could everyone wait to start clapping till after the snare drummer does his last solo? Jeez! J

PHANTOM REGIMENT: Congrats PR, 2003 is now my favorite PR musical book. I love the music. I have loved it since I heard a recording from camp. Everything about the book is wonderful. The addition of Paul Rennick was probably the smartest thing you could of done. The guard looks hot in those uniforms (why is that important? Its not. I just remember thinking when I was young that BD and PR had the hottest guard girls). The downside is the visual doesn't live up to the music. It's a huge step up, but not enough. This corps will be a serious contender next year and beyond. Honestly, I hope no one ever does the lean again in marching band or DCI, as PR has exhausted it. I grew quite tired of it after the first 2 minutes. I felt that it took away from the visual as it stopped movement and didn't do anything new for me. I loved the hop and stuff. For some reason though, I always thought they did a true "drumline" crab and then a hop in 1992, 1993. Am I wrong? Maybe they will do the crab at finals if I am correct. The horn line is amazing; much better than the past. They will challenge Cavies for the Brass trophy...if they can hold back a little. They seemed to cross that line into harsh every so often. I see them in 3rd or 5th.

THE CAVALIERS: Ok. So I am sure my brother will not like me for a while but here it goes. I love them. They are my favorite corps. The Cavies IMHO are THE innovators of the 2000's. Their drill is 2nd to none. Poor Michael Gaines. I would hate to be him knowing that I would have to top all the great stuff I did the previous year. I felt that the 1st and 2nd tunes were a little boring. Aside from the opening drill moves, I didn't like the opener. I love the music of the ballad. But again, I didn't like the drill. The 3rd, 4th, and "5th mvt. However, are awesome. The sit and spin is great. The drum break is great. The "Groove" is just the kind of groove in the horns that it needed to be. The closer is great. I really dug the DNA drill combined with the guard doing their interpretation of the sit and spin. And the new amazing. I knew it was coming, and it lived up to the expectations. I talked to my pal on staff and let me just say that the ending still isn't done yet. They are still working it out. I loved how it reversed everything down to a T...hahahah.... I made a funny! This is a new kind of ending for the Cavaliers, though I have seen this before from a band down here in TX with the palindrome drill, but not with the music. The music is good as well, though I prefer last year's music to this. Everything fits so well together from the music to the visuals, to the guard, etc. The Cavaliers are on their way to their 4th straight title. BD doesn't have the total package to beat them. They will make it close, but in the end, it will be all green again.

Well folks, there you go. My review. I meant no disrespect to anyone. And if I messed up... it's my first day!

Daniel Montoya, Jr.

DeKalb, IL (DCI II/III Prelims)

I repeat... I do not do reviews...

It was a lovely, sunny afternoon; hot, but with a cooling breeze (for guards trying to do flag and equipment work, read "very windy"). The drive out was quite pleasant. I was amazed at the huge mob that greeted my arrival... NOT!!! There used to be complaints that there were only a couple dozen of us sitting in the stands at Huskie Stadium for the start of DCM prelims at 9am. For a couple of years there, Roman Blenski would award us DCM Championship patches just for being there. Over the years, that got better and better, until there would be a couple hundred fans in the stands early on. That few dozen of us from the mid-80's would have been more than equal to the crowd for the entire DCI prelims show!!! If there were 30 paid admissions, I am surprised. I had planned on making notes on my program. When I asked DCI's Gil Baker if there were any, I received a brusk, "No, no programs." There was also no Canadian flag displayed, although there were 5 Canadian corps on the schedule. Also no national anthems. When it was time to start, the competition began.

PRELIMS (in order of appearance):

DUTCH BOY/Kitchener, ONT (10 brass/15 percussion/15 guard/ 1 DM= 41 members)
61.20 5th Place
A former Top 12 corps that keeps going despite the lack of numbers. Good looking corps with a great, wide-open drill. The small horn line more than held its own, and although there were times where their blend sounded like 10 soloists, generally were quite nice. Part of the reason that the horns carried over the larger percussion section was that the battery was pretty muddy and the pit lacked projection; not to say they were bad, just not quite there, if you know what I mean. Their very good guard was hurt by the gusting winds but carried on valiantly. Enjoyable, but not particularly memorable show.

Note: With the single exception of Bandettes, the Canadian corps are pretty much just getting started with their seasons. Most were doing their only their second shows, and it showed. Bandettes, as members of the suspended-if-not-defunct DCM, have been out for some time now, marching DCI-Midwest shows.

ALLEGIANCE ELITE/Calgary, ALB (21/21/11/2=55)
70.80 2nd Place
This is their smallest corps ever--- 1st time in Division III. This may also be their best corps ever. A wonderful corps & a wonderful show! Although the horns have only 5 sops & 3 mellos to go with 9 baris & 4 contras, they put out a lovely sound. The big drill is almost non-stop, except for a few "special" park and blow moments--- of special note, at the end of the ballad, the corps is in a block, with the brass kneeling at different levels; for me, it was one of these "drum corps moments" that puts a lump in your throat and brings tears to your eyes. Had corps parents/cook staff sitting right behind me--- they were impressed that I not only was familiar with the Calgary Cavaliers/Elite but remembered Allegiance's mustard yellow pants in their inaugural season of '87. (How could I forget, although others have managed to?) In only their second show of the season, they have a lot of cleaning to do. Why, you may ask, do they wait so long to start? Because their kids are in school until the end of June, they are forced to start later. Last year, a staff member posted here on the Machine, wondering why they have such a hard time getting any respect; I think it is the lack of exposure caused by that late start and suggested to the parents that the corps might want to make an early, one-weekend jaunt into the Midwest (like for the 4th of July shows & parades) to get them and the judges together early and give them an idea of what needs to be done to improve the show well before late July, as is now the case. If they can clean this show well enough, I think they have a shot not only at Div.III semis (I think they will make that already), but at II/III Finals. BRAVO!

DIMENSIONS/Grand Rapids, MI (10/14/4/2=30)
70.35 3rd Place
Lest anyone doubt that this is a percussion show... At the start, the snares and bass drums emerge from behind two blue panels on the left and center. These panels are later put together, center, and prove to be the blueprints for the percussion rack that is built during the show. The small horn line is really pulling it together and is trying to make lie of this being merely a percussion show, to the point that the drums had less impact than when I saw them two weeks ago. Impressive showing for a corps marching the minimum numbers.. sure hope nobody gets hurt or sick, forcing them to be DQed. One minor complaint is that the big, final impact (13? bass drums) is too short and sudden for many fans to realize, "That's all, folks!"

COLT CADETS/Dubuque, IA (21/16/16/1=54)
56.90 7th Place
Always cute. They seemed kind of tired to me (their home show was Thursday night) and to the corps dad (from Ottawa, Jazz) sitting beside me, but their score jumped up. Their three contras have learned to play those things (I posted earlier that they were there, but it didn't matter), and that could be dangerous, as they sometimes seem to be trying to blow the house down. (Try keeping a kid with a big horn from doing anything else!)

JOLIET KINGSMEN/Joliet, IL (11/12/8/2=33)
54.20 8th Place
They have added so much to this show, but their scores seem to be stagnant. The corps gets better and better, but the scores don't. I don't understand it, and I think the horns don't either, because they seemingly displayed an attitude of, "Why are we doing this?" on some of the new visual stuff that could not have been helped when the wind gusted and blew their tossed flags every whichway. Brasses are sounding really good, and solos are always on the money. Drums have improved noticibly. I just don't understand. As an aside... I was training a new employee and explaining why I was leaving early, with my relief continuing the training. You know how, usually, you get this blank, "Drum corps???" reaction? Instead, she says, "I marched Kingsmen, way back in the beginning. My Aunt Ida runs the corps." Cool, huh?

No show---Last Place
The corps got stuck in traffic and did not make it to Huskie Stadium until the end of prelims. They were, however, allowed to march in judged exhibition before finals began. If I were cynical, I could say something like, "Well, at least DCI got one thing right."

EDMONTON STRUTTERS/Edmonton. ALB (10/9/11/1=31)
58.95 6th Place
An oddity... a small Division III corps with more brass than percussion. "Welcome to the Great White North!" exclaims the corps. A nice, jazzy, bluesy show. As always, they try to entertain and generally succeed, although there is nothing truly remarkable about the corps.

BANDETTES/Sault Ste. Marie, ONT (10/11/10/1=32)
69.50 4th Place
Small, sultry, feisty, and darned good! Am I wrong, or is their horn book one of the toughest in drum corps??? Mostly, they play the heck out of it! The first time I saw the 'Dettes this year, they were really hurt by thier guard. This is still the weakest section, but much, much better. Horn solos & ensembles are remarkable. Drill is mostly close and tight, but it works for this small corps, because it is well thought out and well designed. (Had a couple of major drill problems when the drum judge kept getting in the way and the girls were too polite to nail the jerk--- not the only drill he screwed up on the afternoon, but the most noticable. ) I always love the 'Dettes, but this year, they are special. BRAVO! (Question... if the two all-male corps can field near the maximum number of members, why does the one all-female corps struggle to meet the minimum?)

Note on the field percussion judge--- There should have been blood on the field for this guy! If he had been judging Division I, they would have dragged his body off the field after the show. Several times, he was in the way of moving forms and made no effort to get out of the way. What a jerk!

MEMPHIS SOUND/Memphis, TN (34/21/11/2=68)
79.25 1st Place
I really wish I liked their music more. They do some really nice visual things and some really nice musical things, but the music is not there for me. In fact, at one point, the discordant music that follows a particularly striking visual just kills the moment. Have to hand it to them, though... they are really making a name for a corps that came out of nowhere. General reaction is, "This is their first year?" I will grant them this, too... their middle brasses are killers! Wow! They let rip with a couple of jaw-dropping runs right over the top of everthing else that kind of reminded me of Phantom's "Razorphones" of yore. I wish them all the best for continued success, but hope they will play more to the crowd in the future.

So that was prelims. Lest I go into a rant, I will let it go at that.

Michael Welge

DeKalb, IL (DCI II/III Finals)

I repeat once more... I do not do reviews...

I shall also attempt to refrain from rants...
Even though...
No, I said that I shall also attempt to refrain from rants...

There were maybe 50 fans in the stands when the Colt Cadets and their staff showed up to swell the crowd. Great bunch of kids... the total opposite of another former Midwest cadet corps' behavior when going into the stands. The crowd did get bigger, but not by much.

FINALS (in order of appearance):

BLUE SAINTS/Sudbury, ONT (9 brass/14 1/2 percussion/3 1/2 guard/ 2 honor guard/1 DM=30)
In Judged Exhibition--No Placement
The corps got caught up in traffic and missed their march time for prelims, but were allowed to march in judged exhibition before the finals competition. 14 1/2 percussion & 3 1/2 guard, you ask? Yes, one girl plays in the pit and marches in the guard. Two brass players are also playing from the pit--- at least one of them is physically unable to march the drill. They only make the 30 member minimum by fielding a two member honor guard--- a rather small child with a huge Canadian flag under guard... and this was very appropriate, in that despite there being 5 Canadian corps in the competition, there was no Maple Leaf flying at Huskie Stadium. The corps rocks in the early part of the show (Colt Cadets joined in their singing!) and showed the work they put in on it betweeen prelims and finals on the east side of the stadium. Featured contra soloist tried to blow down the stands. They start running out of gas late, and they do not have their finale in yet. Quite enjoyable, and will be even moreso as they finish it and work on it.

Note--- See Note in prelims overview on Canadian corps' late start.

Note--- 4 corps advanced from finals and met 6 corps that made II/III Finals in '02. The order of appearance was determined by some mysterious, unexplained means.

AMERICANOS/Menasha, WI (17/19/11/2=49)
71.20 8th Place
Since the start of the season, they have added 4 horns, but also 4 percussion, so they still have more drummers than buglers. The horns are much stronger and surer, but the 2 contras are still the strong point of the horn line. Drums are hot. The guard has learned how to catch their saber tosses very well... no more blood on the field. My biggest criticism is that the Zorro play is plagued by bad acting. Nice show, but Bandettes (2/3 their size) are right on their tail, scorewise.

BANDETTES/Sault Ste. Marie, ONT (10/11/10/1=32)
70.90 9th Place
WOW! Even better than their prelims show. Sparkled and shone, right up to the last moment. Wanted to cry for the sop who adds the screech on the finale but could only manage to push out a "Peep!" when she just ran out of gas after 2 shows. She blushed and shrugged it off... cool. Passed Allegiance Elite by adding a well-deserved 1.40 points from prelims to finals. (I would love to hear the 'Dette's book played by a Cavies or Phantom horn line... it is absolutely wicked!!!) BRAVO! Got a standing O from the small crowd.

MARION GLORY CADETS/Marion, OH (16/19/4/1=40)
79.90 4th Place
I still hear major blend problems from horn line with 3 contra and only 3 sops, and they also have some intonation problems from trying to match the drum line's levels, but they have improved immensely, and this show is really coming together. Their "Oppressions in Red" music of Prokofiev and Poledouris has been refered to as "Oppressive in Red," and it is definitely a hard sell, but they have reached the point where they are at least renting it out. The small guard is augmented by the drum line during the brass feature and by the horn line while the drummers are showing off. I have to say that the horns do some wonderfully synchronized flag work. Even with a tiny guard, visuals are really helping to make this show go places.

DIMENSIONS/Grand Rapids, MI (10/14/4/2=40)
72.25 7th Place
The brass is working hard to match the drums in what is very much a percussion show, and they may even be surpassing them. Much better showing than in the afternoon, and their score showed it, rising by 1.90. Standing O.

CAPITAL SOUND/Madison, WI (39/28/21/2=90)
81.30 2nd Place
This corps came out good, and they have gotten better. They are a big Division II corps with a big look and a big sound. Their brass still has some very noticeable phasing problems and some less noticeable intonation and blend problems. They are good, but if they were half as good as the corps' parents, staff, and friends think and act like they are, Cavies would be in biiig trouble, which is not even the case. However, some of the Division II corps that are not even mentioning them in the same breath as Esperanza, Spartans, and Raiders really might be in trouble when they meet up with Cap Sound. Standing O.

ALLEGIANCE ELITE/Calgary, ALB (21/21/11/2=55)
70.85 10th Place
Only their 2nd show of the season, and they got to march twice. First season the corps has been in Division III, and with enough cleaning, they could make finals. A really marvelous show, and a really strong corps. They are used to being in Division II, and they march and sound bigger than most Division III corps. I could see this corps with this show passing up every Division III corps I have seen except Blue Stars. BRAVO! Standing O.

REVOLUTION/San Antonio, TX (31/22/18/2=73 +1 horn in end zone)
80.55 3rd Place
I had never seen Revolution before, and was really looking forward to seeing the non-defending Division III champs. Boy, do they play good. Boy, do they march good. Boy, do they do some innovative stuff... like the guards' strip-away penguin suits that reveal outfits not quite as garish as Cavies' cycling gear. Boy, did I not care for them very much. Nuff said. Not sure if they got a standing O or not.

MEMPHIS SOUND/Memphis, TN (34/21/11/2=68)
79.25 5th Place
Some very nice moments, but I still don't like their music very much. They do have some bodacious midvoice horns, though, that made me gasp as they ripped off the finale. WOW! Not certain whether audience gave them a standing O, either.

BLUE STARS/LaCrosse, WI (19/22/10/2=53)
81.80 1st Place
I like this show more every time I see it. First, they impress the heck out of you, then they have some fun and games, then they lay some beauty on you, before rocking the house. I want to say that they look to have a lock on their 4th Division III crown, but I will leave that up to them and the judges. BRAVO! Big standing O for a small crowd.
Sidenote--- The BIG contra player, the one in the trio that the rest of the horns reply to with, "Nya, nya, nya, nya..." is none other than the Sound Machine's own "Blue Star Contra," aka Dave "Big Dog" Seip, who I met and talked to briefly after the corps' parking lot victory concert.

YAMATO/Riverside, CA (22/18/14/2=56)
77.20 6th Place
Even though I remember hearing they were doing it, I was not prepared to hear "Carmen" from Yamato. They let it be known beforehand that they were shooting for an 80.00 to open their season. When they finished, I said, "Didn't get it." Lots and lots of first show dirt. Horns need work, drums need work, guard needs work, visual needs work. Show starts with 15-20(?) seconds of silent drill, as they move from a "Y" into their opening set. It closes with another 5-10 seconds of silent drill as they go back into the "Y." There is more silent drill during the show. I find that disturbing... a play for visual points with no music involved at all. Otherwise, an impressive first show. Standing O.

So that was finals.

There was a full retreat, and it featured the sweetest sounding rendition of "America/O Canada" that I have ever heard. Oh, my! Absolutely luscious!!!

Michael Welge

Hard to pass up an overview such as Froggy's, so I won't even try. Here are my sidenotes on the Dekalb finals night show:

First off, did they even make anyone aware that there was a show that night? Oh well, I knew where the good drumcorps was and got awesome seats because of everyone else's ignorance. AWESOME!

Second, attending was myself, my wife who marched in an open class finalist corps, and our 14 month old daughter. Both had their own insights as well.

Third, what a gorgeous night for drumcorps! It was midwest coool, but not cold. Good enough to get a nice warm blanket out. Awesome.

OK, show reviews:

Americanos- missed due to child emergency.

Bandettes- One of the most impressive hornlines you will hear this summer, regardless of division. These girls can flat out play. The most noticable is the soloist due to the obvious, but then you listen and realize that all of them are playing very well. What I really noticed that night was how much improved their guard was from DCM. Kudos.

Marion Glory Cadets- I've said it before, but Ivan the Terrible is great corps music, and fits for a smaller corps. The first thing I noticed about Marion is the marching intensity. Very intense which sometimes led to overhyped mistakes, but also crisp marching. Overall, the intensity reaches the stands and it made the crowd react that night. MY BIG BEEF with the corps is kung-fu fighting during a beautiful ballad. STOP IT! WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING? From what I know, Ivan the Terrible did not practic JuJitsu. Other than that, a fine job.

Dimensions- VASTLY improved since DCM. There horn sound was nearly nonexistant in DCM, but tonight packed a punch. They are playing with a lot more confidence, and it is paying off. Drum racks are cool and used well. Side note; get some better supports for those props. Both props came toppling down in the wind.

Capitol Sound- If you read my DCM review, I said it before. This corps has matured so much since their inaugural year. And like I said before, I never liked them. But the last few years have brought good music and marching, and this year is by far the best. They are strong in all sections of the corps, particularly the guard (I notice since my wife was in guard and teaches guard). Horn tone was rough around the edges at times, particularly at loud sections and in the higher voices. Extremely well marched.

Allegiance Elite- Missed due to another child emergency. Sounded good from the parking lot.

Revolution- Hmmmm..... You know, I always make it a point in my reviews to be positive and encouraging towards every corps. That said, I was most unimpressed by Revolution. Contrary to GW's review, I thought the marched and played poorly, and I feel they played poorly because they marched poorly. Their brass body carriage and control does not allow a good sound to come through the horn. Second, their show is just out there. It doesn't do anything for ya. Positively, they had a good drumline and a pretty good colorguard with cool uniforms.

Memphis Sound- I know I may have ripped into them a little bit at DCM, but I was most impressed with this viewing off the Metropolis show. Their hornline was fantastic, especially sopranos. Colorguard could use some work especially with the neon yellow flag parts. The show had a lot more ummph to it than at DCM and was well appreciated. What a wonderful first year this corps is having!

Blue Stars- This show is a must see, regardless of division. Its one of the most fan friendly shows that the corps has done since the old days. This years corps takes the field and demands presence. Its something you have to see to believe. They don't just take the field, they TAKE the field. Brass projects well, but still has some rough soprano sounds, especially on the move. Mellos and contras rock, and I mean rock, and baris need to put out more sound. Drumline is pretty hot (even though they were minus one snare tonight). But the most improved section since DCM was by far the guard. This was noted by both myself and my wife. They are performing at the same level as the rest of the corps now and boy is it fun to watch. GO SEE THIS SHOW!

Yamato- I was very eager to see them. GWFrog was right.....a whole lot of dirt. BUT....a whole lot of talent as well. I believe they had one of the biggest div 3 hornlines at 22, and you could hear it. What a wonderful sound they had! At halts they just let 'er rip.....when they were moving it was a different story. I chalk that up to first show syndrome. The same with marching. Colorguard was fantastic at certain moments, especially in movement. My only question with them is if 2 weeks is enough time to clean up enough to catch Blue Stars.


John Fischer

Thursday July 24

Jacksonville, AL (DCI)

Ladies and gentlement of the board, I have BEEN to a drum corps show in 2003! I'm very happy about this, since my schedule almost prevented me from going at all, even with three golden opportunities right here in the GA/AL area. Regardless, I made it, you know the scores, so here's my version of what really happened. ^_^

Corpsvets (DCA / EXH) - Once again, I generally enjoyed this corps' show. I didn't really mind the guard uniforms until someone pointed out their figure-unflattering nature. My biggest complaint about this corps was the lack of confidence/presence. Either a lot of people still don't know their parts, or a lot of people know their parts... but don't THINK they know their parts. Whichever it is, the show was nice, but that's all. No punch, no snap, no crackle, no pop. FIX IT!

Teal Sound (DCI Div.III / 61.65) An ambitious show for such a small corps. (Someone decided that they would mash Cavalier's '87/'88 shows into one... not a bad idea, really.) The problem is that a show like this needs to either be full of power and impact, or it needs to be pristinely clean to make up for the lack of sound from so few bodies. Naturally, neither of these was the case. On the positive side, individual talent was very much in evidence, and there were some nice moments in all sections, mainly in the percussion (which dominated the corps' sound most of the show).

If I may offer an analogy, this was a manful task attempted by 10-12 year old boys. Though the effort and talent were there, the results were predictable.

Pioneer (DCI Div.I / 69.50) A much better show for this corps than last year. The brass has stepped up its level of play, as has the percussion. The drill is better (if not exactly cleaner) than last year, and the fact is that even though they will probably still finish last in DCI Div.I, it isn't for lack of effort or improvement. They almost broke 70 last night, which I thought was just about right; too good for a lower score, but not quite clean enough for the 70.00 yet.

Southwind (DCI Div.I / 69.50) I've not seen this corps yet this year (heh, figured that out all by MYSELF! ~_^) so I have no idea about ruts or lack of progress or anything like that. What I saw is a corps that is at least as good as they were last year at this time, with an effective (though dirty) visual program, and a hornline that was not afraid of its parts. This was the first corps of the night to really produce that drum corps "wall of sound," even if it was only a wall waist high.

I don't know if this is their best year ever. 2000 was a better show, a cleaner show, a show that finished in the Top Twelve in every caption. This show isn't up to that yet, but it IS a step up from last year overall, and two or three steps up visually. I had them at a 74-75, so their score was right there.

Colts (DCI Div.I / 78.65) Another clear step up from the previous competitor to go on (a pattern that continued all night up until Spirit went on). The guard had more presence, the drums were better, the drill was uninspiring (with the exception of one set of box drill in the latter half of the show) but cleaner, the brass was stronger, and the music (again, uninspiring) was executed to better effect.

The biggest problem here is that this corps COULD be Top twelve with a lot of work... if only they had a show to work with. Unfortunately, last year's offering was better in that respect. The judges evidently sought to punish them for such lackluster programming, so even though their performance probably deserved as high as an 80, they actually got something a point or so lower than their execution deserved.

Crossmen (DCI Div.I / 85.40) Okay, so, last year's show initially excited me to no end. The reason for that excitement/subsequent dissappointment (the sheer exposed difficulty of the 2002 show) is exactly why this year's offering will serve them better and take them farther. They are crowd-pleasing, LOUD, and are visually entertaining. The show is much more effectively designed than last year, which means that the corps is more likely to get credit for the difficulty they attempt/pull off, and less likely to get penalized for the difficulty they attempt/DON'T pull off.

Taking into account the fact that I usually score the Bones a bit high when I see them first, I revised my internal estimate down to around an 84-85, which was once again pretty close to actual results. One side note, though: Crossmen SHOULD have won drums. Sorry. There's just no pulling that punch. The Cadets do NOTHING that's more difficult, and they do NOT do it better. Oh well, maybe if we could march or play our brass instruments better THAT would make a difference in our DRUM score....

Cadets (DCI Div.I / 90.80) Yep, they deserved to win, MAYBE hit 90.00, but I felt this score to be a hair high, as I had them at an 88-89. The show is good, but it's not GREAT. They needed maybe to stick closer to the original arrangements for the programming to really be effective as a show in honor of those past they are borrowing from.

The guard started slow, but picked up a little ways in. The brass are good, again, not GREAT, not as good as last year. Their drums aren't bad, they're just....(sigh) they give up too much LITTLE stuff, and there's not enough of the big stuff that they do pull off. I do have to give it up for their marching, MUCH improved drill/performance over last year. Still, there are tell-tales, things like accordion intervals, not-straight diagonals, and inconsistencies in step sizes and path of travel. Sure, they did better than the rest of the field, their actual step-offs were flawless, their presence/posture impeccable, and they MOVED (a vast improvement over last year).

Unless SCV is REALLY off in their performance levels this year, Cadets will have difficulty holding on to anything higher than 5th this year. Why? They're good, but they aren't great in any aspect of their program. Side note #2:Cadets won, but deferred the right of the encore performance to Spirit, as it was their home show. That was a classy move, Cadets. Thank you!

Spirit (DCI Div.I / 82.75) I was really happy with Spirit's show. The guard still needs work, as does the brass (I know, they beat Crossmen in brass... whatever), but both are better than last year. The percussion is solid, and the drill/marching effort is also at a higher llevel from last year.

The main problem with Spirit's show is that none of it is terribly clean, and there aren't too many spots where you say "Whoa! That was GOOD!" I'm really thrilled with the hints of other corps' programs past that have found their way into the show (Appalachian Morning among others, HURRAY!). It might be a tiny bit more effective if they either add a couple more quotes, or else take out one or two and expand on the ones they leave in, but that's a minor issue. (Hurray for Appalachian Morning!)

I had Spirit at an 82-83, so overall I give the judges an "A" for agreeing with me on overall scores and placements. ~_^ I give the sound system a "D" for being mainly unintelligible the entire night. The only reason we heard the scores (and therefore the "D" instead of an "F") is because everyone literally held their breath, STRAINING to make out the muffled announcement of the numbers.

Anyway, there's my review. Comments were general since it was my first (possibly ONLY) viewing of the season. If I see anyone again, I'll try and get more specific.

Anyway, that's how it happened.
I was there.

Dave Ballard

Sunday July 20

Brick, NJ (DCI Atlantic II/III)

My first review. Go easy.
Phoenix Home Show 7/20/03

Great day for a competition minus the wind that picked up later on. Venue: Drum Point Field in Brick, NJ. Small, low stands. Pretty tough to read drills. Crowd was overflowing with a huge amount of corps and little seating capacity. Oh well.

One of the better renditions of the national anthem was sung by 2 members of the Phoenix Cadets (5 and 7 years old). Phoenix Cadets came out and did their show afterward and Quest Explorers would go on later due to the Quest corps getting to the competition late. NY Skyliners Alumni also put an exhibition, with Johnny Grass blowing the house down with his screeching soprano solos, playing favorites like "On the Town" and "Elk's Parade." Definitely the way to open a drum corps show, especially with the bugles.

East Coast Jazz - ECJ were the first to perform for some reason. A weird schedule. Looked like they were missing 2 mellophones out there but went out there with around 26 STRONG horns. Great rendition of Concerto in F with a strong contra section. Beautiful ballad. Great drill during their drum solo, very Cadets-esque. And they put out some power during their jazz movement, but afterward seemed to lose some gas. Heat must've been affecting them. A very powerful colorguard and an overall awesome Gershwin program.

Jersey Surf - I was somewhat skeptical. I had no idea what to expect from them because they were scoring low with judges but high with audience. But then they walked onto the field.... Lifeguard chair as a drum major stand? Classic. Nice size hornline but colorguard looks small. "Lifeguard" does a wave with his arms for the salute. Ha. "School's Out for Summer" was the best opening of the day. Loud and in-your-face. Contras were a little overpowering though. That'll be worked out I'm sure. Me writing about this doesn't serve justice. See this show if you can. Very innovative. Beautiful pass-throughs but guard needs work. Marching seems alright with a lot of exposure with wearing shorts. But I'd stick with the shorts. Has my vote for coolest uniforms. Somewhat dirty crab-walk later on. Cool mix with "On the Waterfront" and "WipeOut." Like to see more audience-oriented shows like this. Guard work seems to be unfinished at the end of "WipeOut". That's fine though. Loving the pummel horse moves. Awesome visual with the drums pounding and the crazy pass-throughs with the hornline. "Surfer Girl" seems to be a recurring theme with "Under the Boardwalk." Pass-throughs dirty towards the end. Fantastic show though. Most entertaining of the night. See it if you can. Finally, a show Jersey Surf is meant to do.

Targets - Tough act to follow. Overall though, not bad. They're bigger and better than previous years and seem to be moving up the ranks. Some minor problems with marching (like out of step and horn angles) but not a bad sound from a 13 or 14 member hornline. "The Wiz" fits them well I think. Drill is much more difficult than in recent years. I also noticed their uniforms seem to look like wool jackets. Can't even imagine how hot it is. A very nice mellophone solo during the third movement. Great soloists all around actually. Working on the marching seems to be the key with them though. They sound and it's a decent program with which they have to work.

Quest - Got rid of the black uniforms (Thank God). Maroon and cream now. Like Phoenix, also doing the Planets. Missing their drum major stand I guess. Whoops. But he's using a baton which you don't see anymore. Cool. "Mars" opens. There seems to be no build up. Members seem to be unsure of the music while other members are trying to carry them along. Don't move much. Seems to be a rebuilding year for them. Think flags would work better instead of cardboard cut-outs of moons and stars. And hula hoops? Hmm.. guess it represents the rings. 2nd drum major wasn't watching the other so there was an awkward moment there. Drumline is pretty decent though. A lot of holes in the music and total presentation. Wish them the best of luck though. Would like to see them where they were when I marched Phoenix in 2001.

Lehigh Valley Knights - Change in unis a bit. Better than the whole shining plate thing. Great opening with pass-throughs and jazz running. Very smooth marching. Very balanced hornline and will be giving the Raiders a run for best horns. Some guys didn't make it on time for the end of the opener. The 2nd movement with rasping horns was awesome. What they do with their feet reminds me of the Cadets '97 show. Nice hold in their ballad. A moment where the drill was really congested on the right side. They had the sun right in their face though. Nice transition to the Firebird. And even more jazz runs. These guys can MARCH! Good ending w/ the Firebird. I didn't see them in front of the Raiders though.

Raiders - What an improvement since Giants Stadium. Beautiful balance in the horns, as they're known for. What a drumline! Wow. 6 snares, 2 tenors, 5 basses all playing pretty cleanly. Big improvement since last year's drumline. Carmina Burana works well for them with their dark music. Reminds of Phantom Regiment. Guard is decent, having issues with the picked-up wind. Company front doesn't work for me like it usually does. It seems misplaced for me and it doesn't seem to hit its impact. Part in the ballad where nothing happens but death camp is coming. I don't understand the poles they use. Beautiful hit in ballad after awesome sop solo. Great blue flags. Awesome drill, reminding me of their silver medal run in 2001. Seem to die at the end but a really strong program. Raiders and LVK will duke it out all year long. Could see gold on either of them. Haven't seen Marion or Blue Stars yet though.

Cadets of NYC - Small guard but talented nonetheless. What a drumline! Two great drumlines in a row. Nice balancing hornline and very big. I'm still wary on their pink feathers. "Fanfare for a New Era" opened with a bang. Literally, I think I saw people fall back. The sops with the mutes is a nice touch in the ballad. Some phasing issues with sustaining notes. Nice-sounding bari to end the ballad. Leaning into new drill moves also seemed to be a problem with them, giving away their impacts. Drumline is absolutely great though. Featured at the end, I guess saving their best for last.

Spartans - Best Div 2 of the night IMO and the judges (sorry Surf ). If Patriots beat these guys, I best go see the Patriots. Marching cymbals. Very nice. Beautiful marching, like they're gliding across the ground. Guard is excellent and a beautiful balance with the horns in the ballad. Right afterward, a driving bass line to make the transition. Horns pass through each other and their sound seems to get muffled until the closing hit. Sops play in a Phantom kneel. I KNEW they were Phantom's Div 2 corps . Guard is total top-notch. Great, although the ending seemed to come out of nowhere. I'll watch a 2nd time. Crazy Robert W. Smith music...

Phoenix - Last but not least, my old corps. Cavalier 95 type spinning ball things (except more oval). I don't understand the purple. I always thought Phoenix was red. Colorguard is the best in Div 3 today. Wouldn't be surprised if the guard was at the top of Div 3. Didn't like how they threw the songs together in the beginning. "Mars" in 4? Uh... I don't like the horn arrangements that much but they're playing the hell out of em. Drumline : 2 girls on snare. Haven't seen that. Awesome. Great drumline. Up there with the Raiders. Dirty hornline seems to be the weak part. With death camps coming soon, see that to improve dramatically. No dynamic contrast as of now. Ending was very hollow but hopefully they catch up to the top corps again.

Overall a great show. For $5? Awesome. Think Raiders should've been ahead of LVK but maybe I missed something. Phoenix went down from last night and the week before? What? Judging is weird..


Saturday July 19

San Antonio, TX (DCI)

Morning Show

Well I just got back from a nice 12 hour drive from San Antonio to Memphis, so if this review just goes nowhere, that is why. First off I have to say that San Antonio is a GREAT city. We spent the afternoon break on the riverwalk enjoying some authentic mexican food and an adult beverage! It was great!!! The Alamodome looked great from the inside and outside, but the seats were HORRIBLE!!!! They were so close together you couldnt help but get to know your neighbors! And if you are like me (I like to call it Festivly plump) it will be painful to sit there for hours on end. I have bruises on my hips just from sitting there!! And we were sitting next to what had to be the most ANNOYING High School band in the world! You would figure being from Texas they would know better, ummmm NOPE!!! First let me say Im a brass guy, so most of my comments will be about horns or music, sorry. Now on to the morning show:

Revolution - This was the only Div 2 corps competing tonight, and they did pretty good. I think the dome echo threw them off a little in the opener, but it was hard to tell since I had not seen them before. They have a good horn sound, as well as percussion. The drumline was a little bit overpowering because of the dome, but only in certain spots. It was good to see the hometown fans get into the show! It will be interesting to see how things go in Orlando for them. I will get to see them in a few days in Memphis when they play at the Memphis Sound exh.

Madison Scouts - I think the order of performance really helped the scouts score this morning, which was rather high, then dropped as expected in the evening show. I did not notice too many changes since the Louisville show in June, but it was much cleaner. The hornline had a nice sound all the way through the show, but not nearly as loud as in the past. The ballad of "The Way We Were" is a great peice and a great moment for them, with the flags depicting the fleur de lis and other great years in the corps history, then a new bold white flag with the newer looking fleur that is on their unis, kinda saying that a new Era has arrived for the Scouts. I liked it a lot!

Southwind - This group was much improved over Louisville also. While the music was not familiar to me it was a very good choice. I liked most of the music that was played, but nothing really stood out to me. They have a powerful hornline, it was actualy louder than Madison. But their Visual GE is holding them back I think.They were next to last in Visual GE. If they can get their drill going or make some changes they may have a chance at the top 17, but it would be a great accomplishment if they made it!

Kiwanis Kavaliers - I really enjoyed this show. It is entitled "All you need is Love" and they really played out that title. From the lone solo dancer, you could basicaly see a little tale of what was going on, where she was just looking all over for the right thing, and at the end finaly finds it. The music was played really well for a smaller hornline, and it was very effective, beating Cap Reg and the Mandarins, and almost the Colts. I cant say much about the drill itself because I was watching the guard for most of the time. But I really enjoyed the show, and the kids looked like they did as well, bravo Kiwanis!

Blue Knights - This was one of the corps I was really looking forward too. And I was not dissappointed! They had one of the better hornlines, if not the best, of the morning show. Their program "Primary Colors" was indeed very colorful. Im not so sure about the guard uniforms. The people around me were a little unhappy with them. They almost look to be see through, but they are not. They have different colors on the uniforms, and the blue part almost looks like a pair of underware. It was definatly up there for the weirdest guard costume! The show was great, but I didnt think they would move on to the evening show. But I was wrong.

Pioneer - Well, the first thing I noticed were the hats. And I think they looked good on the field. The other thing I noticed when their show started was their drum major. He was GREAT! One of the better DM's at the show. The show was not Irish, except for Danny Boy for the warm up, and it was a pleasant change for me. They played some music by Holsinger, and they did it well. They could use about 10-15 more horns to really make it effective though. But I did notice that they had a rather large drumline in comparison to the horns, but they did a good job of not drowning them out. Overall I think they are improving over the past years, but still need something to get over that hump.

Colts - This was another corps that was much improved over Louisville. I enjoyed their show a lot more here than I did in the Ville. They have really cleaned up the drill and music. But to me, this show is just not as exciting as the past couple of years. The guard didnt appear to be as good as last year either, getting beat by Mandarins and Cap Reg. They still need to work on transitions in the drill, I saw a lot of missed step offs, just mental errors.

Troopers - First off, the entrance on the field was GREAT, with the classic circle drill and the passing the rifles like a military drill team was great! Good to see they still do that! The show was good as well. They have added to their numbers, which helps the sound. But I was expecting more Civil war themes in their show, which was entitled Reflections of the Blue and the Grey. I dont think I heard Dixie or anything. The only thing I recognized was Holsingers Battle Music. But for what they did, they did it pretty good. I would love to see them in the top 17, but I dont think its gonna happen this year. I hope they continue to add to their numbers and get back to full strength!

Carolina Crown - What can I say.... WOW!!!! I liked their show in Louisville, and I LOVED it in San Antonio!!! They just keep getting better and better. And their guard was GREAT! They were really on in the morning show! I love the bells in the rifles, what a great touch! And Carol of the bells to close it out, man, that was the first real WOW moment for me!! They were easily my 4th favorite show of the whole day! I was sitting behind some of Crowns guard when the scores were annoucned and you would think they just won the lottery! Congrats Crown, you deserved it!!

Cap Reg - Played the New World Symphony. And I was not all that impressed with it. I thought they had a better show last year when they were in Div 2. The hornline sounded better last year as well in my oppinion. They need to work on the drill though, there is not enough meat in it so to speak. They were lacking in GE. The music is great though, so if they could combine the 2, they would be doing great!

Mandarins - I was expecting more people in the corps, but they were rather small. But they were still very good. They have some GREAT Mello's there! They ended on a very strong note though with Bacchanale, which was performed very well! Other than the closer I was not familiar with their music. They had some good moments with the guard and the whole getting drunk kinda thing. I think they should have splashed the judge though! Their hornline was very good, could use some help in the lower voices IMHO. But a very good show for the first Div 1 season.

Spirit - OK, these guys got ripped off!! They should have easly been in the evening show. This was my 2nd favorite show of the day, their balad was just amazing! They added a lot of things to it. They have added flags with pictures of people and corps whose time has passed, the 2 I really noticed were Gail Royer and the Bridgemen (I think??) When they had the Royer flag you could hear a little bit of Send In the Clowns, it was an amazing ballad! They also added flags with the words Seems Like Only Yesterday. Since their whole theme was time, it worked really well. The ballad almost brought me to tears! And when they were not in the ballad they were ripping your face off with the most powerful hornline I heard in San Antonio! It was great! The only gripe I have about them is that they still have the JSU in the name. That kills me. But they should have been in the evening show!!!!

Magic - I was let down by Magics performance tonight, maybe it was because they followed Spirit, I dont know. There just didnt seem to be much energy there. The show was played and marched very well though! But it didnt seem they projected their energy into the crowd. The hornline is comming along nicely, trying to match their already good drumline. GE and Guard were what really pushed them above Spirit tonight. And I can easily see Magic or Spirit ahead of the Glassmen.

Seattle - Again they seemed to come out very flat tonight. I didnt get the same energy from them that I got from most corps. They played well, but their guard seems to be pulling them down, while their brass is trying to keep them afloat. They had a very powerful sound as well. I did not like the music that much though. I dont think the Danzon show works well for them. They did not try to encorporate the music and the movement. You hear the name Danzon and you think Latin, but I didnt really see that from the corps. I think they could do a lot more to boost the GE for the show. I was left wanting after last years show, but not the same this year.

Crossmen - Brought to you by YEA!! Anyway.... I did not like the Crossmen this year. When I think Crossmen, I think Jazz. And I only got a little of what I wanted from them. The opener, Over the Rainbow, was played very well and the guard brings out colored cloth matching the colors of the rainbow, so it went well. So I figured, ok good opening, now hit me with some Jazz.... NOPE! I didnt really get the Jazzy feeling till their closer really. And they almost redeemed themselves with the little strain of Birdland though, which I think was added in the evening show. But not what I expected from the Crossmen, maybe it will grow on me though.

My Score - Judges Score
Revolution 63.4 - 74.45
Madison 84.4 - 84.45
Southwind 72.8 - 71.35
Kiwanis Kavaliers 72.4 - 72.90
Blue Knights 82.6 - 82.2
Pioneer 68.3 - 67.75
Colts 75.2 - 76.75
Troopers - 73.1 - 70.70
Carolina Crown 81.7 - 83.00
Capital Regiment 72.1 - 73.5
Mandarins 74.6 - 74.7
Spirit 83.8 - 81.65
Magic 82.4 - 81.7
Seattle Cascades 81.4 - 78.1
Crossmen 83.2 - 83.15

Overall it was a Great show, my top 4 would have been Madison, Blue Knights, Spirit and Crossmen (with Crown probably edging out Blue Knights). I just think Spirit got the shaft!!

This post was not meant to offend anyone, and was not meant to be PC. The evening show will be up tomorrow after I get some sleep!!!

Evening Show

Take it for what its worth....

And now for the evening show. After a nice 2 hour break strolling down the Riverwalk and enjoying some great Mexican food at Casa Del Rio, we made it back just in time for the national anthem at the Alamo Dome. Still sitting in the tiny painful seats and still sitting next to the annoying high school band! I dont have my list of My Scores, since im at work and they are at home... so anyway... On with the shows!

Glassmen - This show was night and day when compared to Louisville. They have added a lot of little things to bring out the Elements theme. One thing I really liked was during the Ballad October, they had these balls with blue liquid, Im guessing it was the Water in the Elements theme, but in a way could have also represented Air. It was a really good touch to add to the show. The performance didnt leave me as flat as it did in Louisville, I liked the show tonight. I still wish there was more of the Elements theme in the show. When you march Fire, you would think sharp crisp movements, and tense bodies. Then in water, a lot of fluid movements and relaxed, you know, that kind of things. But this was probably the most improved show from Louisville, but I dont see them making the top 12 this year. There are so many other strong shows.

Carolina Crown - Again, one of my favorite shows of the whole day. They did not seem to have the same energy as the morning show this evening, and the guard was not "on" like they were last night. But just the music of Bellissimo was fantastic. The bells in the rifles, was great, during that part its all pit and the rifles, then the pit ducks down behind their instruments to let you know that it is the rifles making the sounds, great moment for the corps. This corps will be fighting for a top 10 spot, I think they have almost assured themselves top 12. Great job Crown!!!!

Bluecoats - Im not sure what to say about the Coats. The show was done really well, but I just never got into the show that much, same as in Louisville. I dont think it is as good as the past years from the Coats, with 2001 being the best in recent memory for me. They have a very good guard and hornline, but the show just did not seem to have much energy comming off of it tonight. They were deserving of the score, but I would have put Boston ahead of them tonight.

Crossmen - I liked the show better tonight than I did this morning. They seemed to pull it off better, with more energy and they really performed it better to the crowd. I noticed towards the end of the show they added a little string of Birdland in it, right before the really loooooong and loud note at the end, basicaly asking for the standing O, and they got it. Another thing I noticed was their Drum Major really didnt seem to ever get into the show. She just stood up there waving her arms, and didnt look to show any emotion.

Madison Scouts - This show almost seemed like an exact replay of the morning, nothing really stood out to me as being better or worse. I still really like the "The Way We Were" ballad with the flags representing the years gone by, then moving on to this year with the new Fleur De Lis (its like the one on their uni's). Im not sure if the show is growing on me or not yet, its weird. But they were obviously the best in the morning, and a solid 8th in the evening.

Blue Knights - Again, seemed a lot like their morning show, not too much change I dont think. Once again I heard a lot of comments about their "guard get ups" looking somewhat indecent. But I did enjoy the show, its not quite as good as their 2000 show, but leaps and bounds better than the Cartoon show of the past. They have a very powerful hornline and drumline. The guard could use some polishing though.

Boston Crusaders - Another one of my favorite shows of the day, I like the whole going back to 2000 theme. It fits so well with the theme of Bravo. They open with a little snip of Bolero I believe. I really just love all of the added body movements or "vocabulary" in judge speak. They always have the added body movements that just seem to make sense with the show, and it works really well for them. They also play Malaguena, while not as powerful as the Cadets, it is very effective and fits in with their show. They have continued their trend of great ballads this year. With Conte Partiro in 2000, then the one in Harmonium and last year with You Are My Star. There is no singing this year, but just a great piece of music. I thought they bested the Coats tonight, but the judges didnt see it that way.

Phantom Regiment - Oh my GOD they were good!!!! This was by far my #1 favorite of the night!! Opening with Cannon in D, they have the best hornline sound in DCI today! It was amazing. They really have the total package IMHO. They have a great hornline, a very good drumline and I thought they had the 2nd if not the best color guard tonight. When they come back to Cannon in D in the closer I literaly teared up, the whole show was just full of emotion and raw power at times! I cant wait to see them again in Orlando! I had them in 2nd tonight behind the Cavis, but only because I knew they would not jump that much! Phantom wins the Best Show of the night award from me.

The Cavaliers - Well some may know that im not a huge fan of this show. I still think that the drill was written first then the music written to fit the drill. But I will say that the drill is AMAZING! They take the concept of "Spin Cycle" and take it to the very extreme. The solo section was my favorite part, they have added some comic releif somewhat during that part the works well. I did notice that 2 contras hit the turf tonight, which was a trend. But to me, the crowd didnt seem to get into the show as much as they did for Phantom. But I would say that they did deserve to win, just because of how freakin clean they are!

The Cadets - Brought to you by YEA! I noticed that they added a DM salute to the beginning of their show, and also add a pause right before they do into Fanfare and Allegro, and I dont like it. I think they should have stuck with the other way. The show was good, Malaguena was obviously the highlight. Got good crowd reaction with Rocky Point, but there was very little if any reaction to the Z Pull at the end of the show. I was surprised that I didnt see any Cadets hit the floor with all the others. Overall, this was my 2nd favorite show. But I had them in 4th behind BD, Phantom, and Cavies.

Blue Devils - This was an interesting show, to say the least. They had their moments, but a lot of the people in the crowd will only remember the Tenors that bit the dust at 2 different times. I dont know if I liked the "drum talk" section of the show. It seems to be really muddy and you cant tell what rythems they are saying. Its a good concept, but it was just muddy. There was one part where the hornline was in a big arc with the guard in the middle and they would go from one end to the other in kind of like a wave of sound that was really cool. Its hard to explain it though, the guard would look at one end of the arc and that end would get loud, then move on down the arc. Was a cool effect. As I mentioned before the 2nd tenor that hit the ground did not even try to recover. His drum came off the carrier so instead of just picking it up and marching the last 20 seconds of the show just holding it, he just walks off to the side of the form and tries to put it back on, then when he finaly does the show is over, so he just goes and walks to his set, that made me mad. That is why I had them in 3rd. Oh well...

Santa Clara Vanguard - I didnt really get into this show either. It is not their best offering. I think they have had 2 down years when compared to 2000 and 2001. But they do have a very strong Drumline, winning the caption. Its just hard for me to get into the music. The drill is very good and very challenging as before, and I think it may be a little over their heads. They pull it all off, but it is very dirty, just as it was in the previous 3 or 4 years. A tenor player for SCV also went down, but he recovered in like 5 seconds. There were just no real memorable parts of SCV's show. I had them in 5th.

Well thats all, you all know the scores by now, but some other things to add:

Favorite shows - 1. Phantom, 2. Cadets, 3. Spirit, 4. Crown.

My Caption Winners -
Visual GE - Cavis
Music GE - Phantom
Vis Performance - BD
Vis Ensemble - Cavis
Vis Guard - BD
Mus Brass - Phantom
Mus Ens - Phantom
Mus Perc - SCV

Jeff Hinton

I write this with respect to everyone that is marching in the top 12 corps this year. Everyone who reads this should understand that this is a review from an individual with an opinion. Not everyone agrees with other people's opinions so please dont jump my bones! Thank you!

12- Glassmen- A corps I missed because of the parking situation outside!

11th- BlueKnights- the first number caught me..but then it was left out there you know? Maybe the members were tired, but certainly are better than Crown by a long shot.

10th- Carolina Crown- I really dont see how this corps made it into the night show. They must have been outstanding in the afternoon. I saw tons of missed step offs, bad horns up/down/ and I realize that they are doing the show again but the brass playing was very weak towards the end of the show. I really thought Magic of Orlando should have been in this spot!

9th- Crossmen- I have never really liked Crossmen in any DCI year. I must say that the level of playing is up from last year! Please go listen to these guys warm up too! I dont have anything else positive or negative to say about them. Good job overall.

8th- Madison Scouts- I am very happy to see this corps back in the top 12. I thought the show design was very cool. I also think that they should be ahead of Cadets. At least their show makes some sense! Nice new uniforms too!

7th- Boston Crusaders- Are you kidding me? BAC and PR clearly had the best entertaining shows of the night. I didnt agree with the placement of this corps. The level of playing espcially in the trumpet section is certainly top 4 quality. The percussion section is a hell of alot better than last year. It takes some real guts to go from 10 snares (tenors switching out) to 15 snares and play with quality and control.

6th- BlueCoats- I saw this corps in Leander and tonight. I wasnt impressed with the show. I havent been sold on BC shows since they played C Jam Blues! Boston should have been in this spot if not 5th place.

Sorry BC!

5th- SCV- I love the opener! These guys should also be ahead of Cadets. Brass line top to bottom is very impressive! This corps seems to always be placed 4th now days (finals). I always like seeing SCV doing well. I cant think of a show that was actually crappy to me. Excellent job!

4th Cadets and PR- Are you kidding me? Cadets tied with PR??? Clearly this is very wrong. Anyone who witnessed PR last night was in great shock. These members can play well. I can remember this one segment where there was a loud FF chord..then dropped off and you heard an almost perfect mellophone section playing at about was beautiful. PR are deserves to be 1st or 2nd this year. Cadets show ...hmmmm... can the marching/warmup. I noticed that most of the people in the alamo dome were not paying attention anyway..and then when the show finally took alot people a couple of seconds to even realize that the show started and the warm up was over! Malguena..almost the same version as BLAST..or so it seems. And then the transition into Rocky Point??? WTF??? it was not good. Let me give you an example of what this felt like to people. You go into a church and you hear "Amazing Grace" then all of sudden it cuts to heavy metal music. Cadets really deserved to be at least 6th place.

2nd- BD- Very very good show. I enjoyed the corps overall. However, I thought when I marched years ago that you were taught to not give yourself away in a show. First of all one of the tenor players fell after he played on the cymbal rack..and recovered in about 10-12 seconds. In the closer..disaster... and this really truely took away from the performance. One of the tenor players (dont know if it was the same one) fell foward over his tenor drums! I felt really bad for this dude. What made it worse for him and he might have had broken equipment... but he walked around while the corps was standing still... trying to fix his drum... I would say it took him a good 20-30 seconds. My point being...arent we taught to just stand still... even if its broke..or just come off the sideline? Anyway good show BD.but that fall in the closer really distracted so many people!

1st- Cavaliers- Different show! I know last year I saw these guys in Dothan, AL and they were clean, impressive, musical..etc! However this year I really couldnt get into it musically! Visually..gosh so much moving and marching fast! I miss those good old days! There was 2 contras that fell but recovered so quickly! I am sold on the overall total package and I have grown to appreciate the hard work these young men put into it. Very deserving of 1st place.


OK. I'm going to be brief & probably a little choppy here in the interest of time, but wanted to share my thoughts & impressions of SA this weekend.

- My the show of the year, and 4th in 8 days
- I've seen everyone from 2-4 times now
- Seat was ok for afternoon show (35 yd line, bttm of upper deck)
- seat was not good for finals (10 yd line, top of upper deck), but ok for drill

I had a great time this weekend, despite not so great seating due to my last minute decision to use frequent flyer miles & go. Before I critique, let me say that I loved everyone Saturday, and really appreciate the work of the kids from all corps.

I rated everyone throughout the day, so here's a comparison of my & the judges thoughts:

Me Judges
14. Pioneer Pioneer
13. Troopers Troopers (but I had them scoring a little closer to SW/Kiw/CR
12. Cap-Reg Southwind
11. Kiwanis Kiwanis
10. Southwind Cap-Reg
9. Mandarins Mandarins
8. Colts Colts
7. Seattle Seattle
6. Magic Spirit
5. B-Knights Magic
4. Spirit B-Knights
3. Crown Crown
2. X-Men X-Men
1. Madison Madison

12. Glassmen 78.00 Glassmen 78.45
11. B-Knights 80.90 B-Knights 79.00
10. Crown 81.20 Crown 80.10
9. X-Men 81.80 X-Men 82.00 (almost!)
8. Madison 82.90 Madison 82.15
7. Boston 82.80 Boston 83.00 (almost!)
6. B-coats 83.00 B-coats 83.15 (almost!)
5. Cadets 87.20 SCV 87.20
4. SCV 87.90 Cadets 88.05
3. PR 88.40 PR 88.05
2. BD 91.30 BD 90.50
1. Cavies 91.50 Cavies 91.10

Not bad, I thought. Only real disagreement all day was Cadets placement, but I knew they were right there.

Thoughts by corps:

REVOLUTION -- I appreciate what they are trying to do, but this show did nothing for me. Least favorite show of the day by far. The music really goes absolutely nowhere. Not the kids' fault. Very poor show design musically. Guard had some impressive moments, as did drum line. Horn book is very poor. No impact.

PIONEER -- Good step up from last year, especially in music & field coverage. Not overly memorable. Uniform changes are positive. Least favorite Div. I show of day. This corps should be in Div. II. Good to see some improvement from last year, though.

TROOPERS -- As I've said before, a major improvement this year. It will be tough for them to catch anyone ahead of them, but not entirely impossible, either. Show is entertaining. Brass line is solid, with good projection and power for their size. Great intro prior to the show. Show is designed very well, with tributes to tradition while also being modern and competitive. Go Troop! Keep up this momentum, and we could see Casper in Semis again soon.

SOUTHWIND -- While it is extremely tight with S/W, Kiwanis & Cap Reg, I had S/W in front by a nose. Judges didn't agree. Of the 3 I LIKE S/W show the best. They have the best music book of the 3, by far, and the most excitement. Guard has some nice moments, but is bested by Capitol Regiment. Show has lots of potential. How much can they clean up musically and visually? That is the real question. 17th is not impossible, but not likely. A definite step up from last year's show, however. The field is just more competitive this year.

KIWANIS -- A nice show, and a big step up in execution from last year. Smaller coprs. Nice music, but not overly exciting. Guard added little to the show in my opinion (and is also small). Nice horn sound. The cleanest of the 3 between S/W, Cap Reg & themselves. May finish below the other 2 at the end of the year, though & could be pushed out of 21st by Troopers in Orlando.

CAPITOL REGIMENT -- Nice improvement since first viewing last Tuesday in Wichita. Definitely the best guard of the 3 in this placement grouping. Music book is weak, altough with better horn execution, it sounds a little better than it did earlier in the week. Parts of the show are growing on me, and I like the drill better after an "up-top" viewing. Some nice pictures, but not as good as least years show in any area except Color Guard, where they were quite strong. The last 2 flag silk choices, however, are uninspiring.

MANDARINS -- You go, Mandarins! What a great step up for this spunky group. A larger corps than ever for them (I counted 40). The only coprs I've only saw for the 1st time. Music book is well written & effective. Guard is a strongpont, and will only get better. Baccanalle brings back great memories of PR 91, but they put their own stamp on it too. My first big goosebumps of the day.

COLTS -- This is not the year for COLTS. While I think they should have placed higher last year, I think are going to be lucky to hang on to Semis this year. Very strong horn line, but not much else going for them. Drill design is poor, without many well defined forms or dramatic field coverage. Guard is a big step back, though improved from Louisville. Blue Saphire does not seem to fit with the rest of the show, and is really where they lose momentum in the show. They almost had me up to that point.

SPIRIT -- They seem to be in close to a dead heat with Magic & Blue Knights. I had them on top of this group, the judges saw otherwise. Don't really have a problem with that., although I would have had them ahead of Magic. It's hard to put my finger on what's missing from this show. It just doesn't click or seem "big-time" enough to me. The ballad is beautiful & moving. The hornline is terrific. Visual GE is a weakness -- surprising considering who wrote the Drill. Apart from the Ballad and the great tag of Let it Be Me, GE Music is not real terrific either. I WANT this corps to make FINALS, but it's gonna be darn close.

MAGIC -- This is not the caliber of show I expected from this design team. It just doesn't engage me - or seemingly many in the audience -- as I would want to be. I think they march better than they are getting scored, but this does not seem a solid top 12 show. Nothing in this show seems original or fresh. It seems to be a mish-mash of been there, done that, from the music book perspective in particular. I admire the guts of this corps in perservering through a tough year off the field, though. Kudos to the kids. Finals is going to be tough for them. Right now I see them in 13th in Orlando, ahead of Glassmen, but behind Spirit & Blue Knights.

GLASSMEN -- An afterthought, really. Not a memorable show by any stretch. I don't see this corps making finals. They've really slipped & don't have the "ace" drum line or stellar drill to keep them in the thick of things.

BLUE KNIGHTS -- What a great sound this corps puts out this year. I disagreed with their lower brass score, but agreed with their strong Ens. Music score. A great step up in show design & execution this year from the Denver crew. While a finalist spot is not assured, they are much, much better than the past 2 years. I understand the guard uniforms, but wish the colors weren't so light or faded.

CROWN -- HOLY CRAP! Did this corps light it up in the afternoon or what? Their guard won their caption in the afternoon, and very deservedly so. They were ON FIRE. I dare say they could have challenged for 3rd in the evening show in guard if they'd had quite the same level of performance in the evening. The brass sound is really cleaning up, yet they haven't lost any of the magnificent power they have been displaying this season. A terrivic show GE wise, in all areas. Here's a bold prediction: IF this corps can continue to clean up their drill & marching, they will beat Crossmen in Orlando and finish in an awesome 9th. All they way up from 16th! It's safe to say the YEA effect & it's hangover are finally over. This is the Crown I loved in the mid to late 90s.

CROSSMEN -- I like this show. They'll make Finals. I don't love this show. Musically, I really enjoy it. Good GE Music scores. Visually, the guard is solid, but the drill is horrible. The drill has little impact & is not marched very cleanly. Far too much congestion & parking. Little field coverage, apart from the corner to center move from last year & they aren't playing there anyway (plus it's a royal mess). I love the opener of Rainbow & the closer. The rest is a blur. Like their big brother corps, this corps needs some new ideas & creativity.

MADISON -- Hello Murfreesboro! I can't say enough what a terrific job the design staff did with this show. It's very Madison, but very much a competitive, modern show at the same time. It's ###### exciting, too. They are marching so much better now than they were in June. Guard continues to clean up and is now a respectable Div. I. guard. There seem to be a few moments that individuals show us "macho" when it doesn't seem to fit, but overall a nice guard program. The ballad continues to be great, and the Solid, bright 2003 show to transiition from the memory provoking balad to the rest of the show is pure genius. The new uniforms are outstanding. I don't see MADISON falling below 8th, although CROWN may push them before it's all said & done...

BOSTON -- I really like Boston's show. The arrangements are a bit choppy, especially in the opener, but they are fun and exciting. This show is really a sequel to 2000 in many, many ways, but not as fresh or awe-inspiring. Some of that will come with additional cleaning. There aren't stand out memory moments in this show like the corps had in 2000 and 2002 though. They will be in a dog fight for 6th for the rest of the year. No higher, and no lower than 8th at worst. Nice to see this corps so solidly in the top 12 year in & year out now.

BLUECOATS -- What a terrific sound this group puts out. I wish they had just a tad more power, but very, very solid. The drill is very innovative, and very effective. CG may hold them back in the end. It's really a tossup right now for 6th with Boston, and Madison is not far behind. I love the uniform. I hope BLUUU never radically changes it. The tango section is improving, with more guard dancing added. This may be their strongest show since 95, but it's not as memorable to me as 2002, which wasn't as memorable as 2001 (my fav from them since 95).

SCV -- I have to say it -- I really like this show a lot more than I did a week ago in Denver & they have improved a ton. (So has their main competition, though). They are marching very well now, which also makes me think their chances of passing Regiment this year are not real strong. Musically, I did connect more with the show than I did a week ago. It's growing on me. The guard has made MAJOR improvement since Denver. To me, it was a toss-up between them & Crown for 5th in guard, but only because Crown was not as strong in the evening as they were in the afternoon. I thought SCV had bested Cadets tonight, and I think they will by finals.

CADETS -- While I had them in 5th, I can't complain with where they finished. They've really improved since Louisville, and even since Wichita earlier this week. They show is flowing a bit better, with each section of the show becoming more effective. The show is coming together sort of like the 2001 show. Orginally disjointed and not selling, and now starting to jell, flow and sell to the audience. Good, solid, vintage Cadets drill - at least in the opener & closer. Not, however, very innovative or origninal. Same can be said with the guard. Very strong (a much better performance than in Wichita), but not much to wow you. This show is good & fun, but it's the same formula the Cadets have shown us for too long now. They were an innovative leader in much of the 80s and 90s, but no longer. I miss the CADETS that made you think & feel with your heart.

PHANTOM REGIMENT -- I can't stop saying it. REGIMENT is REGIMENT again. It even showed in how the announcer said their name before the show started (Dan Potter is a great announcer for DCI). The show is glorious & inspiring. The music book is fantastic, and I think it's the hardest music book in DCI this year. What the sopranos do with Ostinato is flat out awe-inspiring. I think Mike said in his memoirs what the mellos do in the wedge at the end is EVIL, and I agree. They are scintillating there. Visually, to me, the guard is their best since 97, but they don't stand out enough in the show. Especially with the white uniforms for the corps & a spread out, eye-catching drill, I seemed to not notice them nearly enough. The orange rifles are not as impactful as white would be, either, in my opinion. Wild Nights is really starting to click musically. Marching wise, to me, they still have a lot of dirt to clean. I thought they should have won high brass, and been closer to Music Ensemble & GE music at the show, I had about the same gap in total score between them & the top 2 as did the judges. They don't have the execution visually to match Cavies & BD, at least yet. They are a dark horse for the title, in my opinion, but it will be very tough for them to catch either of the 2 leaders. Still, my favorite show of the year (not surprising - yes, I'm biased), with BD & Crown very close behind.

BLUE DEVILS -- What a fantastic show the 'devils have this year. They do deserve to be winning guard & GE visual, so it's nice to see that they are. The gap should have been a little bigger over Cavaliers in guard though. No one comes close to BD's guard this year. They are phenomenal. This is also, by far, the hardest drill I've ever seen from BD. To me, it's just as hard as the Cavaliers' drill. They are not, however, as clean as Cavies, either in marching or in music. I had no qualms with the score tonight, but it will be very interesting all the way to Orlando, I think.

CAVALIERS -- Well, after 4 viewings, this show is finally starting to click with me & the excitement level, as measured by audience reaction is finally starting to get there. I still don't love the music. After viewing from high (should never forget you can't evaluate their drill until you've seen it from way up), their drill is more difficult than I thought -- though I still say fairly equal in difficulty to the rest of the top 5, just more innovative. Musically, they are squeaky clean. Makes you wonder how far they can go with with those music scores, or will the gap close. The guard, despite the loud outfits, doesn't have nearly as impactful show as does the guard of Blue Devils this year. Unless PR just pulls off a miracle or BD outcleans them, I won't be upset if Cavies win this year, but it's no lock. I'm probably in a minority on this one, but I do like them better this year than last year. The are also adding a lot more volume to their sound than they were earlier in the year, or at any point last year. They still get overpowered by some others, but are now at least in the ballpark of where you would expect a top 5 corps to be in volume.

Overall, another great show in S.A., and a great crowd. Orlando is going to be a battle royale. I only wish it wouldn't be so ###### hot, but I'll be happy as long as the string of avoiding hurricanes in Florida in August is not interupted.

Can't wait to see everyone in Indy this weekend, it's going to be a blast! Don't be late to the show, or skip the afternoon show -- you'll miss some great shows & terrific kids if you do.

Harvey Phelps

Southbridge, MA (DCI Atlantic II/III)

It was a beautiful night for drum corps - we had a straight drive to Southbridge, thanks to the maps that Spartans put on their website, a lot of info was available. I knew it would be a good show when we drove into the town and a big, friendly sign was just on border, welcoming folks and listing the show. MacMahon field was a moderately-high stadium, maybe 24 rows - we sat at the top, with good shade, on the 50.

Spirit of Newark - 5th - 48.20 - 18H/9B/6P/8G - very young corps, with a few really solid horn players, one of whom played the National Anthem with a fair amount of security - unis are white, with a blue tunic with white accents, guard in blue jumpsuits - the show was themed "Spys R Us" selected from Spy Kids, From Russia with Love and Mission Impossible. The horns put out a surprising amount of sound, at times, I felt the drums had more security more of the time - you can hear a lot of feet in the horn sound, a lot of ragged phrase ends - the drill had one really nice moment in Miss.Imp. with the corps proper in a cross on the field during some tight solo work. The guard had some really lovely blue silks and nice dance moves. This corps is trying hard and the Municipal Council of Newark is to be commended for sponsoring such a worthwhile activity.

Citations 4th - 52.10 - these guys have improved a lot since I saw them last in Malden - personally I think their real strength is their drum section - the uniforms, made in Burlington by their in-house embroidery business, work well - the diagonal red sash on the black front contrasts well with the vertical black/white break in the back. The John Williams drum feature - I think it's "Last Crusade" - had some problems with horn entrances and balance - the whole show needs more conviction in the ensemble hits. The marching was weak - some sets had kids crowding elbow-to-elbow as they moved through - the whole corps is trying to do a lot and maybe too much for the level of performer - but they were definitely trying hard.

Targets - 3rd - 58.20 - This corps got the crowd going - there were some balance and intonation problems ("T & I" for you old school guys) where the sound got away from the kids, but some folks think that's preferable to losing energy on the ends of phrases. Music from "the Wiz" - the tunes are cool, the kids could get behind them, but I wonder at pulling in music from such an old show. The guard was notable for bright blue lame' pants, with cool blue tops - a nice accent to the red tunics and white pants of the corps proper - most of the silks had a Mardi Gras set of highlights - green, purple, yellow and pink - with similar pom poms (their guard wins high pom poms again) They have a marvellous soloist switching from mello to soprano - the drill worked, and was marched with a lot of security. Generally, I felt they could have pushed even more emotionally, but need to prepare their horns to do it - nice show.

East Coast Jazz - 2nd - 82.60 - ECJ has done it again - I have been impressed over the years at how much progress and development their shows make as the season progresses, this year is no exception - they command the field right from the first opening attack of the Adagio from the Gershwin concerto in F - strong crowd response right there. Marching-wise, the forms are really hitting - one great example is a rotating box hit in the first 3rd of the show - great co-ordination. I can hear more of the inner voices - whether because of balance or intonation, the sound is really clean - the new Bb horns help a lot - I believe I heard changes in how the music starts/stops - much more effective, and effectively performed. The guard is really hanging it out there with equipment work - a lot of fun to watch. Most of the visual impact of this show comes from the guard - there are not that many moment when the rest of the corps come together to build and sell an emotional point - they are there, I just don't notice them as much as I do with Spartans. I'm looking forward to the shootout in Orlando and seeing where these guys rate with Patriots and Jersey Surf.

Spartans - 1st. - 84.30 - I was expecting maybe a point or two more in the spread - Spartans have a really well-co-ordinated package - their guard gives the corps proper some incredible support - there are really rich visual textures in the show - combinations of guard and horns and drums that are very pleasing to the eye - and this occurs over and over again. They were playing to a partisan crowd - they ran this show, which is one reason, I'm sure, why it went so well - they really drove the crowd, most of which I credit to the design, the give and take of the emotion of the show. The guard uses irridescent gold silks in the last part of the show, to tremendous effect. Their pit gave lovely support to two quartets of horns - both times the balance was superb. This is an abstract show, performed very effectvely.

IN GENERAL - the Div. II/III season ended with this show - now there is just the Manning Bowl show left, which is Div. I - by our calculations (my friend Katherine was with me, seeing her first corps show - she marched in "drills" in the Grange, but this was new - she liked it and even guessed the placings - and captions - better than I) - there are 8 or 9 corps within 6 hours of each other - 10 if you count Dirigo Alliance (Waterville, ME) and the Corps in Perpetual Startup Mode, Atlantic Guardian - this could turn into an even more lively area if show sponsors can be found.V

The hamburgers were good (better than Malden, but overpriced) and the Diet Coke was cold (Malden had colder) and the stands were pretty much packed - not bad for $5 and a three-hour drive)

See you in Orlando

regards - Jim Alberty

Clifton, NJ (DCA)

Went to the Clifton DCA show last night for my first viewing of senior corps. And here's the review.......

Weather: About 80 degrees with very low humidity and a light breeze....perfect!!!

National Anthem: Song by a girl from the Hawthorne Caballeros competing corps color guard. nice voice.... Great Job!

In Exhibition the Raiders: This was my second viewing of the corps and I think they are on the right track. I saw them back in June at the Giant Stadium show. Since then they have really improved the areas of the show that needed some attention (AKA 2nd number) The brass line started with a nice balanced opening impact to get things rolling. The mellophone and trumpet soloist did another fine job. Towards the end of the show the corps seemed a bit tired. I am sure it is just a matter of stamina. This will improve with time. I really like the drill that has been written for this corps. They cover the field nicely without exposing the corps too much. The percussion seems to be a bit better since Giant Stadium and I think I figured out why the snare line is little bit sloppy. It is the SNARE TUNING. WAY too tight in my opinion. But they are definitely improving. The pit did a really fine job and played some nice accompanying parts. Guard was also very good overall. In the ballad the guard pulls out 2 beautiful blue and silver flags (Per member) during a musical impact. Nice job Raiders... keep working.....your practice is paying off.

Summary: Raiders are definitely getting better and the crowd supported their efforts with a polite response.

Sunrisers: Great to see this corps back on the field. They may be smallish but the quality of the performers is at its typical Sunriser self. The show starts with a nice mellophone and soprano solo. The overall sound of the hornline (13 horns) was very controlled for the most part. Sometimes the corps sounded like they had more horns then they actually do and I noticed this when I looked down to jot down a few notes. The color guard uses nice flags throughout the show and do a good job. The drill is smartly written for the size of the corps and the members actually seem very comfortable with their drill assignments. The drumline consisted of 4 bass 2 snare and I think maybe 1 quint player. It would be nice to see 1 less bass and 1 addition snare but they did a fine job with what they had.

Summary: SO Glad to see this corps back on the field and I feel they have a good foundation of talent and members to bring about a bigger and better corps in the coming years. The fans politely applauded their efforts. The crowd gave a deserved standing O when they trooped the stands.

Skyliners: Nice to see this corps with a fielded drumline this year. The hornline played with some good overall drive and the soloists did a fine job to add excitement. The hornline finished every tune strong, which was a real treat. I think they just need to work on establishing a better sense of flow and continuity at this point. The drumline plays pretty good and the pit was especially nice to listen to. The pit was also pretty large in numbers. The color guard did a nice job and used nicely colored flags throughout. Members seemed fairly comfortable with the drill.

Summary: I think the show just needs some overall cleaning. A little work on the transitions and cleaning will put this corps in real good shape. Crowd loved them (As always).

Corpvets: HELLO Corpvets and welcome to NJ. I was really looking forward to seeing the Corpsvets tonight and they didn't disappoint. Solid overall corps and really nice brass soloists. The hornline did a fine job and I really like the new uniforms. There is one part towards the end of the show where a small ensemble of horns play (Mostly sopranos) and hit some crunch chords. Well the rest of the hornline slowly gathers around them through some interesting drill and build the crunch chord. A little hard to explain but a really nice effect. The drumline did a good job and it appears that the snares need some cleaning. Good overall marching and the drill design is nice. The color guard was pretty big and they performed really well.

Summary: This corps is getting better each year and they have a very serious approach. Really nice overall performance and the crowd liked them. I really look forward to seeing them in Scranton come Labor Day.

Buccaneers: The Buccaneers have a really fun time with there presentation of the Sea's which is the theme of this years show. The hornline played with a lot of drive and the opener was full of energy. At some of the loud impacts the sound is a bit bottom heavy. I really think it has a lot more to do with drill staging because at some points the upper brass cuts through well. The drumline was really solid and they played a pretty decent length solo about mid-show. The corps also marched pretty well overall. Some of the more difficult areas need some cleaning but nothing that can't be done. The color guard did a real fine job and I loved their choice of big white sail-like flags in the opening impact. They also do a fine role-playing job in the more comical portion of the show. They also did a good job on the big tosses tonight.

Summary: Overall a really nice show. The corps is balanced overall but I do have some concerns with the balance of the hornline. The lower brass seems to be more noticeable sound-wise then the upper. Some minor staging changes and balancing should clear this up. Nice jobs Bucs.....I love the show and look forward to seeing it again.

Hurricanes: Hurcs do Vegas is a fun show. An absolutely amazing soprano soloist does a fine job throughout the show. The horniline plays pretty well overall and gives a short rendition of Mag 7 in the opener. There was some minor phasing issues but nothing that can not be cleaned up. The hornline seemed a little weak In some isolated spots but I think that this is being caused by some endurance issues. The young drumline did a pretty good job and I think that the snares probably need a little more cleaning. The drum solo was good but seemed to end to abruptly. The marching was pretty consistent throughout and just needs some cleaning. There are a couple of areas in the drill that require individual members to perform some Insane move that is probably not needed. The guard is its usual good self and I really like the playing card props in the beginning (Maybe this has something to do with my love of playing blackjack and gambling...don't know).

Summary: Overall this is a fun show that just needs some cleaning. The corps followed the Bucs tonight (Which was no easy task) so the crowd was a little short on applause. Most everyone around me (And including myself) really enjoyed the show and look really forward to seeing it again. Should be real nice by DCA Finals.

Bushwackers: The hornline started the show with some really challenging articulations that were performed pretty darn well. There is a part in the show that features a really nice flugal horn duet. The hornline did a fine job in the ballad and pariculary well at the impact. The mellophones horns sounded really nice at the hit in the ballad. The drumline is pretty big and much improved from last year. The new uniforms are nice and the corps marched really well for this time of year. The guard seemed a little weaker than previous years but they did a fine job. I really like the Nasa jump suits and the flags that they used.

Summary: Really good overall job and they may surprise a few corps come finals. The crowd gave the usual Bushwacker/Clifton show response. The corps is very talented and their fine marching surprised me a bit. Pretty clean for mid-July.

Caballeros: Biggest most balanced hornline of the night that performed with a lot of dynamics. There was a little phasing played backfield building to the first be impact but the corps noticed and fixed it quick. The hornline did a nice job and are a bit muddy in the more difficult sections of the show. The pace is really fast throughout the whole show. The drumline did a real fine job and their drum solo is a blast with the extra bass drums...water effects and all. The rest of the drumline comes in and sprays a bit of smoke (AKA Powder) which is real nice as well. The drill is really fast pace and it may get a little to interesting if the field is wet. One brass player almost took a spill and 3 or other players would have went with him/her. The guard was really fun to watch and I feel that they are really doing a good job. Great job by the brass soloists as well.

Summary: Being the Cabs home show they made the place go bananas. Actually this was one of the best performances I have seen from them at this show in a real long time. I am little concerned with difficulty of the music in some isolated spots as well as the drill. They leave no room for error. This corps can definitely challenge for the title. Should be interesting to see them face off with the folks (Brigs) from NY.

Skyliner Alumni: Drum majors arrived in first class style (White stretch limousine) which the crowd ate up. Actually the crowd ate up everything the corps dished out. They are playing a couple of different numbers this year which is a real treat. The 12 snare do a really fine job as do the brass soloists. Nice Job SKY always

Caballero Alumni: I have seen the corps many times since its inception and felt like the corps played the best show they have played in a couple of years. The hornline did a fine job and all of the little new intros/interludes work real nice. The RUMPS to start the show was really nice to hear. The soloists did a great job and the drumline was solid. Marching was confident with room for some minor cleaning. Great job.....the hard work is paying off.


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