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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 Seven of Reviews

Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when they are available or submitted.  The following reviews are solely the opinion of the reviewers.  If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author, all reviews are signed with an email address.  If you want to add your review to this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to:
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Thursday July 31

Salem, VA (DCI)

The rain out, upsetting, but, I wasn't disappointed with the standstill.

Esperanza~ I saw them practice the day before and was looking forward to seeing them perform. I wasn't let down. My fiancee wasn't expecting much and of the 8 corps there, they were in her top 3 favorites of the night. They sounded wonderful for their size, or any size for that matter. Musical, together, tight, you name it, they had it. If they win Division 2, and I think they will, it will be well deserved. Thank You!

Crown~ I was looking forward to seeing/hearing them, but... I wasn't impressed. Are they better than last year? Yes, but, honestly I was let down. On a purely music stand point (and I can't base on anything else anyway) the Glassmen and Blue Knights sounded and performed a ton better. Carol of the bells was nice, but nothing spectacular.

Blue Knights~ Loved them! Both my fiancee and I were very pleased with them. Enjoyable show, great sound, very musical, overall beautiful show, both my fiancee and I think theyll pass Crown, but remember, that is based off of just hearing the corps. And they sure look sharp in the clown's arch.

Cascades~ Looked good, sounded good, I honestly don't know how they're getting low 80 scores. They too sounded better than Crown, and I enjoyed them more than Crown. The book needs more difficulty and more effect to pass the other corps just above them. I still enjoyed them, as did my fiancee, but we both were left wanting more. Still, great performance.

Spirit~ Great show! This will go somewhere, and will definately get there by finals next week. Very entertaining, accessible (sp?), and crowd pleasing, all while doing a heck of a job. After they finished their show, they encored. With what? Let it be me. There was a former member of the corps (when they were Spirit of Atlanta) who cried when she heard them start to play it. They just rocked, simply.

Glassmen~ Well, when it comes to musicallity and overall good sound, they have that, but when it comes to effect, they just lacked it. My fiancee said (and I agree) the music didn't fit the theme of "Elements". As I said, we both loved how they sounded, but it didn't flow, it was "just there" as my Sweety said. And I had to help her figure out what the orange and yellow slap sticks being played by the snares was for. Very interesting effect.

At this point, the percussion driver for the Cavies and a young man from Thailand joined us. The guy form Thailand was touring with the Cavies because he wants to start a corps there. I said that he should do it, and there is no better activity to start than drum corps.

Blue Devils~ Wow!!! Untouchable!!! Wow!!! Of the entire night, my Baby and I believed them to have the best: brass, percussion, effect, and music. What do you know... everything that could be performed?! Left to right, up and down the best corps of the night. We were both very wowed. My finacee [up until last night] didn't like the Blue Devils based on their shows of the past years, and I must say I didn't like them either, until last night. BD you have 2 new fans rooting for you. No percussion, and I mean NO percussion was as good as these guys. Unbelieveable. Wonderful.

Cavies~ For the second time in 2 years, disappointment. When compared to the Devils, there is no comparison IMO. There's nothing accessible, nothing memorable, nothing that wowed with their music. A good corps should be able to be listened to and enjoyed. You shouldn't have to watch to like it. After their performance here as well as their performance last year at Finals (where I was present) I was left asking "huh?" Last year it was "What was that?" I will say... This years music is better and more enjoyable, but nothing IMO compared to BD. Music should have effect without the visual. My fiancee said that IF the music was written to the visual, that would explain why the music wasn't as effective or enjoyable as a music first visual second show.

First sell out, I heard. 4500+ strong at the venue. All bummed about the rain out, but satisfied with what they heard.

Shawn and Meghan

The show was a rain out after an hour rain delay which kind of bummed me out, but the corps still blew the house down.

Esperanza: After watching these kids practice for two days straight at Heritage High School in Lynchburg, I was still very impressed by the sound that they put out. They have a great show musically, visually and all other aspects that creates a world championship show. This show was my second favorite show of the evening. I believe they will go all the way and win their division this year. I was able to talk to some of the memebers on Wednesday when they arrived and they were very excited to be there and were very friendly. They are a great group of kids and I wish them the best of luck.

Carolina Crown: I was looking forward to seeing this show. After reading reviews on here about how great their show was I was very let down....and so were my parents. My mom complained that they used too much pit and had nothing exciting in their show. I have to vouch with her on that part. Their show just seemed kind of flat and you could tell that they were not putting it all out on the field because it was a standstill. The only part of the show that I enjoyed was The Engulfed Cathedral. I love that piece and they did a very good job at playing it. Other than that, nothing spectacular.

Blue Knights: Now this was a good show. Even though I do not understand why their guard came and stood in an arc behind the band and didn't spin or anything. I wouldn't have wanted to stand there at attention while the corps was performing in the rain. They have a great music book and my whole family (myself, mom and dad) enjoyed the show.

Seattle Cascades: Good show! The music isn't as noticable, nor as enjoyable as last years was. The guard in the background did a great job. I just really don't understand why they are scoring so low cause they really put it all out on their sleeve. My mom really liked their uniforms and the music to the show. She enjoyed the park and bark portion when they let it all hang out. Dad was very impressed with them also. Good job Cascades!!

Spirit: Boy did they crank out a great show! They had the crowd eating out of their hands. It was just an all around magnificient show and I really hope that they pull through and place in the finals group. They were the only corps to receive a standing O in the middle of the performance and the encore was absolutely fabulous. Spirit had the best show entertainment wise for the entire night. Their guard has come a LONG WAY since last year and they are specatcular, of course nothing close to The Cadets or BD, but they were great and have done alot this year. Also, I love how at the end of the show they played a little small lic from their 2001 show "Ghost Train". That sent chills up my spine and I gasped when I had realized what they had done. The only bad part of their show was that I was trying to really listen to the ballad extremely closely cause I had heard that it was a tear jerker... too bad the stupid kids behind me decided that they wanted to talk through the entire ballad, so I could'nt hear much. I wasn't too happy with those kids. I'm sure the ballad is gorgeous, I guess I will just have to get the Championships CD and listen closely. But otherwise....Best show of the night! They really brought the house down. Thank you Spirit!!!

Glassmen: I normally understand music and the themes of the shows, but this was one that I just didn't understand. Maybe it was because they were at a standstill and the guard didn't perform behind them, but I was just lost....and my parents were more lost than I was. My mom wondered what the red and yellow sticks were for in front of the snares, I told what they were for, but I don't think she still understood that it represented fire. I've enjoyed the past 5 shows from them, but this years is just not entertaining. Don't get me wrong, they sounded great, but the show just lacked something.

Blue Devils: WOW!! They were awesome all around. Great brass, great percussion and great guard! They really rocked out there and I have a feeling that this show is a championship show. Now I'm not a huge BD fan, but I think this show is the one. It will be a hard fight at the top come next week at Finals, but I'm sure BD will pull out all the stops and end up winning. Great show BD!!

Cavaliers: HMMMM.....I really don't know what to say about this show other than, "what were they thinking?" This show was confusing and utterly lame. I'm sorry but IMHO, The Cavaliers staff has taken original composition a little TOO far. Maybe the show would have made more sense if they were moving and the guard was spinning, but this show just isn't what it's all cracked up to be. To those who enjoy abstract original compositions, this is the show for you. But if you want to actually hear a melody and remember the show by the music, don't bother with them because you will be VERY disappointed. I think that they will place second behind BD and above The Cadets (as much as it hurts me to think that the Cadets won't beat the Cavies). Please, please, please think of something more audience friendly for next year. This original composition stuff just reeks (sp?).

Overall a great show. I didn't take home any souvies this year, which is a first. I can't wait until next years show! Hopefully it won't rain and The Cadets will decide to come back and bring the hosue down.

Favorite shows in order:
1: Spirit
2: Esperanza
3: Blue Devils
4: Blue Knights
5: Seattle Cascades
6: Glassmen
7: Carolina Crown
8: Cavaliers


West Chester, PA (DCI)

It's late and I just returned home....below is my review of the West Chester show... book, and they put out a very strong sound for a smaller hornline and a Div. II fact, noticeably more than Kiwanis, who was on right after them. There was some dirt in brass both ensemble-wise and will be interesting to see how tight they can get it (and probably a determining factor) now that they've hit the road. Percussion was solid in every segment. Crowd appreciated them alot tonight.

Kiwanis......they had decent blend and control most of the time (not all). My big qualm was a lack of dynamic/emotional contrast within the arrangements themselves...."nice", but lacking in excitement. The fact that this is a tough year is not going to equate to a high finish for them...I just hope they can hold on to what they have, grow in size and maturity, and hopefully see stronger arrangements in the future.

Magic.....decent design....overall execution "mixed"...sometimes quite good, sometimes not so good....sopranos strongest segment of hornline...baris need more support and a rounder sound...some problems in both individual and ensemble...."Mass" tempos seem too slow to me and thus it "dragged" from an emotional standpoint. Percussion fairly consistent and musical. They are not a "lock" for finals by any means, but certainly a contender for a finals spot.

Crossmen.....some individual and ensemble brass problems tonight. I also did not hear the same level of emotion/impact from them as I did end of June...perhaps some road fatigue issues....guard has come a long way, and percussion has a fun book played decently....marching was ok.....end of "Count Bubba" sold. it they can tighten their marching and some of the brass things, they could move up a least in score, and perhaps placement. However, if they sit still this week, they could be in for some problems.

Santa Clara......execution is the only thing keeping them from making a serious run at the title. Brass had some major quality issues and some timing difficulties, especially the 1st 1/3 of the show. Weirdly, they got "better", and were pretty tight the last 1/3. Dynamic contrast was the best of the night, as they were hitting their impacts with power and emotion., and they sold the program...they could refine their intonation a bit more...this was evident comparing with Phantom. This show is truly "vanguard", as they have much demand visually and musically, yet it all works together...the musical arrangments are a fairly "avante garde" product, but the product works from a continuity standpoint, and there's alot of contrast within the show. I've seen everyone ranked in the top 5 now with the exception of Devils, and this is the best written product I have seen, with a visual book that can hang with Cavies and a musical book that in my opinion is superior from a composition standpoint. Percussion is very demanding and they are executing pretty well, with some room left... If they had 3 weeks, they would have a great shot, but I think they are very short on time here..........

Phantom....I was expecting alot after all of the reviews...frankly, I was disappointed a bit. They have some wonderful blend and quality at times, and their articulation technique is among the very best most of the time....however, there were moments when things seemed like they were really going somewhere within the arrangements, then. they didn't. A noticeable extremely late bari release ruined a big impact point early in the show. Perc. did a fine job tonight, and I liked the visual book (though I won't claim to be a visual guru...) I just got done playing Pachelbel's cannon 2 weeks ago coached by the Canadian Brass at the Eastman School of Music...frankly, I think Phantom's arrangment sways too far from the original to the point that it loses continuity. This is a talented corps; however, I don't think this is a title level show from a musical standpoint If they can keep this talent, and the staff gives them the vehicle, they will contend in the near future, but not this year.

Cadets.......came out of the gate smokin.....Fanfare worked totally tonight, and if rest of show was that level, I would say they would be the big darkhorse next week. Malaguenia started well, and was executed ok throughout, but was too 'controlled" the last 1/3....they needed to "let it rip" and it didn't....the soprano trio was good, but they didn't have enough impact behind them. Ditto for Rocky Point.....the arrangment is ok, as is the performance level...the dynamic level necessary to sell the last 2 minutes was not achieved...either "out of gas" or too reserved....The corps really executed well tonight in all captions....guard and percussion were quite strong....brass was clean with decent technique and intonation, but they still have some room there...I actually think they will be clean enough overall to contend in all of the performance captions, but they need to max out impacts much more from Malagueia on to totally sell the show...however tonight, they were easily the tightest thing out there, and the margin should have been over 2 points in my opionion.

general...good crowd, threatening weather (rain) that miraculously held up.... judging (imo) qualms with placements...thought all numbers just a bit high for performances given....just a tolerance thing..... and to all a good night!! onto Allentown for the weekend tommorrow afternoon....


well I am at a computer late as usual... some thoughts on what I saw:

Surf... wonderful show. Loved the podium that was a lifeguard chair... great idea. Plus, if I can say so... FINALLY A SALUTE FROM A DRUM MAJOR THAT HAD SOME THOUGHT BEHIND IT. Hooray for that!!! Show was fun... great job... good sound... overall a good time had by everyone around me. And can I just say Bernstien mixed with Hawaii Five-0? God bless em... made it work and then some. Love the unis... comfort personified.

Kiwanis... well.. what can I say... maybe if they did a Bryan Adams show they'd be able to 'connect' with the music? Its just my opinion, but I wasn't too thrilled when Bluecoats did all Beatles music a few years back... but thats just me... They had a few nice moments, but overall left me flat. The guard exposing sequin halter tops? Hey.. I guess Dutch Boy lives!

Magic.... With all the distractions I have read about on here? You'd never know it from what was on the field. Some great drill moves (hard to get a good visual from such a low vantage point in this stadium.. but). Good sound... very polished. Alas open class scoring is a bit tougher on them than last year....but I hope they hold things together in the off season and come back strong as ever next summer. They should make top 12.

Crossmen..... guard is amazing.. wow.. I am not a guard person per se.. but man.. they are amazing. Loved the running bass and multi toms around the racks at the end.. really made an emotional impact ... put it 'over the top' in my estimation... Good to see ol Bones back there! Drill move re-tread: using last years opening move, however done from the OTHER back corner.... seems to work.. but if you know me, you know I don't care for identical moves over and over again.. more on that later with another YEA corps... (hint hint)

Santa Clara.... have to say they had a little bit of phasing in the horns at the beginning...and have to have some of THE most exposed difficlt horn arranging in their opener... Really love them... just like in the past few years, its a show that needs more than one watch to truly appreciate whats going on. They take some very interesting, strong music and sell the hell out of it. Guy in front of me made a comment that they had probably the most notes played all night... guess there could have been an argument made for that. :) Great show... I think that after Mr. Royer passed the Vanguard kind of 'got lost'... Since 99 they have found their way.. and are truly setting a bar for others to rise to.

Phantom.... good to see them back in all white. Other than that one bari forgetting to stop playing.. the beginning of the show was nice. Didnt have the emotion of the rest of the show, but thats fine. Beautiful sound... amazingly powerful and then simply beautiful. Best corps they've had in the last few years... and that says something. Kudos to them.

Cadets.. man.. did they rock tonight. From my last post about a month ago.. did they ever tighten it up. Wonderful.. I was THRILLED to see what I saw. Overall. I will say this: guard? impecable. percussion? powerful.. tight...awsome. Horns? Sounded amazing. These kids are top notch.... HOWEVER.... The unis... I said it before and Ill say it again.. they look like absolute SHIT. I am sorry... I understand the need for a uni that is easier to maintain than the old ones.. but JESUS H CHRIST ON A POPCICLE STICK.. These look horrendous. Doesnt ANYONE in charge see it? Every time a kid turns around all you see is the coat out of the cumber bun... its horriffic. Someone said they got the unis for free.. Well congrats: they LOOK it. My .02 cents on how to fix the problem: GET THE OLD FATTER CUMBER BUNDS BACK... and QUICK.

Drill is better ... but (big shock)... in maleguena the weaving blocks in and out of each other.. ahem.. can anyone say drill move from 2000? After the big hit in the disney show.... the first move.. here it is on the RIGHT 40 rather than the LEFT 40... Am I the only one who sees this? Am I being a prick and pickin on the drill writer... or do others see it? Please.. let me know.. cause if its just me pickin on the guy.. then Ill stop... Maybe I have just come to expect more...

Musically? As I have said.. the kids are playing the HELL out of the book... I think that its such a demanding book that it has taken the kids all summer to build up the stamina to rehearse and compete all in one day with it... and they should be proud of themselves for not just DOING it.. but doing it FREAKIN AMAZINGLY.... BUT... I just dont care for the arrangements all that much. Still after more than a month, the overall arangments leave me wanting more... The final Z pull just wish there was more there.. maybe they'll put something in... Like I said.. I totally enjoy the show.. and the kids are amazing.. but it just leaves me a little flat.

so thats it kiddies.... we'll see what happens next year. Ill try one show and see about this whole amp thing.. not too enthused as you all know...


As an introduction, drove from northern NJ and because of some traffic and parking issues when we got to the stadium me and 5 others didn't get into our seats until after the first 2 corps. So I won't be reviewing Jersey Surf or Kiwanis Kavaliers. Sorry!

Magic of Orlando
These guys usually have a strong hornline and tonight was no different. Good brass sound overall. Liked their Bernstein "Mass" arrangement. Reminded me of Cadets arrangements a little bit. But very different use of "Mass" motifs in their arrangements. Solid percussion and good colorguard. Very colorful flags and some really nice ensemble tosses and catches. Overall a very good performance.

Not a huge Crossmen fan but tonight I thought they had a good show. Other reviews noted weaknesses in brass performance, but I thought they were quite effective tonight still. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is a nice opening statement but wished they could have had a bigger impact hit before going into the next piece. However, ny drummer buddy's teen daughter said she almost cried during "Rainbow" since that's one of her favorite songs. And she loved the rainbow silk effect. In "Count Bubba" brass was really good. The segue from the baritone section soli to the trumpet section soli cool. Kind of slid into it. The percussion racks at the end reminded me of "Blast" and was a little over done but still had alot of impact. One comment is that the 3 percussion racks for the snares seem to get in the way of actually seeing the snare players. Could be adjusted for better line of sight of snares. Overall alot of energy and a good crowd response to their performance.

Santa Clara Vanguard
I knew things were about to heat up as they took the field. Read other reviews about the stereophonic brass opening from opposite sides of the field. The annoying thing was that the announcer's mic was still on after he announced the corps during what seemed to be the first minute of their show. So it was hard to get the full effect of the opening with a mic hiss in the background. I agree with one of the other reviews from last night that it seemed their brass started a little slowly but then after warming up really cranked it up. Really liked their drill. The first big hit ends with the brass in vertical rows and the cool thing is they do the same drill move at the end of the opener but coming from the other side of the field. Brass had alot of powerful moments and they march very uniformly. Body carriage very good. Percussion really tight tonight. Not sure if they were really better than the Cadets though. Cool free form section with the snares and multi toms up front in the middle of the show. Colorguard was strong too and complimented the rest of the corps very well visually. Overall a very impressive show and I think they can move up the ranks if more cleaning can be done.

Phantom Regiment
Great to see them in all white again. Classic Regiment! As anticipated their brass was the best of the night as far as articulation and intonation. Right from the first trumpet entrance of "Canon" to the ending there brass was right on. The "Canon" arrangement really is alot different than the Pachabel's canon most of us are accustomed to hearing but still very expressive and played well. Except there was a single horn that didn't cut off in time and hung over after the first big hit. Everyone in the crowd actually gasped. But besides that the brass was awesome. 12 contras and the baritones with huge tone. Yes! But besides the brass nothing stuck out that much. I agree with others that the colorguard's black outfits don't stand out to the white corps uniforms making it kind of bland visually. And even though the battery percussion was solid and pretty tight, my drummer buddy said that they really didn't show their chops at all. And I thought that the body movements that the corps did was too much. It just gets tiring after a while to see them doing those various motions. The ending statements were great with the reintroduction of the "Canon" theme again. But even though the corps ended very well in a tight cluster formation the crowd didn't really just leap to their feet. Impact wasn't there tonight for some reason. Overall, great brass! Colorguard and percussion solid but nothing stands out specifically.

The Cadets
I'm from NJ so these guys are my favorite corps of course. And I'll spend more time critiquing them. So I may be more critical than some since I've seen several championship years performances by the Cadets. I agree with other reviews that the Cadets strengths are truly their percussion and colorguard. Not that the brass are subpar but they definitely need the most cleaning at this point in the season. Of course it's hard to compare right after hearing Phantom's huge brass sound. The brass seemed to start slowly too which is kind of weird especially after doing a pretty long on field warmup. I expected their brass to be sufficiently warmed up by "Fanfare and Allegro" but there were some intonation issues early on.

Marching wise a saw a few trumpets in the opener crash into oncoming low brass members. No one fell but it was obvious that someone made some big misteps, probably just a freak mistake. Cadets are marching fast though but I would expect those kind of mistakes to be gone this late in the season. In "Fanfare" I really liked the brass swells when the corps is to the right of the field and the horn tilts left and right help accentuate the crescendos. Cool! The percussion break in the opener was just clean, clean, clean! And the battery percussion ensemble marching is excellent. I disagree with some reviews that say that the Cadets drum book this year is simply rehashed from the past couple of years. Maybe some similarities but this drum book tears it up and sounds very original still. The ensemble ending of the opener very strong. And the colorguard is just awesome! So many tosses and I didn't see any drops last night through the entire show (they may have dropped but I didn't see it).

"Malaguena" is very "Blast" sounding especially to my friend's 8 year old son who owns the "Blast" DVD and has memorized it. He leaned over to me and said, "It sounds like Blast." But I like how the arrangements really sculpt the entire song not just the popular shout sections. Colorguard dancing up front is really pretty. Heard April Gilligan shout atop the bleachers, "Go girls!" right before that part. Brass really opened up in the middle of Malaguena and sounded great in all the shout sections. The trumpet soloists were really good tonight too. I've heard some mp3's from the past 2 weeks regionals and they sounded much better tonight. Alot of energy! And the percussion was simply great, so aggressive but clean!

"Rocky Point" begins with that awesome sixteenth note phrase. I wish the baritones were fuller and louder though during their soli section with the melody. The dynamic snare rolls at the beginning of "Rocky" totally rocked the socks of my drummer buddy! And there is a great rifle toss and catch right after the baritone section that was right on. I wish the arrangement of "Rocky Point" used more of the main motifs and wasn't as interupted sounding as the original '82-'83 version but still very good. The brass did seem to sound tired by the big push before the z-pull and some of the clarity in the running mellophone parts were weak. But opening up the z-pull to spread the field from end zone to end zone was very impressive! And the marching intervals were perfect in the closing set. And the intonation was very good for being spread across that far.

Overall, a great show and definitely the best performance of the night by any corps. If the Cadets can clean up the brass parts and fill out their sound all the way to the end of the show the impact could really propel them during finals next week. The fast drill is there and just needs tp be tweaked more. Again percussion and colorguard are really great! Hope to see some more improvement tonight at Allentown.

In closing, great show even though we got there late and it never really rained during the show. A little suprised that SCV beat Phantom since SCV has been behind Phantom most of the season. Can't wait to see many of the same corps tonight at Allentown to see if my observations were accurate.

Dr. Love

I wish people would post more reviews, because it's good to see what's happening at shows that you miss. I figured I would do one myself. It's my first review, sorry if it's a little choppy. I didn't write anything down last night. I'm a guard person, so that's mostly what I will talk about.

There was just enough traffic and enough of us (my boyfriend and I) getting slightly lost that we ended up missing the beginning of Surf's show. We saw from the orange/yellow flags on, from the fence on top of the hill. I was so pissed. I liked the changes in Surf's show, though. I last saw them at New Brunswick before the Stroudsburg magic took place. Still pissed. My boyfriend, a drum corps virgin, enjoyed them the best because they were fun and recognizable. I like them because I have a bit of a bias- I marched there, and now my sister marches. Oh yeah, and because they're really good.

Our seats were pretty close to the center, just below the middle height of the stands. Just ggod enough to see some drill but also to see that the performers do have faces.

They were ok. The guard was messy at times, but I spent most of the show looking for my friend on the field so what do I know? They were loud and stuff, if that's good or not I don't know. Haha someone dropped their cloth when the guard holds them up in the rainbow shape. Again, my boyfriend liked them but I think that's because his attention span didn't wear out yet.

From what I read about the show I totally prepared myself to not like it. I didn't expect anything at all. Well I ended up enjoying it a whole lot. SCV always has cool unique music and I definitely have to d/l some of it. The guard uniforms weren't as ugly as I'd heard, they looked cool. I liked the Latin? section of the show. Actually I know I would've liked the beginning if the freaking loudspeaker wasn't making hissing noises so loud you couldn't hear the subtle music. Oh well.

I read that some people thought the guard was ok, and seeing them made me wonder if they were talking about the same guard I saw. One of the cleanest of the night (well, at least after I stopped watching my friend I noticed they were clean). Haha someone in the hornline must've got in trouble after holding that note out too long. I'd hate to be him. The Pachelbel Remix was cool and not cheesy like it had the potential to be. Phantom was beautiful.

This show didn't seem as happy and bouncy as Cadets shows go. They usually have a youthful, fresh feel to them, but this was more reserved. The warming up into the show wasn't too bad but it must be a pain to time it right. There was a lot of sabre work so I watched that most of the time. I liked the partner dancing in Malaguena, but the song itself I wasn't too crazy about. That was the whitest rendition of Malaguena I've ever heard. It wasn't until the end that it became less uptight and mechanical, I guess? Rocky Point was good, but then again I've never seen them do it before to compare it to. Overall, I was a little let down by these guys- the show was technically good but it just felt a little flat.

I left right after Cadets. DM only retreat not worth seeing, and besides I could get the scores online. Overall, it was a good night. Nice and cool, good seats, under the lights... good time for drum corps. All the corps got standing O's (at least, the ones I saw- I wasn't in the stands for Kiwanis or Magic) so it felt a little overdone, but that's always a good thing to see as a performer. There was this band geek in front of us who thought he was the coolest guy in the world for bobbing his head in time with the music. Also, he was tall. I wanted to punch him. Hopefully it won't be so bad when I go to Allentown on Saturday night to see some of the corps that weren't at WC. That's all for now, bye.


Well, here is my "review".....just off the cuff observations, as I did not write anything down.

This show, BTW, is connected to the Vivace/George Parks marching band/DM camp, so the crowd is full of HS MB kids, as tuition to the camp includes entry to the show.


One of my favorite shows this year. They've changed the opener this past month (to get them to the sideline hit quicker, is my guess). I thought the old one, where the corps sat in lines facing backfield (as though in a classroom) and individuals stood up and played short fragments as though they were students acting up, was funnier, but this truncated version gets them to the sideline faster. "Schools Out" blows the house down and really got the crowd going.

They've also added some very nice looking cabanas where they store on-field stuff. I sat behind grandparents of two Surf trumpet players. Their daughter came up and sat with them, and their son-in-law was part of the cabana construction team. Grandma and grandpa saw a show for the first time; they had never heard of anything like drum corps in their lives.

The corps has come a long way since Allentown, and I wish them luck in Orlando. They still have one of the best cymbal lines in ANY division, IMO.

Kiwanis does an all-Beatles show. I've preferred other recent shows of theirs, esp the "Miss Saigon" show of a few years back. They seem to play in a very reserved manner, and didn't really connect with the audience. "Octopusses Garden" was about the only number they really sold. The had a pretty arrangement of "Michelle", but their lack of dynamics and shaping didn't sell the tune well.

Aside as a VERY oldtimer....I think the last time I heard that tune on the field was the exit number of the 1968 Polish Falcons from Elizabeth NJ, who had a wonderful mellophone solist.

Magic.....had some very nice charts, and they seemed to do a decent job with them (esp love the opener), but IMO they may have a tough time in Orlando, given the incredible level of just about all the corps this year. The "Mass" did drag a bit, IMO. They had some beautiful flags, and I liked ther guard costumes a lot; they complemented the brass/percussion unis quite nicely. I love the tuning of their snares; a bit lower than some of the other lines.

Crossmen...a few timing problems in the brass, and some dirt in the snares, esp when they were playing on the racks. But....the interpretations are overall much better than at Allentown. They are starting to groove more with a jazz feel. I also love the guard contribution, in performance and color choices.

SCV....Some timing issues in the opening...not surprising with half the corps on one endzone and half lined up on the other. Method of attack used by the trumpets makes the opening staccato very heavy-sounding. I love the tuning of the bass drums. They also tilt the snares to make for a more natual left-hand striking postion on the drum head. Kind of full-circle irony, as in the early 70's they were one of the first corps to use match grip and flatten the snares. I thought their percussion overall played the best of the night.

Phantom.....I love their show. The sound coming out of those King horns is marvelous. One 'oops' missed release noted by others... the entire audience in earshot went 'ooooo' when it happened. One other 'oops' was a visual one in the opening. One of the tubas missed a direction change and there was nearly a collision. I cringed at the thought of dents on those wonderful horns. However, the person recovered nicely and averted such a disaster. As usual with Phantom, they did a LOT of trademark body movement. I wonder if it caused visual performance issues, as there were moments of non-uniformity in some of the moves. Their snare line had some very demanding stuff, and did a great job with the exposed parts of the show. The double silks in the opener highlighted the usual very classy Regiment guard style. Method of attack on the trumpets in marcato sections was a distinct contrast to the SCV. Very light and unforced, yet on-the-money. I hoped they won high brass, and apparently they did.

Cadets....very large improvement over Allentown...they brought the crowd to their feet at the end of "Malaguena". The screaming trumpet trio did a nice job. Ended the show spread from 5-yards into one endzone to 5-yards into the other. "RPH" seemed to sell much better than at A'town, and the pit projected much better.

All in all a very nice evening, even with some misting.

Prior to the show, I went to one of the Irish pubs downtown for dinner.... I was escorted upstairs to the non-smoking area, which only had one table in use at that time. Happened to be Larry Markiewicz of the Crossmen staff, and we had a nice dinner-time conversation.


Lynn, MA (DCI)

Wednesday night was another perfect night for drum corps in the decrepit Manning Bowl in Lynn, Ma. Now I know that this stadium has a lot of history with drum corps and I have many fond memories of marching there myself, but it has become such a dump! The rest rooms leak and are filthy and the steps are crumbling. We had to endure numerous arguments in our section because you cannot read the faded row numbers on the steps! You actually have to count the rows as you walk up to find your seats! Come on Boston! You have proven yourself to be a world class organization isn't time to upgrade the facilities? Now on to the show which was won by BAC in a thrilling manner.

7th, Pioneer, 71.60
Oh god are those guard uniforms ugly! And boy do they have a huge drumlin (10 snares). You have to give Pioneer credit. For the last couple of years they have fielded a small Div I corps that invariably ends up near or at the bottom of the heap but they still manage to put out a good product by seasons end. While I am not familiar with their music, Holsinger is a step up from Danny Boy. For a small corp they had some great field coverage and the smallish hornline had some good impact points.

6th, Troopers, 75.55
It is good to see Troopers fielding a good size hornline. The corps was noticeably improved from Indy. Opening train effects got a good response from the corps. Guard was a definite weak spot with silk work that is still noticeably messy. Troopers still march with nice technique and like Pioneer they are not afraid to spread the corps out. This is an improved show from last year and one that may boost them up a bit at Orlando. Let's hope next year they hold onto their membership and continue to improve. The audience gave Troopers a nice standing O.

5th, Southwind, 79.85
Unlike the corps before them Southwind has close to a full corps but with a program that just lacks in impact. Their music is from the Gayne ballet that Santa Clara played in the late 70's and although I am familiar with the music I found very little familiar in their program. They were obviously trying to tell a story through the guard uniforms and props as well as the solo dancer but it was not easily understandable what they were trying to communicate. Last year they missed semi's by about a tenth. This year the spread looks to be larger as Mandarins and Capital Regiment could pass them.

4th, Mandarins,79.90
Mandarins squeaked by Southwind by the narrowest of margins. I have a ton of respect for this corps as it competes in Div I for the first time. Although a smallish corps they project their program of Russian music well and attack the field in an aggressive manner. They have also carved out a unique identity for themselves with their gorgeous uniforms. Mellowhphone solo during 'Polevisitan Dances' was simply beautiful and was helped by some unique guard work. Bright, expressive banners and flags in the closer really lit up the field. Mandarins could find themselves in a tight battle for Semi's.

3rd, Madison. 87.50
Madison really seems to be surging in the last weeks of the season has they closed the gap between themselves and Bluecoats to just 3 tenths. It has taken a while for me to warm up to there music but the opener especially is really growing on me. I think the crowd was expecting something more familiar as crowd response was not as raucous as previous years. Whomever worked with the guard this season you are truly a miracle worker! The hat stands are sort of useless. Madison should be duking it out for a 7th or 8th spot come finals. Welcome back!

2nd, Bluecoats, 87.80
The one word I can use to describe Bluecoats performance last night is control. Perhaps too much control as the performers just did not sell the program like Madison and Boston. Hornline produces a gorgeous blended sound that gave me goose bumps as they played backfield. I would say their Tango number is the show's highlight which elicited the strongest response from the crowd. The 'Capture and Escape' theme has been nicely woven into their program from beginning to end. Guards use of metal poles had little impact. Blue needs to punch up this performance if the want to stay in the 6-8 pack come next week.

1st, Boston Crusaders, 89.70
Before BAC's performance I was already writing my review. It was going to basically say that like most sequels this one is just not as good as the original. Boy was I wrong! What a transformation this corps has made even since Indy! They are really selling the show and march with a new found confidence that really connected with the crowd. This was just not a case of the home town audience automatically handing out standing O's. This is one of the few performance I have seen this season that just lifted the crowd off it's feet several times. The designers have really maxed out the design and laid down quite a challenge to the performers,. Not a moment is wasted as some of the more original body work from the hornline now fills every standing second. The ballad of 'The Prayer" has almost reached a similar emotional peak as 2000's 'Conte Patiro'. The opener is still a bit fragmented but through shear will it really works. And the closer! Finally, percussion is getting the scores they deserve and the 15 snares used in the opening of Malaguena had great impact. A recap of 2000's opening move was a highly effective opening into Malaguena/Spanish fantasy. Park and blow finale of 'Malaguena' featured some great writing for the middle voices. For the closing minute Boston has thrown everything in but the kitchen sink and must be seen to believed. Through out the show the aggressive in your face Boston persona was in full throttle. With this score this Boston is within 2.5 points of Santa Clara and Phantom. At a minimum they I believe they have locked up 6th, and with more cleaning in the next week they could find themselves once more the late season dark horse!

Mark Montgomery

Wednesday July 30

Columbia, SC (DCI)

Looked as if another NC/SC show would get rained out:(. Well the skies cleared up just enough for this one with just random drops falling. The venue was a very nice high school stadium and I estimate that there were 4,000 on hand as the home side seats around that and was full. It was so nice to have a drum corps show this late in the season in Columbia. Talk about great performances throughout the entire show!!

Ok now for my review.

Teal Sound (70.10) The main theme I remember from this show was the "Firebird Suite". For only 20 or so horns, they don't sound bad at all. Some nice moments musically but the marching was way off. They were missing a hornline spot in the drill and this really hurt. Nice opening statement from the horns but fatigue was a factor as the show progressed. They still drew a decent crowd responce at the end.

Carolina Crown (86.05) I am not quite sure why they were slotted to play this early in the line up but they definately woke up and wowed the crowd with their Bell theme. The hornline is loud and sounds very mature for about 75 percent of the show, however fatigue sets in and some lead sopranos stood out near the end. There are a few marching issues as far as form intervals. Nothing that can't or won't be fixed. The Guard ROCKED as well as the percussion. Those bells in the rifles were as unique of an idea as I have seen or (heard) in a long time in this activity. The rifle bells only ring on impacts from toss catches. Crown can take this show a long way come finals if they want to. Several Standing Os for this show.

Blue Knights (84.05) What were the judges thinking with this low score!!!!!! My god there hornline was so ON tonite! I was highly impressed with the level of control at the volume that they played. Wonderfull releases and outstanding intonation. Some really nice visuals going on with the hornline. They were definately better than Spirit in my opinion as well as many others around me. This is NOT a knock on Spirit, it is simply a compliment to Blue Knights. The thing that is keeping this corp down is some marching errors and a colorguard that leaves something to be desired. They can't ride everything on this wonderfull hornline.

Spirit From JSU (85.35) Hornline was loud but had some balance issues. Color guard was decent as far as GE but I'm no guard guru and I won't go into technical crap. They featured selections from October and the themes were "Seems Like only Yesterday". They did tributes to Bridgmen and 27th. The stinger at the end of the show was nice, it rumbled my rib cage! They will really have to push and clean up to make finals however.

Seattle Cascades (82.6) I really thought these guys had beaten Glassmen. Their hornline was SMOKIN! Where the hell did these guys come from! There were a few balance issues with some lead sops but wow what a horn line. Marching was good but there were some form issues. They cover the entire field at one point in the show staggering the guard throughont the hornline. Their mello section is very good.

Glassmen (83.8) Ok before you call me a Glassmen hater understand that I have always liked Glassmen. This show is just not doining it. Not to mention that their hornline is having some SERIOUS balance issues. When you can pick out 3 different individuals in three different tibres then there is a prob. Their marching was decent and their color guard was good but this is not the Glassmen that we know and love. They just seem less talented. There were two different occasions where the percussion phased completly out. The first was where they used wooden clap sticks. It sounded like someone dropped french fries into hot oil until they finaly got the beat together. Later on there was a side to side delay in the snares and base drums. I really don't understand how they finished ahead of seattle. Anyhow I hope they get it together.

Cavaliers (94.55) Wow is the word. YES it does seem like their drill was written then the music. But, who cares. They do what they do with passion and precision. The music makes sense with the drill they have. These guys just move and play with great intonation. They were not the loudest hornline in a sense but in a sense they were with the intonation and range. The theme is Spin Cycle and that is exactly what it is. The crowd roared in appreciation.

A very pleased

Rome, NY (DCI)

What a great show. Madison is truly back. They where so great tonight. When people saw them come on to the field it was like the composition was now starting.

They just dripped with class and cool. Just like the old Madison. I truly thought they won the show but Boston was also on tonight and did a great job. I loved the Bluecoats but they where not as hot as Madison so I thought they would take 3rd. But they where very very clean and sounded great. Can't take that away from them. But there where really just 2 corps that where HOT tonight. Boston and Madison came to the show tonight to win. One did and the other should have.

The Pioneers where nice but a bit small and they played some music I wasn't familiar with. Drum line was week and very small garde (10). Horns seem to have trouble in this late date with the music.

Mandarins. Nice corp good size. Nice music. Much better and cleaner drum line then Pioneer. Think they made the right move to move to DIV 1.

Troopers. (I LOVE THEM). Have for 30 years. I was surprised with them. They where so entertaining. Loved the company front. Then into the sunburst for warm ups. I loved their drill and music. I could tell they just where a bit young in the horn line. Trust me they sounded good. I didn't like the guard's uniforms at all. They total blended in with the whole corp and you didn't even pay much attention to them. They are young and if they could keep many of them of the kids for next year. I think they could make some kind of a move for a change. I loved their drill. They all moved at ones in many parts of the show and it was effective. Just truly loved them.

Southwind (Very unhappy with them). I saw them at same show 2 years ago. It was like a break out year for them. I loved them and looked forward to there further and saw them tonight and was very disappointed. They where boring. Music put you to sleep and there drill was uninspiring. I must tell you. With that great size and talent they should be much much better then they are at this point. I guess you get my disappointment.

Capital regiment. Nice corp big sound. They have what it takes and are kind of where Southwind was 2 years ago. They looked and sounded like they were ready to make the next step for next year. I wish them well. And hope they do it.

Madison just was the best for me tonight. That company front was just so classy. And truly Madison. They do the little things that make the show. God it was great to see them. And worth the 2-hour ride just for them. I have some great pictures if you would like them just email me.

Bluecoats. They were so good. They just lacked something tonight. Don't get me wrong they where very very good. Just a bit out of it. I thought and the crowed did also. Madison and Boston where the cream tonight. I did think they should have been 3rd. but they where very clean.

Boston was so good. There maturity showed up tonight. They have a very good show and music was great. Tired going to bed.

Ron Whalen

Tuesday July 29

Charlotte, NC (DCI)

I'll just type up a short note about NightBeat, since there really isn't much to say anyway, being standstill...

Boy, in the summer, if it rains it pours! It poured in Raleigh before I left (I heard something about over 3" in one hour!). Then it was okay until we got to Charlotte, where the bottom fell out again aroud 7pm, and continued to fall until around 8 or so. I drove up to the stadium and they said it was still on, much to my surprise. So we got a cheap $12 seat over on the right 10 yard line or so, lower level. Of course, didn't really matter upper or lower because they finally announced that they wouldn't cancel it -- everyone agreed to give us a standstill performance. Of course, it's disappointing because I really wanted to see everyone's full shows, and see the rematch between BD and Cavies, but it was very nice of them to at least give us something. Some corps even sported their color guards.

Teal Sound
Nice sound coming from this little corps. It's always nice to hear pieces from The Firebird, and I enjoy hearing Holsinger's Liturgical Dances as well. The Firebird Dance was a little too smooth for my tastes, I prefer a more separated, intense, driving arrangement. Nicely designed show from the guard, good impact moments from flags/weapons. Not entirely together, but I enjoyed it.

Blue Knights
WOW! What a great sounding show. Very intense. I would love to play this drum book! The show is loud and driving. The ending in particular is very driving, but I hope they have some cool things going on with their drill and guard (who wasn't out there), because the last piece sort of gets long in the tooth because it just keeps up that intensity level and sort of repeats itself. It wasn't going very far after a while. But it was great to hear these guys. A real treat. I hope I see what these guys have going on on the field in Orlando.

mmm...Love hearing that Let It Be Me passage in the closer. Brought many individuals to their feet. Sounds weird for me to look forward to that so much, seeing as how I wasn't even born when Spirit was having its "glory days," but I understand what this corps and that song (along with Georgia) mean to people. It made my heart race. But, haha, about the rest of the show. Some really great songs, and a very nice sounding hornline (again, no guard, I don't think...). Did I hear a Send In The Clowns reference in the ballad? Could have sworn.... This was probably my favorite musical book of the night (as in, this above any other show I would enjoy most hearing again). I hope I see them at Finals in Orlando!

Seattle Cascades
These guys were selling it tonight. I know I enjoyed it very much, some nice latin beats and a hornline with attitude. Good job y'all!

The Cavies
Wow, what an experiment in control and utter and complete balance on the parts of the composers and the kids. Absolutely delicious in that respect, much like last year. However, I think the first half of the show is more or less forgettable. The boys play the hell out of it, it's SO restrained and cohesive. They do get pretty loud on occassion with some good chords, and the second half of the show picks up a bit and they get a little attitude. Kind of reminds me of Star 93, but not nearly as intense or emotional. They never really get to let loose. I mean, at one point they did get to get a little down and dirty, but not much, otherwise I don't know if I could ever really see them breathe or bend back a little or anything like that. Their guard wasn't out either. I don't remember a thing about the drumline. That said, again, what a great hornline. I know they had to be itching to move. We were itching to see them move!

The Blue Devils
Here we go. Steve knew what we were thinking when he said "If you're itching for some decibels..." Yeah baby! A very entertaining musical performance, they have a lot of fun with this show. Their guard was out (THANK YOU!), and they were terrific. It was the favorite of the night of the group I was with. I didn't really like the ending, it was just kinda going and loud and it was over. No real big finale, at least not in standstill (maybe they're doing something really cool when they're marching -- they didn't use the cymbal racks except to just play on, I was expecting some running around them like last year, but again maybe they just didn't do it because of standstill).

The new uniforms gives Crown a great new look (not sure if I like the horizontal stripes, though...). A neat concept of a show -- Bells. A great sounding hornline, and a very entertaining pit to watch. They sell it, and I would love to be playing pit in this show, it's made for them! Wish their guard were out. Drums and horns were playing with much confidence, which I suppose isn't hard when you're just standing there, but still.... Neat to hear a rendition of Carol of the Bells as well, though it wasn't as driving an ending as I was hoping to hear. While it was going on, I was hoping they might be building toward a quite and subtle ending, with the big bell ringing as the rest of the corps died out, much like the show began, but oh well. I hope they get back into finals this year.

Well there you go, a good teaser for me and my friends before we head down to Florida. Whetting my appetite!

Goodnight, all....

chris ncsu

Sunday July 27

Des Plaines, IL (DCI)

Threatening skies gave way to perfect weather for the Cavaliers' home show just outside Chicago. Des Plaines High School is a perfect venue for a drum corps show with large open areas on the front lawn and athletic fields providing ample space for all-section warmups without interference. I brought a "first timer" to the show and introduced him to the drum corps experience behind the scenes, including the buses (replete with infamous "window dressing"), equipment trucks (where else would the front ensemble gather?) and warm up areas. We were treated to an aggressive warmup by the drumline of Revolution as well as from various sections of the Colts and Blue Stars.

Through the gates and past the souvie trucks, we were welcomed by enthusiastic volunteers at the refreshment stand. Great hamburgers at a great price! Our seats were in row Z (the top row), section B (30-35 yard line). There were 6 full sections, 26 rows and about 20 across so I'll estimate the crowd, including standees, at 3,200.

Seating was tight so we thought it appropriate to introduce ourselves to those around us in case we had to do the "excuse me" routine on our way to the Men's room. On our right was a former member of the Norwood Park Imperials and her husband. She marched in the first DCI in 1972 at Whitewater. On our left was the daughter and son-in-law of "Rich", a baritone player in the Royalaires alumni.

Being the Cavies' home show, there was plenty of green and several handmade signs offering support to corps members.

The show opened with the Blue Stars. I am always impressed by the Blue Star commitment to challenging its membership with strong material and developing the program as the season progresses. This formula may not be popular with June audiences, but, here in late July, things are coming together, as usual.

I counted 19 horns each with several opportunities to carry exposed passages. They handled the book with clarity and articulation for the most part. Drill was packed within the 30's but solid marching technique no doubt contributed to the musical performance.

Drums were never too exposed and the writing seemed designed to complement the ensemble. Their sound didn't reach the box and the crispness of the battery was not easy to determine for this reason. No rips or tears were noticable, this despite having a few sections where the ensemble was required to gel "front-to-back."

Overall impression: Sincere appreciation for the content and execution. The Blue Stars compete for the title every season for a reason. The training is evident and so is the effort. First in Div II/III.

Revolution has competed with the Blue Stars recently, even besting them by a few tenths earlier in the week. I didn't see it. The corps made a strong opening statement and the drumline came out aggressively, but the performance became disjointed through the middle sections, particularly the horns and marching.

Performance of the material was not necessarily the culprit as it appeared the high brass exposure was the result of lack of written support by the low brass. The music's inaccessability contributed to a downward spiral in effect as the show reached its conclusion.

The guard may have "overthought" their program as well. A lack of dance synchronicity and parallel movements of silks and equipment means the fundamentals need polish. This is hard to accomplish late in the season.

The drumline showed a high level of accomplishment, particularly the snares. The features were played with intensity and the battery, in particular, moves cohesively. Bass drums need to insure better consistency with quality of sound from player to player. At times volume variation sounded like a tic or tear.

Revolution came in 5 points back of Blue Stars and that's about right.

Overall impression: If 80 students are willing to get on a bus and tour, they should have a vehicle that creates excitement and effect on BOTH sides of the front sideline.

Next up was the Mandarins. On the starting line, they look absolutely spectacular, particularly the DM's. The uniforms' Asian flavor sets the tone for professionalism and uniqueness.

The opening statement by the 39 member hornline grabbed my attention and the programming was top notch, especially the musical offerings, but including guard and drill.

Drums reached the box with a terrific quality of sound (scoops and brand both helped) and the front ensemble's use of ethnic equipment (teiko drums, etc.) gave this corps a firm identity.

A small ensemble tear in the closer was recovered quickly and the rousing rendition of Bachannale pulled the crowd to its feet for an extended ovation.

Overall impression: Fantastic display of drum corps. There is room to expand effect in the visual caption and, given the track record of the Mandarins, this will be accomplished by DCI week. With 17th place up for grabs it looks like the Kavaliers will have to bring their A-Game to best this high voltage group. Best surprise of the night.

Colts' staff deserves great credit for continuing to provide Top-12 material to its membership even if they require more seasoning in order to make a score. The corps is not quite ready to turn this years' package into a finalist contender, particularly the drums and M&M. Having said that, the members and staff deserve high marks for their effort and how it translates into effect.

On the starting line they appeared HUGE. The horn book is written with impacts all over the place. The corps is able to "reach across the footlights" and engage the audience, a credit to their confidence and color guard.

Overall impression: The Colts "belong" in every sense of the word. Give 'em a year or two to get the marching technique and percussion program honed to a finer edge. 4th in Div I.

A 25 minute intermission preceeded the final 3 corps of the night, just enough time for the sun to drop below the horizon and create the "under the lights" atmosphere corpsfans enjoy most.

Magic was the first of the heavyweights to take the field and they captured THIS writer from the first note. The show was mystery, intensity, repose, and aggression all rolled into one program.

The front ensemble hushed the crowd with sounds to match the Silver Voices idiom and was followed by a HUGE horn sound. Drill was high caliber/high velocity and carriage, esp. in the drumline, showed attention to detail. Magic's traditionally dark flavor came through as a signature sound, even on pieces drum corps fans have "heard before."

Guard use of the silver panels was tremendously effective if for no other reason than they handled the pieces with precision and panache. Too often these odd props distract because they are not being manipulated uniformly. Not the case with Magic. Excellent!

Overall impression: Spectacular show that deserves highest consideration in all captions. Ensemble, drums, horns and guard all at Championship Finals level. Judges, don't be afraid to give some credit. This show is a monster. Loved it.

I never thought I'd use the term "straight ahead drum corps" to describe the Garfield Cadets. Back in 1983, this style of drum corps was truly innovative and the formula they created not only served them well for the past 20 years, it became the benchmark for corps' performances across the board. Drum corps as an entertainment medium is better for that effort. As a credit to the Cadets, they created the new standard.

Tonight was no different. Effect, in my opinion, is created by suspense and delivery. The Cadets are masters at the set-up. Visually, I found myself wincing and contorting, using body english to will the students through what appeared to be impossible moves.

I was on the edge of my seat for the snare and tenor features which introduce themselves with sfortsandos and then crescendo into a maze of clean, extended, multiple-note, in-your-face statements. It was like being punched in the face and LIKING IT!

Malaguena was ridiculous in its intended crowd appeal and the audience responded with waves of appreciation. The guard features, however formulaic in design, were spectacular displays of silk and symmetry (move over Michael Cesario). Absolutely awesome.

Overall impression: I was troubled by the spread from Indianapolis and wondered what the Cadets were putting on the field to be so distant from Cavies and BD. There were no holes in this show and the excellence and achievement I witnessed made me anticipate the host corps that much more. How could it be THAT MUCH better?

Here's how. The Green Machine literally siezed the field and their demeanor let you know that this was a group of Champions. Spin Cycle? Wow! Just when the book was written on drum corps style, sophistication and expectation was written, the Cavaliers rip out a few pages and write it all over again.

Demand on the performer? Unparalleled. Ensemble, exposure, attack/release, degree of difficulty (guard, too)? Just amazing. I can't remember a more thorough statement of dominance over a near contender by a corps since DCI Finals in 95 when these same Cavaliers turned the Planets into a show for the ages. All this despite the fact that no less than 6 members hit the deck on a field that was made slick by fast falling Chicago temperatures. Incredible. First in Div I.

Last but not least, the 170+ member RoyalAires Alumni corps treated the hometowners to a traditional brand of drum corps. After a presentation of "Taps for Truman", in honor of the late Truman Crawford, the Royalaires hit the REAL starting line in their traditional blue and white and delivered a show-stealing performance. The response to the "concert" number was ridiculous with everyone in attendance throwing babies and screaming their approval. Proof that if you give the people what they want, they will respond in kind!

Jeff Fiedler hosted the post show festivities with the Cavaliers performing their 2003 book as well as several favorites, closing with Over the Rainbow.

Great show. Great night. See you in Orlando!

J. Cavallaro

Saturday July 26

Indianapolis, IN (DCI Prelims)

Well I'm staying right by the RCA Dome, so I thought I'd do a quick review of the afternoon show.

First, let me just complain about the fact that there are NO Concession stand in the upper deck!!!!! Everyone has to go downstairs to one of the 3 stand that are open! These stands are directly across from the souvenir booths. It's a big @$!*&@ MESS!!!!!! I was one of the few lucky ones that got through in time to see Southwind after the break.

Pioneer 69.45: The orange is ugly. Some real issues with intonation (esp. trumpets). Some difficult drill, but not as clean as should be. Better than last year though, by a landslide!

Troopers 70.55: I really liked them. I thought they should have scored much higher. Some pretty good sound and decent quality from the brass. Really effective opening drill and statement. However, seemed to run out of steam at the end and the drill was not as clean at the end as it was at the begining. But they have a new found confidence that really translates through their performance. It's a BIG step up from recent years. Probably their best since 1995.

Southwind 72.4: OK, they have a really bad visual package. That explains their score. However, I really could not believe they lost to KK by as much as they did. Some big sound from them (but they need to have better control if they are going to beat the corps in front of them. THe drill is pretty useless though. However, they really seemed to connect with the audience (at least those that made it back from the concessions mess). Score seemed a little low and I was really shocked by the placement.

Capital Regiment 73.8: Really bad arrangement of New World. Percussion seemd solid as did guard, but the total package is just not there. THe drill was pretty useless as well. No real connection between music and drill. Seemed to march pretty well though. I thought their score was a little low too. THey should have beaten KK as well.

Kiwanis Kavaliers 74.3: Well, at least I was right on when I gave them a 74.5! However, I just thought that their show lacked the energy necessary to beat both SW and CR. What is up with the solo dancer???? Not only does it make NO sense in the drill and thematic setting, but it's really not even good dancing? Why??? Some interesting treatment of Beatles songs though. THey had some really ifffy soloists today too! Ouch! But I really did like the big rifle tosses at the end by the guy guard, very effective as was the recapitulation of all of the music themes from the show. IT was well done. Theywere solid, but should not have placed so high (I had them behind Troopers).

Mandarins 74.8: They seemed to have a really flat show. They also really struggled with the echo it seemed (more than any other corps today it seemed). Bacchanale was really rocky at the begining, almost fell completely apart! But they got it together at the end and the crowd seemed to like them. I think they can get a lot closer to Colts, but they need to be absolutley clean because their drill doesn't seem as difficult as those right in front of them. I want to see this one again -- outdoors next time.

Colts 77.2: THought the spread was a little big. They are absolutley filthy! And their marching technique really falls apart because they seem to always be taking step sizes that are WAY too big. It really affects the drill and the music. Too bad, can't really do anything about that now. I don't see them getting this anywhere near clean. I thought they had some nice moments throughout, but the jazz piece and mood just doesn't fit. The closer drill was effective though. Much better than in Louisville, but I don't know about semis.

Seattle Cascades 79.4: A really bad soloist as well (melophone I believe). They did something really nice, when a section was featured musically, the drill actually had that section moving while the other sections stood still. GO figure, have members march and play at the same time! I liked the El Salon Mexico closer too. Seem to be in their own groove (easily ahead of Colts et al., but jsut a step behind those in front of them). very nice horns though.

Spirit 82.65: OK, I have to admit, I loved this show. I got all choked up during the ballad. What a highlight! And I really loved the Let It Be ME company front during the closer. I thought they should have made finals, but honestly, I had them all so close that I could see them not making it. However, they were not a full point behind Magic and 1.2 behind Blue Knights. If it's even possible to believe, SPirit through BK should have been even closer! Really marched a clean show ( although did have some feet issues and some missed stepoffs, new drill perhaps?).

Glassmen 83.1: OK, everyone who said or thought that Glassmen were out of the mix, I am hear to tell you that they are most assuredly in the running! THey gave the performance of the afternoon IMHO. I actually had them in 4th (bhind SPirit and ahead of BK and Magic). It's really coming together and surprisingly enough, really connecting with the audience. I really liked this show and I think that G-Men have shown the class of a top organization that's now used to succes and is not willing to sit by and accept mediocrity. THey are fighting for a Finals spot and they are pretty close if you ask me!

Magic 83.65: I loved the selection form Mass. THey sounded fantastic! I know that some have complained about how long it is, but I think it's refreshing to see a corps actually play a piece of music pretty much as written and let the music develop rather than just give us highlights of a piece. THey had a lot of exposed drops in guard. If it was a featured toss, be sure that at least one hit the ground. Drill has cleaned nicely. Right there with the others.

Blue Knights 83.85: THey seemed a little flat to me today. I thought they were going to be passed by Gmen and Spirit. DO the gurd have new unis? THey don't look as tight as they did in earlier pictures. They looked good. I really liked the way this program evolves. It's a very good package, in fact, I don't think that they ever actually stopped during the whole show. The drill is typical BK (a little cluttered at times) but on the whole a very cool drill. THey are going to have to step it up though if they are going to hold off the others.

Carolina Crow 84.65: OK, they have set themselves off from the cluster behind them. They were obviously second today. GUARD! Wow, they were fantastic today. There is no way they did not win that caption today. I don't even need to see recaps to know this. This show really works well. Great package. THey actually didn't have a fantastic performance (still a good deal of dirt in the drill), but were still ahead of the cluster behind them. They are a lock for finals IMO.

Crossmen 85.75: OK, they don't march. So what???? I think this show is like ginger when eating sushi -- you need it to cleanse the pallette beacause this show is unlike anything else out there. The crowd ate them up!!! And the corps definitely fed off this energy. A spontaneous partial standing O before the end of the show possibly the only one of the day. It's a lot of fun, but because of the lack of drill, I don't know if they will be able to really challenge those ahead of them. I'll let you know after tonight.

OK, I've got to eat something now (not going to those concessions again). I'll have a night review later.

Tony L.

Indianapolis, IN (DCI Finals)

First let me say that without a doubt, the RCA Dome is the worst venue for a drum corps show imaginable. Hard to make any judgements regarding quality of sound from the stands. I would rather suffer through unbearable temperature, humidity, bugs and rain than to experience the RCA Dome. But drum corps in a bubble is better than no drum corps at all, so like 10,000 + other fans, I went. Sat with a lot of the PR volunteer staff in section 118 near the PR souvie stand (not exactly on the 50 yr line ) Whoever designed this place also didn't have "midwestern hinders" in mind when they picked the seating.

Blue Knights - 82.55 (have seen them numerous times this yr.)
A lot of cleaning improvements have been made since I last saw them in Denver. Love the new guard uni's. Classy. I think they add much more than the old "dreamcicle" look. Not sold on the "drop & roll" move being made by the sopranos.

Magic - 82.95 (2nd viewing)
Seems to have been a lot of changes since Denver. Good show.

Crown - 83.25 (1st viewing)
Crown is back!!! Nice job. Love the uni's. Again - classy look. Nice job all around. Nice to see the ex-PR DM is on staff.

Xmen - 83.45 (1st viewing)
Good show, liked the music. "Big Ending" on the closer didn't do much for me. Will have to keep working hard to keep Crown from overtaking them.

Boston - 85.5 (1st viewing)
Somehow was expecting more from the hype I had heard about their show. I like it better than last year's ( I didn't have to read along this year).

Scouts - 85.7 (1st viewing)
Welcome back Scouts! Big improvement over last year. New uni's are OK. Guard is doing a great job. You will not be watching finals from the stands this year.

Bluecoats - 86.55 (1st viewing)
Would like to hear this show outside of the echo chamber. Guard didn't seem to be as prominent as in the last couple of years. Were the guard uni's used by Boston a couple of years ago? Just kidding, but they do look very similar.

SCV - 90.55 (multiple viewings this year)
Continuing to clean and make improvements. Great job!

PR - 90.6 (multiple viewings)
I thought they had a clean show. Sound was as good as can be expected in this venue. In checking the recap, guard got hammered pretty hard, but I don't remember seeing anything unusual happen. Oh well, judges have their own opinions, just like we do (only theirs count on the score sheet). I think it has been a challenge for PR to keep the guard from disappearing after the opener this year. They have made lots of changes, and I'm sure there are more to come. I can't believe how many changes have been made to this show in the last 2 weeks.

Cadets - 92.05 (2nd viewing)
Good show, but not 1.45 better than PR. I think this was my wife's favorite of the night.

Cavies - 93.65 (2nd viewing)
Didn't seem like the Cavies were "on" tonight. Alignment was bad at times and there didn't seem to be a spark from the horn line (could be an echo chamber fault). Congrats for accomplishing an unbelievable undefeated streak.

Blue Devils - 93.95 (multiple viewings)
After the Cavies performance, I thought if BD came out and rolled a good show that they would be the winner. After BD was done, I didn't know if they had blown their chance or not. Didn't seem to be as sharp as I have seen them in the past. I thought they were cleaner in Denver. Contra took a bad spill, but recovered nicely. Could have easily taken out a few more of the horn line with him (block formation marching backwards at the time). Congrats for breaking "the streak".


Ottawa, IL (DCI II/III)

Let me reiterate... I do not do reviews...

I take a left off my parking lot, and it is less than a mile and a half to I-80. Less than fifty minutes later, I am in Ottawa, looking for parking near Gould Field at Marquette Catholic High School. Tonight, there was parking right beside the field, which has not always been the case in some years past.

I have to say that, although Ottawa drum corps crowds are some of my favorites--- extremely appreciative of every corps--- Gould Field is one of my least favorite drum corps venues anywhere. This show had moved to Ottawa Township H.S. for the last few years, but between construction of a new wing at the school and brand new sod on the football field, it was forced to move back to Marquette.

For the majority of you who have never been there, let me describe Gould Field. The location along the river is not really a problem (Ottawa THS has the same siting) except for the abundance of bugs and the occasional noisy motor boat (there is a public boat ramp just outside the fence)--- the bugs were there this year, the noisy boats were not. The confines of the field are what one might generously call "cramped." There is no room between the pit and the stands for a drum major's stand without offsetting the pit... Memphis Sound's and Impulse's DMs actually directed their corps from in the stands, up with the crowd. The main grandstand is on one side of the field, the pressbox is on the other. In past years, a judges' stand was set up on temporary scaffolding; this year, Snook & Sons Equipment of Morris supplied a crew-sized manlift to raise three judges up above the top of the bleachers. Oh yes, the bleachers--- the "main grandstand" has all of ten rows of low-rise seating between the 20's; there are no "high" seats at Gould Field. The corps' access to the field is also cramped. There are only two narrow gates; corps enter through the same one that the spectators use, and they exit by going behind the small bleachers, squeezing past the porta-potties, and out behind the concession stand, which sits off in the corner, up on a small rise. Then there is the field itself. To call it "bumpy" is to be polite. One year, I saw Roman Blensksi empty three cans of spray paint to mark off potentially dangerous spots and holes.

Despite all of the above, Gould Field is an historic drum corps site, if there is such a thing as "an historic site" pn the world of drum corps. It was actually announced at the show that, from 1954 until the early '80s, Gould Field was the home field of the Ottawa Crusaders Junior Drum and Bugle Corps. If you are among the many who never heard of the Blue Crew, its personnel included corps director Ken Kobold and marching member/drum major Gene Monterestelli, who are both in the DCI Hall of Fame... a fact which was also mentioned. At one time, it was announced, the Crusaders "...were competitive with the such corps as the Chicago and Park Ridge (now Rosemont) Cavaliers, the Phantom Regiment, and the Royal Airs...." Despite such vaunted history, I would much rather be seeing the show at Ottawa THS, but circumstances being what they are, I would much, much rather have the show take place at Gould Field than to not take place at all, thank you. You take what you can get.

As I found a place to park, fortyfive minutes before showtime, I was pleased to see that the stands were already a third full. Okay, you say, if those small bleachers are already a third filled, then the best seats are already gone, right? But I have been here before. I know this stadium, and I know this crowd. I buy my ticket and enter the stadium. Into the stands, I walk past most of the folks who are already seated. Hey, there is not a great seat in the house, so why shouldn't they take the first ones they come to? And, not to much of my surprise, there is a seat open in the 10th (top) row, on about the 49 yard line. (He grins and gloats.) So, I set the magic raincoat on "my" seat and set off to find refreshment.

SHOW COMPARISON--- The night before, at Husky Stadium, two skinny hot dogs and a Pepsi set me back $7. At Ottawa, two generous sloppy joe "barbeques" and a Coke cost me $4.

ANOTHER SHOW COMPARISON--- The DeKalb show, in 30,000 seat Huskie Stadium, had maybe 150 paying customers (probably less, since many of the fans in the stands were wearing corps staff tags). At Ottawa, the Riverfest Drum and Bugle Corps Committee pretty much filled the much smaller stands with a crowd of appreciative viewers. At DeKalb, DCI picked up the tab. At Ottawa, the local Riverfest paid DCI to allow them to host the show. I think one of these situations is a much better deal for DCI than the other. Am I wrong in thinking this?

Returning to my seat, I discovered that the woman sitting beside me--- top row, on the 50--- was from Stillwater, Minnesota. She had made the trip down for three days to see her son march snare in Revolution at DeKalb, Ottawa, amd Des Plaines. Last year, said son won a DCI Championship ring with Revo while his older brother was aging out after his fourth season with the Cavaliers and three rings (plus high drums and an I&E win in his rookie season). It's always nice to sit beside someone at a small, local show who really knows what drum corps is about. So, on with the show.

But first, a note--- At DeKalb, there were three Canadian corps and one Japanese-American corps, but the only flag flying was the Stars and Stripes. There were also no national anthems played or sung. At Ottawa, there is only one flagpole at Gould field, and while it carried the US flag, the Canadian Maple Leaf and the Japanese flag were both set on standards at the base of that flagpole. Both the "Star Spangled Banner" and "O! Canada!" were sung by talented locals.

Now, on with the show. (Corps are listed in order of performance.)

DIMENSIONS/Grand Rapids, MI (10 brass/14 percussion/4 guard/2 DMs=30)
70.35 5th Place
Sitting so close, the brass players in the small horn lines are really "exposed." You can hear just about all of the errors, since there is often nobody else to cover one player's lapses, as there are in a big line. Still, this corps' horns did a fine job in a very percussion-oriented program. First time viewers were curious about the blueprints, but we who knew were not telling; let then see for themselves. The percussive lead-into the finale (including 13 bass drums) really nailed this crowd, and they showed their appreciation with a rousing standing ovation. Ain't it grand when the first corps of the night gets a standing O? (I won't keep noting standing O's, because everyone got one, although a couple were more of the "obligatory" type than most.)

ALLEGIANCE ELITE/Edmonton, ALB (21/21/11/2=55)
68.20 7th Place
Oh, do I love this show! I really wish that the corps was not just starting their season, while most others have had as much as seven weeks to work on their programs. If they can clean it, I still think this is a finals-quality show. There is just so little time left. The horns kneeling in the block formation at the end of the ballad is most definitely a "drum corps moment" as attested to by the audience reaction. Corpsmom said, "That sounds so nice, and I've never seen anything done quite like that." There are a few very young-looking kids in the corps. One girl in the guard caused corpsmom to ask, "Is there a minimum age?" But we agreed, the girl can really do some equipment work and works the whole show as well as any of her older counterparts. Even though they finished last, Allegiance Elite had my favorite show of the night. As I said in my not-reviews of DeKalb, they are used to being a Division II corps, and they project a bigger image than most Division III corps; big sound, big look, big forms, wide-open drill, et cetera. The only thing holding them back is their late start. BRAVO!

YAMATO/Osaka, Japan & Riverside, CA (22/18/14/2=56)
75.70 4th Place
I thought they sounded better than at DeKalb, but the visual side of the show was very sloppy, with the guard having many, many equipment problems... lots of drops, out of sync spins on those really neat curved poles, feathers dropping off fans, et cetera. It showed in the score, as they dropped by a point and a half. I still find it hard to accept Yamato doing "Spanish Images or Whatever They're Calling It," they play it very well, and I do like it. And I do like their uniforms--- they are really pretty cool. What I don't like is all of the time they spend on silent drill... the opening sequence actually runs a full 30 seconds with no music at all. With that, the closing silent drill, and a couple of other silent spots in the show, they are probably performing very close to a full minute that they are not playing. Back in the day... they would have been penalized for this; today, they are just trying to jack up their visual score. That's bushwah!!!

AMERICANOS/Menasha, WI (17/19/11/2=49)
69.45 5th Place
Probably the least well-received corps of the night. The show was flat. The horns were not really there, the drums were somewhere else, the guard only dropped one saber (no blood on the field) but did drop rifles and flags. The acting in the Zorro play was still bad. The audience gave them a grudging, "obligatory" standing O. Score dropped 1.55 from DeKalb.

Another note--- although there were 4 Division III performing before the intermission and 3 Division II corps after, it was, once more, judged as a "Division II/III" show, with "medals" awarded to only the top three corps, regardless of division.

REVOLUTION/San Antonio, TX (32/22/18/2-=74)
79.60 3rd Place
As at DeKalb, they played well, but maybe not as well as my first impression. As at Dekalb, they marched well, although I noticed that they don't do a lot of fast movement (like almost none) and do a lot of parking and barking. As at DeKalb, the penguin suits are ugly, and the Glassmen's old black and cream uniforms are almost deathly dull. As at DeKalb, I didn't much like them. Corpsmom has a son playing snare, and she doesn't much like their show, either, so I don't think it's just me. The crowd applauded in all of the proper places and gave them a polite standing O.

MEMPHIS SOUND/Collierville, TN (That's what the program reads and the announcer announced, even though I had heard them at three previous shows announced as being from Memphis, just like in their name...) (34/21/11/2=68)
79.85 1st Place
Corpsmom said, "Their opener really grabs me, then they just lose me." I have to agree. Their opener is hot, then they lose me until the tango thing towards the end. The horns are quite good and the mid-voices are killers. The drums seemed a bit crisper than in DeKalb. The guard did do some impressive equipment work. They were the only one of the 6 corps who were also at DeKalb whose score went up. The hot tango closer earned them a nice ovation.

IMPULSE/Costa Mesa, CA (32/25/12/2=71)
79.80 2nd Place
This was my first-ever viewing of Impulse, and my anticipation was high, based on their reputation as "offspring of VK." "Willie Wonka..." is not my idea of a great show, except maybe for a cadet corps, regardless of how many of you gush at what a great musical it is (as posted by several of you when this program was announced). Wow! do their horns sound great! Wow! do their drums sound great! Wow! they march better than any VK I ever saw! But why, oh why are they using such a small part of the field? Until the closer, the entire show is between the front line and the first hash marks and between the 30's (mostly only the 35's)... the same little area that Bandettes (with only 32 members) are getting burned for using. This show really needs to open up and stop being so cramped. This is not a cadet corps--- in fact, a few members look like they really ought to be in SoCal Dream. Also, while the guard outfits of pale purple and green overalls do not clash with the corps' YELLOW unis nearly as much as Pioneer's offensive new dayglow orange things clash with the green, they are not exactly easy on the eye (probably would be rather nice, but for the YELLOW). Even though they were not the fun machine I expected, I really liked them and they did not leave their sense of joy at home. The DM carried on a running conversation with the crowd members around him while he conducted from the stands. As the corps trooped the stands, the brass line wildly applauded the audience. The drum line played all corps on for retreat and had a blast doing it, with the snares all taking solos. One other thing--- Impulse wins the GWFrog Award for the Ugliest Contra on the field--- a nasty looking hunk of metal that has no shine to it whatever, although it still does not even begin to approach the unadulterated ugliness of one contra that Limited Edition used to carry.

If you had asked me before the score were announced, I could not have told you who won. The corps were as close as the scores.

A wonderful show from seven fine drum corps and a wonderful, appreciative crowd, even in as unwonderful a venue as Gould Field. Altogether a pleasant night of doing drum corps.

Nuff said.

Michael Welge

New Brunswick, NJ (DCA / DCI)

Weather: A tad warm and humid at start time but became comfortable with a light breeze as the night progressed.

National Anthem: The colors were presented by the NJ State Troopers and one of the troopers sang the national anthem....well done.

Phoenix Cadets: A very small young corps that I give all the credit in the world to for coming out and performing in front of a big crowd at such an early age. One baritone player started their show with a pretty nice long solo. Drums were a little over powering. Guard was pretty good to. Congrats to all....Nice job.

Heat wave: The show starts with a pretty decent length drum feature staged around the pit at the 50. They really kick in to a funky groove that gets your toe tapping. The hornline had a bit of trouble right out the gate with some timing issue leading in to the first hit. The hornline parks a couple of times during the show and play much better at these times. It also looked like there were a couple of blanks. The hornline had only 2 mellophone players but they are both very good players. Overall the guard did a good job and had some nice colored flags. I feel that the music itself is a little to complicated for the size corps they have. The last number the corps played though was performed a lot better with more confidence. It was a real audience participation tune...complete with clapping. A fun time had by all. Once the corps becomes a little more comfortable with the show overall they should do real well.

Summary: Again I am a little concerned with the difficulty of the music for the corps they have. It took them only 22 hours to travel to the show tonight (Which the DM mentioned is better time than previous attempts) and the crowd applauded their efforts. I will see them at DCA's and look forward to seeing them.

Hawthorne Caballeros: Being the 2nd corps to compete tonight while the sun was still up I knew (As a past member) that the corps may not perform as well as they did last week. The corps did a better job than last week with keeping the music together leading in to the first big impact but overall I felt they were not as good as last week. The guard really makes some nice big rifle tosses right at the start which really adds excitement. I watched the guard a little more tonight and they are really good throughout the whole show. The hornline plays real strong and with a lot of dynamics throughout. I felt that the drums, pit and hornline just didn't gel very well for most of the show. It almost seemed as if the corps was behind the beat and not driving through the beat causing some timing issues. The tempos are really fast at some points which makes things exciting. There are also some really nice suspenseful moments that have you pull up out of your seat with anticipation. The ballad was really nice but a bad release by the hornline at the end reminded me that the corps definitely performed better last week. I had a better vantage point to watch the drum solo and man are they cranking. The crowd just eats up the water effects with the bass drums.

Summary: Being an alumni (1992-1996) of the corps I am real critical of there performance. I definitely think they performed better last week and feel that corps probably feels the same way. I love the show and feel that they definitely have a shot at the big prize. Looking forward to seeing them again.

Note for the corps: Corps....keep can do it.

Buccaneers: Good show tonight and felt they may get closer (Score wise) to the Cabs. The hornline seemed to perform better tonight than last week and the guard did an outstanding job. The guard did especially well during the drum solo. The Russians Sailor dance tune is a lot of fun to watch and you can tell the whole corps is really having fun with the role playing. Something I didn't notice last week is a real nice build in to the hit in the ballad. Really well done. At some of the lower volumes you can hear the feet through the horns. Drumline is real strong and play some nice licks.

Summary: I felt they did a real good job overall. I still think that the bottom horns overpower the top a bit. I love the show and the corps should do real well when it is all said and done at DCA's.

Bushwackers: No watered down versions of the corps opener ("12 Seconds to The Moon") here. The hornline does a real good job with some tough articulations right at the start. I realize I said the same thing about them last week but it is worth mentioning again. There is a pretty cool part in the opener where the corps plays backfield with some strange space-like chords. Hard to explain but the combination of the notes and being played backfield causes a neat effect (Should be real cool in Scranton (AKA Echo box)). The flugle horn duet was played real well and I think they are getting a poor crowd response for their efforts. It's nice to see the drumline doing well and feel that at this point they are cleaner than last year's lines final performance. I watched the guard a little more this time and take back my comment about them being weaker than the last couple of years. I really like the big flags they use and the Nasa jump suits are cool.

Summary: Corps is performing pretty darn well right now and all they have to do is clean and get better. The last number is definitely their hardest and I am sure they will be spending some quality time on it. Nice show. I like this show better than the last couple years offerings.

Rochester Crusaders: With new uniforms the corps took the field tonight with a commanding and confident presence. The corps is really moving out there and the drill is really well written and presents the corps well. The hornline plays pretty well even when the corps is spread out. The baritone and mellophone soloists did a real nice job tonight. The drumline is stronger and they play a pretty nice solo with some interesting visuals. The pit does a reaaallly nice job all throughout the show. The guard is pretty strong and did a good job tonight with the big tosses. The very end of the show was a little shaky timing wise.

Summary: The corps is better than last season and the classical music they play is nice. Looking forward to seeing it again at DCA's,. Thanks for making the long trek to NJ. I enjoyed it.

The Juniors:

Esperanza: Well....they were not listed in the program but the crowd was sure glad they were there. Right from the moment they took the field you could tell that they meant business. Strong hornline with a good sound and fast paced opener kicked things off nicely after the intermission. Guard was strong and hit the crowd with some nice silver shimmering silks at the first impact. They seemed to be balanced across all areas (Brass, marching, guard and percussion) all the way through. The ballad was real nice with a lot of changes in dynamics. Soloists did a nice job and the mellophones were very good. I really enjoyed there intensity and I really think they have a bright future (Maybe div 1 in a couple of years ??)

Summary: Crowd liked them a lot even though some the music was a bit abstract. Sharp group with a bight future.

Phoenix: Phoenix had a real chore ahead of them following Esperanza but hung in there. The last time I saw the corps they were much bigger and had older members. Not sure what has happened but the corps did pretty good. The drumline seems to be one of the strongest parts of the corps and played well during their solo. But staff...please adjust the snare I said about the Raiders....snare tuning is way too tight. The guard was also quite strong and the rifles in particular.

Summary: Did a pretty good job and the drumline and guard were particularly good.

Spartans: This was another corps that I have heard a lot about but never had the chance to see. I always heard that their drumline is really good and that overall the corps is pretty solid. Well on Saturday the corps was real solid and I think score wise they should have been closer to Esperanza. The hornline plays with a lot of control and the balance and tone is real pleasing to the ear. Drumline was real tight and have some demanding drill in spots. Guard was solid as well. I real solid corps and the folks around really enjoyed the show.

Summary: Real solid corps and I feel they are like a mini Star of Indiana (Helmets and all). Real smooth and controlled corps.

East Coast Jazz: Haven't seen this corps in a couple of years but there about as big as they have ever been and as good. The hornline is pretty small but have a really nice sound. They are using Bb horns. The drumline was pretty tight and played really well during their feature. The pit was strong and the guard had some pretty impressive tosses. Marching was pretty consistent as well.

Summary: The hornline plays with some nice tone and the color guard was strong. Corps is pretty balanced across all areas. Crowd liked them.

Jersey Surf: Well it was quite evident that this was Jersey Surf's home show and I got the feeling that the corps had been looking forward to this show all week. The brass opens up right at the start with a big sound. This show is just plain fun.....what is the concept.??? Having a blast. They kept reminding me of the Velvet Knights but with a Jersey twist. The arrangements are really well done. I saw them about a month ago in Allentown and they have improved greatly since then. The pit was really good during Wipeout. A real breath of fresh air.

Summary: A lot of fun. Plain and simple. Good wholesome drum corps.

Marines: I wrote 2 words on my notepad regarding the Marines performance "Simply Awesome." They had a really strong drumline and hornline. 44 horns that sounded like 64 +. A show will all kinds of musical styles. My kind of show.

Sorry if some of my comments are a bit on the general side but I found myself sitting back and enjoying the show more than in the past.


If you had forgotten what it was like to just kick back and enjoy a great drum corps experience, last night's show in New Brunswick took you there!

Opening with a New Jersey State Trooper Honor Guard and soloist, we were then treated to what may have been the world's youngest drum corps, the Phoenix Cadets (or Kiddettes). The one and only Division IV Corps (that I know of) consisted of 7, 8 and 9 year olds. The most adorable little 3 foot tall soprano player charmed us. Watch out! By the time these kids are 21, they'll have up to 15 years experience going for them!

The Seniors:

Heat Wave: Drum Major tells us that the corps has just traveled 22 l/2 hours to get to the show. I'm ready at this point to just hand the trophies over to him. They play a bunch of Latin music, but I'm too busy trying to figure out which one of the contra basses is Lou. In what must have seemed like a blink of an eye to them, the show was over and they were a few hours away from reloading and driving the 22 l/2 hours back to Florida. Leaving the stadium and walking to the car, we figured 45 hours travel at l point per hour equals 45 points plus 10 extra points for all the rifle throws and another extra 10 point bonus for having to drive past "South of the Border" twice, without stopping minus 1.65 penalty for pissing off everybody with your tans produced an official score of 63.35 and we enjoyed ever minute of it!

The Caballeros: Amid calls of "One More Year Jimmy" James Russo saluted the crowd. I thought that there would be nothing more to be said about the Cabs. I mean, they've got it all, but I had forgotten about a little thing called "practice". The show is much cleaner than last week in Clifton which really gives you the opportunity to enjoy how tremendous their visual show is. Since when do "old people" like to run around the field carrying contra basses and playing LOUD at the same time? It's fantastic. The horn line is sounding cleaner and sweeter. The drum line's water show gets much approval from the fans. The guard still needs to add some color. They are way to drab for this exciting performance. Throw in some color and you've got the complete package. (I said package). 85.35. Honestly, as much as I love all the senior corps, there really is no comparison.

Buccaneers: You like snare drummers? Hubba. I just wish they'd stay still long enough to watch! I wish the carrying of the dead cymbal player was a little closer to the stands. It's quite impressive, only it's hard to see. It does make you realize that you are watching tacit time though. The pirate guard is much improved and very enjoyable to watch. The Russian Sailor's Dance is coming along nicely and Buccaneers prove once again that drunken sailors are always fun. ;-) 83.125

Bushwackers: Chris Killian is confident and energetic and kitty seemed to be enjoying the show from her podium seat. The new uniforms really are nice. They look really good. The show, dedicated to the memory of the lost shuttle astronauts, is called "Journey to the Moon". There is some really cool one handed horn playing. The guard's space jumpsuits are perfect for this show. I was so wanting to see some red, white and blue in this show, and I was just beginning to crave some Americana when HELLO! Out come the new red, white and blue flags closely interspersed with horn players and music and Chris Killian pumping his fists and this girl is UP on her feet throwing babies, starburst fruit candies and kisses! Thank you guard! Keep up the excellent work, you have put the cherry on the top of an excellent closer! 79.238

Rochester Crusaders: My camera goes dead. I'm freaking out trying to get the new batteries in it. I love the uniforms. Black with sort of a white bib looking swoosh across the black top thingy (you just have to see it) and the pit looked quite classical in their black evening wear and bow ties. The guard had interesting uniforms that would match any occasion flag, lavender, rust, gold and yellow. The gold flags in the closer were absolutely the most gorgeous of the night. I really liked the Suite Sheherazade. I couldn't hum it to you, but I'd like to hear it again soon. 78.20

Okay! So after seeing the first 5 corps plus an exhibition, we move around for a quick intermission. It occurs to me that I've seen shows this year with 5 corps total that had a half hour intermission stuck in the middle of them. What wusses we have become! 5 corps, an exhibition, a short intermission and we're fresh and ready for Part Dos!

Bring 'em on!

First up in the Junior Division (judged by DCA judges on DCI Division II/III sheets):

Esperanza: I was looking forward to seeing this Californian corps that I had never seen before. The corps is very large. I counted the color guard at 30 and the horn line at something around 43. I thought to myself immediately that a color guard of 30 people definitely threw an advantage towards this corps. Field coverage is not a problem and the sabres and rifles flying (at absolutely gorgeous even heights) is very very impressive. Unfortunately for me, Esperanza takes the body sculpting, dancing approach to color guard leaving the equipment on the ground for extended periods of time. It seems to be the "norm" with the Californian junior corps and although it turned the Color Guard Judge on, it doesn't do a thing for me. However, the guard was expert at their equipment handling which makes it all the sadder for me when the equipment is ignored. Some great equipment work was handled easily for this magnificent guard.! The drill consisted of a whole lot of very long lines kind of reminiscent of the Santa Clara show in which they held hands all the way catty corner across the field. The show was a bit too "Division I" for my taste, as I guess I've had my fill of musical literature lessons on a football field. The show has everything you would have come to expect from a corps about to take first place with a score of 84.10.

Phoenix: I felt sorry that Phoenix, a Division III corps, had to follow an extremely large Division II corps. I figured that it happened because Esperanza was a last minute added corps. Phoenix has always been a real "family" corps and came out like the champs they always are. The guard and drum line were the highlights of the corps. I would suggest to the guard to keep the counting down to a mild roar, as you can be heard over the horn line, the drum line, the Amtrak trains and the crowd noise! ;-) Phoenix has always had a very talented color guard and I'm sure their sheer excitement and enthusiasm causes increased volume. Shhhhhhh, guard, their is no judging category for counting, or I'm sure you'd win. ;-) The drum line sounded sounded nice and the solo was sweet. When I first saw the piece of apparatus coming out onto the field with the color guard, I cringed, but the guard solo with that piece of astral equipment was mesmerizing. I really enjoyed it and could have watched more! As always, Phoenix has heart, enthusiasm and excitement. Love you guys. 57.35

Spartans: This corps was the classiest looking corps to hit the field. In the opening marching move was an unwinding circle with the guard in the middle. Very very sweet maneuver that I would have liked to see on the instant replay. The uniforms are gorgeous and the flags are the most beautiful colors and material on the field this night. Very expensive looking, bright and beautiful. The music was another one of those shows where musical writings and interpretations are examined. I am so not into examining any more classical writings, but the horn and drum lines did their jobs nicely. Loved your look. 82.45

A brief break for my opinion: Show designs in general need to be re-evaluated to determine whether the classical theme show experiment's time has passed. Those being "entertained" can stare blankly at a television or at the field, and although the fresh air is good for us we can fall asleep as easily in the stands as we can on a sofa.

And now back to the show....

East Coast Jazz: There was some improvement over the last time I saw them especially in the horn line and marching. Gershwin tunes are nice and the show is coming along nicely. The corps once again walked off the field without trooping in the stands which really confused the crowd. Believe it or not, the crowd would like to show you their appreciation. 78.05

And now, the corps you may have heard about. The corps you do not want to miss. The Division II VK of the new millennium. The show you must see more than once. The exciting, the crowd moving, unparalleled host corps of the evening - THE

Jersey Surf: I freakin' like this corps! This is the most exciting corps since (thinking), a VERY long time. The show begins with the "class" sitting in its school room trying to pay attention to the teacher for just one last time while the drum major sits atop his life guard perch twirling his whistle back and forth around his finger. The school bell RINGS and yes, it is recognizable as THE school bell you heard in high school and, well, all hell breaks loose! After racing into formation the excited newly released school prisoners belt out "School's Out for the Summer" with such energy and enthusiasm that you want to jump out of your seats and join them on the boardwalk! "School's Out" was met with ruckus screams of fan approval and every one of us was a kid again! The Wipeout Section rocked and the drummers sitting on boxes playing their hearts out with the bare hands like every drummer you have ever seen in your life do at some time or another only all together on 7 or 8 wooden block seats had the fans screaming again. The beach cabanas were placed along the back line and set a very nice backdrop to the show. Now, I usually watch the guard, for want of something better to do during a drum corps show, but Surf's horn and drum lines draw you into themselves and you can't break yourself loose from them! It is amazing. A horn and drum line has never held my attention like this one did. The uniforms are a beautiful blue and the respect that is given to the Surf Visor coming off the field is unreal. Surf holds their Visors across their arm as if it was the most expensive and prestigious cavalier hat or shako. This corps rocks from beginning to end. And you truly wish there was no end. Congratulations Surf. THIS is the show of 2003. To this fan, scores mean nothing! School's Out! Surf's Up! 79.15

In exhibition: The United States Marine Corps: They were a joy as always, playing music from All That Jazz, patriotic music and some other stuff that I was too drained to remember at that point. The shoes were shiny (patent leather) that they actually looked gold in the light.

Thank you corps for a great night of drum corps! And thank you Surf for a memorable night reminiscent of the days when drum corps competitions were long and exciting!


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