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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2005 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews
As posted to R.A.M.D. and submitted to Sound Machine

Page One 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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Go to Page 2 of Reviews!

Wednesday July 13

Dublin, OH (DCI Central)

It was an overcast night in Dublin, OH on Wednesday night, but luckily the rain only hit during intermission. This was only my second show of the season, but my first viewing of all the corps except Bluecoats and Capital Regiment. It was a nice venue with turf, so there weren't any problems due to the rainy weather prior to the show, though the crowd wasn't as big as I would've expected.

In performance order:

Memphis Sound, 69.050, D-2
They got the show off to a good start, with a nice horn sound, and some nice impact points. The guard didn't seem as good as I had remembered from them the last couple years, but all in all, a decent show.

Lake Erie Regiment, 59.150, D-3
Even though they only had 10 horns, 6 guard, and a small drum line, they had an entertaining show, with probable more memorable moments than Memphis. With a very active guard using some creative equipment and some nice tunes, they took full advantage of the members' talents!

Southwind, 72.200
Wow! I had heard/read lots of good stuff about SW, and they lived up to their billing! This was one very-well designed show, with some great musical moments and lots of great visuals, including one large, very colorful guard with awesome flags! The crowd definitely enjoyed this show from start to finish. The horns (56) could use more bass sound, but the guard (30?) sold the show with lots of great colors and flags.

Spirit, 77.450
Spirit kept the show momentum going with an enjoyable Broadway themed show, and they also featured lots of colorful moments. The horn line played very well, but my only complaint was that most of the musical arrangements were pretty similar. They also got outstanding crowd response, especially during the Andrew Lloyd Webber segment, complete with huge Playbill backdrops and some lovely Pie Jesu music. I also enjoyed the "Wicked" closing segment, though I was surprised that most of the people around me had no clue what music it was!

Capital Regiment, 73.400
After seeing them at their first show, I was glad to understand the use of the sundial, though I'm not sure it or the featured dancer adds much. After the bright and colorful flags used by Spirit and SW, Cap had a very dark look, which seemed to hold back crowd response, even in front of a 'home' crowd. There was good playing going on in horns (still a few holes?) and drums, but no truly memorable moments in my book.

Boston, 82.00
Definitely one of the highlights of the evening! With a huge horn sound, their usual big guard moments, and lots of great music, they have one very nice show! It was nice to finally have a Boston show without words, either in printed form or by way of amps! My highlight was definitely the "Promise of Living" segment, which built beautifully to a huge ending! It's a very fan-friendly show and got one of the biggest ovations of the evening!

Carolina Crown, 82.00
CC has a nice show, but nothing like the crowd-appealing packages of the past two years. While the horn line had a nice, clean sound (probably one of their best in a few years), the drill was almost non-existent. How they won Visual GE last night I'll never know, since there only seemed to be drill for about half of the show. The guard is certainly not as overwhelming as in the past years, and that seemed to hold back on their effect as well. The music's nice but not incredible. My feeling is that Boston should've been a couple points ahead easily.

Bluecoats, 84.100
With easily the most active show of the evening, thanks to probably their hardest and most visual drill in years, Blue was an apparent victor. Their horn line continues to be AMAZING, with an incredible sound! Drums have many nice moments as well, especially in the second half of the show. The guard has improved much since first viewing in June, but the two plain flags hopefully will be replaced soon, since they don't carry much visual impact. (Maybe they can steal a couple of Southwind's??? Kidding...) I'm still a little disappointed about the amped vocals, especially after their staunch opposition to amps during DCI voting last year. But all in all, this is one great show, with lots of great music in various styles, and a very nice visual package. Maybe they can move up to 5th this year? Go Blooooooooo!

If you haven't seen Bluecoats, Boston, Spirit, or Southwind yet, you'll be in for a treat when you do! I enjoyed them very, very much and can't wait to see them again in Indy and Boston!


Sunday July 10

Fairfield, OH (DCI Central)

As a drum corps fan it is absolutely great to see all of these "second tier" doing so well. So here goes my review of the show from personal viewing.

LAKE ERIE REGIMENT Their score I think was actually a bit high. I am a positive person, and the drumline for this corps is really fun, but, the horn section is just too small to render the rather challenging arrangements.

SOUTHWIND WOW!!! What a great younger corps to watch. Their overall show concept is really nice, the combination of melodies actually works better than most cut and paste shows. What made the show work for me was that the performers really SOLD THIS SHOW. It really is an exciting show, non stop movement. If they continue this growth, this could be a real up and coming corps.

SPIRIT Not wow. OK I am not going to bash this corps. They have a nice show concept, and I enjoyed some of the nostalgia of the broadway tunes. There just didn't seem to be any big hit moments that make you sit up on your seat. It was also quite visually dirty. IMHO they scored much higher than I expected. Not nearly as closs to G-men as the judges put them.

BONES It's not that the show concept is bad, which it isn't my favorite. The show was just flat. What the Southwind kids lack in performance level they made up for in enthusiasm. If I were the judge, Bones would have lost by a small margin to S-Wind. It was that low. There are some classic Bones moments in this show, but it is just being played. No heart.

BAC WOW this is an absolutely clean looking show. This score was way too low, or the competition was too close. Yes there is visual and musical dirt, but compared to what I was expecting I was just caught off guard at the polished presentation. That being said, it is possible that they might be peaking early. I don't know if another month can improve upon this show that much. But if they continue on this pace they have a fight for 6th with the Coats.

CROWN Holy Brass line Batman!!!!! People have been commenting on the weakness of their guard, and I can only summize it's because their hornline was nearly fifteen or twenty players bigger than the other two closer corps. And they can play. Can they catch BAC? Only if they clean, clean, clean and BAC hits a ceiling it can't break through. This show was a lot dirtier visually and musically, hence it's score should have been further from the winner, but even when it's clean, I don't think it has enough difficulty to earn them sixth. The drill is mostly easy. The horn writing is easier. A stong show, but not a top six show this year.

G-Men I really liked this show and I think they should have scored closer to Crown. With their show, I also believe when clean it just doesn't have enough difficulty to raise it to the next level. This could be in part to G-men's dissapointing scoring the past couple of years. I think they will keep Coats, Boston, and Carolina (and possibly SCV) honest, but I see them finishing in tenth when finals come around.


Saturday July 9

Seattle, WA (DCI Pacific)

The long-time Seattle contest has always featured a good cross section of corps, and the '05 installment was no exception.

CORPS --Spokane Thunder: complete but needs much cleaning. In comparison to their stunning '04 debut [after a scant few months existence] their '05 version was surprisingly tepid.
--Oregon Crusaders: their biggest corps ever. Polishing needed, certainly, but may once again top their division.
--Fever: my first ever viewing. Their uniform, other than some small highlights, was curiously drab [about 75% grey, including the shoes] in relation to their name. Incongruous.
--Blue Devils B: evident influence from BD. Neat drum solo.
--Vanguard Cadets: ditto their older corp's influence. The first corps this evening with noticeably more use of and brighter uniform colors.
--Seattle Cascades: well done "Airborne" theme which [in spite of the sparse but still unneeded narration], given that Boeing's a prominent employer here, likely resonated all that more with the audience. Watch for the big airplane and the aerial dogfight. Neat.
--Phantom Regiment: first time in Seattle. Even though my wife and I are PR alumni, nevertheless I truly ache for anyone who doesn't get to see their approach to "American In Paris" and "Rhapsody In Blue". 100% superb!

--A surprisingly smaller crowd than I'd expected, even with the show's welcome return to UW Husky Stadium and free parking [unlike '04 at Seahawk Stadium].
--$40 for 'gold' seating, yet $3 for programs [unlike the equally well done free programs in '04].

WHY [at this show year after year]
--do the drum majors take off their hats? I never understood the rationale.
--do the vast majority of the corps' guards wear colors so completely
different from their horns and drums? It doesn't make design sense in the least. Do the staff's imagine their people will be lost on the field with matching colors? What are they thinking of?
--don't more drumlines play when their corps troops the stands after performing? At Seattle this year, SCV B, Cascades and PR were the only corps with the stones to give that final icing on their performance cake. The other corps just passed by to the deathly uninteresting "Doop, doop, doop... [rest, rest, rest]". Zzzzzzzz.
--do so many corps wear predominantly dark, dark, dark uniforms? They're dull, dull, dull. By comparison, PR was head-to-toe almost blindingly white. --do so many drumlines obsessively stay with the toneless, colorless "click, clickety, click" high tuning? Gack!
--do so many corps still play obscure music or obscure form music? After forking over $120.00 for this once a year event, would someone tell me again, please, exactly WHO these shows are written for?

--Seven corps tonight with about 10 minutes between each one. So for whose benefit was that 25 minute break halfway through the show?


Sorry for the super late review, things have been a bit hectic, and while I did take notes, I havenít had time to write the review till now. Anyway this line-up has been reviewed quite a few times on the net by now so Iíll try to keep it short.

BDB -- missed them! They went on first while I was in the parking lot, fishing stuff out of my car for my sister, but I heard they were great.

Oregon Crusaders -- (from the tunnel) After the first big hit me and the guy next to me turned to each other with similar ĎWOWí faces. VERY impressive hornline! Thereís a trumpet solo in there somewhere that you canít miss, some really terrific players out there. The guard is holding the corps back to a certain extent right now, pretty dirty, and very small, too bad they canít work something out with the Northern Lights to help out their guard. A lot of the drill is hard to read at this point too, some nice moments for everyone though. Iíll be rooting for you in Boston!

Fever -- I thought Oregon had them beat tonight, first thing you notice though is their TERRIFIC guard, some amazing staging and just really clean stuff for this early in the season they are big and professional.

Spokane Thunder -- I had high hopes for these guys after hearing all the great reviews last year, but they seemed pretty weak in all captions last night, stinks to have to go on after Fever and OC, good to see a competitive corps on the east side again though, best of luck!

SCVC -- They are so fun to watch! All of the intensity of SCV but Div II, they have some awesome visuals and a great Ďperformance qualityí that really set them apart from the rest of the division tonight.

Seattle Cascades -- The first hornline of the night to get a bigger wow factor than OC. Of course they were playing for a home crowd, but DANG was it a fun experience. They were met with waves of applause and cheering at every impact (and there are some very nice ones in this show). The first thing I noticed about the '05 Cascades is their development of a corps style and persona, the smooth slow horns up and horns down, and elegant visuals spread throughout the show really give it a northwest feel in my opinion. After the show I told my sister "You guys looked exactly how a corps from Seattle should look, just smooth and liquid-y". As far as show design goes, I think Iíve pretty much bought into it. Iím one of those that doesnít understand the neon coloring of props, but I do like the props, it would be cool if they could incorporate them somehow at the end of the show as well as the opener. The narration is key I think, though IMHO it would be more enjoyable if the narration was more mono tone (think Winston Churchill addressing the British people under attack by the German air force), sometimes the emotion in the narration tends to undermine the emotion in the music, where maybe a more low key narration would contrast the music as well as allowing it to express itself to the audiance on a deeper level. Overall TERRIFIC performance! This is the best corps the Cascades have EVER fielded, and they are scoring at least a little lower than they should be. I brought a first timer to the show, and Seattle was her favorite show of the night.

Phantom Regiment -- My friend and I went to their rehearsal before the show, which was a LOT of fun. I donít know what exactly to say about the show. I was skeptical about Phantom and Gershwin, but Iím completely won over. The umbrellas in the opener have a TOTAL goosebump effect, as does Phantoms EVER powerful hornline, I had chills during the whole show, and will be surprised to see them out of the top 5 this year. As far as the drill goes, I didnít notice a big difference from this drill and years past, but Iíve never been a big critic of Phantomís drill, I thought it was very entertaining.

Adam McFarlin

Reading, PA (DCA)

Before I begin, I need to apologize profusely to the Sunrisers and the Skyliners. I was in Chris Garrett's wedding in Rockville MD. You may remember Chris, former DM for Westshore and Bucs. Well, due to massive traffic issues on 95 and the DC Beltway, it got way behind and forced me to take a longer way to Reading then planned. As such, I didn't get there in time to see both corps.

if anyone did see these corps, and you have notes, I'll gladly accept and give you full credit in the DCW review I am preparing. I appreciate any help in advance.

now onto the show.

New home at Exeter HS. nice looked like fake grass field, nice lighting, no light pole on the 50. I hope when Albright is redone, the field looks like this or i reccomend a move to Exeter permanently.

Hurcs: 23 brass, 15 guard, 5 pit, 5 snares, 3 tenors, 4 bass.

The Hurcs have a very strong percussion section, at times overpowering the brass. As the holes fill in, I imagine that issue will go away. the initial horn entrance was well done. I didnt know the names of any of the pieces, but i really liked the intro, and i think i'll like it more when the brass holes are filled.

2nd tune had a nice jazzy feel, with minor trasnition issues. the perc was staged well leading into their feature...coming out of the feature some more balance issues. i did appreciate the ton of flams in the snare book.

keys do a nice job setting up the ballad, and the mello solo framed by the contras was a nice idea. guard was active on sabe and some nice carolina blue flags in the back. looked like some holes in the guard work yet, but what they had was readable and performed well.

loved the Mag 7 hits at the beginning of the closer, but the brass strated to sound tired.....the perc had another break setting up the big Mag 7 push which led to a company front.

in all a nice show. bass tuning really low, and the brass to percussion balance issues will be gone w/horn holes filled i am sure. I look forward to a 2nd read.

Bushwackers: 41 brass, 23 guard, 6 snares, 3 tenors, 5 bass and 8 pit.

by far THE BEST Bush has looked this time of year since 1995. Solid intro of Ludmilla in a block form that pushes center...very active pit 16th runs underneath. Lots of motion visually and guard is on guns sabres and flags. Really strong sop push to the end, and oh such tasty percussion writing that was well performed.alo loved the silent guard feature into the dance of the buffoons section and the company front push.

the beginning of 1812 was sung...unamped( thank you), and well done, and they slowly layered brass in underneath it. added the pit in then and it was very well done. excellent staging and design. this led to the Romeo and Juliet section with the guard on big yellow swing flags...again, staged very well. total intergration of guard to corps at the hit, and volume was where it needed to be.

this led to some March Slav which then led into 1812...the bass drum wiriting backfield was so made me forget the brass was playing backfield. a minor transition issue when the corps turned around. guard featured well on side 1 as we went back to the 1812 theme. well done 1812 to the end with lots of cannon bass effects.

this corps is for real. My only issue was the drill at the end seemed clumped up front and it didnt come across as readable. an easy fix I am sure. all brass sections held their own, and the percussion is definitely a player. the pit is so tasty....yet because of the corps being so busy visually the first read you may overlook them. don't.

Bush, welcome back to the big time.

Cabs.....35 brass, 19 guard, 10 pit, 8 snares, 4 tenors, 5 bass.

rumors 2 months ago had this corps dead. Well dead they ain't. In fact there are some nice things going on out there.

corps starts out w/the percussion going to town as the brass does a snake drill building to a block. some interesting staging ideas here, and when the holes are filled, it will look really cool. nice sbare staging for their feature. from here, the brass is mostly back on side 2 and the perc is upfront. right now this is causing balance issues. it's a few things...staging, holes and a very aggressive perc book. maybe too aggressive for right now. some dynamics could help give the horns a chance. they have some nice stuff, but it can be lost.

btw, this pit is the best in recent memory...really nice touches w/the Egyptian motifs coming from them. Axe even played marimba!

the corps moves a lot and i liked the perc double time in the ballad hit vs the hornlines regular time.

i really liked the brass in the ballad when they had a chance to shine. the sabre around the sop solist was a nice touch.

i also liked the perc staging in the drum break with all of the smaller groups that built into one. perc had some performance issues, but the intent is there. i also liked the horn unison hits chraging the sideline in the closer...nice idea.

the corps stood still for the last minute or so, but progress has been made. the things they need now are the horn holes filled, some dyanmics in the perc book til the horns get their chops and some solificiation of tempo. at times it felt uneasy. in time, i have no doubt all of this will happen.

Bucs: 57 brass 31 guard 9 snare, 5 tenors, 5 bass, 6 cymbals, 12 pit.

if you read early season revfiews and had your doubts, erase them. this corps is solid in all areas.

show opens w/a strong brass and pit statement of Farandole. battery on the sideline for their entrance and the balance is great when they do come in.

now here's a the tempo change, the cymbals are the ones who set the pulse. how often do you see that in DCA? Folks, when you see the Bucs, watch this cymbal section. THE BEST cymbal section i have ever seen in DCA. they throw about 125 techniques at you in the 1st minute of the show.

perc feature here shows all voices who played really well, and the brass rentry was well done. the build to the hit was staged and played well. guard staging for guns and sabres also well done, and the flags had some cool silver/red flags. loved the brass block passing thru the box move, leading to a high mark time and halt.

Adagio. oh so tough to follow the versionSCV did. pit starts off with 4 mallet work...laterals well done. the first brass line comes in and voices keep adding in, and the guard is in small groups and solos doing a lot of body and work. the sops staging on side 2 is well done. pit adds in underneath w/bass and cymbals leading to the famous hit, and the keys have some serious 16th note patterns going on.

the hit just builds and builds and builds until a release i can not wait to hear echo in Scranton. this was volume folks. pure goosebumps

coming out of Adagio, the perc enters from upper side 2 for Bartok. lots of notes, lots of movement. tons of bidy work here as well. very agrressive drill and music, and think they're tired but they aren't, cause here comes YPG. very true to the melody that we all know and love, and all voices get their chance to shine. the famous 3/2 section was well performed, tho here i noticed some fatigue setting in from the brass. this builds to a company front with the guard on yellow flags that work well against the blue unis. as the corps builds to the end, the pit restates the YPG theme underneath.

so well written and performed. I know i missed stuff. They have so much to offer the eye, I am glad i will see them again. hands down the winner.

Jersey Surf: 56 brass, 22 guard, 9 pit, 6 snares, 4 tenors, 4 bass.

new unis add to the classical look Surf is going for. the guard unis also work well...corps has blue up top, blakc bootoms, guard has black tops w/blue bottoms.

opening hit of prelude in fugue in D minor shows the brass lines power. guard also had some nice peach flags that swung from the top of the pole.

the corps had its well known comedy in place. at one point as the dm hams it up with the crowd, the corps keeps repeating the drill and music until a guard member gets his attention. Barber of Seville was well my mind i heard the Bugs bunny cartoon. Loved thetrade offs side to side in the corps ina we can do better/funnier than you can kind of fashion. also loved the snare/contra feature...not something you see every day.

i really loved how as the corps charges to the end, the guard "gives up" and walks off to their next piece of equipment.

Send in the Clowns has the guard in a skirt, and was well done..soloists trade to the pit, who trades to the hornline. the pit had some very nice 4 mallet work here. a very high sbare toss led into the hit which had the rest of the guard on purple two tone flags.

then off we go into 1812. brass opens w/nice use of chimes underneath. a full ensemble perc break followed that was handled well. bras re-entered strong and this led to a section w/old school squads in the drill and old style rifle work. this built to a hit of Stars and Stripes which melded back into the end of 1812. expect fireowkrs to be added soon

nice show from Surf. Not as comedy driven as the past, but I am told more is yet to come. my only real concern was percussion staging, but there is a lot of time left.

there ya have it. disagree if you wish. agree if you like. if you have Sky and Sun comments, please send along.


Friday July 8

San Diego, CA (DCI Pacific)

First off, some general commentary...

Westview HS is in a wealthy suburban area of San Diego and is a brand new school. The stadium is top-notch, with a nice astroturf field and good lighting. That said, I question its ability to host a DCI show. There was a lot of echo off the back stands. The sun was setting just to the left of the back stands, behind the corps, so people sitting to the right of the 50 had the sun directly in their eyes for half the show. And the parking situation was ATROCIOUS. Seriously, Esperanza, you need to look at the parking situation before holding another show there. The only parking lot offered to spectators was the school's staff parking lot. It is small and has narrow aisles (it also has no red zones, so people were parking on every curb, which constricted some aisles to "one-way" status... but you didn't know that until you were already trapped in it with a person coming from the opposite direction in front of you).

Anyway, by the time I had fought traffic from downtown San Diego to get to Westview, searched the parking lot in vain, driven nearly a mile down the road to park amongst opulent houses (not a one of 'em was less than seven figures, I guarantee it), then walked all the way back to the stadium, I had missed both senior corps and Hawthorne Gold. I caught Jester, in part, as I was walking to my seat. They struggled, and we'll leave it at that. On to the review!

62 brass, 33 perc (8s/5q/5b/5c/10p), 21 guard, 2 DMs = 119 marching
Wow. I mean, WOW. I back up what I said earlier: this corps would THROTTLE the Spartans or ECJ if they met today. With 120 kids this corps has a big, big sound, a D-1 sound, not a D-2 sound, and both musical sections were VERY clean and crisp. Their 10 contras provided a big, strong, wonderful sound base. They marched with excellent posture control and technique, and stuck their drills. On the downside, the drill wasn't extraordinarily difficult (it picks up as the show goes along), but why over-reach when your season ends in mid-July? Their brass staff? See if you recognize these names: Sam Pilafian, Dean Westman, and Patrick Sheridan. Two of the best tuba players in the world (Pilafian is their arranger, too) and a former Vanguard instructor. This corps has all the pieces in place, and a huge marching band base to draw from in Arizona. Look for this corps to do well in Denver, and DON'T MISS them if they come to your neighborhood this year or next. Possibly the best D2 corps I've ever seen at this point in the year. DOWNLOAD THEIR SAN DIEGO APD as soon as it's available. I will be.

IMPULSE, Buena Park, CA
40 brass, 36 perc (8s/5q/5b/5c/13p), 16 guard, 3 DMs = 95 marching
Following The Academy is a pretty tough task if you're not a Top 17 Division 1 corps. They had a good sound, but lacked the cleanliness of the corps before them. Strong low brass here, too... in fact, almost TOO strong. You want that big bass base, but at points the contras were overpowering and out of balance with the sops. The music ("The Incredibles") translated well to the field and Brad Pearson and Ike Jackson made good arrangements. This corps just needs to clean it up and really work on their ensemble sound. The visuals got a little messy late in the show, something to work on.

MYSTIKAL, Newbury Park, CA
16 brass, 23 perc (5s/3q/5b/3c/7p), 17 guard, 2 DMs = 58 marching
Not reviewed by yours truly.

MANDARINS, Sacramento, CA
44 brass, 26 perc (8s/4q/5b/9p), 22 guard, 2 DMs = 94 marching
Not quite as big this year as I've been led to believe, but no matter. Each year I look forward to the Mandarins' show, each year I am not disappointed. The Mandarins put out some of the most enjoyable shows on such a regular basis; kudos to their veteran staff. The corps has a nice big sound and gets a lot of power from their 70 musicians. The drumline powers the corps with a wicked battery. The show is written with some significant difficulty, both musically and visually, and the corps really sells the show. They even have a jazz jam session in the middle of the show! The Mandarins! The closer was their Achilles heel, performance wise. A lot of brass muck and visual dirt. The books written for this corps have Finals-caliber difficulty. Can the Mandarins clean and clean to reach Finals-caliber performance? We shall see. Even if they miss Finals, look for the Mandarins to have their highest finish ever. I'd say they are a lock for semifinals and probably Top 15.

58 brass, 33 perc (7s/5q/5b/6c/10p), 30 guard, 2 DMs = 123 marching
Pacific Crest's opener was the first "goosebump" moment for me. A quiet melody quickly swelling into some awesome, powerful chords presenting Ralph Vaughan Williams' stark and severe "Sinfonia Antarctica." Fantastic, big low brass sound and an overall strong hornline powers the corps. But as the show progressed, I couldn't help but sit there and think "meh." The show just didn't grab me as well as the Mandarins. PC sounds great and looks pretty good, but I don't think this is a Finals-caliber show design or demand. I was surprised to see them as close to the Mandarins as they were.

64 brass, 31 perc (8s/4q/5b/5c/9p), 35 guard, 2 DMs = 132 marching
Hm. I think SCV will have to really fight to stay in the Top 5 this year. That's not to say I didn't like the show, just that there are too many holes in the design, too many question marks in July, for me to feel supremely confident about their chances. I liked the show more than the judges did, though. Okay, first things first: it always amazes me at how much of a step-up there is in power and difficulty when you get to "The Big Four" after anyone else. SCV blew away everyone else on the field when it came to volume. They start off with a small musical motif and swivel to the stands for a "hair-parting" full-force chord about 20-30 seconds in. Loved the chord, didn't like the build-up to it: there was none. There was no lead-in to the chord, just notes notes notes BAM! Overall, though, I was musically impressed. Strong hornline that plays a lot of notes. Strong, equal-opportunity drumline (lets hear it for girls in the battery! I noticed two snares and the lead bass drummer were girls). If you get high seats, look for SCV's "spelling contest" during the drum break (the horns spell out 1913, then CCCP, then USSR). Now... my main concerns. I liked a lot of the guard work that I saw, but there are still a few dead spots in the show. It's almost mid-July and it doesn't look like SCV has their guard routine fully complete. I love the new uniforms, but those white pants make you awfully exposed, and I caught a fair amount of visual dirt. And finally, and to me, most importantly: Russian Christmas Music is not a good closer. I'm not talking drill, I'm talking music. It just does not carry much impact (unlike 1987) and I think that will be a big weakspot as the season progresses: the musical chart does not end at it's strongest point.

44 brass, 27 perc (8s/4q/5b/10p), 18 guard, 2 DMs = 91 marching
Note to kids: you are outstanding performers and you do a heck of a job with the show! Note to staff: BORING! Keith Emerson's "Piano Concerto"? What the hell is this crap? This is the most flaccid, uninteresting music I've heard in DCI in quite a few seasons. You've got some talented kids: throw them a bone, give them something to work with! *ahem* Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, not my favorite show. The opening statement has zero impact value because it's poorly constructed. The drumline sounded strong, cleaner than the brass, and along with the nice guard powered the show. Visually they were the messiest of the D-1 corps. Looks like they have an unlearned guard part in the closer, too. Oh, and lastly: olice whistles? The most dubious addition to drum corps since amped vocals. *shudder*


I'll have you know I was DEAD ON the Division II scores. With my -17 adjustment, I think The Academy would be in the high-60s in Division I. I thought they were about even with Esperanza, and they should be right on Seattle's heels in Denver.

Phantom's scores:
Division I:
82.30 Santa Clara Vanguard
73.20 Mandarins
71.70 Pacific Crest
67.60 Esperanza

Division II:
82.50 The Academy
73.00 Impulse

Actual scores:
Division I:
79.50 Vanguard
72.45 Mandarins
72.25 Pacific Crest
69.15 Esperanza

Division II:
82.55 The Academy
73.10 Impulse

Phantom Phan

Sunday July 3

Cedarburg, WI (DCI Central)

Drove up the road to Cedarburg to catch the show. Didn't take any notes, so these are VERY random impressions.

Racine Scouts - Very solid playing by their mellophone player. Solid throughout and he seemed to anchor this very small line. Bravo!

Cap Sound - The dominant image I have is that their guard was really working at selling their show. Nice job!

Colts Cadets - Some of these kids are just so teeny and cute - how could you not like this corps? Very fun and entertaining show idea to base everything on pinball games. Really liked the touch where a coin was "inserted" to continue the show.

Blue Stars - Get ready world, here they come! My goodness, they're huge. Kudos to the staff for a stellar recruiting job. On the field they remind me of 1980 Suncoast Sound - big, rough around the edges, and a ton of potential. Hold on to those kids!

Troopers - Much better than in Madison. The horn line's articulation was much cleaner to night. A week ago I heard a muddy wash of sound. Much more musical tonight.

Pioneer - The all Irish theme works for me. Very entertaining.

Southwind - the more I see this corps, the more I like them. Very good percussion feature. They seemed much improved over what I saw in Madison. Seems like a nice horse race is developing between them and Colts.

Colts - Beautiful horn line! Terrific unison flag work throughout. Don't cross them off your list of finalists just yet.

Madison - The Real Deal. Easily, the best Madison corps since 1999 - maybe the best corps since 1995. Absolutely whiplash drill. Solid guard, although they seem to depend more on dancing than equipment. Those who complain that this is more West Side Story than Carmen are full of it. Out side of the middle section, it's all Carmen, but not in a traditional way at all. Seems to be strong across all captions.

Jim Anello

Saturday July 2

San Jose, CA (DCI Pacific)

I arrived a little bit early at this show, just to go by the Seattle Cascades souvie wagon to see who might be working it tonight! I was pleased to see my drum major who aged out with me working it this evening. When I arrived, the weather was actually treating us very well, not to hot, not to cold, perfect weather to have a show in if you ask me. I chatted with Amy Scopa (my ageout drum major) for a few minutes, and then we headed to our seats, before we went and got our snacks for the evening.

Kudos to DCI and all involved in making tonights event happen, because it was on time! Infact, things were running early tonight, and I was impressed with the organization of the event. However, I would recommend moving this event to another venue in the future. Having an entrance for the corps, and an exit for the corps might work better. This will allow corps entering the field a chance to enter with out interfering or getting in the way of the corp exiting (just my opinion). We had a small mishap with a man in the crowd who was SMOKING in the stadium! All of us in our area politely asked him to stop, and he said "Where do you see any rules that say No Smoking!" and I looked to my friend sitting by me and said "Hello common sense"--But some people just don't get it I guess.

This was one of the first times I wanted the National Anthem to hurry up, because I was anxious for the meat of the event to start. The trumpet soloist who provided the National Anthem was great! And I liked how he added his own little twist to every cadence! Good job, and I applauded after that! However, I was still eager to get the event started!

Review of Corps:

River City Regiment: I had not heard much about this senior corp, but saw them and knew I would at least have to give them a go. There were some great moments in this show, and I could tell all of the members were putting their hearts into their production. However, I am not sure that this performance was taken as serious as the corp that would follow them. With a corp as small as this one, I was expecting to see much better intervals from performer to performer in the corps proper, as well as a tighter colorguard performance. I definitely could see the intent from the members of the colorguard (especially the soloist) but I don't feel they had a good ensemble colorguard. Individually, some great things were happen, but too many of the performers seemed to not be sure of their roles and responsibilities throughout the performance. Great job hornline for the sound that you produced with the limited brass you had. Watch the marching technique though, I saw a variety of technique being used, and that detracted from the visual package as a whole. In terms of General Effect, numbers definitely affect that here, however, you did use what you had on the field very well. Given the amount of time you have been active, with more recruiting and membership, I definitely see some potential here. This show obviously has a lot of room for growth, and I look forward to seeing you throughout the season. Best of luck.

Renegades: Outstanding work coming from all three sections of the ensemble. Very impressed with the vocabulary displayed by the colorguard, and how the drill complimented them in the early stages of the show. You guys definitely have one heck of a brassline, and had me in "awe" the entire show. Drill design was great, and had a lot of great moments throughout the production. This show actually made me think about possibly joining a Sr. Corp in the future. You had been drawn into the show from point A to point Z. I am still trying to recover from the brassline and the sounds they were putting out (good things there). Colorguard, oh my goodness! Work displayed here rivals some of the Jr. Corps that I saw this evening. Tighten up the ensemble (all three sections) and I see great things happening here. There were obviously some issues in the visual department with members missing visuals, and or step offs, but the overall performance was right there, and you got me to stand and clap hard at the end.

Blue Devils C: I've never seen this group until tonight, and when I saw them on the field, I kept saying to my friend "How cute!"--I know, they are just little kids, but hey, credit needs to be given here. Some of what they were doing out there is pretty darn good, considering how old they are. I was very impressed with the level of the colorguard of this ensemble, especially in the way they carried themselves throughout the show across the field. They were pretty synchronized throughout the performance, which can be a hard task at any level, but these kids demonstrate a great poise throughout their show! Kudos to all who have helped make this ensemble. Even they had me on the edge of my seat, with a big grin on my face, as they did something to make me smile every move!

Fever: Musically, I thought this was the best corp for Division II. Their program has a lot of room for growth, but it is a program that has a lot of built in General Effect as well. I'm still not seeing how "Anxiety" is being tied into the show, however, with time, the drill will clean, and the colorguard will get stronger in the performance execution of the show. What a sound this brass line puts out for having a small hornline. The marching technique definitely needs some attention, but I feel the corp in general is moving together very well from an ensemble standpoint. Individuals are showing some fatigue, but that is expected with what types of movement I am seeing. Colorguard, ladies, I am affraid you were holding back just a bit tonight; you didn't quite hit me as hard as I was expecting but I saw your intent. This show has a lot of entertaining moments, that will definitely be maxed out once the drill cleans, and the hornline has a better understanding of phrasing and impact points and resolutions. Hornline, understand your roles and responsibilities when you are facing back field vs. the stands. There were some tempo tears toward the end of your performance, that had me a little concerned, but you managed to pull through. The ending was good, but you left me hanging, I wanted more! Lots of room for growth, and it already looks like you are making the right strides. Enjoy your trip to Seattle! I look forward to seeing you again in California.

Blue Devils B: This was the cleanest of the Division II shows from a general standpoint. Members of the hornline displayed outstanding marching technique, and I thought the drill design allowed them to show that off! I was impressed with the ending of this show, as the drill seemed to get a little more intricate as far as design and creativity itself. Colorguard, displayed a great level of poise and demand over their performance, and in many areas, I thought they were the most outstanding part to the ensemble as a whole. The young man who looks like he is 4 years old, definitely caught my eyes, and I think he takes their performance to another level. While the entire colorguard does some great things, he takes it one step further, and he knows his show! The confidence displayed by the colorguard had me sold. I felt some tension between the hornline and the percussion section throughout the show, but that is to be expected when you have backfield ensemble music and the like. Overall, some great things happening in the areas of General Effect. I felt the performance was a safe performance, and cleaner than those in their division. I'm looking forward to see what risks you take with this show. Best of luck!

Vanguard Cadets: Once I saw this group take the field, I knew they meant business. They've always been a corp in the Division II/III arena that displays a professional look as they take the field, and leave the field. I am always impressed just how a corp enters the field! The first note of the show brings me in right away! and your front percussion ensemble keeps me into the musical theme at that point. I enjoyed seeing the colorguard in their opening statement, and found it entertaining to see those SCV 04 - Scheherazade flags, being used in a show that complimented them much better (in my opinion). This nature, tribal, tropical color scheme set the mood for me, and the musical ensemble compliments that very well, however, I am not sure that we need to see the same color schemes (well not really) being represented. I would have loved to see more from the color pallet involved in this show. For the size of hornline you have, I feel you do the optimal to make sure you get the fullest sound! Do not give up Vanguard Cadets, because you have something very special here, and it has much potential. Hornline members have a definite understanding of the marching technique, but it seems the fatique setting in, helps them forget that and the playing suffers. Overall, I enjoyed listening to your musical ensemble, and I look forward to seeing how you incorporate the other sections of your corp into that!

Seattle Cascades: This is the corp I had been waiting for all night! MY SEATTLE CASCADES! and you can be sure I was one of the loudest people in the stadium when they came on! I was shocked to see as many Seattle fans there tonight, but this could be because Seattle has a lot of California members now! Colorguard uniforms definitely caught my eye as they entered the field and setup! Purple, with linear stripes of orange (its similar to that of the Cavaliers 2002 uniform), a little bright, but it goes with the concept of the show, and they use the colors very well. What is that I see back field??? Oh nevermind, circular, triangular, and square shapes that form an airplane, in which the corp merges itself into, and outside and fills them in! The colorguard then rotates these shapes. It's a darn cool effect, because it looks like an airplane moving on the center stage! However, colorguard, if you are going to make this happen, you too! are going to have to watch the drum major for timing, to make sure the thought lines up with what the musical ensemble is doing there! The tail of the airplane was a little bit to late setting up that effect for my taste. Ladies, you also need to be considerate of your phrasing, because you seem to be a little bit busy, and louder than the rest of the ensemble in some areas. You definitely are the best colorguard this corp has seen, and I think once you get some of this choreography cleaned, you will definitely be seen as a major icon of this show. The bright flags, airplane kites, and cool choreography really brought it home for me, and was a great treat! Hornline, wow! You put chills down my spine! Low brass, I could have ate you for dinner, that was divine, and the sound the entire ensemble puts out is simply amazing at this point. However, do watch your intonation high brass, this was not your most banner moment in terms of musicality and performance this evening. This voice over you used is okay, however I think this show can stand on its own without it! (some of you members even agreed with me about that!) This performance again, was a safe performance, and not as energetic as the night before, which in my opinion was the cause for your placement this evening. No biggie, its only your first two shows, and you still have a few days of rehearsal days to clean things up! Percussion especially, you have a lot of work to do in terms of keeping it clean, I like this percussion section so far, but I am finding it hard to take in. This music is too demanding and features a little bit more percussion than in the past, so you need to make it happen, rise to the occassion. In my opinion, this show has the potential for top 12. I approve of what I saw, and I can only see this show being the talk of the town. You have all of the ingredients to bake the cake Cascades, but you aren't baking it quite yet! Dig deeper, and give me what I know you have! I look forward to seeing this show VERY SOON!

Mandarins: I've always enjoyed what this corp can do, simply because of the size. This was tied as my second favorite show this evening, and I thought they had a great package from all three sections. Colorguard definitely outperforms the corp proper from a performance standpoint. Mandarins, I am extremely impressed with the level of intensity you display, and I couldn't get enough of the interaction within the colorguard. This hornline you have produced was another treat this evening! WOW! Both sections (colorguard and hornline) do a great job of SHOWING what this show is about, but I think some members checked out this evening. Demanding drill for this corp, but members need to understand some interval techniques and I think this show will definitely be right up there. A classy corp, and this was displayed on the field. I'm a huge fan of "Adagio from Spartacus" and I thought you did this piece at a decent level this evening. There are some musical concerns I have with your dynamics and how they change significantly, yet some members of both the hornline, percussion and colorguard seem to be on their own path! This piece should be treated very delicate in some of its love stages. Solid colorguard performance (and I think I saw some familiar faces from Winterguards) but thats what I expect from Mandarins! I'm glad to see risks were taken. This is a pretty clean show (clean meaning, the concept), and this is one I definitely want to see again! I can't wait to see the improvements the ensemble makes.

Esperanza: I hope what the colorguard was wearing is not the official uniform for the season. The concept of Crossroads was idenitifiable right from the starting line. However, I did not get a good read on the tape strip things being pulled at the beginning. I enjoyed the enthusiasm from both the hornline members with their precise body movements, and the colorguard showing facial expressions. The drumline definitely is a strong point for this ensemble, and I really grooved to parts of the drum solo. I'm very familiar with the musical selection performed in the corp, and I thought it was performed at a decent level tonight. Hornline, please observe releases, and attacks of certain notes, especially when ending phrases, and starting a new one. Transitions to resolutions were okay, but a little choppy from all sections of the corp. I like where this corp is going with the concept, but in order for it be read right, all sections have to contribute to make it rise to the next occassion. I know you'll step it up, so I can't wait to see what crossroad you will show me next time!

Pacific Crest: The opening set is wide open! I love it, because its different, and I like seeing white pants in a big space like that. The beginning of this show really brings me in, and I like how the colorguard is being used here. The uniforms while I like the color scheme, they seem to be a little bit busy on the arms for me. You do make great use of that color scheme throughout the show though! I'm not sure if I understood what the colorguard was trying to give me in various points of the show, because some of the timing in the musical ensemble was impared. Great musical ensemble overall, but hornline, please make sure you keep the feet out of the sound! I made a quick observation on the haults and coming out of them... Are you infact using the Blue Knights knee/toe prep on 4? I saw a lot of that throughout the show, and I am wondering if that was really helping the visual ensemble at all. The hornline had me until about midway throught the show, and then my focus kind of went on autopilot--until you started hitting me hard at the end, and I was diggin that! WONDERFUL JOB from the percussion section! Drill design is okay, but nothing really standing out just yet! though I saw the intent in many places toward the end. The brass line is definitely strong, but my favorite sections of this corp were definitely the colorguard (clean it up ladies and gentlemen and you will definitely rival some great groups) and the percussion. I loved the work the percussion has done, and I see them progressing upward and possibly being the strongest section this corp has. I look forward to seeing the improvements and adjustments with this show. I hope to be more involved next time, I felt bad for not being able to keep my attention into this show, but the music really doesn't do a good job with keeping me (the reader) involved at this point.

Phantom Regiment: I'm so glad they had the chance to tour out west this year! It's obvious they were a favorite this evening, because they had the crowd standing before the corp even took the field in competition. Let me first start off by saying the male in the colorguard is starting to become a little more effective, but he definitely needs to play his role a little bit better, milk it for all its worth. I've seen butch women play that role and pull it off. This corp definitely had me ooohing and awwwing all throughout the performance. Thank goodness for the overhauling of the visual department, but I still think they could do a little more in terms of difficulty, though they have definitely surpassed last year and the year before... This show had all the right things in the right places. I'm glad to see the colorguard performing at a much higher level, and getting more involved in the effectiveness of the musical package. This show is Phantom Regiment, and they perform it very well. Definitely top 4 material, and the hornline is sounding splendid! Though I think the intensity could have been up one more volume tonight! Visuals from the hornline were not what I am used to seeing from the corp, but they definitely worked for the show. I'm always impressed when I see different tempos moving on the field, at different places, and they did just that! I think you guys are going further than you think this year, and I know all sections of the ensemble are going to step it up! This is too good of a show.

Santa Clara Vanguard: I know there are some corps with incomplete guard work in various sections, but standing still for that long in a portion of the show is just unacceptable for me, at this point. You have had 3 weeks to put something in place in given areas, yet you stood still. The hornline was giving these big musical hits and they were not to be supported by the colorguard. Now do understand, I did notice the show and the majority of the work was there, but I still feel you could have had something to fill in that gap for the time being. I know you have something in store though, you just have to! Those colorguard flags look too familiar (and I think I know where from) but they go well with the show. I'm a little concerned with the General Effectiveness of the show from the drill design standpoint. Not much is happening, and there isnt one move I can recall or call up a friend on the phone and say "OMG did you see that..."--Musically you guys are RIGHT THERE! However, the big hit in Russian Christmas Music didn't quite cut it for me this evening, I thought the impact should have been louder (maybe its because people were yelling VANGUARD then) but even then, it should have been big! There could have also been more colorguard support there as well. The hornline definitely rivals Phantom Regiments hornline this year, and I would have given either hornline the gold tonight. I love the sounds I am hearing from this hornline right now, but the design/drill is not doing anything for me. I understand there are changes, so I will just wait and see what you have in store for me. Musically the ending of the show rocks, but again, the colorguard is not doing anything to impress me or leave me with a good taste. The uniforms for the colorguard will grow on me, but I need to see more work from the guard, to see how the role of the uniform and what it stands for, I had a hard time grasping certain elements of this show. Yes, I know, its Russian music, but, other than that, give me something more, show me that its Russian music. You are definitely on the right path. Re-think some of the drill (you have the tools) and this could be one show to remember! I still like the 87 version of RCM though!

End of the event:

I left the stadium after awards, because I wanted to hurry up and see as many Seattle Cascades people as I could. They had to board buses by 10:30pm to head back up to the Northwest. I was mauled by several of the members, and it made me feel really good. The words "We miss you"--"I want you to quit your job and come and chaperone or staff with us"--"You were the corps favorite black man"--"You always make me smile and laugh"--and etc... just made me think of all the good times I had while I was with the corp! I saw some friends I go to college with, and they wanted to hang out, but I had to put them on ignore, because its not everyday that I get to see my family (Cascades)...They felt a little upset about it (college friends) but it's something I can't really explain (seeing as how most of them have never marched). Friends are one thing, but it felt good to actually be able to go to the corp (family) I marched with and feel right at home, talking it up with members, and staff, and just remembering what it was like! The rookies (most of them) met me, and I got nothing but great vibes! I don't care how this season turns out, this is one fine corp and I am proud to have helped make it what it is today, and I can't wait to help create what it will become in the future!


Friday July 1

Stockton, CA (DCI Pacific)

I'll attempt to give my two cents on SCV and some of the western shows...

I'm not sure SCV has much room to grow. The hornline has a large sound, but there doesn't seem to be much room for expression the way the music is arranged and scored. While I was initially excited about thier playing RCM, to be completely honest, it seemed a little flat and dated. Compared to some of the charts being played by the other elite corps, RCM seems a little simplistic (I know, I know... blasphemy). The show seemed like it was just loud, followed by more loud. I have a hard time connecting with it and I'd be suprised to see Vanguard in the top 4 this year... which is sad because I absolutely LOVED last years show. The Shostakovich was good, but there are a few parts that left me scratching my head (like the quasi-tribal drum feature that is completely out of character of the music). Oh, and I don't care for the uni change this year. I like the uni when one person is standing by themselves, but when they're all out there moving around it creates an image that doesn't seem to sit well with me... I can't put my finger on it... I just plain don't like it.

Phantom on the other hand was a breath of fresh air. Solid show that has lots of room to grow. Its still dirty but the overall design of the show is encouraging. The guy in the guard is fantastic (watch for the huge toss and the one-armed grab behind the back) and does a great job in selling the concept. And OMG I always forget how happy I am when I hear 14 contras playing well... great soli section during Rhapsody. Battery could've used a little more exposure though, seemed as though they were hiding in that huge hornline sound. Oh and the strangest thing happened... their pit comes out and I don't see and wires coming out of the keyboards... and I don't see any speakers, so I think to myself,'WTF? I can HEAR the pit and they aren't mic'ed'. Truely bizarre.

Cascades... I gave them a shot. I felt like I was sitting at BOA Grand Nationals watching a high school show. I did like the airplane move in the middle but the rest of the show is disappointing, for me. I'll give their show another chance sometime during the summer, but I have a feeling it'll be the "restroom break show" this year.

Mandarins. I love thier show this year. Biggest hornline ever for them and I think this may be the show that vaults them into the top 12 for the first time... if they can clean it.

PC. They do a lot of park and blows this year, and I kept waiting for them to blow me away but they never seemed to find that top gear. This isn't a top 12 show. I had a hard time connecting with the music (contemporary wind literature)... I'd expect to hear Glassmen playing this music.

Esperanza. Once again I'm not connecting with the show. It seems disjointed, as though they couldn't figure out the right order for the parts. Younger hornline this year (they had a lot of age-outs) and they struggle to pump out the sound a bit. Drumline is the best they've had to date though (their first show they were 2nd in drums behind SCV).

Renegades. Fun show! I had been disappointed in their rehashing of charts from year to year, but this show rocks. Soloists doing thier thing like every year, but the full hornline sound has really matured. There were moments during the show where I was thinking,"Wow, nice sound". The guard has really come along in the last few seasons as well.


Friday July 1

East Rutherford, NJ (DCI Atlantic)

I just got back from the Meadowlands so here goes:

Show Thoughts: Unfortunately the crowd was on the light side, seeing as their is a show later in Belleville, next year that may be the only metropolitan NY venue. The demographics of this area simply does not cultivate a fan base, this is not Hopkin's or DCI's fault, people around here are into other things. Women were complaining all the ladies rooms were locked, no maintenance men could be found ( they were at other venues ), and they were not allowed in the mens rooms. The show operators did a nice job in pushing back 15 minutes, to allow the last rain cell to leave the area. A beautiful sunset ensued, with wonderful temperatures for an evening. The corps all come on and off in a timely manner, but there was just no feeling to the show, although many in the crowd were appreciative of the corps efforts.

General Thoughts: Visually there was an enormous amount of dirty feet this evening, especially interval and quick hit forms not happening. Guard work was really sloppy, could have been the moisture. Musically, maybe it's better late in the year, but I just don't get the choppy arrangements, which often end with little or no dramatic effect. Crown to me gets the most musical hits, and Cadets came the closest to getting me cranked with their " Twilight Zone" reference. Bac's Candide left you wondering if it had stopped, although it has some great moments. Some year's colorguard uniform and flag choices leave you wondering, but to me not this group of corps, all were superb.

Now the corps:

Jersey Surf- Nice size corps, good drums and decent horns. Best guard uniforms of the night. Good corps with a lot of upside, could use a litlle " Velvet Knight" type stuff which they usually incorporate.

Wayne Raiders- Good drums, small horn line performs well, guard needs practice- their hippy costumes work well.

Spirit of JSU- great horns, good drums, nice guard work. Broadway signs work well in show, but they need to be better mapped to the music being played. Definately top 12 material, but the dirtiest marching of the evening amoung the big boys.

Boston Crusaders - as good as all the hype has been, nice visual package and sometimes great and othertimes bewildering musical book. Great balance, with many impressive hits. I thought they were strong in drums, and hurt themselves with their drum contraptions in Sing Sang Sung. If this show gets cleaned and refined it will be up there.

Crossmen- scored way too low, nice show, although it suffers from the lack of a big hit and finish (IMHO). Great snare line, drill needs some more demand, one of those Crossmen screamers, but definately underscored. I did have a sense of Park and Bark Cadet style of the past, definately should have been tighter with Boston and Spirit even though ( maybe more coming?)

Crown - Love the balance and sound of their horns, especially the low end sound they are famous for. And a good high end, and mellophone line to boot. I believe they changed Drum Caption Head this year, and I loved the book. Great snare moments and well integrated musically, if they are still scoring low I would lump them in with the Crossmen conspirationists. I didn't care for the over the top body work, and disagree with those who place them low because of poor drill design- I don't buy it ( I don't buy it with Phantom either )

Cadets - show could do it, but IMHO needs refinement. My wife and in-laws asked why is there an outhouse on the field!; and I agree with those who feel it interferes with drill form- please move this thing and add some paint to it. The amplification statement at the opening was an unmitigated disaster- it sounded like a rant of the drunken Taxi driver on TAXI! Couldn't understand a single word, the volume and gain were totally out of adjustment. Otherwise- great talent, good musical book, wonderful drums, great guard, cleanest marching of the evening and this corps is definately in the running.

Finally, I will admit that amping the pit works well, but I really pity the pit player who gets to pull the cart containing the mixer and amp, it resembles a truck trying to drive in mud ( bet you pit players prefer synthetic turf to grass)!

KUDOS to the YEA org for a well run show, and best wishes to all corps this season- everyone put on really entertainng shows!


Ok, it's day late, but I was out at Live 8 all day today. This review comes from a horn players perspective, and someone who's been marching since 1960....

One thing that was interesting about this show was the fact for the first 5 corps, I was familiar with every song they played- I don't think that's happened to me since about 1978- a real plus....

Surf- have the potential to be their best corps yet. Music is accessible, and they seem to be way ahead of where they've been in the past at this time of year. They're starting to incorprate some humor into their "Pops" show that's not quite catching on yet, but when they sell the show better it'll be cool.

Raiders- The largest corps I've ever seen them with. Percussion was smokin'. They've got some talented brass players, that just need to develop some more confidence. Superstar music with a little different twist which works well. First time in a while that I think I've hear Division 3 second and third sops that you can here. Need to refine the closer as right now it doesn't flow quite right.

Spirit- Loved this show, Drum Line was cookin' Use of the Broadway playbill flags, and banners were neat effects. Like a lot of corps tonight sops seemed to have some intonation difficulties (propably due to the weather. This show has finalist potential. Especiallly liked "Luck Be a Lady".

Boston- seemed a little laid back early on, then gained confidence. Sop (yeah, I know their trumpets- hard habit to break) soloists need to play more aggresively. When they loosen up a bit more in Sing Sang Sung, it should really grab the crowd.

Crown- In my esitmation the most in-tune hornline of the night. Brass line had a "marching brass chior " type of sound (could also be the musical selctions). Percussion was on fire, and guard very aggresive and ready.

Crossmen- A fun show. Like they way they work pieces of "Classical gas throughout the show. Best Trumpet soloist of the night. Ballad will be great when refined. Loved the contra in the "Radar Love " intro. Sops appeared a little tired tonight. Could just be me, be snares sounded a tad on the muddy side early on. Think they need to feature the battery a little more though. I don't usually notice these things, but I have to say the Crossmen guards use of color, both with their uniforms and silks was really eye-catching, in a very positive way- the most colorful corps on the field tonight. The Meatloaf closer needs some work and the ending is a little too abrupt ( goes back to Classical Gas). There's a lot of people saying they'll struggle to make finals- I don't share that opnion. With hard work and re-writes they'll be there no question.

Cadets- Didn't know what to expect here, but I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It's the Cadets back on the cutting edge. I actually enjoyed the Amped stuff, particularly the "Drum Talk". The double-sided uniform I think is really effective. Really neat to watch. It's probably the loudest Cadets Hornline in quite a while, but a bit sloppy at times. Knowing the Cadets though, I'm sure they'll fix it. I can see this show challenging for the top spot. One thing though, the"OUTHOUSE" i.e. door, needs a makeover.

All in a a very enjoyable contest. First time in several years that I can come away from a show and say, nobody was boring.


Hoping the rain rain rain would go away and come again some ohher day, I trekked up to Secaucus.... and lucked out. the show, while delayed a bit, went off just fine.

I was on the 40 yard line, near the back of the lower deck... hence... I had the upper deck over my head blocking some of the sound. So..take this for what it is worth...

Surf.... yet ANOTHER great show... only three plates this year... are they new? They did not seem as featured as those of the past few years. Stars and Stripes/1812 combo was excellent... the one spot I thought they may have 'missed' an opportunity, design-wise, is during reh company front diagonal. They move about 16 steps on one diagonal to S&S and then 16 counts the otehr way, also to S& might have been neat to do the first 16 count move as is and then on the next 16 direction change switch to the 1812... because the next section is a neat combination of the two. Outside of that... a more 'traditional' show than the past few years, with regular unis, but an outstanding effort by the kids.... best of luck, as always.

Raiders... JCSS... need more trumpets, obviously. Some very nice charts... the battery part of the percussion is especially good, as always. One spot the entire horn line is bunched up at the sideline doing a park and blow... I'd make sure the trumpets get down front on that... they were in back and were lost. If it's possible I'd also keep the trumpets closer together... they have some huge splits in the drill, which makes for some sound problems. I think this show is a great one for them... in their reach yet not simplistic. Great job by admin and members.

Spirit... Broadway... I love the guard uni and the first flag. For me personally, "They're Playing Our Song has always been a show/tune I don't like... seems kind of lame to me. The arrangement and members get the most out of what is there... but I would not have picked that tune to open my Broadway show. The Webber balled... the Playbills are a nice idea that needs a bit of tweaking.... much of the balled is a tune from "Sunset Blvd", yet the highlighted Playbill is "Phantom of the Opera" (only a fragment is played from that show). I'd just switch them two around on the field. If they want to bring out that Phantom fragment, lower the Sunset Blvd prop and pick up the Phantom, if need be. It just bugged me... though it's not a big deal. "Luck be a Lady Tonight" from Guys and Dolls has great potential... right now it doesn't sound "New York" enough... it needs more accenting and more pizzazz to sell, but the chart is there, so IMO they'll get it there.

BAC... initial comment... gorgeous guard... and excellent as well. Love the salmon colored costumes... the opening Bach needs some more nuance and drama, but that will come... It's a wonderful arrangement. Candide is not the 'tradtional chart...but it works. One spot in the show the brass/battery are close to the sideline and the guard just fills the field... a VERY nice moment. I think this show will work for them.

Crossmen... I really like the show this year, better even than last. "So Far Away" is their ballad this year, and I personally like the tune better than last year.... it needs a LOT more shaping to really sell... the high point I thought might be scored a bit low for the trumpets, not permitting them to really "laser out" a cutting edge sound, but it is certainly lush..and a great tune. Always wanted to do the Meatloaf piece with a band, so I'm happy to see and hear it... very nice chart whoch is going to work well for them once the performance level is raised up. Classical Gas... everything old is new again... first heard it by 27th back around 69. Very nice chart by the Crossmen. I've always liked the tune, and their version is a good one. One thing about black unis... just about any guard costuming will stand out, and the Crossmen picked some VERY nice guard costumes.

Crown... A gorgeous hornline... even more "Regiment-ish" this year than last.... that line may keep them up where they were last year... or even higher. The battery did a very nice job, with some demanding music. Guard... wow... one of my favorites of the night. While not controversial this year, I think this show can carry them a long way.

Cadets... I bet the staff had an "oops" moment when listening to the opening narration.... balance with the rest of the corps was waaay out... could hardly hear the narration at all. Also, the guy's voice is in the tenor range... can he drop it down top at least the baritone range? My one overall tiny negative is that I might like just a bit more 'down'... the show is so fast paced and frenetic... percussion feature..shades of 2000 with the tenors! I did not mind the vocalising... but it does have to be crisper. This show certainly is different, but I think it has potential to stack up agsinst anybody... something I haven't thought the past few years.

All in all, a great show, IMO. More "straight-ahead" drum corps, with Surf wearing regular unis and Crown not singing, and BAC not narrating. But... just a good as last year for all three, and hopefully even higher placements to come.


Thursday June 23

Powder Springs, GA (DCI Atlantic)

McEachern High School is an excellent venue for a drum corps show. Here are my opinions on the performances:

CV Sr. (52.50): Don Ellis music is difficult to groove - especially while moving. CV seems smaller than prior years, and the sound just isn't very full. Marching and guard performance have a long way to go, but there are some good musical moments that can be improved over the season.

Glassmen (70.35/4th): I've always had difficulty with enjoying this corps - they usually play and march pretty well, but their shows are not the type that you hum on the way to the parking lot. With that said, this was one of the better G-Men shows that I have seen in years. Very contemporary take on "New World Symphony" - this will do OK in August, but some people will find it a little strange.

Boston (67.75/5th): The new King horns that they are playing are an improvement. However, this show did not have the level of passion that Boston has been delivering for the past few years. The season is young though...

Crown (71.30/3rd): The lower brass for Crown kicked serious tail. Musically, this show delivered very well in places. The Sarah McLachlan ballad in the middle is too long - it just doesn't seem to fit the show. Marching was OK, but the drill was very predictable - Cadets circa 1988-89. Peach accented guard uniforms were a little washed-out against Crown's cream colored unis.

Cavies (79.95/1st): Beautiful as always - drill is always visually appealing, field and pit percussion drive the show forward effectively, and the horns play with precision. My only concern is that the ladders that they use in the show leave the design a little cluttered.

Cadets (78.65/2nd): Wow. This show is very different - dissonant music, fast drill, really good guard work, especially in the flags. Horns were powerful, but dirty. I liked this show a lot. If it can get cleaned up, especially musically, this show could take it all in August.

Spirit (66.95/6th): Very "hummable" show. I liked the way that the Broadway tunes were packaged - especially the "Luck Be A Lady Tonight" section. The guard unis add good contrast to the show. I thought that they too Boston.

All in all, it was a pretty good early season show. Keep an eye on the Cadets!

LaSalle Smith, Jr.

Wednesday June 22

Fort Mill, SC (DCI Atlantic)

I just got back from the show. I had a great time. I only have one negative remark, but it's not about any of the corps. I'll save that for last. I only have positive things to say about the kids.

SPIRIT-Nice solid old school kind of show. Pie Jesu is lovely.

CRUSADERS-I liked the show. The Promise of Living is a gem. It should be quite beautiful by finals.

GLASSMEN-Boy, was I wrong about this corps. They'll be in the top 12. New World jazzed up. Way cool.

CROWN-The strong brass is back. They have a very rich sound with a lot of lower range depth.

BLUECOATS-Well, Caravan is one hot number. No doubt this will be a fan favorite show. It will be interesting to watch the fight in the 5-8 rankings this year. It should be very competitive.

CADETS-The crazy uniforms work! Great snare line and guard. Tons of speed. Lots of notes. HUGE sound. This show is something special. Once it starts cleaning up, it will do some damage.

CAVALIERS-What can one say? Nice controlled brass and a beautiful visual package. It's what we've come to expect from the Cavies. Can it be competitive against BD? I'll have to wait until Murphreesboro to find out.

My only complaint is the arrangement of America/O Canada is not too good, and I miss full retreat. Otherwise, it was a pleasant evening.


It's late and I'm tired so this will be very pathetic coverage... sorry about that.

1) Spirit: I'd like to say more here but I don't really have alot of input. I'm either older with a failing memory, too tired, or it just wasn't overly memorable on this evening but I do remember enjoying the show. They still have a lot of work to do but so does everyone at this point.

2) Boston Crusaders: It started nice and strong and quickly got very dirty... exactly as you might expect with a show this early in the season. The sound was nice and the show concept was enjoyable enough but I'm not certain how much overall potential the show has at this moment. Bah, shouldn't have said anything I suppose.

3) Glassmen: Well... color me surprised. The Glassmen aren't likely to return to the top 6~8 with this show... not to step on feelings or anything or to degrade the kids marching the show/staff/etc. It's not so much about the precision with this show, it's about difficulty... or lack of it. On the other hand, this is first Glassmen show I have truly enjoyed in a long time. I've never been a big fan of the Glassmen but the show, while not overly difficult, was very enjoyable... and I simply love that crazy dude with the flag. I've seen him at so many shows over the years...

4) Crown: I'm from Charlotte, NC, and have MANY friends march Crown over the years... and know quite a few of the people involved in the organization because of this. So, I can spend a little more time here. Crown's show concept this year is very nice. I think it builds a little much on last year's "mush" (which I still loved) with it's "Angelus" concept but it's still original enough... and minus the microphone for which I am very grateful. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for exploring the limits of expression show creators are allowed... but I'm just not a fan of the amps. Anyway, I attended 3 eveing practices for an hour or 2 last week and saw the final run through this past Friday night and to be perfectly honest I think that final run through was better in most repects than tonight's performance. Crown still scored pretty well tonight, but I'm at a bit of a loss how they managed to keep to close in score with the Bluecoats. I DO think Crown's show is a level above what the Bluecoat's showed tonight... but the Bluecoats show was one of the cleanest and most energetic of the evening. More on them in a moment. There were plenty of things to like... I love the music, all the way through. I think it's a step up in difficulty (at least 1 step) from last year. I love the Opener and Closer Drill. Now, things that didn't happen tonight... The percussion REALLY struggled tonight. I counted at least 3 MAJOR tears that could be directly attributed to them (the battery). The brass seemed... tired, tentative, scared... entrances and cutoffs were horrible all the way through. Just watching rehearsals last night I think they reached a point in the show where they were really just trying to finish it. Many of the things I heard them working on seemed to be forgotten in the flurry of stage fright that often marks the first performance out of the gate for a new season. The brass caption head needs to be kicking some heads around this evening. These kids can play MUCH better than they did tonight... I've heard them. Even the retreat was better... and they didn't play any of the show music in retreat. There were glaring interval marching issues. I'm not certain whether they are trying to compensate for holes... but you baritones need to clean it up guys. The mello's didn't carry, particularly in the ballad... never heard that problem in rehearsal. Also, really, the entire center part of the show needs major changing in the visuals department. I think the Opener and Closer fit very nicely with the music but the center of the show... it just doesn't have much energy in the drill. I love the music but something innovating needs to happen in the center... get rid of all the posing and "hugging" stuff.

5) Bluecoats: WOW!!!!!!!!!!! This is the best Bluecoats show I can remember... I really mean that. The show doesn't really innovate... not like the top 2 of the evening... not even as much as Crown. However, if you want to see a good ol straight drum corps show this is it. It was CLEAN... REALLY clean for this point in the season. They marched with better spacing/intervals/technique IMO than even the Cavaliers... though of course the Cavies show was on another freakin plane of difficulty. Still, they looked great and sounded fantastic. Bravo! I was secretly pulling against you Bluecoats... sorry, but being a big Crown fan I wasn't overly satisfied with the results of Finals last year. Still, there was NO QUESTION you took it tonight and I reiterate that I think you should have won by quite a bit more than 0.8. I saw something I've never seen at a DCI show before... and I've been to a LOT of DCI shows... an audible gasp, spontaneous applause, not for a marching move (well, not exactly) and not for intricate or LOUD music... but for a toss... yep, a single toss made by the entire colorgaurd at the same instant with some big, red flags. What was so amazing about it was a combination of timing, precision, and execution. The music was racing and powerful... then it went silent like someone unplugged the radio right as those flags were going up... then POP... you guard people will probably understand this better. It was like all of a sudden the wind catching the sails of a ship... it was in perfect unison, very audible as the corps was otherwise silent, and was immediately followed by a big intro by the brass. It was amazing and really brought the crowd to their feet immediately. Very, very nice. Lots of stuff will change in the show as always before the season is over. DON'T change that.

6) Cadets: This is one weird show. The Cadets and Cavaliers both have apparently decided that "mouth drumming" is the new fun thing with those microphones. Bah, I don't like it. Still, the Cadets show, except for that, is really fantastic. They start off with the music from Kill Bill Volume 1... you know, the whistling thing and then proceed through a show that seems more like the Twilight Zone than anything else. The music is raw and fast and the drill is very exciting. I really love this show. Way to bring it Cadets! I admit they lost me a little bit on the whole 4 corner girls dressed in skirts... I'll have to see that show a couple more times.

7) Cavaliers: AWESOME show. It really is. It ALMOST goes too far with the props. Some people will probably think it HAS gone over the line. All those metal ladders... it really harkens back to 1995's show (at least as far as prop usage goes... remember the park benches, trees, etc?). Still, the music is fantastic and energetic and the drill is amazing. The creative team behind the Cavaliers is simply unstoppable. This is a show you will want to see. If you're thinking about which shows you will attend this season and weighing your options (for those not afraid to drive a few hours) I'd really recommend targetting a show tha features the Cavaliers.

All in all, I had an incredible time. What a LINEUP to start my DCI (watching) season! That's got to be one of the best show lineups that's not a DCI "sponsored event" or whatever it's called. Sure it's early, but it was still really, really great. I wish ALL the corps this year the best of luck. I'll be seeing you all at one point or another this season.

On a side note, I don't like the changes that DCI is making in regards to getting the corps out earlier. I understand the need to have the buses on the road earlier... but most DCI fans (except those of us nuts) probably see 1 show a season... maybe 2. Cutting "retreat" to a combination of 2 corps and then essentially destroying the majesty of the "parking lot" later really hurts the overall experience. For those that don't get what I'm on about, retreat featured Carolina Crown and the Cavaliers creating a arc on the field. The drum majors of the other corps were lined up across the front but all the other corps were already showering/changing/loading up the buses long before the scores were even read. The scores were announced, Crown/Cavaliers played "America O Canada" at about a Mezzo Forte (BLAH) and then Crown played a few selections and that was it. I DO understand wanting to get on the road quicker... but I think this just punishes the fans.

Matt Philmon

I have to say that the Fort Mill show was a very good start for the Drum Corps season in our area. The weather was good all day and every corps got a chance to play and march their shows unlike last year. The crowd was large and responded very well to the participants working so hard on the field. I think this is again going to be a very strong year, with much variety in show content, presenting a little something different for everyone. Here are a few observations that I made on the show:

Spirit - Very pleasing presentation of the broadway music. It's nice to hear a corps play music again that you recognize and can continue to hum as you think about it the next day. The playbill panels used were very well constructed and the music from Wicked will really be hot as the season moves on.

Boston - Yeah their score was a little low for first time but the show has promise. Their were some parts of the Ode to Joy that were very well executed and the entire program will continue to rise as the weeks move on.

Glassmen - Very different take on the New World Symphony. I'm still out as to what to think about it. Musically the last segment was by far the most energetic of the total package. I didn't care much for the Guard uniforms and choice of flags.

Crown - I was pleased with the first show. It was obvious that there were some fatigue issues in several places. The Angels theme seem to work well. The Brass is very strong this year and so is the percussion. The guard was dirty tonight, with several drops from a usually dropless group. When this cleans up there will be more exciting moments for them. The Ballad was pretty but I though it just lasted too long. The visual work here was interesting to watch as the movement proceeded to the end. I hope that they will work out the kinks and keep pushing to sell this program. It has lots of potential and I see it again in the 6-9 slot. Good luck guys as you travel.

Bluecoats - My biggest surprise of the night. I really enjoyed the Production of Caravan. And what a Brass sound. Definitely one of the strongest of the night. The guard had some nice moments and when the rifle work is finished it will be awesome!

Cadets - Okay, still not convinced on the uniform. I wanted to see them do more with it. There was only one point in the show were I thought they did some spinning around and it was effective. The corps worked around the door in the center of the field and and they used it for entrances and exits of two then four young ladies dressed like catholic school girls. I need to read up on this one! The music was different but appeared mostly loud and in your face alot. The percussion and guard did a very nice job tonight. Interesting start with the whistling!

Cavies - As usual a very strong and well put together program It steadily amazes me as to how these guys get so good so fast and continue to come up with unique visual packages. The entire Chicago production entertains you throughout the program. The Jazz opening and ending, the ladder segment, and the use of hats with the guard to protray the different elements of the show. I especially liked the baseball presentation! It was very fun and a creative use of the guard with the rifles. This show will continue to remain at the top throughout the summer and probably with again contend for the title.

Overall the entire show was an enjoyable way to start the season. My only complaint was the lack of retreat. Some of us old fans still appreciate the pageantry of all of the groups on the field. Someone said they decided not to do this so that the groups could packup and leave sooner. But I noticed that most of the groups stayed around in the parking lot as usual after the show. Maybe more will take advantage of this as the summer progresses but I still would like to see the groups on the field. Oh well. I can't wait to see the Cavies show again next week in Illinois and get to hear and see so of the rest for the first time this year. Good luck to all!


Sunday June 19

Lisle, IL (DCI Central)

12:30 AM - back home from Lisle. this is a very BRIEF review of the show. I didn't take notes or write anything down, so just a "take" on the show.

Royalaires - enjoyable oldstyle exhibition - especially enjoyed "God Bless the Child" and the re-entry after the timing gun. The Royalaire soprano duet in re-entry was a treat for the memories.

Memphis Sound- nice show can't at this time of the AM name tunes. I believe they will make some waves in div II

Pioneer - back to the Irish theme. Nice to see them with a bigger hornline and guard to compliment a usually full percussion section. This show is light years from the "Oliver" show of several years back. I enjoyed the show but didn't rip me out of my seat.

Southwind - definately a step above last year in complexity and design. Had read a comment somwhere about the guard framing to much and too much backfield playing. Weelll - guard was integrated in 2/3 of show and framed other times. Not really anymore than anyone else IMHO. Music was very interesting and entertaining, drill was sloppy, but there are only a few who are not right now. This show and drill are better written than last years model. Should be in a dogfight with Cap Regiment all summer.

Capital Regiment - definatley cleaner than Southwind...but... show is not done. (as you all have read) The "sundial thingy" did nothing for me. Once I mentally blocked it out I enjoyed the show more. Gonna take a while to enjoy this horn book. Seemed a little monosyllabic to me. Drums are a strength for this group, but a drum solo to end performance left me feeling flat as well as the audience.

Bluecoats - after a break (too long) the Bluecoats came on. Really enjoyed the music drill and all aspects of this show. Great horn sound! Drill is well written. This corps definately a step above the previous groups. I see potentail top 6 here, maybe challenge even further.

Phantom Regiment - Really enjoyed Gershwin Rhapsody, There is a gentleman in the guard ...."gasp".... (maybe he could hang out with "carmen" during free time Regiment did a nice job with this music. At times I found them a little to classically orientated for my preference but this is their thing. They put in a trumpet feature section that was very legit but dropped it in the middle of a groovin kind of part of Rhapsody..I enjoyed it...but caught myself laughing outloud because it seemed to come from nowhere musically. Definate top 5 contender here.

Cadets - absolutely dug the horn book and percussion. Drill was typical Cadets. The dream concept in four parts worked for me. The Door was an EYESORE. There were sections staged directly behind it many times throughout the show. Bass drums doing wheels and spins behind the "outhouse door" perhaps they are planning on opening it? Stage it further upfield. I felt it was a visual hindrance. BTW - finish your show.

Cavaliers - They have another potential winner here. Very entertaining, strong conceptually throughout. They will challenge for the title. Especially enjoyed the "Fire" sequence. The closer of Cavalier "jazz" style was cool but did not always groove. At times they were a little square in articulations and feel. I am sure this will be addressed throughout the season.

My take on placements:

Division I 1 The Cavaliers 2 Phantom Regiment 3 Bluecoats 4 The Cadets 5 Southwind 6 Capital Regiment 7 Pioneer

Division II 1 Memphis Sound


Division I 1 Cavaliers 75.800 2 Cadets 71.750 3 Phantom Regiment 70.350 4 Bluecoats 70.250 5 Capital Regiment 58.450 6 Southwind 57.600 7 Pioneer 52.350

Division II 1 Memphis Sound 52.200

goin to bed

am tioood......

Also btw

Saw Scouts at preview one week ago. Sooooooo one week later havnt seen them but I believe they will contend with Blue, Phantom etc.


Saturday June 18

Toledo, OH (DCI Central)

Just got back from the Toledo "All-Star Review" sponsored by the Glassmen.

Haven't done one of these in a few years, but here's my review of the show and the corps:

Since Marion Glory went inactive, we had to wait an additional 18 or so minutes... so the anticipation was killing us in the crowd - most of whom I would guess were seeing their first show of the season. In any event, Things got kicked of with Southwind:

Score: 53.8

I couldn't help thinking Southwind reminded me a little bit of Broken Arrow HS from Oklahoma... and then I heard Steve Vento's name on their staff, who I believe is teaching at Broken Arrow. Anyway - Southwind's show has SEVERAL musical selections woven throughout the production. The two that I recall were from "The Wind and The Lion" and "Pure imagination" from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." It seemed like they had a LOT of holes in the hornline, so in addition to being very early in the season, it made the drill pretty tough to read. Hornline had a big sound for as many as were out there; I think I counted 52.. but could be wrong. They seemed to play loudly for most of the show, without much relief. I'm sure this will develop in time, but they certainly can put out the volume. Guard was in Bright oranges and reds.. Maybe some purples thrown in there? Very vibrant and interesting, but nothing that left an incredible impression. This will be an interesting show when the final product is out there.

Next up, Capital Regiment. Score: 56.5. I loved watching them come on the field as a full corps, certainly threatening to breakinto the top 12 this year... I remember their first performance in the glass bowl in.. I think- 1998. MY how they have made steady growth.. KUDOS to Rick Bays and the gang!! Corps looked pretty full, possibly a couple holes in the hornlne. The show is based on the concept of "Chiaroscurro" - literally, Light and Dark.. a concept known in the art world. This corps also had a bigger sound than I remember them having, but seemed to have some trouble in the foot control and technique department. Better visual design than in years past... at least for this early in the season. They have a Giant Sun dial that they use throughout the show, and even have some chime music (a la Cadets 2000) -- Big Ben type... so, apparently they're trying to portray an element of the passing of time with the dark and light concepts.. Maybe A little "heady" for entertainment sake, but a well-put together show regardless. They will be challenging for the top 12.

After a 45-minute intermission, The Cavaliers were up. Score: 74.75. Honestly, I loved this performance. It didn't seem like they were done at the end.. Like it was lacking the "WOW" factor of the Cavies lately, but I'll get to that in a minute. EASILY the most MUSICAL group of the night. Hornline plays with good balance for June (relatively good, period). They were probably the softest hornline of the night which was interesting considering they played the most in tune and with the best overall sound. IMHO, FAR beyond anyone else in terms of QUALITY. The guard is dressed in dark body suits with colored piping similar to the frameworks show. Not quite sure, but the design looked almost like the chicago skyline.. Anyway - The guard really did a great job portraying the themes of the show. Cab drivers, Baseball players, firefighters, and dancers. The Music is enjoyable, hummable, and INHERENTLY ENTERTAINING (something many corps seem to have gotten away from in recent years). Drumline was good, but snares sounded a bit muddy at times.. maybe it was where I was sitting.. THESE GUYS have the electronic thing figured out right: BALANCE FROM PIT TO BRASS!!!!!! (more on this later). Several moments in the show where the brass sound blended into the keyboards both in musical moments as well as in the context of transitions.. .WHICH - they did better than anyone.. which really made the show pretty seemless (a strength of theirs in recent years). One of the really cool moments early on in the show-- the guard is portraying the identity of baseball players (baseball caps, Rifles that look like baseball bats). They are acting out scenes from a ball game and the corps stops, you see a "pitch... a swing.." and hear the sound of a bat popping the ball... Amplified sounde effect.. but small, simple and REALLY effecticve. (echoes of Avon HS's "football" show from last year... ) From a design standpoint, they do a good job of using some ladders in the ballad (the firefighter section) to set up a frame for the hornline to park and blow as the show ends. Best thing about this corps-- They didn't HAVE to blow the stands over... but they could have. They were musical, tasteful, and entertaining. Well done.

Next up: The Cadets-- Score, 71.95

Some things in this show I LOVED.. some I really didn't love. The backside of the uniforms is kind of like a film negative of an actual photo, so when they turn around, you still see the "front of the uni", but "not the front" - cool concept. The "warm-up time" is taken up with the hornline whistling "Twisted Nerve" from "Kill Bill"... Lots of box drill while this is going on, and really draws the audience in. Guard faces backfield with masks on the back of their head, so like the hornline - you get the impression that you're being performed to while the guard is facing backfield. Cool Concept. Now, there's a Door in the center of the field that they have a girl come out of before each movement... After the Twisted Nerve intro, The girl comes out in a raincoat and umbrella... She starts snapping "to" the audience to try to get them to join in (if you know Robert W. Smith's "In a gentle rain"- it's the same thing)... she only did it a couple of times and the audience didn't really get it... When they DO - it will be a cool moment. The "Ballad" is Very cool musically...Again, they have a girl come out through the door, this time it looks like she is very curious about the world around her. The music is very simple from a melodic and harmonic standpoint, but it builds and builds and will be one of the great "payoff moments" of the summer... I don't remember much about this part visually.. so I don't know what that means.. probably just that I don't have a good memory.

Okay .. By this point in the show, I was completely sold... Interesting concepts, intriguing and entertaining... And then they started the percussive "chant." To me, this really got in the way of enjoying the WHOLE show.. They have amplified vocals sounding percussive in nature, and I THINK they started saying something like.. "Co.. Co.. Cool.. Fun Music.." or something like that.. I guess it just felt out of place.. like it really didn't need to be there. Construtively, it was a musical color that we didn't have prior to that point, and never heard after... So, I guess the question is - Why is it there, and is the show Better because of it? To me, it wasn't... it just seemed disruptive to the flow of the show, and for the cadets, flow seems to be something they capitalize on. Now, on the positive side - it was cool, fun, different music.. kind of a jam session of sorts. Going into the closing production (echoes of "Medea?!?!?)-- this was more vintage cadets.. fast movement and drill.. Lots and lots of energy.. The hornline was loud.. really loud.. but out of tune and strained.. When they play in tune, they will SOAR in volume.. A lot of "old school" corps fans were really into this show... I think it's a "love it or hate it" type of show. Personally, aside from the chanting - I loved it.

Next up- Bluecoats: 69.25. Holy cow!! I was shocked... Without doubt the best Bluecoats I have seen this early in the season. Two things stuck out to me... Drill with velocity... lots of it! And a WELL BALANCED and POWERFUL hornline. The music is "caravan" and stuff from "Circue du Soleil"... This was probably the closest thing to a plain old in your face drum corps show... but still done modernly and quite well. Guard goes to all rifles at one point for a triple or quad.. but it kinda comes out of no-where and really smacks you in the face. The Chanting thing that the cadets did... bluecoats did it too!! UGH! They started it in the pit, and then they developed it more with the hornline continuing it.. kind of disappointing and a little surprising when it happened... Regardless, this could be the surprise corps of the year.. I would say a good shot at top 6 again.. and they might do what Glassmen and Boston have done and sneak into the 5 spot. GREAT Job BLLUUUUUUUUUUUUUE!!!

Finally - Glassmen. Score - 66.3. I got there just before their afternoon runthrough, which I did see. Their evening performance wasn't as good as the runthrough. Home-show jitters... anxiousnes.. I don't know.. The show is "New World Symphony".. so I kept thinking - Okay... what did Phantom sound like in 1989?? This is NOT that show.. It's actually a lot different.. They do a lot with some world-drumming that works pretty well, and really try to get the crowd into it. Hornline was really edgy tonight.. which they weren't in their runthrough. Overall, a pretty interesting show.. Definitely a different approach to New World.

Overall, Cavaliers were visually the cleanest, but the thing that they did better than anyone was their musical control. 'Coats and Cadets used the amplification for vocals.... which I didn't think helped the show. Cavies used it for balance-- this DID help the show.. If amplification is going to be used, this is the way to do it. Pretty much everyone seemed to play really loud most of the time, and I know it's june and that finesse will be put in. A lot of the wierd spots with everyone else will be helped with that, but The placements were right on and it was GREAT first show!

To all the kids marching-- Keep up your great work, your summer may have only just begun, but it will be over before you know it. LOVE EVERY minute of your drum corps experience!!


Here I am folks, back from a trip to grand Ohio. I've decided to take a new approach to my review writing and guide myself with the old adage "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all." Without further adieu, here we go!

Southwind: Capital Regiment: The Cavaliers: The Cadets: Bluecoats: Glassmen:

OK, seriously.... My drum corps addiction runs hard and it runs deep.... I'll take a hit anyway I can get it, even if it means going to a show on opening weekend! I'm almost always less than impressed.... some may remember last year I went on a tirade after the Toledo show, but I ended up enjoying almost everyone's show by the end of the year! Go figure.

Now Toledo Participants, bear in mind some of these comments may be harsh, but don't worry I'll grow to love you by the end of the season. And now for my real take on the show from the 46 yard line in the 46th row:

Southwind: I don't remember last years show very well, but I think I like this edition better than that. It's good music for the most part, occasionally the arrangements seem to get lost, but overall it's pretty good. Drill is a mess, but hey it's the middle of June. I don't know if it was bad design or bad execution (I'm hoping it's the latter) but the forms were mostly unreadable. Linear forms revealed a lot of holes so that didn't help either. They had a pretty fun drum break where the bass drummers put down their drums stepped inbetween the tenors and "helped out" (meaning the tenor guys played right hand and the bass guys played left hand). All in all it was a pretty solid show for them, but I don't see them making semifinals unless they spit clean that show.

Capital Regiment: The Cap Reg hype machine was off the mark this year. This show reminded me of a late 90's show. Nothing spectacular visually, cookie cutter abstract music. Last year it took me all season to get into their show, this year may be no different. One big issue I had was with the giant sundial they move around the field. (I don't know if that's what it's supposed to be but that's what it looks like.) They are moving it constantly but they never really do anything with it. Maybe I missed all the cool stuff they were doing because I was too busy watching that contraption getting carted around. The closer is not yet on the field.... the show ended at the drum break rather abruptly. On a positive note, they were definitely a level above SW in terms of musical ability. They were louder, more in tune, and more "together". Their drill was also cleaner, but still needs a lot of work. I think this show can be top 17 but I don't see them contending for Finals.

The Cavaliers: Once again a noticeable improvement in achievement in both music and visual. They sounded great and looked great, very clean for June (maybe a little cleaner than years past). Maybe I've gotten too spoiled by them... they're a machine. They are starting to pump out these "concept shows" like they're a factory. Combine great hornline, drumline, guard with tremendous drill and well "designed" music and stir. Bake at 90F for 3 weeks then serve. Oops, forgot to add the emotion! That's always the first thing to be forgotten.... Maybe they'll fix it as the season goes on, but right now this show is FLAT. They got some cute stuff going on but it's also borderline cheesy. IMO, they won tonight because they are clean. Unless they add some spice I find this show to be very beatable. Oh yeah, the ladders are kind of cool during "Fire" but they are a distraction during the rest of the show. Not worth keeping them up in order to get the very minimal payback of having some of the hornline rock out on top of them at the end of the Blues section. Which reminds me... that's where the show ends. I'm sure a tag or reprise will be added in July, that seems to be their MO the last few years. To recap, they are a contender but I'd be surprised if they won at this point.

The Cadets: Finally some volume! They were by far the loudest hornline of the night and played probably the most interesting music. First off, the uniforms look fine! They use them to create a lot of visual effects throughout the show. They stood still for the last 30 seconds - 1 minute of their show but if it looks anything like it sounds it's going to be amazing. That's a big if because the rest of the show doesn't look as good as it sounds. They were fairly clean for this time of year, but the drill didn't really wow me. In their defense, there was a lot going on so it's hard to judge that accurately off of one read. The door in the middle of the field is rather distracting (it looks shoddy for one thing and it's not used enough right now to provide a payoff, IMO) and causes a roadblock for the drill - that's probably one of the reasons I didn't think it flowed too well. The biggest downer of the show by far, however, was the vocalizations. They were way too loud to begin with, the girl vocalizing something to the Bjork song made no sense, and the drum scat stuff was annoying. The drummers all pile down front like a good old fashioned, in-your-face, Cadet drum-off but instead of throwing down notes they're throwing down some drum scat rap. You got drums on.... use them! Fortunately they didn't have any feedback/static problems tonight. I understand that there is a lot to be added to this show, so I think it is a distinct possibility that they could catch the Cavaliers. At this point I'll mark them as a contender.

Bluecoats: Another hype machine gone awry. The opener is fun but it kind of runs off course after that. It's most likely a case of me needing a few more reads on it.... 2002 is my favorite year by them and I didn't really care for it when I saw it opening weekend. On the bright side, this is the cleanest I recall seeing them this early in the season and their show appears to be complete! Brassline sounds really good too and they were almost as loud as The Cadets. Drill looked pretty decent too but not on the level of The Cadets and The Cavaliers. On the down side, vocalizations sucked. Same deal as The Cadets.... don't drum speak when you've got a perfectly good drum strapped on your belly! It just sounds silly. At least they weren't as loud as The Cadets, so the rappers weren't overpowering the corps. All in all a good judges show as of now (maybe a good show for me after I see it a few times). I think they are definitely a player in that middle pack (6-9) but I definitely don't see them catching the big dogs.

Glassmen: Finally the Glassmen. I love Dvorak's 9th and was much anticipating this show. I'll definitely agree that they were playing a lot of the notes from that symphony but they definitely weren't playing the same rhythms. That's understandable since they are trying to portray what Dvorak might have written if he'd come to the USA in present day.... but it's still weird. What's weirder is having a jazz jam session in the middle of the 4th movement! So yeah, it was different but I suspect I'll love it by the end of the year.... I just have to forget what the original sounds like whenever I see this show. As for sound/visual, they sounded good but not as refined as Cavs, Cadets, and Blooo. Visually, I don't remember much. Nothing too exciting I guess. Although they sit in striking range of Blooo I don't think they can catch them this year. However, I do think they are better than expected and are a definite contender for the 10-12 slot at Finals.

Well, that's my longwinded review of my opening weekend experience. I just gotta remember that there is a lot of growing left in these shows and there's a reason they're scoring in the 50-70 range. For me, chronic goosebumps and all around giddyness don't come until around the 85 mark unless a show is really, really special. Unfortunately none of these fall in that category, but honestly, not many shows do!

Patrick Gotschall

Coon Rapids, MN (DCI Central)

This will be a short take. If you'd like full stories on the shows this summer pick up Drum Corps World, or better yet, subscribe to DCW.

Capacity crowd.

BLUE STARS -- The biggest surprise of the night. 110 members, including 55 horns. Did some daring brass runs and licks several times. Usually at this time of the year the guard is ahead of the rest of the corps, but it's the other way at this point. BLUE STARS should find DII success with this edition.

COLTS -- Nice concept for a show.... Finding postcards which relate to different events in someone's life. Till There Was You from The Music Man is going to be one of the favorite musical pieces this year. They use 2 sets of BEAUTIFUL flags in this show that are stunning.

BLUE KNIGHTS -- Another nice concept.... A day in the life of a drum corps. The big surprise here..... Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific. The piece fits perfectly. Had a few members slip and fall.

MADISON -- WOW!! 71 horns!!! This show is almost more West Side Story than it is Carmen. You'll also hear snippets of Malaguena and Bolero. The young lady portraying Carmen, and the outfit she wears are ABSOLUTELY SIZZLING! The trumpet trio had some performance problems, but this should be one of the favorite fan shows of the summer. LOUD and ear-piercingly high at points, including the use of samba whistles.

CHOPS INC. -- All need be said is the title of their show..."Yes, We're Serious.... And Don't Call Us Shirley!" They will venture out to DCA for the first time ever in September, to compete in Class A.

GOVENAIRES -- Defending 2nd place DCA Class A. This is always one of the most entertaining smaller seniors out there. There drum major John Mayer is the best there is at relating to the crowd!

MINNESOTA BRASS -- Pat Metheny music. The 2-time defending DCA percussion champions are as good as advertised. The hornline is at 46 members, down from nearly 60 the last few years. Some great ensemble horn work, but the percussion will lead the way.

Brian Tolzmann

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