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 Post subject: Bristol, RI Review
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 7:55 am 
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First off, Happy Fourth of July to all! And what better way to celebrate the eve of the fourth than with a drum corps show in Bristol, RI!!

It was a VERY hot, humid day in New England and this clearly had an affect on some of the performances this evening. Luckily, the show was scheduled to start one hour later than usual this year, so the sun only wilted the first few corps. Kiwanis was the first up and got the worst of the sun - of course their black uniforms and masks/scull caps didn't help things. This resulted in one performer succumbing to the heat and losing his/her lunch at the end of their show.

Being the home of the former Matadors and Picadors, this was definitely a drum corps audience. And being the eve of the Fourth in the town with the largest, longest running Fourth of July parade in the nation, this audience was primed to party, enjoy, and celebrate the birth of this great nation (the optimal venue for a performance by The Cadets this year). I was at the show with my sister, who has attended this show with me a number of times, and my soon to be 7 year-old nephew. I will include some of their observations in this review. My review will follow the order of performance.

Kiwanis Kavaliers (8th - 61.75) - While they seemed a bit off from Beverly, they did a good job with this entertaining vehicle. My nephew was able to pick out the Spiderman and Batman themes and loved the bat capes at the start of the show. They should have received a special award for maintaining their stamina throughout the show in spite of the severe weather and their black uniforms with masks/scull caps.

JSU Spirit (7th - 72.4) - I got into this show a bit more than at Beverly. Musically, it got a little tedious for my nephew so I told him to keep watching the color guard, as their uniforms will keep changing. He thought that was cool. I still feel, as I did after seeing them in Beverly, that this show does not have the across-the-board demand that will be needed to be in the top 12 this year. But, if they are really clean and emotional, and the tougher shows of corps like Crown don't get as clean, they could have just enough to squeak in.

Crown (6th - 73.6) - Virtually no crowd reaction to the guard outfits. My first viewing but I thought there were a greater variety of colors before - tonight there were only soft yellow and pink togas. My nephew thought it a bit funny at first to see boys in dresses, but quickly accepted it when I told him about the theme. Even if you don't like what the guard is wearing, you really need to get past it and watch what this guard is doing. As has been their trademark, the equipment work is possibly the most difficult of any corps out there. They have so many tricky backhand, behind-the-back, odd-angle, etc. tosses and catches that it's hard not to notice. Horns seemed a bit rough and weak in spots, but did a solid job at this very difficult book. And the drums really did deserve to best BD!

Crossmen (3rd - 78.15) - Bad performance order certainly held their score down. They were a bit rough around the edges in some of the marching tonight and the opener still doesn't quite gel. But with the demanding licks the horns are playing while racing around the field, this will take a while to clean and make consistent. The guard was stellar as usual and did a lot to bring personality to the show. While I think Boston's guard is spectacular, I don't see why the Crossmen are scoring so much lower. I found the ballad more emotional than in Beverly. Strawberry Soup needs a bit more punch to send this show over the top.

Boston (4th - 76.4) - This show flowed better than in Beverly, but still has some sense of being disjointed. I am not a fan of singing drum corps - vocalization (like Garfield 84 or SCV 01) is fine. But leave the choral work to trained singers. They do an adequate job - but, without amplification, you can barely make out the words. If this is the case in the tiny bleachers in Bristol, it will play even worse in a championship venue. When they do the drums and horns thing, it is wonderful. They have such a great horn sound and get a really warm, lush tone from the tubas. I think it's the arrangements, but I feel there is a significant lack of lower-mid voices in much of Appalachian Spring - many of the chords seem too narrow and in the higher register. My nephew thought that they should have tied with the Crossmen for second place tonight - he put BD in fifth.

Bluecoats (5th - 75.55) - Well, I'm not sure if I heard an off night or if I just don't hear what so many other reviewers have. But, based solely on this performance, I have renamed this corps the Blahcoats. The show just didn't go anywhere - it seemed to stay at one tempo and one emotional level. My nephew seemed to agree in that he started to get restless, bored and napped on my sister's shoulder. Even on a better night, this vehicle doesn't seem to have the GE that will bring it higher than 8th in Madison.

I've now heard Phantom and Glassmen, and seen Crossmen, Boston and Bluecoats. Based on what I've heard and seen, I would say that it will be a fight between Crossmen and Boston for fourth and fifth place at finals. Of course, I have to leave room for the possibility of SCV sneaking in there. However, it doesn't sound like SCV's show will be able to best the solid Music GE scores of Crossmen or Boston, and probably won't be able to best their horn or guard scores as well.

Cadets (1st - 84.5) - Like I've said before, I feel sorry for any corps that has to follow this show. The audience was emotionally depleted by the time The Cadets walked off the field! They added a monument structure around the flagpole to help it stand out and a quote from the Pledge of Allegiance during the ballad. I heard of this addition just before arriving in Bristol and thought it seeded a bit pandering. However, it worked very well into the flow of the show and was the perfect punctuation point for the story line at that point. These guys are just doing everything right this year. Horns, drums and guard were clearly the best tonight - the heat just didn't seem to phase them in the least. My sister and nephew both had a great time during this performance and put them way out in first place.

Blue Devils (2nd - 82.1) - They did a more spirited performance than Beverly, but it still added up to a show that needs work. I believe they made a few more changes that gave punctuation to the music, making it easier for the audience to know when it was appropriate to clap. However, it's still a show that has only moments where the average viewer can understand/enjoy the music. My sister put it well by saying that they seemed to be very talented, but left the average listened out of the equation. She said that it might be more enjoyable to the more educated drum corps die-hard, but she just couldn't follow it. She wanted them to just play one song for long enough to enjoy it, rather than just 10 seconds of this, then 10 seconds of that, then back to 10 seconds of this again. My nephew was impressed that they came all the way from California but was impressed with little else, even though I told him before the performance that they, and The Cadets, were the two best corps at that show. Oh, I should also mention that they now have a park and bark section in "House" that is longer and more stationary than anything The Cadets are doing. So, all you BD fans who were complaining about this aspect of The Cadets show need to take notice!

BD heads back West now and they have already sent the pit equipment and guard's hats back in their trailer. YEA!, being the class organization that it is, was there for their friends from the West and gave them use of the pit equipment and drum major's stand of the Crossmen and Cadets. We're so lucky to have BD returning to New England in August! Two local tours in one season is a rare treasure.

You all know the judges take on the show, so here's my nephew's. He put The Cadets way out in the lead with Crossmen and Boston tied for second. The only other corps that he remembered was Kiwanis due to the superhero theme, so he put them in fourth. He put BD in fifth simply because they were the last he heard and he couldn't remember that much of the other three. But, I would say that the nap during Bluecoats would indicate something!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 8:55 am 
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Thanks for the great review. I understand the Blue Devils will be performing in the nation's longest parade today. Do you know of any other Corps in it? I guess they are doing two parades and my son said, "Geez, it is hot-hot-hot, and we have two parades tomorrow, we are dropping like flies." I guess practice was pretty tough on them in the heat and the humidity. Good luck to all the Corps still practicing and marching in those parades. Hot-Hot-Hot!
Tricia-A BD/BK Mom


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 9:29 am 
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Tricia-A BD/BK Mom wrote:
I understand the Blue Devils will be performing in the nation's longest parade today. Do you know of any other Corps in it? I guess they are doing two parades and my son said, "Geez, it is hot-hot-hot, and we have two parades tomorrow, we are dropping like flies." I guess practice was pretty tough on them in the heat and the humidity. Good luck to all the Corps still practicing and marching in those parades. Hot-Hot-Hot!
Tricia-A BD/BK Mom


The Troopers have 4 :shock: parades today in the Chicago area! Wow! I'm praying for abit cooler weather!

Jaimie, A Trooper Mom

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 Post subject: Nephews - a new judging sub-caption
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 10:40 am 
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Thanks!
The comments from your nephew made me laugh out loud - I think they should create a new GE sub-caption: 'the under-10 years of age factor'.
Your sister's comments on BD: "She wanted them to just play one song for long enough to enjoy it, rather than just 10 seconds of this, then 10 seconds of that, then back to 10 seconds of this again. " pretty much sums up my general view of BD's shows in the 90's up to 2000. 2001 was their first show that I've instantly enjoyed immediately (I should add that I've seen none of them live).
Thanks again for taking the time to post the review.
Cheers,
P.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 11:55 am 
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Tricia-A BD/BK Mom wrote:
Thanks for the great review. I understand the Blue Devils will be performing in the nation's longest parade today. Do you know of any other Corps in it? I guess they are doing two parades and my son said, "Geez, it is hot-hot-hot, and we have two parades tomorrow, we are dropping like flies." I guess practice was pretty tough on them in the heat and the humidity. Good luck to all the Corps still practicing and marching in those parades. Hot-Hot-Hot!
Tricia-A BD/BK Mom


I believe that all the corps will be in the parade. I know that when I was with Spirit (97-99) all the corps took part in the Bristol parade.

I think that most of the corps will be doing the Wakefield parade as well (I believe that's the other parade your son was talking about).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 12:31 pm 
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I just got done watching the Bristol parade - luckily from the comfort of my air conditioned home. I get Providence stations on my cable and they covered the parade. Boy, did they all look hot and sweaty! Temperature is around 95 and the humidity makes it feel like well over 100!!! The corps in the parade included The Cadets, BD, Bluecoats, Crown, Crossmen, Spirit and Kiwanis (who they called the Kiwani Kavaliers and they listed Crossmen as from Bergenfield, NJ - can't TV ever get it right?) Not sure if Boston wasn't there or the TV coverage simply skipped them. Most of these corps do the Wakefield parade later, some even do a third parade in the area today.

Everyone did a great job, with one exception - BD. Do they not do many parades? While all the other corps (including Kiwanis) played and marched their tails off as they passed the reviewing stand, BD walked in formation to a single snare drummer keeping time on his sticks. But you couldn't tell someone was keeping time until the camera picked up the snare line because MANY of the kids were not in step. Also, the horn players were not at attention, many of them looking around at the audience. They obviously knew it was the reviewing stand because they then set up and did a 30 second presentation from this year's show. Is this just the laid-back California way of doing a parade? I was totally shocked to see this behavior from such a professional ensemble!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 12:55 pm 
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BD is just too cool i guess. Our instructors always told us that World Champions do this and World Champions do that...and they always look good, they go to the bathroom in time together....they pee in formation...they march to dinner...blah blah blah....


...then one day...the 10 time world champion Blue Devils come waltzing by on their way to warmup with their jackets slung over their shoulders....straggling along..unshaven! :) HAHAHA I loved it. I guess they don't give a crap..they just win on the field!

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 Post subject: Blue Devils poor parade style in Bristol
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 1:53 pm 
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Maybe it was the heat, or they had a grueling practice or whatever. But I sincerely hope that some people saying that BD doesn't give a crap about how they look in a parade isn't true. If it was ,I would imagine that many of the parade crowd who fought the traffic and heat and the early arrival time, would probably say that they likewise could give a crap how they do later in competition. I don't see the Blue Devils as a Corps that doesn't care how they look to the public in a communities parade, so I take this review as needing some more corroboration by others. Anybody else out there that can tell us about their experiences with the Blue Devils in parades ?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2002 3:53 pm 
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I think it is important to note that this ONLY represents what they looked like at the reviewing stand, where the parade was telecast. In fairness to BD, there can be NO presumption that this is how they appeared throughout the parade. I just thought that such a professional, sophisticated group would want to make their BEST impression when given the largest (TV) and most important (Grand Marshall, etc.) audience.

I watched the rebroadcast of the parade today to be certain I was completely fair. Sorry to say, I was. I realized I didn't even mention the fact that the kids were still looking around and chatting with one another as they set up for the presentation at the reviewing stand. Further, many of the horn players were not paying attention to the drum major and didn't even have their horns up until the second or third note of the song! Shocked is not even near a strong enough word to describe my reaction as I watched this!


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