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 Post subject: What I Saw: Hostrauser's DCI Finals Review
PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 1:27 pm 
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After a nightmare drive up from San Diego (had to fight through FOUR accident-related traffic jams) I eventually met Machine and Maggie at the "correct" Barney's in Pasadena. We had a good time chatting with Maggie's friend and two non-SM members from Boston before heading off to the Rose Bowl for the nights festivities.

Big gripe of the night: the Rose Bowl is not a facility that lends itself towards expeditious entrances and exiting. The lines were SO LONG trying to get into the section tunnels and moved SO SLOWLY that I couldn't make it into the actual stadium proper in time to see Spirit from JSU. :x From the time my ticket stub was torn to the time I was in my seat was literally over half an hour. And once I sat down I was too afraid to go get a bottle of water (even though I was dying of thirst) because I KNEW there would be no way to do that without missing a corps (or TWO). Boo on DCI and the event staff for not being better prepared to feed people into and out of the stadium.

I wrote only very basic notes, so I'll pull what I can from memory...

COLTS - loved the brass sound of this corps (good volume) and the new uniforms look fantastic on the field. A lot of their musical selections were a bit "darker" than what I'm used to seeing from this corps, but they worked well.

GLASSMEN - I thought the Glassmen's guard was very tight on Saturday, but I thought their music left a little to be desired. The brass wasn't very strong and I thought their show design actually sapped some of the energy OUT of "Capriccio Espagnol." Can't understand how this corps was even that close to the Colts.

BOSTON CRUSADERS - A bit of a step up in quality, but I found the show concept a bit gimmicky. What did any of this have to do with Picasso? What, just because there's easels on the field? Meh. BAC did have the first drumline of the night that made me sit up and take notice.

BLUE KNIGHTS - Another step up in quality; BK, BAC, and the 10th-12th corps were on three very distinct separate levels. I love the fact the BK has made body movement sort of a corps trademark, and I loved their brass sound. Enjoyed the opening arrangement of Symphony #10, Mvt. I; but was less thrilled with the closing arrangement of Mvt. IV.

BLUECOATS - I'll say it right now: this was possibly the best Top 7 DCI has ever had. I can't believe a corps THIS GOOD was in 7th place, but more importantly, I can't believe a corps this good DESERVED 7th place. The Brass sound was WOW and the drumline on fire. I think the 'Coats Achilles heel this season was how shallow their show was. It just seemed to have one tone, one mood throughout, and I didn't feel a progression or development of theme: more just the same theme for eleven minutes. The narration was a necessary part of the show design (this is not an endorsement of narration, just a statement of fact): the dropped weapons and silent drill wouldn't have been nearly as effective without the narration. Speaking of the "You have the right to remain silent"... I was disappointed. The guard runs through the corps and then the corps does a very brief and (let's be honest) very weak/easy silent drill for a couple of counts. Cutesy, but big deal.

CAROLINA CROWN - Kids at home: when you grow up and get involved in teaching bands and/or drum corps, you'll want to watch this show over and over and over. This show could have been subtitled "Coordination of Elements 101": this was easily the best DESIGNED program of the evening. The way the brass, percussion, guard, music, effect and drill all interacted and enhanced one another was a sight to behold. I thought their visual design was the best of the bunch. The brass had a few shaky spots on Saturday night. The narration at the end was gimmicky, COMPLETELY unnecessary, and did nothing to assist the show. (Rossini does not need assistance in the "grand finale" category, okay?) Oh, and the guard was incredible. INCREDIBLE.

SANTA CLARA VANGUARD - Crowd's 2nd favorite, but I thought was only so-so. Still had a lot of rough edges, execution-wise, for the last show of the season. Here's a telling sign: I didn't write down any notes for SCV, and now have trouble coming up with more than a few sentences for them. Not a very memorable show, and I'm not sure how they beat Crown.

PHANTOM REGIMENT - I apologize if I come across as a homer, but I am trying to be as objective as possible. (SCV is my second favorite corps of all time, and I didn't write a glowing review for them, after all.) Phantom had the best brass tone quality and brass ensemble blend of the night, hands down. Like Crown, I thought Phantom had a wonderful coordination of elements. Visually... I have to wonder if some corps like Phantom (and the Cavaliers, more on them in a moment) get scored partially on reputation. Was Phantom's drill Cadets or Cavaliers hard? No. But their drill was at least as difficult as the Blue Devils, SCV, or Crown, and (I thought) executed well. I also thought it fit the music better than anybody other than Crown. I really do not understand why Phantom's Visual GE is so low. However, now that I've heaped praise on the Regiment, I do have to say that sometimes they live down to the stereotypes: the beginning of the Firebird drill sequence was great, but the 30 or so seconds of drill in the finale leading up to the wedge was anemic. Great drill, lame drill, wedge/leg kick-out to end the show, and that little disruption I thought really did kill the effect of the final move.

THE CAVALIERS - Terrible show. Yep, I said it. I think The Cavaliers got scored a little on reputation this year, because this show didn't deserve that score or placement. When you watch the show on DVD this fall, notice these: (1) any time the brass is performing a really difficult drill move, they aren't playing. And this happens A LOT. After the first two times it happened, I started timing. I got up to 1:51 of no-brass drill moves in this show; tack on the first two, and we're up over two minutes. This horn line spent a lot of time NOT playing. (2) When the corps is attempting difficult drill while playing, the melodic lines are moving in block (or otherwise simple formations) at half-tempo, while the whole-note harmonics are doing the more difficult maneuvers. (3) When the brass was playing, they were very weak, and they had absolutely no power and little projection when "on the move." 6th place in brass was a blessing. The percussion was also pretty dirty, but the guard was very good. I've heard this corps was pretty young this year. The visual design was there, but The Cavies just couldn't execute musically.

THE CADETS - There's an old joke that goes "Definition of bittersweet: watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new convertible." I'd like to propose a new one: "Definition of bittersweet: watching The Cadets kick huge mounds of raw ass executing the HELL out of a show you absolutely cannot stand." Visually they were phenomenal, and the brass was fantastic (although, there was a section where the trumpets do that rapid articulation figure and it had a little fuzz on Saturday). People have complained at how much non-playing The Cadets have because of the narration, but I didn't think it was that bad (The Cavaliers had FAR more non-playing from the brass with no narration). And again, while I do not like it, the narration was essential to the design of this show. There were several derisive shouts from the audience during the narrative portions of the show. And, after hearing numerous comments about "cheesy" shows this year, I would like to say that the 2007 Cadets show is the cheesiest thing I've seen on the field, maybe ever. It was like watching an after-school special: "Little Johnny Joins a Drum Corps." But this show's fatal flaw (in my mind) is that it has no effect other than what the execution gives it, and no theme other than what the narration provides. The musical selections are disjointed and would not fit together without the narration, and the narration (while linking the pieces) does not carry the effect and flow that a musical segue would. The end result was a very choppy musical show. I do not understand how they tied for overall GE, as I would've placed them 4th or 5th in Musical GE. That said, I can't believe they were a full point behind the Blue Devils. When The Cadets were done there was a good ovation and little, if any, booing. The audience could not deny their appreciation for The Cadets' execution, even if they largely detested the show design (which I gathered a majority of non-Cadets fans did).

BLUE DEVILS - Coming after The Cadets', the first thoughts that entered my head about the Blue Devils' show were "man, this seems a little easy." And, I think, overall it was. I think, overall, it was also executed better. The guard really brought it on Saturday, and I bet you it was their best performance of the year. The percussion was absolutely SMOKIN'. The brass was very good and had some great riffs, though I'm surprised they took High Brass. The Blue Devils had the best ensemble blend (brass and percussion combined) of the night. In fact, I didn't catch any major or noticeable errors from the Blue Devils on Saturday, and I think that's why they won. The first half of the show is fantastic, but I have to agree with those who have said the second half is kind of blah. It is. But the deciding factor for me in the Blue Devils/Cadets debate was the Blue Devils' development and execution of theme throughout the show: the Devils had that in spades, the Cadets did not.

HOSTRAUSER'S SCORES/CAPTION:
97.7 Blue Devils
97.5 The Cadets
96.5 Phantom Regiment
95.5 Carolina Crown
94.5 Santa Clara Vanguard
94.3 The Cavaliers
94.0 Bluecoats
91.0 Blue Knights
87.5 Boston Crusaders
85.0 Colts
83.5 Glassmen
xx.x Spirit from JSU

Effect - Music: Phantom Regiment
Effect - Visual: The Cadets
TOTAL EFFECT: PHANTOM REGIMENT
Visual Performance: The Cadets
Visual Ensemble: The Cadets
Color Guard: Carolina Crown
TOTAL VISUAL: THE CADETS
Music - Brass: Phantom Regiment
Music - Ensemble: Blue Devils
Music - Percussion: Blue Devils
TOTAL MUSIC: BLUE DEVILS

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 Post subject: Re: What I Saw: Hostrauser's DCI Finals Review
PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:33 pm 
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Hostrauser wrote:
THE CAVALIERS - Terrible show. Yep, I said it. I think The Cavaliers got scored a little on reputation this year, because this show didn't deserve that score or placement. When you watch the show on DVD this fall, notice these: (1) any time the brass is performing a really difficult drill move, they aren't playing. And this happens A LOT. After the first two times it happened, I started timing. I got up to 1:51 of no-brass drill moves in this show; tack on the first two, and we're up over two minutes. This horn line spent a lot of time NOT playing. (2) When the corps is attempting difficult drill while playing, the melodic lines are moving in block (or otherwise simple formations) at half-tempo, while the whole-note harmonics are doing the more difficult maneuvers. (3) When the brass was playing, they were very weak, and they had absolutely no power and little projection when "on the move." 6th place in brass was a blessing. The percussion was also pretty dirty, but the guard was very good. I've heard this corps was pretty young this year. The visual design was there, but The Cavies just couldn't execute musically.


I only saw the Cavies in the theater and on the webcast, and based on this limited exposure I have to agree with your assessment. Of course, I am watching and listening with far less educated eyes and ears, but it seemed to me that their drill wasn't nearly as intricate or fast as those in years past. And aside from the trumpet solo in warmups, none of the music was particularly compelling. (Aside: When the best moment of the show occurs in warmups, should we call this the Cape Effect?) I also noticed the lack of brass power, but I simply chalked this up to the fact that the Cavaliers have never been a blow-your-face-off type of corps.

Hostrauser wrote:
CAROLINA CROWN - Kids at home: when you grow up and get involved in teaching bands and/or drum corps, you'll want to watch this show over and over and over. This show could have been subtitled "Coordination of Elements 101": this was easily the best DESIGNED program of the evening. The way the brass, percussion, guard, music, effect and drill all interacted and enhanced one another was a sight to behold.


Could you elaborate on this? I'm not sure quite what you mean; maybe an example or two would help me. (I'm not disputing your claim. I'm trying to learn something here.)

Excellent review. Thanks.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:39 pm 
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Thanks for the review. I agree with many of your thoughts based on what I have seen and heard throughout the summer.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:11 pm 
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I disagree with you on Cavies. I know you will say this is because I marched with them. I don't think the drill was too easy. They moved more than about anybody else. BD parked and blew too much.

You are very wrong, the cavies are moving and playing during hard drill moves. I'm sorry to say that is a bunch of horse hockey.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:39 pm 
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cavies79 wrote:
I disagree with you on Cavies. I don't think the drill was too easy.

I never said the drill was easy, it wasn't.

cavies79 wrote:
They moved more than about anybody else.

Yes they did. They also stopped playing to move more than anybody else, without exception. Watch the DVD and stop-watch how often the Cavaliers brass section is moving around without playing.

cavies79 wrote:
BD parked and blew too much.

Too much? They did it a few times, yes.

cavies79 wrote:
the cavies are moving and playing during hard drill moves.

Re-read my post.

hostrauser wrote:
When the corps is attempting difficult drill while playing, the melodic lines are moving in block (or otherwise simple formations) at half-tempo, while the whole-note harmonics are doing the more difficult maneuvers.


Visually, the Cavaliers executed well, even if they weren't playing for noticeable portions of that. But if you think the Cavaliers had a Top 3 brass line on Saturday night, I think you are letting your bias trump your musical education. Their intonation and ensemble blend was worse than Phantom, BD, The Cadets and Bluecoats without question, and arguably worse than SCV or Carolina Crown. The Cadets put out three times the volume with better tone and articulation. The Blue Devils had better attacks and phrasing and MUCH MUCH better balance. Phantom was better than the Cavaliers in just about every way a brass line can be.

You can defend the Cavaliers from here till forever, but you'll never convince me that was a Top 3 caliber brass performance. It wasn't even close.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:56 pm 
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I don't agree with Dennis' thoughts on Cavies completely, but yes, I agree that BD did not move enough.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 6:35 pm 
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One last thing. The only reason I'm a little upset this year is not because the Cavies lost. Rather I am upset because of all the negative bashing of the corps. More on DCP than here. Actually very little here.

A lot of individuals putting down the corps's marching style, drill, etc. Not just this year's show, but past years. There is a person on DCP (Dan Hurd) who claims Cavies should have won any of the past shows (2000, 01, etc.) and that they never knew how to march, etc. It gets old.

I am happy that BD won. I don't think Cavies should have won brass or drums. But, I really had BC and Crown higher in those catagories. I also thought that Cavies should have won visual GE. They won ensemble, but weren't given the points in GE. Several have said that the drill was dirty, yet they won visual ens. Oh well.

Its over and now I can purchase the dvds and enjoy them without being critical. Great shows from BD all the way to Pioneer. Some better than others, but all enjoyable. Oh yes, the kids in these corps are amazing. Just like we were. Congrats to all!!!

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 10:36 pm 
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cavies79 wrote:
One last thing. The only reason I'm a little upset this year is not because the Cavies lost. Rather I am upset because of all the negative bashing of the corps. More on DCP than here. Actually very little here.

I understand that. My goal is to at least provide reasons WHY I didn't like something or thought a corps was overscored. I understand people will still disagree with my reasoning, but I HATE people who just say "this corps sucked in this area" without providing reasons/examples for that opinion.


cavies79 wrote:
I also thought that Cavies should have won visual GE. They won ensemble, but weren't given the points in GE. Several have said that the drill was dirty, yet they won visual ens. Oh well.

The drill was dirty in parts, and the Cavies finished 3rd in Visual Ensemble. They won visual performance.


cavies79 wrote:
Oh yes, the kids in these corps are amazing. Just like we were. Congrats to all!!!

I agree with most of that, except for the second sentence. Any criticism aside, these kids are way, way more amazing than I ever was.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 6:52 am 
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Kevin your take on Crown was what I said the first time I saw them in Allentown.....complete package! I haven't looked to see where their guard placed, but IMO they deserve to be in the top 2 and no lower. I do think if this corps keeps the same staff they may crack that top 3 yet!

After hearing all the drama that took place Thursday with Cadets then seeing them perform via Pod-cast Friday night, I'm willing to bet they left their best performance for the year on that field. From what I saw, the kids were on fire!
When I saw them in Allentown, I thought then that BD would win......but after seeing them this past Friday, I starting having doubts. I guess Sat. night they lost the wind in their sails.

As far as Phantom Regiment, I do like the new ending a lot better than the old one. Kevin did you see the old ending? Maybe the pacing problems you saw were directly affected by the drill changes that were made for the new ending. Any time corps add on nostalgic moves will get the crowd on their feet. In PR's case it was their final set in the show.

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 Post subject: Re: What I Saw: Hostrauser's DCI Finals Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:11 am 
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abalone wrote:
Hostrauser wrote:
CAROLINA CROWN - Kids at home: when you grow up and get involved in teaching bands and/or drum corps, you'll want to watch this show over and over and over. This show could have been subtitled "Coordination of Elements 101": this was easily the best DESIGNED program of the evening. The way the brass, percussion, guard, music, effect and drill all interacted and enhanced one another was a sight to behold.


Could you elaborate on this? I'm not sure quite what you mean; maybe an example or two would help me. (I'm not disputing your claim. I'm trying to learn something here.)

I can try, though I think I lack the vocabulary to be as desciptive as I want to be.

I think the best way to describe "Coordination of Elements" is that nothing sticks out when it shouldn't, be it brass, percussion, guard or drill. To me, it also means that the transitions are seamless and the writing (visual and musical) not only perfectly fits the mood in a particular moment of a show, but also interacts well with every other aspect.

When you get the Coordination of Elements set up perfectly, it becomes virtually impossible to imagine that section of the show any other way. Drum corps staff, being the pinnacle of what they do, achieve moments like this in almost every show, but rare is a show when it's maintained throughout.

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Last edited by Hostrauser on Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:13 am 
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Malibu wrote:
Kevin your take on Crown was what I said the first time I saw them in Allentown.....complete package! I haven't looked to see where their guard placed, but IMO they deserve to be in the top 2 and no lower. I do think if this corps keeps the same staff they may crack that top 3 yet!

Crown's guard was 2nd in Finals to The Cavaliers.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:00 am 
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Surely, no one in their right mind can believe the Cavies shouldn't have won the championships they did. There has to be something else going on there.......................Bill


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:46 pm 
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Blurae1 wrote:
Surely, no one in their right mind can believe the Cavies shouldn't have won the championships they did. There has to be something else going on there.......................Bill

1992 - Yes
1995 - No (I still think the Blue Devils got hosed)
2000 - No (The Cadets were better)
2001 - No (The Cadets were better)
2002 - Yes
2004 - No (Blue Devils were better)
2006 - No (Phantom Regiment was better)

True, I tend to prefer shows with strong musical aspects over shows with strong visual aspects, so I'm sure that's reflected. 1995, 2000, 2004, and 2006 were all good shows, and I'd have The Cavaliers a close 2nd in each of those years, so it's not like I think The Cavaliers are completely undeserving of their championships.

The only one that really bothers/baffles me is 2001. Visual gimmickry aside, that show (I felt) had way too many problems to beat out The Cadets. But that's the ONLY year I'll go on record as saying "They shouldn't have won." The others are all toss-ups.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:35 pm 
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I will add to that 2003, they should have beat BD.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 3:31 pm 
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TXMystreaux wrote:
I will add to that 2003, they should have beat BD.

Possibly, yes. I can't believe BD's winning margin that year.

I'm sure this will go over like a fart in church, but since you reminded me, I thought The Cavaliers should have topped The Cadets in 2005.

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