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My DCI Finals Review
http://www.soundmachine.org/dci/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=8711
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Author:  LAMystreaux [ Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:17 am ]
Post subject:  My DCI Finals Review

I flew into Indy Friday night and decided to crash. I had finished a week of band camp and was very wiped out, and I wanted to be ready to enjoy the festivities on Saturday.

Saturday morning, I met up with some good friends in downtown Indy for brunch at Le Peeps before heading over to Lucas Oil for Open Class Finals. I’ve seen some Open Class corps at mainly div 1 local shows in LA and TX, so I was excited to see what their version of Finals had to offer.

We had missed the first half eating breakfast and arrived right as Revolution was exiting the field. The highlights of the second half for me were Capital Regiment and SCV Cadets. Much like the A corps, I can see why BDB won, but the show did nothing for me (more on that much later). Capital Regiment had a show with cajones. . .very aggressive corps and show. SCV Cadets were so much like SCV, in a good way. I think seeing both live this weekend is the start of a brilliant love affair with the organization. I loved their silver screen show, or whatever they called it. . . .so classy, enjoyable, and balanced.

After lunch I went back walking around downtown Indy before ending up in the lobby of the Hyatt where I met with Marc (rysa 4), Patrick (Machine), and 2 other Cadets alums, and 1 Blue Stars alum which are not a part of the Soundmachine board. It was a neat experience mainly listening to them talk shop about all of their experiences and connections throughout the years.

On to the main event. . .DCI Div.1 Finals:

Commandant’s Own-Classy, powerful, and patriotic. . .loved it. Thank you for being there.

BDB-Again, a show I cannot get into, and a much looser run than earlier in the day when they won, but I am sure the kids were excited to get to perform in the big show. Congrats!

Troopers-You could feel the energy in the crowd and the corps as they entered. The strengths of this corps this year are that they finally have a pretty full guard, a strengthened hornline, and a show design that is worthy of a div 1 corps. I really enjoyed their western bent on WSS. What a great way to start the competitive show!

Blue Knights-As usual, it seems BK has a polarizing show (hehe) which you either love or hate. I am usually a fan and this show was no different. I think the show fits in with who they are, and they pulled it off rather well. They had 2 brass players bite the dust on the opening drill sequence. . .not a great way to start the show, but overall I liked it.

Glassmen-Beyond the ballad of this show, there is nothing about it I really could get into. There are almost no really memorable melodies, and overall a pretty vanilla visual design. The corps was pretty clean and deserving of placement, but not much to compliment beyond that.

Phantom-Really good hornline, drumline, and improved guard from what I saw in July. . .but just not enough to overcome that mess of a visual design. It is a shame that a defending champion had as many issues getting a good show written. I feel they probably had the horses to do much better had the members been given a better show to perform.

Blue Stars-I was very glad to see them jump Phantom. . .well deserved. This is another corps on the move! I don’t care what anyone says, the tables, the fabric panels, the other props, costumes, voice, etc. . .it all works! I don’t know who does their music book, but I love the writing. . .so emotional, musical, etc. Talking with an alum of theirs they are pushing for top 5 or 6. The guard is there (regardless of score), and the hornline and drums are a year or two away if they keep pushing.

Boston-Not meaning this in a negative, but FINALLY a BAC show I could get into. I really loved this show from my first viewing in Houston. Very exciting both musically and visually. I appreciated how aggressive the corps was in performing the show. All around a great year for BAC!

Bluecoats-Regardless of what everyone thinks of the show idea/design, I sat there Saturday night reminded of how good the Bluecoats still are. That hornline and those drums are still very very good! It made me wish they had a bit better show to pull off, but in the end, I was pleased with them.

SCV-I’ve never been a big fan of all the talk of SCV being the class of drum corps, yada yada yada, etc. . .but it is soooooo true, and this year’s edition of the corps epitomized that! This show was full of subtleties both musically and visually. . .so understated at times, and minimalistic in design, but at the same time sooo powerful! I loved it! Thank you, SCV!

Cavies-Really strong and talented corps, but I wish they would do something new. This felt like Machine, by way of Samurai part 3. Many many musical motifs (apart from the opener which I liked) are just rehashed musical ideas from very recent years from this corps. What was innovative, fresh, and exciting in 2001 and beyond is now stale and sterile. There were not even that many wow drill moves in the show for me.

HNC-I was of course pumped up for them as they entered the field. . .as was much of the crowd. The show was exciting. . .multiple standing ovations, and just an electricity that the corps brought from the field to the stands. Aside from the fall from the drumline member, I did not notice or hear massive issues with the drums. . .not sure the massive dump in score was warranted, but I was thrilled to see them medal in such a special year for the corps! Thank you Holy Name Cadets for making us get up and scream all summer. . .for bringing such an exciting show to the field for all of us to enjoy this summer!

Crown-Again, very electric as Crown entered and throughout their show. They have added soooo much since I last saw the show! I saw a couple of very minor visual issues. . .one cover down missed and quickly recovered, but otherwise a very clean, exciting, difficult show performed very well. What deficiencies they had to BD (visual execution, guard) which are not vast, should have been overcome or at least equalized with that hornline, and GE (which I guess says most of us don’t know a thing about GE). I felt regardless of the score gap from the past 2 nights after seeing the top 2 that at the every least Crown should be a very close 2nd.

BD-Very clean, strong across the board from a performance standpoint, but not very exciting, and not nearly as demanding as the other top corps. I know many of you will say you don’t know demand unless you march it. . .BS. There were no standing o’s for the show, although most stood at the end and applauded, but a stark contrast from the previous two corps. Congrats to BD members and staff. My disdain here has nothing to do with the corps, but with DCI. You should have either eeked out a win or come in a close second. This point differential that has been there all season, and especially Saturday night was ridiculous.

GE-What the heck is it all about? Why did BD win GE?

Confession time. . .there have been some years where I did not want to like the show most people liked and that eventually won because of my bias toward a corps (Cavies 02 comes to mind), but I eventually got over myself and admitted how wrong I was. I eventually admitted I was in the minority and the issue was with me, not with the show.

I don’t think that is the case here with BD. I wanted to love the show Saturday night and be amazed, especially at a champion that wins with an almost record score, but I just couldn’t, and neither could most who were there. How does this kind of show translate into the highest effect score of the night?

I don’t want to end with a rant. This was my 1st DCI Finals. It was such a fantastic experience! Thank you to all the friends I got to spend time with while there, and a big thank you to all the corps for working so hard to entertain us!

Author:  frankiE [ Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

Michael

Thanks for your review, great that you were able to go.

I agree fully with all you said , I would love to hear the politics involved with a corps getting so many perfect caption scores ( not that it hasn't happened before )?

Although Phantom Regiment did not have a stellar visual book , I am astonished at the Vince McMahon style smackdown they recieved from the same judges who rank tables and chairs far higher?

All the less , still a fantastic year - and if you think about it - there were two tribute shows out there based on the Cadet's 80's designteam!

frankiE

Author:  LAMystreaux [ Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

Thanks. . .

re Phantom and Blue Stars, you would think all the props and tables kept the marching stale for Blue Stars. That is what I expected. But, not the case. The movement over Phantom was deserved.

Author:  DCI Politico [ Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

Great reviews and I agree with pretty much everything said. Phantom fired their design team with 3 weeks left and rewrote 60+ pages of drill. Kids would have gotten that show to probably a close 5th/6th level with more time. They deserved better. Hope they get their act together.

CAN ANYONE EXPLAIN GE TO ME. I OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO CLUE HOW THOSE CHAIRS RATE ABOVE CAROLINA AND HNC DRILL AND DIFFICULTY. IMO THE BD MUSIC WAS NOT EVEN NEAR THE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY OF THE OTHER TWO.

Ok, glad I got that off my chest. I just don't understand.

Author:  frankiE [ Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

maybe the answer is to change the o to s in your screen name.

when one sees so many perfect caption scores , and evidence of slotting in other captions , this is what you get from a subjective scoring system.

it's not the first time it has happened , that's for sure.

Author:  chadwick [ Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

Thanks for your review and that is awesome you had such a great time at your first Finals...I never knew you had not been to one before.


I agree with pretty much everything you said as well. I can't wait to get this year's DVDs...in HD too! The only show that I am not that excited to see again is the Glassmen...that one just did nothing for me. I hope they have a better program to work with next year.

Author:  cwbjr67 [ Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

The Blue Devils won with cleanliness, exposure, and a fantastic guard. The piano concerto was the most difficult musical section of all the corps to perform. It's hard enough to play Copland's more esoteric pieces in a concert hall, but on the field...wow. I know I joked about the chairs, but coupled with the color contrasts of the flags and then, the corps, it provided quite a visual stimulation. They conveyed the theme well, and they had a greater variety of drill styles. They had a mondo chops battery that relied on playing the "junk" rather than gimmicks. Were they 99.05 good? I don't know...we've argued the same thing when the Cavies and Cadets earned the 99.15 scores. I guess time will tell.

Author:  LAMystreaux [ Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

cwbjr67 wrote:
The Blue Devils won with cleanliness, exposure, and a fantastic guard. The piano concerto was the most difficult musical section of all the corps to perform. It's hard enough to play Copland's more esoteric pieces in a concert hall, but on the field...wow. I know I joked about the chairs, but coupled with the color contrasts of the flags and then, the corps, it provided quite a visual stimulation. They conveyed the theme well, and they had a greater variety of drill styles. They had a mondo chops battery that relied on playing the "junk" rather than gimmicks. Were they 99.05 good? I don't know...we've argued the same thing when the Cavies and Cadets earned the 99.15 scores. I guess time will tell.



We'll have to agree to disagree. Anything that was exposed or remotely difficult for them seemed to be played at a standstill (Phantom does this a lot also). The chairs alone and their overuse of them should have kept them from winning with the other top corps as good as they were. I read people trying to explain that the use of the chairs was actually pretty difficult. From my vantage point a mere 40 or 50 ft from the performers, I beg to differ. There was little to no demand in the use of those chairs, aside from the few performers who stood on them to play their solo. The variety in their drill produced little to no excitement (and I was not alone in this assessment). You could feel the thousands in Lucas, aside from a few scattered fans, just not giving it up for this show. Cadets 2005 and Cavies 2002 had their detractors, but nothing on this level. I am still completely convinced BD shouldn't have won, but I do think it should have gone either way between them and Crown, and in the very least should have been a heck of a lot closer.

Something must be done about the GE caption.

Author:  DCI Politico [ Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

Good assessment I think. I heard those and posted elsewhere that people thought it might be more difficult than it looked to play with/on and manipulate the chairs. Don't think they should have won based on difficulty level. All that said, the contrast between, the uniforms, the color guard and the chairs made it appealing from a color visual. That probably got more credit than it deserved, but it was eye pleasing. I think if the season is one week longer, they go down and Carolina cleans it up enough to win it. But alas, that would take away this great debate, or replace it with another one.

Author:  cwbjr67 [ Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

Quote:
We'll have to agree to disagree.


Wow! That's gotta be a first for the two of us. :lol: I was trying to play Blue Devils' Advocate, Michael. haha

Quote:
The variety in their drill produced little to no excitement (and I was not alone in this assessment).


I think I've said before that the first set drill is very difficult and fun to watch, but the second half was....oy.

Quote:
I am still completely convinced BD shouldn't have won...


Well, you know who I was rooting for...

Quote:
Something must be done about the GE caption.


Yup.

Author:  TrumpetGuy05 [ Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

I have got to agree about the GE bit. After seeing the shows from this last season, I knew BD was going to win (they were undefeated going in after all). What I could never put together was why. Their show struck me as being similar to 2001, very clean, well performed, but not quite having the wow-factor that the winning show should have. The Cavies in 2002 was and is one of my favorite shows, it just never stopped! The Cadets in 2005 pushed the activity and were rewarded for it. BD is 2009 ... it seems like they were getting an apology for last season. All the same, I have to congratulate them on the win, a ring is a ring. That being said, I feel it was a great season and I look forward to next year.

P.S. The above are the thoughts and musings of a red-eyed pre-med kid and should in no way be taken seriously or as fact!

Author:  LAMystreaux [ Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

I agree with a lot of what you are saying. Any BD members reading this should not take it as a slam on them (if that is possible). It more about DCI, the judging system, and I guess in the end the BD show design team. BD as a performing unit was without a doubt excellent this summer.

Author:  CFI BLOOO [ Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

LAMystreaux wrote:
Crown-Again, very electric as Crown entered and throughout their show. They have added soooo much since I last saw the show! I saw a couple of very minor visual issues. . .one cover down missed and quickly recovered, but otherwise a very clean, exciting, difficult show performed very well. What deficiencies they had to BD (visual execution, guard) which are not vast, should have been overcome or at least equalized with that hornline, and GE (which I guess says most of us don’t know a thing about GE). I felt regardless of the score gap from the past 2 nights after seeing the top 2 that at the every least Crown should be a very close 2nd.

BD-Very clean, strong across the board from a performance standpoint, but not very exciting, and not nearly as demanding as the other top corps. I know many of you will say you don’t know demand unless you march it. . .BS. There were no standing o’s for the show, although most stood at the end and applauded, but a stark contrast from the previous two corps. Congrats to BD members and staff. My disdain here has nothing to do with the corps, but with DCI. You should have either eeked out a win or come in a close second. This point differential that has been there all season, and especially Saturday night was ridiculous.


I know that I have already hashed this out in other posts... and you have already stated your opinion in other posts... but I can't help but defend the point gap for BD.

I see your statements about the entertainment value of the program (or lack thereof)... and I completely agree that an audience member's preference is his or her own...

I'm not surprised that you take a shot at the entertainment value of the show... fine...

But to say that their material was "not nearly as demanding as th other top corps" is just completely absurd. And that is why they not only won... but also won with a significant margin. The program had a visual appeal (not neccessarily a "HOLY COW! WHAT THE $%#@& WAS THAT?!!!" kind of visual appeal) but the program had a design, flow, organization and sophisticated development that was fully appreciated in the score. With respect to the difficulty... let me put it this way. My wife saw them at Allentown and after the second night her comment was "Crown is by far my favorite of all of them". After we ran up to Buffalo to see the Devils one more time the next night, she replied with "I really like that Crown show, but now that I see it again, I have to say that the Blue Devils show is the solid winner". It is so easy to watch the show in spite of the 12-time (now 13-time) world champions that they are and wish that they would be scored lower than some others. So let me make a few comparisons and observations to attempt to make the case one more time (remember that my corps is the Bluecoats... I never marched with the Blue Devils... and most of my old friends marched in the Cadets... I have no bias in this).

The Cavies have been marching the same technical program every year since 2000. It's a good program!... don't get me wrong. But they have not innovated in terms of m&m at all in the last decade... so they have been passed by.

The Cadets are even worse... they haven't innovated in m&m since about 1987. Again, don't get me wrong... the whiplash drill is amazing to watch and certainly difficult to do well... but they have executed the same style of drill movement in approximately the same balance of presentation for the last 20 years. Now I know what you are thinking. The Cadet programs have been diverse in theme and concept over the last decade (but that isn't my arguement). My argument is that they haven't innovated drill movement since Zingali. Difficulty is found in motion, NOT... I repeat NOT in concept. Innovation of concept has a limited read on the judging sheets (as George has discovered, I'm sure, over the years).

SCV this year (let's be frank) was about as vintage as vintage can be in terms of difficulty of motion and music. They were great... but they were vintage.

Crown is just now catching up with the Cadets way of doing things... and as time, luck, fortune (what ever you want to call it) would have it... they did it better than the Cadets did (and it showed in the score... and it showed in the closeness of the score).

The Bluecoats... have yet to be a contender. They have programed some very entertaining shows in the past 8 or 9 years, and their quality of performance has certainly met up with the very highest... but they don't have the shows to win on technicality.

PR is another corps that has been technically the same drumcorps since the 1980's

Boston is another corps that has grown in performance quality but certainly not much more.

The Blue Devils however...

There was a time when the Blue Devils wouldn't be caught dead presenting any kind of body movement that was additive to simply marching a solid show. Presently, this corps included (wheather we choose to notice or not) more dance movement and characterization than any other corps on the field. It's a fact... go back and check the videos. This organization has also been known to have starkly contrasting drill presentations from year to year (sure there have been some similar programs back to back... but compare their drill movement from 1989 to 1990 to 1994 to 1996 to 1997 to 1998 to 1999 to 2000 to 2001 to 2003 to 2007 to 2009. Each one of these years is a significant benchmark in different presentational style of drill. Let's talk about this year in particular. I have already mentioned the overwhelming use of 3D drill effects in this program and how and why it is remarkably difficult to do well in another post. Now let me talk about speed and contrast of speed with musical tempo and cleanliness of execution. I can't count the number of times that this program presented ballad style jazz statements juxtaposed with double time footwork and accurately timed drill movement. In understanding their placement it was vital to watch their foot tempo. Most people didn't even notice.

THAT'S REALLY REALLY HARD TO DO! it's also really really easy to overlook.

How about that scatter drill? I recall one statement that I read concerning the lack of difficulty in scatter effects. And I would agree in most cases, but when you facter in the pointalistic effects and consequences that were built into the show that depended on those scattered elements hitting specific marks at specific times... the effect takes on a whole new meaning and level of difficulty. And then when you add a dramatic characterization and body movement to it... You see where I'm going here?

Now let's talk about music... Do I really need to talk about the music composition here? Since when have the Blue Devils NOT had a contending musical book? The interaction and juxtaposition of various themes, motives and phrases that they program in their shows is a trend of theirs that goes back to 1991. As for the performance. The Percussion line has never been second rate, and the Brass (while balanced different than most brass lines) has always been consistent, versitile, and flexible.

Now let's talk about chairs. Now look... they didn't have chairs for props in this program. They had chairs AS UNIFORMS! They were drilling... with folding chairs. This might seem cheeky to some spectators... but there is a remarkable degree of difficulty in what they did with those chairs and the timing in which they did it. They didn't simply have some chairs on the field. They manipulated them in the context of drill movement... one to each WIND PLAYER rather than guard member (which is how such props are usually handled).

This program was very very different... it was very very unusual... it was very very calculated... and it was very very difficult.

It wasn't very very entertaining. It was only entertaining. But if very very entertaining won the show, then the Madison Scouts would have had the majority of championship wins in the entire progression of the 1990's. True? You bet!

Other corps... just did what they have always done best this year. Some corps, like Crown, did what others have done best before them... But the Blue Devils did different, difficult and at the end of the day better than the rest... by a truthful margin.

Now if we want to complain about scoring margins... Why (I ask again) were the 10 through 5th place corps not scored closer to the 2-4th placed corps? This is where the true gap is. These corps are performing at a significantly higher level and quality than the same slots have in years past. Yet they remain scored in the same general level on the point scale as those before them. This is the only scoring injustice that I see. i think the judges are playing it too safe and reserving too many points of buffer between the front runners.

Author:  LAMystreaux [ Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

I can see and agree with a lot of what you are saying. On the BD point you're hammering we will still just have to agree to disagree. I watched intently at the movement, from row 11 on the 42 yd line a couple of weeks ago, and there just was not the amount of movement, in terms of actual marching that people claim. . .not when doing a comparitive discussion. The chair stuff was a joke. Sorry. But they did one or two drill moves through the chairs, and beyond that a lot of sitting, standing, etc. Had other corps, especially The Cadets done this (well, I guess that have) they would have been the joke of discussion all year.

On your innovation or evolution points, I generally agree. . .but I guess I am getting old when I say it doesn't bother me. Let SCV and Cadets be the corps of old forever and I will be happy. I am glad BD has embraced some new trends, but generally, save a few years in recent, it does not get me out of my seat.

My 2 cents. . .take it or leave it.

Author:  CFI BLOOO [ Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: My DCI Finals Review

LAMystreaux wrote:
I watched intently at the movement, from row 11 on the 42 yd line a couple of weeks ago, and there just was not the amount of movement, in terms of actual marching that people claim. . .not when doing a comparitive discussion. The chair stuff was a joke. Sorry. But they did one or two drill moves through the chairs, and beyond that a lot of sitting, standing, etc. Had other corps, especially The Cadets done this (well, I guess that have) they would have been the joke of discussion all year.


:roll:

Now I get done talking about the moving and manipulation that the hornlind did with the chairs and you say "... they did one or two drill moves through the chairs, and beyond that a lot of sitting, standing, etc."

Now this is just an intentional understatement. Anybody who saw the program knows better.

As for the Cadets doing something similar to this... Well... yes they would be the joke of discussion all year because they would have had an audible narrative about the perrils of lawn chairs in a land where rocking chairs and recliners are more widely used... and the promise of a new day when all chairs might be treated equally.

The Cadets have never been dissed for trying something new that is challenging... they have only been dissed for trying new things that are pointless.

But hopefully they are over that phase!

:jester:

Hey...

You asked for it! :cheers:

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