DCW On-Line: Stillwater Review

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Phantom wows crowd with ‘Spartacus’

June 22, 2008 — Stillwater, MN . . . Ten months to wait for drum corps is long time. Anxious activity fans streamed into Stillwater HS Stadium on this warm, humid night to experience the first area show of the season. They were not disappointed, as 10 corps put forth stellar performances, topped by Phantom Regiment in the World Class and Minnesota Brass Inc. in the All-Age category.

Even at this early-season stage, competitive parallels are evolving. The Colts and Blue Knights were extremely close in scoring, as were the Madison Scouts and Blue Stars. Only time will tell if the competitive jousting continues throughout the season.

Phantom Regiment is performing a presentation previously mastered in the early 1980s with Spartacus, updated with all new music to fit modern-day drum corps. Phantom begins their presentation with a majestic introduction, highlighted by bright yellow flags.

Many battles and conflicts take place, which are accentuated through the brass strains. Very effective percussion tools give one the sense of soldiers marching off to war. A beautiful mellophone solo is extremely effective toward the conclusion of the show. Phantom topped all captions and appears to be off to a great start in 2008.

Carolina Crown’s presentation of Finis is a compilation of fanfares and popular harmonic compositions that the crowd ate up. It began with a dramatically clamorous intro followed by quick-paced music. Tonight, black and white was the norm for guard attire, but Crown’s seemingly brown camouflage tuxedos were singular.

Carolina Crown – Ft. Mill, SC
DCW On-Line Photo by Ron Walloch

Barber of Seville, Ode to Joy and Hungarian Rhapsody were a rapid fire of recognizable melodies. Claire de Lune provided ballad-like contract, while 1812 Overture was a usual popular conclusion.

The Colts’ Night and Day presentation came off as classy and jazzy. This visual program has depth and balance, using music that is accessible to the audience, beginning with the pleasing Cole Porter theme music, Night and Day.

The somewhat unknown ballad, Unexpected Song, is quite enjoyable and very Andrew Lloyd Weber. This show is adept at utilizing big, colorful effects and gargantuan sound in both brass and percussion.

Blue Knights’ show, titled Knight Reign, has a bizarre, silent-to-building and innovative entrance which had the crowd wondering. This was a typical Blue Knight non-theme thematic presentation, with unfamiliar melodies, bland and seemingly non-challenging equipment work, but with machine-like percussion and brass playing that received light crowd reaction. Their very dissimilar version of Amazing Grace brought this show to a conclusion.

Madison Scout’s La Noche de la Iguana is a huge step forward in 2008. They begin with a powerful, deliberate intro that sets an immediate tone. Their exploration of passionate and industrious Latin-American compositions is very expressive. Dueling Latin answering melodies between high and low brass was exquisite.

Blue Stars’ Le Tour… Every Second Counts was one of the most innovative show themes of the evening. Many fans loved the clever ‘bicycle tour’-oriented presentation while others just didn’t get it. Their guard does a fantastic job selling the theme with their movement, bicycle tires and acting.

The flags with handle bars might be a first in drum corps. There was plenty of texture, with musically-challenging phrasing. It was possibly the most dramatic dynamics of the evening.

In All-Age competition, Minnesota Brass Inc. is attempting to connect with audiences through Connection. This diverse offering features a dominating percussion section, expressive brass and the guard in attractive, stylish uniforms accentuated by brightly colored flags.

Minnesota Brass – St. Paul, MN
DCW On-Line Photo by Ron Walloch

Standing out tonight were Minnesota Brass’ talented soloists, including Tom Jones in Night Streets, Cindy Tischhauser during Oblivion, Jackie Bechtold for Wrapped Around Your Finger and the entire percussion section in Night Streets.

The Govenaires’ personality-plus is exhibited with their introductions by the marching members. Their House of the Rising Sun intro is consistent, with their motis operande. Their rapport continued with thanks to the fans and “Drum Beauty as they brought their show to a close.

Chops Inc. presented an eclectic mix of classic rock titled “It’s 7 O’clock and I’m Ready to Rock.” Featuring music by the Edgar Winter Group and Elton John, the highlight of their repertoire was a quirky, daft version of the Melanie classic, “Brand New Key”. Musically, this presentation was light-hearted, enjoyable and easy to grasp, similar to popular past Chops presentations.

The Colt Cadets’ “New American Signature” show featured a very musical sounding brass section. Their selections featuring melodies with “America” within was appreciated.

The evening concluded with an encore presentation by Carolina Crown. This one of a kind concert included Green Day’s Basket Case, a whimsical version of Deck the Halls and a rocking Earth, Wind and Fire medley. It was a fitting conclusion to a perfect opening day of drum corps in Minnesota.

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Posted by on Monday, June 30th, 2008. Filed under DCW On-Line.