DCW On-Line: Clifton Review

| |

Cadets win their own "Music in Motion" home show

July 5, 2008 — Clifton, NJ . . . Scattered rain storms did not deter The Cadets from hosting their 2008 New Jersey competition in the familiar site of Clifton Stadium the wonderful Fourth of July Birthday Weekend. The move from Giants Stadium created a smaller audience than in the past, however this may have been partially caused by the high price of gasoline here in the East. And the wonderful old home of the Giants and Jets is in the process of being replaced by a new stadium. So in the scheme of things the crowd fit quite nicely into this smaller stadium and perhaps it was for the best.

With the faint outline of a rainbow in the distance over the nearby park, the scene presented the perfect picture for an evening of drum corps. Still, the event was not without its problems. The sound of corps warming up wafted over the pretty lake, annoying some of the patrons sitting in the stadium trying to hear the early corps in the show.

The food was handled by a local high school band parents group and long before the second corps went on they had already run out of whatever they were selling. As usual, the parking on the street presented problems, which you would not normally see at a venue like Giants Stadium.

Much has been already written on Internet chat rooms about The Cadets, who placed first. I first heard their show at the Memorial Day Indoor Concert in Springfield, PA, and must say it is every bit of what you would expect from the corps. Musicality and performance is top- notch and as usual they move very smoothly around the field.

Sitting with a number of WGI World Guard members, it was interesting to hear their take on what they were seeing. Being guard people, they were quick to point out that the Cadet purple guard uniforms made them nearly invisible on the field. One of the people sitting near me said it was “like seeing flags and rifles magically moving by themselves on the field. They just do not have much of a presence when you’re watching the corps perform,” she said.

So where are the people looking? Well, you may know that there is a small round stage on the field with the two characters lip-syncing the radio script of their “. . . and the pursuit of happiness” show. Over on the number two side, there is a black curtain which hides the “voices” of the characters on the stage.

One of the people sitting with me said the scene reminded her of the scene in the “Wizard of Oz” when The Great and Powerful Oz is suddenly revealed hiding behind the curtain. “Don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain,” he says. At that point we all laughed and sort of turned our own attention first to the curtain, then the actors, then the corps on the field and finally the color guard.

The Cadets – Allentown, PA
DCW On-Line Photo by Pat Chagnon

As a social commentary show it is a fine experiment, which The Cadets are used to pioneering new and different directions, but as a popular show, it won’t be the 2002 show which took you to New York City and introduced you to “Moondance” as a drum corps classic. It should be interesting to see how it plays in the long run.

Let me interject here that, while I expected most people I talked to at the show to be talking about the uniqueness of The Cadets’ show, there was actually another subject that many of the folks were buzzing about. And I was surprised how many times it came up.

Drum corps fans have become very numbers-oriented, looking at recaps and the rankings from the early season on. Looking at the first two shows in the Midwest and the first California shows, the buzz was why the rankings this year seemed to look so much like the way the championships ended last year?

With a few exceptions, you could place them side by side and see the corps ranked in nearly the same spots. The questions then followed whether with new music, new marching members, new staff, new show and new drill, why those rankings should look anything alike at all.

The opinions seemed to favor the fact that there should have been no direct correlation between the two and that the judges should be judging this year’s show and not last year’s out of the gate. It was an interesting observation that was heard in a number of conversations while at the show.

Carolina Crown took Brass and Color Guard away from The Cadets’ almost clean sweep of captions. Their show of “Finis” is quite a follow-up from last year’s popular show which took you to the horse races. This show features 13 pieces of very recognizable music from “West Side Story” to “Hungarian Rhapsody” to the “1812 Overture” and back again.

Where last year you were pretty much totally wrapped up with watching the guard prance like horses around the field, this year it is the 80 horns that get your attention! There is an old saying in drum corps that the spectators want the corps to “blow their socks off’” while they are sitting in the stands. Well, with 80 horns, they certainly are vibrating the stands with their BIG horn sound.

Great drill, popular music, very strong drum line, but what seems to be missing this year is the presence of the guard. They are out their doing their stuff, but don’t seem to have the visual impact that they had last year. The crowd was all about Crown at the end of the night.

Boston Crusaders’ highlights are the popular “Kingfishers Catch Fire”, “Moondance” and a nicely re-packaged piece of “Conquest” for dessert. They have a big sound and perform the show very well, but what seems to be missing is some general effect.

Remember the big arches that they rolled onto the field as part of their show several years ago? Perhaps that was a little overdone, but it did provide some great effect for the show that year. By the time they get to Bloomington, this will be one of those shows that you will want to buy the DVD/CD to remember what a great year 2008 was.

The Crossmen are worlds apart from last year’s show. Sure, they have a lot of cleaning to do, but what drum corps doesn’t at this point? Talking with vets after the show, they feel it is the best show and the best tour that they have had in years. They are trying to break out of their jazz mold a little with new creative sounds in their “Planet X” show.

The horn line is much stronger and louder this year, the guard has been getting rave reviews and the drum line seems much more confident than the last two years. Drill moves are fun to watch. The theme logo is on their buses and trucks and while many of the kids now come from Texas, there are still East Coast members who have been with them for four and five years and just love the transition of the new Crossmen.

While World Class was great to watch, there was some real excitement in Open Class, with perhaps the best and biggest Jersey Surf corps in their history. Their opener of “How Far We’ve Come” seems so appropriate for the corps that is currently in second spot nationally behind the Concord Blue Devils B. Fans here in the stands really appreciated the big brass sound, the very strong drum line and the large guard that would seem to indicate they could fit well into World Class if that is the direction they are heading.

Jersey Surf – Mount Holly, NJ
DCW On-Line Photo by Pat Chagnon

Perhaps the best thing that could happen to the Jersey Surf was the relocation of the Crossmen to Texas which has benefited the corps with some top-notch players. I have been a fan for years and it looks like they may have graduated from the Elvis wigs to some big time entertainment. There was always hope for years that we were looking at the next Velvet Knights of the East Coast. This is a great direction now for them! Good show this year, so catch it if you can!

For 10 years I was part of a management team with a small corps that competed against the Raiders. I remember the struggles of keeping a smaller corps going, but I must say that this past Division III champ continues to entertain the crowd each and every year. Their show of Deep Blue features “To the Flemish Caps”, an odd-sounding piece called “O Magnum Mysterium” and “Storm” which yielded them a second place finish.

Their strength seems to be in their General Effect and Visual Captions, but beyond that the show was a crowd favorite of the two smaller groups in their Division. Keep up the good work kids, you are making Wayne, NJ, proud of you! Keep up the great work, Director Tommy Maiello!

A much smaller version of the Spartans were on the field this year with a very strong and almost overpowering drum line placing. The show is called “Metallic Soundscapes” and featured “Kingfishers Catchfire”, “Turbine” and “Turning”. Dealing with a smaller amount of members, they wisely confined their show to a smaller spread, performing pretty much between the 35 and 35.

A small but accomplished guard provided some great general effect for their show. It was so good to see them on the field after there was talk of them not fielding earlier. Their show will be getting stronger as the season progresses based on what we saw tonight.

Before the awards the awesome Bridgemen Alumni Corps brought down the house with some real drum corps the way most of us remember marching it or seeing it as we were growing up. I have known their director, George Lavelle, for many years and restarting this group is the best thing that could have happened for the activity here in the East. Keep the momentum going, guys and gals!

Publisher’s Note:
This article is presented by Drum Corps World in cooperation with Drum Corps Planet. The material is exclusive to Drum Corps Planet under the "DCW On-Line" masthead as a regular feature. To see more quality reports like this one, subscribe today — www.drumcorpsworld.com or call toll free 1-800-554-9630 between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM Central time, seven days a week.

The Madison, WI-based Drum Corps World has been published continously since October 1971 — 37 years of service! The tabloid newspaper is mailed monthly and contains articles on competitions and concerts, worldwide event calendars, scores, photography, features, regular columns and advertising from the companies that support the publication and the activity. Our staff of 75 writers and 12 photographers have extensive experience and many have been with us for 10 years or more. In addition, you will also find historic material in the store including: 136 historic CDs originally recorded between 1950 and 1980, vintage DVD content, videotapes, record albums, history books, back issues of DCW and feature articles from past issues posted on the front page twice each week.

Visit www.drumcorpsworld.com. For more information, call toll free 1-800-554-9630.

Posted by on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008. Filed under DCW On-Line.