DCW On-Line: Dallas Review

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Blue Devils risk absurdity and win In Dallas

July 17, 2008 — Dallas, TX . . . Blue Devils continued their winning ways by besting crowd favorite Phantom Regiment at Lake Highlands High School in this Texas competition, one of DCI’s longest-running. The corps really shined in the visual category tonight. The show is drum book heavy and showcases what the line is capable of. Despite a second-place finish in percussion, the battery displayed great chops, laying down difficult passages and tight execution during the battery/pit musical tradeoffs.

The corps is performing as if it is already August. Color guard work is near flawless, with well-executed rifle tosses, body moves and flag work. The costumes and flags are a color palette of pink/orange outfits and yellow flags with black and white designs. The horn line is complete with screaming trumpet players, rich tonality across the voices and stellar musicality.

The writing between battery and pit is superb. The pit drumset player is a nice addition to the traditional instrumentation. Drum features throughout the show offered difficult maneuvers and near-flawless playing. The Blue Devils know how to deliver and really have a shot at lucky number 13 this year!

Phantom Regiment took second. Even though they placed second in GE, it was apparent tonight that they placed first with the audience. This show is absolutely outrageous and easily the most theatrical presentation tonight. The drum major entered by standing atop the podium, arms crossed while guard “slaves” pushed the oppressor across the field. A portion of the horn line was goose-step marching in the backdrop.

The rest of the guard “slaves” were dragged out by the rest of the corps and tossed around. This was a display of showmanship second to none!. The opening statement was loud and brash, the drum battery pounded out a difficult book, while the pit offered up beautiful arpeggios against a sweet mellophone solo.

Percussion earned a well-deserved caption award tonight against the Blue Devils. The revolt scene is riveting and seals the thumbs-up approval from the crowd. Overall, this show will go down in the books as one of Phantom’s most engaging productions of the decade.

Santa Clara Vanguard finished behind Phantom Regiment. This corps is on the move this year, advancing concepts started years ago. The new uniforms give a fresh presence to the Santa Clara signature, with show nuances that embody a new era. Percussion is executing very difficult passages and placed second in technicality — the only second place finish for the corps.

Santa Clara Vanguard – Santa Clara, CA
DCW On-Line Photo by Francesca Demello

The “park and play” section rocked the audience and displayed member exuberance. The drill is well-written and has great potential to score well. There is still cleaning to be done, but should be comfortably accomplished by August. Overall, Santa Clara delivered the goods within the traditions established long ago.

Blue Knights have separated themselves from the pack with their unique marching style and musicality. This year’s book presented an interesting collage of sounds, from peddle tones in the low brass to overlays of trumpet phrases. The corps is comfortable in their own skin, offering lots of body moves and visuals in this production.

Block forms were a little messy tonight, but easily remedied with time. Blue Knights have a show that is challenging the performers and steadily winning over the crowd.

Crossmen’s newly-adopted state of Texas has accepted them with open arms. Their show, “The Planets”, began with an in-your-face opening chord. This year offers a very controlled and improved horn line over previous years. In fact, it appears the entire corps had improved both in maturity and musicality.

Percussion still has work to do, but the talent is evident despite a sixth-place showing. The closer offered up visual excitement with a collapsing formation of corps and color guard. Crossmen were rewarded with a resounding standing ovation from Texas fans.

The Madison Scouts have a classic look this year, donning the traditional dark green of yesteryear. The Latin jazz theme always works well for the corps and 2008 is no different. From loud impacts to well-executed cutoffs, Madison Scouts are selling it to the audience.

They bested Crossmen in GE Performance, Music Ensemble and Percussion. The guard is sporting leather jackets and conveying mucho machismo. Unfortunately, attitude doesn’t transfer to execution as the guard struggled with tonight’s show. Overall, the corps has a mature sound and should continue to please the crowd this season.

Pacific Crest‘s show begins with an interesting pit arrangement that conveys the primitive effect they seek. Tribal drumming is a very prominent element throughout the show. The guard struggles to be a cohesive unit at times and difficult movement is challenging the corps. The show overall is very entertaining and will be a solid addition to the lineup this year.

Pacific Crest – Diamond Bar, CA
DCW On-Line Photo by Francesca Demello

The Mandarins are fielding a bigger corps and it certainly has made a difference. Horns are louder, drums play a more difficult book and the guard earned a sixth-place spot. The music is not obvious, yet it makes a person want to hum along. Marching technique is a challenge and percussion struggled to stay together at times. Nonetheless, this year Mandarins have potential to upset a few corps by August.

Pioneer placed ninth this evening. The corps is much improved and is succeeding at engaging the audience. Tonight’s performance was fun and upbeat. The show begins with guard on ladders playing bodhrans above the corps to set the stage for the Celtic celebration.

Pioneer is doing a lot of things right despite their placement. Primarily, they entertain while other programs do not. The members should be proud of the traditions they are establishing for the future.

Frontier was the only all-age corps this evening. The corps is much improved over last year, fielding a decent-sized horn line and a battery section in motion. The musical arrangements are easily recognizable and are a work in progress. Frontier has much to clean before the end of their season in lat August, but with continued improvement will have much to be proud of.

Thanks goes to Tony DiCarlo, DCI contest coordinator, for a great job, the Lake Highlands HS Band Boosters and all volunteers for a great night of drum corps in Texas.

You may discuss this review on the DCP Forums. We’d love to hear your feedback.

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Posted by on Thursday, July 24th, 2008. Filed under DCW On-Line.