DCW On-Line: Portland Review
Phantom Closes Gap on BD in the Northwest
July 8, 2008 – Hillsboro, OR . . . In the Portland Summer Music Games, the only show in Washington or Oregon this season, the Blue Devils continued their winning ways. Phantom Regiment closed the gap on the Devils, who won in the DCI West Championships three days earlier. In Open Class competition, the Oregon Crusaders outperformed the other two corps in their class, Spokane Thunder and the Velvet Knights.
The Blue Devils are more daring in their show design this season. Called “Constantly Risking Absurdity,” it is a drum corps interpretation of a poem of the same name. From beginning to end, the corps performs at the edge of conventional understandings of drum corps. It is not quite surreal, but it is an unusual drum corps experience.
Long flexible poles, marching that approaches running, Charlie Chaplin movement and color guard members holding up multi-tenors for the percussionists to play are just some of the notable features of the Devils’ show. Add in random acts of drum corps at the periphery and the result is a Cirque du Soleil-like fantasy world where the audience is never sure what will happen next. With strong performances in percussion and the visual program, this show will surely develop into even more of a crowd-pleaser as the season progresses.
Contrast the Blue Devils’ show with that of the Phantom Regiment. They depict the slave revolt of Spartacus during the Roman era. The consistent story told by the color guard, dressed like slaves, is the show’s strength. Images of the might and brutality of the Roman Empire appear throughout the performance — of gladiatorial combat, of crucifixion and of a spear and shield military formation.
Phantom Regiment – Rockford, IL
DCW On-Line Photo by Francesca Demello
The show’s music is mostly aggressive and violent, and the horn line sound is wonderfully lush and deep, earning them top scores in brass this evening. Besides the story line, the visual program features fast-paced marching. Their show is likely to be powerful and emotionally-charged by season’s end.
For the Oregon Crusaders, their first performance eight years ago must seem like a distant memory. As with most organizations, the early years are the most turbulent. The Crusaders have undergone a nearly complete transformation of their staff, including the program and staff coordinator, Todd Zimbelman. Their show, titled “Inner Connections”, explores the interconnectedness of all human life and existence.
Inspired by yoga, audiences will find extensive use of body movement in the horn line and ribbons to illustrate connections. Watch for the symbolic use of the symbol V throughout the visual program. The ballad is delicate and performed well by the corps’ 34 horns. This was their first competitive show of the season and they will compete again on July 26.
The Spokane Thunder organization is even younger than the Crusaders. In just their fourth season, the corps has shown that they can survive in these difficult times. Their show this season starts with an aggressive opener, which then moves into a nice ballad. It also features an entertaining percussion feature. The show’s theme and title, “Antithesis”, comes through with a pit positioned left of center and music that illustrates contrasting themes. As with the Crusaders, this was the Thunder’s first competition this season.
The Velvet Knights are back! In their first performance in the Northwest in over a decade,VK showed that they can recapture some of the excitement and zaniness that made the corps a fan favorite so many years ago. Their “Inferno” production is loosely based on the story of Dante. Before the official start of the show, the corps stages a New Orleans-style funeral.
Velvet Knights – Pasadena, CA
DCW On-Line Photo by Jeff Sallee
A goofy drum major salute starts the festivities, which include a love story, an interleaving of Strangers in the Night and Carmen, the signature red hightops and a VK rendition of Thriller. According to brass caption head Thom Willet, the corps’ staff consists of some of the people who marched with the VK of old and they have tried to replicate the antics of the past. Welcome back, VK.
The absence of the Seattle Cascades from this season has been a great loss. However, Sal Leone, former director of the Cascades, promised the audience that he and a group of others are completely committed to doing what it takes to field a Seattle Cascades corps next year.
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