DCW On-Line: Denton Review

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Blue Devils sweep Texas at “Red River Thunder”

July 20, 2008 — Denton,TX . . . Blue Devils are on a roll after winning tonight’s competition. Earning an impressive season-high score, they beat The Cavaliers by over a point. They placed first in every category except percussion and music ensemble. After a decisive win in San Antonio, the Blue Devils are sweeping up the competition this year with an intricate show of performance and professionalism.

The horn line has incredible volume during the various high points of the show. There is “drum corps” loud and then there is “Blue Devils” loud! The snare line dazzles with an array of flashy stick work and the pit impresses with its musicality and vast array of instrumentation. The athleticism of the corps is astounding as it literally runs during the drill without a hint of being winded.

Of course, no Blue Devils show would be complete without a big finish. The “Blue Crew” delivers the goods along with a syncopated accent pattern added for good measure. All indicators point to this season as belonging to the Devils. At this point it’s safe to say it is theirs to lose.

The Cavaliers closed the gap for a second-place finish tonight. Their “Samurai” show is a masterful exercise in auditory stimulation. Percussion arranger Jim Casella has arranged a score wrapped around instrumentation that challenges even the most discerning musical ear. The pit offers an explosive element of Taiko drums in contrast to haunting “flute” sounds, while the battery amazes with stellar chops and challenging maneuvers.

The percussion section actually outplayed the Devils and captured the percussion category. The horn line is equally aggressive and executed beautifully sustained chords and fast-moving drill. The guard has elaborate Asian warrior costuming that brings the entire presentation to life. This corps has a clear shot at the title if Blue Devils decide to peak before August.

The Cavaliers – Rosemont, IL
DCW On-Line Photo by Harry Heidelmark

The Bluecoats delivered a mean punch with their “The Knockout” show for third place. This show is engaging, entertaining, exciting and electric. This is what drum corps is about. The two boxers were framed in boxing ring formations throughout the show and in a myriad of well-designed drill. The Simon & Garfunkel ballad culminated in a magnificent horn cluster front field.

The finale really delivered the goods by involving the audience in the final “down and out” count during the majestic Rocky theme music. This show is pure Americana starting with the Leonard Bernstein classic and ending with the most beloved movie theme to hit the silver screen. Bluecoats are on track to be champions in the hearts of audiences and aficionados alike this year.

The Blue Knights placed fourth. The opening trumpet solo was quite musical during the beginning body movements. The show offers a few exciting moments. The guard has decent rifle work, but needs to improve flag work. A high point was the Jeaux D’eau piece which is very whimsical and had the corps dancing and frolicking about the field.

The percussion book was meaty at times and the drill was rich in curvilinear drill formations. This show is a solid Blue Knights presentation and should seat the corps comfortably in the final 12.

The Boston Crusaders scored fifth place this evening. “Neocosmos” has been described as an “art piece” show. This description seems to fit. The Crusaders presented a solid show of controlled statements, balanced chord structure, competent rudimental drumming and decent guard work. They placed fifth overall, but placed a well-deserved fourth in GE and Music Ensemble. The ballad is controlled and musical, and the backfield playing is rich and lush. Boston Crusaders are great at consistency and should do well enough this year to secure a spot in the top 10.

The Crossmen finished sixth with their “Planet X” show that goes where “many drum corps have gone before”. The opener was quite effective tonight, with horns placed strategically across the field. The Jupiter piece is an intriguing arrangement of the quick ¾ tempo, layered beneath the legato melody cleverly interweaved. The saber tosses were spot-on and the flags during It’s A Wonderful World extended beautifully from the 5 to 50 yard line, adding vibrancy to the swinging rendition. The Crossmen enjoyed the first standing ovation of the evening.

The Troopers were behind The Crossmen for seventh place this evening. The corps is all about locomotives this year and did an excellent job of conveying their “Iron Horse Express” show. The sound is louder than last year, fielding a horn line that is supported by 12e contras. Percussion executed a difficult drum feature and earned a sixth-place finish overall. The “train whistle” in the show certainly sealed the deal for the crowd. This is a great year for the Troopers as their claim of “America’s Corps” perpetuates a rich tradition of entertainment and musical education.

Pioneer – Milwaukee, WI
DCW On-Line Photo by Harry Heidelmark

Pioneer opened the World Class competition this evening. This year’s show is extremely accessible and enjoyable. The corps is reaching new plateaus evidenced by their first score above 70 this season. The Milwaukee corps has always struggled to be competitive, but this presentation offers an opportunity to move up. The drum line is performing a cool and contemporary feature, the soloists conveyed a lot of maturity and the guard is a wonderful enhancement to the Celtic theme. Pioneer is proud of its tradition and should be proud of what they are accomplishing this year.

Frontier opened the show this evening as the only all-age corps. The Dallas group also performed in Dallas Thursday and in just two days there was solid improvement. From an individual perspective, the marching was better tonight and a few formations flowed more smoothly. The battery section was still struggling to play cohesively. This is not necessarily a bad thing due to recent member additions. Soloists continue to validate the corps’ individual talent. Mid-horn intonation was a problem at times, but the final sustaining chord was balanced and solid, making for a great presentation in the all-age category.

Tonight marks the 3rd anniversary of the “Red River Thunder” contest. The success is evident due to the near capacity audience this evening. Congratulations to The Cavaliers for an outstanding event and the Ryan Raider Band for smoothly handling show logistics.

Of course, Texas drum corps is not complete without the capable talents of Dan Potter, DCI announcer, Tony DiCarlo, DCI Contest Coordinator and all the competent DCI judges evaluating the show.

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

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Posted by on Friday, August 1st, 2008. Filed under DCW On-Line.