DCW On-Line: Decatur, IN Review

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Crown’s grass is greener for second big Midwest win during foray into area

June 28, 2009 – Decatur, IN . . . The rehearsal day was a color guard member’s nightmare with wind gusts that threatened to blow equipment tosses five yards off target, but it died down for the 2009 “Waves of Thunder” competition, allowing for an excellent night of drum corps.

Carolina Crown topped the excellence, defeating The Cavaliers for the second time in a week, taking overall General Effect and Percussion. The Rosemont corps stayed within a point of Crown, taking both Ensemble Visual and Music categories.

Boston Crusaders showed once again how well they handled “temptation,” placing a solid third, while Glassmen continued on their 2009 journey, breaking 70 for the first time this season and placing fourth. The Crossmen rounded out the World Class competitors in fifth.

Revolution made a strong showing in the Midwest, taking all captions but Visual General Effect en route to a convincing Open Class victory. Capital Regiment stormed into second place, while the Racine Scouts paid tribute to one of their corps family with a strong, heartfelt performance belaying their third place finish.

On a night when most of the corps have given excellent, crowd-pleasing performances, it’s hard to be the one corps that stands out from all the others. Carolina Crown did just that tonight. Their performance of "The Grass Is Always Greener . . . " was the only one of the evening to receive a standing ovation BEFORE the show finished. It takes an entire performance to achieve that kind of reaction from the crowd, starting with the pre-show of "The Promise of Living," which quickly dissolved into intense drumming from the percussion.

The opening statement of the brass was incredible and featured added dynamic contrast from the brass line, increasing the effect of the music considerably. The second piece featured a park-and-blow section which also brought the crowd to its feet, blown away by the power of the horn line.

The ballad, a medley of "Somewhere" from "West Side Story," and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz," is seamlessly blended and one of the most beautiful moments of the 2009 drum corps season. The closer is the opposite of the opener, starting intense before dissolving back into "The Promise of Living" and the final majestic chords of the show. Carolina Crown is on a hot streak right now and the adulation from judges and fans both reflect it.

Most corps won’t admit it, but they secretly hate it when they have to follow a performance like Crown’s. It’s hard to win the crowd over in this type of situation. The Cavaliers are not one of those corps. In fact, it’s safe to say they thrive on moments like this. So it was tonight with "The Great Divide."

This is a show which screams Cavies right from the first note. The brass, which has perfected their balanced sound throughout the decade, continue to play with a grace and tone that can only come from the Cavaliers.

The percussion, thanks to Jim Casella, have many opportunities to throw down and ram some serious drumming throughout the show. The guard brings home the theme, dressed in rock climbing gear as if they were going to climb the walls of the Grand Canyon right in front of us, even using large ropes as their opening prop and equipment.

While the “Green Machine” did not earn the response Crown received before them, the crowd definitely loved the performance and showed their appreciation with a standing ovation at the end.

Last year, the Boston Crusaders marched 108 rookies out of 150 total members. Most of those rookies came back for 2009 and the corps has benefited immensely, taking a step up in quality and a step out there with "The Core of Temptation."

The show is very aggressive in both music and theme, with a rich, balanced horn sound, intense percussion, a guard that can only be described as seductive and a theme that evokes classic temptation scenes such as “Adam & Eve” and “Samson & Delilah.” Boston mixes all of those elements together, while also throwing in synthesized sitar sounds for a Middle Eastern flavor, to form a modern drum corps show which also evokes classic the Boston look and sound.

The closer of "Samson & Delilah" especially stands out with the mellophones helped up above the rest of the corps by guard members as they belt out the main theme of the piece, leading into a climactic finish to a show that brings the crowd to its feet.

One of the strongest trumpet sections this summer belongs to the Glassmen. These players bring the classic drum corps term "ripping face" to life with a powerful, tight sound that sets the heart racing every time they play. This happens quite often in this year’s G-Men show, "The Journey of ONE," and allows this group of musicians playing as one section to fit into the theme perfectly.

This show has gained intensity throughout the season, especially in the percussion solo, which is now expanded and allows the drum line to showcase its talent even more than before. The color guard is especially strong this year, with very energetic equipment work that is very clean for this early in the season.

The overall impression of the Glassmen this season is a corps ready to take their performance and design to the next level. They succeeded in doing so tonight with a very strong performance that led to another standing ovation from the crowd.

The Crossmen have had a difficult start to their season. The guard uniforms are not ready yet, leading them to march in black 2009 tour t-shirts and shorts. The corps has also experienced bus issues during their early season travels. This has led to many challenges for the corps off the field on top of the challenge of performing and shaping their 2009 show, "Forbidden."

The production is a work in process and purposefully so, as there are many elements to be added as the season continues. As a result, the corps has a lot of work to do in order to sell the show to the crowd. Unfortunately, the crowd did not respond much as the performance came across as flat, despite strong solo work and a rock-out section in the ballad, "My Immortal," which was very powerful. Off-nights are a less enjoyable part of the drum corps experience and it will be interesting to see how well the Crossmen recover from this particular performance.

Revolution, San Antonio, TX
Photo by Harry Heidelmark
Courtesy of Drum Corps World

Revolution has made the trip up to the Midwest to join their Texas World Class neighbors on tour. Their 2009 show, "ElementALL," features an eclectic selection of music and fits the persona of Revolution perfectly. The opener is Pat Metheny’s "Heat of the Day," a piece that was quite the workout for the Crossmen’s horn line in 2002 and is no different for Revolution’s horns this year, but they pull it off and even make it sound easy.

The drum line is also incredibly strong and is as fun to watch as it is to listen to. The San Antonio corps has an exceptionally talented lower trumpet section, laying a foundation for the upper trumpets and leaving them less exposed during musical moments in the upper register. The eight tubas project sound wonderfully, doing for the full horn line what the lower trumpets do for their section. Revolution is one of the corps to watch for in the race for the Open Class crown.

Capital Regiment continues to take the Open Class world by storm, figuratively and literally, with their 2009 production titled, appropriately enough, "The Storm." Closing out their first full week of touring competitively since 2006, the Columbus, OH, corps has shown immense improvement in that time span as the relatively young ensemble gained much needed performance and tour experience.

The drum line, the strongest section of the corps, continues to lead the way, performing with intensity and cleanliness throughout. At one point, during the ballad, the drums even help out the small color guard, taking up flags and adding to the visual program.

The guard, which still marched only six members, will grow soon as new recruits have joined the corps on tour and are learning the show. Capital Regiment also takes advantage of the new electronic instrumentation rule, using synthesized storm effects through much of the program.

While most of the show is as dark as the storm clouds the theme represents, the closer, "New Century Dawn," takes on the feel of the setting sun after the rain has gone and brings the program to a very exciting conclusion.

The Racine Scouts’ performance was prefaced by very sad news — Dorothy "Grandma" Chafee, a long-time volunteer for the corps (2005 DCI Volunteer of the Year), passed away that afternoon. Based on the emotional performance of the corps tonight, it was very clear the members were playing to Grandma up in Heaven.

The Scouts, affectionately known as the “Chrome Domes,” performed a New York-themed show, with crowd favorites such as "42nd Street", "Harlem Nocturne" and "New York, New York". The horn line, while small, projects with a large, mature sound and has taken a step up from the past few years.

The marching, as well, has improved, with members showing great posture even at this early stage in the season. Between the great music, excellent soloists and energetic park-and-blow moments, the Racine Scouts easily earned the standing ovation at the end of the show.

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Posted by on Monday, July 13th, 2009. Filed under DCW On-Line.