DCW On-Line: Erie PA Review

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Crown posts another win over Holy Name Cadets

June 29, 2009 – Erie, PA . . . Yet again in this young 2009 season, the weather made an attempt to disrupt a show as rain drops could be felt at various times throughout the “Lake Erie Fanfare.”  Unlike the competing corps tonight, however, the weather held back and an exciting night of drum corps was led by another winning performance by Carolina Crown.  Crown took all subcaptions except Visual Composition, but with a winning margin of just 0.8 over the Holy Name Cadets, the race is hardly decided. 

Glassmen and Crossmen placed solidly in third and fourth, respectively, in World Class competition.  Three Open Class corps, Teal Sound, Capital Regiment, and Revolution, rounded out the competition, with Teal taking the top spot as well as overall General Effect and Visual.  Capital Regiment took Ensemble and overall Music en route to a second-place finish, while Revolution took top Percussion, showing that all three Open Class corps are contenders for the crown this season.

There was some surprise when Carolina Crown was announced in first place.  While last night’s performance by Crown in Decatur, IN, was, by far, the best of their season, tonight’s show had some issues.  Individual brass players with feet in their sound, missed rifle tosses and even a falling tuba player occurred during the performance.  This is not to say that the show was all bad, as the tuba players once again displayed their ability during “Senameya,” performing a soli at an extremely high register without a single issue. 

The drum line was also hot tonight, eliciting an appreciative "whoop" from an audience member.  The closer tempo has been kicked up a notch, adding to the excitement, and the final chords of "The Promise of Living" provided the big finish that the show demands.  Even on an off-night, Crown still brings a lot to the table.

The Holy Name Cadets have started to make subtle changes to their "West Side Story" show.  The opening statement is much more effective, with the famous three big chords used by The Cadets and many other corps in the past during “WSS” shows now aimed straight at the crowd and elongated to maximize the impact. 

The transition to the fast-paced "America" ending to the opener is also different, with the brass taken out and only the pit playing, allowing the brass a chance to catch their breath before kicking into high gear. The horn line seemed to be on for most of the show, especially at the big hit of "I Have a Love," probably the loudest moment of the night for all the corps. 

The guard shined as well tonight, showing off their dance skills during "Cool."  Unfortunately, the closer is still the weakest part of the show and the level of the brass performance dropped considerably once the closer began.  The ending is insane from a drill standpoint and, once the corps reaches the comfort level they need to be at, this show becomes a championship contender.

With the addition of electronic instrumentation this year, many corps have taken advantage of the new options available to them.  Some have simply added musical voicings like piano or bass.  Others have added sound effects in line with their particular show theme. 

Holy Name Cadets, Allentown, PA
Photo by Pat Chagnon
Courtesy of Drum Corps World

The Glassmen have taken the techno route during their show, "The Journey of One," with the use of a MIDI drum pad in the pit, generating a pulsing electric sound along with the standard pit and marching percussion during the drum feature in the middle of their performance.  The effect is definitely different than what the average drum corps fan is used to, but is also very effective, adding to the drive and excitement of the drum feature. 

That excitement went beyond the scope of the drum solo tonight as the brass had a very strong performance from the first note to the last. The trumpets were especially tight tonight and are definitely the leaders of the horn line in 2009.  This is a very aggressive and exciting show for the Glassmen and, when the corps is on like they were tonight, it’s a show that engages the audience.

The Crossmen’s 2009 program, "Forbidden," is very dark and foreboding, as the title signifies.  With music like Samuel Barber’s "Medea" and Evanescence’s "My Immortal," it’s very clear what the mood of the show is.  Unfortunately, at this early stage of the season, the corps is still working on selling the program to the people in the stands.  The emotional impact of the performance is not at the level it needs to be. 

Part of the problem is the continuing lack of guard uniforms due to manufacturing issues, but there are also technical points with the performance that are getting in the way.  The corps has had a difficult start to the season, with bus breakdowns, an off-field issue, along with the guard uniform delay, and there are also many facets to the show that have not been added to the design at this point.  Watch out for the Crossmen once they hit their stride because the talent is definitely there to take this show where is needs to go.

One of those contenders made their 2009 debut tonight, unveiling their brand new uniforms in the process.  Teal Sound, complete with rock band, invited fans to join them on the other side of "The Velvet Rope."  With many shows tonight featuring music from the likes of Bernstein, Holsinger, Barber and other contemporary classical and wind ensemble composers, Teal Sound has gone an entirely different route to feature music from Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Coldplay and the Blue Man Group. 

While Teal is an Open Class corps, they are most definitely marching a full-sized corps and have the full-sized sound to match.  The tubas, especially, are working very hard and are featured more than once throughout the show.  Unfortunately, the previously mentioned "rock band" doesn’t add to the show as much as they could as their volume is kept in check, taking the rock edge out of their performance. 

Overall, though, Teal is picking up where they left off after last year and will make some noise in Michigan City and Indianapolis at the end of the season.

Capital Regiment seems to tempting fate every time they take the field with their 2009 program, "The Storm," as, more often than not, the weather seems to appreciate their show theme as much as the audience.  Fortunately, one of the props in the guard is a set of umbrellas, which benefited more than the guard as, at one point, a trumpet soloist also received shelter from the elements during the ballad. 

Equipment work was not limited to the guard either, as the drum line joined in on flags during the ballad, adding to the visual effect of the moment.  The sounds of thunder echoed throughout the performance, which may have made a few fans look up to the sky in apprehension, but were timed well with impacts in the show and added to the effect.  There are still some issues with this show, notably the tubas, which need to open up their sound and balance the rest of the horn line, but the overall performance was strong.

Revolution have come out of the gate hard and strong for 2009, defeating Capital Regiment last night in their first head-to-head meeting.  While the corps switched spots with one another tonight, Revolution’s "ElementALL" program provide the Revo team with a very strong vehicle to showcase their talent.  The low brass is exceptional, filling the stadium with their sound and power, and there’s no doubt the drum line can dominate the competition, as they did tonight. 

The corps doesn’t just sound good either, as the marching program is such that the members look like champions.  With each Open Class corps taking at least one caption at tonight’s show, a third-place finish tonight is nothing to feel bad about as the race for the top spot in Open Class features many strong contenders.

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Posted by on Sunday, July 19th, 2009. Filed under DCW On-Line.