DCW On-Line: South Milwaukee Review

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“Spectacle of Music” showcases seven World and Open DCI corps on July 1

July 1, 2009 – South Milwaukee, WI . . . The Madison Scouts have taken on a second show and this one occurred only three days after the traditional “Drums On Parade” on Sunday. They had only 90 days to pull this project off and, from all indications, it was relatively successful. Spirit from Jacksonville, AL, topped the roster with an enthusiastic rock music show.

Threatening weather probably had an effect on the walk-up crowd as the total attendance, according to representatives of the event, was around 700. The show was well-publicized, moreso than previous South Milwaukee shows over the past nine years. The “Spectacle” actually dates back to 1946 and it ran continuously until the mid-1970s, then was revived by a local committee in 2000.

The Alabama contingent looks great in their unique dark blue to white uniforms and they fielded a large set of brass, percussion and guard members. The controversy over their use of a bass guitar and string bass continues, but it does add a strong bottom to the musical production, reinforcing the small tuba section of seven.

The drum line is what keeps this show at or near the top, featured prominently throughout. The guard also handles challenging equipment work and sets of effective flags that go along with the rock group Kansas-inspired repertoire.

Colts once again showed off their striking red uniforms, spectacular flags and quite talented performers in the nautical-inspired show. For me – and everyone else – the highlight was the moving arrangement of “Ebbtide” to fill the middle of the show. Unique equipment like rowboat oars were used effectively and and the show is really starting to solidify.

Madison Scouts are making good progress cleaning their marching, but that seems to be partly what is holding them back right now. The ending of the show is also very dark and dissonant, while also not being as clear, theme-wise. The red sashes help the look of the uniform dramatically, but many have commented that white pants would make a huge difference in how the corps looks.

The guard cloaks at the beginning of the show are quite dramatic and build suspense up to when the “superhero” costumes are revealed. The fanfare-like music and high mark time are like an announcement that the character portrayed by the guard has come alive.

Once again, Pioneer is improving quickly and audiences are responding to the significant improvement in the corps’ overall demeanor. The members seem older, more mature and also more confident in what they’re performing. The drum line remains the strongest element of the Milwaukee corps’ show and the 18-member color guard is starting out the season with a more complete equipment book than the past few years.

In Open Class, the rejuvenated Capital Regiment is showing signs of being a strong contender for finals honors at the early-August DCI Championships. The uniform has been modified for a fresh look and the percussion section is one of the most significant contributors to the corps’ 2009 production. The small color guard is used effectively.

Capital Regiment, Columbus, OH
Photo by Harry Heidelmark
Courtesy of Drum Corps World

Rick Bays and his staff have to be quite proud of the strong showing this corps that has been off the field for two years is demonstrating now, especially considering that only one member returned from the 2006 corps and the balance of the membership is new to drum corps. This is an excellent comeback!

Revolution is another fine example of Open Class strength. They have made us of new pants that are grey in front and black in back . . . more effective than when The Cadets tried that alteration to their tranditional look. The horn line is solid and so is the percussion section. In fact, the color guard is as well and the impression that the larger corps presents is quite impressive.

This is a solid organization that just gets better each year. It’s kind of inspiring since Crossmen moved to San Antonio. The cross-town “competition” doesn’t seem to have had any effect on Revolution at all.

The Colt Cadets also have improved since the Sunday show as they travel in and out of Dubuque for the three shows this week in Middleton, South Milwaukee and Cedarburg, WI. The “nightmare” show is becoming more clear and the average age of this training unit for the Colts is turning into quite a nice competitor.

The show ran almost without a hitch – the only snag was a 15-minute delay to correct some hash marks that were in the wrong place. Otherwise, the weather held off, the adjusted time schedule held to the end and the Madison Scouts presented the post-show encore prior to the announcement of scores.

Local weatherman Bob Moore from the Fox affiliate in Milwaukee did an outstanding job keeping the program moving along, filling time between corps with not only the normal “canned” script from DCI, but lots of other interesting tidbits about the show, the corps and his love of the activity. He’s been the emcee at this show for the past several years and looks forward to returning each summer.

Hopefully the small turnout won’t discourage the Madison Scouts from jointly running this show again next year with the local Spectacle City, Inc. committee. For a show that had only 90 days to pull together, the people who ran this show should be commended.

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 9th, 2009. Filed under DCW On-Line.