DCW On-Line: Dayton OH

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Spartans chalk up a strong win at Ohio “Summer Classic”

August 8, 2010 ? Dayton, OH  . . . The Dayton ?Summer Classic? has become one of the top regular season shows on the Open Class circuit.  As one of the last shows of the season before DCI Quarter-finals, the scores earned at Dayton play a pivotal role in determining the performance order in Michigan City.

Because of this, Dayton is a chance for drum corps fans to see Open Class corps at the top of their game and this year was no exception. The Spartans continued their triumphant return to the field, finishing the regular season on top.  Music City, 7th Regiment and Legends all finished within less than a point, establishing a tight race in the middle of the finalist contenders. Genesis, Velvet Knights and Blue Saints rounded out the junior corps competitive ranks, while Spirit of Newark performed in exhibition.  Cincinnati Tradition competed as an all-age corps, continuing their preparations for DCA Championships on Labor Day weekend.


If you saw the Spartans tonight, you would think that the past two years had never happened. Everything about the corps hearkens back to the DCI Division II championship corps of 2007, right down to Key Poulan?s brass book and a champion color guard.  The theme of ?Fire Dance? fits the Spartans perfectly, combining intensity with mysteriousness throughout the show. 

The guard uniforms evoke the theme as well, utilizing fiery colors without overpowering the eyes. The visual power extended to the entire corps, taking General Effect and Ensemble Visual along with the guard trophy. The only weakness for the corps is in the brass, which placed fourth tonight, as the horns don?t generate as much excitement as the rest of the program, although more than enough to put the Spartans into medal contention for Indianapolis.

Music City has made a huge leap from 2009 to 2010.  After just missing finals last year, the corps has jumped into the middle of the finalist pack with their show dedicated to the majesty of the Mississippi, ?River Sounds.?  The show depicts a trip down Ol? Man River, which features prominently throughout the show.  The trip starts in St. Louis with a swingin? arrangement of St. Louis Blues March.  Lovers enjoy a night on the deck as the corps performs a medley of Ol? Man River, I Can?t Help Falling In Love and Mississippi Suite.

A storm forces everybody to ?batten down the hatches? during the drum solo, but then the boat docks in New Orleans and the fans are treated to the classic When the Saints Go Marchin? In. The show flows like a river, as does the music, carrying the corps to caption awards in Music General Effect, Brass Performance and Ensemble Music.  Music City has shown that they are a corps on the move and will ride the current into finals this year.

Legends and 7th Regiment both celebrated their first finals appearance last year.  Both have built off that success this year.  Tonight, both tied for third with shows that compliment one another.  Legends focused on Mt. Vesuvius and the city of Pompeii with their show, ?Ruins,? performing music that evoked the grandeur of the Roman Empire as well as the power of a volcano.  The Michigan corps marches like champions, which gave them a significant 0.6 advantage in Visual Performance, while Percussion Performance went to Legends by 0.8.

7th Regiment?s show, ?Macabre,? looked at the dead, complete with a coffin in the backfield housing a dead body.  The opener, Danse Macabre, evoked images of the dancing skeletons, while A Long, Long Time Ago focused on the mystery of death and what comes afterward.  The guard had fun with this show, using more dead-body props during the drum solo.  If these shows place back to back at championships, it will be completely appropriate.

Genesis continued their successful inaugural season, performing a selection of Stan Kenton standards that are also drum corps standards.  Opening with a strong statement of Queen Sabe from the ?Cuban Fire Suite,? the Texas corps quickly kicked into high gear with La Suerte de los Tantos.  This is almost required listening for any new drum corps fan and the corps did justice to the music with their arrangement and performance.

The mood and tempo changed with a swing arrangement of Autumn Leaves, but ramped back up for the drum feature, Mambo Inn.  Brass soloists shined throughout the performance, especially during the closer, MalagueƱa, when a trumpet trio leads us into the park-and-blow drum corps fans know so well.  Breaking 80 tonight, Genesis showed that the state of Texas is fast becoming a drum corps powerhouse.

Velvet Knights
Drum Corps World photo by Jeff Sallee

The Velvet Knights are much smaller than they were last year, but what they lack in size they more than made up for in pure zaniness.  What else would you expect from VK and another classic ?Magical Mystery Tour??  Taking the crowd from England to France and all points between, with an intense percussion book from drum corps and percussion legends Tom and Catherine Float, the high-topped hi-jinks don?t stop until well after the corps has left the field.

One of the more memorable moments of the show comes when the corps ?visits? India.  Putting their horns down, the corps evokes ?Slumdog Millionaire? and does the Jai Ho dance from the movie?s closing credits.  They close the show in France with Orpheus in the Underworld. Of course, this is just an excuse to get the guard in frilly skirts and do a Can Can dance.  After the show is over, VK fills one requirement of the corps — The scream of ?SHARK!!!? leading the corps to run for their lives off the field.

Danny Elfman has been a great source of music and inspiration for many drum corps for the past two decades.  This year, it?s the Blue Saints from Sudbury, ONT, as they look at ?The Darkness Within,? an apt description for Elfman?s music, which, even at it?s most uplifting, still evokes a dark, brooding nature.  The show opens with What?s This? from ?The Nightmare Before Christmas,? one of Elfman?s most popular movie scores, then starts heading down the dark path with the theme from ?Beetlejuice.?

The capes worn by the members reminded fans of Beetlejuice?s own clothing, with black and white stripes.  The Ice Dance from ?Edward Scissorhands? brings us back toward the light with a very beautiful ballad, but we quickly descend the rest of the way into darkness with Serenada Schizophrana, Elfman?s lone (so far) orchestral work.  The Blue Saints are a small corps with a lot of heart.  While taking on the music of Danny Elfman is no small task, the corps rises up to the challenge and is a joy to watch and listen to.

The Spirit of Newark left New Jersey with the goal of a week-long tour, culminating in Michigan City and Indianapolis.  Unfortunately, due to some members not being able to make the tour, Spirit of Newark ended up below the 30-member minimum required to compete in DCI.  As a result, DCI and the Dayton show staff graciously allowed the corps to perform in exhibition tonight.  This was a bonus to the fans as the corps presented a show comprised of the music of Styx, appropriately titled ?Kilroy Was Here,? featuring music from the rock opera and album of the same name.

All that was missing was a drawing of the famous Kilroy appearing in the show, but the corps more than made up for it by visiting the famous Mr. Roboto twice, at the beginning and the end of the show.  Considering that none of the members of Spirit of Newark were even alive when Mr. Roboto was released, it is only appropriate that we all say ?domo arigato, Spirit of Newark? for this show.

Cincinnati Tradition has been around since 1984, but this the first year the corps will compete in Class A at the DCA Championships in Rochester.  In order to prepare for what may be the biggest performance of the corps to date, Tradition competed at Dayton, judged on DCA sheets. The corps has gone with a Latin theme for 2010, performing a program titled ?Tradicion Hispana Sequnda Parte,? and features some hot brass soloists to go with the charts.

The guard fully embraces the theme, wearing uniforms of black dresses with red trim that would fit perfectly in a small Spanish Pyrenees town.  As the only competitive all-age corps in the state of Ohio, Tradition will do the Buckeye State proud Labor Day weekend.

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Posted by on Sunday, August 29th, 2010. Filed under DCW On-Line.