DCW On-Line: Greendale WI

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BDB Continues Open Class Lead

August 6, 2010 — Greendale, WI . . . Greendale High School stadium provided the venue for the second annual ?Music on the March,? featuring some of the top performers in Open Class competition.

The home of the 1960s? Spectacle City Mariners, the South Milwaukee community is no stranger to drum corps, turning out in mass — to include a few large tailgate parties — for tonight?s show.

The 2010 season is down to the wire and the stress has become more evident on everyone?s faces; not to mention there?s renewed intensity coming from each remaining performance.


Blue Devils B continues to be unstoppable as the clock ticks down to finals week — and the possibility of a second gold medal looms on the horizon.  So far on this tour no one has been able to come within four points of the Concord group.

This year?s production, ?Space,? has provided the medium to break through the younger sibling shell of the ?other? Blue Devils and allowed BDB to put its own mark on the wall.  The opening music from Interstellar Suite, with its ebb and flow of musical colors and rhythms, is packed with the essentials of a drums corps? musical dream come true.

For BDB it opens with the phenomenal dance routine of Justine Cabugos that borders on an athletic event.  They are one of the few Open Class corps incorporating electronics on a large scale — especially in the opening half of the show.  But the arrangements are such that they blend very well with the musicians on the field, definitely a lesson other groups can learn from.

The highlight of the night was Imogen Heap?s Aha!  The closer can best be described as musical mayhem as they push the lively number through a series of styles and tempo changes.  But from this chaos comes a moment of sanity with the soaring duet of mellophone Lucas Tejwani and tuba Jay Black before the mayhem returns for the final push.

The Oregon Crusaders continue to come on hard with every intention of holding strong to the second-place position, while energizing their focus on closing the gap with BDB.  Leading the scramble for the top spot is the trademark strength of their horn line.  Coming within eight-tenths of a point of BDB, the brass attack reached levels fans have not heard since their 2004 production, ?Metro Metal.?

Of particular note is the arrangement of The Dance with Flames used to open the show.  Arno Elias? new age meditation soundtrack under OC?s baton is a potent overture that quickly grabs the audience?s attention.

Unfortunately, while Kingfishers Catch Fire is musically assertive in the OC tradition, the visual design is out of sorts with its simplistic style in relation to the more aggressive approach used throughout the rest of the show.

Revolution?s ?Fade to Black,? without exception, is the most intense and masterfully produced Open Class concept show this season.  While some may consider the theme esoteric for a drum corps production, the performers? tireless energy and precision keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.  This success could only be achieved with the talented designers and performers who make up this year?s line-up.

Thanks to the stadium?s irregular lighting, the haunting production was able to visually capitalize on the large shadows across the field.  Revolution?s percussion performance was artistry in motion and sound.  Despite the evening?s high humidity, the battery delivered an exceptionally clean show.  This is made even more impressive with the challenging visual they work the music around.

One of the notable changes in tonight?s performance came at the tail end of the closer with the theatrical death of ?good.?  This time ?good? was left to lay on the field until the rest of the corps made its way off, which provided quite a stir in the stands.

The Raiders? color guard continues to give the much larger Blue Devils B visual troupe a run for their money.  Small but mighty, the seven-member section has to do it all — flags to weapons to dance — to be effective on the field.  And it?s a challenge they have fully embraced, displaying talent and versatility other organizations only dream about.

The two color guard soloists continue to stay on top of their game.  Amber Kay delivers the touching solo flag routine to open and close the ballad from Exhilaration.  And the finale opens with the vibrant dance solo of Jen Douhue.  Both of these fine performers delivered a command performance tonight.

Coming off the eastern Open Class tour, this was the Colt Cadets? first competition with tonight?s line-up since a week ago in DeKalb.  And what a difference a week makes as the Iowa corps enjoyed an almost three-point gain tonight and bringing them within a point and a half south of the Raiders.

Their efforts were helped in part by the exceptionally strong performance of their brass line, taking third behind the Oregon Crusaders.  Only a week ago they were trailing well behind Revolution and the Raiders.

It may be a stretch to the theme, but the sentimental ballad from ?Wicked,? For Good, works rather well between the show?s two popular, power-packed features.  More importantly, the number is an opportunity for the audience to gain an appreciation of the full range of musical gifts these performers possess.

Blue Devils B
Drum Corps World photo by Francesca DeMello

Forté continues to hold its own in the middle of the pack and has begun to initiate some show changes in preparation for finals week.  The most notable are a collection of musical teasers as they set the field for the opener.  It was like ?Trivia Pursuit? in the stands as the audience tried to guess each musical slice.

According to corps director Chris Green, ?We have a couple more surprises coming next week [in Indianapolis].?

The skillful proficiency of the solo performers is Forté?s ace up their grey sleeves, yet these four individuals do not overshadow the talent of the rest of the horn line.  Mellophone Gage Tellez and trumpets Nathan Banegas, Patrick Hand and Josh Jones are strong talent to pull from and have provided some of the most memorable performances of the Open Class corps.

Although they did not see any new points added to their score, the Texas corps learns fast from mistakes, which has been the cornerstone of their already successful first year.

With a spring in their step and heads held a little higher, the Racine Scouts entered the stadium to cheers from the nearly-hometown crowd.

Their production, ?Fascinating Rhythms — the Music of George Gershwin? — enjoyed its finest performance of the season. 

Baritone Conner Heilen kicked off Summertime and handed off to trumpet soloist Amy Chaffee to add the punch for this fine opener that?s conventionally performed as a ballad.  But the Scouts? arrangement has made it into a memorable first number.

I Loves You, Porgy came alive with the solo work of baritone Conner Heilen and trumpet Danny Ricketts, interlaced with the dance solo by Deanna Durbin.

The Racine group did unveil a new closing segment tonight that builds on a reprise of some of the earlier themes and brings the musicians in a fast-paced drill to the edge of the sidelines.

For Les Stentors, ?A New Day? serves not only as the name of this year?s production, but also represents the success this organization has been enjoying on the competition field.  Beginning with the sassy opener, Grace Kelly, the tone is set for 12 minutes of musical fun and mischief by the Canadian corps.  Rock et Belles Oreilles Medley remains a crowd favorite and the dancing bass drum feature always gets them clapping.

Although their score dropped a couple of points tonight, their music remains alive and vibrant, and continues to draw in the audience.  Unfortunately, the execution of the drill is their Achilles heel and will need more work before Tuesday?s quarterfinals.

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

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Posted by on Wednesday, August 25th, 2010. Filed under DCW On-Line.