The closer, John Mackey?s Asphalt Cocktail, was an exception, bringing a high level of intensity to the field and ending the show on a very strong note. With less than two weeks until DCI Finals, it will take a full performance with that level of intensity to elevate the Bluecoats to the highest score possible.
Judging from the crowd?s reaction to their performance, you would think The Cadets were from Massillon as opposed to Allentown, PA, but their performance of ?Toy Souldier? was full of musical and visual moments that captivated and entertained the crowd. The top color guard of the night, complete with lead character ?Little Jeffrey,? drew fans into a world where a child?s imagination brings toy soldiers to life.
The horns and percussion joined in on the fun, especially during Howard Hanson?s Children?s Dance, complete with a drum solo where the drum line ?wound up? their way into a drumming frenzy. While the corps may not be contenders for the title at this point, this is a corps for whom ?late-season surge? is the rule, not the exception.
After last year?s fan-friendly ?Ballet for Martha,? the Santa Clara Vanguard pulled an about face for 2010 and chose the music of Bela Bartok, a design focused more on sophistication than crowd appeal. T he unfortunate side effect is that SCV has to be at their best from a performance standpoint to communicate the emotion of Bartok?s music.
Tonight, while there were moments when this communication occurred, the connection between corps and fans did not quite happen. This is not to denigrate the strong technical performance the corps gave tonight, especially from the horn line that defined the idea of dynamic contrast multiple times throughout. It will be very interesting to see if the corps can make that connection with the fans at Lucas Oil Stadium next week.
There is no doubt that the Madison Scouts have rediscovered their roots. The uniforms are a classic Scout design, complete with a full tie that the corps hasn?t worn since 1987. The music is also classic Madison, not even requiring a theme or show name. From the opening wail of Slaughter on 10th Avenue to the lush soloists in Rhapsody in Blue, the men from Madison, both on the field and in the design team, clearly understand their corps? history.
With the focus on the musical choices this year, though, it?s easy to overlook the kaleidoscopic drill John Vanderkolff has written, that the members bring to life on the field. The closing moments of Slaughter accompany vintage Vanderkoolf drill before forming the classic fleur de lis. Along with The Cadets, the Scouts earned their standing ovations tonight.
Drum Corps World photo by David Rice
While Vanguard has turned toward the esoteric, the Blue Knights have gone in the opposite direction, performing a show chock full of classical crowd favorites. Opening with a wonderful arrangement of Bizet?s Farandole, BK?s ?Europa? pays homage to various styles and composers of European classical music. Even with the turn to the accessible, the Blue Knights still introduce a new composition to the field with selections from Brahms? First Symphony, forming the bulk of the show?s closer.
The horn line performs with a huge sound, in part thanks to the King horns they use, but mainly due to the musicianship of the horn line members. The color guard is also very prominent, especially with the many uniform changes throughout the performance. It?s strange but great to say that this is one of the most entertaining shows the Blue Knights have put on the field in their history.
It was strange to see the crowd practically sit on their hands for the Troopers? 2010 program, ?Wanted,? but the corps appeared to have an off-night, an unfortunate situation for America?s Corps. While the opening visual of the horn line, in two lines on each side of the 50, performing a ripple collapse to the ground before rippling back up with their horns in hand, garnered approval from fans, the rest of the show, including a great musical moment near the end of the show utilizing Bon Jovi?s Wanted Dead or Alive, couldn?t elicit the same level of excitement.
The new ending, with Drum Major Corey Moore falling for a girl who then betrays him, stealing his gun and holding him with hands in the air, is a great touch which helps convey the concept. Fortunately, tonight?s performance was not normal for the Troopers, so those fans who will see them the rest of the season will not be disappointed.
Spirit has returned to their home in Atlanta and, to pay tribute to this major event, have designed a show of iconic music to help them fulfill their 2010 show theme, ?Forging an Icon.? Music both familiar and new, but all from major ?iconic? composers such as Prokofiev and Bernard Hermann, accompanied the guard as they acted out the forging of the famous Spirit delta, starting with hammers banging on stepstool ?anvils? and eventually ?forging? the ?icon?, held aloft by a guard member as the corps formed the delta on the field.
The closer, Emerson, Lake and Palmer?s Piano Concerto No. 1, really kicked the show into high gear and served as a strong ending statement. The scores reflected this, as Spirit broke the 80 mark for the first time this season.
Pioneer departed a bit from their regular Irish musical fare, focusing more on the core values of the organization with ?The Corps Prayer.?. Music eliciting the ideas of prayer and religion, such as Sandi Patti?s Make His Praise Glorious and David Gillingham?s Stained Glass, accompanied a member narrating the corps prayer, as well as the color guard utilizing a wooden cross prop.
The corps really kicked the energy level of their performance up tonight, which the crowd responded to. The opening Donny Allen arrangement of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, with the drum line proceeding down the 50 yard line like a New Orleans funeral, set the tone for the show. Even with the move away from the standard musical fare, there were moments when strains of Irish tunes reminded us that Pioneer is still true to their history.