2011 DCW On-Line: Bridgeport, Connecticut

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by Bill Flaker, Drum Corps World staff (wrflaker [at] aol [dot] com)

June 27, 2001 – Bridgeport, CT . . . The 2011 DCI New England tour opened up in grand fashion this evening with a large crowd on hand at Kennedy Stadium. The weather was perfect, while fellow DCW staff writer Timothy “Ace” Holleran served as the emcee for the event. As always, he did a great job keeping fans informed and entertained.

Making their first Bridgeport appearance since 1964, the Madison Scouts swept all captions with their 2011 show, “New York Morning.” The program honors that eventful day of September 11, 2001 and the tragedy that occurred in New York City. A solo tuba at midfield playing Oh What A Beautiful Morning opens the musical production as the brass line enters with a wall of sound to New York, New York.

The color guard is outfitted in gray business suits while carrying their briefcases and daily New York Times newspapers. The horn line builds in volume as they kneel while playing, surrounded by yellow silks. The 18 tubas are impressive to watch as the horn line displays several different body visuals throughout.

The design team has to be given much credit for choosing a ballad as the closing number as the Scouts perform Empire State of Mind. A nice baritone soloist is circled by white silks, followed by a trumpet duet as the volume of the horn line increases in volume with each note. The battery brings out Brazilian surdo drums to enhance the musical presentation as the color guard joins in across the front side line playing cymbals and drums as well.

Fans are already on their feet as the number grows and grows with volume and intensity. The goosebumps were felt throughout the stadium as the Madison Scouts swept all captions en route to victory this evening. Without a doubt this is a must-see show that is entertaining, powerful and emotional and it will leave drum corps fans wanting more.

Boston Crusaders, Boston, MA, 2011. (Drum Corps World photo by Pat Chagnon)

Our hosts for the evening, the Boston Crusaders, are using music from the Broadway hit “Les Miserables” in their program, titled “Revolution.” The front percussion ensemble opens the musical book as the horn line spreads across the front sideline. The drill is fast-paced, with a very balanced sound from the horn line displaying many body visuals at center stage. The color guard is dressed red, white and blue French-style uniforms and uses solid lime-colored silks in the opening set.

The brass line moves in files to the right end zone while playing to the backfield, as the percussion section moves to the left end zone, leaving a solo saber on the field. The rifle line leads the brass from the end zone in a parade formation with large tosses mixed in among the horns.

The percussion feature is solid, with many body visuals and rifle tosses, ending in a full field spread. A baritone soloist gives way to a trumpet soloist in Bring Him Home as sabers and solid red silks fill the field, the number ending quietly, still in a full field spread.

The “1812 Overture” and “Festival Overture” is up-tempo and rapid-fire as the horn line ends the presentation spread across the front sideline. The Boston Crusaders are presenting a very fan-friendly program that is enjoyable to watch and will only strengthen as the season moves along.

The first standing ovation tonight went to Spirit of Atlanta with their 2011 program, “ATL Confidential: A Tribute to Film Noir.” Entering the field carrying bar stools, street lights, ladders and anything else they can find, Spirit is presenting a highly visual show. Large black panels placed across the front sideline are used to hide the many guard changes. The horn line grabs your attention right away as five trumpets at center stage open the show.

The guard uses black and white silks and tosses that were very well-timed to the musical charts. The big sound coming from the brass had fans on their feet at the end of the opener. The front percussion ensemble adds much to the visual presentation as the drill gains in momentum. The guard displays a well-timed silent weapons toss and uses pink silks with red lips on them that are very well-designed.

The Harlem Nocturne number is upbeat, loud= and highly entertaining, with flying rifles as the percussion line stands on chairs while playing. A big band atmosphere fills the field with sound and a highly visual package as multi-colored silks are displayed across the front sideline. Sirens are heard as the drill gains speed while the horn line pushes to the stands in a wall of sound.

In the opinion of many fans and this writer, the most underrated show this evening was that of the 2011 Crossmen. No gimmicks or props, but just straight-out drum corps that gets the job done and was very well-received by fans. The trumpet line at center stage begins with the rest of the corps in a full field spread during the opener of Ursa Major. The color guard is decked out in solid purple uniforms while using purple and yellow silks. The horn line is very well-balanced with a quality sound.

The front percussion ensemble displays a vast amount of showmanship while the battery is tight and moves well across the field. A third-place finish in music tonight will keep the Crossmen in the battle for a finalist spot. The lack of visual content may come back to haunt them as it is evident on the scoring recap. The rock number Spinning Wheel begins with a trumpet solo and body visuals by the horn line before a big park and play ends the number.

The ballad of Hallelujah was softly done with dancers at midfield while white silks filled the field and give way to the brass line kneeling and playing. Brass ended this number in a large arc across the backfield. The closer of Back Home features the brass line building in volume and a rapid ending drill pattern. The Crossmen are presenting a very fan-friendly show and with more of a visual boost they will surely climb in the standings.

Jersey Surf has a production titled “Petal Tones: Shades of Rose,” with the corps entering from the right goal line and the color guard in lime green uniforms with flowering headgear. White picket fences with different colored roses on them are placed across the front sideline to accent the show’s theme. The guard is very large and is well-trained in their role portrayals.

The opening set has the battery in a circle set to the right side of the field while the horn line displays many different body poses. A lone snare drum opens the musical charts as the horn line plays to the backfield before turning to the stands. The guard uses solid purple silks with well-timed rifle tosses across the front sideline. The ballad is Kiss From a Rose with a strong baritone soloist as the white fences are placed around the field with bright orange silks and large saber tosses adding to the visual presentation.

The horn line lies on the ground playing Tango de Roxanne which was nicely designed. The closing number of Toreador Song has the guard with solid black silks set to the right as the horn line pushes to the stands, ending the program. Jersey Surf has all the tools in place to be highly successful, but the performance level needs to increase, which I’m sure will happen.

The Spartans were the victors in Open Class, taking all captions except ensemble visual with their “Midnight” program. The color guard is positioned across the front and back sidelines and sets the mood for this darkened show in their role portrayal. The front percussion ensemble and their haunting musical notes opens the production while the horn line is set at midfield in a block form.

The color guard is large and well-trained, using pink and purple silks for the opening number with a strong weapons section. The horn line produces a good quality sound while the battery moves very well across the field through their drill assignments. The cymbal line of four is entertaining to watch as this program is well-written and the visuals demonstrated by the brass and percussion were nicely done. The closer is rapid-paced in drill design as the forms divide and reconnect while the brass line forms a wedge toward the front, then ends in files at center stage. A very impressive start for the Spartans and high expectations are in sight for 2011.

I have seen the growth of 7th Regiment since they began in 2002 and have watched them steadily improve each year. Their program in 2011 is “(un) Square” as the corps begins by playing to the backfield while the color guard uses bright orange silks. A very nice trumpet soloist is showcased as the remainder of the horn line displays different body poses. The color guard has greatly improved since last year and is well-trained. They have increased their role in the presentation even more.

The front percussion ensemble is talented, but needs more performance attitude to present to the fans and judges. Unsquare Dance has the corps removing and tossing their hats aside while the brass line splits and gives way to the battery at center stage. The brass line then parks and plays at before ending in files up front with various body poses. The 7th Regiment is a very much improved unit and looks to move up from their seventh place finish at last year’s DCI Open Class World Championships.

A combined encore performance by the Madison Scouts and Boston Crusaders kept the fans in their seats as this was an excellent decision by both units to do this and give the fans their money’s worth.

Thanks to chief judge Paul Cain, Karen Dillard and the staff of the Boston Crusaders for their superb hospitality. It was an excellent evening of drum corps as all of the shows were fan-friendly.

Posted by on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011. Filed under DCW On-Line, FrontPage Feature.