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Big, Loud, and Live 8 Review


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#1 losnickes

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 12:58 PM

This review will be very opinionated. I do not intend to offend anybody, but it will probably happen at some point.
 

This is a review of the Live Theater Cinecast, and therefore I will only be reviewing the corps that I saw. This is the last show I will get to see this season, so I will really make an effort to make this a great review for you all. So, without further adieu...

The Academy
Tempe, AZ

"(RE)"

I never thought much of The Academy. They certainly had my attention when they won the Open Class title in 2006, and I usually got to see them one time or another every year.

This year....WOW. It's as if those new uniforms afforded them otherworldly powers. Where in the world did these guys come from? In a word, I was flabbergasted.

The Academy uses Bach's "Little Fugue in G Minor" all throughout the show, and they have taken what some may find as kind of an annoying tune (I love it, personally) and turned it into a very entertaining show. The music utilized in this production is by far some of the greatest I've ever heard. The percussion also performed exceptionally well, topped only by their magnificent brass.

The visuals were both clean, and rather effective. The only shortcoming this show had (and it barely qualifies as a shortcoming) is the color guard. They weren't terrible, they just didn't particularly thrill me.

Overall, an outstanding performance from The Academy, and a perfect way to kick things off.
 

Glassmen
Toledo, OH

"My Mortal Beloved"

Here is where I may offend some people. This show is, to be blunt, garbage. "Garbage" is probably going too far, but this show is probably one of the worst I've ever seen.

I'm sure you have all seen at least one show where you were left thinking "What in the world just happened?" The Blue Devils' "Through a Glass, Darkly" was one of those shows for me, and "My Mortal Beloved" was another.

This show has a vampire theme to it, and it was only a matter of time, I suppose, before this was done by a drum corps. The music is depressing, the guard costumes are both creepy and an eyesore, and the Glassmen's overall performance level isn't up to par with previous years. I usually like the Glassmen, but I just can't get into this show.
 

Troopers
Casper, WY

"The Road Home"

When I first saw this show, I rather enjoyed it. But, every time after that, I enjoyed it a little less. When I saw it tonight, I was just bored. They played some great music, and played it very well, but it's just not one of those shows I can just watch over and over again.

The brass was this corps' biggest strength, and they take great advantage of it. The percussion was acceptably good, and the color guard was decent.

Overall, the Troopers did a good job, they just didn't impress me all that much (that's probably more my fault than it is their's).
 

Spirit of Atlanta
Atlanta, GA

"ATL Confidential: A Tribute to Film Noir"

Spirit of Atlanta is sitting in a top 12 Finals spot, but they aren't out of the woods yet. The Academy, Glassmen, and Troopers all could potentially take that spot away from them. Right now, Spirit as the advantage, but who knows?

"ATL Confidential" is a very cool show. It's fun to watch, and fun to listen to. The movie quotes played throughout the show were neat, but got a little annoying after a while. It didn't ruin the show, but it didn't necessarily help it, either.

The "Night Club" scene is my favorite part of this whole show. The snares play on bar stools, and the music from the brass is a lot of fun. The color guard didn't particularly enthrall me, but I know very little about the inner workings of color guard to pass fair judgement.

Spirit is probably looking at a return to Finals, and they certainly deserve it. I'd like to see that phenomenal Academy make finals, too, but I'm not holding my breath.
 

Blue Stars
La Crosse, WI

"ReBourne"

I've been perplexed all season as to why this show is placing so low. Tonight, however, I wasn't as much.

The Blue Stars seemed a little off tonight. Does anyone else agree? They still put on an excellent performance, but I can definitely see why it's placing so low, especially when it's stacked up against some of these other performances.

I never much cared for the "Bourne" movies, but seeing them in a drum corps show was very fun to watch, and the Blue Stars do it very well. The brass didn't seem as delightfully overwhelming as it has in the past. Maybe it's because I was hearing it all through speakers. If you were there, please tell me if you thought they were weaker than usual.

The percussion is just as awesome and fun to watch as they were last year. The Blue Stars can really put on a show, and I'm sure they'll be a crowd favorite, despite their placement.
 

Blue Knights
Denver, CO

"An English Folk Song Suite"

This show continues with the crowd-friendly direction they started going in last year, and audiences everywhere have been eating this show up.

The musical selection works especially well, because it's all music that everyone knows. If not a specific piece, you're probably familiar with the style. The music all blends seamlessly together, and the corps performs it beautifully.

The highlight of this show is definitely the drum feature, which includes members of the pit emulating some very precise Scottish drumming, and it's extremely entertaining, and I could tell the crowd was loving it, and I was loving it. The Blue Knights are FINALLY a corps that everyone can enjoy.
 

Madison Scouts
Madison, WI

"New York Morning"

At the beginning of the season, everyone was going crazy for that outstanding brass-tastic closer, "Empire State of Mind." Now that we're all over it, let's face some inconvenient truths:

The visuals in this show are extremely lacking at several parts of the show. It seems like it's mostly scatter sets and "follow the leader" drills. I don't know about you, but for me, that gets really old really fast.

The color guard is dreadfully boring (at least it is to me). I honestly don't know if they're performing well or not (I'm not a color guard guy), but they aren't really entertaining me.

All of this, however, can be forgiven, because the brass section compensates for any shortcomings the Madison Scouts have this year. This is one of the best hornlines of the year, by far.

The closer is absolutely phenomenal. I could listen to that sucker over and over again. Robert W. Smith arranged one heck of a closer.
 

Boston Crusaders
Boston, MA

"Revolution"

This show is a bit better than when I last saw it, but I'm still not loving it. I can see the connection between "Les Miserables" and "1812," but I just don't think they work together that well. I love "1812," and I love "Les Miserables." I also love hamburgers, and I love Lucky Charms, but I wouldn't put those two things together.

However, I think Boston moves better this year than they ever have before (at least since I can remember). If they can move like that next year and put on an awesome show like...say...2003, they will be an even more serious contender than they already are.

I think we all need to give an enormous pat on the back to that Baritone soloist. That takes some serious guts. I can honestly say I don't think I could handle that kind of pressure.
 

Santa Clara Vanguard
Santa Clara, CA

"The Devil's Staircase"

I want to say first that I loved how Brandt Crocker said at the beginning of the show, "Imagine you're in hell, and you want out." Anything that Brandt Crocker says is magical, and something other than a traditional corps announcement is always a treat to hear from him.

I'm not going to say anything different from what I've said before. This show, while strange, is outstanding. They were a little rough around the edges early in the season, but they've cleaned everything up, and they are on fire now.

The brass, in my opinion, is the strongest part of this corps this year. They play the snot out that weird music, and it's hard not marvel at the complexity of the visuals that they're pulling off.

I have one complaint, however. I may have just missed it, but I didn't notice the cymbal line do the "Viper." Did they get rid of it?
 

Bluecoats
Canton, OH

"Brave New World"

I haven't really cared for this show all that much all season. But when I saw it in the theater, for some reason, I was really liking it.

"Creep" is a great opener. I think we can all agree that they did a good job with that one. "Deus Ex Machina," however, is just strange. The whole quadraphonic sound idea is definitely neat, and very innovative, but it sounds far from spectacular. It's really just a large portion of the show that's just sort of 'there.' It's not bad, it just isn't anything special.

"Harvest," being a John Mackey piece, is very difficult to put on the football field and still make it sound good. The Bluecoats are the only ones that I've seen do an excellent job of it. I noticed some big differences in the arrangement from past shows, and it's a lot better.

The Bluecoats also have a new ending, which ends with a big company front, and they reprise the "Creep" opener.
 

Phantom Regiment
Rockford, IL

"Juliet"

Phantom Regiment has finally fixed all the problems with their show. As you all probably know, one of the biggest problems was the fact that it was hard to get the whole "Juliet" concept out of it. The new ending completely eradicates this problem, and a few others.

As "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral" begins, the drum major descends from his podium, and makes his way towards the center of the field, where he poisons himself, and slowly dies. Steve Rondinaro said it best when he said "It isn't a Phantom show without a dead drum major." Juliet rushes up the podium with a dagger, which has pretty much been the way this show has ended all season. The hornline blasts the audience with one final massive chord, and tops all of this excellence with a nice, powerful kick-halt.

This is going to be a Phantom Regiment favorite. I can already tell.
 

Carolina Crown
Ft. Mill, SC

"Rach Star"

This is probably one of the cheesiest drum corps shows I have ever seen, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. While this show is extremely cheesy, it's incredibly fun. They blend the "Rock" and "Rachmaninoff" so nicely that you almost don't notice any difference. They've taken an almost laughable show concept and made something spectacular.

There wasn't a single weak section in this corps. Everyone was performing exceptionally well, especially the brass, which is definitely their biggest strength (big surprise, I know).

I really don't have anything new to say about this show. Everyone knows by now that it's extremely well done. I don't think they'll be moving past 4th place, but they definitely need to watch out for Phantom after that spectacular performance.
 

The Cavaliers
Rosemont, IL

"XtraordinarY"

This show is pure insanity. You have to watch this show several times to see all the stuff that's going on, and just when you think you've seen everything, they throw in even more crazy stuff.

This show is strong and "in-your-face" all the way through. They're performing some extremely complex drill (even for them) and they are executing it very well.

Obviously, The Cavaliers' visual is their biggest strength, but we can't deny the power of their hornline this year. They've always had a great hornline, but this year they seem even better. They play some fun music, and they play the pants off of it.

I'll fill you in on some of their latest little tricks. There are really only two significant ones that I noticed: at the end, they have horn players on stilts, and they've turned one more thing upside-down: the drum major! The Assistant drum major flips the head drum major upside-down, and he conducts the ending of the show like that. It was a perfect blend of hilarity and awesomeness.

The Cavaliers are sitting in third, but I wouldn't count them out just yet.
 

The Cadets
Allentown, PA

"Between Angels and Demons"

These last few years, a good Cadets show has been hard to come by. This is one of those years, however, when we are lucky enough to get an awesome Cadets show.

The whole "Angels vs. Demons" concept is easy enough to understand, especially with the two different uniforms. It's a classic "good vs. evil" idea, and they don't go too over the top, so it's very easy to follow, which makes the average idiot fan able to enjoy it.

The brass performs exceptionally well. I personally love the opening hit of "Angels in the Architecture," and the whole "160 BPM" is a lot of fun, too.

I think most will agree that the "battle scene" with the hornline twirling those poles is probably the highlight of this show. That whole section was very well done.

Unfortunately, they lost an Angel snare player (to a hip injury, I believe), so that kind of throws off some of the visual effects, but it doesn't really ruin the show, so it's not big deal.
 

Blue Devils
Concord, CA

"The Beat My Heart Skipped"

It's hard for me to like most Blue Devil shows. They have their own style, and it rarely does much for me. They have a lot of fans, so I'm assuming it does something for a lot of people, just not me.

I really liked this show, but they tweaked some of the arrangements since I last saw it, and it doesn't really thrill me anymore. They changed the trumpet solo at the beginning, which was one of my favorite parts.

However, they took some great music, and made it even better. They played the snot out of Burt Bacharach, and it was phenomenal.

The props really don't add anything spectacular. They don't clutter up the field, but they don't really need to be there, in my opinion.

This is an excellent show, but in my opinion, this is not a first place show.
 

Now, the scores were a bit surprising, which shows what an interesting weekend we have ahead of us:

15. The Academy (82.100)
14. Troopers (82.700)
13. Glassmen (82.950)
12. Spirit of Atlanta (85.500)
11. Blue Stars (86.900)
10. Madison Scouts (88.500)
9. Blue Knights (88.700)
8. Boston Crusaders (90.200)
7. Bluecoats (91.800)
6. Santa Clara Vanguard (91.850)
5. Phantom Regiment (94.150)
4. Carolina Crown (94.800)
3. The Cavaliers (96.450)
2. Blue Devils (96.850)
1. The Cadets (97.350)

#2 Str8Legs4Days

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 08:00 AM

Was following until you said Vanguard brass was the best of the night.

#3 losnickes

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 11:01 AM

Was following until you said Vanguard brass was the best of the night.


I never said they were the best of the night, just the best part of the corps.

#4 fsubone

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 12:14 AM

Santa Clara Vanguard
Santa Clara, CA

"The Devil's Staircase"

I want to say first that I loved how Brandt Crocker said at the beginning of the show, "Imagine you're in hell, and you want out." Anything that Brandt Crocker says is magical, and something other than a traditional corps announcement is always a treat to hear from him.

I'm not going to say anything different from what I've said before. This show, while strange, is outstanding. They were a little rough around the edges early in the season, but they've cleaned everything up, and they are on fire now.

The brass, in my opinion, is the strongest part of this corps this year. They play the snot out that weird music, and it's hard not marvel at the complexity of the visuals that they're pulling off.

I have one complaint, however. I may have just missed it, but I didn't notice the cymbal line do the "Viper." Did they get rid of it?
 



It's great to see someone think the SCV show is great, and the hornline is doing well. I think they had a great brass line this year, but with the dissonant music, it usually made them sound worse than they actually were.


They did do the Viper, I can't remember exactly where, but it was in there. This would be a time for DCI to bring back the drum cam on the DVD, so I could look for it.

Always march if you have the chance to do it. Or else you will always regret it and complain about it on the internet

 

At the end of the day, it's not the instrumentation, but the excellence and experience of performance that makes drum corps special

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Stand for something, or you'll fall for everything





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