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Found 41 results

  1. This week we are headed to Texas to celebrate a corps that is extremely regular to the top 12 but rarely makes the top 6. The Crossmen. What are your top 1-5 all time Crossmen shows? (Optional) What are your 1-3 least favorites from them? You can go into as much or little detail as you like but please please try to keep things positive. For a quick recap in case you missed it and/or want to add your contributions: Week 1- Cavies- 2006 the Machine is the favorite and 2012 15 min of fame is the least favorite. Week 2- Jersey Surf- 2012 Bridgemania favorite Week 3- Blue Knights-1994 Trittico for bras band favorite. least 2001Blue Toons Week 4- Spirit of Atlanta- 1980 favorite Week 5- Carolina Crown- Favorite: 2015 Inferno; Least Favorite: 2017 ...It is Week 6- The Mandarins- 2017 inside the ink for favorite. Week 7- Boston Crusaders- 2000 RED is the favorite. Week 8- Pioneer- 1996 Celtic Twilight is the favorite. Week 9- Santa Clara Vanguard- 1999 Inventions for a New Millennium favorite. 1995 Not the Nutcracker least favorite. Week 10- Oregon Crusaders 2014 Nevermore is the favorite
  2. We are staying on the West Coast this week but going north of California and celebrating one of the newer corps to world class competition the Oregon Crusaders. What are your top 1-5 all time OC shows? (Optional) What are your 1-3 least favorites from them? You can go into as much or little detail as you like but please please try to keep things positive. For a quick recap in case you missed it and/or want to add your contributions: Week 1- Cavies- 2006 the Machine is the favorite and 2012 15 min of fame is the least favorite. Week 2- Jersey Surf- 2012 Bridgemania favorite Week 3- Blue Knights-1994 Trittico for bras band favorite. least 2001Blue Toons Week 4- Spirit of Atlanta- 1980 favorite Week 5- Carolina Crown- Favorite: 2015 Inferno; Least Favorite: 2017 ...It is Week 6- The Mandarins- 2017 inside the ink for favorite. Week 7- Boston Crusaders- 2000 RED is the favorite. Week 8- Pioneer- 1996 Celtic Twilight is the favorite. Week 9- Santa Clara Vanguard- 1999 Inventions for a New Millennium favorite. 1995 Not the Nutcracker least favorite.
  3. Let's kick off the holiday season with the Corps with the most festive colors: Santa Clara Vanguard. What are your top 1-5 all time SCV shows? (Optional) What are your 1-3 least favorites from them? You can go into as much or little detail as you like but please please try to keep things positive. For a quick recap in case you missed it and/or want to add your contributions: Week 1- Cavies- 2006 the Machine is the favorite and 2012 15 min of fame is the least favorite. Week 2- Jersey Surf- 2012 Bridgemania favorite Week 3- Blue Knights-1994 Trittico for bras band favorite. least 2001Blue Toons Week 4- Spirit of Atlanta- 1980 favorite Week 5- Carolina Crown- Favorite: 2015 Inferno; Least Favorite: 2017 ...It is Week 6- The Mandarins- 2017 inside the ink for favorite. Week 7- Boston Crusaders- 2000 RED is the favorite. Week 8- Pioneer- 1996 Celtic Twilight is the favorite.
  4. Happy Thanksgiving! This week we are headed to Milwaukee for Pioneer. This group has been around a long time and had a lot of A60 and DII success. Looks like their best WC/DI success was 16th. What are your top 1-5 all time Pioneer shows? (Optional) What are your 1-3 least favorites from them? You can go into as much or little detail as you like but please please try to keep things positive. For a quick recap in case you missed it and/or want to add your contributions: Week 1- Cavies- 2006 the Machine is the favorite and 2012 15 min of fame is the least favorite. Week 2- Jersey Surf- 2012 Bridgemania favorite Week 3- Blue Knights-1994 Trittico for bras band favorite. least 2001Blue Toons Week 4- Spirit of Atlanta- 1980 favorite Week 5- Carolina Crown- Favorite: 2015 Inferno; Least Favorite: 2017 ...It is Week 6- The Mandarins- 2017 inside the ink for favorite. Week 7- Boston Crusaders- 2000 RED is the favorite.
  5. The first Thanksgiving was in Plymouth, Massachusetts so let's do Boston this week. What are your top 1-5 all time Boston Crusaders shows? (Optional) What are your 1-3 least favorites from them? You can go into as much or little detail as you like but please please try to keep things positive. For a quick recap in case you missed it and/or want to add your contributions: Week 1- Cavies- 2006 the Machine is the favorite and 2012 15 min of fame is the least favorite. Week 2- Jersey Surf- 2012 Bridgemania favorite Week 3- Blue Knights-1994 Trittico for bras band favorite. least 2001Blue Toons Week 4- Spirit of Atlanta- 1980 favorite Week 5- Carolina Crown- Favorite: 2015 Inferno; Least Favorite: 2017 ...It is Week 6- The Mandarins- 2017 inside the ink for favorite.
  6. Let's hit the west coast this week and discuss a corps coming off their most successful year: the Mandarins. What are your top 1-5 all time Mandarin shows? (Optional) What are your 1-3 least favorites from them? You can go into as much or little detail as you like but please please try to keep things positive. For a quick recap in case you missed it and/or want to add your contributions: Week 1- Cavies- 2006 the Machine is the favorite and 2012 15 min of fame is the least favorite. Week 2- Jersey Surf- 2012 Bridgemania favorite Week 3- Blue Knights-1994 Trittico for bras band favorite. least 2001Blue Toons Week 4- Spirit of Atlanta- 1980 favorite Week 5- Carolina Crown- Favorite: 2015 Inferno; Least Favorite: 2017 ...It is
  7. Interesting that someone would dig up the Carolina Crown thread overnight as I have been planning on doing Crown this week for awhile since I will be spending a long weekend in the Charlotte area this weekend. What are your top 1-5 all time Carolina Crown shows? (Optional) What are your 1-3 least favorites from them? You can go into as much or little detail as you like but please please try to keep things positive. For a quick recap in case you missed it and/or want to add your contributions: Week 1- Cavies- 2006 the Machine is the favorite and 2012 15 min of fame is the least favorite. Week 2- Jersey Surf- 2012 Bridgemania favorite Week 3- Blue Knights-1994 Trittico for bras band favorite. least 2001Blue Toons Week 4- Spirit of Atlanta- 1980 favorite
  8. I thought it would be cool to start a weekly thread about what performances we loved and didn't love about each corps. For week 2 we are headed to Denver to celebrate and discuss the Blue Knights What are your top 1-5 all time Blue Knights shows? (Optional) What are your 1-3 least favorites from them? You can go into as much or little detail as you like but please please try to keep things positive! I am a huge BK fan so my long answer will come later today- I am pumped for this thread. For a quick recap in case you missed it and/or want to add your contributions: Week 1- Cavies- 2006 the Machine is the favorite and 2012 15 min of fame is the least favorite...for now. Week 2- Jersey Surf- right now the favorite is 2012 Bridgemania... it's pretty unanimous.
  9. DCI is a little dry during the off season. I thought it would be cool to start a weekly thread about what performances we loved and didn't love about each corps. I am starting with the Cavaliers because I think they are easy to discuss without things getting out of hand or dying quickly. What are your top 1-5 all time Cavaliers shows? What are your 1-3 least favorites from them? You can go into as much or little detail as possible but please please try to keep things positive!
  10. Thanks for considering reading this wall of text. tl;dr No there are no conspiracies. There is virtually no herd mentality on the national level. Money nor reputation matters. Become a judge if you aren't already. Also--thank you if you're a fan of any of the pageantry activities. Not meant to be a dissertation, but a reflection of my many years of experience as a judge on the field and indoor. No I am not a DCI judge but I have been judging with DCI, WGI, and BOA national judges and have had many discussions with said men and women who are actively making these tough decisions. There appear to be several of us on here willing to share information so any input is very much appreciated. I am not speaking for every judge or even any group of judges but SPECIFICALLY to my experience. I'll be available for follow-up questions and concerns for a few days until this account and thread dies--if that's the case. ------------- 1) Herd Mentality Does not exist barring very few situations*. We judge the sheets. Particular to our caption, a unit can hit the sheets according to our eyeballs and our ears or it cannot. Sometimes there are difficult decisions that we have to make on the spot. We all see different things even within the same caption. Some judges are good enough to judge multiple captions. Ranks and ratings change for the same judge because they're judging a new caption. Also, when panels change, numbers will change as you have probably experienced in the past. It's absolutely unavoidable. Please also remember that there are separate numbers in what we see the designers intended to do and what the performers executed on that particular day/evening; i.e. vocabulary vs. excellence. It's the LEFT side and the RIGHT side respectively. It's not rocket science. We all have to trial judge for this and prove we can focus on our own caption and defend our numbers at critique and thereafter. *Note: Interestingly enough, every few shows a newer judge or trial judge will ask where I put a unit at any given point. I give them the neighborhood, e.g. high box 3, mid box 4, etc. but I'm very averse to providing an actual number as is anyone I have spoken with. Remember that we have fans only a few feet away from us in virtually every direction that can hear our conversations and are probably recording us on their smartphones. Why would we be idiots and mimic each other's scores? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. These days we can typically change our numbers for all units at the end of a round due to the mechanics of Competition Suite. It's a magical thing and it makes numbers management so much easier and more equitable. 2) Money We get a few hundred bucks or maybe a little more. It's not much. Expenses are paid if we are lucky. Rumors have it that nationals is just about the same or a little bit more but not much. This is a NON PROFIT activity. Enough said. We mostly do this because we think we can do it better than others and provide better input. We're not in this for the money--heck, we may be better off bartending for an evening. We do get the best view in the venue. That's why I do it--along with providing input to groups who actually give a **** as to improving their units. Most of us want the activity to grow and performers to get better; however, some judges are jerks who just want to criticize and call out things that are wrong because the units are not doing what they did 5, 10, or 50 years ago. It oftentimes gets tiresome in the judge's room and occasionally pisses me off. That's the main frustration I've had. We tend to argue when I encounter a judge who made a number I sorely disagreed with in a caption I've judged; there's a 50/50 chance I'll win and they'll rethink their numbers next time around if they're given the opportunity. We're otherwise complaining as to why we got a baked potato for a "meal." 3) Reputation This gets a little complicated. Many judges have obligations outside of judging. For example, several have contracts with percussion, winter guards, winds, marching bands, drill design, you name it. However, from my experience, it really doesn't matter. Our reputation is founded on the basis that we put down a number, record our commentary, and defend every ounce of it. We sometimes get stuck with a number we put down during an earlier part of the season and have to really back up any changes later in the season. As long as we reflect our APPROPRIATE number based on the sheet of our particular caption during that specific performance, it doesn't matter if we give 3rd place to a 12th place unit or vice versa. I've done it many times, "called" many shows, and still get asked to judge again. Judge's commentary is becoming more and more public, so I make sure to talk about the stuff I want my dear mother to hear as well as the unit staff and most importantly the performing members. When I hear from either the Chief Judge or a director that they played my commentary to their students, it means the world to me. Knowing they sacrificed several minutes of their valuable rehearsal time to listen to my exhausted hoarse voice makes my day. 4) Critique Sometimes a show will have a requirement for the judges to participate in critique sessions with the units. We may also get emails, phone calls, or texts about why a unit was ranked and rated as they were. This can get stressful. This is why we take notes. I keep my notes for at least 3 years. Every show is different. Some times I'll place a unit higher than another, and I take notes as to why (even though it's inappropriate to talk about other units during critique). Focus on your own show on your own caption and unit I always say. However, it's good for me to back up to the Chief Judge why I flip-flopped or made an uncanny or unpopular choice. I do it all the time. Most times people get it--they watch their competitors and see why they have fallen (or risen) in my particular caption. Critique allows us to gather input from the units and provide feedback beyond our recorded commentary. Heck I've unintentionally made a former colleague cry during critique. I've also had a situation when we had to get the Chief Judge to kick out an overdramatic irate director during critique. What really pisses us off is when someone only rants about their score without having listened to the commentary. All I can reference is my notes at that point. The commentary is not a part of my records but a part of yours. Do your homework. Listen to the commentary. 5) State of the Activity Plan on being angered! Many current judges should consider retiring. The activity has changed considerably in the past decade--let alone the past several decades--and corps art is not being recognized properly. The newer judges, about a third of any panel; if we're lucky, have still been removed from the activity for a decade or more. Yes, this is a traditional activity and that I quite understand. Furthermore, most design and tech staff who have been a part of the top competing units are of a separate generation with separate visions working alongside older generations with progressive acuities. There's a lot of subjectivity with the sheets and what is put on the field or floor. A few older judges see this. Most, however, don't. This is, in my honest opinion, the main disconnect between the overall numbers and what the fans want to see rewarded. So where is the activity heading? Which leads me to this: 6) Next Steps Trial judge. Regardless of your age. We need more judges. Many of you are analytical critical jerks and we really could use your help. Whether it's percussion, guard, winds, visual, brass, whatever. We need new blood in every activity. Please consider contacting a local circuit and start trialing. Before you know it, you may be judging state and regional championships and knocking on DCI, BOA, or WGI's doors. Just show up. That's half the battle. You're not running for office--you're helping develop youth and art. We just need new people with deductive mindsets willing to put in their experience and research to current events on the field and the floor. We're no better than you. The activity is changing too fast for most of us. Regardless, please stay a supporting member or fan of the marching & pageantry arts no matter what. The common sports have enough fans. Show up to all sorts of our musical and "artsy" competitions just because, well, reasons. Thank you. Edit: Changed title of thread. Edit: Here's a copy of the 2012 DCI sheets thanks to @Jeff Ream
  11. I'll start again by talking about what I've been listening to corps-wise and my thoughts about some of the reactions. The ones that have really killed me lately are the comments surrounding some of the Blue Devils programs, notably from 1985 and 1991. Got to love the Geiger-counter tenor feature at the beginning of the 1991 program, especially when you can get the digitally remastered copy. I read comments like... "THIS IS THE WAY BD SHOULD BE...." "THE REAL BD"..... Obviously, there's a short institutional memory bumbling around the Drum Corps internet. I remember that both of those shows were pretty controversial and thought of as downright weird in their day. It took several views for me to really appreciate what was in those programs. Now... people WANT them to be like that? Some folks are downright fickle, forgetful... or a bit too nostalgic. I figure some people want to know about STA Stadium. You can find pics of it on the net. It's pretty much a nice by the standards of Pennsylvania High School stadium. Bleachers, clean. Get there early to park. In the evening, sunset can get in your eyes due to the stadium facing, so have sunglasses or a hat with a wide brim for daylight portions of shows. The stadium view is quite good- I've had top 2 rows on the 50 seats the last 2 years as well as seen some fall shows from the box- you have a good unobstructed perspective and is plenty high enough- the only HS stadiums I've seen that might be better is Red Lion HS Stadium from a HS perspective. People with physical issues will want seats near the top of the stadium since you enter from the hilltop, not from field level. As for stadium food, it's inexpensive and typical fare, though I save serious eating for afterwards. The local homemade ice cream stand is excellent and when they have the Root Beer Floats, they're superb. Make time to stand in line for the ice cream. Driving to the venue, at least for me, is far less adventurous than for a Jersey contest or driving to work. It's not far off the main highway network. There are some slow areas up US 15... but you can make up for that if you have the car and are so inclined. (I do.) It's not Annapolis. in terms of venue. No other DCA venue was. I think the field is far better than Scranton for the performers and the view is superior to it, and I also think better acoustically just to compare. On to the actual contest...
  12. I will continue to edit this post to add more thoughts on the shows and also on various issues over the season. Fantastic DCI Finals overall! Congrats to all the marching members. You were all amazing and put on your best performances. Here is a quick synopsis of my thoughts. Madison Scouts - Excellent brass sound. Really got into the music. Was never sure about what I should be looking at or viewing visually. Sometimes just too much going on. Overall a mature sounding corps that with the right product will excel I believe. Crossmen - one of my favorite music books of the summer. Incredible control in the brass. Guard was wonderful and what a fantastic snare line. Blue Stars - LOVE the music, the drill was amazing and very demanding, and overall this was one of the more emotional shows for me. Phantom Regiment - You guys rocked the house. Most improved corps of the year. That closer...OH MY GOODNESS! I was in love tonight. Classic Phantom!! Edit, Aug 16: The show we saw from Phantom on Finals night was a show that might have placed higher had they been able to achieve that construction by late July and then clean more. It simply took them all summer to "hammer" things out. I love what they did with the guard this year, and I found their performance incredible, but I'd like to see a few less in the guard and more in brass. Blue Knights - Loved the color of this show. Your brass is seriously one of the better lines on the field this summer...and percussion was no slouch. Visually maybe not my favorite BK show, but the ending was fantastic with those flags. Edit, Aug 16: The talent in this corps is close to or on par with many in the top 5. The brass and percussion were indications of that. For BK to push up the ladder I believe they need to clarify and reinforce certain melodic phrases in a way that is less chopped and with more impact. As I watched their show I enjoy it so much, but I never quite get those 2 or 3 big impact moments that pull me emotionally into the show. They seem to like these modern, esoteric, playful show themes. They do work well with their uniforms and visual style, but often I just find myself need a bit more in music construction and music GE. The Cadets - One of my favorite shows of the summer. Here is another corps that started slow and finally found their swagger and took off. Scoring aside this was a fantastic show with serious GE and a killer ending! Bravo! Edit, Aug 16: I felt Cadets began the summer under some pressure to try and relive history and restore the iconic and legendary history of the Cadets to top 3 status. I'm sure this wasn't the case, but it had to feel like that for some. For designers to come into a tough situation following all kinds of turbulence after last season, and for the marching members to tackle this show amid that turbulence and those unrealistic expectations I feel may have caused the corps to work slower at camp to ensure a better overall product as the season progressed. The show was vastly better. Their Finals performance was outstanding. In many ways the Cadets were cleaner than some corps above them, and there were some excellent GE moments in this show. A few things that could have helped this show are 1) do not overdo narration, 2) don't be so literal, and 3) spend more time cleaning when you come out of the gate from Spring Training. I almost get the impression that they listened almost too closely to judges comments in those first 6 to 10 shows. I respect the judges and would certainly listen and make notes of what they were saying about the show, but with partial panels and the knowledge that your show isn't clean yet and their minds may change once they see things more clearly I would not make lots of changes to the show in the initial days after spring training. I would spend more time cleaning what you have on the field. Come July 7 or 8 I would then begin the process of making small changes here and there, with major changes set to premiere in late July. I will say that despite all the criticism they got early season for costumes, I thought they looked fantastic! That was a bold show to attempt and the priest robes, the choir robes, the 2nd costume with Maroon and Gold top (gorgeous), to the 3rd costume was really key to the show and the theatrical presentation. Best use of Trombones this year. Boston Crusaders - Holy cow were you guys clean and the sound of the music ensemble was outstanding! Loved the guard, enjoyed the theme, and you get the award for best use of a prop. Certainly the most deadly use of a prop. Edit, Aug 16: What can you say about Boston! That is what you call making a jump. I think we all expected it, but most of us (certainly me) felt they would be a year away from making that kind of jump. I was thinking 8th or 9th. But no, 6th. You do not makes jumps like that in DCI competition without serious designers, teachers, and talented members. Boston has made a commitment to great teachers and to their members. They have always run a wonderful drum corps and are now simply expanding on their dreams. This show was an outstanding vehicle for them to make another leap. They will need a show with slightly more demand in the content/construction areas to make the next jump. With the direction their brass, percussion and guard took this is not out of the question. When Boston hit you this year with their first big brass attack you could tell it was a Gino line with the kind of control and power we have come to expect of his lines. Their percussion was stellar by season's end! Very clean. Same with guard. Guard was top 3 or 4 at Finals. Amazing. Anyone in the 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 area of placements will have to deal with these guys. Can they move into the top 2 next year? Not sure. But 3 to 5 I would not rule out. Cavaliers - You get my crazy, zany visual award. Visually this show was stunning and marched incredibly well. Fabulous guard. Music ensemble was very good, but I did not care for the music construction. To choppy for my taste, and the closer was an odd mashup. However, you want to talk about a corps selling their show. These guys did. Bravo! Bluecoats - This is what I call a high-energy show. Some killer GE moments with some mighty tasty playing and marching. Solos were on tonight. Edit, Aug 15: From the beginning of the season it was apparent that Bloo was taking on a huge risk with this ultra-challenging show. Who has ever tried a prop like that, in that manner? RISKY and BRAVE! The timing and impact challenges in this show were off the charts. A very difficult show to clean. In the end this may have hurt Bloo to some extent, but the fans did not mind as Bluecoats once again thrilled fans everywhere. They were one of, if not the most, entertaining corps of the summer. It's nice to see and hear a corps do something so complicated and challenging, yet be so entertaining and still be top 5. edit, Aug 16: As for the 5th place finish, I was not a fan of the judges for that, but I do realize they just didn't get things as clean as possible. Having said that I feel the judges rewarded the Cavaliers too much for a poorly constructed music book and average music GE. Visually the Cavaliers were stunning and I heaped plenty of praise on them for their excellent marching, drill design, and amazing guard. Their percussion and brass were good, but I did not feel they were at Bloo's level. More to the point, Bloo's content numbers in brass, percussion, music analysis, and overall music GE should have been the deciding factor. The Cavaliers simply did not look top 4 to me. I have more to say on that in coming days as I update my Cavaliers comments. They are an excellent corps and organization, and I just feel Bloo was better this year on the field. Carolina Crown - What an amazing brass intro!! All season long this was my favorite intro. Sadly the ballad was ruined tonight by mic malfunctions. So sad this happened, because the young lady is a tremendous talent and good person. But this will always be the risk with electronics in big venues. Just go ask the audio guys that handle things like large rock concerts, Super Bowls, college Bowl games, etc. Why do you think some Super Bowl pop star appearances have to be lip synced? The dynamics of outdoor electronics can be very risky and dangerous, and tonight I heard that with not only Crown but a few others. Santa Clara Vanguard - A truly amazing show top to bottom. The opener does not grab me until three quarters of the way through, but from there to the end is simply dynamic programming, The last 2 to 3 minutes are HEAVEN!!! I noticed a mic hiccup with SCV tonight as well. The first entrance of the solo brass ensemble did not come through. It was quickly fixed, but I also feel they may have turned the mics off at one point. At least from the FLO perspective it seemed the solo brass ensemble was not cutting through like they normally did. At any rate, Bravo for captivating the drum corps world this summer with a stunning and modern show that also had some wonderful old school moments. Blue Devils - To me, this was BY FAR AND AWAY the best corps all summer and this evening. They constructed a show that began with MUSIC. It was clearly music first and the construction was masterful. BD put together a music ensemble that blew my mind all summer, and tonight laid down an amazing performance! The showmanship of their visual program, which I feel so perfectly matches the music, is one of the hallmarks of BD. Some call it swagger, but to me it's showmanship, and BD really understands how to add that element to a show. Way to go, Blue Crew!!! What a FANTASTIC show, and your performance was thrilling on all levels! Bravo to all! I had a blast watching everyone this summer!
  13. The 2017 drum corps season has started, and so has my show review season! I reviewed two shows for the June edition of Drum Corps World. The first was the DCI Tour Premiere cinecast on Thursday, June 22. The focus of that review was on the technical aspects of the cinecast. A separate review of the performances is also in the June issue. The second review was of the Innovations in Brass: Massillon show on Saturday, June 24. That review was a performance review of all 5 World Class and 2 SoundSport corps which performed that night.
  14. This will be quick, mostly because I'm at work, but also we got back at 1:30am this morning and tiredness is setting in. Haven't reviewed for a few years, had no plan to this year, but a few things are worth mentioning. And as a special treat I will point out the big props used by each corps, as that has now become the norm. Apologies to Salinas Drum Line, Freelancers Alumns and Golden Empire. After an extended stay in the will call line we finally sat down just before BDB took the field. BDB: Liked the Wonka song mixed throughout the show. For whatever reason, their bottom base seemed like the loudest of the night, which is much appreciated as a former bottom base player. Good sound. Too many vocals for me, but I'm old. PROP: Flag holders scattered about SCVC: Honestly the only thing that comes to mind is their show didn't seem finished, and that any SCV cymbal line is always a site to see. My wife liked their show more than BDB. Wish I remembered more. *yawn* PROP: Rolling white mini-stages w/ tall backdrops BDC: Always cute, always fun. Airplane/flight theme complete with propellers. Danger Zone was cool. Love the mini-guard classic flight attendant outfits. PROP: Airplane Intermission: 20 minutes did not seem like enough time to get some grub, but alas we acquired what we needed to get us through the 'meat' of the program. Btw, $7 for soda and $5 for water. Someone call the police, I've been robbed!! So glad I brought water. PACIFIC CREST: CA corps doing a CA-themed show. Music was good. First big hits of the night. Very enjoyable. At stand still the corps was clean, but while moving things were a little shaky. Just needs more practice. PROP: Tilted gold circle left of center. MANDARINS: The good: brass is amazing! Most power I've heard from my home team maybe ever. And "Sound of Silence" was great! The bad: not so much bad, the drums just need more time to clean. The ugly: Let me say the guard is very good and really brings home the "Ink" theme. However, at one point a portion of the guard up sleeping bags that are red on one side and black on the other, with arms, legs and head all inside. An interesting concept, but really hard to clean, visually and perhaps physically throughout the season. PROP: 4 GIANT classic ink pen tops laid on their side. My dad said they looked a bit like giant silver sun fish. Actually used pretty well...get it? THE ACADEMY: Love the uniforms, both classy and a bit cheeky, Half the guard are bunnies, half are hunters. Hence the show name *By a Hare*. Super fun fan-friendly show with recognizable music throughout. Drums were very good. Really quick tempo. Brass had some highs and lows dealing with that, overall pretty balanced. Actually thought they played better in their company fronts all spread out then in the increasingly popular big ball-o-brass. Great show! PROP: Rabbit holes all over the field. Kind of "Whack-a-mole"-esque. BLUE KNIGHTS: Bright color-by-section uniforms, huge brass hits and a thunderous drum line (second best of the night imo). But the music, or what there was, reminded me of BD ten or so years ago. Blasts and blurts, no real melody or musical theme. Sounded very clean, just not particularly engaging. Also, corps didn't wear hats (more on that later). PROP: Two tall '" i " shaped mirrored towers. Also some large tiara-shaped metal structures that looked like burning man left-overs. PHANTOM: Awkward. Very doom and gloom during the first half of the show. Corps is black and white while the guard has skin-tight red onesies initially covered in long black gowns. Guard also covers their entire head with a red wrap, that at one point is being pulled by brass members in a very "dominating" way. And then, suddenly, the corps dawns the familiar white-plumed helmets and the show perks up, both in music and feel Needless to say we enjoyed the latter half of the show much better. The corps seemed to perform the second half better as well. Overall, not my favorite Phantom show by a long shot. PROP: Nothing big, white helmets scattered over the far right of the field. VANGUARD: Before they entered the stadium, they showed a video about their new uniform and how it incorporates their "Serpent" theme. At the end the member doing the voice over said "I hope the fans will enjoy the change" or something like that. Hate is a strong word, so maybe I'll go with really really strongly dislike. Let's get this straight, there is ZERO connection to the crimson and green of old. I don't care if you kept the shielded V-badge because "you thought it was and important tradition". The hats and feathers are gone...GONE, what was more traditional than that! But most of all, their show is freaking awesome, and they don't look a thing like the Vanguard! Brass..amazing, loudest of the night by far. Drums..terrific. Guard uses the rolling stages magnificently. I thought initially they would be distracting, but the are used really well. Championship quality show, uniforms...argh!!! PROP: Masterfully created large round stages that look like those dangerous yard trampolines. BLUE DEVILS: If it's not broke don't fix it. Lots of high brass, drums throw down during every break. The opening sequence is really cool with the all snare line and the corps entering from left to right vertically. As BD does now there's a dance break in the middle, this year set to Rihanna's "Diamond", though not too lengthy. Lots of stairs, used to give different heights to different sections through the show. Flight of the bumblebee is fast and needs lots of cleaning, but will be BD brass at it's finest. Over use of the low end synth. Corps "Morphs" into not wearing hats and removing jackets making everyone look like the guard. Guard was not as clean as I'm accustomed to seeing, but it's also only their second show. Jazzy music, lots of scatter drill will feed the trolls. Liked it, didn't love it. PROPS: 14 sets of stairs...all white of course. VANGUARD ALUMNI: Wow, just wow. I was brought into this activity during the Phantom of the Opera years, and have always loved and appreciated the rich musical history of drum corps. Their "show" is called Send in the Memories, and the huge guard does a lot of work as the drums and horns blow your face off with hit after hit. Beautiful, just beautiful. I would have had every corps that performed last night come back out just to listen to how beautiful brass and drums can sound on a field. Worth the price of admission all on their own. Two words...bottle dance. Well, that got a bit long. Oh, my thoughts on the hats. I don't like it and I'll tell you why. What it does is it creates an inconsistency with the uniform. From the neck down, everyone is wearing the same or very similar uniform, for better or worse. But without a hat or shako or helmet or whatever, now everyone looks different, even if playing the same horn. Visually it looks less professional and borders on looking messy and unfinished. What's funny is, on the long drive home, I joked to my wife and dad that, drum corps is no different than professional sports. Do as the winner does. Just like what happened with synths and vocals and more recently giant props, drum corps has become very copy-cat from a design perspective, in that if the championship winning corps is doing it, then we should too. So I joked that Bluecoats must have not worn hats last year, not remembering if they had or hadn't. Sure enough, wifey looked it hats. So, in an activity that rolls with the changes, or sometimes lives to do so, I hope it doesn't forget it's own motto. If this is truly "Marching Music's Major League", then I would expect everyone involved to not forget about the professionalism and the history of the activity. I'm very thankful there is enough perspective to showcase last night what many of us fell in love with decades ago, and I hope to see more of it in the future.
  15. I am having trouble posting to this site today for some reason. I keep getting a 500 server error. Go to the following link and read my full review on my Facebook site.
  16. Maybe some of you have interest in sharing reflections, thoughts, or reactions to viewing the DCI Finals performances on your recently acquired DVD or BluRays? I attended shows at the Tour Premier in Indy, San Antonio, and all three days during Finals week. After a viewing of the shows on video (both multi-cam and high cam), here are a few of my early thoughts. Obviously, this is FWIW: The top five shows are all really wonderful and different. Five different corps’ personalities. Except for The Academy, shows six and below blur together a bit. I am disappointed, a little sad, and then also somewhat guilty that I still can't find much memorable about Phantom's show. Oh, right, some good featured horn players. Hey, thanks to Fuse, I know that girl in the BD guard and that guy in the Cadets guard! Bluecoats were stunning and Blue Devils were their usual quality executioners. For me, Crown had the winning show. I didn’t think that about Crown late on Finals night in LOS. But also: those featured horns in Bluecoats! Liked the Blue Knights music much more than I remember from seeing them live. Liked The Academy music, but didn’t hear it as well played on video as I thought it was live. I even remember in Indy thinking the group ought to have scored higher on music than it did. Now not so much. (Though, I’ve nothing special in terms of audio playback.) I think many shows use props unproductively, and so ineffectively. The Cadets, Crossmen, Blue Stars. Just wasted time and effort with many of those props. I don’t buy the need to simply stage stuff - those mannequins and lamps. I am not anti-props. Crown, Bluecoats, The Academy, Cavies used props genuinely effectively; the props were integral to the show. (To the show, not just the theme.) I got kind of irrationally annoyed that the horn statue for the Cadets stayed on that wedding cake all show instead of getting down and doing some drill. I wondered whether the judges weren’t compelled to ask, WT* do we do now? at Bluecoats and parts of Cavies show. If they did, I liked their answers. Missed the Scouts.
  17. Timing Problems Solved!

    The description is hilarious! As a tech who enjoys stealing the drum guy's used inventory, this is right up my alley! Enjoy:
  18. The Crowd I have never seen more people at the Massillon show than this one. Holy cow! Had to be over 8,000 in attendance. Traffic was crazy and people had to sit in the endzones and some even sat in the away-side stands. Meeting DCPers I got to meet fellow DCPer "WVU80" last night as he sat with me. Sadly it turned out that one of the two tickets I had for the show was a duplicate, and some high school kid had the same seat as the one I gave to WVU80. Not the HS kid's fault. I guess their HS purchased a bunch and that's what he was given. So we moved around a bit and ended up sitting near a Bluecoats Board member right on the 50, but very low. We still had a great time and it was nice getting the opinion of WVU80 (Dave) who has really good taste in drum corps and is WAY more knowledgeable about corps than he leads on. :) Great guy! Was glad he could make it up from West Virginia. Sitting Low Sitting only a few rows up on the 50 I was reminded at how much I love to sit low occasionally to catch more of the human element in each of the shows. I can see more technique in visual, hear brass articulation better, see the performers eyes, and you see just how hard these kids are working whether we like their show or not. I haven't had that experience in a while and it was fun. All the corps put on a wail of a show, and the crowd was really into just about everyone. I thought intermission was a little too long. The Bluecoats Alumni Corps performed and were a lot of fun, but I guess the delay had more to do with some corps arriving late due to traffic. There were so many people that I figured they had to wait for many of them to return to their seats after intermission. Sadly INT did not perform because Bluecoats Alumni Corps took their spot, but Bloo alumni were fantastic! Always a hoot to hear the alumni play some of the popular favorites from years past. Some excellent soloists in the alumni corps. Special shout out to Andrew Whitman on his solo -- a former Mount Union student and fabulous trumpeter -- who plays lead trumpet with the Coats alumni. As for the corps: Phantom Regiment was in exhibition due to illness in the corps. We were hearing close to 30 people. But let me tell you that their brass and percussion put on a show. In stand-still concert form they performed their show music and they were freakin amazing! They got a huge standing O. Pound for pound their brass line is as good as any out there. Definitely one of the best sounds of the night. Madison has a nice back end to their show, but the first 2/3 of the show just fall flat on me. They also were the biggest culprit of using too much synth bass. Way too much. I just think this show was a "miss" this year. Good performers. Blue Knights are really good. I enjoy the show. It's ethereal, modern, and feels like a modern dance recital with brass and percussion. But there is a lot to enjoy, and there are moments their brass and percussion really play some amazing stuff. The colors are coordinated exceptionally well. If they had one or two more impact moments in this show they could move higher. Lots of visual dirt. Cavaliers, like Madison, were also one of the biggest synth bass users. It was simply WAY TOO much. I was expecting this show to have a greater impact on me, but it just fell flat most of the way through. However the ending is clever and well done. I think they've taken this thing about as far as they can. Their brass is better but still not in the league with the top 5 corps, and percussion didn't overwhelm me. Guard was wonderful but the overall visual program is not grabbing me. Having seen both Cavaliers and Cadets now live, I just do not think Cavaliers are in The Cadets league. It felt to me like Cadets should have 2 pointed them last night. Santa Clara has one of the most beautiful shows you will ever see. It's just tremendous from start to finish. But the ending falls a bit flat, and I'm mainly talking about the section leading up to the Vanguard emblem formation. The soft part of the ending is wonderful. I was a little surprised Cadets beat them. I don't think that will happen in Indy, but you never know. Cadets have the better brass and they are neck and neck in percussion. I think Vanguard has the better guard and visual, but they have plenty to clean in the feet. The GE at the end of SCV's show fell somewhat flat. I still think SCV takes 4th, but they need to clean now. The Cadets were outstanding last night. The Cadets are flat out marching and playing beasts. Even when their show doesn't turn out as planned, they can still bring it with that brass and percussion of theirs. They were definitely on fire tonight and seemed very in control. The last 2 minutes of the show still feel unaligned from the rest. From the big diagonal block push to the end still feels forced, but it's better than what they had. Musically this is a great show to hear. Brass articulations were clear and refined. Percussion performed really well. Visually they are cleaning. The guard performed very well tonight. If SCV doesn't clean the feet and perhaps make a few enhancements, The Cadets can beat them -- as tonight was evidence. Carolina Crown is sporting one of the best shows this summer. So fun, so bold, and they are cleaning nicely. Yes, this is a 3-corps race for the title. I'm rooting for Blooo, but Crown was definitely on fire tonight. Their brass line is so good, so balanced, and HOLY MOTHER of LOUD! The guard was on fire, and they have a very solid and amazing percussion section. Carolina is definitely in line to possibly take 2 captions - Brass and Guard. If Blooo does not clean some feet issues and BD perhaps doesn't get the GE number they need, Crown can easily win this. I was a little shocked Crown pulled to within .1 of Bloo. I had them separated by about .8 to 1 point. The Bluecoats were also on fire and the general effect in that show is just unreal. It's been a long time since I've seen a show with that level of amazing GE (Blue Devils 2010, The Cadets 2011). Brass and percussion are also amazing. Guard was fabulous, and the Coats have some of the most fun music out there. The Bluecoats also have some of the best soloists in DCI this year. They feature like 6 or 7, plus 2 trombone quartets in which I believe they demonstrate the best use of trombone out of all the corps. Their guard is stellar, and the blind flag toss over the ramps is a killer moment. If Bloo is clean at Finals, then it's over -- end of story. Nobody is beating that show if it's clean enough. Not even the great Blue Devils. Thanks to all the corps!! Another amazing Massillon show in the books.
  19. I posted a brief and very positive write up about last night. Most of that is included below, along with added information and more thoughts. All the corps were very entertaining and I had no major problems with any of the shows. A fantastic night of drum corps in Massillon. The crowd was really excellent considering it was an early show with only 5 competing corps in the lineup. Probably about half what we normally get at this show in August when it's part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities. Holy Bluecoats!! That's what we call GE! Monster show, monster GE! BLOOO has a fabulous percussion section, great brass, and the staging is impeccable. The flugel soloist was awesome and should be one of the best of the season. The show even features 2 trombone quartets on opposite sides of the pit, and they seem to dual with each side (musically). They may be wearing ear pieces so they can hear without time delay. Not sure. It's a cool effect and they are close to nailing it. From my vantage point last night they fell apart rhythmically toward the end of that section. Good sound, and I love the use of 2 bass trombones. They also use trombones in other sections of the show. This show will light up crowds everywhere they go. Big crowd response for them tonight. There will be some who don't like it, but I believe most will. It's almost impossible to not find something to like. Down Side Up is, for lack of better word, a concept show, much like TILT or Kinetic Noise. It doesn't require any thought or pre-show info for the audience. The show appeals to your senses on several fronts. Costume and Color. Props that are used effectively, and even when not used they provide such a beautiful backdrop to the corps. They are not ugly or unprofessional looking. Surround Sound -- so many of the musical effects in the show make use of surround sound effects, either from left to right, or left to back left, to center, to back right, to right. Great music. *QUICK EDIT: the opening tune is actually "Jose/beFore John 5," not the Metheny tune, which comes next. The rhythm in this opener actually becomes the melody as each section is introduced while the clapping sets the tone for rhythm and style. It builds and builds and builds, and then that first hit is priceless. It's a very entertaining musical book with great solos and the 2 trombone quartets as mentioned above. Once again, the Bluecoats have rethought the traditional feel of drum corps. Some say they are bringing WGI to the field. Maybe?! But I think it goes further than that, because WGI isn't dealing with this kind of space, this many brass or percussion (with pit), or the outdoor experience and having to generate sound over such a large area. Their design team is clearly one of the best in the activity (right there with BD). From their second number onward, a good bit of the music has a real classic Madison Scout feel to it (not a bad thing for this old timer), aided by a wonderful screaming trumpet soloist, and supported by a very modern visual program. Is this a medal-contending show? You bet! Possibly GOLD! Honestly, it's all there. Everything they need to win a title is there. It needs cleaned and refined (3 of the corps really let loose last night in terms of volume, and pit volume needs to be adjusted for better musical shaping and clarity), but I don't see major rewrites coming. Just small tweaks and refinements. Carolina Crown also has a monster show!!! Another WOW for me! If I were to nit pick, they need to beef up general effect. They have the seeds of a really clever and well-crafted Western Themed production. It's very close to being brilliant. Some will find it stale for now, but I believe more is to come. I love all the Ennio Morricone sound effects, and his music as well. Can't go wrong there. I honestly think that what we are seeing from them is just a base for many layers to come. I kept thinking of all the cool things they could add to this show, musically and visually, and I think we are in for some real surprises. I would have had Crown's brass on top. What a sound, and what power. By far the loudest of the night! As we all know, one thing these guys do as well as anyone is brass, and BOY do they have another classic horn line. Crown and Bluecoats (along with Crossmen) kind of played with some major volume and edge last night. We probably didn't hear the musical phrasing and shaping that we will later on, which is why my ears hurt this morning. :). But I love early-season power! As for the music, it mostly feels like a modern Western. *Quick edit here: Those of you that might be comparing the Barber to Star 93 will find that none is needed. They only play snippets of the Barber, and usually at climax points in the show. It's amazing how they weave that music into the fabric of a Western, but it works. Musically, this show will be a fan favorite. Visually, their guard is stunning, the marching is already excellent, and I love this drill much more than last year. They stage as well as anyone, but the drill is better. What a beautiful stage coach they use for their major prop. Much like Bluecoats, their prop looks beautiful, adds to the show whether it's being used or not; and at one point they pull all these flags out from the top and toss them to other guard members. It's a great effect. The uniform is what really grabs me. Very Troopers like. Grey and black, with dark gold highlights, and lots of gold in the guard. I can't help but think that the Troopers staff will show major interest in this show. This is a solid medal-contending show. It could win, and easily could take 2nd or 3rd. Phantom Regiment came to play and I LOVE their show. Perhaps a little less innovative and more traditional -- but nothing wrong with that. Traditional may not win DCI, but a well crafted traditional show can still place top 5. They have gorgeous music, a fantastic guard, and one of those classic brass lines again (although they held back and played with a lot of control last night). Their percussion section is much improved over last year - I love the writing. Musically, there is not much to dislike. All the music is powerful, beautiful, and Young Person's Guide is very impressive. They, like almost everyone last night, will have to work for better balance between front to back, meaning don't let your pit kill your brass and battery. Their pit was way too loud in numerous sections. Now I love the synthetic vox/voice sound they use, and it adds to the character of their show. Just make sure we can hear those soloists in the most pure sense of sound and articulation without amping it too much. Crown does the best job of featuring their brass and knowing when to bring pit volume down, or when to cut it completely and allow for a variety of on-field colors to take effect. Visually, Phantom is on the reserved side, but once they clean what they have I believe they can add some excellent layers to this show. They once again have one of the most beautiful and talented guards on the field. Their use of red in the show was wonderful and striking. General effect is good but will need some clarification and some added nuances. They are celebrating 60 years, and I think the show needs more celebration, especially at the end. But I am very impressed with them, and they have great talent. By the way, those King horns sound fantastic. They had a big, rich, dark sound last night, and once they are allowed to pull the trigger a bit more on volume, what out...I believe this will be a classic sounding Phantom Regiment brass line. I see them competing with Cavaliers and Cadets. Not sure about SCV until I see them. Cadets may have an advantage on demand alone, but with the right additions, Phantom can absolutely be in that 4, 5, 6 range. I am a Phan of this show. :) Boston Crusaders - I love the music, love the props (very big and yet they really work, at least for me). Strong music captions coming for this corps when clean. Their brass had a warm and very controlled sound tonight. Boston and Phantom were the only 2 brass lines that didn't try to peal away our faces. Now in fairness to BLOOO and Crown, they are so good, so talented that their instructors can let them go full boar and build endurance before they begin adding all the musical shaping. Honestly, I didn't mind the power from BLOOO and Crown. They sound fantastic, but I also really enjoyed the control from Boston. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this uniform. Sharp!! The look and feel of Boston this year is completely different from last year. I loved their props last year, too, but they never seemed to get the marching very clean. I think this group looks better and will be strong marchers come August. Drill design is wonderful and they use the field extremely well. I definitely had Boston over Crossmen. I felt bad for the kid that hurt his leg or ankle at the very end of the show. It looked like he torched an ankle or maybe pulled a hammy. Not sure. One of the corps instructors checked with him immediately a few sets later when the show ended, but seemed to feel strong enough to march off with the corps...and he did great. This is a strong Boston Crusaders corps. Definitely top 12! The Crossmen are also top 12 caliber. I love their music, and they have some amazing field coverage. Visually I continue to love their uniform, and their guard has to be one of the most color on the field this year (right up there with Bluecoats). Musically they have a fun book and their brass can really pump out some sound. Great percussion writing. They spread the field a lot and therefore timing issues will be a challenge for them as they clean. There were too many points where their electric bass sound took away from the low end of the brass. This was the case with almost all the corps last night except Carolina. I was not wild about the middle tarp, but I otherwise had no problem with the other props. I believe the middle tarp is confusing and draws attention away from the vast field coverage. Which is it? Do you want us to see your vast visual program or look at the center of the field. Also, considering how beautiful Crown and Bluecoats props look (and Boston), Crossmen's come across average and stale. They may need to revisit the look and feel of their props. Staging is good, talent is good, and I expect this to be a super fun show as it grows. Definitely a contender for top 12! Special congratulations to the Bluecoats Alumni Corps for their hard work and dedication to adding to this event, and their performance was excellent! I enjoyed the music and their spirit! :) Regardless of placement, I really did enjoy all these shows, and I sense a great summer coming.
  20. We're happy to announce that the home video release for our award winning documentary, "Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood" is finally happening. Preorders for the DVD and the Ultimate Blu-ray Edition + DVD Combo Pack are now available on our website. The discs will ship in June, and these two versions of the film will be available for sale at the Madison Scouts souvie stand during the 2016 DCI tour. We've been blown away by the reactions to our film from both drum corps fans and from those who had previous never heard of the activity. Somehow we made the film work for both camps which was not an easy feat. Currently we have a user rating of 9.9 out of 10 stars on, which is pretty unheard of. There have been some very nice reviews written by people who've seen the film. If you preorder the home video version before May 31, 2016 you'll get free shipping on all orders within the USA. We are shipping the film internationally (not for free). Please note that the DVD is Region 1 and the Blu-ray is Region 0. There are no subtitles, and these are NTSC transfers. We've been making this movie on our own and we're self distributing it, therefore any boost we can get from the drum corps community is a giant help. Take a moment to share our movie trailer with your friends and let them know what you think about it. Thanks so much, Mac Smith Director/Producer - "Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood"
  21. I marched with Troopers in the 80s and find I still enjoy following drum corps, not only nostalgia but also keeping up with present developments and competition. I make it out to 1-2 shows a year. I look forward to the discussion and reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
  22. Last night's show was wonderful. So if you throw Blue Devils into the mix, speaking top 4 here, we still have 4 corps within .7 of each other going into the Buffalo show tonight and the Massillon (Canton, OH) show on Monday. I know we've had some tightly competitive years, but 4 corps within .7 going into Finals week is amazing. My general reflections on last night are as follows: Carolina Crown - Last night I made a call after seeing this show that I feel they will win. Still feel the same this morning. Crown has brought out Mr. Clean and, as I stated last night, put the "spit and polish" on this baby. Amidst the truly exceptional display being given by all the top 4, something hit me last night with Crown and I think this is your 2015 Champion. GE will be the key. Blooo won GE last night. But if Carolina is close in GE and nabs wins in Guard, Visual Ex, and Brass then they win Gold. Their show just "pops" in a way the others do not at this time. Perhaps BD comes the closest to this. That ending....OH MY, that will send the fans into a tizzy in Indianapolis. The slight change to the story, and the addition of Gold at the end, made all the difference for Crown this year. They got a standing ovation from me (jumping off my couch). Get used to the color GOLD. The Cadets - Been a long-time fan of the Cadets dating back to my childhood years when they seemingly came out of a slump in the late 70s and rose to power and to change the activity. Their uniform has been iconic for decades, so it stands to reason that some are having a tough time with the change. I am one of them, but not because I can't stomach change. I simply feel the all-black hides some of the amazing visual this corps produces. That was a big risk and I applaud them for having the guts to take such a risk. But in so many ways I think it hurt visual. All that aside, BOY did they perform last night. The show is exciting and captivating. It's also jaw dropping. They are getting cleaner and they have visual demand, musicianship, and powerful music. This is clearly a championship caliber corps. Let's see what they do. Bluecoats - This show has been one of my favorites from day one. At Akron I felt Bloo was giving the activity the most unique and futuristic look of anyone. That remains true to this day. This show will be studied, with elements copied in years to come. This really is the future in so many ways, and I believe their stunning and skillful approach to minimalism, a concept like Kinetic Noise, and to electronics has, in large part, given them a strong general effect presentation. Their GE win should not be surprising to anyone. Everything about the show says "NEW." They play great (brass and percussion), and nobody beats their tubas (WOW). They marched their cleanest show to my eyes last night, and the guard contribution is beautiful. I could easily see this medal on Finals night. Phantom Regiment - Back in the spring I heard a recording of their park concert from Rockford. I really liked the music, even though some of the arranging was a slight departure from the "Regiment" style. But when I saw the show on DCI Live with visual I was underwhelmed. To me, the visual was too cute with too much jazz running. They've made a TON of changes and it seemed clear to me last night that Rockford is ready to make a charge at the Cavaliers and Blue Knights. Not sure how close they get, but boy did they put out a nice show. Phantom's brass is really really good. They are probably not getting quite the credit they deserve, which often happens with shows that lack in so many other areas. But this show is ready to "POP" and I would not be surprised if they took 6th on Finals night. It's a long shot, but I could see it happening. Madison Scouts - I am really LOVING this show. This is another show that early season was not grabbing me. They were the opposite for me when compared to Phantom. I felt strongly that they had a much better visual program compared to last year's show, but musically I was underwhelmed with the first half of the show and somewhat enjoyed the second half. Now the entire brass and percussion book is reeling me in from top to bottom. If anything I think the guard contribution and the props are not as strongly integrated. Some of the flag choices are interesting and I wish they had chosen a different look for the guard. Having said that, this is the closest Madison has come to looking like the OLD Scouts from the 90s while trying to be somewhat new and fresh. Would love to see them push higher, but I don't think their show design is as strong as BK or Cavaliers, and Phantom is just out performing them. Boston Crusaders - I love this show. It's been one of my favs since Bowling Green. They put up a nice score last night and look to be breathing down Madison's back. The music is wonderful and I LOVE their props (the banners and the percussion setup in the middle at the intro). The corps plays and drums well. Guard is great, and the vocalist was wonderful, and has been all season. Their ballad is my favorite this season - even over Bloo and BD. If anything they probably needed better impact from the combination of drill and props. They will be a joy to watch come Finals. Crossmen - Excellent performance last night. Strong presentations in brass, percussion, and guard. Their marching is good but not as crisp as Colts, who I think should be closer to Crossmen. That aside, their theme is conveyed really well. I don't particularly care for that type of theme, but Crossmen have made it very clear what they are attempting to do. A lot of corps have struggled with that this year. For Crossmen it's just a matter of taking that next step in performance captions. Their ballad is really well done and captivating. We should see them on Finals night. The Colts - I honestly thought Colts should have been closer to Crossmen in score. Boy can this corps MARCH. Dang. They are cleaning nicely and I really enjoy their show. They are taking that next step when approaching Broadway musicals for field -- incorporating elements of the libretto, acting, staging, and the singing to go along with excellent brass and percussion writing. Years ago this would easily be a top 12 show. I'm kind of pulling for them, but there are so many great corps out there, it's impossible for everyone to make top 12. Hey, it's just one extra night of performing. Don't let it get you down if it doesn't happen, Colts, because your show is just tremendous. I was very impressed by their guard, and the sound of their brass had moments of Blue Devils like sounds. Honestly, I am shocked this is not closer to, or over, Crossmen. Just my take. Troopers - This is another one of my FAVORITE shows of the year. From day one in Akron I have loved this show. I love the music, love the visual design, the props, and I think this kind of show works so well for Troop. Early on they had a lot of work to do with marching ex. Still think they do, but it's so much better. This show is another example of a show that would be Top 12 on many other years. I would love to see Troop in Finals, but in the long run what matters is entertaining the audience and being great. They are great, entertaining, and they've likely had the summer of a lifetime. In the end that's all that matters. I will review Oregon Crusaders, Pacific Crest, and Jersey Surf another time. My apologies to them. I was in and out of performances (writing drill for some local bands) with the DCI Live telecast running in one room and working in my studio room. As an aside, I am sitting here this morning listening to some Michael Buble and thinking to myself that BLUE DEVILS need to do a show featuring some of this music. :)
  23. Lots of DCI fans have really enjoyed the Sacramento Mandarins in 2015. Some see a bright future for the corps, possibly contending for a finalist spot in the next few years. How have you enjoyed the Mandarins this year? Field Pass Podcast: Mandarins have 'The Edge' in 2015 Link to Field Pass:
  24. Last night's show was tremendous! I had totally forgot DCI was airing that online, so it was a wonderful surprise to check the site and find that I was going to see a show. Despite it's imperfections, FN/DCI LIVE has been more a blessing than a curse. Overview Leaving scores aside, I think we have a lot of unique shows out there. Each corps has something they are trying to offer, a style of presentation, a theme (or not), a look and feel, and a sound that is uniquely theirs. Each one of the top 5 have 1 or 2 small weaknesses that will keep things interesting. My big take away from each group: 1. The Cadets - a wonderful music book coupled with frenetic drill and a traditional look back at early 90s Cadets through a modern lens. The show theme really isn't important. Just watch and listen...pure joy of sight and sound in marching and playing. Perhaps not overly innovative (other than the 10 yard ballad, or perhaps the use of French Horns), but then again too much is made of the need to "push" the activity. Perform, entertain, teach kids, travel and learn life lessons...repeat. Can easily win Gold. 2. Blue Devils - A brilliant brass line with some major demand in the book. A true and tried formula from recent years, but continually being updated and tweaked. Staging, free form, mixed with some excellent drill and some amazing marching when they do apply traditional drill concepts. Clearly BD has moved away from traditional drill methods and I have no problem with that. They still do the best job of mixing-up visual aspects of the show. The effect of most of the props this year is probably not as effective as in past years, especially last year or the 2010 show. Then again, changes may come. Still, this show is a delight from top to bottom. Ending does need a boost or at least needs to make more sense. With some tweaking this show can take Gold. 3. Bluecoats - a thrilling ride into the FUTURE of drum corps. Bloo has carefully studied the Cavaliers and Blue Devils over the years, and they have modified their own style to arrive at where they are today. They also took electronics seriously from day one, investing big bucks into equipment and training. Their 2015 show features traditional drill, sequential design aspects similar to Cavaliers early 2000s shows, and staging similar to BD. Kinetic Noise then applies modern scoring of minimalist music with a powerful dose of electronic effects and synth-based sounds, and what you have is a modern approach to drum corps design. If you were to walk into a mythical Disney theme park that featured a look at the "modern marching band," the show you would see is this one. If they clean the feet and lock-in musically in brass and percussion, they can compete with anyone this year. Definitely a show worthy of Gold providing the performance is there. 4. Santa Clara Vanguard - Taking a page out of the Bluecoats book, they are using electronics to excellent effect. The show features traditional drill (lots of it, similar to Cadets), and with their guard integration they have one of the best overall visual packages out there. Percussion is a beast. Brass is good but not at the level of the top 3 plus Crown. The music book is interesting and doesn't always grab me, but I enjoyed it more last night than the two previous times I have seen them on DCI LIVE. Cannot wait to see it live. They march some incredibly tight formations at 1-step and 2-step intervals. Very demanding and scary to pull off. My only concern with this show is music GE and brass performance. Perhaps some of that is the show theme just not being strong enough. 5. Carolina Crown - Powerful music that conveys their Inferno theme and a brass line capable of blowing the roof off of Lucas Oil Stadium makes this show a must see. Some traditional drill writing, but a lot of body movement and staging. They definitely mix-up the visual package, and the guard integration is second to none. For my personal taste, Crown tends to do too much body movement. At some point I'm not sure what any of it means or how to interpret all those moves, especially from way up in the stands. Love the dark uniform, but I hate the red "candy cane" swirl up the leg. This show would have been super with costuming and perhaps even more theatrical staging (a la Phantom 2008 or Blue Devils last year). Still, this is a corps capable of taking high brass and guard come finals. They march well and their percussion is very solid. The ending still doesn't work, but I am sure they will add more in the next few weeks. 6. Cavaliers - Perhaps a throwback to the Cavaliers of the early 2000s. Awesome drill, both traditional drill and sequential patterns of motion. Brass book is their best in the last 3 years. Percussion is good and written beautifully for the show. I like the theme. Nothing to take seriously. Just watch and enjoy. No special meaning, just a concept. I actually really like the guard being in the mock future-looking wrestling outfit. Do not like the singing. That needs to go. Trombone feature is great when it comes over the mics correctly. Overall I find this show FUN and love that it's not trying too hard to innovate, just entertain and push excellent performance concepts. Cavies just need to clean and they can challenge for the 6 spot. BK will be tough, but I kind of think a clean Cavaliers corps will also be tough to beat. 7. Phantom Regiment - A look at American tourists in Paris. Awesome brass line! They have a fairly good brass book with plenty of demand, and boy do they play it well. Percussion is solid, too. The drill reminds me of their 2005 drill, but with less impact. Not sure why that is. I sort of feel the drill is moving almost too much for what the music is saying. Too much jazz running, especially when we are hearing majestic music. There are just some elements of the show not lining up. Otherwise, I find it entertaining and the marching members can definitely perform. If this cleans to a "T" come Finals I could see them challenging Cavaliers and BK. The Organ Symphony (Saint-saens 3rd symphony) is nice to hear but likely needs a more cathedral-like pipe organ and a few more majestic hit points to truly "bring home the bacon."
  25. Great night of drum corps! No rain, only a light wind, packed full house (arrive early, lots of folks with reserved tickets had trouble getting to their seats as everyone "spread" on the bleachers and some spots seemed to dissappear). This is the grass stadium where the MN Vikings have training camp, no track-grass right up to the bleachers-the crowd is so close some drum majors conduct from the stands. My hometown and most fav stadium to play in! Some totally biased thoughts from last night: (i have not seen much of anything live/video/etc for this season, have not even had time to read much) Govenaires: classic show for them, entertaining music choices and they performed the heck out of it. Contra (tuba?...I might be old...) solo with the gold flags is a great design choice. I suspect the closer has not been on the field long, but it is going to rock by August. MN Brass: this show is already looking polished-great guard coustuming and flags, loved the music. Great solo work in the hornline, everything looks and sounds like another DCA-sweep for MN this year :) RACINE SCOUTS: props to the 4 kids in the brass line (yep, 4). Of course there are balance issues with the full drumline and out, but they hung in and did a nice job in the ballad. Nice vocal solo, and the guard work that was ready for the show fit well. Horns were staged near the pit for most of the show. COLT CADETS: my kiddos-great job!!! Full show marching on the field, some guard works needs to be added in places yet. Big sound, then when the shakos come off you remember that many are only 12 years old...yikes! Members are very animated and selling the show, soloists did a great job, so proud of you guys! Pioneer: my vote for "most improved", but I have been out of the loop the past 2 years with the baby...anyway, wow! Big corps in all sections, lots of volume, entertaining show. The costumes and flags fit the theme great, it was easy to follow the story. They are not moving as fast or playing as many notes as the big guys, so I know they are not likely to hit top-15, but they should be very proud of this show. VIP to the cymbal line-lots of effects, good marching and visuals COLTS-Go Red Team! Love the show, set #3 grabbed the crowd great and the wall of sound on the first big hits got them roaring. Trumpet solos rocked, vocal solo was great, and lots of little details on the front sideline with pit and voice actors that added a lot ( I can't wait to see how the ending changes in the next few weeks. Narration was a bit hard to hear due to the stands so close to the pit, with speakers aimed right at the wall, but this stadium is unique, so it should not be an issue most other places. Love ya lots guys-keep up the great work! MADISON SCOUTS-love the 1990s uniforms, the whole show has the 90s feel with jazz and screaming sopranos (trumpets....). Big wall of sound was the loudest of the night. Fun, happy show. BLUECOATS-after reading a bit on this show before seeing it, I knew some things I wanted to watch for. I think they maybe the used the silver atom things more then in the first couple of shows, but I don't have any prior viewings to go on. Guard was in and on them quiet a bit, they moved around, etc. The speaker effects are very cool, I loved the muted trumpets being bounced around the field. We were sitting right on the 50, so the best possible listening point. I hope folks further out near the end zones will be able to get the same show we got. But, as cool as that was, I was the most impressed with the crazy body work the corps is doing. Is it required to take years of ballet to be in the 'coats horn line? Slow motion running...crazy cool.... I have never had a good handle on scores, so I won't go into that. Placements were as they performed, and I agree with those 100%....but I hope the COLTS overtake Madison with some crazy cleaning and a few tricks up their sleeves.... I will try to add some photos soon.