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Tonight's show featured the Southern Knights (Birmingham AL), Cincinnati Tradition (Cincinnati OH), ALLIANCE (Atlanta, GA), and Atlanta CV (Atlanta GA).

Hiram High School is a nice venue for a drum corps show with excellent artificial turf field, good lighting, and a decent amount of seating with good elevation.

With a smaller slate of corps than usual, I wasn't expecting that great of a turnout but a good amount of fans showed up and cheered enthusiastically for every corps.

Up first: Southern Knights (20 brass, 10 battery, 7 pit, 4 guard, 1DM) presenting their 2016 program "Quest For The Crown"

In their first year of field competition, SK made a splash at several DCI shows in Alabama with some impressive numbers. It's a shame DCA chose not to allow the Knights to formally compete. These guys mean business and would be right in the running for a Class A title this year. The show is full of lots of great solo, small ensemble, and full ensemble playing. If you like the classic G bugle sound, you owe it to yourself to check these guys out next season. Seriously. They will become a force to be reckoned with in DCA South.

Highlights: The drum major comes onto the field for some very nice solo soprano playing during the ballad, and the very competent horn section is headlined by some strong contrabasses and a few superstar mellos. Percussion is very good, especially in the corps' first season with a full drumline.

First in Class A competition: Cincinnati Tradition (23 brass, 12 battery, 7 pit, 6 guard, 2DM) presenting their 2016 program "Invictus"

CT comes out this year with a much more modern production than they have in the past, and it's a great move for them. Their production is inspired by the indomitable human spirit and features some lovely solo moments and powerful impacts. Like SK, these guys are on a line of G bugles. This year, however, they slap you in the face with that classic old-school power, well outplaying their size and very much improved over years past. It's wonderful to see this corps continue on an upward trend. A few recent departures in Class A left room at the top of the class for a new champion to emerge, but Tradition doesn't seem to need the favor to achieve new levels of success this year. Going into Championships, the folks from Cincinnati are seeded first in Class A.

Highlights: A much improved hornline from years past anchors this corps, but all sections are achieving new levels of success.

Next in Open Class: ALLIANCE (28 brass, 22 battery, 12 pit, 15? guard, 2DM) presenting their 2016 program "Spirit Animals"

I'm glad ALLIANCE seems to be here again to stay. Traditionally they are a much younger corps than others in DCA, and they tend to program more like a DCI corps. This year's show is based around two recent pop tunes and makes use of a sizable amount of sampling from them as well as some animal-related sound effects and electronic instruments, but it's tastefully done and very fitting with the theme. Because of their affiliation with WGI percussion powerhouse Atlanta Quest, their drumline is always the corps' strong suit, but don't count the brass or guard out. Since their return to the field in 2014, all sections have showed marked improvement each year and it seems like this production makes good use of each caption. There is a great moment in the ballad (themed around the spirit of the eagle) where each guard member does some work with two swing flags made to look like wings. One guard member is positioned behind the brass soloist, creating a very nice effect.

Highlights: BARITONES!! I want some of what they're feeding these kids. The rest of the hornline are no slouches, but the level of demand and achievement seen from the barieuphs is very impressive. Definitely the best section in the hornline, by far. It might have something to do with the fact that well over a third of the hornline is either on baritone or euphonium, but their presence, power, and technical skill is a huge part of why ALLIANCE should contend for a finalist spot in Rochester.

Finally, our host corps: Atlanta CV (52 brass, 24 battery, 18 pit(!!!!), 24 guard, 2DM) presenting their 2016 program "Rhythmos: Life in Motion"

The level of excellence CV has achieved in the past 4 seasons is unreal. The rise of the percussion section alone is noteworthy. Nobody fields a pit with 18 members, especially not in DCA. The percussion team at CV makes use of every single set of hands in the pit with some incredible layering and depth of composition in the percussion book. It truly is on an entirely different level from any other front ensemble I've seen, including many upper-echelon DCI groups. But enough about the percussion - there's so much more about CV that deserves mentioning. The guard has always been strong, but they continue to impress this year. Beautiful choreography and writing throughout. There's one flag moment in the closer that is simply breathtaking. The horns and drums are laying down a really tasty layered passage when out of nowhere behind the musicians, a huge unison high flag toss comes up overhead. And let's not forget about the horns. CV brass recently partnered with System Blue and they new horns have changed the tone color and presence of the hornline in a great way. The line sounds much more mellow on the new horns overall, but the biggest beneficiaries are the low brass. The new horns seem to speak much better than the old King line and it really helps the line project with a more blended and present sound. Great solists throughout the production and a fresh, easily relateable theme make this a must-see performance. Going into Championships, CV is seeded 5th with a 91.55 (the corps' highest regular season score EVER and higher than their Finals score in 2013 when they placed 6th). They are less than 4 points out of 1st, and less than 1 point out of 3rd. Expect CV to make some waves at finals this year.

Highlights: The production this year is great. Accessible music, inspiring theming, and wonderful contributions from all captions.

Final thoughts: Missed seeing Carolina Gold at this show as they competed up north this weekend. ALLIANCE was sitting around 60 members for most of early season and could have very well stayed below 65 to compete in Class A this year and be a very solid pick for a class champion, but it's good to see them grow and get back into Open again.

Results:

Open 1st: Atlanta CV, 91.55

Open 2nd: ALLIANCE, 82.10

A 1st: Cincinnati Tradition: 77.40

Edited by Jothcra
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Great review.... thanks!!!

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Up first: Southern Knights . . .

In their first year of field competition, SK made a splash at several DCI shows in Alabama with some impressive numbers. It's a shame DCA chose not to allow the Knights to formally compete. These guys mean business and would be right in the running for a Class A title this year.

Can we not assume that DCA made this decision rationally? I.e., that in order to pass muster, you have to fill out all the right forms with the right information, and for whatever reason, the Knights were unable to do that?

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IIRC, there was a discussion on this topic, and DCA concluded that a trip to Rochester this season could very possibly break the bank of the corps. It's not exactly close for them.

Hopefully next year, they'll have the financial things in good order and we'll get to see them at DCA Championship weekend at the very least.

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IIRC, there was a discussion on this topic, and DCA concluded that a trip to Rochester this season could very possibly break the bank of the corps. It's not exactly close for them.

Hopefully next year, they'll have the financial things in good order and we'll get to see them at DCA Championship weekend at the very least.

That makes sense, but haven't there been corps approved to compete in DCA shows before (like this one in Hiram) who weren't actually planning to travel to Rochester?

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Uncertain. Very hard to think of a recent team that's done DCA regular season contests competitively that's not attended the Championships. It well may be part of the deal that to do this, Championships are part of the equation.

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That makes sense, but haven't there been corps approved to compete in DCA shows before (like this one in Hiram) who weren't actually planning to travel to Rochester?

They wanted all or nothing

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They wanted all or nothing

We wanted to do the 2 Atlanta DCA shows plus Championships. They told us to stay local. So we wanted to do just the 2 Atlanta shows and get scored with DCA judges. They said no. So the 2 Atlanta shows ended up being exhibitions for us. The judges DID give us comments and input.... just no score. We had 44 on the field this year. It wasn't a paperwork issue or numbers issue. If that was the case, DCI wouldn't have approved us. Our last 2 scores with DCI judges were 65 and 67. Both those shows were at the end of July. The Championship trip to Rochester is about a $20,000.00 trip for us from here with hotel and Charter. We will try again with DCA next year. The Knights need to experience Dinosaur BBQ! They keep hearing me talk about it.... :)

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Good Luck to the Southern Knights ,would have been great having another Class A corps at DCA Championships .I;m sure next season will only be better for you .

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