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ForTheCommonGood

Lexington, SC (July 7th, 2017)

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Hey all, thought I'd give my thoughts on my "home" show yesterday in Lexington, SC. Let's get to it! The venue (River Bluff High School) had a beautiful stadium for a high school, turf field and stands with seat backs. I was seated right on the 50, towards the top of the stands, so I felt like this was my first good live read on these corps this season. 

Jersey Surf- "Make it Our Own"

  • Shofukan - Snarky Puppy
  • Chandelier - SIA
  • An Olive Tree - Basia

I hadn't heard or season anything from them this season (and this is actually only my third of fourth time seeing them ever). I was pleasantly surprised by the mellophone and flugelhorn sound, I thought the arranger had some really smart voicing in those sections. The large alto voice presence was present throughout their show. They brought a lot of energy in terms of ensemble sound, with only a few overzealous brass players sticking out of the texture. In terms of show design, I was left scratching my head. I've done next to no research on the concept, but they certainly seem to be a maturing group in terms of performance levels, hope to see a rise of placement in the future for them!

My score and placement- 6th place, 55.40

Actual score and placement- 6th place, 57.60

 

Spirit of Atlanta- "Crossroads- We are Here"

  • Where Am I Going? - Gino Vanelli
  • Wine, Dark, Sea: 1.Hubris - John Mackey
  • Eric’s Song - Vienna Teng
  • Liquid Dance - A.R. Rahman
  • Shofukan (We Like It Here) - Snarky Puppy(Michael League)

This is the first time I feel like Spirit actually looks and sounds like Spirit since 2013. After 3 years of essentially the same show concept, this show feels like it is picking up where 2013 left off. While perhaps 2013's 11th place finish would likely not be in finals in 2017, this show seems like a good starting point for restoring the organization to its former competitive success. Brass section played really well. Arrangements ranged from very strong to a little pedestrian, but some of that might have stemmed from execution. I thought the snareline was a stand out section for me as well- not so much in terms of demand and writing but in terms of execution. The last third of this show was really exciting and a lot of fun, they certainly brought a lot of energy. I think the exploration of the Crossroads theme perhaps can use more development in the first 2/3 of the show. It seems like the closer is a start of a new identity and feel for this corps that has me excited. Also, one final note about the uniforms. They look spectacular, modern yet reminiscent of their pre-2014 look.

My score and placement- 5th place, 65.000

Actual score and placement-  5th place, 65.200

 

Boston Crusaders- "Wicked Games" 

  • Full Moon Forest and Rising of the Sun
    • Moonlight Sonata - Beethoven
    • The Adoration of Veles and Ala (From Scythian Suite) – Sergei Prokofiev
  • Whispers and Accusations
    • Whispers - Colin McNutt, Iain Moyer, Michael Zellers
    • Cortege Macabre (from Grohg) - Aaron Copland
  • Tortured
    • Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
  • Hunt for the Afflicted
    • Toccata (from Piano Concerto no. 1) - Alberto Ginastera
  • Trial and Execution
    • The Verdict – Ryan George, Colin McNutt, Iain Moyer

As a huge fan of the Boston Crusaders organization, I love to see their recent competitive success. All of the recent staff hires were smart moves, kudos to them for building this program on an already rock solid foundation. Guard was a huge stand out, fantastic costuming and choreography! I can't say I am a huge fan of Ryan George's arranging this year (Which surprises me because I usually love his writing). When you hire the brass staff from the wonderful tradition of excellence that is the Cadets brass section, you need to give them a score that is worthy in terms of demand. This corps is playing this score at such a high level, but there isn't much to it. Not my cup of tea, but I cannot deny the excellence that this corps brought to the table. In terms of the visual program aside from the color guard, I noticed a lot of body movement instead of marching. Which is fine, but it seemed like every impact or big moment was chock full of it, a little too busy for my taste. Uniforms look so much better in person, they had a lot presence last night. I love the design of the jacket, I kind of hope they remove the orange next year though for the sleeves. To wrap up this half of the show, Boston Crusaders delivered an energetic an precise performance that has me very excited about their future as an organization!

My score and placement- 4th place, 75.000

Actual score and placement- 4th place, 74.450

 

Cavaliers- "Men are from Mars" 

  • Also Sprach Zarathustra - Richard Strauss
  • Fanfare for the Common Man - Aaron Copland
  • Wine Dark Sea - John Mackey
  • Little Green Men - Steve Vai
  • On the Nature of Daylight - Max Richter
  • O Superman - Laurie Anderson
  • Sun's Gone Dim - Johann Johansson
  • Mars - Gustav Holst
  • My Way - Frank Sinatra

After a long rain delay, the men from Rosemont did not disappoint! What a fun show just bursting at the seams with content. Brass section was noticeably tired after what must have been an incredibly long day in the South Carolina heat (They did not perform until after 10:30 pm!). So given the circumstances, they performed incredibly well. Intonation seems to be an issue in exposed sections, as well as attention to detail with articulation. They had the best percussion section tonight hands down, with a really difficult book that is already being executed well.  Guard also seems a huge step up this year in terms of design and demand. There is a lot more for them to do, and from my untrained eye, they were fantastic. I think in terms of overall show design, the show suffers from a few pitfalls, like the development of that middle section with the voice overs. I get the humor of it, I just think they need a new voice to replace the current one. It's already changed a few times this season, I'm sure they'll keep developing it until it's perfect. Overall, great product and performers.

My score and placement- 3rd place, 77.700

Actual score and placement- 2nd place, 76.900

 

Cadets- "The Faithful, the Fallen, and the Forgiven"

Mass - Leonard Bernstein

  • Devotions: Kyrie Eleison
  • Simple Song
  • De Profundis
  • Agnus Dei

I've made it known on this forum how much I love Cadets this year, and this hasn't changed in the slightest. I went to their ensemble rehearsal at Blythewood H.S., and they were performing so incredibly well! The reports of the demise of this organization this year after the staff exodus are vastly premature. Cadets have put on what I see as almost a spiritual successor to their 2011 masterpiece. The innovation in this show is off the charts. The vocal integration is truly something to behold, it only enhances an already brilliant show. And to be honest, Drew Shanefield's brass writing sounds more like Jay Bocook than the last few Cadets shows have. On the electronics side, it seems they have been learning from what the Bluecoats have done electronically and have made it their own with the vocal ensemble. The guard is very strong, they've finally built up the guard program after 2 years of a bit of struggle. Brass is top notch still, though they were clearly exhausted at the show as were Cavaliers. At ensemble rehearsal they were playing at a level that reminded me of Cadets in 2015 with that massive brass sound with such a beautiful, sonorous quality of sound. The demand of the brass is really quite something, especially considering they are constantly moving and very frequently jazz running while playing very difficult passages. Percussion writing is strong, in terms of performance I was worried about the snares during ensemble rehearsal, but they were spot on during the show. The staff at rehearsal seemed very focused, but pleased with the performance levels musically and visually. Obviously they still have a lot to grow, but once this show cleans up, watch out everyone. Though I predict them to end up 5th, this will be a show people talk about for years to come. It is not simply a response to the 2016 gold medalist, it feels like it's own new brand of show design that has me ecstatic for the future of the organization!

My score and placement- 2nd place, 78.100

Actual score and placement- 3rd place, 76.700

 

Carolina Crown- "IT IS"

 

  • Little Fugue in G Minor - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Crown Imperial - William Walton
  • Symphony No. 3 - Vittorio Giannini
  • Old Home Days - Charles Ives
  • Raveling, Unraveling - Philip Sparke
  • For Good - Stephen Schwartz
  • NO one To kNOW one - Andy Akiho

I followed this corps quite frequently preseason, visiting a few days at GWU during the preseason. I have no problems with the vocalist. I think she is the most talented of the solo vocalists for sure, her voice is perfect for the Schwartz piece. The closer is a non stop thrill ride now thanks to some very smart additions from the design team. The front half of the show might actually be lagging a little in terms of layering musically and visually as of yet, but that will be fixed in time. I assumed that Carolina Crown would be exhausted like Cavaliers and Cadets were previously, but I was very wrong. The brass brought a level of polish and performance that I have not ever season this early in the season. Little Fugue in G Minor was just astounding. The triple tonguing feature with the Ives piece was a lot of fun. Jeff Sacktig has written a fantastic drill, I think he is a much better fit for them than Leon May was. In terms of visual execution, this is the only spot I thought they lagged behind Cadets in performance. I've noticed all season a lot of individual technique problems from person to person. It was distracting enough to get a mention, but not something I don't think will be remedied in time. I think the show has a lot more legs now than it did, and is definitely a gold medal contender. 

My score and placement- 1st place, 79.100

Actual score and placement- 1st place, 79.200

 

Thanks everyone! Next live show I will be attending will be later in July, in the mean time I would love to see more reviews of shows you all have attended!

 

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On 7/9/2017 at 10:56 PM, ForTheCommonGood said:

Hey all, thought I'd give my thoughts on my "home" show yesterday in Lexington, SC. Let's get to it! The venue (River Bluff High School) had a beautiful stadium for a high school, turf field and stands with seat backs. I was seated right on the 50, towards the top of the stands, so I felt like this was my first good live read on these corps this season. 

Jersey Surf- "Make it Our Own"

  • Shofukan - Snarky Puppy
  • Chandelier - SIA
  • An Olive Tree - Basia

I hadn't heard or season anything from them this season (and this is actually only my third of fourth time seeing them ever). I was pleasantly surprised by the mellophone and flugelhorn sound, I thought the arranger had some really smart voicing in those sections. The large alto voice presence was present throughout their show. They brought a lot of energy in terms of ensemble sound, with only a few overzealous brass players sticking out of the texture. In terms of show design, I was left scratching my head. I've done next to no research on the concept, but they certainly seem to be a maturing group in terms of performance levels, hope to see a rise of placement in the future for them!

My score and placement- 6th place, 55.40

Actual score and placement- 6th place, 57.60

 

Spirit of Atlanta- "Crossroads- We are Here"

  • Where Am I Going? - Gino Vanelli
  • Wine, Dark, Sea: 1.Hubris - John Mackey
  • Eric’s Song - Vienna Teng
  • Liquid Dance - A.R. Rahman
  • Shofukan (We Like It Here) - Snarky Puppy(Michael League)

This is the first time I feel like Spirit actually looks and sounds like Spirit since 2013. After 3 years of essentially the same show concept, this show feels like it is picking up where 2013 left off. While perhaps 2013's 11th place finish would likely not be in finals in 2017, this show seems like a good starting point for restoring the organization to its former competitive success. Brass section played really well. Arrangements ranged from very strong to a little pedestrian, but some of that might have stemmed from execution. I thought the snareline was a stand out section for me as well- not so much in terms of demand and writing but in terms of execution. The last third of this show was really exciting and a lot of fun, they certainly brought a lot of energy. I think the exploration of the Crossroads theme perhaps can use more development in the first 2/3 of the show. It seems like the closer is a start of a new identity and feel for this corps that has me excited. Also, one final note about the uniforms. They look spectacular, modern yet reminiscent of their pre-2014 look.

My score and placement- 5th place, 65.000

Actual score and placement-  5th place, 65.200

 

Boston Crusaders- "Wicked Games" 

  • Full Moon Forest and Rising of the Sun
    • Moonlight Sonata - Beethoven
    • The Adoration of Veles and Ala (From Scythian Suite) – Sergei Prokofiev
  • Whispers and Accusations
    • Whispers - Colin McNutt, Iain Moyer, Michael Zellers
    • Cortege Macabre (from Grohg) - Aaron Copland
  • Tortured
    • Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
  • Hunt for the Afflicted
    • Toccata (from Piano Concerto no. 1) - Alberto Ginastera
  • Trial and Execution
    • The Verdict – Ryan George, Colin McNutt, Iain Moyer

As a huge fan of the Boston Crusaders organization, I love to see their recent competitive success. All of the recent staff hires were smart moves, kudos to them for building this program on an already rock solid foundation. Guard was a huge stand out, fantastic costuming and choreography! I can't say I am a huge fan of Ryan George's arranging this year (Which surprises me because I usually love his writing). When you hire the brass staff from the wonderful tradition of excellence that is the Cadets brass section, you need to give them a score that is worthy in terms of demand. This corps is playing this score at such a high level, but there isn't much to it. Not my cup of tea, but I cannot deny the excellence that this corps brought to the table. In terms of the visual program aside from the color guard, I noticed a lot of body movement instead of marching. Which is fine, but it seemed like every impact or big moment was chock full of it, a little too busy for my taste. Uniforms look so much better in person, they had a lot presence last night. I love the design of the jacket, I kind of hope they remove the orange next year though for the sleeves. To wrap up this half of the show, Boston Crusaders delivered an energetic an precise performance that has me very excited about their future as an organization!

My score and placement- 4th place, 75.000

Actual score and placement- 4th place, 74.450

 

Cavaliers- "Men are from Mars" 

  • Also Sprach Zarathustra - Richard Strauss
  • Fanfare for the Common Man - Aaron Copland
  • Wine Dark Sea - John Mackey
  • Little Green Men - Steve Vai
  • On the Nature of Daylight - Max Richter
  • O Superman - Laurie Anderson
  • Sun's Gone Dim - Johann Johansson
  • Mars - Gustav Holst
  • My Way - Frank Sinatra

After a long rain delay, the men from Rosemont did not disappoint! What a fun show just bursting at the seams with content. Brass section was noticeably tired after what must have been an incredibly long day in the South Carolina heat (They did not perform until after 10:30 pm!). So given the circumstances, they performed incredibly well. Intonation seems to be an issue in exposed sections, as well as attention to detail with articulation. They had the best percussion section tonight hands down, with a really difficult book that is already being executed well.  Guard also seems a huge step up this year in terms of design and demand. There is a lot more for them to do, and from my untrained eye, they were fantastic. I think in terms of overall show design, the show suffers from a few pitfalls, like the development of that middle section with the voice overs. I get the humor of it, I just think they need a new voice to replace the current one. It's already changed a few times this season, I'm sure they'll keep developing it until it's perfect. Overall, great product and performers.

My score and placement- 3rd place, 77.700

Actual score and placement- 2nd place, 76.900

 

Cadets- "The Faithful, the Fallen, and the Forgiven"

Mass - Leonard Bernstein

  • Devotions: Kyrie Eleison
  • Simple Song
  • De Profundis
  • Agnus Dei

I've made it known on this forum how much I love Cadets this year, and this hasn't changed in the slightest. I went to their ensemble rehearsal at Blythewood H.S., and they were performing so incredibly well! The reports of the demise of this organization this year after the staff exodus are vastly premature. Cadets have put on what I see as almost a spiritual successor to their 2011 masterpiece. The innovation in this show is off the charts. The vocal integration is truly something to behold, it only enhances an already brilliant show. And to be honest, Drew Shanefield's brass writing sounds more like Jay Bocook than the last few Cadets shows have. On the electronics side, it seems they have been learning from what the Bluecoats have done electronically and have made it their own with the vocal ensemble. The guard is very strong, they've finally built up the guard program after 2 years of a bit of struggle. Brass is top notch still, though they were clearly exhausted at the show as were Cavaliers. At ensemble rehearsal they were playing at a level that reminded me of Cadets in 2015 with that massive brass sound with such a beautiful, sonorous quality of sound. The demand of the brass is really quite something, especially considering they are constantly moving and very frequently jazz running while playing very difficult passages. Percussion writing is strong, in terms of performance I was worried about the snares during ensemble rehearsal, but they were spot on during the show. The staff at rehearsal seemed very focused, but pleased with the performance levels musically and visually. Obviously they still have a lot to grow, but once this show cleans up, watch out everyone. Though I predict them to end up 5th, this will be a show people talk about for years to come. It is not simply a response to the 2016 gold medalist, it feels like it's own new brand of show design that has me ecstatic for the future of the organization!

My score and placement- 2nd place, 78.100

Actual score and placement- 3rd place, 76.700

 

Carolina Crown- "IT IS"

 

  • Little Fugue in G Minor - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Crown Imperial - William Walton
  • Symphony No. 3 - Vittorio Giannini
  • Old Home Days - Charles Ives
  • Raveling, Unraveling - Philip Sparke
  • For Good - Stephen Schwartz
  • NO one To kNOW one - Andy Akiho

I followed this corps quite frequently preseason, visiting a few days at GWU during the preseason. I have no problems with the vocalist. I think she is the most talented of the solo vocalists for sure, her voice is perfect for the Schwartz piece. The closer is a non stop thrill ride now thanks to some very smart additions from the design team. The front half of the show might actually be lagging a little in terms of layering musically and visually as of yet, but that will be fixed in time. I assumed that Carolina Crown would be exhausted like Cavaliers and Cadets were previously, but I was very wrong. The brass brought a level of polish and performance that I have not ever season this early in the season. Little Fugue in G Minor was just astounding. The triple tonguing feature with the Ives piece was a lot of fun. Jeff Sacktig has written a fantastic drill, I think he is a much better fit for them than Leon May was. In terms of visual execution, this is the only spot I thought they lagged behind Cadets in performance. I've noticed all season a lot of individual technique problems from person to person. It was distracting enough to get a mention, but not something I don't think will be remedied in time. I think the show has a lot more legs now than it did, and is definitely a gold medal contender. 

My score and placement- 1st place, 79.100

Actual score and placement- 1st place, 79.200

 

Thanks everyone! Next live show I will be attending will be later in July, in the mean time I would love to see more reviews of shows you all have attended!

 

Your bias of BAC sorry. BAC best show in DCI this year.

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5 hours ago, emc2 said:

Your bias of BAC sorry. BAC best show in DCI this year.

What's up with that post?? He said pretty good things about them. It's a subjective review, calling people bias isn't really worth much. 

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6 hours ago, emc2 said:

Your bias of BAC sorry. BAC best show in DCI this year.

That is not my opinion, as I stated. Last I checked they are not first place in all the content captions. I think they are fantastic though, what people seem to be forgetting is any placement that is higher than 12th is an improvement for them, and a victory for the corps. Even if by some impossibility they got 12th, they should be celebrating a great show and TOP NOTCH execution.

It is my personal opinion that the design team needs to write something more demanding for the brass next year. This is the same brass staff that pulled off that incredible Shostakovich in 2015. I would love to see them tackle more great romantic music with this team. I think they underwrote for them, because they are awesome! The percussion and guard writing is top 3 quality in my opinion. 

I am looking at this as objectively as possible. There is nothing biased about my review of the corps, only observations based off of what I saw. And it is my opinion that the product they are putting out has some effective moments, but they are hampered by arrangements not challenging enough for the brass, which is over half of the corps. As a brass player and music educator I think my opinion is viable.

But it is MY opinion. You think BAC has the best show, and I respect that, but I do not. I do not appreciate being called biased in such a haphazard way. 

I wish you a fantastic rest of the season! 

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9 hours ago, ForTheCommonGood said:

That is not my opinion, as I stated. Last I checked they are not first place in all the content captions. I think they are fantastic though, what people seem to be forgetting is any placement that is higher than 12th is an improvement for them, and a victory for the corps. Even if by some impossibility they got 12th, they should be celebrating a great show and TOP NOTCH execution.

It is my personal opinion that the design team needs to write something more demanding for the brass next year. This is the same brass staff that pulled off that incredible Shostakovich in 2015. I would love to see them tackle more great romantic music with this team. I think they underwrote for them, because they are awesome! The percussion and guard writing is top 3 quality in my opinion. 

I am looking at this as objectively as possible. There is nothing biased about my review of the corps, only observations based off of what I saw. And it is my opinion that the product they are putting out has some effective moments, but they are hampered by arrangements not challenging enough for the brass, which is over half of the corps. As a brass player and music educator I think my opinion is viable.

But it is MY opinion. You think BAC has the best show, and I respect that, but I do not. I do not appreciate being called biased in such a haphazard way. 

I wish you a fantastic rest of the season! 

To keep it simple. Not going to get into the bias thing or the staff changes.  Over many years I have seen many great shows/staff some that won and some that did not.  IMO BAC has come a long way from( 016 to 017).  I will let the stats speak for them self.  To Build A Champion that is the  goal.  Boston all around show that I have seen live and online is just special IMO.  All have a great season it is a great Drum corp 017  and anything is possible.

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2 hours ago, emc2 said:

To keep it simple. Not going to get into the bias thing or the staff changes.  Over many years I have seen many great shows/staff some that won and some that did not.  IMO BAC has come a long way from( 016 to 017).  I will let the stats speak for them self.  To Build A Champion that is the  goal.  Boston all around show that I have seen live and online is just special IMO.  All have a great season it is a great Drum corp 017  and anything is possible.

And I did give the staff and the corps their due credit in that regard. While I may not have mentioned improvement outright, it is certainly implied (the staff changes are old news at this point). And I have no doubt they will eventually take their place as perennial top 5/4 finishers.  

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2 hours ago, ForTheCommonGood said:

And I did give the staff and the corps their due credit in that regard. While I may not have mentioned improvement outright, it is certainly implied (the staff changes are old news at this point). And I have no doubt they will eventually take their place as perennial top 5/4 finishers.  

What ever..

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Thanks for the great review, I really enjoyed it and appreciated your keen observations!

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