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Better late than never!  

I've been meaning to write this review for a couple days, but life got in the way. Just to put a disclaimer out there, these are my opinions on how I see things, and I could totally be way off base. If you feel differently, tell me! That's what is so great about this forum is the variety of ways that shows are interpreted and how we view our favorites, etc.. I have 2 years of marching experience, some college music background, and I have actively followed this activity since 2004. I am generally open to change in drum corps and welcome new innovations, but I have been frustrated lately with a trend toward amplifying everything.  These are my thoughts on Drums Along the Rockies.

The weather was perfect!  The rain was gone by 7:00 and it made for a nice, cool evening. The performers seemed to hang in there just fine with the high altitude, and there was no wind to affect guard work whatsoever.

Columbians - Unfortunately, I did not make it to my seat in time to see their last show of the season. I was pretty bummed about this, there was a huge line to get in the gate.  I heard a rumor that the doors didn't open until 6:30 and there was quite a bit of grumbling in line.  From what I heard on the concourse, they did a great interpretation of Adagio, and their brass sound was very mature.

The Battalion - These guys surprised me!  They had a great show and a good implementation of show design. I was surprised at how clean they were at this stage, it's a shame they don't have more time to clean and tweak up until Open Class finals. I think this group has a solid foundation and great instruction.  I hope both the Columbians and Battalion can expand their tour soon, as fresh corps are always a good thing in Open Class competition. 

Seattle Cascades - I have a soft spot in my heart for this corps, and I have been impressed to watch their continual rise these past few years. This year is no different.  You can tell they are retaining members and there is some strong talent coming from the pacific northwest. The mm's seem confident and are executing pretty dang well what they are being given.  The show itself doesn't do much for me, but I feel like they are ready to take the next step and bump up the difficulty level for show design. 

Mandarins - Wow! This was my very first viewing of them, and from reading DCP I knew they were driving a good vehicle this year. However, they are performing the heck out of this show! I'm not a guard guy, but the guard was fantastic. The ink effect with the girls coming across the field is new, unique, and works very well. Great sound from the brass, and they were putting out a lot of energy.  The music isn't anything special, but you can tell the mm's really like their show and they believe in it.  The Mandarins woke up the crowd, and people around me were buzzing after they were done. 

Oregon Crusaders - Their brass sound is top notch, and I look forward to hearing this brassline year after year.  They sound delicious when they stand still and give us a chance to bask in it. Apart from this, their show is pretty meh. I don't really get their theme, (ok, I see the compass, but what else?) their uniforms kinda make them look frumpy, and when I reflect on their show, there aren't any big GE moments that I can replay in my head. That being said, if I could replay their Enya ballad again and again, I would. 

Pacific Crest - This corps has a great show design this year. I have felt their shows the past few years have been kind of forgettable, but they have some good pieces this year. I liked their props and I felt they didn't take away from the show at all. Their drumline was strong and the mm's look comfortable with what they've been given. I think they should easily stay on top of OC and Cascades if they can clean it up.

Troopers - The trumpet soloist is a fantastic way to open the show, but it slowly slides from there.  The visual needs some serious help.  The drill was impossible to interpret at times. I loved Nessun Dorma though, and when these guys use all of their lungs, they can pump out some sound! I want the Troopers to succeed, but this isn't the year to contend for finals.  Their show design is dramatically holding them back, and I hope they can make the right kind of changes this week to alter their trajectory.

Bluecoats - Dang!  This show is fun!  I've loved watching this video, but it's a completely different experience live. The music is fantastic, the drill is fantastic, and the mm's have a lot of energy.  (Mandarins and Bloo were the energy leaders for the night.) I think they might've been too hyped tonight, there were some ragged notes and hasty transitions from what I could tell. I love some of the electronic effects, but not all of them. This is a medal show, but I think BD is putting out the better product right now. I think Bloo is having more fun out there though. :)

Blue Devils - I don't usually care for BD, but this show is unlike anything else.  You have to see it live though, you can't judge it until you do. The visual demand might not be quite as intense as the 'coats, but they are executing the crap out of it. Their guard is phenomenal, they are really selling the show from stepoff to finish. I also think the brass are really going to give Crown a run for their money. I love the historical throwbacks, the precision, and I love that it doesn't feel as pretentious as years past. With our current judging system the way it is, I don't see the Bluecoats catching them or SCV. 

Blue Knights - This show has some awesome moments, but I don't feel like there is a cohesive theme. I love the snare solo with the digital effects, and I loved Hide and Seek. Other than that, not a lot of visual 'wow' moments, and the first half of the show just kind of blends together for me. The guard work in the middle with the curved pipes just looks messy, but they had some other moments that were great. I can understand what other posters have been saying about the need for guard uniforms that don't look like the rest of the corps. I think with some tweaks they could stay in front of PR. 

 

Conclusion - It's all about the show design.  I think there is a crazy amount of talent at all levels, but more so than ever the success of a corps depends on what the design staff puts together for them.  I had a blast at my only live show this year, and I'm happy that the activity I love is still going strong.

- Jared

 

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Great job... thank you!!!

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Thank you for the review!   Good stuff

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