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mfrontz

Massillon, OH - Part Two

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THE CADETS: The Cadets had the musical book that made the most sense to me last night. I thought there were some very good things happening in the visual book. The singing and narration made sense to me, the ending was not too much at all. I thought the use of color in the flags and backdrops was just beautifully done - the maroon on the corps and the dark colors on the backdrops in the beginning of the show give way to the cream and bright primary colors of the backdrops at the end of the show. This was a lot more effective than I thought it would be, and I rarely if ever understand visual. I still have two complaints. One - the show is still extremely dirty, forms are not clean and technique is not uniform. Two - I used the word 'manipulative' about Phantom's narration. I feel the same way about Cadets' synthesized bass. At the end they build and build, I'm waiting for the subdominant to resolve and then somebody presses a button to add the oomph that apparently I need. They were trying to manipulate me into feeling satisfied and amazed. It didn't work, it will never work. In fact, it detracted from my emotional engagement from what otherwise would have been a perfect conclusion. I was left clapping and not screaming.

CAROLINA CROWN: I really really like this show with the exception of the last forty-five seconds. I'll say it: 'For Good,' AS 'IT IS,' is the best ballad of the year. They have really gotten the balance right between the Ott trophy winners (yes, I went there too!) and a singer with an outstanding set of pipes and a wonderful stage presence and emotional range. The Akiko piece is really inventive and so well executed. I am less than thrilled with the ending, but I'll tell you what it does: it gives the drumline a chance to play some more notes and maybe, just maybe, give the judges a little bit more to consider. The brass doesn't need another big block chord to convince anyone. What the drumline needs is 'a second chance' to squeeze out another couple tenths - given the scores last night, it could possibly make the difference between third and second place(!)

SANTA CLARA VANGUARD: I have felt many emotions while watching drum corps. Until Monday night I had never experienced existential terror, but that is where the 2017 edition of the Vanguard took me at more than one point. I was blown away by the musical book; the visual program; the sheer audacity of doing a wordless show about a philosophical take on existence: 'This has happened before, and will all happen again.' I find it so compelling that, in significant anniversary years, both BD and SCV chose to use 'The Triumph of Time,' but in shows that talk about time in very different ways: linear time, evolution, and change in the case of the Blue Devils, cyclical time and eternal recurrence in the case of the Vanguard. Flags snaking their way through the field; guard members rotating in giant drums and using them as guard equipment; rotating circles in the drill, just an incredible feast for the eyes, ears, heart and mind.

BLUECOATS: I have a hard time writing about the show because it would just be the superlatives mentioned by other reviewers. They have taken the hose to a lot of the sections that just couldn't work out for them from a timing standpoint. Unfortunately, taking away some of the demand because they couldn't execute is definitely leaving them out of the medal race. If the Cadets don't start with the show right enough, and have to add too much demand and sacrifice time to clean, the Bluecoats have the opposite problem: they start with an impossible show and have to make it possible in order to balance out content v. achievement. Bluecoats didn't win by a lot last year, and they only won because their GE was so off the chart that it balanced out some of their (admittedly miniscule) deficiencies in execution. What we are seeing in the numbers is not really different from last year. It's just that the Bluecoats were just a GE monster last year and this year the other corps have either upped their game or the Bluecoats have slightly less GE in the minds of the judging community. All of this is entertaining in some fashion. But they are still such rock stars and the things they are trying (and doing!) are just incredible. Oh, and one detail: I love the new addition of reflective neon color on the inside of the bowler hats, making the uniforms another piece of equipment that the entire corps can use.

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Great reviews, both parts. Thank you!!!

Edited by Fran Haring

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On 8/8/2017 at 6:00 PM, mfrontz said:

BLUECOATS: I have a hard time writing about the show because it would just be the superlatives mentioned by other reviewers. They have taken the hose to a lot of the sections that just couldn't work out for them from a timing standpoint. Unfortunately, taking away some of the demand because they couldn't execute is definitely leaving them out of the medal race.

I would love to know more about what Bluecoats watered down. Any specifics you can identify? These technical details fascinate me, but I know I often miss them.

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