2011 DCW On-Line: Massillon, Ohio

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by Vic Colaianni, Drum Corps World staff (vjcoly [at] gmail [dot] com)

A rain-shortened “Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival” drum corps competition did not dampen the enthusiasm of the over 7,000 in attendance. This year’s competition also saw the largest amount of high school band programs attending (13) than in the past.

Although the host Bluecoats, along with The Cadets and Phantom Regiment, did not perform, the crowd truly enjoyed performances from Crossmen, Troopers, Boston Crusaders, Blue Knights and Santa Clara Vanguard. On the “fan-o-meter,” Blue Knights were the favorite of the evening with their British-themed musical program. BK by far had the loudest brass sound and visually had a sensible program.

The Crossmen kicked off the evening and their groove-pocketed music was a definite refresher from many of the more “high brow” offerings to come. Corps Director Fred Morrison’s nudging the corps’ creative team to engage the audience with great accessible music and that is played and marched well, was a prescription of success for the corps in 2011. Here’s hoping that “Bones” kicks it up a notch in 2012 and keeps the audience even more engaged.

Crossmen, San Antonio, TX, Drum Corps World photo by Patrick O'Toole

How can anyone not enjoy watching the Troopers? They have earned their brand name of “America’s Corps” and the group definitely has overcome much adversity during the 2011 season. The road-progressing show (hence the road tarp/prop on the field) is effective and steady improvements in the visual program since early season are evidence that the corps from Casper is focused on making their product better in the future.

When the Blue Knights entered the field, virtually everyone was anticipating something, but from the comments being heard, no one really knew what. Once BK’s horn line punched out some serious dynamics, the instant ovation from the audience showed that they had captivated those in the seats. I have to say that with involvement in the activity as a fan, marching member, instructor and reporter for DCW spanning 34 years, the volume of Blue Knights’ brass mirrors that of Spirit of Atlanta and Blue Devils of the late 1970s and early 1980s! WOW! What a sound!

Boston Crusaders, Boston, MA, Drum Corps World photo by Pat Chagnon

The Boston Crusaders have snipped a page out of drum corps tradition and coupled it with modern concepts and show design. This makes for a viable solution for purists and those new to the activity to view a great program by a very accomplished membership. The intertwining of “Les Mis” and “1812 Overture” is a spark of creative greatness. Kudos to BAC’s design staff for the process of marrying two fan-favorite musical offerings into a package that — in my humble opinion — is underrated by the judging community.

“The Devil’s Staircase” is title you would think would be something gracing the shelves of a book store or a movie directed by Stephen King. However, the Santa Clara Vanguard’s “outside the box” approach to show design bring this “story” to a football field. For tried and true SCV fans, some classic Vanguardisms, like the final push forward as the ranks slowly fold down for a powerful front sideline impact, accented by the trademark “V” from the cymbals is there.

Following the Vanguard’s performance, show emcee Kaylee Criss announced some approaching storms and advised the crowd that the show would be delayed until the weather was evaluated. A mere 10 minutes later the skies opened and rain and lightning ensued.

After about an hour delay, it was then decided by the Hall of Fame show committee, as well as DCI show coordinator Tony DiCarlo, that resuming the show would cause too much havoc on travel schedules to Indianapolis for finals, along with posing a potential risk of injury to corps members as they worked toward their final performances of the year. About 4,000 people remained through the delay and, despite being disappointed that the final three corps would not perform — including the host Bluecoats — the consensus from those who hung around hoping the show would resume was that the evening was entertaining and the competition was well-run.

Posted by on Thursday, August 18th, 2011. Filed under DCW On-Line, FrontPage Feature.