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FTNK

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FTNK last won the day on November 12

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  1. Here is the list of drum corps shows that have used West Side Story. It's 19 pages and goes back to 1959. http://www.dcxmuseum.org/index.cfm?view=search&song=West Side Story Plus every HS has probably done it 3 or 4 times. I did my freshman year. I think it's time to move on.
  2. A surefire ticket out of finals. Seriously, the idea that we should keep rehashing stuff from 40 years ago, that has already been rehashed twice - terrible. Why not bring some new and unique music and programming to the field, like SCV...and BD...and Crown...and Boston...
  3. Honest question - as someone who Knew People, what did you do to fix it in 30 years?
  4. I think I may have emptied my brain LoL
  5. My girlfriend at the time took these videos. She told me she had uploaded them to YouTube, to which I said, "What is YouTube?" 😅 Hope I illuminated some of the design and behind the scenes elements of the show.
  6. A memorable day was a show near St. Louis, before Tennessee. I had pulled my hamstring repping the percussion feature dance the day before in Enid, OK. I could have sat out, but I didn't. To show you the mood of the corps at this point - during basics block, the staff was really hammering us. Continuous box drill at 196 bpm. One of our 4 year vets put his horn down and said "This is ####### stupid!" in the middle of the exercise. I ended up taking some perscription painkillers another guy in the section had, and powering through. That night's show was the first time I did the new ending drill right, and seeing my tech jump for joy on the track gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. At Atlanta, we were getting ready to go on - Crown or BK were performing - and the Georgia Dome broke! Anyone remember this? The end of the season was really sour. I got in a fight with my section because some of them were catcalling a high school girl as we walked back to the buses in uniform. Hop got into a screaming match with a trumpet player in the shower before the Massillon show. The next day in Allentown, he and Marc Sylvester had it out, yelling at each other behind the food truck. That day was also a full rehearsal day in J Birney Crum, and I sweated more than any time in my life - Allentown in early August. It was so humid that night that the air was a haze, we couldn't see the press box from the field. It was the first time I really felt like I did everything right in the show, and it was a massive feeling of accomplishment. The constant of the last few weeks of the season was Hop telling us that we weren't trying enough, that we were "giving up out there," and we just needed to perform better. Even though Hop said we rehearsed like crap and weren't trying, Giants Stadium was a good show. Music is Cool and it being the home show gave us bit more time, which I used to shovel brisket and sweet potatoes into my body (one of Hop's wonderful chums from the YEA board made some great food). I realized that the quality of my performance was mainly based on how much I could manage to eat that day. I had gone from 185 pounds to 150 in 2 1/2 months. Madison was fine. Our housing site was way west of Baraboo, so it was a long ride to the stadium. We rehearsed until 11pm in the rain the night before quarterfinals, for some reason. Quarterfinals was bad, Semifinals was good. Zero crowd response. People said ###### things to my mom in the stands because she had a Cadets shirt and they didn't like our show. On finals day, Hop told us he would take the "Mad Tea Party" and ballad of our show over any other drum corps show ever. Okay. Bluecoats beat us in finals by a tenth. No one really cared. Coats were jerks about it. I didn't march my age out. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk
  7. The first show with tweaked Rabbit was supposed to be Lincoln, NE. I distinctly remember being in the middle of ensemble, and feeling like someone had opened a refridgerator next to me. Enormous Great Plains thunderstorm - we almost got hit by lightning during horn warmups and had to take shelter (#### the uniform ettiquette, RUN!). The stands were a waterfall and the whole show was canceled. Around this time I developed a large boil just above my butt crack. The athletic trainer drained it as I lay across some seats on the bus (we had no medical staff). Another guy in the section got a cyst in his armpit. The next show was Denver, at Mile High where the awesome 2004 finals had been. It was a bit of a struggle with the dry air and altitude. We got destroyed by The Cavaliers. This was the turning point of the season. The next day, we had a free day. We met in the music room of our housing site and had a little talk, mostly with Marc Sylvester. He asked, "Who thinks we can still win this year?" I was the only person who raised their hand. We came from behind in '92, right? I was still trying to be the perfect Cadet. Sully actually cried during the little talk and told us "You're better than the show you've been given." The rest of the season was basically a salvage mission. "History Repeating" was cut completely. It turns out that a whole corps marching at 192 bpm while the pit plays at 144 is impossible. Worse, the judges took one look at us marching a different tempo than the music and said "really bad phasing." In its place, they slotted in the intro from 2005. As one of our snares said, "You unlock this door... because the design staff has run out of ideas. Next stop... 4th place." The new ending was musically largely just the old ending extended, and the drill is pretty cool, but also extremely hard. The last move for the tubas was a stop and go with a hip switch into a jazz run. Our vets were breaking down. On the long bus rides out West, some people who had marched Cadets 3 or 4 years had priority to lay down in the aisles to get some relief. We got some people who had marched in 2005 to "come out of retirement" to fill some holes. Our first show of the year with a full hornline all on the field was Allentown, 8 days before finals. There were some conflicts between vets and rookies on the bus. The tuba section had been a bit of a train wreck in terms of discipline. Unrelated, but at some point one of us had a season-ending hernia. We eventually filled that hole with a mellophone player who didn't play a single note [aged out on mello the next year]. Alumni who came to the Broken Arrow show told us we were the worst section (not just tuba section, any section) the corps had in 20 years. Recall that this was when Cadets hadn't been lower than 4th since 1991. We finally threw in the new ending around San Antonio. At that show, Hop harangued us that we were "scared" of other corps and we had to realize that our show was actually harder and better than everyone else. So, he had the entire corps go back into the Alamodome in uniform and watch the rest of the show from the endzone. The vets were furious. A week or so later, Masters of the Summer Music Games happened. Well, it actually didn't happen. Middle Tennessee was doing stadium renovations, so we were at a different venue (in Cookeville). We had a rehearsal day the day before in the show stadium, which was one of the last holdouts of old-school Astroturf--no squishy Field Turf. It was actually a really nice and productive rehearsal day, and we were feeling pretty good about things. We spent a lot of time breaking down drill and using tape to mark our dots. When we came onto the field for the show, we realized.... the tape had left residue. We could still see our dots! The show felt really good, everything was progressing well.... then it started pouring during the Mad Tea Party. The show was stopped after the drum break, but not before dozens of people ran up and flipped off wet pink benches. It was just weird, confusing and a huge letdown to just stop in the middle of a good run (of course it was the right thing to do for safety- the guard still had to do a lot of climbing on those benches in the ballad). There's video! It's probably the best capture of what all was happening during that part.
  8. [Important but forgotten - in Harrisburg, about a week before the first show, they unveiled the costumes for the main characters. Alice (60s mod outfit with a miniskirt and belt), the Red Queen (an uber tight red satin dominatrix type thing), Mad Hatter and White Rabbit (a white jumpsuit, white face paint and big bunny ears). I almost quit that day] I mention George Hopkins a lot in my posts because he was The Cadets. Everything in the organization and member experience revolved around him personally. He would often wake us up, always tell us the plan at the morning "day meeting," always talk to us after rehearsal, right before the show, right after the show, and then there were the Hop Talks. You know how he would do those long, meandering Facebook Vlogs where he was unkempt, grumpy and complaining that the judges "just don't get it"? His personality was basically that for three months. He was very negative about everything. Love drum corps? Well, it's not going to be around for much longer. Love J Birney Crum stadium? Well, they'll probably tear it down and move that show to Giants Stadium. Love the classic uniform? It's silly and outdated. The central tenet of The Cadets Philosophy was "Choose your attitude." That is, if something is bad, don't complain about it - you are in control of how you approach any situation, and it's your responsibility to be positive. This, combined with a standing rule of "don't complain to someone who can't fix the problem," was a good way of emotionally manipulating people into accepting things which should have been better. [It's also literally cult leader stuff] We had a free day (morning rehearsal block and 6 hours in downtown Boston), and I ate a lobster, which was nice. Early July was when the wheels started falling off. On June 30 in Maryland, we outscored PR by over 2 points. By Phantom's home show 9 days later, we were down two tenths to them. We listened to the judges' tapes with Hop, which clearly indicated that there was "too much going on" - it was a maximalist show with a ton of stuff (literally and figuratively) thrown on the field, but without the staging and defined moments of effect that you would find in, say, a modern Blue Devils show. Hop explained how the judges just didn't understand the utter brilliance of it all, and their critiques were nonsensical: "You don't go to the beach and say, 'what do I watch, the ocean? The sky? The sand? The birds? Where should I look?' " We had a couple of rehearsal days in a row in Iowa, in which we shortened White Rabbit and started learning the new ending drill. Previously, it had taken about 3 1/2 minutes to get to a brass impact point (Cadets shows often have pacing issues. Remember 2016?) One memorable and frightening incident involved one of our Japanese members. He was a baritone player, and was extremely hard-working and dedicated. He caught bronchitis, but didn't tell anyone because he didn't want to hold the corps back. In the middle of learning new closer drill, he simply couldn't get enough breath and collapsed face-first on the field. One of our Japanese guard members had to go to the hospital with him to translate.
  9. [Almost forgot - in the middle of spring training, our nurse got into an argument with Hop and quit] In spring training I think mood of the corps was generally good, and the vets were bullish about our show design during spring training. I worked super hard and my tech took my dot book at one point, holding it up in front of the hornline and saying, "This is the best dot book in the corps. This is the standard." My section had a lot of discipline and maturity problems. There was a bit of a conflict between Hop and the vets around the time of the Gettysburg preview show: he wanted to replace the coveted corps jackets with a cheap windbreaker, and said the classic jacket was "something someone came up with on a bad day in the 70s." This was way before the big "kickoff events," so our first show was a random one with like 5 corps in Birmingham, AL. Hop told us that we would "definitely break 80 in the first show," which...just does not happen. The night before, the whole tuba section had to run laps because people were screwing around in rehearsal (which happened constantly). That night I started having stomach problems, and then next day I was feeling poorly. I sat out the end of rehearsal because I felt a headache and severe fatigue. The brass caption head considered the situation, and decided I should march that nights' show because two other members of my section were already injured. I have never felt worse physically on a bus ride than that night. The next few days, I couldn't force myself to eat, and I was getting called out from the box for "stumbling through direction changes." We had back to back rainouts in NC and TN, which honestly saved me. All the way up the east coast, we did pretty well. We beat Phantom by 2 points. We had some Music is Cool clinic days, which were very badly run. A huge amount of the show was simply unfinished - especially for the guard. It seemed like the guard was constantly on their own field, working with the pink benches and trying to figure how to use them. I barely remember them rehearsing anything else. Eventually, the benches would be picked up and tilted in the perc feature, and the guard/some hornline would run up them and jump/sumersault off, landing in the outstretched arms of the hornline members (Sound familiar? Bluecoats current/2014 visual staff was at Cadets in 2006). This caused a lot of people to slip, break their lips open, get dropped, and/or have concussions. For the ballad, the pink benches were lined up behind the hornline and tilted while Alice used cutouts in them to "lock" her ankle in place. Actually, the guard work in the ballad was pretty crazy cool, but it was also.... behind the hornline. The props were the absolute bane of our existence. The benches were a welded steel frame with a 3/4 inch plywood top, all spray-painted pink. They weighed a million pounds, and if you took too big of a step your shin would hit the bottom of the metal, so we ended up crabstepping with teeny tiny steps when carrying them in the show. We had to spend half of the Eat, Pack, and Load time moving the benches, disassembling the giant back panel backdrops, etc. Again, just a standard part of the drum corps experience now (is it the majority of the experience?). We also often had to come into stadiums from a different entrance than every other corps due to all the props. Lugging a heavy thing (along with a tuba in the other hand) onto the field, while it banged into your shins, is not really the best way to start a world-class performance. Again, just standard procedure now...
  10. The winter was kinda weird. There seeemed to be a lack of focus. The design "evolved," but a lot of it was wild ideas that were total dead ends. For example, at one point the lot warmup was supposed to be an integral part of the show. Another camp, we were given brass parts to go with the percussion feature, which we learned, cleaned, and then never talked about again. We spent an enormous amount of time working on encore/extra tunes (Back to the Future theme, Flintstones theme, Sing Sing Sing, some Beatles medley). Hop and Marc Sylvester explained the show, but it really did come across like a bunch of weird ideas rather than a coherent package. We were told we would not be wearing the traditional uniform, and also told that it was dumb to want to wear it. In general, George was dismissive of almost all traditions. We also spent a few nights at winter camps doing the famous "Hop Talks" late into the night. I believe a fuller accounting of Hopkins' activities that offseason can be found in the Lehigh County court records. We did Spring Training at West Virginia Wesleyan University, which is really in the middle of nowhere. It was okay, but the quality of the fields was poor, and the 20 minute walk between the food truck and fields really cut into productivity. Time wasn't spent efficiently - We once spent an entire evening block learning and practicing a more balletic, toe-first movement style... and never talked about it again. We also had events such as a local parade, the Bunker Hill parade in Boston, and a YEA concert in Allentown (the video posted earlier with us on a stage is from that). One thing that started happening, and didn't really ever stop happening, was injuries. I remember one veteran trumpet player whose knee swelled up so badly it had to be drained with a needle at a hospital (he did not complete spring training). Hop's response to injuries was to blame us for getting fat in the offseason. In general, there was a lack of urgency in spring training. Half the hornline hadn't memorized the music before coming. There was increasing tension between veterans and rookies, and a bit of a culture clash with the large contingent of members who had come from Magic of Orlando. We got fitted in our uniforms, but the psychedlic-patterned panels for our backs were delayed. They ended up being the exact same uniform backs from 2005 with the psychedelic patterns sewn over them, which made them attach to the velcro poorly and look bad (worse than they already did).
  11. The next part of the show was when everything got stupid, or at least "cringey." In addition to Amy and Alice (Katie Hopkins), there was a Red Queen, a Mad Hatter, and a White Rabbit. They were easy enough to overlook in the opener, but now took center stage. As the pit played alone, the hornline filed through some neat moving-column type drill to pick up our pink benches. The show had pink benches. (The turn to the back at the end of The Garden is when we revealed the back of our uniforms, which had psychedelic patterns to match the guard and giant back panels.) In total there were I believe 28 props - 16 pink benches, 10 giant backfield screens, the door, and the "mad tea party table." [Edit: there were TWENTY of those #### backfield panels] Standard equipment nowadays, but having your hornline just carry junk around for 3 minutes straight was pretty radical for the time. As this happened, the live vocals started with Amy - "It's a great pleasure... it's a great great pleasure... it's a great pleasure to have all of you here today." The drums carried out the big tea party table, and the percussion did their feature as the characters jumped around on the table and said embarassing things. At the end of the feature, there was a stick trick which rarely worked (that Hop saw once in the 70s and thought was cool). During all this, the hornline was in "pods" of 4, crabstepping while each holding a corner of a bench. There was a bunch of guard stuff and eventually a dance here, but I'll get into it later. End of the Mad Tea Party, percussion fades out marching toward the back, and the horns came in again for "Sanvean," our ballad. Hop saw Amy perform this with her HS band in Texas, and decided to just take both the song and the singer. It's a good ballad. Amy had vocals which were not words. As we played this, the drill was again representational. The whole movement was supposed to be Alice remembering her past experiences in The Zone; we made a hammer (2005 perc feature) an umbrella (2005 Liquid) and a crown (2005 Dancer in the Dark). The drill intentionally didn't line up with the phrase structure (you might have 16 bars divided up into moves of 6, 2, 3, and 5) to again give a dreamlike, cinematic feeling. This was very hard, and as it turns out, generated about zero General Effect. The guard was doing stuff with the benches behind us during this, more on it later. A huge problem for the ballad was getting the mic/monitor etc situation right so that she could actually hear herself, and we spent a ton of time on that. Infancy of A&E. Last piece -- horns fade out on Sanvean and drums fade in, and we're into the closer, which ended up being "Diaspora Dances" from Bernstein's Concerto for Orchestra (1989). It's a wild chart and really nice to do Bernstein without dragging out West Side Story or Candide. It also had a lot of syncopation, time signature and tempo changes, and exposed entrances right after turning frontfield. So, you would have, say, the mellos in a block marching facing backfield at 192 bpm, turning while bringing horns up and breathing, and coming in on the move with a technical and syncopated part. This was very hard to do cleanly. Eventually, the piece builds to the "Medea Chords" - you know, the loud doodoo doodoo....doodoodoodoo from Star 1993 (which was also Cadets 2005 closer, in another "we are redefining drum corps" message). We switched to 204 bpm on those hits, and the rest of the show was basically musically the same as 2005. Alice exits her mind-blowing experience, etc. So how did the season go?
  12. I marched Cadets in 2006, if the last posts didn't make that clear. "Sometimes you learn more from a bad year than a good one." -George Hopkins "You've all heard the horror stories about The Cadets. You've probably realized now that many of them are true." -Our horn sargeant It was definitely a weird year. Weird doesn't always mean bad, but you can be weird and bad at the same time! The year before, I had marched Capital Regiment (see my posts in the 2004 and 2005 threads). Cap Reg was basically trying to be Cadets on a budget (emphasis on budget), with Jay Bocook arrangements, Jeff Sacktig drill, and our brass and most of the visual staff were Cadets alums. When I got absolutely sick of Cap Reg, about in the middle of the season, I decided to march either Cadets or Phantom. As one of our visual techs said to the whole corps right after our semifinals show, "If you can survive this, you can march anywhere." There were 5 or 6 of us from the hornline who went to Cadets auditions. I absolutely aced the marching portion of the audition, but I got really nervous and did a terrible job on my music audition for Gino Cipriani. I am a bassoonist, not a tuba player. Fortunately, the 2004 Cap Reg brass caption head, Chad Pence, was the tuba tech, so he knew that I would stick it out and I got a contract the first camp. Gino told me at the end of the camp that I would get a contract, and asked if I was "committed." I said, "Yes, I can make the financial commitment," to which he replied, "No, I mean spiritually." That was that, I didn't even go to the Phantom auditions. The YEA combined Cadets/Crossmen audition camp was kindof odd - maybe 70 brass total showed up. You would assume that after 2005, people would be flocking to Cadets, but if anything the opposite seemed true. Something very important to understand about 2005 Cadets was that they were extremely stacked in terms of experience - a lot of 3 or 4 year vets. Many many of them aged out, and some just elected to end their marching careers at the top - who can blame them? We had about 70 rookies (some with experience at different corps). For a comparison, the 2005 tuba section had 7 Cadets vets out of 10; 2006 had 2. The whole winter was a revolving door in our section; I think maybe 5-6 of us went to every camp. From a design standpoint, the 2006 Cadets show - especially as originally conceived - was a stunning monument to hubris. The opening music was "History Repeating," by The Propellorheads, which was sung by Amy, our special vocalist. As the pit and Amy played History Repeating, the hornline marched the END of the 2005 show, silently, at 192 bpm. The pit was playing at 144 bpm, so for every 2 beats for the pit there were 3 for us (I think?). We went off the DM's hands and designated "dut-ers" only. If that sounds very hard, it is! The idea, as Marc Sylvester explained, was for it to be cinematic, like credits music over a "Last time on... The Zone" recap of the end of 2005, before we plunged back into the madness. The message, as explained to us, was "In 1983, we redefined the whole activity of drum corps. Now, we're doing it again. History repeating." Did you get that from the show as audience members? Then, you have "White Rabbit," as the girl from 2005 is transformed into Alice in wonderland. That piece melded into music from the "Pollock" soundtrack, and then another accelerando into the opener proper, which we called "The Garden," supposed to be Alice discovering the psychedelic wonderland. Pollock had very exposed antiphonal entrances that took forever to clean. As The Garden began, giant black screens arranged into an arc behind the back hash turned in a ripple to reveal psychedelic designs. As far as the hornline was concerned, the rest of the opener was good ol' run and gun. Physically, it was pretty brutal - we did the end of 2005 drill silently, waited for Alice to ring the doorbell, and then it was constant drill for White Rabbit, Pollock, and The Garden. If you compare 2005 to 2006, Liquid in 2005 was, as the name suggests, very flowing drill, while The Garden had a ton of very sharp and hard direction changes. Difficulty was high. There were a lot of what I would call "representational" drill forms, carrying over from 2005 - remember the umbrella, faucet, and fish in Liquid? At the end of The Garden we made a big eyeball that morphed into a keyhole (for the door, you see). Another departure from orthodoxy, which has now become commonplace, was that the music and movement in the entire show never stopped, but blended into the next piece. We never ran around, stopped, played a long chord, put our horns down and enjoyed the crowd reaction - at the end of The Garden, we played a closing chord, then turned backfield to "fade out" as the pit came in. This is like really long
  13. The opener goes from White Rabbit to "Pollock" and then the undisclosed piece of music of unknown origin which we called "The Garden" - the Freelancers' show is an arrangement of "Jim's New Life" from "Empire of the Sun" (John Williams) Did Jay Bocook arrange Freelancers in 1989? Seems kinda unlikely. Worth noting that "Cadillac of the Skies," a classic Cadets tune, is from the same soundtrack.
  14. 😱 relevant part starts about 3:25 in the Freelancers' show, about 1:33 in Cadets'
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