Haven't been to this venue since I competed years ago (pre renovation) and loved being back
Weather... No rain so yay!
We decided Saturday afternoon to get tickets for Buffalo since it was on the way home for us. So may throw a few things from Buffalo in
Tell you right now, I know nothing about drums, accept they make music when you hit them. As for whether a percussion line was good or not, unless it was really bad or really good it wouldn't have stuck out to me.
On to the corps.
Pioneer - I got to the stadium just as they were starting, so didn't get a full viewing. What I can say is I like the direction the corps is takin in regards to music and such. Definitely a balance problem between brass and percussion (see I notice the odd percussion thing) and with a full percussion line and (for their level) a full colour guard. The brass seemed to be awkwardly out of place. I hope that next year they can build more and grow that horn line. I've said this before and I would say it again. I would love to see them go back to Open class (Div 2 when they were last there) and build this corps back up and get these kids competing in a finals, instead of trying to just build. They would not be the first corps to move into Open and then come back to world class.. And a couple who have, have been really successful.
Cascades - First of all, I really like the new uniforms. I felt for sure like they have improved from last year. Being a colour guard person (I'm Canadian that's how we spell colour) I thought that the flag line didn't have enough to do and really wasn't being pushed. The flag work seemed fairly simple. The world on the field was cool to see at first, but didn't really add to the show nor did it take away. It was just there. Love the ballad mash up between the Planets tune and Black Hole Sun. And the flags in the ballad were great, lots of colour. Short Ride on a Fast Machine seemed to be a bit slow tempo. But I'd rather you go a tad slow and achieve what you're doing then take it up tempo and it be a dirty mess. Still, improved from last year hopefully the score will reflect that at prelims.
Mandarins - I was pleasantly surprised by you all. There was a nice sound coming from the start and for me, a more interesting show concept from you then in the past few years. There is a moment in the middle you lost me but brought me back in the final moments. Though I feel, that the quiet ending with brining all the characters on was not needed. The cord you did just prior to end would have been great.
Spirit - This is a show that I would kinda want to see again to really see how I felt about it. I know that there were definite moments I liked about this show and the brass had some moments of great sound. The downside, to me, they were dirty. But on the positive, love the corps unis. That shade of blue is brilliant.
Academy - Step in Time is that show that you know the kids are having fun performing. And even coming on the field a glimpse at the guard uniforms you know what they are performing before it's even mentioned ( or you didn't use the Internet to find out). What I loved, is that they stayed true to the music and didn't arrange it in a way to go off of the originals too much. The guard uniforms are so spot on for this show, could not have nailed it any better. In the "tap" section, I would like to have seen the guard do a little more with the "tapping". It's all around just a feel good show, for those of us who grew up watching Mary Poppins, it brings back memories of enjoying a one of the classics.
Blue Stars - You throw your theme in our face and make it quite clear what it's about. I'm loving the red plumes. Two, this colour guard does so much. Would love to see them cleaner, but still. The attached twins in the ballad was great. My one thing oddly enough is I found the side show acts distracting, not necessarily in a bad way. But they are. So in Buffalo I made it a point not to watch the sideshow acts and really focus on the corps. Cause in those moments the corps is doing their thing. And one night of contortionists is all I need. They do there theme well. Just wish it was cleaner.
Cavaliers - Game on - give me more. I like the show, just felt like something was missing from what I've come to love in the Cavaliers. I couldn't put a finger on it, but just something wasn't there and to me the theme is not fully brought out. With that said, still a nice sound from them. And even in Buffalo, the show grew on me a little as I caught a couple of things I didn't in Allentown. Also, I'm not normally one for a lot vocals or narration. I actually like the Run Boy Run section. It worked. It fit in.
Blue Knights - I really liked Blue Knights. They have a beautiful tone to their brass and just some really well done moments. Maybe I missed it, which sometimes happens, but the point to the semi circle mirrors? The guard coming out from behind there and the quick flag changes they used with them were cool and effective. But, hmm.. Anyway, love that this corps is really seeming to feel there were through this show, like last year. Simply, I just really liked them.
SCV - I wasn't sure how much I'd like this show in person. And I really liked it. Loud, is the first word that came to mind. Beautiful ballad, wish the Bari solo at the start was purely him. I just think it's a moment where less is more. Love this guard, love there style. And the skeleton unis are great. I even liked the props. And yes, did they ever light up... Literally, they lit up. And though, may be cheesy, was still effective and got a positive response from the crowd. And as my dad and I point out, it seems like a lot of the time SCV is in their own world scoring wise. This looks like that will be true this year. Top 4, SCV, then the rest. Also, they seemed to be a little tired in Buffalo.
Blue Devils - Again a show I really liked, holy props though. They usually make the props work and are effective. But like another corps fighting for top spot. I would like to see Devils come out with no props nor gimmicks, just corps. There's so much going on in this show you kinda have to see it a few times and from different vantage points. I didn't notice the first time, the guard coming out of the story books. And I think cause there's so much happening and not a good focus at all times, the show gets lost on some people and ends up not being such a crowd favourite. I, for me, really enjoyed them. I think their ballad was awesome. I think their guard was amazing. This corps always has such talent that it's hard to see them outside of a top three sometimes. This show will be top three for sure this year. I say at worst second.
FREE Players - This is a special needs drum corps. Really what's there to say, but awesome job. You went out there, you performed and made the crowd give you a huge standing ovation, to which you deserved that and more. And huge props and mad respect to Mandarins for helping out.
Cadets 2 - I enjoyed them, thought they brought some great sound and had a entertaining show. Definitely some cleaning needed before DCA but still, great job.
Jersey Surf - Fun in the sun show. I do like when they do a fun show, the uniform reflects that. And when they do a more serious show, the unis reflect that. My one issue I guess is, is Jersey Surf the fun Bridgemen like corps or the more serious (insert multiple) like corps. I believe corps need to change things up. But flip flopping every second year, from fun to serious, it just never gives you a chance to know who or what a corps is really about. With that said, I do like the show, it's a fun show but cheesy and a little simple at times, almost like they really didn't want to push the kids too much. Wondering, if it's a young corps with a lot of rookies. Either way, good job.
Pacific Crest - I'm gonna be honest, I just didn't get into this show that much. It just didn't get my attention the way I had hoped. I really liked last year and was looking forward to seeing them. I'm not disappointed cause every kid in every corps works very hard and I have a lot respect for that. Just not my kind of show I guess. Here's the positive to all of it, I love the new Unis, they look soooo much better then their old ones, I'm glad the change was made. They had some nice moments and nice tone. And the guard had some good work throughout.
Oregon Crusaders - The Midnight Garden... Pretty self explanatory. I got you were in a garden, I got the solo dancer loves it there, loves playing and dancing there etc etc. The big flowers on the flags in the ballad told me the flowers bloom. So for me, the narration is not needed. Your show design and the way the kids perform make it easy to follow, I got what was happening, the theme is clearly laid out. It's my one issue, is you telling me how your soloist if feeling. When with out the narration I get that. My issue aside. It's a nicely done show the soloist dancer performs very well through out and the corps does a great job telling this story. Beautiful flags and love the clock tower.
Troopers - I think most people that have been around the activity for a long time have a soft spot for the Troopers. (Unless you're in a corps in direct competition with them maybe). This show sells itself from the start and I really loved it. Beautiful sound, theme is well brought out. I feel a bit for the girl singing in the ballad, I know she's a guard member and it's got to be tough to be running around a field with equipment and then stop to sing. You could hear the windedness a little but she still sang it well and it made for a beautiful ballad. This is one of my favourite shows this year. Personally thought they should have beaten Colts and been a little closer to Crossmen/Boston/ Blue Stars Group.
Colts - There are two completely different shows going on here, the one the crops proper is putting on the field and the radio show the front ensemble is putting on. Can I first state that I love the front ensembles uniforms the greys and blacks... For that black and white TV feel was great. I could've done without the characters talking so much, but get what you're trying to do. However, would love to have had more focus on the field and less focus on the "on air" personalities. I think the corps as a whole came out a bit cleaner and stronger then last year. I just kept getting distracted by what was going on up front, I'd would've liked to have seen them again to focus more on the corps and less on what was going on sideline. Sort of like what I did with Blue Stars in Buffalo. Guard soloists/characters did a great job. And the music was good.
Crossmen - Well if a corps is going to let you know there theme and really let you know it. It's Crossmen. From the cloud tarps on the field, to the paper airplanes, the the parachute guy, to the tall poles with planes on them. It's a heres our theme and we will not let you forget it. Lol, I actually like this show. It's got some great moments in it. I think I was kinda hoping for a little more sound from them, felt like they were holding back a little. Could've done with out the paper airplanes and parachute guy. I liked the planes on the poles. Their ballad was beautiful and they seemed to have up'd there demand a little this year. But my one thing is, it just doesn't feel like a Crossmen show. It doesn't feel like we are getting who Crossmen is. Am I the only person who thinks, please come out next years doing Metheny, or The Rain Forest, Appalachian Morning? Or some Birdland, something that made people love them in the 90s? I probably am. But I'd still love that.
Boston Crusaders - This is a show I'd like to have seen again. I like this show, but I kinda wanted to see it from higher up. The electronic bagpipes didn't feel right, if it had been real bagpipes, I would have liked that more. I get the point to the banners, and the reason for them being in the show. Just thought they were a tad in the way. The brass have a nice sound and the guard for me, much better this year. The show as a whole, much improved. This show was more accessible and more connected I think. Great job.
Phantom Regiment - I really enjoyed this show. It was really well done. Loved, the guard.. Did anyone else notice the Chanel logo on the opening flags? Musically very enjoyable and though a little different for Phantom still felt like Phantom. Again, like this years unis.
Madison Scouts - You did your job, you came in, you got people's attention and you made them stand for you at the end. For me, though I did like this show, it's not one of my favs. The opening flags were definitely stand out flags and really caught your attention. As normal, they know how to charm an audience and in Allentown you did that. Oh and thank you so much for going back to the Green with red sash combo.
Bluecoats - I love this show. It a great show. One of my favs this year. I don't know if it's Tilt level for me, but nonetheless it's just a lot of energy and creative. The corps perform well. My one question is, do they rely too much on the electronic effects... In Buffalo those effects were not happening and it made for a couple of awkward silent moments that made you realize how much of it they use. And though I give big respect to them for going through it and not letting it hurt there performance. Were they too reliant on the electronics enhancing there show? With that said, when everything is in full effect it has a lot of wows for me and is just really well done. And those guard unis could be seen from anywhere I'm sure as well as their flags. Again beautiful ballad. Bari solo well done. This ballad for me brings out a lot of emotion and got stuck in my head for a while. I just hope 5 million winter guards don't use it this year.
Carolina Crown - My first thought is Thank You, thank you, thank you. No props, trampolines or any other clutter on the field. Just a bunch of members from a corps as one unit getting ready to perform. And with that said. Holy WOW!!!!!!!! !!! !!! !! This show is amazing from beginning to end. I love this show and can definitely see it being title number two for Crown. By far the best guard I've ever seen from this corps, so tight and well performed. And really what can be said about the brass. Like, just again this brass line floors me. Fantastic show. And no hope abandoned cause I got everything I wanted from Crown. Fantastic show.
Cadets - Love, love, love, love, love the black uniforms. So glad to seem them in a new uniform. This corps has so much demand in this show they are always on the fly, I still get amazed they don't run into each other and knock each other out. Musically though, it fell a little flat for me. Like something was missing, or it's all too much on one level. With that said, I absolutely love the French horn feature. Probably my favourite part of your show. It's just a very beautiful moment. And guard, specifically Sabres. I hope Buffalo was the bad show. A lot of drops on non tosses, and in a moment when they are featured. Other than that the guard did a great job and the flags are fantastic.
Bridgemen - Celebrating Fifty years. Just a lot of fun and a lot of energy. A pleasure to watch them perform and celebrate a milestone.
My opinion the top four is tight for a reason. And love or not love for a show. They all deserve to be there. I don't think anyone of them is guaranteed the title or are any of them guaranteed to be out of the medals. I love to see a true battle for the top.