A fantastic night of drum corps viewing...hard to imagine a better non-regional venue than BB&T Stadium, and the weather was just about ideal. I actually went with my dentist(!), who I've known since we graduated from rival high schools the same year.
Just some random thoughts...
NCA&T - Glad to see these guys performing here, perfect way to start things off. Of particular interest were the 8 or so marching floor toms (at least that's what they sounded like, looked like mini-basses)
SPIRIT - Love the big dual flag work in the ballad, interesting musical book, and handled all the costume changes well. The ending moment with the door was a nice surprise. I really need to check out the source music.
PHANTOM - Absolutely one of my favorites this year (bought my first ever Phantom T-shirt). For everyone ragging on their design, it is one of the few shows that holds my interest musically AND visually the whole way through. I just about lost it with the trumpet/mellophone horn switching...brass players, how hard is that to do? Love seeing the male guard members in the regular uniform in the first part of the show. The ensemble vocals in the closer have a raw energy and you can tell these folks are pouring their hearts into it. I cannot believe this is 12th place.
BLUE STARS - Fantastic full ensemble brass sound, though I miss those lush major seventh chords from last year. Like the way they take the theme to the hilt. This was the first group that got me scratching my head trying to figure where the soloist was (we were sitting low side 2 just inside the speaker placement). The uniforms look good up close but man, so much detail, so busy when trying to take everything in on the move...does saturation = effect?
BLUE KNIGHTS - OMG...you can actually still design a music book like this??? Where each musical moment flows organically into the next without any contrivances to ramp up the content scores or just provide filler for the visuals? Hard to remember the last time I was so emotionally affected by a show like this...thank you BK, simply spellbinding!
CADETS - Much, much more well received live than in recent broadcasts. Brass playing with greater control this evening. No need to repeat others' criticisms, I'm sure lessons have been learned. Did they remove some of the ending from Atlanta?
CRUSADERS - I really like this design team's approach. The show is clear, powerful, easy to follow...not just a random assault on the senses. I wish the music book had a little more depth to it. Percussion sounded just fine from my vantage point. My big question, why do they not use an actual slingshot prop?? Is it safety concern?
CAVALIERS - Favorite pit of the night! Low brass is also to die for. Unquestionably high energy, feel like it all just whizzes by you before you can take it all in. A few too many visual transitions with the horns running/scattering from one side to the other...used to seeing more craft and cleverness from these guys. Kinda feel like if you put this year's music with last year's visual (minus tarps of course) they could be medaling.
BLUECOATS - Smiling, cheering, roaring, stomping the whole way through for my alma mater. "Within You Without You" is my favorite section, show is over too quickly. I am a little concerned by how much pre-recorded material is featured. A few loose moments between brass and percussion, feel like there is more to be achieved on the Music Analysis front. The homer in me would like to see them win, however...
BLUE DEVILS - ...are making a believer out of me. So many amazing things large and small. Each musical section has its own distinct groove to it. This is the most ever I have enjoyed the BD guard, especially the saber work in the ballad...reminds of the Cadets flag work in 1997 - so active, yet tasteful and elegant at the same time. Hoping they will turn off the ghost light for finals week.
VANGUARD - Yeah, they play the snot out of everything but it just seems like a tale told of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Trust me, I have always ADORED SCV and last year was the bomb, but I'm hoping this angry hipster rebel phase wears off soon. Showing my age here but I remember when Don Angelica referred to them as the "Rolls Royce" of the industry...not sure what make and model would be appropriate now. I did enjoy hearing that screamer trumpet from last year again...does he have bionic lips or something?
CROWN - I was ready for that opening hit and they did not let me down! Wish they had used more of the minor mode from the original in the rest of the opener. Intonation in the ballad is just jaw-droppingly pristine, maybe they can get just a little more crescendo out of it? Closer does indeed have that Madison-esque vibe going for it, on our feet well before the end.
USMC - G Bugles!!! That is all.
Despite my reactions probably being typical of an early 90's FMM slipping into dino-dom, there is nowhere else on earth I would have rather been than last night. The intensity and artistry of today's performers is still as thrilling to see as ever. Thanks to all the corps for making me feel like a kid at Christmas, and to the Crown folks for hosting such a first class event. Here's hoping for all great performances as the 2019 tour winds down, all too soon.