OK, I am sure that most have already seen numerous posts re. Orlando, but I just wanted to share some of my impressions. Also, I went to the shows with a friend of mine and it was his first shows ever. It's always really interesting to hear an outsider's point of view of drum corps and I will share some of his comments as well.
Teal Sound: Nice overall show that should continue to clean and probably challenge in Denver. The drum line was pretty solid, but I didn't care too much for the dancing they did with the guard.
Colts: I really enjoyed the Colts and I think they had a really solid sound and look to them. I do have to say though that I was shocked to see that they had turned "Old Man River" into a love ballad, complete with a pas de deux between two guard members. WHAT??? The song was played well, but come on! I really enjoyed the "Threshing Machines" -- nice effects in the percussion and guard. My friend liked them until the section where they playfully frolic on the field (including a little butt shaking by the horns). He thought that was just WAY too corney (I concur). Overall very solid and entertaining show from Colts.
Capital Regiment: After a discussion with my friend about why it is Capital and not CapitOl Regiment the show began. I really like the first half of their show. I was quite surprised thatthey hadn't really improved as much as I would have thought between Louisville and Orlando. Marching was surprisingly dirty (new drill?) But the major downer for them is the jazzy park and blow ending. It just seems to come from nowhere and looks even more out of place when juxtaposed with the rest of the program. My friend just asked me what that was? I couldn't answer. Strong corps that is getting better. Not in contention for Finals though. I actually had Colts on top of them.
Mandarins: Surprisingly sloppy for them. The horns aren't as strong as the have been in the past, yes size hurts, but they don't have the same quality of sound I've heard from them with even smaller hornlines. I think the program as a whole is very effective otherwise. The Teiko Drums were very effective as were the banners surrounding the field. My friend really enjoyed them. He liked that they had their own way of doing things that was different and refreshing. I have to agree. If they can clean, semis is possible. If not, then not.
Magic: Very crowd appealling show. My friend really enjoyed it, but even he made comments about how ragged they looked and sounded. Nowhere near the improvement from Louisville that I would have expected. This is the quintessential down year for them, but let's just hope that it is just that and nothing worse. If nothing else, the kids can rest assured that despite their scores, they are a crowd favorite. And they got a very solid ovation at their home show.
Crossmen: What happened to the Crossmen guard? They were a mess! The hornline was strong and had some nice moments, especially in jubal step. Unfortunately, Both Sides Now still has some major phasing issues and just seems to be missing the mark. PUMA was strong and seemed a lot more effective tonight than in Louisville. Now, as for the new music for the ending . . . while I appreciate the goal for the ending (giving us a classic Crossmen ending a la 91 and 92), the music just doesn't work. Puma just starts to lock in and then we get a reprise of all of the show music and then Puma returns for the very end. It just seems like a more thorough treatment of Puma would make the ending more continous and truly allow a build up to the very end. They are not out of Finals, by any stretch. This show still has somuch that can be done to make it absolutely fantastic. It can and most likely will hit its stride in Allentown.
Spirit: Nice marching performance. Seemed to really get to the crowd tonight. The hornline performs admirably. However, except for the ballad, their music doesn't do a whole lot for me. And the closer in particular I think is their weak link which I fear will ultimately keep them out of Finals. My friend didn't like their music much at all (he is viloa player by way of training) and found the music to be a little too disjunctive and devoid of melody. I said welcome the wonderful world of 21st Century drum corps music. Spirit is right there in the fight for a Finals spot though.
Blue Knights: One of the highlights of the evening for me. I thought that their hornline sounded fantastic tonight -- very solid, deep sound and very crisp. The drums were also quite strong. I loved "I Go On" -- simple and yet very effective. The guard perfomed pretty well tonight and I thought that they marched a very strong show. My friend didn't care for them too much and said that their guard saved them tonight. I said everyone is entitled to an opinion -- and you have chosen the WRONG opinion, but an opinion nonetheless. I will be shocked if they are not in Finals.
Boston Crusaders: My friend's favorite show of the night! I was shocked that he found this show to be the most entertaining and complete package. It's amazing how what works for one doesn't work for others. I was sooooo excited to see them do this show without the insipid soundtrack!!! But alas, I understand that it was just a one time thing. This show is a very solid package and is pretty easy to watch and understand what they are doing. The horns actually sounded better than I remember them and the drum and guard are both strong. They are a very solid marching corps and have put together a very solid, (apparently) entertaining show. And I can tell you that the reaction they received in Orlando was incredible, especially since when I saw them in Louisville, the crowd was polite at best. I wish they would just scrap the whole soundtrack thing. Oh well . . . .
Madison Scouts: Their opener is growing on me and is finally matching Malaga in terms of intensity and performance level. The crowd loved the rotating front move, including my friend. They are performing visually much stronger than in the recent past and their music remains strong. I think they are on their way back to the top, but they are not there yet.
SCV: My pick of the night and probably my favorite show of the year. This show is everything that drum corps should be. It has outstanding music, arranged in a clear and effective way and combines it with drill and a visual package that is compelling and stimulating both intellectually and emotionally. The hornline is the strongest I've heard from them in years (at least sine 1999) and the drumline is back on top of its game. The guard are strong, but did have some performance issues tonight. Once this show is clean, it will be hard pressed to beat (I think only Cavies would be able to do it), but we shall see.
Blue Devils: I really think that this show showcases the incredible talent the Blue Devils have year in and year out. However, unlike last year, this program doesn't match the quality of the individual players. Yes they are in the running for the title, but they always will be because of their talent level. However, this particular program was not that effective, in my opinion. And while it's great to hear a squeeling trumpet soloist, it sort of loses the effect when it is constantly going on. And yes the control and power of the horns is incredible, but imagine what they could do if they actually put a few notes together and actually played something even remotely melodic instead of the stingers that seem to dominate their show. And the ending is a GE disaster in my opinion. My freind looked at me and asked "Is that it?" I said "I guess so." Oh well, great talent, mediocre show could still equal a title in Denver. But we shall see.
According to my non-drum corps friend, his favorites of the night were Boston, Mandarins, SCV and Magic.
After a very cloudy day, the rain stayed away and we enjoyed a second beautiful (albeit muggy) night of drumcorps.
Troopers: I liked the ending and there were some pretty good things going on throughout, including a pretty good drum line. However, this show is placing exactly where it belongs right now. The hornline doesn't sound a strong as it did last year and while I think the music has some nice effect built into it, it really never captured my attention. The performance of the guard is a definite improvement over last year's edition. I think they will not mae semis, but I think the last two years are solid building blocks for the future of this corps. Go Troop.
Kiwanis Kavaliers: I think they do a pretty good job tackling WSS in their own way. Horns sounded much stronger tonight than in Louisville, but there were some definite ensemble issues (loud doesn't always equal good baritones). The guard is performing well and the marching was a HUGE improvement from when I saw them in Louisville. Also, nice use of the garbage cans by the guard (although I don't think they were used as drums at the end anymore). Much improved and had a really strong show tonight.
Southwind: I think that their performance was a little off tonight. The music was a little sloppier than I remembered in louisville (some major intonation and ensemble problems in the brass). The guard was pretty solid and on the whole much more integrated this year than in years past. I actually really liked the use of the ropes, although in the wind, they were pretty hard pressed to even get a foot out to catch the toss. Drill still needs a lot of work. The forms are so easy to read and so angular that mistakes are obvious. If they don't clean, Kiwanis could pass them.
Seattle Cascades: This show did nothing for me or my friend. While I think they have a very nice sounding hornline, the program never really gives us a chance to see what they can do. Also, the timpanis are just useless. It is A LOT of work to get them fron and center and when they get there, you can't hear them. Distracting and ineffective, a dangerous combination. The guard were not too prevalent and I was actually a bit put off by the constant flag changes (I believe they use 3 in the opener). They had to have used at least 7 or 8 flags during the show. And those round rain sound things that are used by the drum line. Once again, could barely be heard and proved to be pretty ineffective. Just not a good program on the whole. They are not in the running for Finals with this show.
Glassmen: I was very pleased by the Glassmen performance. The intro was fantastic and the red dresses were fantastic. The hornline is very solid and the percussion is strong as well. I liked the constantly evolving guard outfits and the constant references to Medea. I do think that the music might have been a little more effective if they would have developed certain themes a little more. It might have been nice to see a little fuller treatment of both Medea and Appalachian Spring. (I have a great CD with both on it as it is actually a CD of Music for Martha Graham and it's really cool to hear both pieces together). I liked them a lot and I think they will battle with Spirit for the last spot come Denver.
Carolina Crown: WOW! They are even better now than I thought they would be. I was floored in Louisville by how powerful their hornline is and how strong of a program they have, but they have improved more than I could have imagined. They have strong captions across the board and have one of the most entertaining total packages going. The only down side for them is the singing and the poetry: I was at the top of the lower section on the 50 and I could barely even hear that they were singing, let alone actually hearing and understanding what they were singing and/or saying. Their amps are weak! I just hope they finally scrap them as we head into nothing but big stadia from now to Finals. Don't be surprised if they pull a Boston 2000 and ride a very appealing, slightly less difficult package to a 5th place finish in Denver. I think they can catch and beat Phantom, Madison, Boston and Bluecoats. We shall see. My friends 2nd favorite of the night.
Bluecoats: Great sound, strong guard and excellent drums. But why can I not get into this show? I can't tell why, I just know I can't. I still feel like the jam session at the end is forced somehow and doesn't seem to naturally evolve from the music as it has developed until that point. I don't know, I didn't care for the show when I first saw it in louisville, and I still don't now. I had them down from Crown tonight.
Phantom: Great brass sound for the most part. Another strong drumline and a better guard than last year. And yet, here again, I just don't seem to really feel this show. Visually, i think the choice of yellow as the guard costume is too light. The visual package looks a little faded and offers very little contrast. The ballad doesn't really develop like it should, they simply play and then turn around and hit you with what should be the big emotional moment, but because the work wasn't done leading up to it, it just didn't click (at least for me). And the hearts in the drill were just a little too cheesey. Especially when atthe first heart segment, the guard dance soloist has just had her heart broken, and yet the drill heart is complete? Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but if you are trying to tell a story, then perhaps a little consistency could help. It sounds great, but I just think that this music isn't working with Phantom. I've only seen them once, perhaps I'll change my mind in Denver.
Cadets: I really didn't care too much for this show in Louisville, but I thought they had some excellent building blocks and could make this show fantastic. Well, I still don't care much for this show and one of the solid building blocks didn't sound so solid on Saturday. The hornline in Louisville sounded fantastic and I couldn't imagine them losing the brass caption to the Cavaliers. However, on Saturday, the horns didn't have anywhere near the same quality of sound as they did in Louisville and they deserved to lose the caption to the Cavies. The guard are solid, but not really well integrated into the program. The drill is really not that interestin on the whole and the music jsut doesn't build to anything. It's like listening to an adult contemporary or easy listening radio station. And I have always loved the Cadets, but this is not the program that is going to win them a title. There is no way I can see them beating Cavies in the GE captions and I think all of the other captions are pretty much equal. One funny note: The baton twirler had one of the absolute worst misses I've ever seen in my life! It must have slid out of his hand as he tossed it -- it went at least 20 yards away from where he was standing!! Not goo when you are the big visual climax at a key moment in the show. Just a rough night overall for the Cadets I thought. My friend had Cadets in 5th.
Cavaliers: Marching is phenominal. The hornline (especially trumpets) is incredible. Percussion is strong and the guard are really performing well (although not without their own problems). This show is a great total package except, the ending really doesn't work for me. If they don't do something to fix the ending, I think that Vanguard will catch them and take it in Denver. This was my friend's favorite of the weekend.
My favorites during the weekend:
My friend's favorites
Well that's it until Denver for me, unless someone knows how I can get from manhattan to Giant Stadium via public transportation?