Woochifer

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About Woochifer

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  1. 1992 Finals, just to catch the crowd reaction when the shark made its first and only appearance of the season
  2. At DCI West last month, the Mandarins got a huge ovation -- probably the loudest crowd response of the night (helped that much of the audience was split evenly between BD and SCV partisans who come together to cheer on the Mandarins). Also helps that the Mandarins' show just grabs the audience's attention, and the corps members sell it big time. My impression was that the show was very ragged around the edges, but had a lot of room for growth. For decades, they were the little corps that could. Now, they're competing with the big guns and riding a huge wave of momentum that has been years in the making.
  3. For anyone who wants to see what the new ending added to the Velvet Knights' 1992 show, this is the video link to their semifinal performance (need to unmute the audio to listen to it). The famous "crocodile" had not yet made its debut. But, after watching this I realized that the "King of the Monsters" was yet ANOTHER finals night addition. Given that VK missed the cut for finals the year before, and were far from a sure bet to make it to finals the following night, how the hell did they manage to hold back two of their best gags until the finals performance? VK 1992 Semifinal - Magical Mystery Tour III Seeing the irreverence of the drum majors during intros and the whole setup with the pit dressed as airport runway workers brings back just how much audiences loved this corps. They were silly, but also dead serious about entertaining and winning over the crowd.
  4. The moment that the world came to an end (still the greatest closer of all-time)! 😀 It ain't over til the ...
  5. Great night all around. Some general impressions. Troopers: Seemed like they made some stylistic changes this season. Enjoyed the show, refreshingly free from gimmickry. The Academy: Very interesting visually. But, as with last year's show, it seemed that the props got in the way more often than they added to the show. I know that they made a lot of improvements as the season progressed last year, and I would expect the same to happen this year. The music and the overall look has a lot of potential, but it seems very rough right now. Mandarins: With the crowd largely split between SCV and BD, the Mandarins once again got the biggest response of the night -- and deservedly so. They are really pushing the envelope this year with the weird, dark, and creepy themes. The props make their macabre intent way more obvious this year. But, man do they ever sell it! This show just grabs your attention and doesn't let go. It's a jawdropper from start to finish. Very high ceiling with this show. It needs a LOT of refining and cleaning up, but the foundation's in place. Cavaliers: The railroad theme felt a bit hokey at times, but the level of playing and the pacing of the drill were outstanding. They were cramming a lot of elements into their show. More so than the others, this one probably demands multiple viewings to appreciate how much is going on. Great to see them. Santa Clara Vanguard: I would say that this show had the highest level of difficulty. It's also very obviously not close to complete. Yet, they still won the night. Make no mistake this is a great show, with some amazing moments. But, unlike last year with Babylon (where at Stanford, SCV beat BD for the first time in nearly a decade), Vox Eversio doesn't feel like an obvious championship show in the making. Once they clean things up and put the closer into the show, then it might be a clearer winner ... or maybe not. Blue Devils: I thought Ghostlight was visually stunning. The show had a good narrative thread running through it and I found it the most enjoyable of all the shows. It wasn't trying for a thrill a minute. It was good music, good drill, and probably the best use of props among all the shows. The angled doorways added visually to the show and allowed for some clever choreography. SCV won on the scores, but they were separated by less than a point from BD. A lot can and will happen.
  6. I would guess it happened sometime around 1982. Huge transformation all the way around. They ditched the traditional unis and went to straw hats, Hawaiian shirts, and Converse high tops. This is a video that someone shot during an early season retreat that year. The drum majors played up their California beach bum persona by setting up lawn chairs and a drink cooler instead of the usual standing at attention. And this time, the Blue Devil DMs got into the act. I've read other accounts that DMs from other corps also began pranking the VK DMs during retreat throughout that season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjfTswBbBxU
  7. 05 -- the last year that BD failed to medal ... IIRC, that was the year when they spent the summer touring Europe. They came back to the states a few weeks before finals. The show itself was the Dance Derby of the Century ... basically a turn of the century dance marathon, except in reverse. I only saw it on TV. Looked like a fun show, but it was one of those times where I thought BD was being too clever for their own good. And I would imagine that with the international travel, they couldn't refine the show as much as they normally would.
  8. I probably came into this from a warped perspective, because the first drumcorps show I ever attended was highlighted by the uproarious 1992 Velvet Knights. That show was silly and hilarious and more akin to a live action Looney Tunes cartoon, with so many moments that I've never forgotten. VK had missed finals the year before, so they upped the ante with the gags and played with a determination to make it back into the top 12, which they did. BD and SCV were on the same program, yet VK got by far the loudest ovation. And I heard that the boisterous crowd responses followed them all season long until their now-legendary finals night performance when they debuted the prop shark eating the "fat lady" (who had been the showstopping closer all season, but met an untimely fate on finals night) and the crowd went berserk. A 10th place performance that made many all-time top 10 lists in the years that followed. I had to recalibrate my expectations about drumcorps when I figured out that the clown corps like VK and the Bridgemen were not the norm. For all the high concept arty shows that I've seen and liked, that 05 Phantom show was something different in that it was unabashedly joyful all the way around. That was conveyed from the field all the way up into the stands. Didn't have to overthink anything, I just sat back and enjoyed it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that was supposedly the first time that Phantom went to a more jazz-influenced program.
  9. I've only seen Phantom in person a couple of times (2005 and 2008) when they came out west. But, I recall that those shows moved and engaged the audience in different ways. The 2005 Gershwin show was a joy to watch, while the 2008 Spartacus show was just gripping from end to end. I also respected that Phantom steered clear of the gimmickry that was starting to take hold at that time. The '08 BD show looked like a much more difficult show, but they got too cute and high concept for their own good. It probably should have won just looking at that show objectively in a vacuum, but Phantom's show was such an emotional ballbuster that it couldn't be denied. And the sentiment behind earning Phantom's 1st outright title couldn't be denied either. Just watching audience videos on Youtube, this year's Phantom show seems, as you said, flat. It's well executed, but something's missing. And as a side note, the props seem more in the way than something that adds to the show. What I've seen so far of the Mandarins, their show is definitely not as clean. But, it grabs the audience's attention and demands notice. The intangibles are all there.
  10. There's a lot of sentiment and circumstance in favor of the Mandarins. At first, there was all the talk and momentum behind them making World Class finals for the first time in their long history. Now, with their spot in the finals seemingly secure (I would say they have a much better than 50-50 shot at this point), the question has shifted to whether they break into the top 10. Because there are only so many spots in finals and in the top 10, their ascendancy will come at someone else's expense. Last season, Madison Scouts barely held the Mandarins off for that 12th spot. But, with the two corps going in opposite directions, that was never going to hold up. And for the top 10 spot, unfortunately Phantom is now in that same position that Madison was in last year. Too bad, because as much as I like seeing the scrappy underdog ascend to a spot among the big dogs, Phantom was always one of the corps that I had the most respect for.
  11. The Mandarins were by far the biggest surprise when I saw them at Stanford. They probably also garnered the biggest ovation that night. (The crowd was largely split between BD and SCV fans, but everyone pulled for the Mandarins) I hadn't been to a show in about 4 years, and that was apparently the time period in which the Mandarins paved the path for their emergence. Last time I saw them, they didn't field a full-sized corps -- not even close. Shocking enough for me to see the Mandarins as a full-sized corps, but to also see them performing a bold in-your-face show that takes a lot of chances. First time I saw them was in 92, and I think they had maybe 40 members. In that early season show (highlighted by an early iteration of the Velvet Knights' now-legendary Magical Mystery Tour III show), the Mandarins placed in dead last, behind all of the other lower division corps. Yet, they came back and eventually won the Division III title that year. They have a long history of being the little corps that could, and this could be the year that they take their place among the big boys.
  12. The show at Stanford last month was the first one I'd attended in about 4 years. And I was floored at how elaborate the props had gotten. Yes, they can add to a show, but they can also be a major hindrance. I thought the props were more of a distraction with the Academy. It looked more like the performers were battling with the props than actually performing. That was a show where the props got in the way very often, and did not add enough to the show. I heard that they made a lot of changes to their show afterwards, so I haven't seen whether they figured out how to make the props work more in their favor. With the Vanguard, I thought it was a wash. The nesting cages are a great platform for the choreographed bits, and the visual of the guard and corps hanging on the outside is great. But, the transitions do occasionally hinder the show's momentum. All in all, for them the props give and take away in equal pieces. Among the corps I saw, I thought the Blue Devils did the best job with integrating the props into the flow of the performance. They're all separate props that come together at the end to form that reproduction of the famous Nighthawks painting. But, in the meantime, the separate props still work as staging for the earlier pieces.
  13. Ah yes! The shark eats the "fat lady"! Maybe the greatest closing gag ever. It propelled VK's show from that year's crowd favorite to all-time legendary status. Just look at how often that 1992 Velvet Knights performance shows up on people's all-time lists. I don't see too many non-winning performances, not to mention 10TH PLACE performances, that are so fondly remembered decades later. And it seems that the show's legend has kept growing over the years. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read about how that was the loudest DCI crowd reaction ever. How the raucous ovation blew out one of the field mics on the audio/video production. Stories about how VK fortuitously came into possession of that shark prop because one of the high schools where they overnighted wanted to get rid of it and asked them if they wanted it. How VK ended up with an old UCLA mascot costume for the bear. How VK got an inflatable Godzilla, and when they asked the DCI higher ups if they could add it to the show, the response was laughter and something along the lines of "Go ahead, we'll add a rule banning it next year." Wherever the truths lie, I can safely say that the VK show was already comedic gold, bringing the house down every night with the "fat lady" gag even before they added the shark. That year, I went to a June show in SoCal, and even in its early form (no shark, no Godzilla v Energizer Bunny battle), the crowd went nuts over what VK was doing. And what a ballsy move for VK to keep the shark under wraps until finals. Recall that VK did not qualify for finals the year before, so it was not a given that they would make it to the final show. But, keeping the shark a secret until the finals night closer truly made that show the stuff of legend. Just listen to the audio track of their finals show (the crowd reaction sounds clearer on the CD mix than on the video). The audience was already primed to give VK a gigantic ovation at the end of their show. But, when that shark rolled out, the crowd just erupted and kept getting louder until shark mouth met fat lady. I could only imagine how deafening that stadium was at that moment! Great moment for VK and the drumcorps activity, albeit a bittersweet one. That 1992 performance would be the last time a comedic show qualified for finals, and the last time that the Velvet Knights ever advanced to finals. The corps itself would fold 6 years later. But, they had that one moment where everything converged, and people still talk about it. YouTube vid of the VK finale below. FYI, the sign at the end of the show says "It Ain't Over Til The ..."