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Found 56 results

  1. I'll start again by talking about what I've been listening to corps-wise and my thoughts about some of the reactions. The ones that have really killed me lately are the comments surrounding some of the Blue Devils programs, notably from 1985 and 1991. Got to love the Geiger-counter tenor feature at the beginning of the 1991 program, especially when you can get the digitally remastered copy. I read comments like... "THIS IS THE WAY BD SHOULD BE...." "THE REAL BD"..... Obviously, there's a short institutional memory bumbling around the Drum Corps internet. I remember that both of those shows were pretty controversial and thought of as downright weird in their day. It took several views for me to really appreciate what was in those programs. Now... people WANT them to be like that? Some folks are downright fickle, forgetful... or a bit too nostalgic. I figure some people want to know about STA Stadium. You can find pics of it on the net. It's pretty much a nice by the standards of Pennsylvania High School stadium. Bleachers, clean. Get there early to park. In the evening, sunset can get in your eyes due to the stadium facing, so have sunglasses or a hat with a wide brim for daylight portions of shows. The stadium view is quite good- I've had top 2 rows on the 50 seats the last 2 years as well as seen some fall shows from the box- you have a good unobstructed perspective and is plenty high enough- the only HS stadiums I've seen that might be better is Red Lion HS Stadium from a HS perspective. People with physical issues will want seats near the top of the stadium since you enter from the hilltop, not from field level. As for stadium food, it's inexpensive and typical fare, though I save serious eating for afterwards. The local homemade ice cream stand is excellent and when they have the Root Beer Floats, they're superb. Make time to stand in line for the ice cream. Driving to the venue, at least for me, is far less adventurous than for a Jersey contest or driving to work. It's not far off the main highway network. There are some slow areas up US 15... but you can make up for that if you have the car and are so inclined. (I do.) It's not Annapolis. in terms of venue. No other DCA venue was. I think the field is far better than Scranton for the performers and the view is superior to it, and I also think better acoustically just to compare. On to the actual contest...
  2. I will continue to edit this post to add more thoughts on the shows and also on various issues over the season. Fantastic DCI Finals overall! Congrats to all the marching members. You were all amazing and put on your best performances. Here is a quick synopsis of my thoughts. Madison Scouts - Excellent brass sound. Really got into the music. Was never sure about what I should be looking at or viewing visually. Sometimes just too much going on. Overall a mature sounding corps that with the right product will excel I believe. Crossmen - one of my favorite music books of the summer. Incredible control in the brass. Guard was wonderful and what a fantastic snare line. Blue Stars - LOVE the music, the drill was amazing and very demanding, and overall this was one of the more emotional shows for me. Phantom Regiment - You guys rocked the house. Most improved corps of the year. That closer...OH MY GOODNESS! I was in love tonight. Classic Phantom!! Edit, Aug 16: The show we saw from Phantom on Finals night was a show that might have placed higher had they been able to achieve that construction by late July and then clean more. It simply took them all summer to "hammer" things out. I love what they did with the guard this year, and I found their performance incredible, but I'd like to see a few less in the guard and more in brass. Blue Knights - Loved the color of this show. Your brass is seriously one of the better lines on the field this summer...and percussion was no slouch. Visually maybe not my favorite BK show, but the ending was fantastic with those flags. Edit, Aug 16: The talent in this corps is close to or on par with many in the top 5. The brass and percussion were indications of that. For BK to push up the ladder I believe they need to clarify and reinforce certain melodic phrases in a way that is less chopped and with more impact. As I watched their show I enjoy it so much, but I never quite get those 2 or 3 big impact moments that pull me emotionally into the show. They seem to like these modern, esoteric, playful show themes. They do work well with their uniforms and visual style, but often I just find myself need a bit more in music construction and music GE. The Cadets - One of my favorite shows of the summer. Here is another corps that started slow and finally found their swagger and took off. Scoring aside this was a fantastic show with serious GE and a killer ending! Bravo! Edit, Aug 16: I felt Cadets began the summer under some pressure to try and relive history and restore the iconic and legendary history of the Cadets to top 3 status. I'm sure this wasn't the case, but it had to feel like that for some. For designers to come into a tough situation following all kinds of turbulence after last season, and for the marching members to tackle this show amid that turbulence and those unrealistic expectations I feel may have caused the corps to work slower at camp to ensure a better overall product as the season progressed. The show was vastly better. Their Finals performance was outstanding. In many ways the Cadets were cleaner than some corps above them, and there were some excellent GE moments in this show. A few things that could have helped this show are 1) do not overdo narration, 2) don't be so literal, and 3) spend more time cleaning when you come out of the gate from Spring Training. I almost get the impression that they listened almost too closely to judges comments in those first 6 to 10 shows. I respect the judges and would certainly listen and make notes of what they were saying about the show, but with partial panels and the knowledge that your show isn't clean yet and their minds may change once they see things more clearly I would not make lots of changes to the show in the initial days after spring training. I would spend more time cleaning what you have on the field. Come July 7 or 8 I would then begin the process of making small changes here and there, with major changes set to premiere in late July. I will say that despite all the criticism they got early season for costumes, I thought they looked fantastic! That was a bold show to attempt and the priest robes, the choir robes, the 2nd costume with Maroon and Gold top (gorgeous), to the 3rd costume was really key to the show and the theatrical presentation. Best use of Trombones this year. Boston Crusaders - Holy cow were you guys clean and the sound of the music ensemble was outstanding! Loved the guard, enjoyed the theme, and you get the award for best use of a prop. Certainly the most deadly use of a prop. Edit, Aug 16: What can you say about Boston! That is what you call making a jump. I think we all expected it, but most of us (certainly me) felt they would be a year away from making that kind of jump. I was thinking 8th or 9th. But no, 6th. You do not makes jumps like that in DCI competition without serious designers, teachers, and talented members. Boston has made a commitment to great teachers and to their members. They have always run a wonderful drum corps and are now simply expanding on their dreams. This show was an outstanding vehicle for them to make another leap. They will need a show with slightly more demand in the content/construction areas to make the next jump. With the direction their brass, percussion and guard took this is not out of the question. When Boston hit you this year with their first big brass attack you could tell it was a Gino line with the kind of control and power we have come to expect of his lines. Their percussion was stellar by season's end! Very clean. Same with guard. Guard was top 3 or 4 at Finals. Amazing. Anyone in the 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 area of placements will have to deal with these guys. Can they move into the top 2 next year? Not sure. But 3 to 5 I would not rule out. Cavaliers - You get my crazy, zany visual award. Visually this show was stunning and marched incredibly well. Fabulous guard. Music ensemble was very good, but I did not care for the music construction. To choppy for my taste, and the closer was an odd mashup. However, you want to talk about a corps selling their show. These guys did. Bravo! Bluecoats - This is what I call a high-energy show. Some killer GE moments with some mighty tasty playing and marching. Solos were on tonight. Edit, Aug 15: From the beginning of the season it was apparent that Bloo was taking on a huge risk with this ultra-challenging show. Who has ever tried a prop like that, in that manner? RISKY and BRAVE! The timing and impact challenges in this show were off the charts. A very difficult show to clean. In the end this may have hurt Bloo to some extent, but the fans did not mind as Bluecoats once again thrilled fans everywhere. They were one of, if not the most, entertaining corps of the summer. It's nice to see and hear a corps do something so complicated and challenging, yet be so entertaining and still be top 5. edit, Aug 16: As for the 5th place finish, I was not a fan of the judges for that, but I do realize they just didn't get things as clean as possible. Having said that I feel the judges rewarded the Cavaliers too much for a poorly constructed music book and average music GE. Visually the Cavaliers were stunning and I heaped plenty of praise on them for their excellent marching, drill design, and amazing guard. Their percussion and brass were good, but I did not feel they were at Bloo's level. More to the point, Bloo's content numbers in brass, percussion, music analysis, and overall music GE should have been the deciding factor. The Cavaliers simply did not look top 4 to me. I have more to say on that in coming days as I update my Cavaliers comments. They are an excellent corps and organization, and I just feel Bloo was better this year on the field. Carolina Crown - What an amazing brass intro!! All season long this was my favorite intro. Sadly the ballad was ruined tonight by mic malfunctions. So sad this happened, because the young lady is a tremendous talent and good person. But this will always be the risk with electronics in big venues. Just go ask the audio guys that handle things like large rock concerts, Super Bowls, college Bowl games, etc. Why do you think some Super Bowl pop star appearances have to be lip synced? The dynamics of outdoor electronics can be very risky and dangerous, and tonight I heard that with not only Crown but a few others. Santa Clara Vanguard - A truly amazing show top to bottom. The opener does not grab me until three quarters of the way through, but from there to the end is simply dynamic programming, The last 2 to 3 minutes are HEAVEN!!! I noticed a mic hiccup with SCV tonight as well. The first entrance of the solo brass ensemble did not come through. It was quickly fixed, but I also feel they may have turned the mics off at one point. At least from the FLO perspective it seemed the solo brass ensemble was not cutting through like they normally did. At any rate, Bravo for captivating the drum corps world this summer with a stunning and modern show that also had some wonderful old school moments. Blue Devils - To me, this was BY FAR AND AWAY the best corps all summer and this evening. They constructed a show that began with MUSIC. It was clearly music first and the construction was masterful. BD put together a music ensemble that blew my mind all summer, and tonight laid down an amazing performance! The showmanship of their visual program, which I feel so perfectly matches the music, is one of the hallmarks of BD. Some call it swagger, but to me it's showmanship, and BD really understands how to add that element to a show. Way to go, Blue Crew!!! What a FANTASTIC show, and your performance was thrilling on all levels! Bravo to all! I had a blast watching everyone this summer!
  3. The 2017 drum corps season has started, and so has my show review season! I reviewed two shows for the June edition of Drum Corps World. The first was the DCI Tour Premiere cinecast on Thursday, June 22. The focus of that review was on the technical aspects of the cinecast. A separate review of the performances is also in the June issue. The second review was of the Innovations in Brass: Massillon show on Saturday, June 24. That review was a performance review of all 5 World Class and 2 SoundSport corps which performed that night. http://www.gaminnet.info/?p=3054
  4. I am having trouble posting to this site today for some reason. I keep getting a 500 server error. Go to the following link and read my full review on my Facebook site. https://www.facebook.com/notes/jonathan-willis/drum-bugle-corps-massillon-oh/10154434340700806/
  5. This will be quick, mostly because I'm at work, but also we got back at 1:30am this morning and tiredness is setting in. Haven't reviewed for a few years, had no plan to this year, but a few things are worth mentioning. And as a special treat I will point out the big props used by each corps, as that has now become the norm. Apologies to Salinas Drum Line, Freelancers Alumns and Golden Empire. After an extended stay in the will call line we finally sat down just before BDB took the field. BDB: Liked the Wonka song mixed throughout the show. For whatever reason, their bottom base seemed like the loudest of the night, which is much appreciated as a former bottom base player. Good sound. Too many vocals for me, but I'm old. PROP: Flag holders scattered about SCVC: Honestly the only thing that comes to mind is their show didn't seem finished, and that any SCV cymbal line is always a site to see. My wife liked their show more than BDB. Wish I remembered more. *yawn* PROP: Rolling white mini-stages w/ tall backdrops BDC: Always cute, always fun. Airplane/flight theme complete with propellers. Danger Zone was cool. Love the mini-guard classic flight attendant outfits. PROP: Airplane Intermission: 20 minutes did not seem like enough time to get some grub, but alas we acquired what we needed to get us through the 'meat' of the program. Btw, $7 for soda and $5 for water. Someone call the police, I've been robbed!! So glad I brought water. PACIFIC CREST: CA corps doing a CA-themed show. Music was good. First big hits of the night. Very enjoyable. At stand still the corps was clean, but while moving things were a little shaky. Just needs more practice. PROP: Tilted gold circle left of center. MANDARINS: The good: brass is amazing! Most power I've heard from my home team maybe ever. And "Sound of Silence" was great! The bad: not so much bad, the drums just need more time to clean. The ugly: Let me say the guard is very good and really brings home the "Ink" theme. However, at one point a portion of the guard wears...um...zippered up sleeping bags that are red on one side and black on the other, with arms, legs and head all inside. An interesting concept, but really hard to clean, visually and perhaps physically throughout the season. PROP: 4 GIANT classic ink pen tops laid on their side. My dad said they looked a bit like giant silver sun fish. Actually used pretty well...get it? THE ACADEMY: Love the uniforms, both classy and a bit cheeky, Half the guard are bunnies, half are hunters. Hence the show name *By a Hare*. Super fun fan-friendly show with recognizable music throughout. Drums were very good. Really quick tempo. Brass had some highs and lows dealing with that, overall pretty balanced. Actually thought they played better in their company fronts all spread out then in the increasingly popular big ball-o-brass. Great show! PROP: Rabbit holes all over the field. Kind of "Whack-a-mole"-esque. BLUE KNIGHTS: Bright color-by-section uniforms, huge brass hits and a thunderous drum line (second best of the night imo). But the music, or what there was, reminded me of BD ten or so years ago. Blasts and blurts, no real melody or musical theme. Sounded very clean, just not particularly engaging. Also, corps didn't wear hats (more on that later). PROP: Two tall '" i " shaped mirrored towers. Also some large tiara-shaped metal structures that looked like burning man left-overs. PHANTOM: Awkward. Very doom and gloom during the first half of the show. Corps is black and white while the guard has skin-tight red onesies initially covered in long black gowns. Guard also covers their entire head with a red wrap, that at one point is being pulled by brass members in a very "dominating" way. And then, suddenly, the corps dawns the familiar white-plumed helmets and the show perks up, both in music and feel Needless to say we enjoyed the latter half of the show much better. The corps seemed to perform the second half better as well. Overall, not my favorite Phantom show by a long shot. PROP: Nothing big, white helmets scattered over the far right of the field. VANGUARD: Before they entered the stadium, they showed a video about their new uniform and how it incorporates their "Serpent" theme. At the end the member doing the voice over said "I hope the fans will enjoy the change" or something like that. Hate is a strong word, so maybe I'll go with really really strongly dislike. Let's get this straight, there is ZERO connection to the crimson and green of old. I don't care if you kept the shielded V-badge because "you thought it was and important tradition". The hats and feathers are gone...GONE, what was more traditional than that! But most of all, their show is freaking awesome, and they don't look a thing like the Vanguard! Brass..amazing, loudest of the night by far. Drums..terrific. Guard uses the rolling stages magnificently. I thought initially they would be distracting, but the are used really well. Championship quality show, uniforms...argh!!! PROP: Masterfully created large round stages that look like those dangerous yard trampolines. BLUE DEVILS: If it's not broke don't fix it. Lots of high brass, drums throw down during every break. The opening sequence is really cool with the all snare line and the corps entering from left to right vertically. As BD does now there's a dance break in the middle, this year set to Rihanna's "Diamond", though not too lengthy. Lots of stairs, used to give different heights to different sections through the show. Flight of the bumblebee is fast and needs lots of cleaning, but will be BD brass at it's finest. Over use of the low end synth. Corps "Morphs" into not wearing hats and removing jackets making everyone look like the guard. Guard was not as clean as I'm accustomed to seeing, but it's also only their second show. Jazzy music, lots of scatter drill will feed the trolls. Liked it, didn't love it. PROPS: 14 sets of stairs...all white of course. VANGUARD ALUMNI: Wow, just wow. I was brought into this activity during the Phantom of the Opera years, and have always loved and appreciated the rich musical history of drum corps. Their "show" is called Send in the Memories, and the huge guard does a lot of work as the drums and horns blow your face off with hit after hit. Beautiful, just beautiful. I would have had every corps that performed last night come back out just to listen to how beautiful brass and drums can sound on a field. Worth the price of admission all on their own. Two words...bottle dance. Well, that got a bit long. Oh, my thoughts on the hats. I don't like it and I'll tell you why. What it does is it creates an inconsistency with the uniform. From the neck down, everyone is wearing the same or very similar uniform, for better or worse. But without a hat or shako or helmet or whatever, now everyone looks different, even if playing the same horn. Visually it looks less professional and borders on looking messy and unfinished. What's funny is, on the long drive home, I joked to my wife and dad that, drum corps is no different than professional sports. Do as the winner does. Just like what happened with synths and vocals and more recently giant props, drum corps has become very copy-cat from a design perspective, in that if the championship winning corps is doing it, then we should too. So I joked that Bluecoats must have not worn hats last year, not remembering if they had or hadn't. Sure enough, wifey looked it up...no hats. So, in an activity that rolls with the changes, or sometimes lives to do so, I hope it doesn't forget it's own motto. If this is truly "Marching Music's Major League", then I would expect everyone involved to not forget about the professionalism and the history of the activity. I'm very thankful there is enough perspective to showcase last night what many of us fell in love with decades ago, and I hope to see more of it in the future.
  6. Maybe some of you have interest in sharing reflections, thoughts, or reactions to viewing the DCI Finals performances on your recently acquired DVD or BluRays? I attended shows at the Tour Premier in Indy, San Antonio, and all three days during Finals week. After a viewing of the shows on video (both multi-cam and high cam), here are a few of my early thoughts. Obviously, this is FWIW: The top five shows are all really wonderful and different. Five different corps’ personalities. Except for The Academy, shows six and below blur together a bit. I am disappointed, a little sad, and then also somewhat guilty that I still can't find much memorable about Phantom's show. Oh, right, some good featured horn players. Hey, thanks to Fuse, I know that girl in the BD guard and that guy in the Cadets guard! Bluecoats were stunning and Blue Devils were their usual quality executioners. For me, Crown had the winning show. I didn’t think that about Crown late on Finals night in LOS. But also: those featured horns in Bluecoats! Liked the Blue Knights music much more than I remember from seeing them live. Liked The Academy music, but didn’t hear it as well played on video as I thought it was live. I even remember in Indy thinking the group ought to have scored higher on music than it did. Now not so much. (Though, I’ve nothing special in terms of audio playback.) I think many shows use props unproductively, and so ineffectively. The Cadets, Crossmen, Blue Stars. Just wasted time and effort with many of those props. I don’t buy the need to simply stage stuff - those mannequins and lamps. I am not anti-props. Crown, Bluecoats, The Academy, Cavies used props genuinely effectively; the props were integral to the show. (To the show, not just the theme.) I got kind of irrationally annoyed that the horn statue for the Cadets stayed on that wedding cake all show instead of getting down and doing some drill. I wondered whether the judges weren’t compelled to ask, WT* do we do now? at Bluecoats and parts of Cavies show. If they did, I liked their answers. Missed the Scouts.
  7. The description is hilarious! As a tech who enjoys stealing the drum guy's used inventory, this is right up my alley! Enjoy: http://www.steveweissmusic.com/product/steve-weiss-gock-stick/education-specials#full-description
  8. The Crowd I have never seen more people at the Massillon show than this one. Holy cow! Had to be over 8,000 in attendance. Traffic was crazy and people had to sit in the endzones and some even sat in the away-side stands. Meeting DCPers I got to meet fellow DCPer "WVU80" last night as he sat with me. Sadly it turned out that one of the two tickets I had for the show was a duplicate, and some high school kid had the same seat as the one I gave to WVU80. Not the HS kid's fault. I guess their HS purchased a bunch and that's what he was given. So we moved around a bit and ended up sitting near a Bluecoats Board member right on the 50, but very low. We still had a great time and it was nice getting the opinion of WVU80 (Dave) who has really good taste in drum corps and is WAY more knowledgeable about corps than he leads on. :) Great guy! Was glad he could make it up from West Virginia. Sitting Low Sitting only a few rows up on the 50 I was reminded at how much I love to sit low occasionally to catch more of the human element in each of the shows. I can see more technique in visual, hear brass articulation better, see the performers eyes, and you see just how hard these kids are working whether we like their show or not. I haven't had that experience in a while and it was fun. All the corps put on a wail of a show, and the crowd was really into just about everyone. I thought intermission was a little too long. The Bluecoats Alumni Corps performed and were a lot of fun, but I guess the delay had more to do with some corps arriving late due to traffic. There were so many people that I figured they had to wait for many of them to return to their seats after intermission. Sadly INT did not perform because Bluecoats Alumni Corps took their spot, but Bloo alumni were fantastic! Always a hoot to hear the alumni play some of the popular favorites from years past. Some excellent soloists in the alumni corps. Special shout out to Andrew Whitman on his solo -- a former Mount Union student and fabulous trumpeter -- who plays lead trumpet with the Coats alumni. As for the corps: Phantom Regiment was in exhibition due to illness in the corps. We were hearing close to 30 people. But let me tell you that their brass and percussion put on a show. In stand-still concert form they performed their show music and they were freakin amazing! They got a huge standing O. Pound for pound their brass line is as good as any out there. Definitely one of the best sounds of the night. Madison has a nice back end to their show, but the first 2/3 of the show just fall flat on me. They also were the biggest culprit of using too much synth bass. Way too much. I just think this show was a "miss" this year. Good performers. Blue Knights are really good. I enjoy the show. It's ethereal, modern, and feels like a modern dance recital with brass and percussion. But there is a lot to enjoy, and there are moments their brass and percussion really play some amazing stuff. The colors are coordinated exceptionally well. If they had one or two more impact moments in this show they could move higher. Lots of visual dirt. Cavaliers, like Madison, were also one of the biggest synth bass users. It was simply WAY TOO much. I was expecting this show to have a greater impact on me, but it just fell flat most of the way through. However the ending is clever and well done. I think they've taken this thing about as far as they can. Their brass is better but still not in the league with the top 5 corps, and percussion didn't overwhelm me. Guard was wonderful but the overall visual program is not grabbing me. Having seen both Cavaliers and Cadets now live, I just do not think Cavaliers are in The Cadets league. It felt to me like Cadets should have 2 pointed them last night. Santa Clara has one of the most beautiful shows you will ever see. It's just tremendous from start to finish. But the ending falls a bit flat, and I'm mainly talking about the section leading up to the Vanguard emblem formation. The soft part of the ending is wonderful. I was a little surprised Cadets beat them. I don't think that will happen in Indy, but you never know. Cadets have the better brass and they are neck and neck in percussion. I think Vanguard has the better guard and visual, but they have plenty to clean in the feet. The GE at the end of SCV's show fell somewhat flat. I still think SCV takes 4th, but they need to clean now. The Cadets were outstanding last night. The Cadets are flat out marching and playing beasts. Even when their show doesn't turn out as planned, they can still bring it with that brass and percussion of theirs. They were definitely on fire tonight and seemed very in control. The last 2 minutes of the show still feel unaligned from the rest. From the big diagonal block push to the end still feels forced, but it's better than what they had. Musically this is a great show to hear. Brass articulations were clear and refined. Percussion performed really well. Visually they are cleaning. The guard performed very well tonight. If SCV doesn't clean the feet and perhaps make a few enhancements, The Cadets can beat them -- as tonight was evidence. Carolina Crown is sporting one of the best shows this summer. So fun, so bold, and they are cleaning nicely. Yes, this is a 3-corps race for the title. I'm rooting for Blooo, but Crown was definitely on fire tonight. Their brass line is so good, so balanced, and HOLY MOTHER of LOUD! The guard was on fire, and they have a very solid and amazing percussion section. Carolina is definitely in line to possibly take 2 captions - Brass and Guard. If Blooo does not clean some feet issues and BD perhaps doesn't get the GE number they need, Crown can easily win this. I was a little shocked Crown pulled to within .1 of Bloo. I had them separated by about .8 to 1 point. The Bluecoats were also on fire and the general effect in that show is just unreal. It's been a long time since I've seen a show with that level of amazing GE (Blue Devils 2010, The Cadets 2011). Brass and percussion are also amazing. Guard was fabulous, and the Coats have some of the most fun music out there. The Bluecoats also have some of the best soloists in DCI this year. They feature like 6 or 7, plus 2 trombone quartets in which I believe they demonstrate the best use of trombone out of all the corps. Their guard is stellar, and the blind flag toss over the ramps is a killer moment. If Bloo is clean at Finals, then it's over -- end of story. Nobody is beating that show if it's clean enough. Not even the great Blue Devils. Thanks to all the corps!! Another amazing Massillon show in the books.
  9. I posted a brief and very positive write up about last night. Most of that is included below, along with added information and more thoughts. All the corps were very entertaining and I had no major problems with any of the shows. A fantastic night of drum corps in Massillon. The crowd was really excellent considering it was an early show with only 5 competing corps in the lineup. Probably about half what we normally get at this show in August when it's part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities. Holy Bluecoats!! That's what we call GE! Monster show, monster GE! BLOOO has a fabulous percussion section, great brass, and the staging is impeccable. The flugel soloist was awesome and should be one of the best of the season. The show even features 2 trombone quartets on opposite sides of the pit, and they seem to dual with each side (musically). They may be wearing ear pieces so they can hear without time delay. Not sure. It's a cool effect and they are close to nailing it. From my vantage point last night they fell apart rhythmically toward the end of that section. Good sound, and I love the use of 2 bass trombones. They also use trombones in other sections of the show. This show will light up crowds everywhere they go. Big crowd response for them tonight. There will be some who don't like it, but I believe most will. It's almost impossible to not find something to like. Down Side Up is, for lack of better word, a concept show, much like TILT or Kinetic Noise. It doesn't require any thought or pre-show info for the audience. The show appeals to your senses on several fronts. Costume and Color. Props that are used effectively, and even when not used they provide such a beautiful backdrop to the corps. They are not ugly or unprofessional looking. Surround Sound -- so many of the musical effects in the show make use of surround sound effects, either from left to right, or left to back left, to center, to back right, to right. Great music. *QUICK EDIT: the opening tune is actually "Jose/beFore John 5," not the Metheny tune, which comes next. The rhythm in this opener actually becomes the melody as each section is introduced while the clapping sets the tone for rhythm and style. It builds and builds and builds, and then that first hit is priceless. It's a very entertaining musical book with great solos and the 2 trombone quartets as mentioned above. Once again, the Bluecoats have rethought the traditional feel of drum corps. Some say they are bringing WGI to the field. Maybe?! But I think it goes further than that, because WGI isn't dealing with this kind of space, this many brass or percussion (with pit), or the outdoor experience and having to generate sound over such a large area. Their design team is clearly one of the best in the activity (right there with BD). From their second number onward, a good bit of the music has a real classic Madison Scout feel to it (not a bad thing for this old timer), aided by a wonderful screaming trumpet soloist, and supported by a very modern visual program. Is this a medal-contending show? You bet! Possibly GOLD! Honestly, it's all there. Everything they need to win a title is there. It needs cleaned and refined (3 of the corps really let loose last night in terms of volume, and pit volume needs to be adjusted for better musical shaping and clarity), but I don't see major rewrites coming. Just small tweaks and refinements. Carolina Crown also has a monster show!!! Another WOW for me! If I were to nit pick, they need to beef up general effect. They have the seeds of a really clever and well-crafted Western Themed production. It's very close to being brilliant. Some will find it stale for now, but I believe more is to come. I love all the Ennio Morricone sound effects, and his music as well. Can't go wrong there. I honestly think that what we are seeing from them is just a base for many layers to come. I kept thinking of all the cool things they could add to this show, musically and visually, and I think we are in for some real surprises. I would have had Crown's brass on top. What a sound, and what power. By far the loudest of the night! As we all know, one thing these guys do as well as anyone is brass, and BOY do they have another classic horn line. Crown and Bluecoats (along with Crossmen) kind of played with some major volume and edge last night. We probably didn't hear the musical phrasing and shaping that we will later on, which is why my ears hurt this morning. :). But I love early-season power! As for the music, it mostly feels like a modern Western. *Quick edit here: Those of you that might be comparing the Barber to Star 93 will find that none is needed. They only play snippets of the Barber, and usually at climax points in the show. It's amazing how they weave that music into the fabric of a Western, but it works. Musically, this show will be a fan favorite. Visually, their guard is stunning, the marching is already excellent, and I love this drill much more than last year. They stage as well as anyone, but the drill is better. What a beautiful stage coach they use for their major prop. Much like Bluecoats, their prop looks beautiful, adds to the show whether it's being used or not; and at one point they pull all these flags out from the top and toss them to other guard members. It's a great effect. The uniform is what really grabs me. Very Troopers like. Grey and black, with dark gold highlights, and lots of gold in the guard. I can't help but think that the Troopers staff will show major interest in this show. This is a solid medal-contending show. It could win, and easily could take 2nd or 3rd. Phantom Regiment came to play and I LOVE their show. Perhaps a little less innovative and more traditional -- but nothing wrong with that. Traditional may not win DCI, but a well crafted traditional show can still place top 5. They have gorgeous music, a fantastic guard, and one of those classic brass lines again (although they held back and played with a lot of control last night). Their percussion section is much improved over last year - I love the writing. Musically, there is not much to dislike. All the music is powerful, beautiful, and Young Person's Guide is very impressive. They, like almost everyone last night, will have to work for better balance between front to back, meaning don't let your pit kill your brass and battery. Their pit was way too loud in numerous sections. Now I love the synthetic vox/voice sound they use, and it adds to the character of their show. Just make sure we can hear those soloists in the most pure sense of sound and articulation without amping it too much. Crown does the best job of featuring their brass and knowing when to bring pit volume down, or when to cut it completely and allow for a variety of on-field colors to take effect. Visually, Phantom is on the reserved side, but once they clean what they have I believe they can add some excellent layers to this show. They once again have one of the most beautiful and talented guards on the field. Their use of red in the show was wonderful and striking. General effect is good but will need some clarification and some added nuances. They are celebrating 60 years, and I think the show needs more celebration, especially at the end. But I am very impressed with them, and they have great talent. By the way, those King horns sound fantastic. They had a big, rich, dark sound last night, and once they are allowed to pull the trigger a bit more on volume, what out...I believe this will be a classic sounding Phantom Regiment brass line. I see them competing with Cavaliers and Cadets. Not sure about SCV until I see them. Cadets may have an advantage on demand alone, but with the right additions, Phantom can absolutely be in that 4, 5, 6 range. I am a Phan of this show. :) Boston Crusaders - I love the music, love the props (very big and yet they really work, at least for me). Strong music captions coming for this corps when clean. Their brass had a warm and very controlled sound tonight. Boston and Phantom were the only 2 brass lines that didn't try to peal away our faces. Now in fairness to BLOOO and Crown, they are so good, so talented that their instructors can let them go full boar and build endurance before they begin adding all the musical shaping. Honestly, I didn't mind the power from BLOOO and Crown. They sound fantastic, but I also really enjoyed the control from Boston. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this uniform. Sharp!! The look and feel of Boston this year is completely different from last year. I loved their props last year, too, but they never seemed to get the marching very clean. I think this group looks better and will be strong marchers come August. Drill design is wonderful and they use the field extremely well. I definitely had Boston over Crossmen. I felt bad for the kid that hurt his leg or ankle at the very end of the show. It looked like he torched an ankle or maybe pulled a hammy. Not sure. One of the corps instructors checked with him immediately a few sets later when the show ended, but seemed to feel strong enough to march off with the corps...and he did great. This is a strong Boston Crusaders corps. Definitely top 12! The Crossmen are also top 12 caliber. I love their music, and they have some amazing field coverage. Visually I continue to love their uniform, and their guard has to be one of the most color on the field this year (right up there with Bluecoats). Musically they have a fun book and their brass can really pump out some sound. Great percussion writing. They spread the field a lot and therefore timing issues will be a challenge for them as they clean. There were too many points where their electric bass sound took away from the low end of the brass. This was the case with almost all the corps last night except Carolina. I was not wild about the middle tarp, but I otherwise had no problem with the other props. I believe the middle tarp is confusing and draws attention away from the vast field coverage. Which is it? Do you want us to see your vast visual program or look at the center of the field. Also, considering how beautiful Crown and Bluecoats props look (and Boston), Crossmen's come across average and stale. They may need to revisit the look and feel of their props. Staging is good, talent is good, and I expect this to be a super fun show as it grows. Definitely a contender for top 12! Special congratulations to the Bluecoats Alumni Corps for their hard work and dedication to adding to this event, and their performance was excellent! I enjoyed the music and their spirit! :) Regardless of placement, I really did enjoy all these shows, and I sense a great summer coming.
  10. We're happy to announce that the home video release for our award winning documentary, "Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood" is finally happening. Preorders for the DVD and the Ultimate Blu-ray Edition + DVD Combo Pack are now available on our website. The discs will ship in June, and these two versions of the film will be available for sale at the Madison Scouts souvie stand during the 2016 DCI tour. We've been blown away by the reactions to our film from both drum corps fans and from those who had previous never heard of the activity. Somehow we made the film work for both camps which was not an easy feat. Currently we have a user rating of 9.9 out of 10 stars on IMDb.com, which is pretty unheard of. There have been some very nice reviews written by people who've seen the film. If you preorder the home video version before May 31, 2016 you'll get free shipping on all orders within the USA. We are shipping the film internationally (not for free). Please note that the DVD is Region 1 and the Blu-ray is Region 0. There are no subtitles, and these are NTSC transfers. We've been making this movie on our own and we're self distributing it, therefore any boost we can get from the drum corps community is a giant help. Take a moment to share our movie trailer with your friends and let them know what you think about it. Thanks so much, Mac Smith Director/Producer - "Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood"
  11. I marched with Troopers in the 80s and find I still enjoy following drum corps, not only nostalgia but also keeping up with present developments and competition. I make it out to 1-2 shows a year. I look forward to the discussion and reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
  12. Last night's show was wonderful. So if you throw Blue Devils into the mix, speaking top 4 here, we still have 4 corps within .7 of each other going into the Buffalo show tonight and the Massillon (Canton, OH) show on Monday. I know we've had some tightly competitive years, but 4 corps within .7 going into Finals week is amazing. My general reflections on last night are as follows: Carolina Crown - Last night I made a call after seeing this show that I feel they will win. Still feel the same this morning. Crown has brought out Mr. Clean and, as I stated last night, put the "spit and polish" on this baby. Amidst the truly exceptional display being given by all the top 4, something hit me last night with Crown and I think this is your 2015 Champion. GE will be the key. Blooo won GE last night. But if Carolina is close in GE and nabs wins in Guard, Visual Ex, and Brass then they win Gold. Their show just "pops" in a way the others do not at this time. Perhaps BD comes the closest to this. That ending....OH MY, that will send the fans into a tizzy in Indianapolis. The slight change to the story, and the addition of Gold at the end, made all the difference for Crown this year. They got a standing ovation from me (jumping off my couch). Get used to the color GOLD. The Cadets - Been a long-time fan of the Cadets dating back to my childhood years when they seemingly came out of a slump in the late 70s and rose to power and to change the activity. Their uniform has been iconic for decades, so it stands to reason that some are having a tough time with the change. I am one of them, but not because I can't stomach change. I simply feel the all-black hides some of the amazing visual this corps produces. That was a big risk and I applaud them for having the guts to take such a risk. But in so many ways I think it hurt visual. All that aside, BOY did they perform last night. The show is exciting and captivating. It's also jaw dropping. They are getting cleaner and they have visual demand, musicianship, and powerful music. This is clearly a championship caliber corps. Let's see what they do. Bluecoats - This show has been one of my favorites from day one. At Akron I felt Bloo was giving the activity the most unique and futuristic look of anyone. That remains true to this day. This show will be studied, with elements copied in years to come. This really is the future in so many ways, and I believe their stunning and skillful approach to minimalism, a concept like Kinetic Noise, and to electronics has, in large part, given them a strong general effect presentation. Their GE win should not be surprising to anyone. Everything about the show says "NEW." They play great (brass and percussion), and nobody beats their tubas (WOW). They marched their cleanest show to my eyes last night, and the guard contribution is beautiful. I could easily see this medal on Finals night. Phantom Regiment - Back in the spring I heard a recording of their park concert from Rockford. I really liked the music, even though some of the arranging was a slight departure from the "Regiment" style. But when I saw the show on DCI Live with visual I was underwhelmed. To me, the visual was too cute with too much jazz running. They've made a TON of changes and it seemed clear to me last night that Rockford is ready to make a charge at the Cavaliers and Blue Knights. Not sure how close they get, but boy did they put out a nice show. Phantom's brass is really really good. They are probably not getting quite the credit they deserve, which often happens with shows that lack in so many other areas. But this show is ready to "POP" and I would not be surprised if they took 6th on Finals night. It's a long shot, but I could see it happening. Madison Scouts - I am really LOVING this show. This is another show that early season was not grabbing me. They were the opposite for me when compared to Phantom. I felt strongly that they had a much better visual program compared to last year's show, but musically I was underwhelmed with the first half of the show and somewhat enjoyed the second half. Now the entire brass and percussion book is reeling me in from top to bottom. If anything I think the guard contribution and the props are not as strongly integrated. Some of the flag choices are interesting and I wish they had chosen a different look for the guard. Having said that, this is the closest Madison has come to looking like the OLD Scouts from the 90s while trying to be somewhat new and fresh. Would love to see them push higher, but I don't think their show design is as strong as BK or Cavaliers, and Phantom is just out performing them. Boston Crusaders - I love this show. It's been one of my favs since Bowling Green. They put up a nice score last night and look to be breathing down Madison's back. The music is wonderful and I LOVE their props (the banners and the percussion setup in the middle at the intro). The corps plays and drums well. Guard is great, and the vocalist was wonderful, and has been all season. Their ballad is my favorite this season - even over Bloo and BD. If anything they probably needed better impact from the combination of drill and props. They will be a joy to watch come Finals. Crossmen - Excellent performance last night. Strong presentations in brass, percussion, and guard. Their marching is good but not as crisp as Colts, who I think should be closer to Crossmen. That aside, their theme is conveyed really well. I don't particularly care for that type of theme, but Crossmen have made it very clear what they are attempting to do. A lot of corps have struggled with that this year. For Crossmen it's just a matter of taking that next step in performance captions. Their ballad is really well done and captivating. We should see them on Finals night. The Colts - I honestly thought Colts should have been closer to Crossmen in score. Boy can this corps MARCH. Dang. They are cleaning nicely and I really enjoy their show. They are taking that next step when approaching Broadway musicals for field -- incorporating elements of the libretto, acting, staging, and the singing to go along with excellent brass and percussion writing. Years ago this would easily be a top 12 show. I'm kind of pulling for them, but there are so many great corps out there, it's impossible for everyone to make top 12. Hey, it's just one extra night of performing. Don't let it get you down if it doesn't happen, Colts, because your show is just tremendous. I was very impressed by their guard, and the sound of their brass had moments of Blue Devils like sounds. Honestly, I am shocked this is not closer to, or over, Crossmen. Just my take. Troopers - This is another one of my FAVORITE shows of the year. From day one in Akron I have loved this show. I love the music, love the visual design, the props, and I think this kind of show works so well for Troop. Early on they had a lot of work to do with marching ex. Still think they do, but it's so much better. This show is another example of a show that would be Top 12 on many other years. I would love to see Troop in Finals, but in the long run what matters is entertaining the audience and being great. They are great, entertaining, and they've likely had the summer of a lifetime. In the end that's all that matters. I will review Oregon Crusaders, Pacific Crest, and Jersey Surf another time. My apologies to them. I was in and out of performances (writing drill for some local bands) with the DCI Live telecast running in one room and working in my studio room. As an aside, I am sitting here this morning listening to some Michael Buble and thinking to myself that BLUE DEVILS need to do a show featuring some of this music. :)
  13. Lots of DCI fans have really enjoyed the Sacramento Mandarins in 2015. Some see a bright future for the corps, possibly contending for a finalist spot in the next few years. How have you enjoyed the Mandarins this year? Field Pass Podcast: Mandarins have 'The Edge' in 2015 Link to Field Pass: https://soundcloud.com/drum-corps-international/20150731-fieldpass
  14. Last night's show was tremendous! I had totally forgot DCI was airing that online, so it was a wonderful surprise to check the site and find that I was going to see a show. Despite it's imperfections, FN/DCI LIVE has been more a blessing than a curse. Overview Leaving scores aside, I think we have a lot of unique shows out there. Each corps has something they are trying to offer, a style of presentation, a theme (or not), a look and feel, and a sound that is uniquely theirs. Each one of the top 5 have 1 or 2 small weaknesses that will keep things interesting. My big take away from each group: 1. The Cadets - a wonderful music book coupled with frenetic drill and a traditional look back at early 90s Cadets through a modern lens. The show theme really isn't important. Just watch and listen...pure joy of sight and sound in marching and playing. Perhaps not overly innovative (other than the 10 yard ballad, or perhaps the use of French Horns), but then again too much is made of the need to "push" the activity. Perform, entertain, teach kids, travel and learn life lessons...repeat. Can easily win Gold. 2. Blue Devils - A brilliant brass line with some major demand in the book. A true and tried formula from recent years, but continually being updated and tweaked. Staging, free form, mixed with some excellent drill and some amazing marching when they do apply traditional drill concepts. Clearly BD has moved away from traditional drill methods and I have no problem with that. They still do the best job of mixing-up visual aspects of the show. The effect of most of the props this year is probably not as effective as in past years, especially last year or the 2010 show. Then again, changes may come. Still, this show is a delight from top to bottom. Ending does need a boost or at least needs to make more sense. With some tweaking this show can take Gold. 3. Bluecoats - a thrilling ride into the FUTURE of drum corps. Bloo has carefully studied the Cavaliers and Blue Devils over the years, and they have modified their own style to arrive at where they are today. They also took electronics seriously from day one, investing big bucks into equipment and training. Their 2015 show features traditional drill, sequential design aspects similar to Cavaliers early 2000s shows, and staging similar to BD. Kinetic Noise then applies modern scoring of minimalist music with a powerful dose of electronic effects and synth-based sounds, and what you have is a modern approach to drum corps design. If you were to walk into a mythical Disney theme park that featured a look at the "modern marching band," the show you would see is this one. If they clean the feet and lock-in musically in brass and percussion, they can compete with anyone this year. Definitely a show worthy of Gold providing the performance is there. 4. Santa Clara Vanguard - Taking a page out of the Bluecoats book, they are using electronics to excellent effect. The show features traditional drill (lots of it, similar to Cadets), and with their guard integration they have one of the best overall visual packages out there. Percussion is a beast. Brass is good but not at the level of the top 3 plus Crown. The music book is interesting and doesn't always grab me, but I enjoyed it more last night than the two previous times I have seen them on DCI LIVE. Cannot wait to see it live. They march some incredibly tight formations at 1-step and 2-step intervals. Very demanding and scary to pull off. My only concern with this show is music GE and brass performance. Perhaps some of that is the show theme just not being strong enough. 5. Carolina Crown - Powerful music that conveys their Inferno theme and a brass line capable of blowing the roof off of Lucas Oil Stadium makes this show a must see. Some traditional drill writing, but a lot of body movement and staging. They definitely mix-up the visual package, and the guard integration is second to none. For my personal taste, Crown tends to do too much body movement. At some point I'm not sure what any of it means or how to interpret all those moves, especially from way up in the stands. Love the dark uniform, but I hate the red "candy cane" swirl up the leg. This show would have been super with costuming and perhaps even more theatrical staging (a la Phantom 2008 or Blue Devils last year). Still, this is a corps capable of taking high brass and guard come finals. They march well and their percussion is very solid. The ending still doesn't work, but I am sure they will add more in the next few weeks. 6. Cavaliers - Perhaps a throwback to the Cavaliers of the early 2000s. Awesome drill, both traditional drill and sequential patterns of motion. Brass book is their best in the last 3 years. Percussion is good and written beautifully for the show. I like the theme. Nothing to take seriously. Just watch and enjoy. No special meaning, just a concept. I actually really like the guard being in the mock future-looking wrestling outfit. Do not like the singing. That needs to go. Trombone feature is great when it comes over the mics correctly. Overall I find this show FUN and love that it's not trying too hard to innovate, just entertain and push excellent performance concepts. Cavies just need to clean and they can challenge for the 6 spot. BK will be tough, but I kind of think a clean Cavaliers corps will also be tough to beat. 7. Phantom Regiment - A look at American tourists in Paris. Awesome brass line! They have a fairly good brass book with plenty of demand, and boy do they play it well. Percussion is solid, too. The drill reminds me of their 2005 drill, but with less impact. Not sure why that is. I sort of feel the drill is moving almost too much for what the music is saying. Too much jazz running, especially when we are hearing majestic music. There are just some elements of the show not lining up. Otherwise, I find it entertaining and the marching members can definitely perform. If this cleans to a "T" come Finals I could see them challenging Cavaliers and BK. The Organ Symphony (Saint-saens 3rd symphony) is nice to hear but likely needs a more cathedral-like pipe organ and a few more majestic hit points to truly "bring home the bacon."
  15. Great night of drum corps! No rain, only a light wind, packed full house (arrive early, lots of folks with reserved tickets had trouble getting to their seats as everyone "spread" on the bleachers and some spots seemed to dissappear). This is the grass stadium where the MN Vikings have training camp, no track-grass right up to the bleachers-the crowd is so close some drum majors conduct from the stands. My hometown and most fav stadium to play in! Some totally biased thoughts from last night: (i have not seen much of anything live/video/etc for this season, have not even had time to read much) Govenaires: classic show for them, entertaining music choices and they performed the heck out of it. Contra (tuba?...I might be old...) solo with the gold flags is a great design choice. I suspect the closer has not been on the field long, but it is going to rock by August. MN Brass: this show is already looking polished-great guard coustuming and flags, loved the music. Great solo work in the hornline, everything looks and sounds like another DCA-sweep for MN this year :) RACINE SCOUTS: props to the 4 kids in the brass line (yep, 4). Of course there are balance issues with the full drumline and out, but they hung in and did a nice job in the ballad. Nice vocal solo, and the guard work that was ready for the show fit well. Horns were staged near the pit for most of the show. COLT CADETS: my kiddos-great job!!! Full show marching on the field, some guard works needs to be added in places yet. Big sound, then when the shakos come off you remember that many are only 12 years old...yikes! Members are very animated and selling the show, soloists did a great job, so proud of you guys! Pioneer: my vote for "most improved", but I have been out of the loop the past 2 years with the baby...anyway, wow! Big corps in all sections, lots of volume, entertaining show. The costumes and flags fit the theme great, it was easy to follow the story. They are not moving as fast or playing as many notes as the big guys, so I know they are not likely to hit top-15, but they should be very proud of this show. VIP to the cymbal line-lots of effects, good marching and visuals COLTS-Go Red Team! Love the show, set #3 grabbed the crowd great and the wall of sound on the first big hits got them roaring. Trumpet solos rocked, vocal solo was great, and lots of little details on the front sideline with pit and voice actors that added a lot (popcorn...lol...) I can't wait to see how the ending changes in the next few weeks. Narration was a bit hard to hear due to the stands so close to the pit, with speakers aimed right at the wall, but this stadium is unique, so it should not be an issue most other places. Love ya lots guys-keep up the great work! MADISON SCOUTS-love the 1990s uniforms, the whole show has the 90s feel with jazz and screaming sopranos (trumpets....). Big wall of sound was the loudest of the night. Fun, happy show. BLUECOATS-after reading a bit on this show before seeing it, I knew some things I wanted to watch for. I think they maybe the used the silver atom things more then in the first couple of shows, but I don't have any prior viewings to go on. Guard was in and on them quiet a bit, they moved around, etc. The speaker effects are very cool, I loved the muted trumpets being bounced around the field. We were sitting right on the 50, so the best possible listening point. I hope folks further out near the end zones will be able to get the same show we got. But, as cool as that was, I was the most impressed with the crazy body work the corps is doing. Is it required to take years of ballet to be in the 'coats horn line? Slow motion running...crazy cool.... I have never had a good handle on scores, so I won't go into that. Placements were as they performed, and I agree with those 100%....but I hope the COLTS overtake Madison with some crazy cleaning and a few tricks up their sleeves.... I will try to add some photos soon.
  16. I went to the cinecast at Tinseltown in North Canton. Really good stadium theater setup with excellent video and audio quality. No glitches in sound or audio. Whoever does the sound in the theater for this show knew what they were doing. It was jacked up and very LOUD, but with a good quality of sound. Overview I liked all the shows to some extent. I think everyone has something to offer, and all of the shows we viewed tonight have potential. As always, it comes down to the marching members and the staff as to what changes and how well it cleans and sells. Looked like a nice big crowd at the Indy show. Too bad the roof couldn't be open, but the show would have been a rain-out otherwise. Entertainment I'd say Bluecoats and Cadets grabbed me the most. Probably not surprising since I've been a fan for sometime of both corps. There are aspects of Crown's show that I love. With some clarity in the coming weeks I can see this show being right up there with Cadets and BLOOO in terms of entertainment for me. I happen to really like the Cavaliers show. Their best brass in a while, and they are trying some very challenging music. It will take time, and they will have to experiment with the guard and their integration, but I have a feeling Cavies will make this a real treat come season's end. Madison has a better second half and a somewhat disjointed first half. I love the ideas in this show but they are not quite fleshed out melodically. The visual book is WAY better than last year, and of course you do get that BIG Madison sound. Closer could be special in time. I very much enjoyed Blue Stars. They seemed to be the dirtiest of the corps tonight, but I see more potential from an entertainment perspective in this show than with Madison or Cavies. BS has a wonderful mix of visual and musical hits in their show. Some cleaning will help those things pop. Performance Carolina Crown was the cleanest corps from our vantage in the theater. Bluecoats were the next cleanest, then Cadets. The spread between the top 3 and Cavaliers, Madison, and Blue Stars was deserved simply due to execution. I try not to read too much into GE scores at this point. Early in the season execution will gain you more points. You have to execute what you are trying to sell. Judges can then get a better read on where things are going from an overall GE perspective. Scoring I wasn't surprised by the scoring of the top 3. That can shakeup any number of ways as the season progresses. None of the other corps present at this show will catch Cadets, Coats, or Crown. I do believe Cavaliers will be better than a lot of people are thinking. I really liked them tonight. I would have had Blue Stars over Madison, but BS was dirty. I like both shows, and again it's unfair to make over-arching blanket statements about entertainment at this point because so much will change. In terms of score, I clearly see the 3 Cs from this show (Crown, Cadets, Coats) all knocking on the top 3 Medalist door. No doubt. BD will also knock on the medalist door (we would assume), and we'll have to see how SCV & Phantom do from a scoring perspective. Having heard Phantom's brass and percussion, I'd be surprised if they didn't have the edge on the Cavaliers for a top 6 spot. Same with SCV. So I am dying to see both of those shows. The Top 3 From This Show The Cadets have some MAJOR demand, wonderful music, and incredible drill (which was expected for any of us who heard their off-season offerings). It's a monster show that should both entertain and show off the corps' amazing ability to perform at a high level. When they finished the opener I sat their thinking that most corps don't play that many notes in their entire show. But it wasn't just demand for the sake of demand. It's logical arranging and the musical phrasing is wonderful. Some big wow moments in this show, something the Cadets are good at. Love their ballad. This will be one of the better ballads of the year with Bluecoats (slight edge to BLOOO). The waltz is clever and features multiple tempos, some extremely fast drill once the style changes, and a great French Horn feature. The music to the closer is awesome. I have heard the real ending and cannot wait to see that charted for field. It should be a spectacular closer. This is a fantastic show from top to bottom. They will be a force. Definitely top 3, and likely a contender. The Bluecoats have perhaps taken it up another notch (if that was possible) from last year's amazing production. No doubt the talk about them will begin with their unique approach to electronics and music construction. I have been waiting for a show like this for around a decade. Many drum corps out there have tried various types of electronics, amplification, synths, singing, narration, etc. Usually it just comes across cheap, not effective, or as some side effect that's not necessarily needed in the show. The brilliance with BLOOO is that they construct their shows in such a way that the electronics are woven into the fabric in perfect sync (IMO). What the Bluecoats are giving us is THE MOST adventurous show from a standpoint of using the electronic palette, and they are doing so without taking away from an outstanding brass and percussion book. They are giving us 3D dimensions of sound effects, rhythms, and dissonant clusters; and they are masterfully integrating it with minimalist patterns used to build the phrases (their music is highly minimalist in composition). They open with Shaker Loops and I love the combined effect of the layered music and the visual. Shaker Loops has some wonderful effects created from atmospheric mic and mixing techniques, and from the minimalist nature of its' construction. All of the effects in this show are performed in real-time. They are not pre-recorded or sequenced as some have suggested in another thread. The Bon Iver chart might be the best ballad this year by far. The tuba section is wonderful throughout the show with many features. I love the use of the rolling spheres. It's very effective. They will remind you a little of the Cavaliers 1995 Planets show. BLOOO uses them to great effect, even having solos played inside of them. The corps also uses a 3D sound setup in which speakers are also placed backfield (center, left, right I think). The total effect of acoustic and electronic with the construction of this music is magnificent. In particular I love the trumpet solos from backfield with Harmon mutes and the modified tonal resonances they achieve through effects. If you're a traditionalist, this might not be your cup of tea, but I think this may well be the one show that even "old timers" turn to and say "I dig it." The Bluecoats have definitely invested time and major dollars in doing this type of production the right way. They get it. They didn't just throw a synth out there and say "go." Definitely a contender! Carolina Crown is doing a very dark show based on Inferno from the Divine Comedy. I love the use of Beethoven's Ninth. I love the Verdi as well. Brass is wonderful and powerful. Percussion I do think is better, and I would not read too much into scores from tonight. This show was a little more polarizing for me. Some of the effects are blah (for me), and others are bold and reel me in. The build up to Ode to Joy is awesome, but from Ode to Joy to the end is a let down. That will change I am sure. I am not sure they have the visual vehicle. They are cleaner than Coats and Cadets for a reason. They are moving much less and their visual is very compact. Now, more will be added, so it's early and I'm only reacting off of one read. I would have had Crown under Coats by over a point. I do love their guard. WOW! Wonderful. I however do NOT like the uniforms for brass and percussion. Yuck. I understand the color combination of black and red, but that candy cane like squiggle up the left leg is ugly for my taste. Still, there is plenty to enjoy about this show.
  17. First off, great weather, except for the sun blaring directly into my face during Crown. Otherwise it wasn't roo windy and not too hot. Good day for Drumcorps! I was seated 4 rows from the top, right inside the left 35, side 1. I think the placements in general were correct though I think Bluecoats probably should have been way closer to Cadets or slightly ahead. Also, I tend to point out the stuff I don't like more than the stuff I do, so I apologize in advance, but rest assured that EVERY corps was enjoyable from top to bottom this year! Colts - Brass seemed pretty solid for the most part. Had some strong impacts. I am not a huge fan of the story telling and singing which permeated the entire show...seems really cheesy and the acting was incredibly overdone. Much of the "story" was happening on a scaffold on the front right of the field near the pit which meant a lot of the time you were focusing on that and missing everything else going on. Closer was a standstill unfortunately though they really played the heck out of it, so hopefully as the show gets finished it will help. Just too cheesy for me :( Crossmen - Lots of cloud tarps and props on the field really brought home the flight aspect of the show. Was very easy to discern what the show theme was about. They did alot of the flapping arm stuff that Phantom did back in 2007(?) Looked goofy then and still does now IMO. Hornline was solid. Lots of power and some fun charts being played. I thought they moved REALLY well! The uniforms looked sharp as well I thought. Again, mic'd singing in the show just kills it for me :( It sounds so goofy and out of place in pretty much every show I have heard it in. Lots of snickering in the crowd when it pops up as well, so not really sure who they are trying to win over with it. Hopefully Boston doesn't have any of that... Boston Crusaders - but they do...a LOT of it. The singer is talented but man, it just cuts like a knife through everything else. But that wasn't the only issue with BAC unfortunately. Their design this year is just awful. One of the most dissapointing things is they play the Game of Thrones theme throught the show, but ONLY electronically. I don't think the brass ever actually played any of it. Very confusing use of props as well. They just dragged around some weird black poles on wheels and did absolutely nothing with them. The design team needs to go back to the drawing board on this one...just does not work on any level. The kids are doing their best though and I can tell they are really trying to connect. If I was Boston I would be worried about having a shot at finals this year honestly. Even cleaned up this show doesn't have legs (or at least it doesn't seem to have any from this early contest). That said they play a lot of notes in spots and can put out some power when they need to. Some cool stuff with the ring of drums in the center of the field as well and I think their guard unis are pretty spot on. Carolina Crown - Obviously very solid brass that was LOUD. In fact, the show should be titled "Triple Forte" and not Inferno because they seem to pretty much max out the volume for the entire show. It got pretty dull honestly. I didn't really get a sense of the theme throughout the show but the opening with the giant black tarp pulled over the corps was pretty cool and the first wow moment of the night for most people in the stands. Also cool was the translucent red tarp over the soloist and the hornline during the ballad. Personally I think it would have been much cooler to have the brass pull down the volume when under the tarp as an effect so that when they pulled the tarp off they could crescendo up as if it was muffling the sound. Would make for a cool effect. Currently it is just a neat visual with loud horns underneath it. Kind of a wasted moment IMO. Color guard was on fire. Drums seemed to still be somewhat of an issue, but I am not a percussion specialist so I can't critique too much. Overall the show doesn't do a whole lot for me and it isn't a contender for gold currently. In fact, I would say it is a strong 5th-6th place as it sits now. Just not a whole lot going on that is exciting and other corps are catching up this season and last to the "play a bunch of fast runs" and it doesn't seem that cool anymore. That said, horn balance and blend was excellent and they are LOUD. Definitely the best hornline of the night but not the best content. The show just kind of meanders along and then it is over. I imagine the end is going to be worked on to bring it up to where it needs to be. It could be that after throwing in everything and overdesigning 2014 that they pulled back a tad too much this year and underdesigned. The drum break right after the initial opener impact also kind of takes the steam out of the front half of the show. Probably nothing can be done about that this far into the season as it would be a huge change. In any case, brass and guard is going to carry them and percussion MIGHT not be quite as big of an issue as last year, but show design will keep them from medalling I think. Bluecoats - Ok so, in another thread I commented on how I wasn't sold on this show based on some in the lot vids of the hornline. Live it was amazing! I was expecting the electronic stuff to be completely riddled throught every aspect of the show based on what people were saying but honestly it wasn't that intrusive. It is definitely there and it plays a huge role, but it wasn't like every second was electronics. Some VERY cool moments where small ensembles of horns would play a riff in a location of the field and then move away but the audio would continue from that location. The show could probably use some color as all the props are just silver, but man, what a cool show. I am totally sold on it. The "ballad" was a little bit of a let down and doesn't really do anything, but the Reich piece was amazingly cool. The Cadets - All sections were very solid but this another show where it didn't really grab me on first viewing. The french horn bit in the closer was actually really cool. Brought some much needed texture to the show. I also thought the bit in the middle where the soloist ran down the center, hopping on the blocks that the guard was propping up was pretty cool. The concept of 10 didn't seem to make any sense besides it just being a number randomly spread throught the show. Totally don't get how it drives anything thematically...but they can really play. At one point they were calling out random numbers that added up to ten with the numbers on the flags and I was like wtf is this about, but then I realized they were using all the numbers from 0-9 to make combos that added up to 10 and that was pretty cool. In any case, all sections seemed strong but the show didn't grab me (yet). LOTS of notes, lots of fast drill. Much more enagging than last year and not a whole lot of voice over which is much appreciated :) It could be a contender for a medal but after seeing BD and SCV on the west coast I think their shows are stronger currently and Bluecoats could end up nipping them too. Never count them out though...they can clean this and win on that alone if the west coast sleeps on them. Cavaliers - Opener is strong and the hornline can pump out some volume. For the opening I was like, ok Cavies are back! And they were for a bit, but middle of the show to the end just goes off the rails currently. The trombone feature seemed REALLY blatty (and I play trombone) but I couldn't tell if it was the playing or the mic or a combo of both. The Run Boy Run stuff has got to go! I mean...ugh who thought it was a good idea?? Even the hometown crowd was shocked into silence or laughter during it. It is up there in my least favorite moments of anything ever in a show from anyone. Just rip it out and make the show 500000% better. So juvenile and just....ugh....I hate it so much. Percusion seemed to be a strong point as well. I don't think they have the vehicle to get much higher than 7th or so, but I thought the same thing last year in Lisle and they cleaned up nice. I would say they are a little further behind this year just on the design of the backhalf of the show. Hopefully the design team does something with the run boy run. They can play though and the show has a good bit of demand :) So that's it...I thought placements were pretty close to correct and had no real issues with how it turned out! EVERY show had something that was entertaining and the kids obviously all came to play! Some errant design decisions aside this is going to be a VERY good year for Drumcorps!
  18. Congrats to all the corps for a wonderful night of entertainment. WOW! There are some very promising shows this summer. Troopers 59.4 - The Troopers were really really good folks. This is a great show that will move up the ladder when they clean their marching. BIG sounding brass line and percussion sounded good to me. Love their repertoire. This is a highly entertaining and moving show. This may make a push for finals. At the moment they are extremely dirty with all kinds of step-off issues and drill movement and alignment problems. As this show cleans I think fans are in for a treat. BAC 61.6 - I need another read or two on Boston's show. The kids perform very well with a very solid percussion section. They march well. The brass is being held down at the moment for intonation and balance, but I was really having trouble connecting to the music or the overall theme. Looking forward to seeing them again. There is some really good stuff in this show, they just need to expose it more and highlight the musical nuances better. Blue Stars 63.65 - I wasn't sure what I thought of this in the theater. Live was a BIG difference. There is a LOT of stuff in this show, but I really liked the music, the drill is wonderful, and once clean and tweaked some I believe this will be top 12 all the way. The crowd was entertained by these guys. Cavaliers 66.75 - The Cavaliers show also has a lot of potential. Great Cavies drill, some very demanding and exciting music, and I am beginning to get some of the guard interplay with the corps. Knowing how they can improve, this thing might be a BIG shock to many of you who think they are going to have a down year. I don't think so. Crowd in my area was very entertained. Crown 71.55 - Absolutely BLEW the stadium down. Seriously, it's in ashes...and my ear is gone. Unreal how loud, but also balanced they are. They hit some unison and unison/octaves tonight that might still be resonating over Terminal Tower in Cleveland. Don't care for the uniform, but it didn't bother me as much from up high. There are some amazing musical moments in this show. A few are stunning, like the fugue section in the build to Ode To Joy. I could have used a bit more nuance and dynamic contrast from them, and there are some visual issues they will have to address. All in all, people will love this show. They got a big ovation. Percussion played much better from what I heard at the cinecast. Cadets 73.15 - Just my opinion, but I think this show is stunning and wonderfully musical. The Cadets had the most dynamic range and musical control of phrases I felt. They are playing a killer musical book, and of the corps here their drill is clearly the best on the field. Percussion and brass are wonderful and will be right there with Crown, Coats, and BD all season long. Their guard had some issues tonight, and they need to get the injured players on the field. The ballad likely needs more climax, and of course they haven't yet put on their real ending. Aside from that this is classic Cadets. Nothing overly innovative, just straight-up music and movement. Of all the corps tonight their pit balance and mixing of the synth, bass, and other elements was really good. Maybe down low it might have been "hot" but when I heard synth it was a good mix up top. A great overall show with massive GE potential. Top 3 most likely. Bluecoats 73.25 - There is nothing normal about this year's Bluecoats. This is FUTURE corps. This is a stunning show that grooves, constantly evolves, utilizes surround sound (with speakers all over), has many solos and solis, utilizes effects better than anything I've heard, and it's just plain fun. For people that have not seen Bluecoats 2015, it's an experience unlike anything you've had. They combine electronics and acoustic playing (all done live) in a masterful way. I sense they will change some drill to better meet the music...the ending for sure. Their brass was BIG sounding and just about as loud as Crown. I thought the baritones got out of character a bit in the ballad and began pushing to hard. Balances were off there. Still, the brass section has a refined and amazing sound. Their tubas I believe are unmatched in DCI. Incredible writing. There are some stunning effects that just grab you. It's definitely a polarizing show. Many around me were not sure how they felt about it. Some loved it (like I do), some just hate anything electronic, and many were just not sure yet. But I think everyone was blown away by their performance and by the effect the show has on a person. This is maybe the first time I can truly say that if this thing cleans the Bluecoats may very well win GOLD. At this juncture (to my eyes and ears) a lot will depend on how they hang with Cadets and BD. I will reserve judgement on SCV, and even on Crown as they clean. They are all amazing corps, so this will be a dogfight...but it's a fight that BLOOO can win.
  19. I'm a FMM of The Velvet Knights, having marched in the early 90's. Nowadays, I am a sommelier and restaurant professional who has a popular blog about food, wine, restaurants, and men's fashion. Every now and then, I will write about something that is not-related to theme of my blog, including topics on drum and bugle corps. I've always been a fan and loved the activity since I first saw a drum corps show in 1987. Recently though, I thought it would be fun to interview a current member of a drum corps and feature them on my blog. As it turns out, I know someone personally in The Concord Blue Devils, and he was gracious to accept my invitation and answer some questions. An Interview with Sal Hernandez of the World Champion Concord Blue Devils - Part I The interview is long, and will be broken up over four parts over the next four days. Sal and I talk about a wide range of topics, including the 2013 and 2014 seasons with The Blue Devils, what he thought of the Carolina Crown show from 2013, being on the field at retreat on finals night this past year, discussing some of the so-called "controversies" with The Cadets, what he thinks of Drum Corps Planet, whether they read DCP while on the road, and other fun stuff. Have a read, make comments on the blog and here if you would like, and most of all: ENJOY! Sal is a fantastic young man and is excited to see what you all think of this interview! Remember, there will be four parts over the next four days. I'll be posting a link in this thread for the upcoming parts each day this week.
  20. What a night it was in Indianapolis for the Drum Corps International World Championships! For this long-time viewer of the activity it may have been the best collection of talent I've ever seen, with each of the final top 12 drum corps in the world giving their best performances on the last night of the season. The crowd, much like any Finals audience, was appreciative of all the shows and everyone seemed to have a great time, no matter who your favorite was. I simply don't have time to write a full review of each show at this point in time (morning after). We check-out of the hotel soon and head back to Canton, OH, and then my buddy heads back to Liberty, OH. But here are some general thoughts: Was this the best DCI Finals yet? Maybe. I'd say it was the best collection of performing ensembles. I still probably like 1995 and 2000 for entertainment value, but the marching and playing this year were really wonderful. Crowd - this had to be the largest crowd I've seen at DCI Finals since 2007 Pasadena, CA. It was not quite that big, but man was that place packed last night. DCI attendance seems to be on a upswing judging from numbers I'm getting on other shows. The Bluecoats - WOW WOW WOW! So impressed with this corps, and a big shout-out to Dave Glasgow for being honored as Director of the Year. So deserving. They run a well-organized drum corps and they should be extremely proud of their entire organization. Even this long-time Cadets fan is not surprised that these continued successes come the Bluecoats direction. The organization has worked hard for many years to pave the way for financial, organizational, and competitive success; and under Dave's leadership the Bluecoats have achieved many wonderful years of showmanship and financial stability. The corps' performance last night was outstanding. I thought they got off to a somewhat slow start (just minor stuff), but once they got going they nailed their show. Maybe the best introduction of a corps ever (how they were announced when their show started--did not use Brant Crocker). I also thought they won high drums last night. I knew SCV would win the trophy since they had already won the two previous nights, but I really thought Bluecoats percussion performance last night was the best on the field. Great show, awesome GE, and the ending rocked the joint as it did all season. Carolina Crown, despite placing 5th (nothing to sneeze at--most corps would love to place that high), really came to play. If there was a corps that received an OVATION as large or larger than that of Bluecoats, it was Carolina Crown last night. You would have thought they were the Madison Scouts of 1997 with that standing-O. HOLY COW, that brass line was so awesome last night that the crowd was oohing and awwing the entire show. They were shouting, screaming, and clapping at every articulated passage or fast scalar line, or at the sheer power and intonation of this monumental brass line. Oh, and the rest of the corps was pretty magnificent too. Never in my life have I found myself in tears after a show because the brass was so good. Last night I was in tears because of that brass line and because Carolina's total show finally hit and we all loved it! The audience rose as ONE and roared their approval of this past champion. My buddy can attest that he's never seen me with happy tears in my eyes after a show....but that performance by Crown's brass was that amazing! How the Blue Devils---who have an amazing brass line in their own right---beat Crown last night is beyond. me. I would have had BD in a close second. BD would have won the Ott anyway (after winning brass on Thur. and Fri.), but Crown deserve it last night. Most entertaining Shows (in no order, but being as objective as I can judging from the crowd): Bluecoats, Carolina Crown, Blue Knights, Phantom Regiment, and Cavaliers. Best Traditional Drill - The Cadets, The Cavaliers, Santa Clara Vanguard, and Blue Knights Best Use of Staging with Drill - Blue Devils, Bluecoats, Carolina Crown Loudest Brass Line - Blue Knights. Man did their instructors let them blow. Might have hurt them a bit, and they had a few visual tears that allowed a clean and beautiful Phantom show to pass them last night. Best Drum Major - Phantom Regiment (not even a contest in my mind). Superb conducting. Major props to the Madison Scouts DM as well. Most Improved Corps Award - The Cavaliers. They rocked the joint last night as well, and what a well-crafted and powerful show. Cannot wait to see what's next for them. Best Marching Execution - The Cadets. Yes, BD won Visual Ex, and what they do is amazing, well-crafted, and flawless. but the Cadets were no-less flawless in the legs and body last night, and they march, IMO, a harder visual book for the entire show. A more traditional kind of drill, for sure. I really like what the Blue Devils have presented to us with staging, scene changes, and a modern blend of old with the new. But I also love some straight-up drill. Way to go, Cadets! Best overall music book - A tough call for me, but I'd say Carolina Crown, Blue Devils, and Blue Knights. All three of those music books gave me goosebumps!!!! Best single Effect - The Bluecoats glissando (Tilt) effect that included a mix of synth, brass, and amazing staging and body movement. The crowd loved it all season!!! Best T-shirts: The Bluecoats and Blue Knights, with a special shout out to DCI and the DCI Store at Finals. WOW, I was blown away by the new DCI designs and their store, situated in the stadium, was like walking into a Disney store. Congratulations to all the corps on a terrific season! Many KUDOS to our medal winners this year: Blue Devils (Gold), Bluecoats (Silver) and The Cadets (Bronze). All three corps were amazing all year, and very consistent. Bravo to the Cadets for that stately and elegant patriotic presentation and to the beautiful narration and powerful narrator. That was the type of show that gave me goosebumps and lots of ooh and ahh moments. Didn't care for the cheese at the end, but 95% of that show is wonderful drum corps. Bravo to the Bluecoats for coming out so strong, for the amazing show concept, the tightly-focused show design, and for the high performance levels blended with some of the best entertainment. The crowd loved you for a reason, and I really thought you won percussion last night. And a BIG BRAVO to the Blue Devils for continuing to show some of the best performance levels we've ever seen. You mix traditional drum corps with modern design, innovative techniques, and provocative and daring themes. You continue to bring power and passion to the field, your marching technique (along with Cadets) is still the best in the business, and one of these days someone might actually challenge your guard. I enjoyed your show immensely!!!! Best brass sound I've heard BD have in some time. To all the other corps: BRAVO and Congratulations! It was a pleasure to be LIVE and in the audience for these World Championships. Those of us there live have nothing to complain about. Peace!
  21. Happy DCI Finals day to everyone! Last night was fun as I enjoyed most of the corps in competition. We arrived in Indianapolis around 2pm. Checked into our hotel and then made it to the stadium by 4:30 or so. While at the hotel getting ready I had the webcast on and was highly impressed with Pacific Crest. Fantastic show and an excellent drill. Once we arrived we caught Academy (partly) who I thought played a very difficult piece of music (some from Paris Sketches I think) from the wind band repertoire. Really like their newly designed uniform with the blue. Spirit of Atlanta was the first full corps that we sat through. LOVE this uniform, and with the guard I believe it's one of the more beautiful looks on the field. Nice music, and some fantastic solos. Love the tree on the field and the props are wonderful and colorful. This show has most of the elements of a nice top 12, but lacked the impact of a top 12 GE program. Troopers - Love the intro of this show, but it takes a while to get going after the first 20 seconds. Where Troopers shine is from the point of the show where the Lincoln face is presented to the end. At that point the music, marching, and overall style just feels more Troopers to me and they bring the goosebumps. The closing strains of America the Beautiful is awesome, especially the big hit which is impeccably staged. Colts - I actually LOVE the uniform proper for the corps, but I found the combinations with the guard, flags, and the narrator up front to be odd. The music is good and they play very well, but the narration was inaudible. I don't mind narration if done well, but more than half the time I could not understand what the young man was saying. Too often he was trying to push his voice over the horns and percussion and the sound system was not loud enough. It was more of a distraction. Overall just not my cup of tea. Crossmen - I continue to enjoy this show. Brass is really good and drums and playing some nice grooves. Drill is good and the music is wonderful, top to bottom. They just need a visual and music GE hit or two that pushes a good show to a great one. Awesome trumpet soloist in this show!!! Madison Scouts - As much as I love the Scouts I was not wild about the uniforms, the music book, and the visual program, to me, is a disaster. They have a wonderful brass line playing a music book that does not coordinate with the visual program. The show leaves me flat. I did like the ending (faux encore), but I'm waiting for the real Madison Scouts to emerge here in the 2nd decade of the 2000s. Boston Crusaders - A very talented corps performing a dark show based on Animal Farm. Great drill, some spectacular effects, good solos (especially the solo flugel horn in the endzone), and the drill is fantastic. The last half of this show, from the ballad to the end, are wonderful and truly what grabs my attention. Blue Stars - Love the new uniforms, and those red plumes really "pop" under the lights. Great music! The show concept doesn't thrill me, and I believe they are missing some major GE due to staging of props or overall theme. The corps, however, really performs well. There is a noticeable difference between them and Madison, especially in the visual department. Everything is very clear and easy to read in this show. Overall I am a fan of this show, but I feel they might have achieved so much more with a theme that has a more emotional angle. Phantom Regiment - One of my favorite shows on the field. When I first saw Phantom this year I thought it was a down year, and even though they are in 8th place I feel they have become the Phantom that many of us love. The brass is awesome and controlled (very musical), the percussion has come a long way, visual program is really good (IMO) even if it is less demanding than some. It makes sense. The only think I do not like is the all-black outfits that most of the corps changes into. Blue Knights - LOUDEST CORPS OF THE NIGHT!!!!! I was in section 140 on the 45 and they were rocking the place big time. Not only is this an emotional show with stunning visuals and beautiful design, but they have one LOUD ### brass line and a pretty solid percussion section. The true greatness of this show, however, is the total design. Just fantastic! My 2nd favorite corps of the night. The Cavaliers - I knew the Cavaliers would have a better vehicle when I saw them on the Akron Cinecast, but talk about an improved corps. WOW! They were just magnificent last night. Brass is much improved over the past few years, and they easily have one of the top 2 or 3 drill designs on the field. Great overall show theme. No dead moments in their show. Their percussion is stellar, and their guard is wonderful and so well tailored to the show. The play acting, the outfits, the make up, the staging...it's all there. For 12 minutes yesterday I got a reminder of just how good the Green Machine can be when all the elements click and their performance captions lock itn. As they marched off the field I found myself smiling and thinking "look out next year." I believe a BIG BOY has awaken. Carolina Crown - Despite what anyone thinks of this show, it's a fun ride. WHAT A BRASS LINE!!! Love the music, love the sound, love the power, and boy can they play. Percussion is not bad but I must agree with something I saw here on DCP a few days ago. Someone mentioned how hard and abrasive their snare sound is, and I agree. Overkill IMO. The music is top notch. The ballad to the end of the show is just flat out FUN music. Their guard is wonderful and I love the silks. My oh my do they know how to use color. I know that many were not wild about the turquoise pants, but I am glad they went with them for this show. It works. The design might have been a bit cluttered, but in the end we still get one heck of a top 5 show. Santa Clara Vanguard - They blew me away in Massillon, but not so much last night. It's a stately, polite, elegant show (and I love shows like that), but they are missing something. Not much, just one or two GE elements that might put a capstone on this overall excellent show. It's definitely one of the more colorful shows on the field. I love the trombones at the intro, but they are underused near the end. The drill here is one of the top 3 or 4 on the field, and the guard...WOW, I thought they were awesome and one of the best on the field. I'd easily put them against BD. Bluecoats - In Massillon I was blown away by the intro and closing of this show, but the middle section was underwhelming to me. Maybe it was some of the minor visual errors I caught. Last night I was BLOWN AWAY like never before by BLUECOATS!!!! This is their BEST show ever! For many of you I guess that depends on personal taste. Their marching was much cleaner, the impact of the visuals and their wonderful staging of elements was as good as any in the activity, and they continue to have one of the best brass and percussion sections in the activity. Had percussion won last night (and they were close) I would not have been surprised. This show has 3 key components: a) best intro of a show, b) best closer, c) best percussion staging. The show also has a clear, defined theme and amazing focus to each section of the show. BLOOO also has the best tuba section in the activity (with many props to Phantom and BD who also have great tuba sections). I don't know what Thursday was like here in Indy, but last night the crowd was "lit-up" by the closer and they roared their approval. Will they pass Cadets tonight? My guess is YES. The Cadets - All season long I have LOVED this show...and still do. Anybody who knows me knows that I love the Cadets. I grew up loving them, tried out for them in 1986 (ended up getting a full scholarship to an orchestral music festival), and they've been my FAV for a long time. When the Cadets are the Cadets, nobody marches any better, and they play, drum, and spin their tootsies off!!!! This version of the Maroon and Gold is a spectacular performing ensemble. Even if you hate patriotic shows, or just this particular show, you have to admire how these young people perform. The drill they are marching is one of the 2 best in the activity, and much more demanding than people give credit. The horn book is difficult, the percussion book is killer, although sadly a lot of it is so far backfield that I don't think the general fan gets an idea of just how good they are. I don't mind the narration because this show needed it. I don't mind the stage, but most around me hated the stage and felt it killed the corps in terms of staging. Where I agree with the show's detractors is this: the last 30 seconds or so are too cheesed-up, and at that point the stage does kill them. They can't bring the horns closer without dividing them (as they do earlier). Sadly, Patriotic shows have a tendency to "go south" when the points are no longer there. The Cadets are now trying to generate GE by throwing out the kitchen sink. Tarps, more audio quotes, the Capital building mural, a pull-down flag in front of the stage, saluting on stage, and all while the corps holds the last note as long as possible until someone decides to stand. I believe there comes a time where you say "we're not going to muck it up." "We will accept whatever scores we get, but artistry has to count for something." I still love 95% of this show, and I love watching these performers, but I believe the writing is all the wall, and that wall is tilted. I believe Bluecoats, if they perform well, will overtake Cadets tonight. Let's see what happens. The Blue Devils - They were one of my favorite shows of the night. My good friend hated them and felt they were not marching as much, a lot of smoke and mirrors, and that they are playing to the limitations or loopholes of the scoring sheets. The interesting thing about this edition of BD is that everyone is reacting a little differently to the show. Everyone seems to agree that they are the best overall performers, and they are. I love the music. The opening fanfare is stunning, and the level of control in their marching and playing is not matched by any marching unit out there. They are the most unique corps in how they march, stage, and generate effect. I was blown away by their show and their performing levels. They will win, no doubt. Regardless of score, time will tell whether this show holds up with some of the best. I have more to say about this show, but perhaps after Finals and in a different thread. Congrats to all the corps!!! This was an amazing season and I look forward to tonight...and next season.
  22. Enjoy our thoughts here :) http://www.couchmendrumcorps.org/news/2014-dci-finals-review
  23. I've been to every DCI in Indy a few BOA's and a couple of NCAA events. The best dining experiences I have had: Fogo de Chao 317-638-4000, 117 East Washington Street- Brazilian BBQ, The side orders and cheeses in the buffet are incredible. The red meat eaters in our group said the meats are Awesome! Tavern on South 317-602-3115, 423 West South Street- I've eaten here about 10 times. Salmon, Chilean sea bass, filet mignon, etc... All Excellent! Fresh in house made deserts! (My first meal in Indy will probably be there!) St Elmo's Steak House, Weber Grill, Ruth Chris Steak House, Morton's Steak House- I've Been to all four more than twice. You probably can't go wrong here. Palomino 317-974-0400, 49 West Maryland Street and Mo's A Place for Steaks 317-624-0720, 47 South Pennsylvania Street- Just as good as the above but, Better side dishes in my opinion. Oceanaire Seafood Room, 317-955-2277, 39 South Meridian Street- I've never had a bad or average meal here! The Food Trucks on W. Georgia St. ( Mon-Fri)- Everything I bought at the trucks were reasonably priced and delicious! I had Cajun jambalaya, BBQ chicken and tons of other stuff. Turkey Legs,Corn on the Cob and Lemon Aid at the State Fair! Yum, Yum and Yum! I travel with some hard core Foodies. All we do is talk drum corps and food. Everybody has their own favorites though. I will be trying some of the suggestions on this thread!
  24. For those that may not have seen it, these are my thoughts from the show in Massillon. I have included wvu80's comments as well. He added his comments to mine in the contest thread, and since no review was posted I decided to add them here as well. ----------------------- Another fantastic show in Massillon tonight!! Bravo to all the corps and to the Bluecoats organization and the Pro Football HOF Enshrinement Festival for sponsoring this amazing show at this amazing venue. It was nice to FINALLY get to a LIVE show. I've only seen these corps via FN. Overall Impressions: 1. JW: Phantom Regiment BLEW ME AWAY!!!! Oh thank you so much for the wonderful brass line, beautiful guard, and stately and powerful show. One of my favorites of the night. Maybe they are not going to win or be top 5, but the BIG sounding brass line is back. wvu80: This may sound funny, but this is one reason I like drum corps, because these are not girls, they are women, and they can do sexy in a way girls can't. The brass was just great, and very loud. 2. JW: The Cadets were incredible, musically and visually. The show is magnificent, and my gripe with the last 20 seconds was somewhat made more palette-able on a live viewing. Even the tarps didn't seem as bad live. I'd still prefer they drop the audio and tarps and just let the corps handle the end. But I'm sure they know what they are doing. Visually this corps is STUNNING! Best marching tonight, easily. The drill is just fantastic and my oh my is their guard good. wvu80: The Cadets made the entire field alive with sound, you have to be there to understand it. The sound was probably the loudest of the night, maybe Bloo or Crown could take that as well. In any case, Cadets have a HUGE sound. Despite the complete field of props, this was an old-school horn driven show. I'm not crazy about the narration, but that is a personal preference. The announcer was FANTASTIC, and I was close enough to know he was speaking LIVE! and not lip syncing. He has a great voice and it is very powerful to hear live!. The cumberbun color change was very effective, from blue to light yellow to bright yellow, it helped transition from one presidential era to another. (see comentary on Crown for the negative view on unforms) I loved the ending and it gave me goosebumps. Surely this is the finals version. It really seemed like there was something else they were going to put on the ending. Has anyone talked about Cadets' uniforms? They are not wearing jackets. Those are jacket looking shirts with all the "tradition" in them. I bet they enhance performance because they look like they would breathe better than a jacket ever would. Trousers with no stripes? These are not your father's Cadet uniforms, but they are SUPER effective. I would give them higher GE scores just because they unis are so visible on the field. As I write this, I still don't know who won. Cadets rolled out some large "face" banners, but they were invisible to me because they were so flat. You would have to view those from the blimp to see what they were supposed to represent. This was probably the only gimmick that was NOT effective. That front stage is impressive, they have an intact scaffolding, and roll the whole thing in with a crew. This is probably the most complete set of props covering the field I have ever seen. 3. JW: Obviously I thought Bluecoats were outstanding, especially musically. Brass and percussion is always a HALLMARK of this outstanding unit, and the percussion section is really throwing down. Visual was an issue tonight. Not that it was bad. BLOOOO is marching very well, but there are little things here and there that keep them from the Cadets. I actually walked out of the stadium thinking they had also lost to SCV. I told a fellow college band director (and close friend) that it might have ended up Cadets then SCV, then Bluecoats and Crown. I'm not sure whether Blooo was that off or SCV that on. I will know more come Friday in Indy. The best closer, hands down, is Bluecoats end of the show. It just hits you like a ton of bricks and pulls you to your feet. Fabulous ending. They just need to march that show the way they can. wvu80: One thing that suprised me is that Bloo didn't get the "home field" crowd support I thought they would. Every corps got polite applause, but the crowed, which was PACKED from end-zone to end-zone, gave a couple of "routine" standing O's for the Big Boys, but it didn't seem heartfelt. Bloo DID get that enthusicastic standing O from the last 30 seconds to the end. I thought the ending was much more effective by not having the last performer jump near the end-zone, he is closer to the 20 or 30, but he catches MAJOR air! JW: As I stated in an earlier post, the Massillon show isn't as much a "homer" show for Bluecoats as people might think. 95% of the audience did NOT wear organge. It's not a slam on Bluecoats, it's simply that many people who attend are in town for the Pro Football HOF festivities. Many more come into town from Michigan, Indiana, PA, West Virginia, and other areas of Ohio like Cleveland, Toledo, and Youngstown. When I taught at Youngstown's Dana School of Music (and even during my Masters Degree years at Dana) many of our students marched with Cadets, and some with Star of Indiana (and also Blast!). Having said that, BLOOOO definitely got more love than anyone else, and the Massillon show is famous for the crowd loving everyone. wvu80: I would have had Bloo in first place tonight, based on the CROWD REACTION. Bloo and Cadets both had Big shows, HUGE sound, great creativity, and tremendous drum lines. I would have put Cadets drum line in 1st, but let me explain why. wvu80: 'Coats drum staff pay attention, I can get you some additonal tenths: Right after the drum solo, the snares come across the field from left rear towards the 50. A CONCERT SNARE IN THE PIT PLAYS THE SAME PART ON THE RIGHT FRONT. THIS DOESN'T WORK. The reason why has nothing to do with the skill of the performers, the problem is technical. I can SEE the concert snare guy in the pit, on the right listening to the battery, catching the sound as it comes past and syncing with it. The problem is that the dry sound snare reaches him before the audience, and by the time he plays the same part on a lower pitched drum, THE SOUND IS NOT TOGETHER. It never will be, because of the distance and the disparate drum sounds. This does NOT add to the "cool" factor, and it creates an ERROR that can be heard. The concert snare playing just after is fine, but I'm telling you, they can increase their drum score if they take that one concert snare section out. No one will miss it. 4. JW: Santa Clara Vanguard was ON FIRE tonight!!! This is the most colorful show, I thought, and the drill is impeccable. Amazing staging. The music was wonderful, although at times a bit over-arranged. They are much cleaner now. Their percussion is sweet, much like Coats and Cadets. There is much danger with this show now. I sense a dark horse in the making and would not be surprised to see this take 3rd, maybe even 2nd on Saturday. SCV may not have Crown's brass, but from my vantage point they have better drill, percussion, guard, GE, and overall design. Both Cadets and BLOOO better watch out and better keep pushing to the end. wvu80: Another vote from me on the maturity factor of having WOMEN in the color guard. I have to take points away because I am not a fan of seeing MEN wear gold bras and skirts. Maybe it's just me. wvu80: I also HAVE to give some props (ahem) to SCV for the great uniforms. The white was VERY effective visually. The trombone instruments are a COMPLETE waste of effort and add NOTHING to the show. I am not a hater of new stuff, but the trombones looked like they were in there so they could say "we have trombones, see, we are innovators!" wvu80: The horn line was unleashed tonight! HUGE horn sound, the biggest I have heard from SCV in years. Overall, great show. 5. JW: Boston Crusaders - I'm still not wild about Boston's Animal Farm show, but it's much better to see live...and the last 2 minutes are stunning!! With a stronger GE product this could have been a top 6 corps. Very talented. Tough show to pull off, but KUDOS to them tonight on a wonderful performance. 6. JW: The Crossmen were AWESOME! This is a fun show with lots of great grooves and some old-school like percussion features. Music was a joy to listen to. The trumpet soloist was outstanding. One of the best solos on the field this year. Beautiful guard and the whole show made sense and seemed to captivate this audience tonight. 7. JW: Carolina Crown put on another display of BEST BRASS!!! Sheesh can they play, and I continue to love their ballad and closing tune. Best part of their show, and some of my favorite selections from any corps this summer. Overall their marching has come a long way. Percussion played nice tonight, and the show is presenting itself well. No doubt a solid and wonderful top 5 corps. It's so hard to judge between these top 5 (well maybe except BD who was not here tonight). wvu80: Crown has an UNBELIEVABLE horn line, and I think they are winning brass because they show it off. ALL the top corps, especially Cadets and Coats have about the same talent. Crown takes that horn line and separates them by 50 yards end-to-end on a diagonal, and they NAIL the articulations. It's incredible. wvu80: Crown's trampoines was a kind of cool idea, that just didn't work. Crown's staff did a good job of taking most of the jumping around out of the show. wvu80: The big difference to me in General Effect Other Than Brass is Crown's blue pants unis really make fuzzy formations on the field. Combine that with what I think is too many cluttered formations, and the show loses sizzle. I am not a judge, that's just how it looked to me. JW: Big crowd tonight. They had to delay the show by 17 minutes because so many people were still trying to get in. Every corps received a big ovation at the end of their shows. Crowd was very enthusiastic for all corps, as they always are. wvu80: Best T-shirt of the night was "Orange is the new Bloo." Coats currently OWN the T-shirt design wars with terrific designs. wvu80: Thanks again for writing my review, Willis. It's 2am, and I'm going to bed. GREAT show, GREAT weather and wonderful memories. I'll remember this one for a long time. JW: You're welcome. :-)