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It was nice to get home. I really can’t thank my wife enough for taking care of things so that I could be selfish for a few days. Of course, after 20+ years, she is used to me being selfish I suppose. We were joined by my oldest as we headed for Allentown to find Crown. They have a great set up for the week, staying at J Raub a couple of blocks from the stadium. From there they can travel to West Chester, East, and the Meadowlands. Today they were lucky enough to have the use of JBCrum, a huge advantage for them.

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It was a beautiful warm sunny day, so we decided to visit the pool in the park across from the stadium while they were on dinner break. I remembered the first time I swam there when I was marching. We found it in between prelims and finals in 82.

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We ate our picnic in the park, one of my favorite places on this earth. I will say that the place is more beautiful when there are drums and horns warming up to provide the soundtrack.

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Crown started their 3 hour ensemble block by working on the Fanfare section. They had staff in all the “pits” trying to sort out the bass drum and timpani attacks. This is one of the hardest ensemble music demands of all time. Asking 2 timps and bass drums to play together when they have 100+ yards between them is insane. The exposure leaves nowhere to hide. When it’s even a little bit off, everyone knows. JBC presents a whole different set of challenges because the sound is unique both on the field and in the stands. They would run the chunk and then the field staff would tell the box where the attacks were in relationship to the DM’s hands. Then the box staff would give feedback based on what they had heard. There was a lot of discussion about striking technique as much as timing. After about 10 reps they had “nailed it” 2 or 3 times. Let me tell you that when it clicks, the effect is AWESOME. They also worked on the brass timing. While it is VERY basic, basically quarter notes, they were reminded that it was no time to relax mentally. Again, simple parts made very difficult by the staging on the field.

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As they moved on, I confirmed something I had noticed on the APD’s for the first time. Just after they finish fanfare, and the pit starts the next movement, the synth plays a flute part. No question, it is a flute sound. I have begun to accept that electronics and goo are now a real part of the activity, and even have been able to embrace certain uses to good effect. Somehow, hearing a woodwind sound bothered me more than I can convey. It’s only a couple seconds, and it is not an unpleasant sound, I just can’t buy the need for it. And now that I have noticed it, I can’t seem to get past it.

Anyway, they continued working hard, playing every rep full out. The last hour before the run was spent mostly on the opener. It has to be one of the most of the “simultaneous demanding” things ever done. They are cleaning things up nicely, and the visual is really coming along. There are some transition clarity issues in the visual design, but overall the impact moments just come one right after another. One of my favorite parts is when the battery runs through the block form right after the stick figure guy move.

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The lights came on just as they started their run through.

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They had a great performance. The fanfare was almost spot on, just a very slight bass drum phase in one part. I really think it was a huge advantage for them to get the use of the stadium. Also, while some are traveling to and from Rome and Boston, they are camped out , getting great practice time. They even mentioned before West Chester that everything is about preparing for Friday night. If they nail their show, they could easily hand BD their first loss of the year. I also had the luxury of watching the run only a few feet from the music designer. After congratulating him and wishing them well on Friday, I couldn’t resist asking about the flute. He smiled, and said he felt it provided a pleasing tambre change for that section. I said I couldn’t seem to get past my objection to it, but what do I know. He commented, “at least we don’t yell French at you!” LOL

We stopped for our obligitory post show diner at the famous HAM FAM right across the street from the stadium. Probably won't get near a table here for the next couple days.

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NEXT UP…

EAST DAY ONE!

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Sorry...will have to update with more details and pix later tonight or tomorrow, back on the road again today!

Managed to get to both PR and BD rehearsals yesterday and see both runs.

I did want to make a couple comments about last night...

PR...

The new pre show when the princess is brought out by the guards and there is piped in evil music with screams and blood dripping noises is awesome. The crowd was not ready for it, and Spirit seemed to take forever to get out of the way, so it did not come off as well as it could have. It will get better by Indy I am sure. The new ending is the "happy couple" coming all the way up on the podium at the end for a final embrace and pose. The crowd ate that up! Has won us over as our favorite show this year.

Crown...

As I was low I can't speak for the big drill picture, but the rest was REALLY clean, especially the brass and ensemble. Not being closer after that does not bode well for them. I really thought they had a chance to beat BD with their performance.

BD...powerful and amazing. The crowd reaction was not very good.

Lots of other things to share, more to come later!

We're off to SCV and East day 2!

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Well, looks like the weekend updates and pics will have to wait until tomorrow, as we are right back on the road this morning to PR then TOC.

Quick thoughts about last night...

Much bigger crowd early compared to Friday...that is usually the case, but I wondered if Surf had some effect on that.

Cadets were a little off, not their best.

SCV had a very nice practice and run through, and an excellent performance.

Crowd was on it's feet as the wheel in Scouts show came to the center, and they stayed up till the end.

I think the best crowd reaction of the night goes to the Surf. The couple thousand banana sticks they gave away didn't hurt!

Plans to update tonight or tomorrow, but for now...

Here ya go!

East shares the love!

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We were joined by my daughters boyfriend, (a tuba and music ed major), and headed through the farmlands of PA.

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Is BK around? Looks like some sort of alien communication device?

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Our goal was to see PR ensemble and then go right from their run through to BD for the end of their rehearsal. It was a beautiful sunny day, but very hot and humid, when we pulled into Conrad Weiser High school in the small town of Robesonia.

PR had their ensemble block set up on a field behind the main stadium, not sure why? Maybe they werent allowed to get blood on the good field.

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It was folding chairs on the front sideline. Not the greatest view for drill, but the girls didnt seem to mind the visual GE from right behind the DM!

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The PR DM is the epitome of professionalism. He probably leads the corps through rehearsal as much, if not more, than the staff. He is all business and demands the same of the marching members, (and even the staff sometimes). That is such a help to the efficiency of their practices.

They were spending time on running big chunks. The pre show addition of the guarding of the princess with the heads on poles, while the evil back round music and screams that come from the pit is really cool. As they worked through the show, the brass performance had moments of brilliance, and then some that werent so much. Several times the corps yelled ALLENTOWN when they were reminded of the high box at JBC. They finished the block with a full run of the closer, but did no run through. When we saw the princess and her lover take the podium for the new ending, I got chills thinking of the reaction they would get tonight.

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We moved out quickly and made it to BDs block in time to see the last 30 minutes, including a full run. They talked a lot about carrying phrases to the end, VISUALLY! The energy was at its normal high for the East day practice. At the same time, the whole corps just has a cool laid back vibe in their approach to things. Relaxed and in control. Somebody piped in The circle of life over the amps while they glugged before the run through. When the staff questioned the pit where it was coming from, the kids just shrugged and pointed to the press box. I think somebody knew something they werent sharing. It was interesting to observe the French Canadians during the narration. They had look of dada confusion during the French section. The run was outstanding. What a combination of power and performance. Every viewing I manage to find something new going on that I hadnt seen before. BD certainly isnt going to give the competition anything in the way of an off performance.

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We stopped for some subs to eat at the park, and then decided have our desert first.Ice cream world, across from Dorney Park, a short drive from the stadium, has ALOT of homemade hard flavors, and usually 6-8 soft. If you like ice cream, this place is a must try.

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Next up...

Duck Pond Park!

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Edited by truman
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We got a spot in our usual lot in the center of the warm up park.

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Just across the stream we found the Mandarins battery warming up, and got to see former BD snare Blair Thomas. He is such a great young man, and has done a fantastic job with them. We got to know him and his family when we were stalking BD 10 years ago. Great drum corps people!

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We were sorry to hear that Mands had a tenor out with an injury. Hoping they can have her back for Indy!

Mandarins Battery in the lot

All week so far, it has been uncanny how the corps I want to see in the lot have basically set up right next to where I parked. PR kept the streak alive.

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At least she took off her BD hat before the pic!What a hottie! (The PR DM is kinda hot too I guess!)

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We made our way into the stadium.

I smell...BLUE SMOKE!

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BLOOD!

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It's the little details that make DCI corps so special!

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Next Up…

Show thoughts and Pix

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We made our way into the stadium, where we had fairly low seats, which I have come to prefer for live shows. With the amount of Fan Network coverage that allows you to see the pictures from up high, I really like the lower sections for the sound and the ability to sense the emotion of the performers. The amplification seems better balanced the closer you get to the field in most cases, especially if you can get inside the 40s. I believe the brass and drums are just louder because you are closer?

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Since there are a lot of show reviews already, I will keep mine to some brief thoughts.

COATS

I really love the Coats book, it has some of the best musical moments of the year. They are so solid in every caption. It seems like they just haven't found the "magical" design that can contend for a Championship.

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CROWN

Tonights' performance was worthy of winning. This brass line is incredible to hear live, but when you watch what they are doing when the sounds are coming out, particularly in the opener, it is really almost super human. The drum line seems to have found the ensemble timing needed to keep up with the brass. So do the "flutes" :tongue: The guard is solid and well staged throughout. The powerful message in the design provides everything they need to win it all. With the excellent management of the corps, like how they planned their housing for this week, and the way the staff is teaching, it is only a matter of time. And that time might be as short as 1 week. Certainly from a promotional standpoint, DCI would win over many by having "For The Common Good" as their 2012 Champion.

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BD

A fantastic performance. Incredibly difficult things are happening everywhere, and they are made to seem effortless. That is the definition of the performance caption on todays sheets I think. As far as polar opposites in show design go, BD is at the farthest end of the spectrum from Crown and PR as you can get this year. I happen to be able to enjoy both ends, and even believe that they help make me appreciate the other even more.

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Some corps directors roam the sidelines during a performance, some are a little more laid back!

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Now for a little rant...

Because there is not a wild cheering moment at the end of the show, the crowd reaction has been basically polite golf clap type applause. That allowed me to hear a smattering of booing a few rows behind me. The kids and the staff of BD are some of the most dedicated and passionate in the activity. Why would anyone think it is acceptable to boo a drum corps performance, EVER? If you want to complain about the judges decisions at the announcement of scores, that is one debate. Booing a drum corps at the end of their show is just WRONG! If I had been able to tell who it was, I promise there would have been an old fashioned rumble in the lot after the show. Please, show a little class. Go get a hot dog, or just plain stay home. It is a free country, you have the right to express yourself. So do I. So, if you ever decide to express your opinion by booing any corps at a show I am at, I will excercise my right to publicly humiliate you. I promise that when I am done, you will wish that you stayed home. Rant off...thank you.

REGIMENT

As I mentioned briefly last night Spirit has so many props, (walls and chips), that they seemed to take a long time getting off after they were done, and PR was in kind of a hurry to get there new stuff set up, so the crowd wasnt quite ready for the new pre show. The guard, carrying their recent show victims heads on their poles, escort the princess onto the field. The canned foreboding music and screams, and the blood dripping noises are really a great way to set the tone. I thought the PR brass line played a very controlled and clean show. They have been in control of the visual since early season. The design flows through the story so well. They are adding more and more everyday, and I don't see how they will be denied a medal. They have easily become my overall favorite this year. I could watch T dot over and over every day for the rest of my life.

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We swept the souvies as scores were announced. Perhaps it's just because I'm getting older, but no results that we could have heard would have lessened my enjoyment of a great first night.

Talk about my "dream job" !!!!

Shoulda ran with this to Indy when I had the chance.

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NEXT UP...

SCV and Day 2!

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Edited by truman
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