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I have so many final thoughts after the last 10 days!

First some stats:

I drove over 2700 miles, visited 8 states, took over 1200 pictures, and watched about 40 hours total of live drum corps.

On the activity...

If DCI is just marching band, then the space shuttle is just a plane. The dedication and hard work these kids, parents, staffs, and volunteers put in is amazing. In an age of instant gratification, it is refreshing to see young people willing to push themselves through the day to day hell that is tour. The payoff is so distant and difficult to realize while you are in the fight. I have met parents, both in person and through the interwebs that should be recognized for their support. In todays' world of parental "coddling", they should be applauded for paying to send their kids on this journey. The talent of the staffs combined with the hard work of the students is an amazing thing to see materialize.

On the TOC format...

In general, it doesn't work that well. I think fans would prefer 2-3 more corps to all the pre show field of honor and the INT kiddie games. The small ensembles and solos performing as the crowd comes in would be fine. The full retreat is OK, but please lose the opera. A wall of brass is what the customers want to hear. The cup has little significance to anyone. Who wins the show that night, and next Saturday is what fans care about. The reality is that the G7 sold a lot of tickets, but that is because of the product line up on the field, not some sweet new format. Of course you can get more butts in the seats with the top 7 appearing. I also like seeing corps playing in order of their recent competitive placements, at least in groups of 2-3. That is fairest to the corps and the judges. Also, most everyone who has been to a show with a first timer likes watching their reactions as the corps and shows "get better", as the night progresses. That dramatic is lost at TOC. The G7 need to rethink what they have, and learn from it. They need to remember that DCI is the brand, and they are only some of the products within that brand.

Competitive observations of the 4 corps I watched rehearse...

It was very interesting to watch the mood and "vibe" in the different corps.

PR, for example, realized that they had little chance of catching SCV and started to feel the Coats breathing down their necks. Their intensity Sunday did not match what we saw Friday. It appeared at times like the percussion staff has "checked out" of the season. It is easy to understand frustration that creeps in when you are the lowest placing section, and you feel like you are hurting your corps. Pushing through that stuff and giving all you have is so much harder in those situations. I'm not surprised Coats passed them last night, I called that after Sunday's show. Perhaps now they can gain some motivation by becoming the chaser instead of the chased. As a Phan, I hope they push back!

SCV was the opposite. You can feel the positive energy in their vibe as they try to chase down a medal. I don't think they have any worry about what's behind them. Much easier to motivate the corps in that circumstance. The design in this show is so sweet. It achieves great effect with well timed and layered music and motion, not effect through a lot of impressively difficult responsibilities. I still believe they can catch the Cadets, who I think are starting to realize they are probably not going to move up. I have learned to respect the Cadets ability to outwork anyone, so it will not be an easy task.


They are really performing the snot out of this show. The teleporting ending needs to be timed better and I think they should start with just an arm or a leg going in the left and coming out the right. By having the guard peeps kinda jump all in and out, I am not sure the audience fully understands what they are trying to do. If they can improve this effect, it might be enough to push them over the top!

To Crown fans: I also wish that the growing throng of Crown fans would show a little more respect to the other corps. If they do not win their first championship it will be because they didn't deserve it, not because DCI or some judge is trying to screw them over. Please don't be so focused on loving them the most that you don't appreciate what everyone is bringing to the table, that is very HS bandish. It's ok to like and clap for other corps, even the ones that beat you! After seeing how hard it is to win one, I would think there would be more respect for the other multiple time winners.

And don't be so quick to try and make yourselves feel better with the "at least we are the crowd favorite, that is what really matters" False, wrong! It is great to be the crowd favorite, but A CHAMPIONSHIP is the goal, and not getting there is going to be disappointing, and that is OK. They are not entitled to anything. They have to earn it with the judges, and this year it would appear that the percussion line could be the weak link that they have to address to win it all. I don't see how they can go below silver.'s so impressive to watch how they take care of business 24/7. They have a working formula, and they know how to win. They are so consistent with their staff's approach and vibe. They are a great Champion, and beating them makes any Championship that much more special. I think they have the inside track, and the performers welcome the challenge. They will not be backing down, and I predict #16 for them this year.

Next up,

Final thoughts and good- byes!

And again, so full of win. So many excellent insights. Thank you.

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