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Tony L.

West Chester Impressions

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A beautiful night for drum corps, a great line up, and a very large appreciative crowd. The one major issue as a fan that must be addressed is the seating in the center section of the stadium (non VIP) was without a doubt the most uncomfortable seating I have ever experienced at a drum corps show. Imagine bleachers with SMALL hard plastic seats -- it was like sitting behind those awful stadium seats that people insist on bringing. The kind that takes away all possible leg room. Thankfully enough the guy next to me left after one show! At least I could watch while sitting sideways! Never again will I pay for these $50 tickets. Buyer beware for next year's show.

Despite the comfort issue, the corps were all very impressive. I did not take any notes, so I shall only offer impressions.

Jersey Surf: This show's concept is just not being fully realized. I don't have an issue with Surf trying to be more serious, but this show is just a little too half-baked to be successful. The horns seemed to be a little off last night as I heard a lot of individual mistakes and the ensemble really never seemed to get a full solid sound. Individual marching technique needs to be addressed as well, a little rough last night. On the whole, a pleasant enough show, but not as solid as I would have hoped.

Colts: I was very impressed by how well this corps moved and how interesting the drill was. Brass sounded really strong as well. The voice over was crystal clear where I was seated and I did not find it too overbearing, but parts of the narrative just don't seem to make sense and seem to be included for the sake of sounding profound in some way. The ending of the show really did not seem to work well last night, not sure if it is new or not. But, at the end, when the scare crow is back to his old self and exiting to "If I Only Had a Brain" just did not seem to connect with the crowd. Part of it was that he disappears for way too long before finally emerging. They need to find a way to make hi transformation occur on the field or at least explain how he manages to leave Oz. Oh, and with him gone, how is Oz to be governed? But, I was a little surprised to see them so close to Spirit. I would have had them closer to Crossmen.

Crossmen: Great show from them this year. Really enjoyed it on the whole. All parts are strong. I only have two issues with this show. 1) The drill never really goes beyond the 20s and that is even rare. As a result, the drill seemed a little too cramped. 2) the Carmen music starts off fine, but then I really didn't care for the mix between what the drums were doing and what the brass played. A little disconnected (at least last night). They seem to be a lock for finals (although last night I really felt that Colts would have been closer than they are.

Blue Stars: So much going on, but a very fun show. Clever things going on visually and musically. Love "The Chairman Dances" and thought they did a good job of working with it (although still having a few moments of "drum corpsizing" it). I love the red plumes and the transitions to the corps uniform. Just a great show for them and a significant leap forward compared to last year's show. Can't wait to see them again in Indy.

Spirit: Sorry Spirit, but due to the uncomfortable seats and the fact that I saw you in Chester, I decided to take a break. Based on the score, they must have had a good run. The drill marched by members between the 10 and the Goal line was well performed, but unfortunately, that is all I can actually comment on.

Cavaliers: WOW! This show has really grown and I think it still has legs. When I saw this at the movies, I thought they finally had an interesting package that was still true to their version of what a drum corps does. And it has progressed very nicely. They had huge effect last night and the crowd just loved them. Some minor individual brass issues, but on the whole, they sound better than they have in years. The visual elements are striking as well and very well conceived. My one wish for this show would be to have the baritone soloist who becomes an immortal somehow transition and stand out from the rest of the corps. They build to a very dramatic moment and then he gets up and falls back in line with everyone else. There could be more opportunity there to complete a storyline, but it just ends. I really think that they could possibly catch Crown with this primarily due to GE. It would come down to whether their brass can stay closer to Crown's than Crown's drums can stay to Cavies. Should be a great show in the end regardless.

Bluecoats: They have an amazing show this year with quality throughout. That being said, last night I felt like they lacked energy at the beginning of the show. Just didn't impact me the same way they did when I saw them in Chester. I hope it is not just the effect of having seen the show before and it was just a down night. But, regardless of the first part of the show, they took off from the ballad on to that amazing ending. The crowd loved it. I love the show, but I do wonder if it might run out of steam at the end of the season. We shall see.

Crown: This is a really strong corps that has a pretty inferior product to sell this year. To their credit, they are performing the crap out of it, but this show is just one cluttered and confusing piece. The elements are often there (i.e. love the beginning, the trumpet feature, the space debris section, etc.), but when taken together, it becomes more and more about less and less. Even the brass section, amazing performers doing incredible things, but for no apparent purpose. It is what I always used to call the "technically proficient mambo": Playing extremely difficult music for the sole apparent reason of showing you can play difficult music. While we can appreciate that, it does not necessarily affect us in any particular manner. Oh, the space debris section was much better since the guard stopped using the round devices and are instead throwing them. Ultimately, this is a great corps with a decent show and they will likely end up in 4th as a result.

Cadets: So, as a disclaimer, I typically love the Cadets, but as a result of that love, when they do shows I do not like, I tend to be really negative. This year, I was really not connecting with the show when I saw it in Chester -- it just didn't seem to go anywhere. Last night was a completely different situation. They have upped the emotional impact of this show incredibly. The additions of draping and bunting (although it does need some help) on the stage help out a lot as do the new uniforms worn by the narrator, and the fact that the narrator has reeled in a bit of the dramatic effects that he had in Chester made it so much easier to watch. But, the key to the impact really lies in the performance of the corps members. I really think they are connecting with the message of the show and it is really starting to come across to the audience. The new (at least to me) ending was very effective and I am sure it is even more impressive when you can actually see all of the drill and the front quarter of the field! The increased tempos also really help keep the show moving during some of the parts that dragged a bit in Chester. They are not going to stop working and it should be very interesting to see where they land. After what I saw last night, I would be very surprised to see them get passed by Bloo, but it is still a ways off and one never knows.

So I am off to the chiropractor now, but with the overall talent and shows last night, it was easily worth it! Can't wait to see everyone in Indy!

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Great Review - disagree a bit regarding the placement last night but biased as a Bloooo parent, band director and drill designer. On a side note - the weather was great!

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Great review and agree with most of what you said.

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Cavaliers: My one wish for this show would be to have the baritone soloist who becomes an immortal somehow transition and stand out from the rest of the corps. They build to a very dramatic moment and then he gets up and falls back in line with everyone else. There could be more opportunity there to complete a storyline, but it just ends.

I totally agree with this comment.

Nice review, thanks!

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great review

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I felt the same discomfort in the regular seeating section when I attended this show 2 years ago and I totally agree with Tony- a very uncomfortable stadium and an overpriced ticket, no matter where you sit.

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I felt the same discomfort in the regular seeating section when I attended this show 2 years ago and I totally agree with Tony- a very uncomfortable stadium and an overpriced ticket, no matter where you sit.

I stopped going to the West Chester show after 2008 because the seating sucks...and I live ten minutes away from the show site. It is, in my opinion, the worst seating on the DCI tour. Horrible.

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I stopped going to the West Chester show after 2008 because the seating sucks...and I live ten minutes away from the show site. It is, in my opinion, the worst seating on the DCI tour. Horrible.

I can understand using the place when it is tied to the Vivace DM/Marching Band camp, but when it's not...why????

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I can understand using the place when it is tied to the Vivace DM/Marching Band camp, but when it's not...why????

The West Chester show should be moved to PPL Park. Permanently. And if anyone ever suggests moving it back to WCU, they should be beaten repeatedly with a sledgehammer.

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