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Cadevilina Crown

Tour of Champions: Buffalo Review

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Was very glad to be back to hearing live drum corps with my family once again! Haven't been to this show since 2013, and I couldn't go last year due to the bad choice of venue.

Before I begin, here's what I liked and disliked about the stadium and the handling of the show.

The Good:

- Quality of the stadium, in many ways, is MUCH better than when I was here two years ago. Restrooms look much less hideous, at least.

- Security was also much better than in previous years, especially after adding on the new main entrance. Two years ago, it was an absolute nightmare.

- Crowd control is also much more efficient. When I was here two years ago, I recall there were people still finding to their seats DURING (yes, during) the first show of the night (The Cadets).

- No more "multi-cam!" Remember two years ago when this show was broadcasted on the Fan Network and there were monkeys recording the show? Well, they've officially scratched that and replaced it with a "high-cam." It's placed at a somewhat awkward location (at field left), but it's nowhere near as distracting as the "multi-cam."

The Bad:

- Apparently, we didn't come into the stadium the correct way, because the hassle getting here via car was insane. We ended up coming from the same direction as almost everyone else: via Abbott Road (near where the corps warm up), and there were people making some really dumb driving decisions. Some were turning left in a non-left lane, others were trying to merge into the lane and therefore cut off other drivers, and still others were not even going to the show and were both confused and annoyed by others' driving decisions. And even worse, at one point, we accidentally drove into the handicap lot. Nevertheless, we were able to find a spot, although we ALMOST missed the start of Vanguard's show. We decided to beat the crowd by leaving after the Blue Devils' show (sorry, Phantom) to give us enough time to get home. Next year, when we come here, we are doing 2 things: (1) getting there via Big Tree Road, and (2) coming at around 5:15pm instead of 5:45pm (gates open at 5:30pm, so it really doesn't matter). [/rant]

That being said, THE SHOW.

Santa Clara Vanguard (5th - 91.30)

"The Spark of Invention"

Good: Beautiful visual integration. Angry, intense Vanguard is back! Appreciated the return to traditional red and green uniforms. The lights on the uniforms, drums, Tesla coils and flagpoles were a nice touch that the audience really enjoyed.

Not good: Drill, while well-written at many times, was a bit cramped sometimes. Tesla coils don't really do much until the end; until then they're just being pushed around. Prop integration, therefore, not as good as last year. I love Shaw and the Rennicks, but their musical program isn't as cohesive as in previous seasons.

Blue Stars (8th - 85.10)

"Side Show"

Good: Awesome percussion and guard sections. Great musical arrangements - probably my favorite from Saucedo in a while.

Not good: The "side shows" were well-performed, yet to the point at which they distract from what the corps itself is actually doing. I have a feeling this is why Visual GE has been hurting. Brass was a bit weak compared to the other two aforementioned sections.

The Cadets (3rd - 94.10)

"The Power of Ten"

Good: Some really awesome musical and visual moments throughout. Loved Sacktig's drill. The black uniforms actually made some of the visual aspects with neon "pop" even more. Loved the horn feature! That was the highlight of the night for me (although I am a horn player myself). My mom's and younger sister's favorite show of the night.

Not good: I know people have said it before, but the problem with all-black uniforms is that it muddies up a lot of the drill up high. If they at least changed the color of the cummerbunds to neon green or silver, this would be the best show on the field tonight. Guard, of course, is weak as well. Not featured enough, and weapons and dancing weren't the best. This is the same guard, by the way, that placed 2nd at Finals last year with an all-flag book. I have no idea what happened.

Bluecoats (4th - 93.85)

"Kinetic Noise"

Not good: Electronics started working at the beginning, then suddenly petered out before the opening hit, so the opener, ballad, and the first 1/4th of the drum break went on electronics free. (They did kick back in just before the snare rolls and the voice-over of "You may call me brother now.") Couldn't help but watch the Bluecoat always located in the right end zone run over to what looked like Glasgow and talk to him about the situation.

Good: Amazing brass sound! Best contra section of the night. Corps performed as well as ever beyond the electronic glitches. Closer was quite insane! Impressive body work, too.

Not good (continued): It's individual marching issues that they need to resolve now. They can't really do anything more with any other captions.

Carolina Crown (2nd - 94.85)

"Inferno"

Good: Straightforward, yet very, very effective concept. Amazing brass and guard. Percussion is on the comeback trail; this is definitely their best since the 2010-2014 slump. This was my dad's favorite show of the night.

Not good: Obviously, percussion is still their biggest weakness. Other than that, the visual program is a bit weak in both design and execution. The execution part is nothing that a few days in Dayton and Avon won't fix, but design is a bit less sophisticated than others. I don't doubt that they could still win, but that's just food for thought.

The Cavaliers (7th - 87.10)

"Game On"

Good: Surprisingly nice brass arrangements, and the drill has some good moments. Did a mental happy dance at the end upon finding out that the new ending was in fact based on the actual end of OTSOG.

Not good: A very dull concept that just isn't executed well, probably my least favorite in many years except for 2012. Lots of dirt both musically and visually. Guard is especially rough, and like Cadets, is currently their biggest weakness.

Phantom Regiment (6th - 87.25)

"City of Light"

Good: Actually surprised at how good this came across live! Narration has been trimmed a bit, so it's no longer super-obtrusive. Leg extensions at the end got the crowd going! My older sister's favorite show of the night.

Not good: I couldn't get into the shopping segment ("Horoscope" by Lambert). That was a design choice that was tough to swallow. Guard was a bit rough compared to the other 2 main sections - I can tell that Veda leaving for Madison hurt them.

Blue Devils (1st - 95.50)

"Ink"

Good: My favorite show of the night. They are the Peter Sellars of DCI - they can stage a show better than anyone else out there. Absolutely no performance weaknesses, either. None!

Not good: Electric bass was a little too hot - let me hear more contras, please!

CONCLUSION/Suggestion for DCI

Overall, I enjoyed my experience of seeing all eight of these corps live, and there was something to like about all of them. All of the kids that stepped on that field should be proud of themselves! I do have one suggestion for DCI, however. My mom pointed out that she could only understand 2 or 3 out of the 8 shows tonight because of the lack of show descriptions in the programs. She even called the program "a waste of money" because of it. DCI, I know you haven't done this in a while (not for at least a decade, I think), but next year, casual fans who don't want to use Google to understand stuff would love it if you included a synopsis on every corps' page of the program. Thank you!

Edited by Cadevilina Crown
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