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Tim Coffey

Massillon meanderings and musings

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Thanks to my son, I was treated to two very nice tickets to Massillon. That my son then proceeded to go to an IT conference in Seattle, leaving me to attend alone, should not be ascribed as indifference to either drum corps, or his father, on his part. Rather, it is to secure more and better IT networking prospects for himself in the long run. And when he is a millionaire, that is to my benefit.

First - the rental car. I always rent a car when traveling over 2 hours, because the two cars that claim myself as their owner are completely lacking the ability to reliably and safely make the trip from Columbus to Massillon, and back again. Mind you, this is only a trip of about 120 miles each way. But my cars don't care. They sneer at your opinion of them. Besides being filled with dirt, broken CD's, and old fries - they are also filled with enmity towards me, and vehicularing me anywhere of an ample distance. So a rental car was acquired (from Enterprise, whom I frequently "engage"). Said rental was clean, well kept, and (second most importantly) - well-serviced in the engine maintenance department. And while I did add some fries during the trip, those fries were new, and tasty. And as you may have noticed, I said the second most important aspect was the engine being functional. The first most important aspect is that this rental had an ample, tactily and tonally pleasing steering wheel and dashboard for -- drumming. Which is what I do, and did, many years ago.

Now to the show.

Preshow outdoor activites:

Great stadium. It is like a mecca, yay even a cathedral for Ohio high school football. It really is fantastic. Do they also spend money on textbooks here? This thing cost millions.

Outside the gate, a "select" group of Cadets played a tune or two for the crowd. I say "select", because you had to be on George's #### list to be "selected" to play a few tunes, in the hot sun, dressed in all black. (Tune was great though - "Tiger of San Pedro", or maybe it was "Roasted Cadets of Massillon").

My seating and palace-of-football seat mates:

Second to last row from the top - 30-ish yard line. Sat with a gentleman with his drum corps newbie friends. His friends brought ample food. They seemed to enjoy the show, but they brought some annoying hand-clapper devices, which they used to applaud the corps. Unfortunately, this was (sometime) during the shows. I wish the gentleman had advised them to leave those in the car. Or in their home. Or buried somewhere far away (but not near Columbus).

The performances:

Phantom Regiment

Phantom brings with it a lot of fondness on my part. They are my favorite corps from decades past. I even attempted to be in their snare line long ago, but life interfered. And it was with great joy when I attended finals in 2008 with all seven of my children. We screamed. We cried. We kissed decades of PR frustration goodbye. Sadly, this Phantom Regiment is not that Phantom Regiment. Of their seven shows since that magical night, this one ranks only above that witch, and that red (and now very dead) violin. In fairness though. Brass is good, but not exceptional. Drums are serviceable. Guard is average. To me, the show was: PR (grownup) brass section goes to Paris (along with their little brother drum line), meets 'Madeleine', dances some, sees a few things, some guy sings (or something - not good electronics. Bluecoats probably do clinics on incorporating electronics/audio. Disquise yourself as a high school assistant director and attend one. ), does a kick-halt-kinda-thing (way too German for Paris - see 1940), and goes home. They beat Cavies for 6th, but that might not hold for Indy. Unfortunately, this is the kind of show we can probably expect from PR while "the brothers" have their vise-like, slow-death-grip, next-year-the-witch-PLAYS-the-violin, my-way-or-the-highway-hold on show design. When my son is a millionaire tech guru, I will have him buy Phantom Regiment, and install me as head. If "the brothers" want to cook meals then, they can.

Rant: I miss shows from PR - like 2010 - which are memorable to this day. (Ahh, but that show was done with a staff that the brothers have since chased away).

Cavaliers (The)

Drums and guard were an improvement over Phantom, but the brass was not. The guard uniforms are distracting. The definition is lost from higher up. They still have their distinctive marching style, but not their distinctive drill to use it with. (Mr. Gaines, please pick up the concierge phone in the lobby. Mr. Gaines......).

I had them in seventh, just behind PR. But again, they will probably pass them this week.

Rant: Only 8-12 counts of "diamond-cutter" drill. Please, this made Cavaliers famous 20+ years ago visually. DO more than that.

Blue Knights

I heard the hype about this show, and wanted to like it more. I didn't. All sections are good, or very good, but the end product is not distinctive. By main beef is with the mirrors. The guard hid behind them, then the brass used them (again, to hide behind) at the end. Perhaps it was my angle of view, but they were never used like a mirror to do some reflecting. I mean, the mirrors were taco-shaped, so you could have just used tacos instead to hide behind. (And tacos are box-5 crunchy). Remember that Blue Devils show with the mirrors, and how they did some really interesting work with hiding and reflecting? That is what a mirror is for. (BD used tall mirrors, BK used short ones. Perhaps that is the flaw). Solid 5th place.

Rant: The blue is too pale.

As I shift to the next four corps, let me preface it by stating that all sections of the top four were very good, to excellent. All sections that is, except for one section in one corps - and you probably know which section of which corps I am speaking of.

Santa Clara Vanguard

I love this show. I really love this show. Even the coils are cool (with caveat below). The design is right there, graspable. Brass was in my face (if not completely clean). Thank you!. Drill was constricted, but effective. Drums were take-my-firstborn-please-mr-rennick solid (down a snare for some reason, but she/he should be back for finals week, according to souvie booth staff). They could win the Sanford, or #2, Use of color was very good (I know, it was a lot of copper - but it looked good). Sound effects matched what they were doing visually. This is why I love Santa Clara: They bring a crowd friendly design, put it in your face, put more in your face, constantly keep the show theme going, drum their bottom heads off, and finish in your face. I'd like to see them finish higher than 5th at finals, but it won;t happen. And because I liked their show the best this evening, they earned my $$$ at their souvie booth. (15 bucks. But just wait until my son is a millionaire. Then, I'll spend 30 bucks). The Vanguard is that corps where, when their busses pull into the lot, you turn and say, "Yes! The Santa Clara Vanguard is HERE!". I have always had that respect for them, over 3+ decades.

Rant:Perhaps the huge coils are why the drill seemed constricted.

Bluecoats

Bluecoats do the electronics like no one else. That alone won't win them a title. Having solid brass and drums along with it gets closer. But the drill is not exceptional to me, nor is the guard. That will keep them out of a medal this year. Fix those aspects, and they can win a title yet during the Indy years. Anyway, "Kinetic ??" was loud, techno-cool, but probably a 4th place show this year. (The tie for 2nd was a surprise to me).

Rant: I really want you guys to win a title. Design changes might be needed in the future to achieve that.

Cadets (The)

Ten. Why "Ten"? I was a computer science major, and mathematics minor, and don't know why the theme is "Ten". I liked what they did musically and visually. How could you not? Their brass and drums are both top 3 - drums might even win the Sanford ("ten" snares, of course). Snares/tenors were full and powerful sounding, with excellent projection. The numeric references are replete throughout the show. I guess that makes for a simple, consistent theme. Santa Clara has a simple theme, but electricity ties in with a corps performance. "Ten" does not seem to be the same to me. (Yet, Crown counted a lot in 2013, and won). I can see why they were beating everyone three weeks ago. Ending drill sequence is amazing. But unless they can clean the drill in 4 days, they'll end up 3rd or 4th. And as for the black uniforms - I prefer the classic Cadets look. But George might be a genius, and the changed look could put them over the top with GE. This is not Phantom 94-97 "###### black". (I had them second, but not by 4 tenths),

Rant: Not enough time to clean this aggressive drill.

Carolina Crown

They open with a huge "Abandon Hope, All ye Who Enter Here", which might be euphemism for any corps abandoning hope of beating them Saturday night. Maybe. Except for that one caption. That one caption - drums - might also be why Crown has to abandon hope of winning another title. Crown drums are that one section I mentioned above. They are not "very good to exceptional".. They are only "average to good". They will be why Crown does not win (and I give them 40% chance, with BD at 50%, and Cadets at 10%). Their drums were fuzzy, and not well defined. They did not project well (perhaps an unfair expectation, given that monster, powerful brass they must play behind). They were not tuned well (perhaps strategically, to hide more fuzz). I wish there was a year where Crown was going into finals week without that nagging, consistent question lingering - "Will their drums hold them back?" Again, they might hold them back. I hope not though. The theme is very dark, which I loved. The brass is so good, powerful, and complete - I wanted to bathe myself in it and bask in it's dark, full, awesome majesty. The drill was the best overall (but not if Cadets can clean theirs). Moving from the dark motifs, to the resolved "Ode to Joy" motif with large gold banner was spine chilling. So well done.

Rant: You know

Edited by Tim Coffey
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Cadets play Shostakovitch's 10th Symphony - hence the "ten"

Thanks for the review - some great observations!

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Wow, I was the rather laconic young man to your immediate right (seat 32). ####### clapper things!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Wow, I was the rather laconic young man to your immediate right (seat 32). ####### clapper things!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I sensed your shared aggravation. I enjoyed chatting with the friend on the topics of "old man drum corps", so I didn't want to aggravate that by asking his friends to ditch the clappers.

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Great stadium. It is like a mecca, yea even a cathedral, for Ohio high school football. It really is fantastic. Do they also spend money on textbooks here? This thing cost millions.

There was actually a documentary about Massillon's devotion to high school football that played pretty widely more than a decade ago: Go Tigers!

As regards Crown's drums: would you say that J. Ausdemore, by putting them in Box 5, is over-scoring them?

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As regards Crown's drums: would you say that J. Ausdemore, by putting them in Box 5, is over-scoring them?

Box 5. Box 4. The stratifications are irrelevant when it is actual point spread in each subcategory that determines whether you finish 1st, 2nd, etc..

Assuming that the current top 4 finish as the final top 4 on Saturday (a near 100% certainty), one can make a rational argument that for any subcategory, any of the top 4 could win that category (with different probabilities). Brass could go to any of the top 4. Visual, GE, guard.

No one can make a rational argument that Crown will finish first in drums on Saturday. And I'm not talking "The Sanford Trophy" here, which is a 3-night average score.

If Crown could just be as strong in percussion as they are in every other category, Saturday evening would be almost a lock for them to win.

Edited by Tim Coffey

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