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jwillis35

DCI Massillon OH June 25

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I posted a brief and very positive write up about last night. Most of that is included below, along with added information and more thoughts.


All the corps were very entertaining and I had no major problems with any of the shows. A fantastic night of drum corps in Massillon. The crowd was really excellent considering it was an early show with only 5 competing corps in the lineup. Probably about half what we normally get at this show in August when it's part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities.


Holy Bluecoats!! That's what we call GE! Monster show, monster GE! BLOOO has a fabulous percussion section, great brass, and the staging is impeccable. The flugel soloist was awesome and should be one of the best of the season. The show even features 2 trombone quartets on opposite sides of the pit, and they seem to dual with each side (musically). They may be wearing ear pieces so they can hear without time delay. Not sure. It's a cool effect and they are close to nailing it. From my vantage point last night they fell apart rhythmically toward the end of that section. Good sound, and I love the use of 2 bass trombones. They also use trombones in other sections of the show.

This show will light up crowds everywhere they go. Big crowd response for them tonight. There will be some who don't like it, but I believe most will. It's almost impossible to not find something to like. Down Side Up is, for lack of better word, a concept show, much like TILT or Kinetic Noise. It doesn't require any thought or pre-show info for the audience.

The show appeals to your senses on several fronts.

  1. Costume and Color.
  2. Props that are used effectively, and even when not used they provide such a beautiful backdrop to the corps. They are not ugly or unprofessional looking.
  3. Surround Sound -- so many of the musical effects in the show make use of surround sound effects, either from left to right, or left to back left, to center, to back right, to right.
  4. Great music. *QUICK EDIT: the opening tune is actually "Jose/beFore John 5," not the Metheny tune, which comes next. The rhythm in this opener actually becomes the melody as each section is introduced while the clapping sets the tone for rhythm and style. It builds and builds and builds, and then that first hit is priceless. It's a very entertaining musical book with great solos and the 2 trombone quartets as mentioned above.

Once again, the Bluecoats have rethought the traditional feel of drum corps. Some say they are bringing WGI to the field. Maybe?! But I think it goes further than that, because WGI isn't dealing with this kind of space, this many brass or percussion (with pit), or the outdoor experience and having to generate sound over such a large area. Their design team is clearly one of the best in the activity (right there with BD).

From their second number onward, a good bit of the music has a real classic Madison Scout feel to it (not a bad thing for this old timer), aided by a wonderful screaming trumpet soloist, and supported by a very modern visual program. Is this a medal-contending show? You bet! Possibly GOLD! Honestly, it's all there. Everything they need to win a title is there. It needs cleaned and refined (3 of the corps really let loose last night in terms of volume, and pit volume needs to be adjusted for better musical shaping and clarity), but I don't see major rewrites coming. Just small tweaks and refinements.


Carolina Crown also has a monster show!!! Another WOW for me!

If I were to nit pick, they need to beef up general effect. They have the seeds of a really clever and well-crafted Western Themed production. It's very close to being brilliant. Some will find it stale for now, but I believe more is to come. I love all the Ennio Morricone sound effects, and his music as well. Can't go wrong there. I honestly think that what we are seeing from them is just a base for many layers to come. I kept thinking of all the cool things they could add to this show, musically and visually, and I think we are in for some real surprises.

I would have had Crown's brass on top. What a sound, and what power. By far the loudest of the night! As we all know, one thing these guys do as well as anyone is brass, and BOY do they have another classic horn line. Crown and Bluecoats (along with Crossmen) kind of played with some major volume and edge last night. We probably didn't hear the musical phrasing and shaping that we will later on, which is why my ears hurt this morning. :). But I love early-season power!

As for the music, it mostly feels like a modern Western. *Quick edit here: Those of you that might be comparing the Barber to Star 93 will find that none is needed. They only play snippets of the Barber, and usually at climax points in the show. It's amazing how they weave that music into the fabric of a Western, but it works. Musically, this show will be a fan favorite.

Visually, their guard is stunning, the marching is already excellent, and I love this drill much more than last year. They stage as well as anyone, but the drill is better. What a beautiful stage coach they use for their major prop. Much like Bluecoats, their prop looks beautiful, adds to the show whether it's being used or not; and at one point they pull all these flags out from the top and toss them to other guard members. It's a great effect.

The uniform is what really grabs me. Very Troopers like. Grey and black, with dark gold highlights, and lots of gold in the guard. I can't help but think that the Troopers staff will show major interest in this show. This is a solid medal-contending show. It could win, and easily could take 2nd or 3rd.


Phantom Regiment came to play and I LOVE their show. Perhaps a little less innovative and more traditional -- but nothing wrong with that. Traditional may not win DCI, but a well crafted traditional show can still place top 5. They have gorgeous music, a fantastic guard, and one of those classic brass lines again (although they held back and played with a lot of control last night). Their percussion section is much improved over last year - I love the writing.

Musically, there is not much to dislike. All the music is powerful, beautiful, and Young Person's Guide is very impressive. They, like almost everyone last night, will have to work for better balance between front to back, meaning don't let your pit kill your brass and battery. Their pit was way too loud in numerous sections. Now I love the synthetic vox/voice sound they use, and it adds to the character of their show. Just make sure we can hear those soloists in the most pure sense of sound and articulation without amping it too much. Crown does the best job of featuring their brass and knowing when to bring pit volume down, or when to cut it completely and allow for a variety of on-field colors to take effect.

Visually, Phantom is on the reserved side, but once they clean what they have I believe they can add some excellent layers to this show. They once again have one of the most beautiful and talented guards on the field. Their use of red in the show was wonderful and striking.

General effect is good but will need some clarification and some added nuances. They are celebrating 60 years, and I think the show needs more celebration, especially at the end. But I am very impressed with them, and they have great talent. By the way, those King horns sound fantastic. They had a big, rich, dark sound last night, and once they are allowed to pull the trigger a bit more on volume, what out...I believe this will be a classic sounding Phantom Regiment brass line. I see them competing with Cavaliers and Cadets. Not sure about SCV until I see them. Cadets may have an advantage on demand alone, but with the right additions, Phantom can absolutely be in that 4, 5, 6 range. I am a Phan of this show. :)


Boston Crusaders - I love the music, love the props (very big and yet they really work, at least for me). Strong music captions coming for this corps when clean. Their brass had a warm and very controlled sound tonight. Boston and Phantom were the only 2 brass lines that didn't try to peal away our faces. Now in fairness to BLOOO and Crown, they are so good, so talented that their instructors can let them go full boar and build endurance before they begin adding all the musical shaping. Honestly, I didn't mind the power from BLOOO and Crown. They sound fantastic, but I also really enjoyed the control from Boston.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this uniform. Sharp!! The look and feel of Boston this year is completely different from last year. I loved their props last year, too, but they never seemed to get the marching very clean. I think this group looks better and will be strong marchers come August. Drill design is wonderful and they use the field extremely well.

I definitely had Boston over Crossmen. I felt bad for the kid that hurt his leg or ankle at the very end of the show. It looked like he torched an ankle or maybe pulled a hammy. Not sure. One of the corps instructors checked with him immediately a few sets later when the show ended, but seemed to feel strong enough to march off with the corps...and he did great. This is a strong Boston Crusaders corps. Definitely top 12!

The Crossmen are also top 12 caliber. I love their music, and they have some amazing field coverage.

Visually I continue to love their uniform, and their guard has to be one of the most color on the field this year (right up there with Bluecoats).

Musically they have a fun book and their brass can really pump out some sound. Great percussion writing. They spread the field a lot and therefore timing issues will be a challenge for them as they clean. There were too many points where their electric bass sound took away from the low end of the brass. This was the case with almost all the corps last night except Carolina.

I was not wild about the middle tarp, but I otherwise had no problem with the other props. I believe the middle tarp is confusing and draws attention away from the vast field coverage. Which is it? Do you want us to see your vast visual program or look at the center of the field. Also, considering how beautiful Crown and Bluecoats props look (and Boston), Crossmen's come across average and stale. They may need to revisit the look and feel of their props. Staging is good, talent is good, and I expect this to be a super fun show as it grows. Definitely a contender for top 12!


Special congratulations to the Bluecoats Alumni Corps for their hard work and dedication to adding to this event, and their performance was excellent! I enjoyed the music and their spirit! :)

Regardless of placement, I really did enjoy all these shows, and I sense a great summer coming.

Edited by jwillis35
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As usual, an excellent review from you. Looking forward to seeing these corps (sans Crown plus Cadets) Tuesday evening in Pittsburgh.

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blue owns gold this year on ge alone.

bd and crown will have to out clean them to have chance.

cadets have another season of change, change, change ahead- many will be nipping at their heels.

coats show a game-changer for the activity- think star '93, cadets '84, early '70s vanguard, mid 60s troopers.

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