DCI Kentucky (Alexandria, KY)

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Venue: Campbell County High School, Alexandria, KY.

Very nice stadium (only a few years old) but horrible parking.

** Disclaimer- I left this show feeling very underwhelmed and scratching my head.

Cincinnati Tradition: I appreciated their showmanship despite the lack of clarity in the vast majority of the program.

The percussion out played the horn line, and the guard started off ok then fell apart fast.

Jersey Surf: "Ebb and Flow" is very pleasing and works for what it is; nothing ground breaking here, but good solid skills being displayed by all sections. The color guard and their flowing coverups were a unique choice.... the wind did not really do them any favors. I'm sure they'll continue to clean and be a solid group at championships.

Spirit of Atlanta: "Georgia" made me scratch my head and say "huh?". The array of sky line props was unnecessary and the show was a long, drawn out ballad with a few upbeat sections. They seem very far behind and unprepared. The love story they try to highlight makes no sense and the rest of the show just seems disjointed.

Crossmen: Very nice! Color guard is the highlight (beautiful colors on the flags); the shape that appears a lot throughout makes sense with the show title, but the props and tarp don't add much to the show. If they make finals they'll be 12th.

Boston Crusaders: Much better than I expected! The windmill props are stunning and the references to Man of La Mancha, etc are great fun. They are very sloppy (drill, guard, music). If they can get it all clean (like REALLY clean) they might crack into 7-10 spots.

Cadets: I respect them, however this is the worst show from this corps I've ever seen. It's just a mess. The music is powerful, but the soloists are forced and the cake tier props don't contribute anything other than acting as something for the guard to stand on. The flags are incredibly ineffective in terms of design/color. I just didn't like it.

Bluecoats: WOW!!! This is stellar! A few bobbles but nothing that would ruin the show; this thing is just amazing! Fresh and new and exciting. YES!

Carolina Crown: They are incredibly talented and really have great power and precision across the board; that said, the show is flat and very boring. I don't understand what is "relentless" about a stagecoach, saloon, and (I guess what was) a robbery?? How does that equate? It seemed like the color guard was just doing stuff to do it and not really contributing to the overall show (whatever it is).

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I'll add my $.02 (even though it's a few days late) . . .

Great venue - the show sponsors did the best they can with parking. I heard some grumbling, but I do give credit to the fact that they knew things would be tight and had a contingency plan in place to shuttle folks from the nearby elementary school. This was not the original site of this show, but I would hate to see it leave due to people complaining about parking. The Cincinnati area only has one other show (normally during the opening week of the season), so it's nice to see corps with completed shows. GREAT job by the Campbell County Band Parents for organizing and staffing the show.

Cincinnati Tradition - Glad to still see a corps from the local area. Brass needs to work for a warmer, fuller sound. Noticeable attack issues with trumpets throughout. Drum line is large and pretty decent (although my OCD wanted an additional tenor player to balance things out). Guard was sufficient but not memorable.

Surf - Nice sized corps this year and a step up in complexity from previous years. Brass has moments when they really lock the tuning in and when they do the sound is massive. Guard seems to have a blast performing this show. Great color palette to reflect the thematic material. Depending on what the upper level open class corps are like, this has the potential to make semis, but they will need to really do some serious cleaning for that to happen.

Spirit - I was excited when I heard what they were performing to celebrate their 40th year, but it seems they have taken recognizable charts and re-arranged them simply in hopes of getting additional points. What this has done is turn the musical program to the point where it's almost non-recognizable. Good talent in all sections, but the vehicle they've been given simply isn't going to allow them to display those talents. Looks like a finish between 17-20 again this year.

Crossmen - WOW! Was pleasantly suprised by what they are doing. Being from this area, I've heard plenty of Andrew Markworth band compositions, and this is very similar to those compositions. Very percussive, but also with plenty of variety. Guard is constantly moving throughout the show and the color palette is spot on. I like the subtle references to the props/tarp. Ending seemed forced (have read where others remarked this is a new ending), and the trumpet fracks at the end didn't help. Was not surprised to see them ahead of Boston tonight and if they can do some additional visual cleaning (which seems to be their weakest caption right now), could see them closing in further to the groups right ahead of them. Right now I'd say a solid 11th at finals is their worst finish.

Boston - I've always been a Crusader fan and they have done some wonderful shows in the past. However, this just left me flat. Like Spirit, they've taken well known compositions and tried to add additional embellishments in hopes of gaining additional points. Never once did I feel the intensity of Man of La Mancha that normally is associated with that piece of music. Props are cool, but sometimes seem forced into the visual design. Guard is good, but doesn't seem to capture the characterization that I think they are going for. While the corps is talented enough to make finals, I won't be surprised if they are outside looking in on Saturday night in Indianapolis.

Cadets - The false start due to electronic difficulties was a bit odd but the kids took it in stride. I have heard they are making wholesale changes as they go, so it's understandable that this show still has quite a bit of dirt in it. Visually they are still noticeably dirty which I'm sure is affecting their GE numbers. Guard work is effective, but could create even more impact with a better use of color (very bland overall) and better consistency among the ensemble. Musically, the corps is quite talented. The brass line has moments when they just overpower you with sound. I can follow the story line and the performers owned it in the second half of the show. I don't think they have the time to catch the Top 3, but if they can get things together I can see this in 4th above Vanguard and Cavies in Indy. If it's still dirty come finals night, don't be surprised if they are in 6th.

Bluecoats - This show has to be seen live to truly be appreciated. First of all, this is absolutely the best MOVING Bluecoats corps ever. They move confidently and with purpose and the ensemble consistency is extremely high. And then look at what they are asking the performers to do, often while playing. The opener is so intense that when they hit the Pink Floyd section mid-show it's a welcome change of pace. They continue to come up with unique ways to utilize the ramps. Drums are just stupid good! Guard is good, but needs to elevate the performance level to match what the brass and percussion are achieving. Caught myself a couple of times wanting the electronic balance to be turned down a bit and that was my only big criticism. Will be no lower than 3rd at finals and if they light the place up I can see them walking away with the big trophy.

Crown - I get the concept. What I'd love to see from them is possibly an even more "over the top" depiction of that concept. If you are wanting to tell the story, give us EVERYTHING, not just a few pieces and let our imagination do the rest. That is what might elevate that GE number to vault this show to the top. Brass line is simply stellar. Percussion seems improved from past years. Drill (at times) seems a bit predictable and not as complex as some others, but I've said that in the past about them and it never seems to have an affect on their numbers. Rifles have some exposed moments that are performed brilliantly. Top 3 seems a lock in Indy, but it remains to be seen if they can move past either Coats or Devils.

GREAT night for corps in Northern Kentucky!

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