Drums of Summer - Broken Arrow Oklahoma 7/20/16


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Definitely have more to add when I get back, but here is just my rundown of each show:

Pioneer - St. Joan of Arc

After seeing Pioneer in 2013 in San Antonio, they were a very pleasant surprise. MUCH fuller and better sounds from the brass, solid percussion, and a relatively very good color guard all combined with a show that is in their element but modernized? Talk about some progress. Thought the show made sense, was well put together, and they sold it really well. Singer is phenomenal, and she is totally believable in her performance. Balance was actually really good, sans the front half of Firebird, but overall it was nowhere near as overbearing as it was on the webcast. I loved the burning at the stake much as much as I did on the webcast. So tastefully done, the flame flags were REALLY cool. Really pumped the volume at the ending. Overall, really enjoyed Pioneer today!

Memorable Moment - Ballad Climax

Cascades - O

Wow, when they turned around the first time, I wasn't expecting the volume they put out. VERY big sound from the hornline, and wow, drums are improving leaps and bounds. They could ram notes all day long. Color guard is improving too, after seeing them with like four members back in 2013, it's pretty refreshing. It has been a blast to watch them all the way from their Turn show, to last years incredibly entertaining Intergalactic show, to this years incredibly mature O show. I think it's simple, EASY as hell to get, and fully realized. Like Tilt in 2014, and similar concept shows, everything they did embodied that thematic centerpiece. Loved the props! Could tell they were fighting the wind with moving and positioning, wasn't strong wind but from marching bass drum in high school and college, I know what kind of resistance a flat surface like that can generate from just a small breeze. THANK YOU FOR ONLY DOING 3 PIECES! Loved this, they really played around a lot with all three of the selections, and the fact they didn't dice in every piece that had an O in the name made the musical package INCREDIBLY organic and well crafted. Was the ballad dance feature new? Didn't remember that, was fun! Reminded me of last years. Ballad was really nice, definitely Imogen Heap. And while I could probably go without hearing Orawa again, it worked really well with their program, provided a fun and catchy minimalist closer. Very mature design that is definitely challenging the membership. Definitely a tier up from Pioneer.

Memorable Moment - First Impact

Oregon Crusaders - Hunted

First of all Crusaders, get well! Sending healing thoughts your way. Hate it when I hear about a corps getting sick I definitely took the holes into consideration, I understand. First corps to really grab me by the throat, and they followed Spirit. GOD THOSE DRUMS! AND FRONT ENSEMBLE! Wow, they are amazing, I'd have them battling for 12th - 15th in drums, they are that good. Some incredibly fun and creative mallet writing with the ends on the vibes and that kind of stuff. Color guard was WAY better than when I saw them back in 2014. Great performance quality overall, love the costuming and equipment in person, wasn't too keen on it online, but it works in person. Brass was very powerful despite them having a bunch of holes in the middle voices, thank you for having a low brass section that can project, won't name names, but top to bottom that was really lacking in some corps replaced by Mr. Goo. They have a new ending! Was dirty, but brings some finality that was really lacking. We get a reprise of the Queen ballad, as our guard enemies fight, and the female lands a (like kdaddy said, lol) unconvincing final blow. I'm sure she'll get some attitude. haha. So overall, thought the musical arranging was phenomenal, the horn call throughout is such a small thing, but such a great thing. Another thing, THANKS FOR THE UNAMPLIFIED SOLO! That's something I'll rant about later. The Muse vocal preshow is awesome, those kids can sing! Bjork was great, and Death Hunt is definitely the highlight. Perfect for the show, and they have the horns to play it. And as Jaltrooge said the other day, the way they weave in the Akiho piece is pretty subdued, but so well done. The ballad is GREAT, love this Queen song, and it works so well for them. Bravo on putting the guard right up front and center. Knights of Cydonia, and Muse for that matter, is one of those songs that just works on the field. Made a great drum feature. And the closer which is the return of Death Hunt and then the new reprise ties it all together. Great musical design. Holes and my seat didn't give a good read of the visual package, but they march pretty well too. And I like the uniforms.

Memorable Moment - New Ending

Spirit of Atlanta - Georgia

First off, they were entertaining as hell, pumped the volume, and looked like they were really having fun performing. Think that's what they need right now. Horns sounded pretty solid, REALLY good when they're halted. Drums are very talented, and guard is working pretty hard with a seemingly tough book. They entertained me for sure, show has some interesting elements though, some good and some bad. I'll get bad out of the way. Think the effect of the skyline screens gets diminished by the fact that they are all the exact same part of the skyline in a different shade. And they seem to really restrict the field, they were pretty much between the 30s and in front of the back hash the entire time. Musical arrangements had some great moments, but there were not a ton of developments, sometimes they'd go somewhere and then just stop, sometimes they'd just suddenly jump in with now build to an impact. So the good. They were fun, they sounded more like Spirit than the last two years, and they looked like they were having fun. I have my faults with the show, but I still enjoyed it. Not much more to say than that.

Memorable Moment - New Tag at the End

Colts - Nachtmusik

So they kinda gave away the surprise before they entered the field. Oregon was setting up and the boxes were lighting up and kinda distracting. No no. But wow. First off the brass sounds phenomenal, they have really grown that brass program. Second, I could listen to this show for days. Tons of beautiful music, loved the modern New Moon in the Old Moons arms arrangement, very powerful ending for sure. Third, loved the overall color scheme from the guard, beautiful shades of purples, blues, golds, and those kinds of colors, and they could perform, were in character from the second they entered the field, even as a Gator was trying to navigate across the field. lol. Third, the boxes. Was not expecting them to work THAT well in person. The first shadow effect inside of them was SO cool! Lots of oohs and ahhs around me. Cool strobe light effect in the drum break too as the techno stuff came from the pit. I feel like they lost a lot of the impact after about the ballad, and they really need to work on how they move them and stage them so they're all straight when they're in a line, not angled when they're supposed to be facing the front sideline, ect. Drill was really nice overall, worked well for the program. So overall, a very good surprise. Not sure if it's their year for finals, but they gave us a show this year you could listen to for a long time.

Memorable Moment - New Moon in the Old Moons Arms Finale

Blue Stars - La Reve

So first off, people aren't kidding when they say they have transformed their brass sound. Incredibly clear, pure, and it has a ton of low end support from a VERY strong contra and overall low brass section. Another corps that had a very audible and great low brass section. Percussion continues to grow, easily my favorite front ensemble book this year and they are performing it incredibly well, and the battery is aggressive as hell and is performing at a very high level. Color guard is as entertaining as always, and attempting one of the harder equipment books out there once again. The show flows incredibly well from idea to idea, it's incredibly organic and well written. The lying down initial impact got a pretty great reaction around me, I could tell some people were not expecting that sound to come out in the position they were in. The sequential rifle toss which I have yet to see a drop in was the first mid show, non impact moment that got some big claps, the weapons seem incredibly talented this year. As for the ballad.......I really don't care what a few people on here think of how they have arranged the ballad, just like any other classic iconic piece of music it's not going to be a transcription. Some of the most dynamic, musical playing of the night here. They give you some voluME.......and then they come back in at a very delicate level that BUILDS.......and immediately dies away. Beautiful playing by the brass section, and the build up into the climax is just sooooooooooo rewarding. Love it. Drum feature is incredibly frantic in a good way, very representative of what is going on thematically. And of course it ends with that great reprise. In my opinion, in terms of just cleaning, they had the most room to grow behind Cadets and slightly ahead of Blue Knights, their drill is incredibly effective.......but incredibly hard at times. Just need to tighten some things up, linear stuff in particular. If there is one thing you can't fault the Blue Stars on, it's attempting one of the more difficult shows outside the top 6, and this year is no different. Just because Blue Knights were ahead of them tonight doesn't mean that battle is over. And that's a compliment to the Blue Stars, not a detriment to the Blue Knights.

Memorable Moment - Laying Down Opening Impact

Crossmen - Continuum

So I'm going to start off by saying they seemed to be the most ON in terms of performance. EVERYTHING was tight, caught, attacked together, clean, and sold incredibly well by this corps. Guard in particular was just on fire! This show is so cool, it's like 90s Crossmen had a baby with Tilt, and oh my gosh this show GROOVES. For days. And weeks. And months. I think my head was bobbing the entire time, like I said, you know it's a good Crossmen show when it has that infectious groove throughout. So modern in terms of electronics usage and the original music, but so classic Crossmen in terms of that underlying groove. Groovy baby. In particular, the section before the ballad, the moment when that maltese cross is morphing and circulating, and then the rifles toss around the circle and the girl is thrown up in the air and as she lands BOOM the brass comes back in with that somehow INCREDIBLY catchy original melody, ooh. GE baby. And oh my God that ballad, the arrival in that is SO satisfying, there was a staff member in front and to the right of me that was hyping the hell out of it, only wish the crowd would have too, they were dead for mostly everyone tonight, no full standing Os for anyone, and barely any mid show applause. Love the guard color scheme, really fun colors. Brass is VERY noticeably being led by some Crown guys, they can pump the volume, have incredibly tight and vertical articulations, and have great intonation and tone. Bravo. Percussion is SEXY! They have some swagger and attitude that's just great, and I absolutely love the front ensemble writing throughout, the opening in particular is REALLY good. So the ending, it works, I understand why it's there, it's not bad..........but I want a loud one. Could tell the crowd was ready to jump up after the last impact, and then it went on. It makes total sense, ties back into the beginning of the show, ending where they started, but it just felt eh. Did not ruin the show by any means though!

Memorable Moment - Ballad Impact

Blue Knights - The Great Event

I get the show, I understand the show, I think the show is well designed, and I liked it more in person, but I still can't latch onto it like the last two. 2014 grabbed me by the throat emotionally, last year was beyond entrancing and innovative in show pacing, and this year seems to have taken everything but the things that made those shows special and combined them. It felt like one big run on sentence. There are shows that are incredibly organic and are one continuous thought that are incredibly great, like Because was. Then there are shows that are non stop without a lot of change in tone and aesthetic that seem go on for 30 minutes. I think the destruction part is far too brief with Gorgon, the color scheme isn't indicative of what is going on and doesn't change enough for the last color scheme to be as impactful as it could be, and the corps uniform just seems way too bright for the first half. There is too much color in the front half to me, whatever is on the props, some looked incredibly desolate, and some looked like they forgot to turn them around the right way. What I'm seeing is not matching what I am hearing. They are SUBLIME in their body movement, but this almost crossed the line of not enough "drill". They can do the jazz prancy run really well and really effective, but they do it a lot. The middle portion of the show just seems to stall out visually. Drum feature was AMAZING which I'll get to in a moment, and I enjoyed the closer more musically, even though it feels like they're in the third year of using a template for it. That aside, they sounded pretty great brass wise, color guard was decent, but oh my GOD the percussion was otherworldly. That is some of the most creative, tasteful, understated, beautiful, and well performed battery music I have EVER heard, and they sounded like Cadets execution wise, they were flat out phenomenal. Front ensemble was not as memorable as the drums were, but man, drums. That made the show worth it just to hear them. I guess in the end it doesn't feel like they were creative this time and just took things from the last two and made a show, just didn't feel as creative and imaginative as the last two did. I think they will be perfectly fine competitively, I just feel like what made the last two so special was left behind, and this is a haze somewhere in the middle. I see it again tomorrow, so I'll try and get a better read hopefully.

Memorable Moment - Drumline

The Cadets - Awakening

Still think this show has some big flaws, but oh boy. Performance wise holy CRAP. I no longer have a face. Thanks brass. Percussion was amazing as always. Color guard was MUCH cleaner than last year at this time, and they are starting to sell the theme. Will spend a lot of this on that element. I think up to the ballad is fixed, and great. The statues awaken in the beginning, experience the joy and happiness of being alive in the opener, and then the ballad happens. They are incredibly exposed and torn emotionally, and Mr. Adonis is trying to get one of the them to go back to being statues to the dismay of another one of the new statues turned human. So up to there great. Closer before the ending. Oi. I love this piece in its original form, but I'm not sure it is working out. It just seems to go......and go...... and go...... and go...... and go......without a definitive moment. The zone between Turning and the suddenly soft pushing block is just a lot of loud MEH. From there out it works, the guard member is torn between becoming a statue again and remaining human, and he chooses human. Not sure what happened to the female from the ballad he seemed to have affection for. So 75% of this show is awesome and works. Pines of Rome is AMAZING, Turning is getting AMAZING, and then the closer stomps on the brakes until the finale. Feel like they are going to be fighting this closer for most of the season. It seems like everyone else above them has had very minimal rewrites and here Cadets are changing everything and everything. Props were scary, the one on side 2 was opening and closing at the gaps, and the front stage seemed a little lose to me. And if the front stage goes like people have rumored, good riddance. Again, it feels like people are shoved up there the first half to say LOOK AT ME, and then it's not even used the rest of the show. But overall, loved the front 75% and got it, and the brass and percussion was off the charts. Guard was great, not sure about the integration at some points and the mute pallete REALLLY doesn't work overall, didn't even notice some flag changes, and I swear they changed like 4 or 5 times. But they sold me, the Pines of Rome opening was worth the price of admission alone.

Memorable Moment - Pines of Rome Opening

Overall, a great night, and some things I didn't discuss that I DEFINITELY will at a later date. Really excited for tomorrow in Denton, if this show was that fun I CANNOT wait to see what 4 of last years top 5 plus The Academy and others have in store! More to come later......

Edited by DrumManTx
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Thanks!

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Wow amazing review. Thanks for your comments and taking the time to write it all down so quickly.. Seem right on!

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I loved the burning at the stake much as much as I did on the webcast.

There's a phrase you don't hear every day!

Edited by MikeRapp
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I would like to personally thank you DrumManTx for your detailed reviews and all the energy you put into watching ALL the corps and appreciating what they ALL bring to the table. You're honest and fair while also remaining positive.

Edited by luv4corps
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