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Allentown: night 1

Nice night for drum corps, upper 70s-low 80s and overcast. Other than the drones flying overhead, perfect weather. Our seats were just off of the 50, three rows from the bottom. As such, I'll make no attempt to say anything bout drill I saw live, even though I've watched all of the DCILive broadcasts. I was introduced to drum corps in the 80s, and I attended my first Allentown show in the late 80s.

Pioneer – nice opening corps. They had a bigger sound than I had heard from them in a couple of years, and the members seemed to like the theme, especially the Joan of Arc en fuego moment. I think this is a nice design for them, one that is achieveable and fun.

Seattle Cascades – even though the circles have to do with the “O” theme, they didn't use them for much. They had a really nice, big sound when standing still that suffered a little when they were on the move. There were some brass moments that were a little iffy during technical passages, but overall they were fun to listen to.

Spirit of Atlanta – one of my all-time favorite corps, and on their anniversary I wish they hadn't arranged some iconic corps songs into oblivion. They also sounded great when standing still and had a well-rounded sound. I liked the bass guitar player instead of a synthesizer, and that guy did a nice job. They had a very enjoyable show and it was good to see them on the field considering some of their recent difficulties.

Colts – I really liked Nights in White Satin, and it reminded me of the Glassmen arrangement from years gone by. The light boxes were hard to read because of the sunlight, but they seemed like a cool idea. Their brass sounded better to my ears than Spirit by quite a bit, and their sound and volume were great.

Troopers – Fantastic brass sound. I was surprised that their marching didn't match the excellence of their playing, but maybe their drill sets looked clean from up top. I don't think they'll make finals simply because of how good some of the corps in front of them are – in some years this could easily be a finalist show.

Madison Scouts – I truly enjoyed their show, and if the reactions around me were any indication then many others shared that sentiment. The Scouts really performed the crap out of this show and had many “in your face” type moments that I've loved from this corps over the years. They'll make finals IMO, and deservedly so.

The Academy – I loved this show from the DCILive broadcasts and I wasn't disappointed in Allentown. Great sound, great marching, great arranging of Unchained Melody. I have to say I hope they're in finals – and that's no slight to the corps competing with them.

Blue Knights – another show I liked from the broadcasts and wasn't disappointed with live. I've liked BK for a long time and they were fantastic. I don't know if having the show completed so late has affected them competitively, but I have to wonder if they would be doing better if their show had been nearly complete at the end of June. They have a great brass section that played much more difficult material than the corps before them, IMO. Their drumline was also very noticeable – their charts seemed to be less note-ramming than musical accompaniment, and I appreciated that.

Blue Devils and Bluecoats – both of them had a degree of sopthistication and a sound quality that was much different than the corps before them (that is not an insult to the corps before them, it's just praise for these two fantastic corps). There was so much fantastic stuff in both of these shows that I'm just going to mention a few pet peeves I had for each one.

Devils - I thought that the lack of a “toe-tapping” jazz moment (which has been in all of their shows to some degree in recent memory) was kind of a bummer. I also thought that their over-narrated ending was somewhat disappointing. They have cleaned up the Bieber-to-nowhere moment somewhat, and the ballad is fantastic. Their marching was on another plane from everyone else, including the Bluecoats. I'm a BD homer, but this show isn't near the top of my BD favorites list. Performance levels are great as usual, and I'm sure they'll be in the hunt next Saturday night. Hopefully there are some final tweaks coming.

Bluecoats - They sounded great. I'm not a fan of the uniforms or the ramps (summer music x-games?), but those are minor considerations for me. I thought their percussion was easily the best of the night. The one thing about the 'Coats show I was blown away by (in a negative way) was how many people were blatantly out of step throughout their show. This isn't nearly my favorite Bluecoats show (90, 05, 10 and 14 are far above this one for me), but I would have no problem with this show winning. Maybe they had a bad run visually, who knows. Their music and GE are certainly good enough for a champion, that's for sure.

All in all it was a fantastic night for drum corps, and there's far more to like than dislike in the activity for me. There wasn't one “hot dog corps” in the show for me, and everyone had great moments in their shows.

All of these ramblings are my opinions, so if you disagree with them great! Good luck to all corps through the end of the season.

Edited by cajal
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