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Thoughts on the 2016 Tour Premier!

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super duper review. thanks! I couldn't agree with you more about the coats... as "modern" as their show designs have been recently... in the end it is still just something cool to look at + something cool to listen to. I'm one of the the biggest cool music + cool drill = cool show advocates on this board.... so bluecoats, count me in. 

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8 minutes ago, ComeHomeShane said:

super duper review. thanks! I couldn't agree with you more about the coats... as "modern" as their show designs have been recently... in the end it is still just something cool to look at + something cool to listen to. I'm one of the the biggest cool music + cool drill = cool show advocates on this board.... so bluecoats, count me in. 

When it comes down to it and you look past the prop, the theme, the uniforms.......it's just an incredibly exciting show to sit back to watch and listen to......

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4 hours ago, DrumManTx said:

So first of all, as of hitting submit on this post I haven't read any thoughts, seen any recaps, or really talked to anyone in detail since I left for the theater two and a half hours before the show.  I'm forming my own opinions and insights without any outside influence.  I'm interested to see if I agree!  Sorry @Lance, it's pretty long again this year.  Hehe.  Disclaimer, there were two shows I feel like I kind of unloaded on......these are just my opinions.  I'm not stating my thoughts as fact, and I think a lot of it has to do with personal taste.  I'm not taking away from the INCREDIBLE performers performing these shows.  You're all awesome!  I had a two hour car ride home to really think about shows and what stuck with me as opposed to me coming home within twenty minutes the last 7 years and immediately typing away.  Anyways, my way too long review of the first show of the season.  

Crossmen - The Enigma

Five Things I Liked

  • Opener was super fun.
  • Love the percussion writing, incredibly fun to listen to.
  • GREAT guard.   
  •  Great brass.  
  • This Radiohead ballad is fantastic.

Five Things to Wait and See On:

  • …...not sold on the visual program.  Especially…
  • …the props.  They get in the way, are IN FRONT of sections when they’re being featured multiple times, and are hardly utilized beyond the guard just kinda stretching around in them.  Took a good few minutes before anything was done with them.   
  • The “A Beautiful Mind”/”Miranda”  section doesn’t really do a ton for me musically or visually.  Nothing really connects or evolves.  
  • It has its moments but as a whole it just doesn’t have the cohesion/energy that last years show did yet.  
  • This is obviously a finalist level corps.  But I’m not sure the show is.

Overall Thoughts - So last year I saw their show the first time and was blown away.  Incredibly energetic music, fast drill, a million colors and excitement from the guard, fantastic brass and percussion, and it was all packaged with a simple but easily accessible theme that was maxed out by finals week and they really made a statement.  I’m getting the great guard, great brass, and great percussion again, but not any of those other things yet.  I really question the props in this show.  They are not really utilized a ton and when they are not in many ways.  Guard stretches in and out of them a few times, brass plays in them, and they stage moments.  But a lot of the time they just felt in the way.  There were times with guard/percussion that highlighted moments were happening behind them or as a prop was moving in front of a featured section.  Ballad was the highlight of the show, very cool arrangement of a great Radiohead song, but on the two hour car ride home I had a hard time placing my finger on anything else musically or honestly as a whole.  Question marks were also about the only thing I could pick up thematically.  This is a corps full of fantastic brass, percussion, and guard talent.  Fantastic instruction going on.  Just not sure this design is firing on the level of the performers.  Maybe they have more planned and it just isn’t clicking for me yet.  As always I’m open to getting my mind changed.  

Reaction - FANTASTIC corps.  Just don’t know about the show.  

Blue Stars - Star Crossed

Five Things I Liked:

  • Brass has a fantastic ensemble sound already.  Especially…
  • …the mellophones.  They get their own bullet.  The HUGE notes in the opener, the soaring lines over the arrival in the ballad, and the sustains in the closer that sounded sublime.  Wow.
  • First 2/3rds is pretty strong.  
  • Ballad is already one of my favorite musical selections of the year.  
  • Uniforms and costuming are phenomenal.  

Five Things to Wait and See On:

  • The last 1/3rd of the show kinda meanders around.  Lots of empty moments and filler sounding stuff.  Have a feeling it’s just not layered/finalized like the rest yet.  
  • Wondering what else they’re gonna do with the tables.  
  • Story line/lines aren’t SUPER noticeable yet, but I can see guard staged for moments that will probably come later.
  • Shapiro guard book is insane once again.  Needs the whole season to mature.  
  • SUPER difficult visual program, needs lots of time to clean.  

Overall Thoughts - I can safely say this is the best Blue Stars corps in terms of performance I’ve seen early on in a good while.  Brass especially has a lush, full, tight, and just beautifully balanced sound.  LOVE it!  Percussion is solid and guard has another beast of a show to tackle all season long.  This show is once again not an easy mountain to climb but it feels more attainable than a lot of their previous offerings which IMO is a good thing.  I think this one can REALLY be maxed out.  First two numbers were fantastic, tons of HUGE musical moments and that ballad…….wow.  That arrival gave me some serious chills.  Last 1/3rd is definitely not as solid/finished in terms of body/guard moments/story arc so it remains to be seen how good it’s gonna finish but I have faith.  They know how to layer a show over a season.  I think this has more potential down the road in terms of proficiency than they’ve had in awhile, just needs the right design choices to highlight that and allow them to score in the bracket I think they are EASILY performing in.  I thought they were way under scored tonight.  

Reaction - Best start in awhile from them, just needs the right layering and finishings to use that talent.  Brass is taking my breath away!  


The Cadets - The Faithful, The Fallen, The Forgiven

Five Things I Liked:

  • Great drum writing and performance.  
  • Already SO much more cohesion than last years show.
  • Shockingly enough, the look with the skirts was my favorite.
  • Boy they sure dedicated to the shows visual aesthetic.
  • Loved the first “Simple Song” impact.  Beautiful!

Five Things to Wait and See On:

  • Drill design……hmm.  
  • The way, times, and just how they used uniforms and changes seemed SUPER clunky and not super effective or done in spots that made sense.  
  • I noticed the singers, but not a ton.
  • Balance of the three sections feels really off, lots of time for the first, about as much for the second, and the final one doesn’t get a ton of time to develop, even with an extra minute I still feel like the balance is pretty front heavy.  
  • It’s a super literal show, and doesn’t leave anything to the imagination.  They cross every t and dot every i.  They say every amen.  By the end where we have someone literally telling us they sinned and want to be forgiven…….it just felt like they were literally beating me in the head with a bible at that point.  I get it.  I more than get it.  And by the end I feel over saturated with all the symbolism, props, narration, EVERYTHING.  I cringed a lot to be honest.  

Overall Thoughts - So I think this show is already WAY ahead of last year in the conceptual department.  Lots of faith/believing in the first part of the show, we sin a TON in the middle, and we are forgiven in the end.  Boom.  TONS of set pieces this year.  None of them get in the way and they all look decently well made, already a step above shows like 2013, 2015, 2016 in that regard.  Uniforms.  Wow.  The aesthetic of this show changes a TON.  And the changes happen all over the place and not very gracefully, the corps just kinda peeling out of them kinda singing going into the closer felt super awkward.  My big issue tonight was the polar opposite of 2016.  They spoon feed you every. Single. Thing.  and you don’t really get to think or interpret it at all on your own.  It lacks any kind of finesse/restraint.  I feel like they’re going to opposite of last year where it was super vague/not easy to follow and going the polar opposite by beating you over the head with pews, prayer, crosses and fishes, choirs, and the list goes on and on and on.  Performance wise it's maybe not as solid as the last few years but they're fine.  Brass has a great ensemble sound, percussion is very solid, and the guard seemed like a HUGE step up this year.  Great performers, I'm just feeling pretty overwhelmed by this show already.  

Reaction - Polar opposite of 2016.  I get it, but then they beat me over the head with it.  

The Cavaliers - Men are from Mars

Five Things I Liked:

  • Once again this corps has members that are totally buying into their show already, and it made this performance electric, entertaining, exciting, and I’m sure many other good words that start with the letter E.  
  • The color guard staging, usage, and performance to my untrained eye seemed INCREDIBLE.  
  • This is the best the Cavaliers brass have sounded early on in a long time.  
  • The closer……this might have been my favorite moment of the night…….so fun.  SO FUN.  
  • This show felt complete but with still a TON of room for growth.  

Five Things I Will Wait and See On:

  • There is so much going on in this show I think I need to see it about ten more times to take it all in.  
  • Balance of electronics, I don’t know about live but in the theater they were QUITE loud.  But I still enjoyed their usage.
  • Refining/clarifying/layering certain moments of the show, especially in the middle sections.  
  • The ballad felt short.  
  • I wanna see them milk the ending even more come finals.  

Overall Thoughts - I knew it.  I knew that performance on Tuesday was not a good representation of how good this corps and show is.  HOLY CRAP they blew me away!!!  I think performance wise this is the best Cavaliers corps I’ve seen out the gate since 2011.  This is a corps that believes in their show and is already performing it at an incredibly high level in terms of energy/confidence.  Proficiency will come, but the brass and percussion are off to a fantastic start.  I’m not a guard expert.  Maybe I’m nuts?  But the color guard blew me away.  The 20 yard flag exchange in the circle surrounding the brass right before the ballad actually made me gasp.  As a show this is pretty clear to me even if the guy hadn’t explained it.  It’s evolution of man.  I think it’s an incredibly hilarious, entertaining, and interesting commentary on what we think a man is/was/will be.   It might need some refining but I thought the DUDE section was HILARIOUS.  This part of the show isn’t taking itself super seriously and is just trying to be funny and be entertaining, I loved it.  The Steve Irwin-esque narration complete with a CRIKEY was a hit in my theater.  Visual and music design is great, I thought the closer was a phenomenal mashup of “Mars” and “My Way”…….Cavaliers sold me on a singer.  I don’t know if he was live but leading into that final bras push I loved the usage…….When it comes down to it this felt like a Cavaliers show.  Incredibly athletic, ridiculous drill (kudos to Mr. Hinshaw!), insane guard, great percussion, and a super masculine and entertaining vibe the members sell in spades.  Brass deserves some recognition, I think they’ve made incredible progress.  I’m getting long winded on this one……..but that’s cause I loved it.  I cannot wait to see where this show goes.  

Reaction - INCREDIBLY high energy, entertaining, and complex show that I think I am in absolute love with.  Excited to see how they adjust/refine/balance/etc. throughout the season.  

Carolina Crown - It Is...

Five Things I Liked:

  • Fantastic brass performance.
  • Percussion is very solid.  
  • LOVE the first guard look and corps uniform. 
  • "No One to Know One" quote before the ballad is a very cool moment.  
  • Some nice Sacktig drill moments.  

Five Things to Wait and See On:

  • As a whole it feels......a bit empty despite there being SO much to it.  
  • Cohesion.....feels like I'm watching three different shows that don't quite fit together. 
  • Singer usage, not ability.  
  • Closer is pretty.......schizophrenic?  So much going on, being pulled onto the field, etc. to the point it just seems messy.  There wasn’t a ton of focus anywhere.  
  • The show feels like it is leading up to something/tries to say something and it never says it.  And not just because it’s obviously not done at the end.  

Overall Thoughts - So I definitely get this show.  They deconstruct the field/what they think of as normal drum corps and build it into something they think is new.  But.......hmm.  It's the beginning of the year so I think an "I feel like something big is missing" reaction is probably okay and/or normal.  I can't put my finger on what, it's just leaving me REALLY cold right now.  Proficiency wise the brass is bonkers as always, percussion was solid pleasant surprise, and guard doesn't seem quite as strong as the beginning of the year last year but they'll be fine.  Singer is great in ability, not sure if I like the usage/overabundance of it in the latter part of the show.  The closer is.......a lot.  I know it’s the nature of the deconstructed part but it was so chaotic it just felt unfocused.  Maybe it’s just not my cup of tea this year, usually I have an INCREDIBLY emotional response to Carolina Crown, even in 2015 I loved “Organ Symphony” early on and saw that it was really empty and they were gonna layer it.  I’m not sure how much more stuff they can throw into this one besides finishing it.  I dunno.  I’m certainly open to having my mind changed, this is of course an incredibly talented group of kids that are absolute animals being able to perform such a hard show.  

Reaction - Wait and see.  Fantastic corps, just maybe not for me.  

Bluecoats - Jagged Line

Five Things I Liked:

  • No.  Weaknesses.  
  • This could very well be the most enjoyable musical show I've ever heard from them.  
  • Best I've ever seen their color guard in June. 
  • I think this is the best drill they've ever had.  
  • Their performance value and energy is ELECTRIC.  

Five Things to Wait and See On:

  • I think I like the uniform in context, it's pretty dang simple.  Will wait and see how I feel about it.
  • The choreography/show aesthetic is very interesting to say the least, feel like I need to see it from the box and different angles.  
  • I definitely get the show and prop usage, just feel like there is a lot more to come......
  • ......but where do they go?  Every year in June I feel like the show is done and then they layer the crap out of it in ways that never crossed my mind.  Excited to see where they take it.  
  •  I need to see and hear the ballad live.  I can't form an opinion on tonight on that part of the show.  

They did it again......every year since 2009 whether it's the whole show or just a moment, they find a way to blow me away.  I really couldn't care less if they win again or not......when they give me full body shivers like this show did multiple times I don't care.  People are gonna say it's too similar to the last few years......it's gonna peak......blah blah blah.  So what.  This is a corps with no weaknesses, a show that is both SUPER complete but with tons of room for growth, and performers that bring it to life in a way that is unique to them.  They are Bluecoats.  This is them through and through.  Musically.......holy crap.  This is their most straight forward music program since gosh.......2013?  Electronics are more laid back this year and they just let the full corps shine.  There were many times tonight where corps felt like they had obligatory brass moments thrown in.......Doug Thrower once again totally respects the source material and just simply adapts it to the field.  He doesn't over writer it but there is still TONS of content.  "Psychopomp" and "Zomby Woof" are especially fantastic......just two pieces of music given a few minutes to be what they are.  "One Study" was a fantastic percussion feature as well, and those drums.......(Zomby) WOOF.  (that's a good thing).  Brass was fantastic and seemed to get a TON more full ensemble time this year.  Color guard to my untrained eye again looked incredible, I think this is the best their guard has ever looked out the gate and the way Vanderkloff stages them is sublime.  This is the best drill program I think they've had too......lots of modern stuff but also just tons of super hard stuff that they play super hard stuff while doing, for example that SUPER fast follow the leader near the end of "Psychopomp".  So kudos to Vanderkloff.  I am going to wait on "Grow Til Tall" until I see it live.  I feel like I didn't get a good read tonight solely because of how the mics were picking it up for the broadcast.  That's not on the corps.  Prop is cool, that first brass moment with them on top of it was really cool, they use vertical space again this year but in a different way.  The drill cutting under the prop and not letting it be a hindrance was SUPER cool.  I bet they have more planned for it.  All in all......bravo.  You have me again.  Win or lose this show hits every single tick mark of what I love about the activity.  Over the last three seasons they have completely re-instilled my enjoyment in the activity, I feel like a little HS kid seeing his first show again every single year.  When that "Psychopomp" reprise happened at the end I thought I was gonna need to be resuscitated.  

Reaction - They take my breath away year after year after year after year.  I don't care where they end up when they make me feel this way. 

One moment from every corps I loved:

  1. Bluecoats "Psychopomp" reprise in the closer.  
  2. Carolina Crowns "No One to Know One" quote going into the ballad.  
  3. The Cavaliers final "My Way" push.  
  4. The Cadets first "Simple Song" impact.  
  5. Blue Stars "Young and Beautiful" ballad arrival.  
  6. Crossmens "Exit Music" ballad arrival.  

Overall I LOVED two shows, liked one more, and need to wait and see on the other three.  I love that I can pick six moments that were all musical moments.  No show tonight felt too far gone/like it was gonna peak.  These will all grow.  I totally agreed with placements, not necessarily spreads though.  But who cares.  AWESOME shows.  I think we're in for a fantastic season!  


For someone who could not attend live or see the theater version, I appreciate the vivid and concise unbiased review! Thank you.

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As always, thanks for your review! 

One thing that bugged this drummer during the Bluecoats show - I get the commitment to the black/white color palette, but the drum wraps looked half-###ed.  Almost "let's stick some electrical tape on a stock drum."  I know, I know, less can be more, but... yeah.

And I said on another thread, but the Crown singer's uniform (and hat!) was ridiculous, cheesy, over the top - and I loved how it fit in with the show.  Visually, Crown had a pretty clear idea of what they wanted the field to look like and did a good job with it. 

Cavs - oh, heck yeah.  More, please.  Loved the integration of electronics, the DudeBro vibe, the whole thing.  I very much like their recent trend of dark (and not so dark) humor woven into the shows.

Cadets - I'd prefer they ditch the skirts and move directly to the Movement 2 uniforms. Those just looked so much better.  And if they're going to keep staggering the uniform changes section by section and creating an unbalanced look, use the drill to highlight the contrast between colors (a la 2011).  It just felt like they weren't sure what to do about it yet.


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Fantastic review! One of the best I've read. 

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This is an amazing review and I wanted to say thank you for writing it ! I walked away from the theatre with similar viewpoints about each of the Corps shows. Looking forward to reading more and a great 2017 season !

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2 hours ago, higher faster stronger said:

This is an amazing review and I wanted to say thank you for writing it ! I walked away from the theatre with similar viewpoints about each of the Corps shows. Looking forward to reading more and a great 2017 season !

Of course.  


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