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DCI 2017 Season Premier, Lucas Oil

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The scores are a bit of a surprise, but first show of the year, etc. I was also not seeing the show live, but rather in a movie theater full of fans. Though my comments seem more negative overall than positive, I am only reacting to tonight’s performances and do wish all the best for the corps and their respective seasons. I do think we are in for another banner year, knowing there are at least another 12 corps out there vying for a finalist spot in 2017.


Crossmen:  I like the props and how they are restaged often. I expect their usage will increase in frequency and variation over the summer. The uniforms are interesting (I assume the guard was not in full uniform) with the orange and pink standing out against the black. The move to the lower corner side 1 was interesting and seems to be a moment of further development and effect. Though a fan of the source material, I cannot say I like the music thus far. Like last year, for me, the brass contribution is lackluster and requires little to no musical commitment, though there are some potential moments in the ballad. It seems the talent level is down in every section over last year and the show is the most elusive they have offered since moving to Texas. I cannot make any educated guess at this point, but will carefully assume that finals is not a lock by any stretch at this point. Not eager to see it again without some major show developments.


Blue Stars: A big tick up in quality and design over Crossmen. You instantly get the show theme and we are off and running with some quality and detailed design right off the bat. The horn line may be their best ever, though the ballad was quite different from the rest of the show. The percussion writing is as musical as the past few years, as is the guard writing. The story line that moves from Shakespeare to The Great Gatsby to Moulin Rouge needs more tweaking and finesse, but the general idea is there. As with last year, there is great evidence that an artist’s eye is driving the show production; I do wish that there was a bit more commitment to a few of those most common drum corps-isms that we all expect and love when delivered properly- they certainly have the “horses” in all sections to do such. The arrangement of the Prokofiev is stunning. Really eager to see this again. I hope the ballad will be realized differently musically and visually.   


Cadets: Bravo for stepping out of your box and taking risks. About time. The musical offering is wonderful, and at times, game changing. To risk being cliché, this show has great potential. It was the most underdeveloped of the night and certainly exposed that the corps is behind where they usually are this time of year. But, rather than slowly losing ground, this production has the potential to gain ground over the summer if developed carefully and effectively. The brass drill is a MAJOR concern. The guard and battery was the strength tonight. Several show components suggest opportunity for much more development that could result in something really special: the church pews, the stained glass windows, the choir, the costuming and its changes, the overall vibe as intended by Lenny yet as perceived by a 2017 drum corps audience. A few questions: why is the choir on stage left tacked onto the pit? Why are the stained glass windows not better utilized for effect and staging? Why are the pews so close together and not manipulated/moved at least once? What are the plans for the shoes, uniform layering, and how we remove and dispose of each “discarded” costume? Eager to see this develop.


Cavies: I loved last year’s show so much, I am not sure that such makes any early season comparison fair. That said, I was horribly disappointed. The talent level seems a bit down musically, but up for the guard. The show theme seemed shoved down my throat through voice overs and not staging, drill design, role playing/characterization, or music device. There was some male visceral-ness at times, but it seemed forced. The snare tuning? Holst’s “Mars” was subtle and ethereal. Why are the jungle gyms multi-colored?- I do like how they are easily moved and how they provide a variety of staging options/dimensions. I worked hard to like it. I just didn’t. Eager to see it if changes are a foot.


Crown: How is anyone ever been this clean this early? Really? Are you kidding me? The best the percussion has ever been. Someone forgot to tell the guard there were major staffing changes. Movement and form responsibility, off the chain. And that horn line, geeze! All that said, where do they go from here? The show concept, if intended to be deconstructionist, it isn’t at all evident. The closer is quite disjunctive from the rest of the show, but there is no pathway that clearly takes you from any established point A to point B. The vocalist is rough at this point. Pitch is a major concern as is balance and blend. I like the closer, a lot, but it is from a different production. They seem to be in a good place to make massive changes and not lose nearly as much ground as those that don’t have the horses to do such and not only survive, but thrive.


Bluecoats: To quote someone else, “of course Mozart sound like Mozart”. For all those expecting some 180 degree change from last year and seeing such as the mark of a true champion- I’ll ask, have you seen BD the past three decades? This show seems to pick up where 2016 left off, and why not? Some moments more predictable than others. Some ideas expanded, pushed, decorated, etc. Some new ideas too and some risk. The brass are far more taxed physically and there are more exposures due to demand for all sections. Like last year, it is fun, riveting, and uniquely Bloo. There were micing issues, tempo issues, etc. Doesn’t matter right now. They are staying true to themselves and viscerally entertaining as hell. A problem they do not have that BD does. I like that fight. Lots of talent and lots to do. 

Edited by tigger2
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14 hours ago, ComeHomeShane said:

thanks. I'm a little confused by what you said about the Crossmen's brass... "the brass contribution is lackluster." Are you referring to the arrangements for brass or the performance level? 

The performance to some degree, but largely the arrangements. While there are a few places for each brass player to be expressive, those moments are extremely rare. As a brass player, I want be challenged technically and musically. I want the complete fulfillment of my music book to be just beyond my reach early on, reached more often than not mid season, and consistency maxed out at season's end. I would be bored performing most of this brass book as I would have been last year. I personally feel that the musical offering of last year and this, thus far,  maintain an almost monotone orchestration that perhaps tries too hard to be fair to all voices, creating perhaps an unwanted predictable walk rather than a wild rollercoaster ride. It seems more like a check list of required stuff rather than a musical, visceral journey. 

Edited by tigger2
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To me, it felt like Crossmen last year worked in a dozen different small passages displaying different styles of jazz between tempos, meters, bass feel, etc., into a slightly darker brass production.  This show feels like they were going for the same ADD-Jazz idea again, but without as much contrast or effectiveness.  Too early to say if that's just needing cleaning or additional writing, I think, but on initial viewing, the brass didn't have the oomph they did last year.


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