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Stanford Sunday Night - at least I remember the props

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This will be quick, mostly because I'm at work, but also we got back at 1:30am this morning and tiredness is setting in.  Haven't reviewed for a few years, had no plan to this year, but a few things are worth mentioning.  And as a special treat I will point out the big props used by each corps, as that has now become the norm.

Apologies to Salinas Drum Line, Freelancers Alumns and Golden Empire.  After an extended stay in the will call line we finally sat down just before BDB took the field.

BDB: Liked the Wonka song mixed throughout the show.  For whatever reason, their bottom base seemed like the loudest of the night, which is much appreciated as a former bottom base player.  Good sound.  Too many vocals for me, but I'm old.  PROP: Flag holders scattered about

SCVC: Honestly the only thing that comes to mind is their show didn't seem finished, and that any SCV cymbal line is always a site to see.  My wife liked their show more than BDB.  Wish I remembered more. *yawn* PROP: Rolling white mini-stages w/ tall backdrops 

BDC: Always cute, always fun.  Airplane/flight theme complete with propellers.  Danger Zone was cool.  Love the mini-guard classic flight attendant outfits.  PROP: Airplane

Intermission: 20 minutes did not seem like enough time to get some grub, but alas we acquired what we needed to get us through the 'meat' of the program.  Btw, $7 for soda and $5 for water.  Someone call the police, I've been robbed!!  So glad I brought water.

PACIFIC CREST:  CA corps doing a CA-themed show.  Music was good.  First big hits of the night.  Very enjoyable.  At stand still the corps was clean, but while moving things were a little shaky.  Just needs more practice. PROP: Tilted gold circle left of center.

MANDARINS: The good: brass is amazing! Most power I've heard from my home team maybe ever.  And "Sound of Silence" was great! The bad: not so much bad, the drums just need more time to clean.  The ugly: Let me say the guard is very good and really brings home the "Ink" theme.  However, at one point a portion of the guard wears...um...zippered up sleeping bags that are red on one side and black on the other, with arms, legs and head all inside.  An interesting concept, but really hard to clean, visually and perhaps physically throughout the season. PROP: 4 GIANT classic ink pen tops laid on their side.  My dad said they looked a bit like giant silver sun fish.  Actually used pretty well...get it?

THE ACADEMY:  Love the uniforms, both classy and a bit cheeky,  Half the guard are bunnies, half are hunters.  Hence the show name *By a Hare*.  Super fun fan-friendly show with recognizable music throughout. Drums were very good.  Really quick tempo.  Brass had some highs and lows dealing with that, overall pretty balanced.  Actually thought they played better in their company fronts all spread out then in the increasingly popular big ball-o-brass.  Great show!  PROP: Rabbit holes all over the field.  Kind of "Whack-a-mole"-esque.

BLUE KNIGHTS Bright color-by-section uniforms, huge brass hits and a thunderous drum line (second best of the night imo).  But the music, or what there was, reminded me of BD ten or so years ago.  Blasts and blurts, no real melody or musical theme. Sounded very clean, just not particularly engaging.  Also, corps didn't wear hats (more on that later).  PROP: Two tall '" i " shaped mirrored towers. Also some large tiara-shaped metal structures that looked like burning man left-overs.

PHANTOM:  Awkward.  Very doom and gloom during the first half of the show.  Corps is black and white while the guard has skin-tight red onesies initially covered in long black gowns.  Guard also covers their entire head with a red wrap, that at one point is being pulled by brass members in a very "dominating" way.  And then, suddenly, the corps dawns the familiar white-plumed helmets and the show perks up, both in music and feel  Needless to say we enjoyed the latter half of the show much better.  The corps seemed to perform the second half better as well.  Overall, not my favorite Phantom show by a long shot.  PROP: Nothing big, white helmets scattered over the far right of the field.

VANGUARD:  Before they entered the stadium, they showed a video about their new uniform and how it incorporates their "Serpent" theme.  At the end the member doing the voice over said "I hope the fans will enjoy the change" or something like that.  Hate is a strong word, so maybe I'll go with really really strongly dislike.  Let's get this straight, there is ZERO connection to the crimson and green of old.  I don't care if you kept the shielded V-badge because "you thought it was and important tradition". The hats and feathers are gone...GONE, what was more traditional than that!  But most of all, their show is freaking awesome, and they don't look a thing like the Vanguard!  Brass..amazing, loudest of the night by far.  Drums..terrific.  Guard uses the rolling stages magnificently.  I thought initially they would be distracting, but the are used really well.  Championship quality show, uniforms...argh!!!  PROP: Masterfully created large round stages that look like those dangerous yard trampolines.  

BLUE DEVILS: If it's not broke don't fix it.  Lots of high brass, drums throw down during every break.  The opening sequence is really cool with the all snare line and the corps entering from left to right vertically.  As BD does now there's a dance break in the middle, this year set to Rihanna's "Diamond", though not too lengthy.  Lots of stairs, used to give different heights to different sections through the show.  Flight of the bumblebee is fast and needs lots of cleaning, but will be BD brass at it's finest.  Over use of the low end synth. Corps "Morphs" into not wearing hats and removing jackets making everyone look like the guard.  Guard was not as clean as I'm accustomed to seeing, but it's also only their second show.   Jazzy music, lots of scatter drill will feed the trolls.  Liked it, didn't love it.  PROPS: 14 sets of stairs...all white of course.

VANGUARD ALUMNI:  Wow, just wow.  I was brought into this activity during the Phantom of the Opera years, and have always loved and appreciated the rich musical history of drum corps.  Their "show" is called Send in the Memories, and the huge guard does a lot of work as the drums and horns blow your face off with hit after hit.  Beautiful, just beautiful.  I would have had every corps that performed last night come back out just to listen to how beautiful brass and drums can sound on a field.   Worth the price of admission all on their own.  Two words...bottle dance.


Well, that got a bit long.  Oh, my thoughts on the hats.  I don't like it and I'll tell you why.  What it does is it creates an inconsistency with the uniform.  From the neck down, everyone is wearing the same or very similar uniform, for better or worse.  But without a hat or shako or helmet or whatever, now everyone looks different, even if playing the same horn.  Visually it looks less professional and borders on looking messy and unfinished.  What's funny is, on the long drive home, I joked to my wife and dad that, drum corps is no different than professional sports.  Do as the winner does.  Just like what happened with synths and vocals and more recently giant props, drum corps has become very copy-cat from a design perspective, in that if the championship winning corps is doing it, then we should too.  So I joked that Bluecoats must have not worn hats last year, not remembering if they had or hadn't.  Sure enough, wifey looked it up...no hats.  

So, in an activity that rolls with the changes, or sometimes lives to do so, I hope it doesn't forget it's own motto.  If this is truly "Marching Music's Major League", then I would expect everyone involved to not forget about the professionalism and the history of the activity.  I'm very thankful there is enough perspective to showcase last night what many of us fell in love with decades ago, and I hope to see more of it in the future.  

Edited by Guizeppe
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Thanks for taking the time to write this review. Always great to hear different perspectives from those who attended the show. I'm really excited to see SCV in a couple weeks. 

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Nice review!  Can't agree more on the hats

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Bottom Bass FTW!

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