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It was a fantastic treat to get to escape the heat and take in a great June show in a great stadium with great weather at DCI west - and all the anniversary hoopla with SCV & BD made it even better.  Unfortunately I was delayed getting to the show, so I can only speak to the World Class corps for last night.

PACIFIC CREST got us off to a great start after the intermission.  Powered by another strong horn line - with a nice deep blend and good power - the California themed show and heavy use of California Dreaming was a nice touch.  I'm not sure how much the guard design or uniform is adding to the show at this point, but it's June, so we will see.
THE ACADEMY was a corps I was highly excited to see after their great 2016 show and several years of fantastic momentum.  It's only the first week of June, so thoughts may change, but I was profoundly disappointed.  The show is going for a looney tunes vibe it seems, but what a incoherent mess.  There's a great deal more demand in the brass book and drill, but the effort is cancelled out to me by the choppy design and super kitschy show design.  The pop up idea for the props is a cute idea, but way to small in execution from the back of the field to have any real effect.  The guard program was so  messy - are they bunnies or are they playboy bunnies??? - just a total 180 in the wrong direction for me.  This is a pivotal year for Academy to take advantage of their momentum and prove they weren't a one year wonder.  I hope my views are wrong, but this vehicle may knock them right back out of top 12.
MANDARINS were the complete opposite - a pleasant revelation!  As soon as Academy was done I texted back and forth with good friends of mine who were also at the show and we all agreed Mandarins were stronger with a better show.  The Inside the Ink show is creative, and the visual illusions to ink pens and the Rosarch ink blot test were very professionally done.  The horn line has a hard book on there hands and like the show, this has the potential to be Mandarins best year ever - well done!
PHANTOM REGIMENT - holy moly, this show is a beast!!!!  The degree of difficulty in the music book and HIGH velocity drill is just off the charts.  Can they clean this crazy beast ( they are filthy musically and visually right now)?  That's the million dollar question.  BRAVO though to the design team for a program that is full of potential and written to challenge themselves and be a vehicle to move up as much as they can master it.  YES!!!  A 180 from simple books written under the corps talent that were a constant battle to salvage.  There are a few parts of the show not working yet (like the ballad & conflicting eire & beautiful soloist elements), but other parts will be exhilarating if they can be cleaned.  The corps uni is fantastic as well.  In a huge departure with seasons past, and a very encouraging sign, the rep sub captions have huge gaps above the performance subcaptions - evidence of how much this show can grow.  Go to it, Regiment!
BLUE KNIGHTS have nice moments in their opener and closer and a lot in between that is not memorable yet.  I really don't like the departure from their shakos - it takes away form clarity and visual impact in my opinion.  There is far less memorable drill in this show ( it feels very stage like)  - and I miss the nice big drill sets BK has done so much of.  The guard program design is the weakest component of the show at this point, with little impact other than the closing statements.  The horn line sounds AMAZING.    I'll look forward to seeing how this show evolves.
VANGUARD, along with Regiment, was a highlight of the night for me.  The show theme and music are great & the horn line has stepped it up a notch this year.  The drum line is again a power house with a great book as well.  I honestly thought they might beat BD last night and they came close.  The show is fresh and entertaining - though the first minute feels a little too copied from a page from Bluecoats with the mic'd counterpoint horns and the rolling props.  That feeling dissipated though as the show went on - though the mic'ing of the horns is overdone & distracting to me.  The uniforms are ok, but like BK I feel like the lack of Aussies leaves the marvelous dill less defined and diminishes their presence greatly.  The hoo-hockey from staff about the emoting and eye contact with the audience is BS - none of it is true beyond the firs t 20-30 rows of the stands.  I hope it's a 1 year experiment, though I fear it's not.
BLUE DEVILS have had some of my favorite productions in the last few years, but upon first viewing (danger! - June opinion!), this one doesn't live up to that.  The opener is a way cool homage to their past, evolution & anniversary, but after the jackets & shakos come off,  the show drifts and is missing impact and effect.  Right now, this doesn't seem to be a championship vehicle and SCV could possibly catch them, despite the usual stellar caption performers.
Well, that's it for my June first impressions.  Can't wait for my next viewings!
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Thanks Harvey.  Agree with the hat debacle, as I wrote and you read.  How SCV rationalizes that they have more presence without the classic unis is utter nonsense.  And I forgot to mention about the mic'd horns in my review and agree with you about them being overdone.  If I can hear the horns on the field, why even use the mics, especially if it's going to cause phasing.

Anyway, good stuff.  Hope PR turns it around.

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Free programming tip for Santa Clara:

-Bring back the Aussies for Quarter-finals/Semis/Finals and enjoy the tremendous crowd response even before playing the first note.

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Terrific review. Thanks!!!

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