DCA show Kingston, NY 8/9/2003


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And so my drum corps summer ends tonight in a sullen rainshower in upstate NY. Because of family/real life issues I shall not be attending any regular season shows in the next 2 weeks OR DCA Finals in Scranton, which is a huge bummer, but I am glad that even in a summer of retirement, I got to see some hot DCA action multiple times and a huge thanks to all corps for giving me my money's worth.

Apparently, this time of year is the time for nature to try to drown the East Coast; this isn't the first time that Kingston has been held in the rain (93 comes to mind as another inclement weather show) and while it wasn't a storm to rival, say, Bayonne in 1996 (one of the few times I can ever remember a show being cancelled) or Allentown Finals in 99 (the less said about which the better) or last year in Toms River (pardon me while I have a flashback) it was still hard steady rain that started while I was in the diner across the street from the stadium having dinner with my mom pre-show and was still going on when we left after Hurcs show was done. We were both fairly well soaked by that time and neither one of us felt our life would be significantly worse for NOT seeing Blessed Sac so I am indebted to the DCA webpage for releasing the scores this early so I can include them in my review. For this particular show I sat on Side A, about the 30 yard line, 3 rows from the top of the stands. It was a very large crowd, although as it's a small stadium I'm sure it was easy to fill, There were the usual rain issues of having to crane one's neck to see over umbrellas in the rows below and I won't name any names but some people should realize that talking about your former corps when they're not on the field at the top of your lungs both makes you look like an a**hole band parent and gives your corps a bad reputation. And I'm not talking about just one corps either. This went on in the stands around me during the entire night and this after the Kingston announcer (NOT Legendary Fran Haring, #### his eyes) gave one of the best speeches on crowd etiquette I've ever heard, likening a drum corps show to a theatrical performance and positing that it's VERY disrespectful to try to enter a theater in the middle of a scene. Indeed. All that being said, a drum corps show was perpetrated tonight and let's get cracking with the review.

Blue Saints, Sudbury (?) QUE

First up in exhibition was a DCI Div. III corps on its way home to Canada. Unfortunately the program notes did not state the musical program so my mom and I entertained ourselves guessing what it was. As the corps was only marching 8 brass this was more difficult in spots than it may sound. According to www.corpsreps.com, their opening number was called One Fine Morning. I shall have to take corpsreps at its word as I don't recognize the song name but it had its groove on, starting with a contra "walk beat" solo. Second tune corpreps states was "Itty Bitty Pretty One", which I don't recognize said name either but I knew the tune (I think the old G E Smith band on Saturday Night Live used to do it sometimes) and it devolved into a singalong with the crowd anyway. 3rd tune was "Age of Aquarius" from HAIR and my mom got that right away. Go mom. All told, it was a decent show by a VERY young corps. Hope they have a safe trip home and good luck to them in the future with the whole junior corps thing.

exhibition, no score

New York Skyliners, Garfield NJ

Sometime around here was when the heavens really started opening up and I had to dodge umbrella points or risk losing an eye. I'll warn now: none of my reviews from here on may be 100% accurate due to the fact that my program remained in my backpack to stay dry. Okay, back to Sky. This was the first time I had seen them since Clifton so I was stoked to see another bangup job in their quest to return to Finals. And granted, there were some fine moments. The guard is now in silver/grey jumpsuits (I believe these are new from Clifton although I don't remember) and shows up better staged in some spots, especially a pas de deux during the "I Have Dreamed" number. But there were at least 2 smear/tears in the opener that I counted and overall this was a much less energetic show than I had hoped. Granted, just like everyone else they were fighting the elements, but not everyone else let it hurt their show. As there are at least 3 more shows for them to do this year that I won't be seeing, I hope that this was just an aberrant night on the road to finalist status, but I won't be there to see any of that, and this isn't how I had hoped to see them for the last time in 2003. Good luck, Sky guys and dolls. Keep at it; it's yours to take if you want it bad enough.

8th place, 74.925

Bucaneers, Reading PA

So I should've expected that a corps that, for the 2003 season, with apparently not a trace of irony, decides to give themselves a high seas/pirate theme, would get all jazzed up at the possibility of performing in a howling rainstorm. If I had, the Bucs performance would not have come as such a shock. And by shock I mean good lord, could you all be more inspired tonight to lay a job down! As my yucky crowd neighbors were being snotty and talking over the Bucs' opening notes, to the point where I barely heard the bosun's whistle that I so wanted to point out to my mom (I have a cousin in the Navy who had told her about it but she'd never heard it before), it took the Bucs' first huge hit (the one with the oversized white flags) to shut them up, although from there on Bucs had pretty good control over the crowd response. As I have already seen Bucs twice before and they haven't made any significant changes you can look up my previous reviews for show content. It was more of the same but much MUCH crisper and cleaner. I would venture the opinion that their spread from Empire and Cabs was probably too large. Also: Josh Decker is so totally the man. Where your Jim Russos and Dave Brunis practically script their crowd interactions, Mr Decker was obviously either a darn good actor or on a huge high re: Bucs performance tonight. Such high being totally justified. His corps has a high-quality package being made ready for finals weekend and I think there are a few corps that should be feeling breath on their necks right now. Good luck to MR Decker and co. and this is one show I truly with I was going to be in Scranton for.

3rd place, 87.975

Crusaders, Rochester NY

Let me get to the good parts first. I saw Cru 2 weeks ago in New Brunswick and I was irked that I was watching from about row 4 and so couldn't get a read on the drill program. Well, tonight I was almost at the top and so could get a read, and it's pretty good drill. It ought to be; it's by Mr. I-made-Bishop-Kearney-a-bunch-of-superstars Vince Monacelli. There are very well staged musical moments in this show, particularly in The Swan and also in the drum feature Comedian's Gallop/Sabre Dance part. Also, the guard gave much to commend itself, particularly considering the weather conditions. All that being said, you gotta MARCH the drill just like you gotta play the notes. I'm not gonna waste anyone's time going over the music arranging choices; I spewed enough bile for one season in my New Brunswick review. Suffice it to say that nothing has changed since then. I'm slightly appalled, however, by the marching performance. For pete's sake, it astroturf. And also it's 3 weeks from finals. There's no excuses any more for missing stepoffs or playing the accordion with your intervals. As this is the last time I will see Cru this year I might as well say it: this corps gives me the impression that they are getting away with having a drum corps. The least amount effort put into design, performance, and end result that one can possibly get away with and still be able to call oneself a DCA finalist. Cru has done the worst thing to Camille Saint-Saens, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Dmitri Kabalevsky, and Aram Katchachurian that you could possibly fear: they have made their music boring. Shame on the design team for causing it and shame on the corps for allowing it to be performed that way. Their score tonight was absolutely jestified as a badge of mediocrity. Not as low as a newly returned Sky, not anywhere near the 4 corps that will make a difference at finals.

5th place, 81.05

Grenadiers, Kinston ONT

This was my first read in Grenadiers, whom I have been tracking in the DCA recaps and I have been wondering why they haven't been scoring higher. Having finally seen them, I'm still wondering. Okay, so they're smaller than your average DCA Open class corps. Also, they're Canadian, and so have horrid travel issues. But they've got a decently programmed show and there's no lack of salesmanship from the corps in performing it. Grennies have chosen an all-Pat Metheny vehicle for this year's production, reminiscent of Crossmen's 1991 and 1998 explorations of the same tunes. There is an initial vaguely ponderous opening of Minuano that moves swiftly into the uptempo Third Wind. As the show wore on, I caught the design in the flag silks as mirroring some drill formations, which I thought was a neat subliminal trick. Specifically, an "X" in the silk that the hornline eventually made on the field in similar proportion. Neat. I do have to admit that the hornline may be undermanned for the task put before them regarding dynamics and stamina. Not that this is different than a few other corps I saw tonight but when your program is that of a DCI finalist, intentional or not, you're gonna be fighting history. I caugt myself a few times thinking that Grennies' program was "wrong" because it didn't follow the pre-existing script in my head from my Xmen played it back in whenever. Yes, that is wrong of me, but it happens, and who's to say judges aren't doing the same? That being said, yes, they do have size issues that they need to account for in performing (no overbearing from the sops, more effort from the lower brass. you know, the usual stuff that happens in smaller horn lines) but this is a well-*written* show and I hope that Grennies can take it as far as they want.

6th place, 77.95

Bushwackers, Harrison, NJ

This is the point in the review where I wish to pause for a moment to pat myself on the back. :ph34r: 2 weeks ago in New Brunswick I said that in August, Bush attacks drum crops like they were at war. Since then, their score has jumped 8 points, even with new features added in for completeness. Noted tonight: in addition to the "one small step" chant in the opener, there is now a "one giant leap" coming out of the ballad and a "FOR MANKIND" flag at the very end. Also: much of the dancers in the ballad have "expanding globe" thingys used as props while they dance. I know that Pegasus winter guard used them in their 1999 production, also East Coast Jazz corps used them but I don't remember when. But in this show they make for a sweet little addition to the space theme. A very minor negative: yes, I love the moon landing scene at the end of the first half of Perilous Skies, and I understand that said Moon Boy is gonna have to come back and reprise it at the very end of the show, but as he's the only one who looks like himself I found myself watching him instead of the guard or corps in some places, and the guard and corps were totally kicking ###. I don't like to miss the Bush guard or corps when they are totally kicking ### because I am watching Moon Boy. I'm sure no one else does either. Huge positives: Bush was second in intensity tonight only to Bucs. Especially when you consider the weather conditions, the marching performance tonight was nothing short of phenomenal. The new parts didn't look new tonight either, and little things like the one-handed brass feature in the first half of Perilous Skies are crisp enough to be considered features in their own right. This is now a corps that's going places, and I feel about 2 inches tall for saying back in Clifton how panicked I was that they were attempting Perilous Skies with a small hornline. Said small hornline, along with the rest of the corps, is now less that 2 points from Bucs and less than 3 from Empire. For everyone except the champion, there are only 4 shows left in the season. 4. If I were the rest of DCA, I'd be in a panic right now. If I were Bush, I'd be totally loving my life, because Bush now has the spoiler role, and that's a good place to be for them. Remember 1986. Remember 1988. Remember 1992. Remember that I told you so. :)

4th place, 86.175

Empire Statesmen, Rochester NY

Okay, first of all, about the hats. Or lack thereof, this being "Statesmen Style" we're talking about. Some old textbook I had a while ago talked about how comic book characters were always drawn with much less detail than a portrait or other representational art, and the less detail one could get away with the better. This is by design because it is human nature to "fill in the blanks" and project the identity one wants to on said character. I think this is true in drum corps as well; when watching your favorite corps you identify with being a Cab, a Bushwacker, a Cadet, a Blue Devil, etc. as there is a sameness to each marching member. ####, that's by design. The whole point of visual performance is not to stick out, to do as everyone else is doing, to lose individual identity and become one with your corps. I tell all that to tell this: it is exceedingly difficult if not impossible for me to make that emotional connection with a corps whom I can see which is male and which is female, which is blonde and which is brunette, which is old and which is young. So to make a long story short, I'm predisposed to not dig an Empire show. All that being said, I found them very impressive. Once you get past the Dave Bruni pandering, and the huge props stuck on the back hash, and girls tapdancing on dimes that have been abusing steroids, this is a corps that can flat out march and play. The hornline especially has a darn good book, a solid (and talented) line to play such book, and a few screamers to handle the necessary flash and pizzazz. This ain't a case of all sizzle and no stake, not by a longshot. Some highlights: the ballad of "I only have eyes for you"; the corps split into 2 parts scat-singing drum riffs for various battery sections to play ala this years Blue Devils; the full corps dance step section. All told, one #### of a show to bring into Scranton. And, as I've stated repeatedly above, at least 2 corps breathing down their necks on the way in. This is great for DCA. All these guys striving to wring every last ounce of product out of their performances is gonna spell an excellent weekend for the fans.

2nd place, 88.813

Caballeros, Hawthorne NJ

This is kind of a freaky situation, although it may be one that is standard for front-runners. I wouldn't know, having never been a front-runner. But in the space of 3 weeks Cabs have gone from being a juggernaut and justifiably crushing the rest of the field to a corps about whom I almost wrote that their score was too high(after reviewing the results, I think the spread is correct in the top 4 corps). The fact is, I didn't think they were significantly better tonight than they were 3 weeks ago in Clifton. I do think they're still better than any of their competition, but the gap(s) are closing fast and the last thing you wanna do is get lazy at the end of the season. At this time, in this season, there are too many hungry corps that are gunning for you. Much like Bucs, Cabs haven't changed a whole lot if anything at all in their show so if you want show content read my Clifton and New Brunswick reviews. Some highlights: they actually made my mom's eyes bug out with their first hit in the opener; ballad was particularly strong tonight; for some reason, Kingston announcer (NOT the Legendary Fran) didn't announce Jim Russo's impending retirement. Final word: ths is the point in the season where you should be coming on the field totally inspired. I had said in Clifton that Cabs come on the field with a unique masculine swagger That was not in evidence tonight. If you all get lazy now, instead of being Tampa Bay whipping AFC ### in the Super Bowl, you'll be the New York Giants collapsing to the 49'ers when you least can afford it. I would've thought you all would be spitting venom after last week's loss to the Group 5 b*** in upstate NY. Am I incorrect? It's your championship to win or lose; I still believe that. You all need to decide that now.

1st place, 90.338

Hurricanes, Derby CT

I've already seen Hurcs once, back in clifton. Since then they have added some more Vegas-style gimmicks: notably, giant dice in the very beginning of the opener, and later a wedding portrait thingy during "Everybody needs somebody sometime". Since Clifton the corps has cleaned considerably and also seems to have filled some brass holes. While I can respect the improvement this is still a show that I just can't get along with. It still looks to me to be disjointed; I still don't believe the guard is given enough roleplaying to do; most notably, previous weeks' scores have shown that they are regularly losing to a Grenadier corps that they, on paper, should be beating. Hurcs are a former champion and a perennial DCA finalist. Grennies have made finals only since the late 1990's. Unless Hurcs are having a cataclysmic Bush-of-2000 season of purgatory, which to all perceptions they are NOT, there's no reason they should be where they are. Except that they are, and from seeing them tonight in this lineup, they are exactly where they should be. What else is there to say? It's disjointed, it's not that well written in any event, for that matter didn't their drill writer do this show for his high school band last fall? I would think that he could do at least and equal job with the corps. :( And Hurcs are now stuck with it until Sunday August 31. Good luck, guys. You're gonna need it.

7th place, 77.675

And thus ends my first non-marching season since 1991. 1986 if you count all the foolishness I did prior to drum corps. Peace all. See ya next year.

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:( Sorry, but this wasn't a good review at all. Sounds like you have issues with most of the corps (except Bush). Problems in the past or something?

Because you don't agree with him it's a bad review? I found it to be very complete. He's entitled to his opinion and called it like he saw it. Would you rather have him blow smoke up everyone's ###? He may have been brutally honest with some of his opinions but even with that he still managed to point out the things each corps is doing well, again, in his opinion, which as we all know he's entitled to whether you happen to agree with him or not...

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:(  Sorry, but this wasn't a good review at all.  Sounds like you have issues with most of the corps (except Bush).  Problems in the past or something?

Because you don't agree with him it's a bad review? I found it to be very complete. He's entitled to his opinion and called it like he saw it. Would you rather have him blow smoke up everyone's ###? He may have been brutally honest with some of his opinions but even with that he still managed to point out the things each corps is doing well, again, in his opinion, which as we all know he's entitled to whether you happen to agree with him or not...

Reviews are suppossed to be unbiased, Alex. Jon's review was EXTREMELY biased in favor of the Bushwackers, don't you agree?

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:(  Sorry, but this wasn't a good review at all.  Sounds like you have issues with most of the corps (except Bush).  Problems in the past or something?

Because you don't agree with him it's a bad review? I found it to be very complete. He's entitled to his opinion and called it like he saw it. Would you rather have him blow smoke up everyone's ###? He may have been brutally honest with some of his opinions but even with that he still managed to point out the things each corps is doing well, again, in his opinion, which as we all know he's entitled to whether you happen to agree with him or not...

:) Thank you.

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It's disjointed, it's not that well written in any event, for that matter didn't their drill writer do this show for his high school band last fall? I would think that he could do at least and equal job with the corps. :( And Hurcs are now stuck with it until Sunday August 31. Good luck, guys. You're gonna need it.

um, did you see the show Norwalk H.S. did this past fall? it was just as "disjointed" as what the Hurcs are doing now with it as you put it. yet it worked there, in that genre, maybe it's not working here for a variety of other reasons. as far as Jeff Smith doing an equal job for the corps? he IS. do you know how much N.H.S. practices vs. any senior corps? every morning before school, every afternoon after school and if not an afternoon, then all evening, during school in band period and all day Saturdays. so exactly who has more time to practice their show? hmmm, that ain't too hard to figure out now is it? NO senior corps out there practices as much as N.H.S. they have become a Connecticut legend because anyone who is in that marching band activity may be jealous over all the wins N.H.S. has racked up over the years since Jeff Smith has been involved with them, but we're also in awe of the amount of time and dedication he and his staff and his kids have put in year after year.

IMO it's one thing to do a review saying you don't like whatever about a show. but to say Jeff Smith didn't do as good a job for his corps vs. his band? really you are trying to compare apples and oranges and it can't be properly done.

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Not sure why it has to be unbiased. He's entitled to his opinion; he never said that it would be entirely unbiased. I didn't see the shows in Kingston so I can't comment on anything he wrote specifically about the Kingston performances, but I did see the New Brunswick shows and agree with some of what he's referring back to there. Not everything of course - such is the nature of beast.

Please continue to share your reviews. To everyone else that was at Kingston that didn't post reviews - get them up. Ignore the naysayers and tell us how the shows reached YOU. I bet everyone that witnessed the show would have a different favorite moment and that's fine!

Just mho.

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Alex. Jon's review was EXTREMELY biased in favor of the Bushwackers, don't you agree?

He was in the corps for a decade.What is your point? :ph34r:

There are no rules saying reviews HAVE to be unbiased.Judges opinions arent,why should a stupid review on a message board be?

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Reviews are suppossed to be unbiased, Alex. Jon's review was EXTREMELY biased in favor of the Bushwackers, don't you agree?

That doesn't make his opinions of the other performances any less valid. You make it sound like he was saying "this corps was worse than bush, this corps was better than bush". In fact, the only time he says something like that, he compares bush to the bucs and said the bucs were better! If you read the review of each corps individually I think you'll see he's just calling what he sees based on their own merit.

He marched in bush for something like 10 years, of course he's going to be a little biased. Even though he is obviously a bush fan (as if that's a bad thing for some reason) he still pointed out what he felt were weaknesses in the bush show.

You don't have to agree with me or Jon. That's cool. I'm not going to lose and sleep over it. Some of my best friends and I disagree about a lot of things but we're still friends. You are certainly entitled to your opinion too.

If no one does a review, people get all angry. Someone posts a review and because the reviewer liked a certain corps maybe more than the winner, he's a bad reviewer? I often disagree with the judging at drum corps shows. I'm not talking about the Bushwackers even, just in general. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. It's a subjective thing, every reveiwer is going to see things a little differently. Again, I think if you look at his review of each corps individually, he's pretty subjective.

So he may be looking at bush's show through rose colored glasses. I think most of the reviews on here have some bias when the review gets to their favorite too.

Not sure why people are so worked up about this... It's just one person's opinion. And we all know what that's worth.

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Not sure why it has to be unbiased. He's entitled to his opinion; he never said that it would be entirely unbiased.

Everyone knows that if you choose to review a show, especially when finals are so close, that the review needs to be unbiased and if it isn't - well, "wars" happen.

Jon is a good friend of mine and i'm not attacking him - I also have some friends in Bushwackers and i'm not attacking them or their show. I saw them at Clifton and loved them. I just have a problem with the review and how every corps had something wrong except his corps.

IMHO (and my opinion can be argued if you so choose), if you're going to write a review of a show, just do so unbiased. That's all.

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