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18 hours ago, kdaddy said:

My first live drum corps show was at Tulsa Union HS in 1996. Magic, Crown, Regiment, and Cavaliers were rained out and performed standstill in the Union Performing Arts Center. I wish I could've seen them live, especially since my favorite corps ended up winning their first title that year, but it was still an exhilarating experience to hear the horn arc on stage.

Ok, help me out here, since I saw the same lineup in Texas.  Phantom's closer during that summer (Shosta-Five) - didn't the sopranos originally continue the 16th note runs in their little opening feature into playing the famous string ostinato (if I had to sing it, I'd say "dye-ah-dat-dat / dye-ah-dat-dat / dye-ah-dat-dat" really fast...) that blasts over the melody?  That wasn't in the Finals version, but I swear they were doing it earlier.  And they also did the massive ritard at the end of the original symphony but left it a tempo by Finals too?

Mike

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Birthday greetings to Symphony No. 1 by Shostakovich, which was first performed on today's date in 1926.  But it had its most famous performance in Orlando in August of 1996...

Follow the history of the corps.  Coming so close, so many times.  So. Many. Times.   Phantom suddenly creeping up as finals progressed.  The history of this corps up until this point makes

unfortunately we, Nite Express, peaked about a week early and plateaued through Orlando. woefully underscored at Quarters, dropped for ~72's a week before to ~68 on D1 sheets. could've easily been in 

58 minutes ago, MikeN said:

Ok, help me out here, since I saw the same lineup in Texas.  Phantom's closer during that summer (Shosta-Five) - didn't the sopranos originally continue the 16th note runs in their little opening feature into playing the famous string ostinato (if I had to sing it, I'd say "dye-ah-dat-dat / dye-ah-dat-dat / dye-ah-dat-dat" really fast...) that blasts over the melody?  That wasn't in the Finals version, but I swear they were doing it earlier.  And they also did the massive ritard at the end of the original symphony but left it a tempo by Finals too?

Mike

Sir, who do you think I am? The Sean McVay of drum corps?

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2 hours ago, MikeN said:

Blue Devils, however, punched equally as hard.  I think this show has grown in a lot of peoples' estimations *since* that year.  That gut punch opening chord is to die for.  Desi, in particular (the 2nd "production" number) leaned hard into jazz, and the Dick Tracy music fit the mood really well.  Why'd they end up tying?  Probably because Phantom rode that GE wave and caught them - I don't know BD put a foot wrong.

 

Let's not neglect that iconic arrangement of Charles Mingus's 'Children's Hour of Dream.' I didn't understand at the time how innovative and cool that was. Not many would have listened to the original and thought 'drum corps,' but Downey made it happen. What a perfect evocation of the darkness of the gangster world, plus the stabs of gunfire ringing through the night. Remember when drum corps would find entire three-minute charts that would work with what they wanted to express in the show?

And it was years later, listening to some Samuel Barber, that I realized some 'Medea' snuck into the closer. 

 

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Randomly seeing a Hook 'em Cavies post just reminded me I totally skipped The Cavaliers.  😞

Their '96 show famously <anecdotally> even got Don Warren irked at their creative direction, but honestly - in hindsight, it's a good show, if not a great one.  It has a ton of thematic development, a pretty clear identity and some really long, warm brass bits.  The drum book did not set the world alight, but it's still very strong.  I know everyone only remembers the lattice, but it's worth a re-watch!

Mike

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21 hours ago, MikeN said:

'96 was a year of firsts for me.  As much of a drum corps fanatic as I'd been since '89, that summer was my first live show (Killeen, TX - Phantom over Cavies over Crown).  Finals night '96 was also my first time finding drum corps online via RAMD (also dumbly asked "what's the best show ever" and got decades worth of education in one thread).  Also my first year buying the videos for Christmas.  

Phantom had a show for the ages.  Brass was great, guard was good, drums were okay, and the GE was iconic.  It's hard to see on the videos, but the triangular poles they used in the middle movement were an "ooooh" for the audience as they strobed, catching the light.  When we heard them midsummer, I thought for sure they'd challenge for a title.  And the black on black unis looked spectacular under stadium lights.  Visually, it was a show built for outdoor night performances, for sure.

Blue Devils, however, punched equally as hard.  I think this show has grown in a lot of peoples' estimations *since* that year.  That gut punch opening chord is to die for.  Desi, in particular (the 2nd "production" number) leaned hard into jazz, and the Dick Tracy music fit the mood really well.  Why'd they end up tying?  Probably because Phantom rode that GE wave and caught them - I don't know BD put a foot wrong.

The Cadets had... well, a fun show.  A well performed show.  Not a terribly visually interesting show, and not one that felt like it took any risks.  Yeah, they fixed that the next few years.  Beef.

Santa Clara rebooted themselves in '96, and while it might not have been a young group (I truly don't know), it *felt* like a young group.  You can definitely see the design groundwork being laid for their 97-98 shows, building of course to their title in '99.  They do capture Debussy well, and while it's not going to blow your mind, if you're a Vanguard fan it's worth watching.  

Madison Scouts went back to the well, and while the brass felt a little fuzzier, and the guard moments not quite so Wow, and the drumline (holy cow, 8 tenors?!?) underwhelmed (how can you not hear 8 tenors?!?), it's still a wonderful production.  If anything, I think the *show* in '96 was much better than in '95, though the performance wasn't as sharp.  Bolero > Concerto de Aranjuez, always.

Bluecoats had a rock solid show, and performance.  The Auld Lang Syne closer was an awesome touch to end it, but My Funny Valentine kind of stole the show.

Crossmen had their famous move to YEA, of course, and the numbers suffered, but the show was a great Crossmen jazz performance.  Birdland of course was spectacular (and even better in '97).  I wish they hadn't kept the shakos that year, but that's about my only gripe.

Magic put on probably their best show of their existence in '96.  Twelve Seconds, though not written for drum corps, sure felt like it was.  Of course, at the time we still felt they were a little *too* avant garde for what we still thought of as primarily hot-dog audiences.  Looking back from today, it's a fine, 20th century show done about 10 years too early.

Carolina Crown's Chess show was I think the best-designed program of their 90's years.  It was dark, edgy and the chess pieces were amazing in person.  Again, modern audiences are used to these sorts of things now, but at the time most of us had never seen anything quite like it.  I can still sing you the Walton opener.  Nimrod was really good as well, if since waaay overused.  I may have to go watch this one again.  Oh yeah, and these were the second best uniforms they ever had.  (Gotta go with 2013 for first.)

Ok, I've always had a soft spot for the Colts, but as I write these reviews I realize I keep dumping on their shows.  Can't do that with Magnificat - absolutely beautiful arrangements!  The whole production is glorious, and I love love love it.  It felt like it was written for a 5th-6th place corps musically.

BK snuck into Finals with a smaller corps, a more reserved set of charts and a little more reserved visual program, and I can't find much fault with it.  They gave the kids an achievable vehicle that they could clean really well, and it worked.  They, like SCV, also used this show to lay the groundwork for much-upgraded vehicles in the next few years.

It was only a few years ago that I finally heard the pre-show from Glassmen - go find it on Youtube.  Absolute brass balls from the arrangers to put that on first in a late-90's program.  You could make a pretty convincing argument that they should have been 12th.  They had horn intensity from start to finish.  

VK's last show came in '96, and it was definitely a whisper rather than a roar.  I'm sure the arrangers took it as seriously as ever, but it almost felt like the gags were becoming the program, not the music.  

Finally, Les Etoiles earned the second biggest upset of the summer by beating Pioneer.  Seriously - Pioneer's Celtic Twilight show was a beast.  Almost Division 1 size, drill, music - they had it all.  Did *not* see that one coming, but once you see Les Etoiles, man they had a good show.  And of course, zero-gee drum racks.  You had me at Zero Gee...

Next time - DCI's middle year in Orlando surprisingly brought one of the strongest lineups of the '90's together.

Mike

1996 was a gut punch for me. I was a member of Pioneer in 96. 6 corps beat us in quarters that hadn't touched us until the last week of the season. I am not a conspiracy theory guy, but I am convinced that we were the 14th best drumcorps in 1996. It felt like we were being punished for remaining in division 2 instead of moving to world class. It's really a sliding doors type moment...what happens if Pioneer goes world class in 96 after undefeated II/III seasons in 94 and 95? 

Pioneer was great in all of the performance captions, it was GE that was ultimately our downfall. That said, I have watched the videos hundreds of times, and there is just no way that Les Etoiles, Troopers, VK, etc were better than us. I kind of feel like kindred spirits with Colts who suffered a similar drop on quarterfinals day.

 

Mike Z

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20 minutes ago, MikeZ said:

1996 was a gut punch for me. I was a member of Pioneer in 96. 6 corps beat us in quarters that hadn't touched us until the last week of the season. I am not a conspiracy theory guy, but I am convinced that we were the 14th best drumcorps in 1996. It felt like we were being punished for remaining in division 2 instead of moving to world class. It's really a sliding doors type moment...what happens if Pioneer goes world class in 96 after undefeated II/III seasons in 94 and 95? 

Pioneer was great in all of the performance captions, it was GE that was ultimately our downfall. That said, I have watched the videos hundreds of times, and there is just no way that Les Etoiles, Troopers, VK, etc were better than us. I kind of feel like kindred spirits with Colts who suffered a similar drop on quarterfinals day.

 

Mike Z

i was with a bitter rival of yours, for those 3 years we could make the same argument. Remember that back then we were on different sheets than D1 and its difficult to transpose D2 yo D2/3 sheets. I remember being well into the 70's the week prior to Orlando...yet...at quarters we dropped significantly. 

 

Sadly this was the last quality corps to come out of Cedar Rapids...and this was a quality corps that was ready to go D1 with a talented staff, the finances got pulled right after quarters. The staff we had has gone onto great things even today.

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I first heard of drum corps in the late 1980s, saw my first show in 1989, saw one show a year into the early 1990s, and then didn't get back to another show until the end of the decade (but not really becoming a serious fan for another ten years or so).

In 2000 or so, I bought the Brass Roots VHS. That was a historical retrospective DCI put out to mark its 25th anniversary, much of it consisting of a roundtable discussion with a few interspersed short clips, but concluding with a lengthy montage of excerpts from every championship show through 1996. Including Phantom's slow opener, which was an absolute stunner. My funds were limited, but I knew I had to buy the video of the full show.

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2 hours ago, MikeZ said:

1996 was a gut punch for me. I was a member of Pioneer in 96. 6 corps beat us in quarters that hadn't touched us until the last week of the season. I am not a conspiracy theory guy, but I am convinced that we were the 14th best drumcorps in 1996. It felt like we were being punished for remaining in division 2 instead of moving to world class. It's really a sliding doors type moment...what happens if Pioneer goes world class in 96 after undefeated II/III seasons in 94 and 95? 

Pioneer was great in all of the performance captions, it was GE that was ultimately our downfall. That said, I have watched the videos hundreds of times, and there is just no way that Les Etoiles, Troopers, VK, etc were better than us. I kind of feel like kindred spirits with Colts who suffered a similar drop on quarterfinals day.

I'll have to look up that show. Every now and again, I'll hear or see a recording of a less-familiar show and will be shocked by how low it placed. Jersey Surf did a West Side Story show in 2002. I've never seen it, but it sounds tremendous on the CD, and deserving of a higher position.

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