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Ok.  It's been awhile since I've written one of these, its also been a bit since I've sat in the audience of a drum corps show.   But if people still read these things, here's my $0.02, powered by Modelo.   PSA... rants are in this, and are not uncommon.  They are part comedy, taken from actual circumstances, observations, and events of this evening. 

Keep in mind, these are my thoughts, and just my thoughts.  They are mostly for entertainment.  I work in entertainment as a designer, tech, and performer, and I finally had a weekend off, which allowed me to see this show, which is my ONLY live in person drum corps show for 2022.  sigh.

Beyond that, I'm just a guy, scribbling opinionated notes to myself during shows, same as people keeping score at baseball games.  Have hate mail to send me over notes?.. feel free to.  I'm good at deleting it.  Ranking are based on 1 to 5 out of 5 Guys.  In all honesty, event 5 Guys doesnt get 5 out of 5 Guys from me.  But 5 Napkin Burger in NYC... they get 5. So yknow... standards are high here, and come with friendly prodding. 

 

Venue - ok. so if you're supposed to use a different address or entrance other than the one on the ticket youre emailed, you REALLY gotta put that on EVERY piece of communication you send people.  GPS took us around the back way, and by the line of cars ahead of me as well as behind me who used the same turn around, i'm not in the minority.   The address 18 corey road, takes you out to a road that was coned off, and further into the woods like youre being lured in horror movie.  Just sayin'.  Im sure it was on some other web site, but man... i went to the Bush website on my phone, the show website on my phone, the ticket i was emailed, the proof of purchase...  nothing.     so cmon man.  

"ample" parking was a lie as advertised on my purchase email and was gone by 6:30pm.  So unless you got out of your car, and moved a few cones to find a spot (ignore that guy doing it, nothing to see there), you were pretty SOL.  Even handicapped looked kicked by then.  "LOT C and D are open for ya"...  nope.   So perhaps some rethinking of parking would be helpful here.   No offense performers... they should have put you all in the far back lots next to Pennsylvania where you could change in slightly more private conditions, and gave the first four lots to customers.   I'm still young enough to take that days journey from those lots, many in the bingo players age group though... i felt bad for. 

0 out of 5 guys.

 

 

Stadium - The overhang, is great for keeping away the sun, is helpful to bounce sound down to your head, is not a great listening environment though with the of bounce off it.   Once percussion tapped anything... schwamwamwamwam... 

 

There's also some columns in the way, depending where you sit. (if someone could update this forum to allow pasting a jpg, id show you my view) I was 8 rows from the top, house left of the 50.   Premium seats... got me a seat back, and some armrests without a drink holder.  And a column that hid most of the drum majors.  womp womp. 

 

Food - my hot dog was warm, my pepsi was cold.   I didnt opt for the walking taco, as they were coming out at a crawling pace.  cuisine rating... 2.5 out of 5 guys. 

 

I got to see some friendly faces in both DCA Operations and Judging.  So it was great to catchup with them.   Its good to be back.  No?

Now to the corps...

Spoiler

there are spoilers ahead...    if its surprise you want, ignore this review and go back to however you otherwise waste time on the clock. 

 

FUSION:  I dig the theme.  I dig the charts.  I appreciate carrying the theme through everything with tossing the crown around... UNTIL THE CROWN WAS FUMBLED!! OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! and no one jumped on it. They just kind of kick it outta the way.  WHO KICKS A CROWN seriously?! cmon man.  Pick that thing up, put it on your head, and rule your world your way yo. 
I like the voiceovers, the elex, the arrangements...  I have some bones to pick about balance where soloists got buried in the pit front of house mix (sorry trombone...  couldnt hear ya) and the hornline got buried once the percussion played.  I get it, 16 horns, 16 battery, and the rest... but...    you know the gripe. Balance it baby. 
I'll give ya some leeway due to the overhang doing sound bounce, but that's not all of it.  I've heard you all do better.  I believe in you.  Overall, performers had some minor snafu's, but a good run overall.  Brass kicks it for their size.  I dig the Eilish chart. Well played on that.  Guard is integrated pretty well.  I think there might be some tweaks to this, but hey, overall good package.  Performed well. 

4 out of 5 guys.

INTERMISSION...  wait WHAT?   Nothing says "DCA is dying" like one band, one corps, and INTERMISSION. Followed by four corps. 
people literally had been sitting for only ten minutes and then made a collective "WTF?".  OR if they knew about the placement of the intermission, they skipped Fusion altogether.  Whoever suggested this being put here, and ok'd it, should be fired.    That's a slap in the face to Fusion and your customers.   Unless its $1 beer night, don't do this.  ever.  Even then, move your opening groups back and give them more rehearsal time.   No one got up at intermission to buy anything.   You just made the newcomers to the circuit sitting near me, ask "why did we pay for this" .  This is bad.  6 groups performing does not need an intermission.  

Operations rating, not even a 0 out of 5 guys. 

 

 

WHITE SABRES - "why dont they have white sabres?" said the old man 4 rows behind me. sigh.  I'll come back to him later.  
Enter Sandman, Unforgiven... great charts, good arrangements, a super cool idea, and soloists who got buried by the corps, the mix, and the front ensemble.   Bari soloist was great, also nothing else was playing when they were.  So we heard them and they were well in tune.  Good job. 
There must be one new bari player in the corps.  Or they were having a serious case of the mondays... disguised as saturday.  A dropped mouthpiece, a lost plume, drill memory that was... interesting.  ok you get the point.  Cmon kid, i know you can do better, i believe in you. i'm cheering for you to succeed. You'll get it next week. 

Props...  being in theatre, i dont mind props.  (or scenery as we call it)  But i do mind props that just sit and hang out. They've got these great tall walls of hanging metal (on wheels), which would be SWEEEET if they moved them once in awhile, or banged on them at impacts, or did anything with them.  But they dont.  And they're open so they dont really hide much.  I get it, they shrink the field.  cool.   in this era of drum corps where we are used to seeing props integrated, this seems...   you get the point.  moving on. 

Dynamics  of the entre corps were great.  Elex mix was hot... too hot. so it covered up some mezzo and fortes of the rest of the group.  At least where i was sitting.  Feet were feet.  Guard has good integration. They appear bigger than they are. Which I like. Overall I dig the show.  I think there's some endurance issues yet for the last minute of the show.   And some brass chops sounded... beat. 

4 out of 5 guys. 

Edited by C.Holland
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Posted (edited)

Cabs.  they're big. they bold.  they play MEATLOAF  (the guy, not the dinner). I didn't realize he complied with the Latin Vibe Rules but hey, it worked.  They were only one of two groups who balanced the battery, the mix, and the horns.   Elex aren't new.  Cmon all.  Do better.   And now i know its not the overhang messing it all up.  
Low brass sounds great. High brass good. a couple of split notes but overall, its fine.  There's a bit of dance in this show.  So if this triggers you, you can skip this part. 

there's a LOT of dance.  and its been incorporated well.  its not unmanageable, its not asking performers to tuck their right foot into their left pocket.  It sometimes seems almost overkill, (the one foot swirl in and back might be overused)  but just on the edge of it.  So its cool.  Its does require much better use of safety pins on wardrobe parts.   So Cabs who setup the first staging, look clean and crisp, sparkly, as soon as they bend over... the sash becomes an 80s skinny belt, the puckering of fabric gets all fonky (yes fonky is a word, you know what i mean), and they look a bit discheveled.  So yknow, an amazon order of 15 million safety pins will fix this.  Just gonna be tough changing out of them after finals. 
Overall good show, great performance.  Guard looks both fab, and fierce.    This show is easy to read, easy to follow, you know where to look when, and the next segments are setup while youre distracted.  I would say this was the best group of the night across the board.  

4.65 out of 5 guys.  
 

Edited by C.Holland
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BUX.    But first an apology.
If you were sitting near me, i need to apologize for the old man who talked VERY LOUDLY making snide comments through all the corps until now.   I also need to apologize for the two people (myself included) who turned around and screamed "WILL YOU SHUT UP!!!"  in our defense, we didn't use the REDACTED WORD we both wanted to in this sentence.  If he's your dad, grand dad, uncle, uncles former roommate...whatever,  you better leash him better in the future.   No bull.  Be better.  I know everyone in the audience heard us yell at him. Sorry about that.  

BUX.  they're big. they're loud.  they opened the show softly.  wait what?  that was cool.  (except for the previously mention old man who loudly yelled "you can't do that bahhhh" WILL YOU SHUT UP...   ok. i'm good now.  
I love the idea.  The performers were on point.   Snarky Puppy, Nirvana... I dig it.    I think this show suffers from too many ideas going on at once.  Brass doing things on one side, guard on the other, both cancelling each other out so you just kind of try to see it all, and you end up missing things.   Its all over.  The boxes are cool,  the uni's are reverso and kind of hip.  I dig the integration of the boxes and the integration of the Elex.  This was the only other group to handle balance between battery, elex, horns well. 
 think performer wise, you move well, you play really well, and the guard is killing what they've been given.    I think the design is erratic, and hurts the work which the performers are busting their tails to do.   Bux, you had the best feet of the night.  Not one suspect marching member that drew attention for... interesting movements.  
Yknow... ive been waiting YEARS to use this.  Bux, and sorry to CDR Gwynn for this.  But you now personally know why Edna E Mode wouldn't put a cape on Mr Incredible. 

 

But you killed it on the podium as always.  At least what I could see around the column.  Better file that sharp corner of the scaffold you stand on. 

4.25 out of 5 guys. 

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Posted (edited)

BUSH.  your hosts. broadcasting to you live from... some random canyon.   ok. i get the idea of what you hear when youve got your earbuds in, hiking along a trail. I've been that person.  i don't dislike the theme, something outside the box, or at least the house.  lets get it.  And please keep all this in mind. I usually dig Bush's programming.  I dig their performance.  There were some elex balance issues, some battery burying the brass, some mix issues overall.   That's small potatoes compared to what you'll read later. 

I'm questioning every artistic thought (or in some cases the "that's good enough") that went into this show. 

TRIGGERING opinion. I do think this show looks like you ran out of time, money, and ideas.  There's 4 types of props, 4 sizes, 3 and a half-ish styles, and some of them just look like weirdly placed objects at a yard sale.  One is not helpful in advancing the story, and it makes a brief appearance while other things are happening so you miss it. The little i caught made me ask...   why that style choice and oh nevermind its gone, stage right being busy made me miss it anyway.  Money spent for zero return. 


All in all. When the theme is organic shapes, and accent pictures are not on organic shapes, they are distracting. And they look like speed bumps being marched around. White space sticks out like a sore thumb. 


Look man.  I dig all the charts, and the brass and percussion play the hell outta this show.    The guard works their work like they're working it workingly.    Their rain feature is a SWEEEEEEEEETTTTTTTTTTT and well performed.  I want more of it.  Super great moment. 

But man... weirdly placed pictures that came from gramma's attic are... dubious.  
Rocks that don't match the rest of the style of art, are suspect, and not needed.  Send those back to the community theatre.  They're foam, non weight bearing, and cause a 4 car pileup when the brass tried to go through there.  

A corps proper that rarely shows signs of outdoorsy actions, hiking, climbing, dying in the heat, taking cover from rain...   very little of these things happened.  And when they did, the corps was facing upstage.  so yeah.  missed all that.  I think taking a step back and asking "how does this advance the theme" and "does all this really go together" needed to be asked more often.  

Feet were mostly good.  A few hiccups.   This is a case, and i know you all read my rants about a group "achieving 20 of a content 14 show".  This is that case.  The performers deserve way more than they're given credit for and way more than theyre set up for.  Theyre punching well above the weight class of what they were given.  

Great job Bush performers. 

3.5 out of 5 guys.   5 out of 5 to the performers. 

 

 

And now a note about the not newest fad sweeping DCA.  (this is an overall DCA note... not a corps specific note)

This is about the printed athletic shirt, ordered in sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL paired with formal looking bibber pants, which have been somewhat tailored to fit performer bodies.   Please either tailor your shirts to match the formality of the rest of the uni, or find different pants that will act as sloppily as the tops do.  This half choice, looks half baked.  And it is. I know its a time and money saver.  Its the "good enough" of wardrobe.  BUT, Athletic shirts bunch, shift, and sleeves (and mid sections) get fonky real quick once sweat hits them.  They stick to the body in places where other fabrics don't.  The bibbers, have been usually fitted to create clean lines from the waist down.   When youve got slop above, and clean below, its not a great look.  I would like to implore designers to do better at shopping for tops. Or wardrobe in general.  You can find things that support the theme on a budget, without taking the easy, fast, "good enough" choice.   Please.  Your membership deserves better.  K?  k. 

Ok. You're tired of reading.  I hope this was enjoyable.  If you disagree with anything above.  That's cool.   In the end, it should all be about elevating the performer on the field. 

Aside from the operational concerns, this was a great night out, and a much needed return to a stadium, to have my face melted off by drum corps.   

 

Thank-you to all the performers out there.  Good luck in Roachester.  Come back with all your fingers and toes. 

 

Cheers.

Edited by C.Holland
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Posted (edited)

also... hey DCP software engineers...

every time i've tried to submit the cabs review, without retyping all of it,  i got a 500 SERVER ERROR.  

So if anyone has ever asked "is DCP biased against the Cabs"... 

 

i can tell you that yes.  yes it is.  at least from a functionality standpoint.

1 out of 5 Guys. 

Edited by C.Holland
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Great job, Chris!!! 

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great stuff. i see some of these corps this week, so i look to see how my view lines up

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you, Chris, very, very thoughtful. I hope to meet you sometime in the future. I thought about your review, and I think it's good you have high expectations. I respect that. For me, I was just happy to get to a contest, but I think the facilities, etc. were better coordinated as well as parking. Thanks again!

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8 hours ago, BigW said:

Thank you, Chris, very, very thoughtful. I hope to meet you sometime in the future. I thought about your review, and I think it's good you have high expectations. I respect that. For me, I was just happy to get to a contest, but I think the facilities, etc. were better coordinated as well as parking. Thanks again!

Awww shucks. Thanks man. If you’re near NYC, first drink is on me.  
 

Here’s my bottom line.  (As a performing trombone player, a theatre designer, and a former staff member)

For a circuit on life support, good enough, isn’t good enough.  You want people to come back, so make the experience for the attendee great. Make it better than a second rate cavalcade contest. DCA is supposed to be at least step above. Not a step aside. 

And yes, I have very high expectations for what the members are given to perform. Think about what tuition is now for the performer. It’s not $20, or $200, or even $500.  It’s often much more.

The sheets are so weighted on the design, that scores  are often more reflective of the thoughts put forth by some clown at a design desk in September, than they are of the paying performer.   Under the current system, you’ll never see a 20 in achievement of a 14 in content. So your performers may have a perfect performance, and they won’t get credit for even being close if the designers gave them a turd. 
 

There’s simply no excuses for shoddy craftsmanship or inconsistency/unintegrated props, non sequitur theme components, and PA systems that aren’t balanced with the performers.  It’s a paid staff member in charge of ALL of those things, so it should be excellent and at least consistently good every time.  These aren’t things paying performers can control, yet they’re paying for. And the performers are the greatest asset keeping this circuit alive.  
 

This is going to read incredibly harsh, but it needs to be written. All of you in admin land, design land, and staff land owe it to the paying membership to get it right every time.  There are no excuses as you are the professionals.  If you can’t get it right everything time, you don’t belong in your position. You’ve let the paying customer down.  As a designer  “that’s good enough” means you’ve given up and shrugged your shoulders at what lays in front of you.  And you’ve accepted that it’s ok to give the performer mediocrity. They’re paying your check. You want DCA to grow?  You want it to evolve past 5 corps at a show or even 3 (or 2) in some parts of the country?  Do better. 

Edited by C.Holland
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