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DCI Muncie IN June 30 - 2023

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Muncie, IN - June 30, 2023


The scores are about what I expected. Crown was clearly the strongest corps. Phantom's show is also stunning and has the ability to hang with Crown in some areas. Not sure they can catch them, but who knows. There were some questionable reads by a few judges tonight but you never know what they were hearing or seeing. I will echo what others have said and that is Cavaliers brass tonight was quite sloppy and I would not have had them over Blue Stars in any meaningful way. Cavaliers also have a tough book just as Blue Stars do but it's pretty clear who is cleaner and projecting better. Interestingly enough that judge also had Music Analysis Achievement with Cavaliers in 3rd, Troopers in 4th, and Blue Stars in 5th. Very odd to me. But I don't want to say the judge is wrong. Again I do not know what they heard tonight. But this could flip flop. 


As for the corps performances I enjoyed everyone. My feeling on Colts and Troopers have not changed and only strengthened after last night. Troopers are more balanced and more readable across the board. The show is easier to follow and tighter in its' construction. Colts have a little more oomph in brass (not better but more pronounced). Did anyone else hear that one crazy flurry of notes the Colts do (from the high voices down)? It reminds a little of what Blue Devils did in 2019 when the brass line is all sitting on the props. Not to that level, but Bravo Colts for giving that thing a try. Cool moment. Colts color scheme really grabs the eyes. Interestingly...as I look at the Colts uniforms I am reminded of the motion picture "The Incredibles." Soloists were excellent again tonight.  As Troopers clean and add more confidence to the brass, especially in the bigger GE moments, that show will start to kick into gear. Love the trumpet soloist. The harmonica solo is great. The company front to the end will be spectacular come Finals. When that cleans and kicks up 2 or 3 notches the crowd will be on their feet. 


I am excited for Cavaliers this summer. The show is dirty in all kinds of ways and the ideas need tightened up. I think the concept is there. I love the music choices. Those are some of my favorite songs from their past and I like the idea of how they are weaving various motifs into this package. Usually it takes time to clean that kind of thing until it becomes seamless. A lot of shaping is needed. They have one heck of a percussion section. Brass will come around but it takes a while to flesh-out so many motifs without taking away from the main themes being presented. The back half of the show, from Somewhere to the end, should be outstanding with some nice GE moments once they clean. I think the front end of the show will need more work to finesse a more complex set of ideas that seem to be popping in and out quite quickly. Much of the drill reminds me of the old days filled modern twists. Love the uniforms though not wild about the hats -- but I am no fashion designer. Guard was staged better than last year at this time and did a fine job. If the Cavaliers can pull-off some of the subtleties of this show and still bring out those big moments then this could be stunning come Finals. Ultimately this show is so much better in design and focus than the 2022 version. There is a LOT to work with here. Let's see where they go with it.  I want to reiterate just how cool this show could be if they can finesse and shape this music book while cleaning the visual package. This could be a late bloomer. I can see this show surprising a lot of folks as it cleans. 


Ok, so Blue Stars had another fantastic run. The show is fantastic and certainly captivated the crowd tonight. They are clearly a very talented corps. Brass is very very good. If there is any slight criticism of the music arrangements it may be too many technical exercises in scales and tonguing without the payoff of thematic development. But there is plenty of great music in the book as well. They march with confidence. Percussion is doing very well. Props made more sense to me tonight. I still need more reads on this show to understand the visual more so than the music. Guard is nicely staged and colorful. The color changes in the uniforms is really well done. As with Cavaliers, Blue Stars are bringing a somewhat complex story/concept to the field. I am anxious to see where this goes. There is no doubt that they have outstanding talent. They are already performing very well. 


My thoughts on Phantom Regiment have not changed from last night. This is a very tight, well integrated and focused show. It flows very logically. Music GE is outstanding. Visual GE should do very well though my guess is that they will change quite a bit from the company front to the end of the show. Brass is fantastic. Percussion is playing a great book and just needs to clean. They sound wonderful. I am loving their guard this year. Uniforms look sharp. It's a strong start for Phantom. They are definitely in the hunt for a top 5 slot. But more important than scores is they should bring down the house at Finals. 


Some thoughts on Carolina Crown. First and foremost their performance captions in brass, percussion, and guard are OUTSTANDING in every way. Often known for having a very powerful brass line what may get overlooked in this show is just how warm and nuanced this brass line is. They have taken special care of these wonderful themes. The book is not filled with an abundance of scales, tonguing acrobatics just for the sake of showing off. And when they do show-off their technical abilities it is usually woven into the music as exciting transitions that lead to something impactful and they are handled with nuance and grace -- never forced. The playing of the Tristan und Isolde (Wagner) is brilliant with all those tritone suspensions resolving down a diatonic 2nd to the major 3rd. So beautiful. The soloists in the show are fabulous and none of it feels forced through use of mics (even if they are using mics). This is a clean and musical brass line and the percussion are doing a brilliant job of playing within that balance and knowing when they can take the lead. 

The staging of the show is very good. The uniforms are great, providing a nice contrast between the corps proper and guard. The main prop in the middle is used very effectively and it works. The drill is smart and not cluttered. It is very clear where they want you to look and this clearly helps the staging of the different elements in the show. The closer will likely have more impact as they tweak some of the ideas to bring this thing to a close, but as for now what they have on the field is a top-notch World Class show that should have them in contention for a World Title. The competition is fierce at that level. Blue Devils are the masters of staging and visual design and it's no secret their performance captions are always top notch. Bluecoats are innovative and bold and take major risks and the fans love that. Looking forward to seeing what they have this year. My read on Boston's brass and percussion from the concert in Boston is that they are potentially top 3 in their performance captions as well. They may be sporting the best Boston brass line ever and I love the music. So this will be a dog fight for sure...but there is absolutely no doubt Carolina Crown will have some say and they are ready to Rock n Roll with anyone. They should be amazing clean come Finals. Performance captions will be right there with anyone. To me it all comes down to how their overall General Effect scores grow and how the judges read the visual vs music. I absolutely LOVE this show. Bravo Carolina Crown!!!

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