2002 DCI World Championships

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Okay. As if you haven't read enough reviews of Madison, here's mine. I was hoping to do a full review of Semifinals but due to a late start, traffic and getting a bit lost, I didn't arrive at Camp Randall Stadium until the Seattle Cascades :( . And I was disappointed about that because I really wanted to see Capital Regiment, Carolina Crown and especially, Madison Scouts. Therefore, my review is of the Top-12 performances at Semifinals and Finals (combined).

My only gripe about finals in Madison this year was the Alliant Energy Center parking situation. I'm glad that there were more buses and that they ran later on Saturday because when you want to buy souvies or hang out for a bit at the corps buses, you run the risk of missing the last shuttle. Fortunately, though, cabs are plentiful and cheap in Madison. Also, Alliant Energy Center does not paint parking spaces so people "squeeze in" wherever they can--this means that some people take up too much space or are double-parked. Hope they can fix that in the future. I was also glad that they had attendants on Saturday as they did not on Friday. But other than that, it wasn't bad. Sure beats trying to park on the street.

Seattle Cascades: These new finalists put on a very high-energy program this year! While they did perform music popularized by the Garfield Cadets in the 1980s, I was glad to hear and see their interpretation. The drill is by Myron Rosander (of SCV fame) and the design was excellent. In fact, I found all of the design elements (drill, uniforms, guard equipment) to be very well-integrated. I especially liked the look of the guard and the colors were awesome! They make good use of the field--their show never appeared cluttered nor did they ever look "small." Visually, like I said before, the design is very good. Their were some problems with execution--some members stuck out a bit when it came to individual technique and there were some problems hitting transitions a bit early. Also, some mild interval issues. The pit was good but the field percussion was a little dirty (particularly, snares). The mellophone solo during "Profanation" was beautiful (as was the soprano/mellophone duet). The push in "Make Our Garden Grow" was very nice. All in all, a solid effort from Seattle Cascades.

Magic of Orlando: As Magic of Orlando placed 10th on Friday night, clearly, this performance was better Friday than their Finals performance on Saturday (11th place, trading places with Spirit). Their strongest section is the brass. Balance and blend was pretty good and intonation pretty solid. Marching had a bit of phasing, though but the overall package was excellent and the demand was definitely there. Great music, too! The pit played well and the percussion feature was tight (less so on Saturday; also, on Saturday, a guard member fell headfirst as a result of a collision with the rack mounted percussion. Ouch!). Bass drums and snares sound great and play well together. The guard did some wonderful silk work and were confident in their performance. The mellophone solo was beautiful and when it was all said and done, I took lots of pictures and cheered loudly! A great year for Magic of Orlando. And their uniforms look great (sort of like purple Crossmen but that's definitely a compliment)!

Spirit: Traded places with Magic of Orlando score and placement-wise on Saturday. The masks the female guard members wear are very effective ("Darkness into Light"). Their brass line is INCREDIBLE (scored even higher than Madison Scouts) and they can really wail (especially those Contras)! On Saturday, the crowd was on their feet when they played "Georgia on My Mind" as their warm up. Their percussion is also high quality (top-7 caliber). There was some dirt in the snares on Friday but they cleaned it up on Saturday. The way they utilize their horns in the opener creates a very cool "Doppler effect." While I heard some people complain about their choice of music, I have always liked David Holsinger's music and I applaud Spirit for taking some musical risks which have brought them competitive success. The ballad was beautiful. There was a bit of phasing at the end of the chord release at the end but they seemed to fix that Saturday as well. Cymbal leaps in the opener were nice. They do some "theatrics" and visually aren't as clean as some corps that weren't there on Saturday but they are back and they are strong! Congratulations to Spirit for an awesome season!

Crossmen: They begin their show with the brass entering from the upper right corner of the field (backfield, "Badgers" end zone) after the rest of the corps has entered from the opposite side of the field. Marimba very strong in opener as bass drums play on the rims. The congas were also nice. Guard strong, wearing orange top and red pants. Flag and rifle work strong and the dancer was very good. Snares were tight and audible even from backfield. Visually, less "theatrics"--these kids let the music and marching say it all and the company front "kneel" was very effective. Another corps that makes great use of the field. "Strawberry Soup" was my favorite though I think it would have been even BETTER if they had included the rousing "down and dirty" ending from Ellis' original (are you reading this, Chuck Naffier?). But they kept it in its original key of D minor and stayed very true to Ellis' chart (thanks, Chuck). While many have compared this to Blue Devils and Madison Scouts (we've been spoiled!), I like the fact that they don't weave other Ellis tunes such as Niner-Two, Open Wide or Chain Reaction into their arrangement. Sopranos were hot on both nights, the soft snare drum beginning and the percussion feature was awesome. I was on my feet yelling "Bones" and even bought a t-shirt Saturday!

Still couldn't figure out why this show didn't score higher than it did. The demand and execution belies their 9th place finish.

Boston Crusaders: As one of THREE corps now playing Dynasty percussion, their drum sound was very Mylar sounding with great projection. Sounds wet (as opposed to the dry, almost Jam Block-ish sound of Yamaha snares cranked to the max with Remo Falams heads). I liked the use of props in this patriotic show--neither over- nor underdone. The scrolls were very nice as were the posters of such American greats as Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr. Guard was very tight. I sure loved how they shake some booty in the Artie Shaw piece! They have some really hotties in their guard! The singing was good but hard to hear and was drowned out by the pit. Also, the pit overpowers the brass somewhat during the dance section in the last piece. "Simple Gifts" received a standing ovation and the final set where the members make an American flag was very emotional. The crowd ate it up. "Appalachian Spring" was also very strong and an emotional high point of the show. As far as the demand of this show goes, definitely more demanding than their 2000 show and these kids really move! Very entertaining and well-performed.

Glassmen: For a corps known for being "boring" (and making a set of t-shirts out of it), I found their show very enjoyable. Very melodic with less dissonance than "IMAGO," Odyssey is a very pleasing show. The mellophone soloist is back and plays beautifully. The percussion was very strong and used a lot of ethnic percussion (mini-dhoumbeks, for starters). Guard was very good (dropped sabre on Friday night). Brass had a very controlled sound but I found it a bit limited in contrast and dynamic range. In fact, I've never cared much for the "Glassmen" brass sound (though I heard some jokes at the DCP picnic about their "chain saw" Contra sound from the early 1990s and I didn't hear any of that Friday or Saturday) and it isn't because of their use of mixed key horns. It's just a kind of sound and playing that doesn't always reach out and grab you, that's all. Much lighter music and greater accessibility than last year's IMAGO.

Bluecoats: I REALLY liked this show! Though it seems a bit like a radical departure for the Bluecoats, this show was plenty jazzy. Their shows the past few years have been more demanding and better executed. They look very dignified in their new uniforms and the clarity of their visual forms and the way they use the football field is just awesome! The drill begins backfield in the upper left corner and the show begins with some very nice (and exposed) marimba playing. Their drumline is the strongest they have ever fielded. There were some timing issues between brass and drums in the middle section of their show. Some awesome screaming sopranos and a very powerful hornline overall. The guard does some great work and there is plenty of color in their equipment design. The taxi flags during "Pedal to the Metal" were cool. The percussion feature was strong with lots of backsticking and even some tambourine work (a little dirty but as a guy who has played tambourine ensemble music, it's forgivable). "Pedal to the Metal" is downright FUNKY and they park and blow, too. Bjork's "New World" is a gorgeous ballad. Very entertaining, demanding show (I've never seen Bluecoats move like this! Almost Cadet-like).

Phantom Regiment: Very entertaining show with brass and guard very strong. Having listened to several corps using mixed key instruments and Bb horns, I must say that if this corps ever switches, I will not be happy. There's just something about that deep, rich Phantom Regiment sound that you can only get with G bugles. Percussion good but not as strong as several of the other corps. Snares were little bit dirty both nights which might have hurt them a bit despite a very strong bass drum line. However, I know Brian Mason (formerly of The Cavaliers) will continue to write demanding and musical parts and do great things for Phantom Regiment. Also, at first I didn't understand why they purchased yellow drums but with the tan jackets in their uniform and the stadium lights, the drums look almost tan. The guard is wonderful, using sickles (after all, this is Shostakovich--the music of "Socialist Realism") and unpainted rifles. Guard uniforms were gorgeous (red "bra" top and purple/red pants). Very solid playing throughout and many standing ovations at the end. Crab was very effective. Great show, Phantom!

Santa Clara Vanguard: Upon second viewing of this show (the first being Drum Beauty), I actually understood and appreciated the use of color in their guard equipment. Definitely fits the theme of "Sound, Shape and Color." LOUD opener (Trivandrum by Gordon Henderson) and the soprano soloist was very good. Some visual dirt with respect to form but overall, very solid visually. Slight timing issues between pit and brass. Ballad (Hanson's "Symphony No. 2") was beautiful but what killed it for me were the dumb a**es yelling during the middle of it. Please be respectful and don't ruin such a moment by immortalizing yourself even in the name of supporting the corps. Solid percussion section and some great movement and playing backfield. Diamonds make me a little dizzy. Whoa! Pretty cool effect, though. Crowd really enjoyed this show with chants of "SCV! SCV!' before and after.

Blue Devils: "Ragtime" opener was lots of fun and some very exposed xylophone and marimba parts in the pit (lots of fast double-stop runs). Guard was wonderful (love the red bowler hats, too) and very clean. Very demanding visual program (these guys move like the Cadets). Very nice soprano work throughout, but especially the soloists in "I Got Rhythm" and "House of the Rising Sun" and as a unit in "Channel One Suite." Set players had a lot of fun in the percussion feature and "Channel One Suite" was very high energy as was "House of the Rising Sun." They really get down! Company front push at the end was flawless. HUGE standing ovation after "Channel One Suite." I was surprised to learn after Friday's show that they nipped The Cadets but these kids were on fire!

Cadets: GREAT guard uniforms--authentic street clothes ca. 1940s. They begin backfield with the guard in front. Lots of dance throughout, more equipment handling in the finale. Very clean but I didn't find it anywhere near as demanding as Blue Devils or Cavaliers. Opener ("On the Town") was well done. Percussion were flawless. I expected them to take high percussion. They didn't, much to my surprise. I thought they were a hair cleaner than The Cavaliers. Use of props seemed a bit much (U.S. flag, Iwo Jima pose and the boxes with the WWII posters reminding Americans to "buy U.S. Savings Bonds," among other things) only because they didn't allow for as much movement, not because I found them distasteful. Ballad was very nice. Crowd responded to Pledge (which was better performed on Friday, in my opinion). Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy evokes the 1979 Bridgemen (well, sort of) and the drumsets were back! Wonderful percussion solo and the guard members in Navy khakis did some magnificent rifle work! Some serious park and blow going on with members entering the pit. Iwo Jima pose at the end got the crowd on their feet! Very emotional and musical show though one Phan (a PR volunteer) thought it was a case of pandering. But I loved it!

Cavaliers: Very clean all around. Very powerful horn line. Very demanding show. Near collision on Friday during a pass-through move and while they do some of their best visual work without playing at the same time, I do believe that the music was NOT an afterthought. Audience loved the chant/funk section, the box formed by the brass members (with the guard inside). Great percussion work (and visuals). Some dirt Saturday, I thought. Still pretty much a flawless show, though. My comments on this show aren't much different from those a few weeks back at Drum Beauty. Only that this show was even MORE perfect. A soprano I talked to (friend of "Alice Childress") was actually slightly disappointed in Friday's performance. Wha? You guys scored a 99.05 that night! Huh? Words do not do this show justice. You have to see it for yourselves. MULTIPLE standing ovations. Again, the Phan I talked to thought it was too "visually heavy." But this show was a crowd pleaser and NOTHING topped it all season long. It was that demanding and that well executed. Congratulations, Cavaliers on going undefeated this season and on breaking new records this year.

Other performances

Taipei Yuehfu performed on Saturday, having won the International division that week. Guard had plenty of flourish (and a few drops) but were energetic. Drumline got a bit dirtier as the show progressed but cleaned up during the percussion feature. Strong company front push in the opener. Visually, there were some problems with clarity and phasing. However, it is a fairly demanding show and it was written neither beneath nor above their ability. Pit was hard to hear. Bass drum line very good. Fielding only 23 horns, they still project pretty well and also take advantage of the football field. Some great framing in the second piece. Earned a standing ovation for their entertaining show of Chinese wind band music.

Revolution: Uniforms very nice. "Ballet Sacra" was well done despite problems due to it being very windy (wind died down later and it was a very humid eighty degrees). Some pit dirt in the opener. A soprano fell, landing on his rear end but got right back up, recovering quickly and played his heart out. Feet were okay, not always together (some at 45, some not) and there was some phasing, too. Visual design was good. Drum feature was very solid. Brass sound was good with clear projection and steady intonation. Soprano soloist ends his solo in the ballad playing to the backfield which the audience really liked and overall, they "frame" the field well. Final push at the end earned a big standing ovation. Overall, a very entertaining show for these rising stars from Texas!

Santa Clara Vanguard Alumni: The SCV 35th Anniversary Alumni Corps performed (mostly) standstill and their show was in three productions or "vignettes" featuring medleys of crowd favorites, their VFW/DCI championship years and Broadway. LOUD in the "Candide" opener. "Simple Gifts" and "La Mer" earned plenty of applause but "Great Gate of Kiev" (from 1987's "Pictures at an Exhibition" show) earned a huge standing ovation. "Festive Overture" began the second "production" and was just awesome! "Procession of the Nobles," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" earned multiple standing ovations and cheers. Wonderful dance work throughout. Snares were pretty clean. "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" began the final "production" of Broadway and earned another loud response, bringing the audience once again to their feet. "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" from Phantom of the Opera was beautiful. "Miss Saigon" got the crowd going again with "Bottle Dance" tearing down the house at Camp Randall--HUGE standing ovation and the longest they received with crowd cheers threatening to drown them out. The "surprise" was when they paid tribute to Gail Royer by playing "Send in the Clowns." Very emotional and I had tears in my eyes as they played it. Gail was there Saturday night looking down from heaven and beaming. A wonderful program and tribute to Gail Royer and the talented staff and members of SCV through the years!

After the SCV Alumi performance, a bit of humor from Brandt Crocker (I think it was still him before the mike was turned over to someone else during recognition ceremonies): "Okay. That's tonight's competition. Thanks for coming. Good night!" The crowd laughed heartily.

U.S.M.C. Drum and Bugle Corps concluded the exhibition performances. I didn't appreciate the kicked cone and found it disrespectful--it just wasn't something I'd expect a Marine to do. When Madison Scouts' Dan Feeney did it, it was cool. When the Marines do it, given the context, it comes across as disrespectful. Just my opinion. Five contras and though Division II in size, they are not in sound. Wonderful soprano section and very clean. To hear a 1970s "old school" show without going to DCA, watch these guys. "Ode to Joy" was well done. A tune by Michael Kamen and "Stars and Stripes Forever" concluded their program. Percussion feature was on fire. Very entertaining show!

There you have it! I had a good time in Madison (more so Saturday than Friday due to being tired and a little cranky) and look forward to the 2003 season. Wow! What a season it has been!

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I loved this review!

Unfortunately for me, I was there, but I just can't review the show. It was too exciting and amazing that I just couldn't express what I saw. (Can we say pleasantly overwhelmed?)

Of course, I could go on and on about Phantom, but who would want that?

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the review and appreciate all who reviewed the show on Saturday.

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Thanks Jon for that Great review. Great to see you at the Picnic too!

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I dont know about everyone else, but BAC had the most beautiful moment of all of the finalist corps with their ballad. Whithe them singing along with the pictures on the field. that was just awesome. Good review John, i guess taking you notebook helped. HE HE HE.

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Great review, with the exception of the Glassmen soloist played a flugelhorn and that The Cadets did win high percussion(In 1/4's, Semi's, and Finals)

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Of course, I could go on and on about Phantom, but who would want that?

If you won't, I will...

PR's guard had one of the most exciting, intimidating opening sections of any corps this year. It's striking...the uniforms (with the purple jackets with the flap) are awesome...and everybody with rifles. Dang! (he says, censoring himself).

Drops or not, a big "heck yeah!" More of that next year, please!

And how about that hornline! Considering all the bad stuff that happened to them that week, I'm even more impressed. That's dedication!

Come on, DVD's! :lol:

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Oops! It WAS a flugelhorn. D'oh! And Cadets DID win high percussion. I wasn't sure if they won high percussion on Friday, though, and that was what I was referring to in my review since I was surprised they took 3rd place (did they still win high percussion on Friday?).


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