Sign in to follow this  
MUSICandCHARACTER

Drums on the Ohio 6/27

Recommended Posts

This is a brief review of the Drum on the Ohio show. I always write a full review and put it up my website. I will do that either later tonight or tomorrow. ( http://www.ibowtie.com/articles.html )

6 corps were at the show tonight. In order of appearance:

Div II:

Memphis Sound

Div I:

Capital Regiment

Southwind

Spirit from JSU

The Cadets

The Bluecoats

Memphis Sound was first on the field with their show "Shades of Blue". This included Basically Blues, Things Ain't What They Used to Be, Blue Rondo a la Turk, Afro Blue, Blue and Scootin' on Hardrock.

The show was solid. The drill was not overly complicated. From my count they had 14 in the battery, 6 plates, 12 pit, 12 guard (why so few?) and 32 horns.

The brass was solid and outstanding. Big sound from a medium sized Div II corps. The show was pretty solid and very well done. Very nice bari solo and a very nice trumpet solo. The mellophone solo had a tough entrance. But a very solid performance and outstanding brass sound with new Dynasty horns (big improvement from the Jupiter horns).

Next was Capital Regiment. Show titled "Life Rhythms: Work, Rest and Play. Music by Eric Whitacre and Philip Glass. 20 in the battery, 32 guard, close to 64 horns. They were the first corps to come on with a soundboard. The guard work during the ballad was wonderful. And the guard work during the drum break was just plain fun. They played a bit too much to the backfield for my liking. They had a group of the horn players come up to a set of mics to sing -- but the mics did not come on. Very strong finish!

Then came Southwind. They had mixed black and white uniforms this year. They used the different colors a la the Velvet Knights. When the guard changed to the orange unis and flags, the show was magnificent. This may have been the dirtiest show of the evening -- but for good reason. It was very complicated drill and very good music. The show was titled "Duality" and contained everything from parts of the Firebird Suite to In the Spring at a Time When Kings Go Off to War to Pie Jesu. 20 in the battery, 6 plates, 56 horns and a staff member told me they had 5 horns out with ankle problems. Simply some magnificent and elegant guard work during the ballad and some very active drill. This show will climb in the scoring as the summer goes on. It is a show that needs to be cleaned and Southwind did that last year very well and I am sure will do so this year.

Intermission was over an hour long. During this time, dozens of people walked the field looking for something. We didn't know what. Perhaps a judges wedding ring??? We didn't know, but they extended the intermission to look. Whatever it was, it was never found.

After the break came Spirit from JSU. Their show was titled "Old, New, Borrowed and Blue" Included Ol' Man River, The Waltz of the Mushroom Hunters, borrowed material from Buddy Rich, and snippets from the corps' past. Spirit had 17 in the battery and no plates (which a few years ago they were famous for), 56 horns, 12 in the pit and 30 guard. They had a very strong opener and a very big brass sound. During the ballad, the flags performed a routine that was similar to the old starburst of The Troopers. Really nice. They amped the pit but had no soundboard. A very nice trumpet solo was actually overbalanced by the pit. Too bad. Also, they had a trap set in the pit. I am getting tired of trap sets. My goodness, you have an entire battery -- put them to work instead of one person. The drill was high movement and therefore will gain a bunch as the season progresses and it gets cleaner.

Now for the BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS of the night. Perhaps the biggest disappointments I have ever experienced at a drum corps show. They were so disappointing that my excitement for the season was curtailed. I usually go to 5 to 7 shows a year. This may end of being my one and only show. The next two corps so turned me off that I don't think I want to see those shows again. Worse, the trends they are setting a very disturbing IMO.

Next on the field were The Cadets with their show, "Volume 2, Through the Looking Glass". First let me say the music was very good. Everything from Jefferson Airplane to Leonard Bernstein. The show, was just awful. They went through a series of mic checks before the show. The had a dozen or so "riser platforms" which they moved all over the field for various stunts. They started and finished with last year's door in the middle of the field, but moved it to the back during the show.

Some positive things: The corps was announced as "The Cadets from Allentown, PA". Wow. They have been announced in the last few years as "The Cadets Sponsored by Youth Education in the Arts". Hey, they have a hometown again (but it is not Bergen County, NJ). They also gave a traditional salute.

The show had "Alice" and three other "performers". Via wireless mics they talked and shouted over each other during th performance. VERY, VERY distracting. The singer sang the introduction in a lounge act style (better than announcing it I guess) but she was hard to hear over the amped pit.

During the ballad when she sang, it added a different touch. But mostly it was annoying. The pink risers were moved all over the field and tilted and moved and jumped on and sat on. Very distracting. The singer sang a great deal of the show. The show was chaotic and not much fun. In fact, it was almost painful to watch IMO.

The Cadets, even though Mr. Hopkins (the corps' executive director) said that last year's front/back uniforms were one year only, they were back this year.

If this is where drum corps is headed, let me off at the next stop. :laugh:

Last on the field were the Bluecoats. Their show, "connexus" has music by Pat Methany, Don Ellis, and Benoit Jutras. It was boring musically I thought. Nothing to really get into. Of course, they were amped with a mixer board.

Here is the worst part of the whole evening. The miced the concert bass drums in the pit. Even during the ballad, they played the bass drums with a rap (programmed drumming) like back beat. It sounded like a car coming thumping by. It was annoying and disturbing. The bass drum player(s) in the pit could have been listed as "sub woofer" players.

Nice ballad music was "thumped" through by the concert bass drums well amplified. With five bass drums on the field, why -- tell my why -- you would have to amplify the concert bass drum? Geez, you could really ask the question, why do you need concert bass drums?

It was awful. The only really inspired music was the ballad IMO and the bass drums ruined that. The bass drums were miced so loudly, that when the bass drum player played the gong, it could not be heard. My goodness, the gong (a very loud instrument) could not be heard over the amped bass drums and keyboard pit instruments.

This is out-of-control. The show was awful because of all the amplified noise.

Now technically, the Bluecoats were very good and the drill was active and very fun to watch. But the sound was ruined by pit instruments. The ballad was supposed to really reach you -- and without the concert bass drum drowning out the corps, it might have. At the end of the ballad the horn line put down their horns, and held hands. It could have been a nice moment. It wasn't -- in fact it seemed contrived. From that holding of hands right into the drum break should have been a dramatic change. But after pounding concert bass drums, it was a relief rather than a nice contrast.

They Bluecoats had a very nice trumpet/tuba duet (an unusual combination). It was very well done. The Bluecoats also played the encore which musically was MUCH better than their show. It started with a Sousa march and went into "Leaves of Autumn." Very nice. Two great trumpet solos in the encore. Too bad that was better musically than their show.

I cannot express how disappointed I was. The people sitting behind me (long time drum corps fans) said in a very serious tone, the scores had to be fixed. In the second week of the season, someone thinks the scores were fixed??? Knowledgeable fans at that?? Why?

Well, first, here are the scores:

(DCI Central) Drums on the Ohio, Evansville, IN

June 27, 2006

Place/Corps/Score

DIVISION I

1 The Cadets 79.050

2 Bluecoats 78.800

3 Spirit from JSU 74.750

4 Capital Regiment 66.500

5 Southwind 63.250

DIVISION II

1 Memphis Sound 62.550

The fans booed the Cadets show. Reminiscent of Star of Indiana -- only for some really good reasons. The fans could not believe the ultra weird singing lounge/actor/pink moving risers act was worth anything. They were really surprised when the show won. Flabbergasted might have been a better word.

People were pretty well stunned after the Bluecoats show too. The lowest scoring show of the night, Southwind got the biggest applause.

Now as fans, we don't always get all the technical matters in scoring. But with more of an emphasis on GE and GE related captions this year, the fan's perception should be closer to the judging. Obviously tonight, many fans were disappointed.

My 14 year old son, a big Cadets fan, was very disappointed. The Bluecoats' program notes state [the music should] "joyously link the performers and the audience." Hardly. connexus was a complete disconnect.

Once upon a time, drums corps played music people knew. Or they played great classical pieces. Occasionally they played terrific original music. Now the play just plain weird amplified stuff and they sing through the majority of the show and want to sound like street gangsters.

Dan Achenson -- it is time to get this under control. The short term gain of a few teenagers will not offset the long term departure of the drum corps fan. If my teenager didn't like the top two shows, who is this activity reaching????

I am estimating that about 5000 fans were at the show tonight. Many went home disappointed. Will they be back next year -- or next week?

I know it dampened my enthusiasm for the summer.

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

there are tons of aspects of the shows that dont have anything to do with amps-- what about those things?

being different than things were "once upon a time" does not make DCI by definition worse or bad... its just makes them different... and in my humble opinon, Dan Achenson is doing an incredible job...

Edited by nero14

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
snip<<being different than things were "once upon a time" does not make DCI by definition worse or bad... its just makes them different>>

It also doesn't exclude the possibility that they are worse or bad. I believe the reviewer was for the most part reporting on what he saw and heard last night. His references to the past seemed to me to be mostly about providing context. I believe that amplification is currently causing more problems than it solves. Perhaps the problems can be worked through . . . perhaps not. But it is every fans' right to react honestly to what he sees and hears. And I agree with you that Dan Acheson is doing an incredible job. The amplification and show design issues are not his creations, nor are they his to fix. His job is to keep DCI financially healthy and growing, and he has done an admirable job at that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thanks for the review-- i did enjoy the 20% of that review that wasnt you being upset out about amps, mixers, soundboards, and mics... i mean... trust me, i dont like that stuff either, i REALLY REALLY dont-- but i'm not going to let it ruin my DCI experience like i can tell you let it yours, you know what i mean?... what kinds of POSITIVE things happened? what made you HAPPY? what were the guards like? the drill?

there are tons of aspects of the shows that dont have anything to do with amps-- what about those things?

being different than things were "once upon a time" does not make DCI by definition worse or bad... its just makes them different... and in my humble opinon, Dan Achenson is doing an incredible job...

Nero,

Believe it or not, I have not been a total anti-amp person. At times, I have said it is just the way things are and it could even be a good tool if used correctly.

IMO, the way amplification was used tonight was distracting. It took away from some great horn and percussion performances and some fine guard work. That is not just "different". I was critical last year of Cap Reg dragging that sundial around for what seemed very little value. That had nothing to do with amplification. This show, I felt some of the amplified parts were very distracting. Like bad props for horrible drill can be. It just happened to be the amplified parts tonight.

I was disappointed. So was some of the crowd. BTW, I agree with you, Dan is doing an incredible job. But if the corps continue to win putting on distracting shows -- a problem will arise (has arisen?). We are only steps away from rap shows in my opinion. It seems like a speeding train headed to the lowest "genres" of music. One person said it this way "Rap is to music what Etch-a-sketch is to art". I tend to agree with that statement and I am afraid drum corps shows are head that direction.

The Cadets show was loud and distracting IMO. Acting "characters" shouting and talking over each other. A singer that was amped that could not be heard over the pit (even with a soundboard) during the opener and then was overbearing (again, IMO) during much of the rest of the show. The Bluecoats fine show, and beautiful ballad, was overwhelmed by a amplified concert bass drum. Again, these are my opinions. I just wanted to make it clear, while I am not very pro-amp, and not an anti-amp radical amp basher.

Capital Regiment had several horn members step up to some mics that didn't work. A bit distracting since we didn't know what that part of the show held.

Take it for what its worth. The last review thread I read you bashed the reviewer quite hard and retracted most of what you said. These are my opinions of the show and I didn't have a favorite corps in the hunt. The closest thing I have to a favorite corps are The Troopers (growing up in Northern Colorado near Wyoming) and we do not have to worry about their scores this year.

The poor use of amps, like the poor tuning of horns, or sloppy drill, or dirty drumming is distracting and does lessen the drum corps experience in my opinion. But unlike sloppy drill, these shows must be completely rewritten to become "less distracting". It was in my opinion (and others in the stands) that it was a poor use of the tools. Beyond that, the Cadets as a corps seemed to be -- like my wife mentioned (BTW, a music major from UCLA) -- a backup band to a weird off Broadway musical.

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are we watching the same shows? I thought the Bluecoats were a riot in Evansville. The beginning is intriguing and covers the field well. The moving wave that starts the show is something I havent seen before. The rest of the opener is catchy and exciting with a very cool moment with the whole brass line on the 50 yard line and a surprising moment where the guard come together out of nowhere.

The 2nd tune was a lot of fun, the opening solos were cool and it had a climax that rocked hard towards the end. The ballad was gorgeous and the closing drill witht he return of the wave drill during the company front was outstanding.

I hardly noticed anything with amps and mics.

The Cadets were very weird and I suspect, like last year's show will take some time to produce.

I enjoyed all the corps to differing degrees.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To the original poster, thank you for doing a review. You called it like you saw it. I wish the Bluecoats were more your cup of tea, but perhaps another time.

To the second reviewer, also thank you, and I am glad to hear a different point of view about the Bluecoats. I think the show is incredible, so it's nice to hear you say they were a riot in Evansville.

Jonathan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review. Now I'm really looking forward to seeing SW and Spirit tonight in Huntington! B)

The Cadets were very weird and I suspect, like last year's show will take some time to produce.

Of course, the problem with that is that most of the fans who shell out their dough for a ticket this summer might only get to the one show. If the only time you see them is in Evansville on June 27th, and the show is basically incomprehensible, well ... what are you gonna think? I'll post some kind of review tomorrow morning (or whenever I get the chance).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm curious to know where the Reviewers seats were.

Were you down front on the side of the Bluecoats bass drum? if so that could be why the drum was all encompasing to you but not to others who said they didn't notice anything.

I remember last year at a june show I saw Carolina Crown and had the unfortunate luck of sitting low on the left side of the field. During the end of their opener the Baritones were right in front of me playing loud whole notes (a lot of them) so the impression I got from the show was that they had a balance problem and that the baritones were over playing the rest of the corps. But after hearing them at finals I realized that the baritones didn't stick out at all, and that it was just my unlucky seating at that early show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

--

Edited by nero14

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To the original poster I would say give many of these shows a second or third viewing before you judge for several reasons: these shows are being designed at a VERY high competitive and creative level and there is a lot of trial and error involved (you seem to be in love with the old OPENER, CONCERT SELECTION, CLOSER played louder higher and faster in 4/4 time era) and what you are seeing in June is a rough draft of good ideas. There are many things in the Bluecoats show that I know are being redone for the purpose of making the show more cohesive. The Cadets annually are a work in progress that usually doesn't make sense until the end of July....I'm not saying you are going to like either show (I saw the Cadets about 10 times last year and still didn't like it, but the show DID improve as the season progressed) but give the staffs (staves?) time to get things right.

As for your distaste in amplification...everyone has their own opinions, so spout off it's your right and no one should flame for that, just don't expect everyone to bow down and agree with you. I was (and probably deep down, still am) anti amplification until I saw how it could make shows and show experiences better. IMO, we have seen both good and bad uses of amplification over the last several years. Like Phil asked before, I would like to know where you were sitting (I'm thinking pretty low)....because I saw the 'Coats from pretty high up a couple of days ago and their pit balance was incredible (particularly in the ballad which is the best part of their show).

BTW, miking the concert basses....why you ask? Balance and blend...it's why amplification passed in the first place, it allows percussion arrangers to properly balance the front ensemble to the rest of the battery and hornline. Now, your issue may not be an amplification issue...could it be that the people playing the basses were overplaying? Perhaps.....didn't see that possibility in your post.

DW

PS....it's "Autumn Leaves" haha....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.