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July 17, 1999, Denver, CO - DCI - Drums Along the Rockies

This was my second show of the season, and my second viewing of the Colts and Phantom, so here goes:

Troopers - Wow, much, MUCH improved over last year. I was very pleased to see this corps doing so well. Kudos to the show designers, for they seem to have constructed a show that fits their group well, and is entertaining for the audience. All sections were well balanced, and nothing struck me as being poor or underdeveloped. The big snareline was a little gray, but seemed to have a good concept of their role in the musical ensemble. I see these guys having a shot at semis, if they can clean a few horn fracks up.

Colts - OK, I'm biased, having marched Colts in 98, but HOLY CRAP! This show has fire, passion, and energy throughout. The opener really seems to work well for them, especially considering the extreme musical demand in the Verdi. They had a few sop overbalance issues at time, but nothing too bad. Also, if you get a chance, check out the drumline. These guys are very, very hot this year. The snare feature is one of the hardest I've heard this year, and they play it well. Also, the drumline seems to really cut through the wall of crud better than BK or PR. My only big concern is that the closer doesn't seem to fit, but I understand they're changing it in a week or so. The guard is excellent, and really adds a great deal to the show. I think this show has top 10 potential, it's just a matter of cleaning up a few balance issues and some feet phasing.

Phantom Regiment- This is my favorite PR show since 96. The hornline is much better this year, from a timing standpoint. They don't seem to be plagued by the phasing issues that hurt them last season. Tony Hall did an excellent job with the visual design, and I think the guard is well incorporated into the drill. Now, the negatives. PR's feet are still very sloppy for this late in the season, as is their posture. I saw a number of horn players bouncing all over the field the better part of the evening. Also, I don't know if it was an off night or what, but the battery was very poor. The snares had the most problems, mainly with roll attacks it seemed. I do believe this show has a shot at top 6, due to the design. However, they'll need to clean it like crazy to get there, because right now, it's not being performed well enough to allow the design to help them scoring-wise. I see them around 7th or 8th again.

Blue Knights- OK... this show is very, very well performed. The brass, guard, and percussion all do their jobs very well. The guard is very good in fact, and the tenor line is playing some sweet, sweet stuff. However, I feel the same about this BK show as I have most BK shows: yawn. C'mon, do SOMETHING to entertain the crowd. I know they're trying to go for sophistication and top 6, but it seems that they completely forgot that there's a crowd watching the show too. Most top 6 corps are sophisticated and crowd-pleasing, and until they find ways to involve the crowd more in their shows, I don't know if I'll truly appreciate what they're doing. I do think they have a shot at top 6, but I think they'll end up battling PR for 7th.

Cadets of Bergen County- The first four minutes of this show are AWESOME! The last six... aren't I have a feeling that they did a fake ending tonight, because the ending, well, sucked. I mean, they open the show with all kinds of horn impacts, incredible movement, and awesome guard work, and then it kind of trails off for the remainder of the show. The guard thing with the suitcases is very, very cool, and I felt their equipment work was probably the best on the night. Also, this is maybe the best CBC hornline I've ever heard. Percussion wise, I have mixed feelings. The tenorline and bassline are both excellent, although I think the tenor solo is maybe a touch too long. However, the pit seems to have a very nominal roll in the show, and the snareline pretty much sucked tonight. I've never been a particularly big fan of the CBC approach to snare drumming, and tonight only helped to really convince me that it isn't the correct approach.

Blue Devils- What an awesome show! For those of you that haven't seen BD yet, they really move this year. Jay Murphy did an incredible job with the visual design this year, and the guard incorporation was the best on the night. The whole dance theme really fits this guard well, because BD's guard can dance! Also, very impressive full ensemble rifle and saber work. I don't believe I've ever seen a guard to full ensemble on both those weapons, although I could be mistaken. As for the show, the show really flows well. There's always something going on to keep you interested, as the show has little if any down time. The brassline is certainly not BD's best, but they still have that trademark full-bodied sound. Sops needs some work on the opener licks, which are INCREDIBLY demanding. Also, the hornline suffered from some phasing problems tonight. Most of these were due to the extreme spread between them and the drumline for isolated attacks. Oh, and the drumline... HOLY CRAP!

Santa Clara Vanguard- These guys came out and put on the performance of the evening, and left little doubt who would win DATR. Their hornline is phenomenal this year, as they combine balance, power, and precision better than anyone else on the night. I literally sat there in awe as they went through the whole show without a major phase. And, they're playing some very demanding material, especially during the middle of the show. The drumline was good tonight, although not great. They aren't in BD's class, but they certainly aren't weak by any stretch. I like the effect Casella's creating with the brushes, and the line's dynamic control is outstanding. I didn't really notice the pit that much, as they seem to have a lesser musical role than in past years. Visually, the show really, really flows well. I really like the opening idea, and I think the hornline lunges and horn movements really work with the musical arrangements. Blue Shades is awesome. I think these guys are definitely the front-runners.

One note on retreat: I think it's very distracting and unprofessional what CBC's guard does during retreat. Get rid of it, it's annoying.

It was a great show, and I look forward to seeing all the corps in Madison in a few weeks!

Thanks to Jeremy Ball for directly emailing this review!

Editorial notes:

July 17, 1999, Denver, CO - DCI - Drums Along the Rockies

I was there. It was a GREAT show. I didn't get to see any of division II (damn parking was awful). So, I will start with the Troopers!

Troopers- After seeing their show last year, I felt sorry for them. This year, they have made vast improvements. Their horn line is getting stronger, and the percussion sounds much better. Good job!

Next up COLTS---- WOW. This show is probably top ten material. The guard is great, and drill is amazing, and the percussion is doing very well. This evening seemed to be full of falling horn lines..... Colts were the first one. They had a mello fall during the percussion break. Nice recovery, though! More than I can say for the Cadets! (more on that later) They had great horn moments, very loud, and balanced. I actually had them a bit closer to Phantom in score.

Phantom Regiment - Well, I loved the show. My only problem is that it didn't have any moments that made me say "wow." It was very well designed, and the guard is doing much better. The horn line was GREAT. They had great balance and power. I didn't pay much attention to their percussion section.... I was busy watching the horn line, doing some great drill. Their visual program was very good, they just have some more cleaning to do in that aspect.

Blue Knights - Okay, I am biased, (at least I can admit it), but this years show is great. The guard is doing wonderful things, and they once again had the prettiest flags there. Percussion section is great. Ralph wrote a great book for Trittico. No falling horn members here either!

Cadets of Bergen County - Okay, here is where it gets interesting. The opening statement was GREAT... awesome flag work and loud brass hits... then it all went downhill. During their "death spiral" thingie, there was a major wreck... one person down, then two, three and then four... There may have been five, but I couldn't see them very well in a mangle of horns, shakos, and people. Two of the players didn't recover until after the big halt and they started moving. Otherwise, this was a great show. Would have been much better without the falls... ironically, that is all I can remember now. In the very end, they had two more falls (separated from each other, though)

Santa Clara Vanguard - Loved this show. Great moments. Didn't care for the guard uniforms, though. All I can say is, this show deserved to win.

Blue Devils - Okay, the guard is kicking some rear. That's all I have to say about BD. No, just kidding! Percussion was awesome, and the horn line was okay. Seemed like they had some phasing problems tonight, but maybe that's just me.

Sorry the reviews for SCV and BD are so short! It's late and I have to work tomorrow! Well, I stayed for SCV's victory concert, of course! We got right up in front, and got our ears blown off. They are LOUD. After they played their show, they played Send In the Clowns. How emotional. I cried, and I don't have anything to do with SCV. Great show. I only have one complaint... the announcer SUCKED. I mean, really badly. He kept on talking straight through corps on field warm-ups, and said some of the stupidest things I have heard in a while.

Okay, I'm going to bed. This is the first time I have done this, so I hope I didn't do too badly (except for the part about not writing much for BD and SCV, sorry!) Great show, congrats to the Blue Knights! Broke the 80!


Thanks to Laura on r.a.m.d for this review!

Editorial notes:

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