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July 25, 1999 San Antonio, TX - DCI Southwestern, The AlamoDOME


I had heard that Bands of America considered the AlamoDOME to have the best acoustics of any indoor stadium in America and after tonight's show I'd say they are right. I was able to view the nights performances from a few different vantage points and there was no obnoxious reverb at all. Whenever a hornline plays an extended triple forte chord then releases there's a nice echo that's not too overbearing. I was very pleased with the sound. I asked several spectators what they thought about the acoustics and only one of them said they didn't like it.

Phantom Regiment did the clinic today along with a full run-thru. I spoke with members from each section of the corps including staff about the acoustics. The pit had the most problem with it. When the battery is far backfield it is difficult for the pit to hear them.

To a snare, tenor or especially bass drummer the sound just bounces right back to where it came from. Otherwise they said it was tolerable. (The drumline is always in it's own little world anyway!)

A Phantom euphonium player told me he could mostly hear only himself play and not the rest of the ensemble around him... but he said it wasn't difficult at all as long as he watched the drum major.

The color guard seemed to be unphazed by the sound as it caused no difficulties.

I liked ALL the corps performances better tonight than from last year with the exception of the Cavaliers.

Blue Devils - Like this show much better than last years sleeper. BD guard is the best in DCI. The hornline continues to be astounding... so good all I can do is just shake my head in amazement.

Cavaliers - Very clean, very good, but I can't remember any particular highlights. Does that tell you anything about the entertainment value? And wait and see what the judges give them for a GE score. If it's higher than Madison then there's something very wrong with our GE judging criteria! I did like the show but not as much as some others.

Madison Scouts - Exciting, fun, entertaining. Had the most enthusiastic crowd response of the night. The hornline plays with [full out] the way drum corps should... but they also know how to play with beautiful finesse when it is called for. They got screwed again ladies & gentlemen... as always. The crowd booed their 3rd place ranking. The boos may not have been as strong if they were 2nd behind Devils... that would be a little more understandable in light of the Devils impeccable execution.

Phantom Regiment - This show screams Phantom from the start and I like it. They're having an awful time with the drill. There's a big block slide/rotation that is killing them. From time to time it seems a guard member forgets what she's supposed to do next. The 14 member contra line can't seem to play in tune.

Blue Knights - I love this new arrangement of Trittico. I liked it a lot in '94 and I really love it in '99. I really think this is their best designed show and their best corps ever. The hornline gave me chills much more than Cavies or Phantom.

Crossmen - Best drill I've ever seen them do. Great program. It's a little more abstract than usual for them but they sell it well. Very impressive marching. Also liked them better than Cavies or Phantom.

Bluecoats - Another great show concept and design. (These drill writers and brass arrangers are outdoing themselves this year!)

Magic of Orlando - Marvelous hornline... can't remember much from the show.

Spirit of Atlanta - Kick a** hornline, very fun show... the drill is too hard for them. If it wasn't for that they'd have a good chance at making top 12. Their best corps since the old days.

Pioneer - Impressed with the quality and quantity of sound from their small hornline.

Tarheel Sun - My first time ever to see this corps... very impressive for such a young organization. I'm a fan!

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

Editorial notes:

July 25, 1999 San Antonio, TX - DCI Southwestern, The AlamoDOME

The show at the Alamo-dome in San Antonio on July 25 was a great show, one of the finest collection of corps in July I have seen.

Let me first say that I never marched for anyone except in high school but have been following drum corps since 1990 and consider myself to have a decent ear, that is my story at least. My comments are simply my personal opinion and mean nothing except that is how I saw it.

I am going to start with Crossmen because during the first 5 corps I was in and out fighting a nasty hamburger I had at the Hard Rock Cafe before the show, but I did see all of them the previous night in Houston and enjoyed each program. I just don't think it would be fair to comment on them for this particular show.

To the reviews:

Crossmen (6th place, 82.7)
Crossmen's program is designed well but are not very clean for this time of year. I found myself watching the guard a lot during this show though which is strange for me. I like the flag work in the closer, I thought it was well designed. The percussion to me seemed weak. The solo during the closer is much easier than in years past and wasn't even that clean. Of course that could have been the echo in the dome. I like their choice in music, especially bringing back the familiar tune from their 92 show. Overall I enjoyed the performance but it seemed a little dirty.

Blue Knights (5th place, 85.0)
Blue Knights show is well... very familiar. I found it hard to enjoy since it is so similar to their show in 94. Although I did not like their choice in music, I have to admit that they are clean and have a great sound, very balanced. When they sit back and hit a chord, it really filled up the dome and everyone took notice. I was unimpressed with the guard and the percussion at times. To me I thought they had a better show the previous night in Houston but the scores did not reflect that. They got a good response from the crowd, which they deserved.

Phantom Regiment (4th place, 85.2)
This show is very well designed and they performed it very well tonight. That is opposed to the previous night in Houston where they had a train wreck and a broken helmet (I still don't know how that happened but a sops helmet broke in 2 early in the show). This is my favorite show since 96. Visually and musically it is very powerful and oozes Phantom. They seem to be really cleaning up the show although they have a lot of work still to do. There is a rotating block that was not executed very well along with some other minor drill problems. The guard had a good show, I didn't notice any horrible problems. I especially enjoyed the closer. I thought it was very powerful musically with a familiar Tchaikovsky theme and then spreading out over the field for the final chord. I thought it built up nicely to that moment and was a great finish. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the show and had them more than 0.2 ahead of Blue Knights.

Madison Scouts (3rd place 85.3)
What an entertaining show!!! I didn't know how Madison was going to pull off the music of Jesus Christ Superstar but they did wonderfully. The program seemed to be nonstop, classic Madison. I really enjoyed the guard, they seem to be very clean and adding a lot to the show. I especially enjoyed the section where a sop swaps with a rifle and they end up reversing rolls. They both did an outstanding job!!! On the downside the show seemed a bit easy for a top 6 corps. Maybe they are executing so well and scoring high because of that.

On the other side of the coin, they left me with one of the best moments of the night, the last two drill formations are GREAT!!! I won't ruin it for you if you haven't seen the show but it does a great job of getting the big response from the audience and even managed to give me some chills. Overall a great show, very entertaining, it will be fun to see them and Phantom battle it out for the rest of the season.

Cavaliers (2nd place 88.8)
This show is very fitting for Cavaliers. It is majestic and moving. I think the music is very well written, it is a wonderful arrangement of Ode To Joy. This is the first drum line that had me in awe all evening. They are VERY clean and doing some really difficult things. The sideline adds so much to the program. They have some very talented musicians on the sideline. I am very impressed with how they perform the show. I am also impressed with the guard. They are doing some great things with the weapons. Could not believe some of the solo tosses... unreal!!

They had some great moments in their drill, classic Cavalier moves. I didn't notice any real problems with this show. It sometimes takes the audience out of it but it is so well executed it is hard not to notice them and applaud the show. I think they have a good chance of getting into the top 3 with this show if they continue to clean it up.

Blue Devils (1st 91.0)
WOW!!!! WOW!!!!! WOW!!!!! What can I say? This show is so awesome. From the beginning they had me wanting to get up and dance in the aisle. If this show doesn't move you then check your pulse, make sure you are still breathing. This has got to be one of my favorite shows in the last 5 years. It is so well written and performed, it is hard to imagine anyone should catch them this year (of course I haven't seen SCV or Cadets this year nor will I...).

Let me start with the percussion. The percussion arranger must have had so much fun putting this show together. They are so talented and get to show it off with so many different styles of playing. It is nonstop percussion and it leaves you wanting to dance and move and bob your head and ...I could go on forever. They are VERY clean and perform it all so well. I am very impressed!!!

The guard might have been the best guard I have ever seen. At times they are all on rifle or sabre or nothing at all... just dancing. Whatever they are doing it is perfect. Everything they did seemed perfect. My fiancee said that she has never seen a guard so talented in dancing (that is coming from a former dancer).

With all this other stuff you almost forget how great the brass is. They are very clean and wow what a sound. Talk about filling up the dome, I think they raised it a couple of inches. All of the soloists did a wonderful job as well.

I could go on forever on how great this show is, I seemed to remember every moment of it. The arrangement of the music, visually, etc. all seemed to have such great detail and executed very well. It worries me that they seem so clean to me but I am sure they have room to improve, I just didn't see where tonight.

The finale:

My favorite part of a drum corps show has become the encore performance at the end. This time was no disappointment. Blue Devils warmed up and parted my hair in ways I didn't know it could be parted. If you have the chance, find a seat next to the drum major in the first row for the encores. There is nothing like it. I love seeing the expressions on the kids faces while they perform. They know that they are making us deaf and I think they enjoy it.

I am lucky to have seen Blue Devils encore many times and knowing that they would probably win the show was a motivation to drive the 3 hours. I finally left the dome at midnight and got home close to 3:30 AM. It was well worth it.

Thanks to Andy Brown for directly emailing this review!

Editorial notes:

sCORPSboard | 1999 Scores & Reviews

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