Show Review

2012 DCI Muncie Fan Network Webcast Review

DCI Fan Network subscribers got a treat as the DCI Muncie show was added to the live broadcast schedule as a special bonus. Both fans in the stands and Fan Network viewers were fortunate that the show even happened as the weather tried to double whammy the show into submission, first by delaying the show start an hour due to extreme heat, then by sending a severe storm system right through the heart of Indiana, causing damage throughout the Muncie area and even sending a Cavalier staff member to the hospital due to injuries sustained when a gust of wind hit the staff scaffolding as they were dismounting it. The show did go on, though, complete with the sun shining in full force as it set behind the stands of the stadium at the start of the show. The Muncie show was the last event of the 2012 Music For All Summer Symposium, so the crowd was definitely ready to cheer for every corps performing tonight.

Troopers – A large pit and drum line opening to start the show. I giggled when the first Trooper moment of “This Was the Future” was last year’s Infinity Chord, complete with drill form. The crowd appreciated it, too, although I’m sure they would have loved to have the chord last as long as it did last year. The horn line has issues with low volume moments early on. I don’t get a lot of musical coherence during this show and, outside of the Infinity Chord at the start of the show, I ‘m not getting much in the way of Trooper moments. The horn line can play loud, like last year, but building to those loud moments doesn’t make much musical sense to me. I also am not getting how the theme is portrayed, although I might once I get a live viewing of the show. To be honest, I was ready for the show to end about halfway through, which is unfortunate, especially considering how well last year’s show was designed, and I do not see how this show can make Finals in 2012.

Glassmen – Very strong opening statement. A lot of synth bass during Mishima, though, which I find annoying. Also some annoyingly loud synth noises during a pit interlude. Horns aren’t’ doing any special drill moves there, could do some playing instead. I like the aggressiveness of the music this year. More loud synth noises during the transition into the second piece. Drum line plays some great writing while on the move, a major strength of the corps over the past few years. Nice back field sound from the horns Horns have a good back field sound as well as good soloists during the ballad, but they need to build to a bigger impact at the close of the ballad. There’s also no need to have such a long interlude of fake choir voices and cello sounds coming from the pit when the horns are barely even striking poses on the field. The horn impact at the start of the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony is impressive, but the horn line gets covered by the insistence of the design team to put an overpowering organ sound at each loud moment of the closer. We know it’s the Organ Symphony. We also know that other corps have pulled off a great sound with the horns while performing this piece without the need to cover them up. Unfortunately, this is the other “strength” of the corps over the past few years, and it’s disappointing. That being said, this is a better show for the corps than last year and will get the corps back into Finals if the design team doesn’t get in the way.

Spirit of Atlanta – The opening statement reaffirms the Spirit sound which really made its return last year. I also love that I can hear the bottom of the horn line without any synth bass “helping”. Spirit understands they’ve got a good horn line and designs accordingly. Halfway through Harvest and we’ve already had to killer mello unison wails. Spirit’s take on Harvest is more jazzy and light than Bluecoats’ last year. I don’t know which is closer to the original since, sadly, I have yet to listen to it. The crowd loves the horn stabs intersperced in the opening solo of Luck Be A Lady, understandable considering the power in that sound. A fun park and bark, complete with hangover trumpet solo, closes out Luck. The arrangement on Pokerface is unique, taking a more laid back, melancholy feel. If readers saw the Glee Lady Gaga episode, this is a similar arrangement to what was sung at the end of that episode. Watch for the guard member who does some incredible back flips during the start of the closer. This show is a big hit with the fans and it isn’t a question of IF this show makes Finals, it’s WHERE they will place.

Blue Stars – This was my second viewing of the corps, the first being in Akron. I was worried after the Akron performance because of the visual issues the corps had, but, figuring that was the first show of the season, I felt the corps could get cleaned up with some performance experience and time on tour. While there is still dirt in the visual, that caption has improved and is catching up to the music caption. Now that I understand the nautical nature of the theme, the show makes more sense to me, as well. The music and drill flow well together, too, and it’s always nice to see Myron Rosander’s work on the field. I’m curious to see if the platform at the front of the field will get similar treatment as the rest of the “judges’ blinds” in the back field, which are now colored blue to match the theme. It’s possible that the platform may get a sailing ship treatment, especially since, during the ballad, a group of guard members stand on it as if they’re sailing the high seas. Drum line throws down some serious beats in the movement after the ballad. No falling down horn players during this performance, which is nice as the Akron show had that issue. I do feel that the closing statement of the New World theme needs to be even louder as that line was written to rip the heart out of anybody listenting to it and needs that level of impact, but I am very happy with where the corps is at this point in the season and look forward to seeing them continue to progress.

Madison Scouts – The “Reframed” theme comes to the fore as soon as the corps sets up on the field with the horns/drums forming a block frame in the back left corner of the field and the guard doing the same with their flags up front. The opening statement based on the Promenade really gets the crowd going. You can also tell that Lee Beddis has arrived as the drum break after the opening statement is clearly his writing and has raised the bar for the drum line this year. The mashup of Malaga with Mussorsgy is entertaining and nobody will complain about the unison note that goes forever and rips face at the end. Nice shaping by the tuba line on the melody leading into the next movement. It’s also nice how that movement (can’t remember the name) is mashed up with The Way We Were. The nexxt mashup is The Hut of Baba Yaga and Malaguena, complete with screaming trumpet soloists. An unexpected musical moment has the horn line singing Great Gate of Kiev, something the crowd really appreciated. They appreciated even more the rotating company front leading into a full out company front as the corps played Great Gate. This show has the potential to be the most popular Scouts show since ’95 and definitely has the talent level to break back into the Top 6 in the process.

Carolina Crown – Another second viewing after the Akron show. This is actually a hard show to write about while watching it as there’s so much going on, both musically and visually. The horn line runs around A LOT, all the while throwing down double and triple tongue licks which would make some brass bands pale at the thought of playing. Percussion, which was a major issue in Akron, has improved, although I’m still hearing phasing in the line. Of course, I forget all about this when it comes time for the full out, unabridged performance of Fanfare For the Common Man. This was another moment in the night where I could clearly hear every section of the horn line and there was no need to “augment” it with synth bass. The crowd gave Crown at least three standing ovations in the second half of the show alone and, even though this was a BOA crowd who love to stand up and cheer for whoever’s on the field, this is still a sign that Crown has a very powerful show. If they can get the drum line clean and also march the heck out of a show which is very demanding and, with those cream uniforms, very easy to spot mistakes, they may have their first DCI title come Indianapolis.

Cavaliers – I was disapointed by the Cavies when they performed in Akron, but I chalked it up to a flat performance. Unfortunately, I can no longer make that claim. The corps has now added a pre-show with a voice repeating Andy Warhol’s famous “15 minutes of fame” mantra, superimposed by the sounds of paparazzi cameras snapping. This sound happens throughout the opener of Don Juan, which, unfortunately, serves only to distract and annoy. The corps is not clean visually and also does not have the impact of the preceiding corps from a horn standpoint. For some reason, the corps has added a lot of synth to the opening of the closer, which, unfortunately, covers up some of the great drum writing and playing happening on the field at the time. More synth noise happens during the drum solo and even into the return of the horn line into the music. I am now firmly convinced that the more synth I hear during a show, the more likely the design team has decided the show is unsalvageable. This is one of those shows at this point in the season and, unless major work is done to the show design, this show may not even make the Top 6.

My predictions:

1. Carolina Crown
2. Madicon Scouts
3. Cavaliers
4. Spirit of Atlanta
5. Blue Stars
6. Glassmen
7. Troopers