1000 Airplanes on the Roof Amazon
Flower Duet (from Lakme)
Firebird Suite Amazon
The corps opens in a giant open oval, kind of like a bird egg, considering the theme. Guard members are carrying double flags serving as wings and are “flying” around the field. Some members of the horn line also start “flocking” and “flying” as the pit opens the show. The horns come in backfield, then turn front before moving into the main portion of the opener. The horns have a nice effect when they play triplet chords, decrescendoing and turning backfield at the same time, then turning front to repeat the effect. Drum feature gives each section a quick chance to shine before the horns come back in. A big PR foot kick halt finishes the opener, although the corps turns backfield and plays some more to transition into the Flower Duet. The final formation looks kind of like a kite, again appearing to keep with the theme.
A lot more running around by the horns occurs before the duet begins, played by two flugelhorns. The duet was pretty solid throughout the year, and this final performance is no exception. Sabers are in pairs during the end of the first, main duet, and perform a toss where the person behind the tosser reaches around and catches. The horns perform the main theme, climaxing in a big chord, before the duet returns one more time.
Tubas get their moment in the sun during Suggestion Diablolique, opening the piece before the horns come in and suggest something diabolical, complete with dischordant trills. Mellophones really wail during one of the hits of the piece, for which I am eternally grateful to J.D. Shaw. Percussion gets a larger feature in this piece and show they haven’t lost a thing from their 2006 champion line. It gives you an idea of how strong Blue Devils’ line had to be to take the title away in 2007. A fun effect in the guard: Groups of guard members carry another member who is holding wing flags, looking like they’re flying from the stands.
The wing flags come into play again to start the closer, as the baritone soloist for the beginning of Firebird Suite appears from behind a partition, holding his arms out while a guard member holds wing flags behind him, making him look like they’re his wings. The final guard costume for the closer looks like they have solid black versions of the PR chevron, which is a nice effect. Mellophones go totally insane during Firebird, playing more notes in 30 seconds than some sections play in their entire show. They follow that up with a giant sustain of a unison note before the corps finishes the show, complete with Phantom wedge formation and leg kick.
Final impressions – I personally thought Phantom had the best musical performance of the night. I am biased towards the techniques which their horn line utilizes, plus I love the sound of the King horns, both of which are opinions which I know not everybody shares. Alas, Blue Devils beat Phantom in both brass and percussion, but not by much. The weakness of this show was definitely GE. The attempts to portray the On Air theme just did not achieve what the designers hoped for. Between the poorly designed guard uniforms, which looked like molting birds instead of flying birds, and teh strange bauldric and gauntlet designs which were supposed to elicit images of bird feathers, it was hard to take the theme of the show seriously. This is a show I can listen to over and over again. Watching this show, however, won’t happen as often.