Friday, August 7, 2009

That Drum Corps Show Across the Street

DCI Quarterfinals
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Indianapolis, IN -- Lucas Oil Stadium

I arrived in Indianapolis on Wednesday, a day after Bro. He had arrived a day early to visit with some friends in Terre Haute. He picked me up in the rented oh-so-roomy-but-not-really Toyota Yaris. It's actually a nice car, except for the weird instrument panel, which is situated in the middle of the dashboard, which irritated Bro. We made a stop at Staples and then had dinner at O'Charley's, where we had gone last year, so now it is a tradition. (Yes, both Staples and O'Charley's. Best Buy would have been part of the tradition had the store still been there). We then drove to our hotel, which is right across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium. This is especially impressive to Bro and me because we thought it was a couple of blocks away. No. It's right there! See?

Holiday Inn Express on left, Lucas Oil on right

It should also impress those of you that have been to DCI with us before, having to take a shuttle or drive all the way back to our hotel. We couldn't believe our luck when we had booked the place last month and it was still available. No, we don't have a view of the stadium from our room, but we don't mind. We pretty much just got settled in and realized that we wouldn't have much to do for the rest of our stay but see drum corps. Don't know if we're going to be able to last all 9 years here.

On Thursday morning, we got up and had a nice complimentary warm breakfast downstairs in the hotel. We went to the Greenwood mall and bought flip-flops for both of us at Dick's Sporting Goods. I know, I know. MORE shoes, Sher? But, but, they were on sale! It's Bro's fault anyway. Take this girl shopping for shoes and you know she's going to look for some for herself. We went back to the hotel and I painted my toenails green to show my Vanguardian fandom. We had lunch at the Comfort Suites Cafe and Bar at the Comfort Inn just a few steps away. Bro enjoyed his $1.00 Black Jack Cola, while I spent twice as much on a mere Diet Coke. Bro has realized that he likes Reuben sandwiches.

We walked back to our hotel, picked up our tickets and such, and headed over to Lucas Oil. Although our tickets stated that we could enter through the gates on the same side as our hotel, they were incorrect. So much for paying the exorbitant charges that Ticketmaster sets on these stupid things. I miss the days when we used to order directly through DCI, and all the tickets had the name "Kristy" on them. I somehow was able to get in with my backpack, although the announcement said that they weren't allowed. (Others had them, too. If they had a bag check, perhaps I would have had to walk back to the hotel). So after we signed up to be "Super Fans," we went down to the DCI Marketplace, which is actually in the attached Convention Center. I bought a Vanguard tote (yes, another bag) as well as last year's DCI Finals CDs and the week's program. Bro bought a couple of cool shirts.

Anyway, one of the ways to get to the Marketplace is to go down the steps to the field level and go behind the stands to the entrance. Here's the view from the field level:

Colts End Zone

We made our way up to our seats, which were on the Terrace Level, the highest tier, in the 1st row, on the left 10-yard line. We had missed the Star-Spangled Banner, and were seated just in time for the first corps. Since we were in the front row of our section, I had desk space to place my notebook and phone. This made me happy. I'm a geek like that.

The top 17 -scored corps advance to semi-finals, marked by an *

Cascades -- 74.95
Repertoire: "Beyond the Forest" -- Pan's Labyrinth by J. Navarrete, Into the Forest by J. Hinkle, Tangiers by J. Powel, Not While I'm Around by S. Sondheim, Make Our Garden Grow by L. Bernstein

Welcome back, Seattle! They didn't do a full tour last year, and I missed them. I told Bro that due to the last heat wave in Seattle, this is probably the first time that corps members felt like they were going to better weather for Finals. I didn't really like any of the flag colors. At one point, they had branches, and formed a tree. I thought that one of the formations would mean something significant. Here is the exchange of words between us.

S: What is that?
B: An ant.
S: On purpose?

Cascades Tree

Pioneer -- 75.75
Repertoire: "Celtic Trinity" -- Celtic Dances by B. Balmages, Into the Raging River by S. Rellnecke

They did variations of the number three, which made Bro furrow his brow, since SCV had just recently done a show with this theme. However, Pioneer's was more symbolic of their Irish roots, using the shamrock, the Celtic Triangle, and the Celtic Cross in their formations. At one point, the color guard members each had a big stick, and a little, almost tambourine-sized drum. We wondered what that was about. It turns out that the drum was to be held up for the snare players to beat. Ooh, look! The second drum major has a horn solo. Toward the end, the cymbals did a version of SCV's Viper. What? Just because SCV isn't doing it this year, you're going to? Hmph.

Jersey Surf -- 78.55
Repertoire: "The Mozart Effect" -- Overture to The Marriage of Figaro; Inspirations from Symphony #40 in G Minor; The Lacrimosa (from Mozart's Requiem); Excerpts from: The Magic Flute, Act II: Pa-Pa-Papageno, Der Holle kocht in meinem Herze; Excerpts from: Symphony #40 in G Minor: "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" by. W.A. Mozart

This is the Surf's debut at World Class Finals week competition. Welcome to the Big Leagues, Surf! That last chord to the Overture was really cool. When Bro and I saw the repertoire, we both worried that Surf had lost its comedic roots, but they did not disappoint us. Symphony #40 was a fun romp with a salsa beat. Pa-Pa-Papageno was great, and the corps danced the bird dance and bobbed their heads. (This is one of the very few songs in The Magic Flute that I actually enjoy). The musical back-and-forth melody got kind of lost from our vantage point, though, because the sound gets a little muddy up here.

Pacific Crest -- 79.05
Repertoire: "El Corazon de la Gente" -- Danzas Sinfonicas by J. Orbon, Sinfonia India by C. Chavez, Pampeana #3 by A. Ginastera

Ok, this is the corps I sponsor on a regular basis, and this is the first and only time I saw them perform this year. Stupid getting-drunk-in-Napa. ;) I also sponsored a uniform, and don't really like them, but whatever. I also don't like the CG uniforms. I do, however, love the corps uniforms from the back! Nice, especially with the white plume. I also like the Drum Major's uniform. At first, I was happy to see that they were able to keep their lines straight, even when they weren't on the yard lines. That didn't last for the rest of the show, though, as I found myself motioning to them to move over and get in line (as if they could see me). I like the drum feature, and there were some very nice solos. I also liked the dance steps during what looked like a bull-fighting sequence, as well as the accompanying hypnotic flags.

PC Turns Around

Mandarins -- 79.65
Repertoire: "Absolute" -- Absolute Fanfare: Festive Overture, Op. 96 by D. Shostakovich; Absolute Passion: Libertango by A. Piazzolla; Absolute Joy: Ode to Joy (from Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, "Choral") by L. van Beethoven; Absolute Rhythm: Ode to Joy; Absolute Velocity: Partita by P. Sparke

I see Absolute, I think vodka. See? They included a Russian composer! ;) All of their different-colored flags had the same graphic on it. I like the music, but how can you have "Absolute Joy" in a Mandarins show when there is no Taiko? Hey--the CG took the long feather from last year's Pacific Crest show, and multiplied. Somebody dropped their drum stick, so that distracted me for the rest of the show. I missed when they picked it up, though.

Spirit -- 80.7 *
Repertoire: "Live...In Concert" -- Song for America by K. Livgren, Carry On Wayward Son by K. Livgren, Point of Know Return by S. Walsh, P. Ehart & R. Steinhardt, Dust in the Wind by K. Livgren, Journey from Mariabronn by K. Livgren & S. Walsh

Their show is the music of the band Kansas, whom I know as having some cool a cappella harmonies in some of their songs. So the fact that they had no part of just pure horn chords without any other distraction just completely disappointed me. I'm also not happy that they were actually playing an electric string bass and an electric guitar over there in the pit. The pre-show started with sound checks, which fit the theme of the whole "concert" atmosphere, but I just could not get into it, and was annoyed. Had they done the harmonies and let the horns actually just play, this show would have been awesome. Instead, we just got a bunch of unnecessary stuff. Ugh.

Crossmen -- 81.9*
Repertore: "ForbiddeN" -- Medea's Dance of Vengeance by S. Barber, My Immortal by B. Moody, A. Lee & D. Hodges, ForbiddeN by A. Guidry

No, that capital N in the title is not a typo. Don't know what that's about. Anyway, the program doesn't come right out and say this, but this show is about vampires. COOL! The Crossmen capitalize on their corps history, and bring back their capes to use as part of their special effects. Love it. Unfortunately, due to security issues, mascot Bones had nowhere to stand except on the sidelines to bring luck to his corps. I like all of the vampire cape action. There was a neat sound that was like something flying through the wind at night, but I wish it wasn't from the synthesizer. Because that means that they're using a synthesizer, and I am not a fan of those being used in drum corps. At the end of the show, I asked Bro, "Is he drinking her right now?" The answer was YES. Way cool.

Cymbal players surround the ForbiddeN couple

So at this point, I went to the restroom, then looked for a concession stand to buy something to drink. For the entire terrace level, there was only one stand open, with 6 lines, each at least 15 customers deep. Good God. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad if the line actually moved quickly. No. APPARENTLY, this was the concessions crew's first day together. EVER. This is supposed to be their dress rehearsal for next week's opening Colts game. guys have a LOT of practicing to do! I met some nice people in line, 2 of which were a couple whose kid was in PC, so we talked about that. Other people discussed the non-availability of adequate Disabled services, such as parking near the door, and actual seating for disabled people. The rest of the time, we all talked about the abhorrent concession stand service. Next to the kitchen, still in the employee area, 3 people stood around, 2 of them with walkie-talkies, probably discussing the fact that nobody had any idea what was going on. Why the heck are there so many people here? And why are they all hungry/thirsty? When the lady in front of me finally ordered a good 20-25 minutes after we got in line, they had run low on pretzels, so they were still heating them. Did the gal at the register offer to help me while they were waiting for them? Not until I spoke up and asked if I could just buy a drink. She just sat there and watched the pretzel people heat up the pretzels, already having put in her request for one. She probably would have made me wait had I not spoken up. Normally, I would be patient, but it was, like 1 minute until intermission would be over. A 41-minute intermission. So maybe I had been in line for 30 minutes, I don't even know. RIDICULOUS.

Madison Scouts -- 83.5*
Repertoire: "Relampago" -- I. The Forces of Nature: Original music by V. Oliver, Malaga by B. Holman; II. Two Left-Footed Mambo: Baron Cimetiere's Mambo by D. Grantham; III. Love Is In the Air: Original music by V. Oliver; IV. A Turn to the Dark Side: Candela by G. Ortiz; V. Relampago's Triumphant Return: Original music by V. Oliver

This show is about a reuctant superhero, who gained supernatural strengths after living a life of crime. The first part of the show looks like scary Death in red robes. Then he looked like a Lucha wrestler. So I thought that maybe it was a wrestler who had come back to life. I was close, I guess. I like the red sash on the corps uniforms. No fleur-de-lis in the Madison show? WHACK.

The Academy -- 83.9*
I really like this show from up here. Lots of arrows pointing up, which fit the "Ascent" theme. We couldn't see them from the low vantage point that we had in AZ. I like the blue flags signifying wind, especially when they spin them. The music is not muddy now, as it was with the corps before them today. Pretty.

Academy Arrow Going Up

Colts -- 85.15*
Repertoire: "Fathoms" -- Song of the High Seas (from Victory at Sea) by R. Rodgers, Seda Treaders by W. F. McBeth, The Voyage by C. Tomas & M. Mullinix, Ebb Tide by R. Maxwell, SOS by M. Mulinix & C. Tomas, The Journey Home by C. Tomas & M. Mulllinix

I wanted to hear "Fathoms Below" from The Little Mermaid, but I didn't. Bummer. They did a formation of a wave, which almost looked like the PC logo, but red. That synthesized seagull sound was way loud. How big was that seagull supposed to be? The nautical theme was present throughout, and I liked the flag with the lighthouse graphic.

Troopers -- 86.05*
The corps entered from the other side of the stadium. That was weird. Oh! One of the formations was a bow and arrow, and it moved as if the arrow was being shot. I don't remember that many hearts in the show before, but I like them. I liked the really high soprano note that was played in unison. NICE!

Troopers Arrow Through Heart

Glassmen -- 87.75*
Repertoire: "The Journey of ONE" -- Act 1: Multiples of ONE: The Multiples of One by J. Curiale, You Are Wherever Your Thoughts Are by S. Reich; Act 2: Alone: The Heat Asks Pleasure First (from The Piano) by M. Nymna, Panis Angelicus by C. Frank; Act 3: ONE: The Multiples of One; Joy (from Awakening) by J. Curiale, One by H. Nillson

I thought the beginning of their show sounded like SCV's Canyon, but that didn't last long. When did they add those hash marks to their pants? The space sound they made was cool, and I know they can do that with just horns. They also had flags with the same design on all of their different colors. Bro would have preferred that they ended their show with the Arabic number 1 instead of the Roman numeral I. Maybe they'll change it up just for him tomorrow.

Glassmen One

Blue Knights -- 87.0*'s getting cold in here. No, really, it is. The air-conditioning was on, and it felt kind of wrong for me to be watching drum corps in person and not being warm. BK's guard was dressed appropriately, for their "Shiver" show. The wind blowing the corps around worked well here. It did not seem to translate at all in AZ. Neither did those ski vests on in 97-degree weather. I could have used one tonight, though. One of the guard members kept dropping stuff, which makes me crazy during finals week. I giggled when the judge had to run away from the expanding snowball. I think that they should change the pattern of the snowflake with every show. They have pretty flags. I like the big ones with the fringe, pictured below.

Blue Stars-- 89.95*
Repertoire: "The Factory" -- Theme from Hardin County, by A. Menkin; The Factory by F. Sullivan, B. Montgomery, S. Adams & T. Aungst; Fancy Free by L. Bernstein

There are a LOT of sewing machines on the field.

I like the way that they brought unfinished flags to the sewers, and they came back with complete flags. There was some narration going on, which I heard as "Wa wa wa Wa wa wa" a la Charlie Brown adults. Not just because I hate narration, but also because it gets all muddy in the dome atmosphere. Which leads me to this discussion.

DCI did not have the dome open today, which was a beautiful day, not too hot, no rain, blue skies. APPARENTLY, the stadium folks told them that they had to keep the dome closed. Never mind that acoustically, drum corps is better heard in open air. Never mind that DCI is locked into its contract for 9 of the next 10 years. Never mind that there was no rain or 100-degree heat in the forecast. No. STUPID.

Anyway, I like the theme of the BStars show. There were just way too many sewing machines on the field, and the narration was unnecessary.

No, I did not go back to concessions.

Boston Crusaders -- 90.35*
Repertoire: "The Core of Temptation" -- Prologue by J. Kennedy, Dance of the Maenads (from View from Olympus) by J. Psathas, Seduction (after a theme by Camille Saint-Saens) by J. Kennedy, Chaos by O. Carmenatas & J. Carpenter, Capitulation & Ritual Madness by. J. Kennedy, Bacchanale (from Samson and Delilah) by C. Saint-Saens

The first big formation was an apple. I missed taking a picture of that. Later on, the formation was of a bitten apple. I missed taking a picture of that one, too. Oh, well. I wasn't fond of the flags, because the bright pink really clashed with the corps' red uniforms. Bro: "All the flags are Bubble Yum flavors." As if the contra players don't have enough of a load to carry, they also each lift up a member of the CG while also holding their instruments. Those are some strong people! There were way more people on the field dancing around than I remember being in the story of the Garden of Eden. YAY! Bacchanale!!!! I LOVE that piece.

Phantom Regiment -- 90.7*
Repertoire: "The Red Violin" -- The Red Violin (from the film The Red Violin) by J. Corigliano, Fantasy Variations on a Theme by Paganini by J. Barnes, Paganini Variations by W. Lutoslawski, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by S. Rachmaninoff, Caprice XXIV Paganini by B. Goodman, Paganini Variations by P. Wilby

I love the movie The Red Violin, especially the music. So I was happy at the beginning of the season when Phregiment announced that they would be doing the music from this show. The defending champions have got the talent for it. Unfortunately, their show design left the judges with much to be desired during the season, so they changed it drastically. I had seen the first version online, so much of the show tonight was new to me. They really changed it! There is now some residual violence from last year's Spartacus show, as people fight over ownership over the Red Violin. They stand at the vomitory with the snares in front, then they open up like a gate and let the rest of the corps enter before them. I love how they jazzed up Paganini. The violinist in me wants that f-hole flag. (The f-hole is one of the cut outs on the violin itself). They make formations of portions of violins.

3/4 of a Violin formation

Bluecoats -- 92.65*
Do we really need the flag with the word "idea" and a lightbulb on it? The multiple flags with just lighbulbs on them weren't enough? I like the flags with the graphic of pigs flying. I also like the horn players' dance movements during the drum feature, which is cool in itself anyway. They were the 2nd corps to take off some of their clothing today. Somebody earlier took off their hats. So, at this rate, I figured that the Blue Devils would just eventually be naked on the field.

Santa Clara Vanguard -- 95.5*
Gorgeous! I warned Bro that I watched them perform this live online a few weeks ago, and I cried through most of it. It didn't happen today because I ran out of batteries on my camera. The cymbal players now put their cymbals down on the field at the end of the show so that they can lift up "Martha." All in all, I have nothing much to say. The beauty of this show leaves me speechless.


Holy Name Cadets -- 96.05*
Repertoire: "West Side Story '09: Conflict and Resolution" -- Rumble, Prologue, Boy Like That/I Have a Love, Cool, Tonight (from West Side Story) by L. Bernstein

Happy 75th Anniversary to the Cadets, who went back to their roots this year with their corps name and one of the staple pieces of drum corps, the music of WSS. Actually, to me, it was a a"White West Side Story," as they didn't play "Mambo" or "America." I like the conflicting sides of the green vs. yellow flags while they play a cool medley of "Boy Like That/I Have A Love." Heaven help us, I actually like a Cadets show! If only they would leave out the talking. Yes, there's still a little bit of talking during "Cool." Completely unnecessary.

Carolina Crown -- 96.10*
Repertoire: "The Grass is Always Greener" -- Promise of Living by A. Copland, The Storm by L. Beddis & A. Markworth, Church Windows by O. Respighi, Overture, Spark of Love, Puck One (from Il Sogno) by E. Costello, Sensemaya by S. Revueltas, Somewhere Over the Rainbow by H. Arlen, Somewhere (from West Side Story) by L. Bernstein, Slalom by C. Pann, Promise of Living

There is way too much green, and an icky green at that. I thought that Peter Pan was on the field, and it seemed to me that I was right, because later someone was dressed like they were Tinkerbell. So Peter Pan & Tinkerbell were dancing to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which is the Cavaliers signature song. The Cavaliers, AKA the Green Machine, were waiting to perform their show and had to listen to this other corps do their song. That was just wrong to me. Ooh, at one point, there were pairs of corps members making a bridge out of another corps member on their shoulders, and the CG would toss their rifle over them and catch from the other side of the human bridge. Cool! If I was the bridge, I'd close my eyes for that.

Cavaliers -- 95.85*
Repertoire: "The Great Divide" -- Extreme Makeover by J. de Meij, Pampeana No. 3: Impetuosamente by A. Ginastera, The Engulfed Cathedral by C. Debussy, On the Great Divide by J. Adams

OK, Crown must have thrown off the Cavaliers to give them this score. That whole wrong-ness must have just permeated throughout the season. They have ropes in this show. At one point, 2 people were on each end, holding two ropes, and there was another CG standing midway between them. I wanted them to do some Double Dutch. They did not. So near the beginning of the show, the CG tossed their rifles over an elevated rope. Whatever. So I giggled, thinking that wasn't as dangerous as what Crown did. Then it was like, "Oh, yeah? I'll show YOU 'rifle-toss-over-corps-member'!" and a bunch of them, in succession, did the human bridge on shoulders, spinning one way and then another over the bridge. Awesome. There was a lot of climbing over people. Um, sir? Have you ever heard the phrase "Excuse me?" ;)

Blue Devils -- 97.95*
Repertoire: "1930" -- Mosaic: Get Happy by H. Arlen & T. Koehler, Happy Days Are Here Again by J. Yelten & M. Ager, Playing Love by E. Morricone; Depression: Piano Variations by A. Copland; King of Jazz: Rialto Ripples by G. Gershwin & I. Gershwin, I Got Rhythm by G. Gershwin & I. Gershwin; Hope: Concerto in F by G. Gershwin, Caravan by D. Ellington, I. MIlls & J. Tizol, Happy Days Are Here Again

I had only seen this show online before. The first time, I didn't like it much. The second time, I did. This time, live, I really enjoyed the show. They have a lot of chairs, which are moved around the field to support different formations and allow people to sit down.
S: Did they sit around a lot in 1930?
B: Yes. It's when the chair was invented.
S: Wow. They stood around for a long time!
That cool pant-scarf thing from last year is back, but the inner lining is yellow, which matches the CG, and really adds to the visual effect of the show. The horn players are all sitting in an arc formation at one point, and they all have their legs spread out as they lay back on the chairs. I really like that, especially because it shows that yellow. I wondered aloud why the drummers didn't get to sit down. Well, I got something close: The snare players stood on the chairs, and then the bass drummers. I was all, YES!!!" when it happened, it was really cool. With all of those chairs as obstacles, I was amused when the field judge had a hard time getting around. I want to "see" BD do that one in the dark! Bro told me to close my eyes and it would have been the same as that night in 1999. But I want the corps' eyes to be closed, too!!!

After hearing the last couple of scores, I needed some protein, so Bro and I decided to put our stuff away and walk over to Basey's. Basey's is a bar situated next to the parking structure of the hotel, and they put up a canopy for drum corps fans and alumni to have drinks after the show. We went inside and ordered some hot wings and drinks. A drunk man said stuff to us occassionally. He called Bro a Marine and asked how he got so lucky to be with somebody so good-looking. Or he was asking me that. We weren't sure. I just didn't want to tip him off that we were bro & sis, so that he wouldn't hit on either one of us. He was pretty harmless, but really drunk, and staggered to the restroom. I got really drunk on my Citrus Splash, which was just vodka & cranberry juice, but I was really just ready to go home. Bro called me a lightweight as he finished his Silver Bullet as well as the rest of my drink & my wings. I don't know why, but that drink hit me HARD. We went back to the hotel and I drank water to prevent any hatred of myself in the morning.

It was an enjoyable Quarterfinals night. I didn't deem any show "hot dog corps"-worthy. There wasn't much drama, which, compared to last year, is a bit of a letdown. The top show to Bro and me, no matter what the score: Vanguard. Not many shows leave me with that speechless feeling. Ballet for Martha gives me the same feeling that Scheherazade did in 2004. No matter who wins, 2009 will be, to me, "Martha's Year."

Next Up: Semifinals

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