Monday, June 15, 2015

Let's Get It Started

So Cal Drum Corps Sneak Preview
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Glen A. Wilson High School 
Hacienda Heights, CA

Drum Corps Season 2015 is about to start!  I attended the So Cal Drum Corps Sneak Preview with Bro because we can't possibly wait another week until we see our first show at Stanford.  

For those new to my blog, allow me to introduce myself.  I've been a drum corps fan since the days that it was televised on Thanksgiving weekend over 20 years ago.  Bro and I would watch Finals 3 months after they actually happened.  Bro and I have been precision marching fans since our years of growing up in Arcadia, the home of the famed Arcadia Apache Marching Band.  Neither one of us marched in that band, as we were both violinists, and a violin bow is a bit dangerous with which to march.  I marched in my junior high school drill team for two years.  He and I are hard core fans, and we like to bring new people in and get them hooked (I do this with Rockapella, too, hence the name of this blog).  Bro and I have been attending DCI Finals since 1999, so we're quite experienced audience members.  My blog posts include pre- and post- show activities for posterity. I will only post the repertoire of corps if that is my first time seeing them that season.

Let's get it started!

Bro and I arrived after the food trucks opened, but early enough to beat the crowds.  We ordered burgers from Austyn's.  The burger itself was tasty (their meat is made from grass-fed cattle), but the fries needed more salt.  I didn't see salt packets at the truck, but I also wasn't looking for them.  Bro and I finished before the magician got to our table.  Don't get me wrong:  I like magicians.  I like when they perform crazy stuff like having you sign a playing card, and finding it inside an orange.  We just weren't in the mood.  So we watched the Impulse drum line warm up.  Bro noticed that a couple of the cymbal players were not even in step during their stand still, which worried me.  I am not a fan of people being out of step, especially percussion players.  You ARE the beat, people.  Please learn to walk to it.

We watched the end of the magician's stage show as we waited for Prota, a Taiko drum ensemble.  This made me smile.  I love Taiko!  I love the sound of the drums, and I love the balletic movements of the drummers arms.  I would have volunteered to learn to play, but a) I was being shy, and b) I didn't want to embarrass Bro with my non-drummer-ness.

We walked into the stadium with our hand stamps.  I honestly don't know why they didn't let me keep part of my ticket.  It was perforated.  You have to pay extra for that.  It's just silly not to let me walk away with my souvenir, especially because there was no program.

Ryan Turner, the voice of So Cal drum corps, was our announcer, which made me happy.  He won't remember me, but I was one of the people that held the banner for the Pasadena Honor Band in the Rose Parade, for which he was the drum major.  Also, he knows how to pronounce the names of shows and stuff.  He interviewed the corps directors before each show.

Since this was a sneak preview, I didn't expect to see full shows from anyone.

Repertoire: "Planet Incognito": World of Incognitians by T. Nguyen; Mars (from The Planets) by G. Holst; Jupiter (from The Planets) by G. Holst

Incognito was on a hiatus for several years, so it's good to see them back, although I miss their masks.  Their drum cadence is syncopated, which worried us, especially Bro, because it's not easy to march to syncopated beats, and um, it's not like they're awesome at the marching anyway.   They sound better than I've ever heard them before.  We only heard Mars, and maybe some of the original work by corps director Nguyen.

Repertoire:  "Interpolation": Anna's Theme by J. Corigliano; The Monastery Gregorian chant; The Gypsy Song (composer unknown)

Oh, maybe that's why their tour shirt has a graph/Spirograph design on it!  Interpolation!  People were commenting that they weren't wearing their caps.  Maybe they're still getting fitted.  Or they want to save them for the judges.  I don't know, but the drum major (DM) had one.  Yay, Red Violin!  I love that music.  Nice euphonium solo during that piece, and that is their strongest song at the moment.

Repertoire: "Pop Star" (musical selections not available)

Corps director Donald Flaherty said that their repertoire is basically a rock opera of a Britney Spears tour.  They did one selection for us, "Toxic".  Different sections in the corps wear different uniforms.  To me, this not a definition of "uniform", but that's because I'm picky and I don't like to be distracted by all of that stuff.  Which I was.  I was quite disappointed.  So was Bro.  They have a tall stage for their electric guitar and bass guitar and drum kit.  Those electronic instruments were so loud that they drowned out the corps proper, and I DO NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL.  It was way too loud, which made me feel like I was the Huey Lewis character in "Back To The Future".  Bro thought that the arrangement of "Toxic" was like listening to a bad elementary school band.  Yikes!  I thought that the girl in the red lingerie was going to sing, but she was using her saber handle with the microphone on the mic stand.  Please, please tell me that their "uniforms" are just temporary, because at least that would make me feel a little better.  I don't want to have to cringe when I see this show multiple times this summer, because I usually really like this corps.  Sorry, Gold.  If the rest of the show is like this, I'll be in line for a hot dog during your performances.

Don't get me wrong.  I like to be hopeful at the beginning of the season, and not as critical as this.  But at least they have a lot of time to change it up.  Not that they'll read this.  Or care.

Repertoire: "Catalyst" -- Scythian Suite by S. Prokofiev; Liberi Fatali (from Final Fantasy) by N. Uetmatsu; Enjoy the Silence  by M. Gore of Depeche Mode, based on Eric Whitacre's choral arrangement; Angels in the Architecture by F. Tichelli

Their new uniforms are quite nice, much better than the last incarnation.  I like them, but I agree with Bro that they need more white on the front so that they can have more contrast when they do their cool spin moves.  Very energetic starting from the beginning.  I like it!  The color guard (CG) tails expand to skirts.  Pretty.  I think those black tops are going to change, though, because none of them are the same.  Nice big, brass sound!  I like the dark feel of their music.  Bro misses having a ballad that he can hum.  I guess he doesn't know the Depeche Mode song, or he doesn't like it.  

Encore -- Pacific Crest

PC played my very favorite hymn, "Melita", otherwise known as the US Navy hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save".  Brass caption head Seth is also one of the band directors at Arcadia HS, and he uses the hymn as a warm up for them, too.  Yup, my favorite band, playing my favorite hymn.  I'm so lucky!  Then PC does it now, too?  Heaven.

They also played their show closer at stand still.  Actually, I think it was at stand still during today's show, too.  Can't give it all away quite yet!

They finished with their corps song, the Franz Biebl "Ave Maria", another piece that I adore.  Sigh.  

The drum corps season is starting!  Whoo HOOOOO!  I'm looking forward to seeing these shows develop in these weeks leading up to Finals.  

Good luck to all of the corps this season, and safe travels!  See you at the cinema on Wednesday!

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