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Allentown – August 7, 2021

Drum corps fans packed the stands at Birney Crum Stadium Saturday night under perfect weather. The wide range of age of those in attendance showed that drum corps is alive and well and sought after by fans of all ages. We drove a six hour round trip to view a show that spanned less than half that amount of time and I had my doubts as to whether the trip was going to be worth the effort. But I was rewarded many times over, finding myself declaring this or that “was worth the drive” following a certain horn or drum sequence.

Let’s get the housekeeping complaints out of the way first. DCI does a great job in selling tickets online. The seating charts are accurate and the selection process just flat out works. Amateur hour kicks in when you get to the stadium. Fans are lined up around the block trying to get into the stadium. This is a recurring theme at the annual Annapolis show as well. A handful of staff is just not enough to usher thousands of people through one tiny gate in an hour’s time.

J. Birney Crum Stadium

Otherwise, the evening was a one show season for this writer with many great moments. I opted out of the Indy trip this season and that, along with the cancellation of the regular east coast shows in our area, meant it all had to be absorbed in one show. Off the cuff and with no technical expertise injected, here are my random thoughts on the corps:

The Hawthorne Caballeros put out a show featuring endless sound bites without the meat and potatoes. After watching the Cabs since the late 1960s, job number one for the corps is to make the hair stand up on the back of necks of the fans in the stands. I realize they are trying to beat the Bucs, but it is the vast difference in the approaches of the Cabs and the Bucs over the generations that make it interesting. Perhaps take a page from the Cadets…there are ways of keeping parts of the past in the current shows. The fans and judges will reward this. Latin tunes and drum corps are an unbeatable combination and I think the Cabs should get closer to their roots in the future. And I say this all while remembering that Hawthorne is easily my favorite senior corps of all time.

 

Moving way ahead to the Boston Crusaders…..to me this was the best Boston book and show I have seen in many years. When a show has just ended and my first thought is how I can see this again, it’s a powerful sign. Even though Boston has been moving up steadily since coming out of 2016, the past music books have seemed disjointed, sound bite after sound bite. But the current book musically moves like it should and delivers, one hit after another. This is the type of show that the crowd craves. Suddenly I am looking for a hotel in Indy for next week!

 

Spirit of Atlanta and the Bluecoats: both performances were very strong and they are both in good form. Both books are excellent. Best soloist of the night was Spirit’s flugelhorn (I believe) soloist. Other soloists seemed to struggle somewhat throughout the night, but this is an exhausting endeavor and I will grant most soloists a mulligan when needed, having been there myself many times!

 

Comments for Music City: An excellent up and coming corps. Keep it going and you will get stronger. On the road with top 12 corps as you are will only make you better each season.

Lastly, the Cadets: They show they are not afraid to go back in history while still moving forward. Start with the uniform – a long running traditional cadet uniform still worn today. They have veered away from it certain years and used many variations of the uniform, but they always come back with tradition. When the corps took up the block formation on the far side to enter the field, it made a tremendous impact to open their show. The uniform places a great impression on even the youngest people in the activity while it reconfirms what matters to the older fans and drum corps alumni in general.

The Cadets in Quincy, MA

The Cadets show was a throwback to their earlier years, similar to a Blue Devils show a few years ago. What they deliver is Excellence, an amazing combination of all the aspects that one hopes to witness at a show. The mid show ballad is a killer, building with every phrase. Late in the show, the Cadets form into their block style parade set up, coming at a 45 degree angle from the back right of the field moving forward, snare line in front, and they overwhelm all present with their absolute mastery of this great activity.

Best of luck to all the corps in Indy and we will then wait to what is in store for 2022!

The Czar invites you to submit your ideas for “change for the betterment of drum corps”; however the decisions of the Czar are final. No ideas will be considered without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball and Drum Corps TV Network, if it exists.

Chuck@BostonBuildersInc.com

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