DCI Van Buren Review

Carolina Crown bass drums being tuned before the show
So I took a different approach to the DCI show in Van Buren after realizing last year that the location is not really conducive to running around with a camera. This year I decided it would be my goal to sit in the stands at this venue and actually enjoy some of the shows. Unfortunately, some of the drumlines were making it extremely difficult to stay focused on the goal. When I got out of my car, I was presented with this…

 

It was Carolina Crown just setting up for their warm up…
IMG_2378
IMG_2379
IMG_2381
IMG_2382
IMG_2385
IMG_2387
IMG_2388

After hanging around a few minutes and realizing I needed to get back on track, I literally followed the railroad tracks towards the stadium. Again, I was presented with another roadblock luring me away, this time it was the Santa Clara Vanguard.

IMG_2389
IMG_2390
IMG_2393

I stood there for about five minutes listening to the little devil sitting on my shoulder saying, “look at this primo location, with two outstanding drumlines warming up. You would be an idiot to pass this up”. Would I? I had to press on so back to following the tracks.
After negotiating for the best ticket left in the stack, I proceeded to head to the stands but I again started to doubt my decision as I read the sign on the gate, “No re-entry”….it was all or nothing at this point. I grimaced as I looked for my seat among the masses, listening to things such as “I can’t wait for the next band”….oh what had I gotten myself into? I was sitting in the epicenter among the grandmas, band moms, and the uninitiated! They didn’t know what they were missing in the parking lot, the whole other show, and I doubted they cared.
But then the first group came out, not the first group in the lineup – remember my loitering in the lot? So the first group to come out is Spirit which was an entertaining show. Not something I would normally go for, but it was satisfying in that it didn’t try to pose a deep question or tug at the heart strings. It was just a good old fashioned 11 minutes of drum corp. Hey maybe these people in the stands were on to something?

IMG_2397
IMG_2395
IMG_2396
IMG_2399
IMG_2401
IMG_2403

So next up was the Colts. Their show was well designed when it came to the music, but seemed to lack the visual polish of a Top 6 corp. Nonetheless, the total package came off strong and the drumline is much improved from years past. Everything seemed to have a better flow in the writing and playing…oh the playing, the roll quality was fantastic from the snareline. The Colts drumline had the perfect balance of musicality, demand, quality of sound and technique. My hat is off to them this year.

IMG_2405
IMG_2409
IMG_2411
IMG_2412
IMG_2414
IMG_2423
IMG_2428

The Blue Knights were up next and they did not disappoint. This was actually the show that impressed me the most since I typically do not connect with Blue Knight shows. I’m not sure what it is, but their shows in the past have not grabbed me. 2009 is a different story. It’s hard to pull off a show that depicts “cold” when it’s almost 100 degrees but they did a fine job. The hornline was fantastic and just when you thought they had given you their all, they turned it up even more! I use to only think the elite groups were able to do that with the same quality of sound while raising the intensity level – not anymore! The drumline writing complimented the horn book well and never distracted the listener from the main musical themes. They were a strong drumline and had some very impressive drum exposures during the show.

IMG_2432
IMG_2437
IMG_2440
IMG_2441
IMG_2443
IMG_2445
IMG_2446

Santa Clara Vanguard was next. It was a non stop “Best of” show containing classic Vanguard that hit all of the right notes. There were areas of serious playing, comedy, raw emotion, and nods to tradition all wrapped up in a package only SCV could produce. The drums looked sharp in the dark green stain and they played closer to the traditional SCV style than in recent years – I see this as an improvement. Why not go back to roots, the very thing that got you where you are in the first place? This is a show worth seeing again and again.

IMG_2450
IMG_2451
IMG_2452
IMG_2457
IMG_2458
IMG_2459

The last group of the night was Carolina Crown. I have to be honest and say that they were the primary reason for going to this particular show. It would be the one and only time I would get to see them this Summer so I jumped at the chance. “The Grass is Always Greener” as the show title gives the design team a lot of open-ended ideas to play with and they did a nice job exploring those. I can’t say I picked up everything on the first read, but the variations on what is on “the other side” proved to be enjoyable to watch. Hornline was strong like last year, up to the same level? Maybe, but the music is a different style so its hard to compare. The drumline? Smokin’. They have improved every year since Lee Beddis has taken the reins. This is the pinnacle of a multi-year build up and they are drumming for the trophy – it is non stop notes, yet still very musical. They are not hiding and they are in a way calling out to other groups to do the same (see visuals in show for explanation).

A few things to note about the drumline. The drum finish is outstanding with the green stain. The bass drums got new heads that look like the green stained wood grain, a neat effect. The other thing to note is the tuning of the snare drums. Up close, they sound midrange to on-the-slightly-low-side but from the stands it blends well as an ensemble (which is most important).

IMG_2460
IMG_2462
IMG_2463
IMG_2464
IMG_2465
IMG_2466
IMG_2467
IMG_2469
IMG_2470
IMG_2472
IMG_2475
IMG_2476

Overall, a great evening in the stands and I am actually glad I grabbed a seat for this one. Do I prefer the lot? Sure, it provides a much more intimate view of the drumline and the notes they are playing (and it’s free), but you have to take in the end result to see how it all fits together. This gives you better sense of where you can expect corps to finish at Championships. Carolina Crown? Top 3 in my book this year. Good luck to everyone for the remainder of the season.

IMG_2485

Tags: , , , ,

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed or check out the latest videos on our YouTube channel

Comments are closed.