One of the special things to happen on the DCI Tour of Champions was the opportunity accorded to all the marching members to sit and watch the entire performances of all the other corps on the tour. This closed-to-the-public event happened on Saturday afternoon, just a few hours before the final public show of the tour. The run-throughs were conducted at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale. We at thought it would be neat to have a member of another corps sit in the press box and share their impressions of the other corps' show that was happening on the field. We also recorded audio commentary, which we'll edit and post to over the next week The Cavaliers, commentary by Daniel Acosta of the Madison Scouts Daniel Acosta, from Odessa, Texas, is in the Madison Scouts front ensemble. This is his third year in the corps. He was selected to share his impressions of The Cavaliers. "We've competed with the Cavaliers over a dozen times, but I have yet to see them. They were usually on too close after us for me to watch them before now. "They're jamming from the beginning, having a lot of fun out there. The show just grabs me from the beginning. It's fast-paced, man, just like a James Bond movie. They capture everything from James Bond in their show. It's intriguing, fascinating and exciting. It's not like the usual Cavaliers' show ... not that they're boring ... but it usually takes more to get the people in. "The circle of drums passing through the horns is remarkable. It's incredible. The show is non-stop fun. Every section of the corps is adding to the visual of what they're trying to convey. Even the melodic lines in the front ensemble are shown in the ripple effects in the drill. "What a great horn sound. "That was sweet (when the "007" form appeared from nowhere). "The show is getting more intense. They're past the pure fun and now showing their more traditional Cavaliers' side. The integration of the color guard and drill is everything you expect from Michael Gaines. "That was incredible. It's James Bond from the beginning to end. Having fun, falling in love, conquering evil. Putting it all into a remarkable audio and visual performance. I wasn't disappointed in anything visual. It came together like an incredible picture. I was really surprised at the beginning. Usually the Cavaliers take a while to bring the audience in. This year they captured the mood right away ... the finger snaps in the front ensemble. You didn't have to wait for a big impact moment. I can't wait to get the DVD and see this show over and over.
Blue Devils, commentary by Joe Huls of the Phantom Regiment Joe Huls, from Grand Rapids, Mich., is a fifthy-ear age-out in the Phantom Regiment. He is the soprano soloist for the corps' exhibition performance of "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral." "I haven't seen this show from the front, but I've been talking to a lot of the trumpet players in Blue Devils this past week. After hearing that on-field warm-up, you know they're going to put on a killer performance. "Wow. Here it comes. [high note squeal] Their opening statement is crazy. So many notes. The drill flows really well. The sound that comes of the horn line is incredible. It's high-energy the entire time. The range of the trumpet soloist [in "Blues in the Night"] doesn't stop. They just never let down in the entire show. It's non-stop. "The pit and drum line have a lot of cool metallic effects [beginning of "Summertime"]. Their ensemble sound is great. "["Powertrain"] It's like a train leaving the station. "Their drums are rocking. A lot of great stick visuals. You can't look anywhere and not see something. "That was great. Very entertaining. It's so cool to see these guys do their shows without their uniforms on, just like we do every day. When I'm on the field, I only get to see what I get to do. But here, you can see all the visual things that the drums, guard, and even the horns and pit get to do. "The total package really impressed me. It just fit the idea of the entire train motif. Everything was centered around that and it was cool ... the train leaving the station at the end, how the drill design played with that. "Listening to the trumpet section, you realize how those guys can wail."
Santa Clara Vanguard, commentary by Kim Bolduc of the Cadets Kim Bolduc is a second year color guard member of the Cadets from Danvers, Mass. "I haven't seen SCV's show yet. I've always respected the corps. "The opening dance is great choreography. It's different. The horns are powerful. I like the keyboard Arabian motifs they play to convey the "Scheherazade" theme. They have a really good sabre line. I love the drill in front with the guard. The horn line is so loud. "I don't want to talk too much because I don't want to miss anything. I kind of wish they had the uniforms so I could follow the visual story line in the guard. "The guard does the whole package. Some spin, some throw, but they do it all. "The big flags [in the ballad] are effective. Every guard member interacts with them. There are a lot of characterizations going on. "The swords are fun. They're different. It's fun to see someone do something different. I'm trying to elsewhere, but as a sabre, I keep looking at the sabres. All the weapons have great technique. You can see the training the guard has, because I know it's really windy out there. "It's hard for me to not watch the guard, but the horn line drill is awesome. "I like that ending a lot. The horn line is loud. I never get to watch drum corps, so it's fun. The guard has awesome training. Their recoveries are seamless. Great performance. They sold the whole Arabian theme." The Cadets, commentary by Erin O'Connor of the Santa Clara Vanguard guard Erin O'Connor is a resident of Indianapolis and is a rookie age-out of the Santa Clara Vanguard guard. "I have not seen The Cadets yet. The "Rocky" warm-up is awesome. It gets them pumped. "I like the first set, with the drum line framing in the guard in the middle. The guard moves really well. I like the colors of the flags, nice contrast of bright yellow and orange against the blue. It's hard to send the flags over that many yards to each other [end of opener]. "The flag work is very musical. "[The females strip off the jackets of the males] That's very hard to do. The sabre work is very musical. It's fun to watch. I enjoy when the drum line does that walk-out stuff where they're featured. I like the horns coming up to the front and being in our face. "It's nice how the rifles finish the sentences begun by the horns. They have some difficult pass-throughs in the drill. I like the vocal counting. It adds more personality into the show. It's also nice having the guard up front so much instead of being mashed into the back. "["Thick as a Brick" horn and drum features] It's neat to feature each section like that. You don't see enough of the smaller ensembles. "It was enjoyable to watch. The music was fun to listen to. The guard did a good job of visualizing the music. The corps has a good sound. I'll especially remember the featured performances of the individual sections. "I've always thought of the Cadets as having a mature look, the way they stand, the way they present themselves. It's a fun show. It was different in that I was not familiar with the music. There wasn't a boring moment. "I can see why the Cadets are so well-liked by the crowds." Phantom Regiment, commentary by Ben Cowden of Phoenix Ben Cowden is a second-year Blue Devils contra player from Phoenix. "I have seen Phantom a couple times from ground level, and have enjoyed them each time. Phantom has always had a blowing low brass section, moving a lot of air. I like that. "Here we go. We have the tubas on the 50, as it should be. I'm digging the artistic body movement from the contras. Love the low brass sound in the hit. I've always dug the Phantom sound, especially the deep low brass. "Lots of fast fingers. Whoo. Awesome. "One thing I've notice this year is the drill demand of Phantom. I think it's much higher than last year, and they pull it of quite well. I've always enjoyed the raw, visceral sound of their horn line, just about peeling the paint from this press box. Definitely a distinctive sound. You can't mistake it for anyone else. "Although I am partial to my own ballad, I have to say their ballad is my favorite this year. It's absolutely beautiful and I enjoyed the mellophones at the beginning. And we have the heart. It sets the tone. It's a romantic piece and the heart just brings it alive. "The bass drums are rocking. The castanets on top of the bass drum feature is really clever. The horn line is jazz running all over the place. I would be out of breath here, for sure. "These features [before the company front] are difficult. I love the red silks in front of the company front. The first thing that came to me about going into the company front and even coming out of it is it's controlled chaos. The fingers are moving fast, the feet are moving fast. Everybody's blowing ... unreal. "If I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be the English translation of the title of the show, "Passion." Madison Scouts, commentary by Matt Wilde of the Cavaliers Matt Wilde is a rookie tuba player for the Cavaliers from San Antonio. "I've never seen Madison Scouts, despite us being in many shows together. "I like the ripple in the drill off-the-line. I appreciate the difficulty of starting out side-to-side. You have to be with the person way on the other side. The ending of the opener is really powerful. "The soloist [horn in the second tune] has a lot of attitude. [Horn blocks in drum break] Nice visual, adding to the music. The wave when they turn around is really cool. "The subtle horn moves [ballad] add to the texture of the show. "I like the distinctiveness of the Madison Scouts. I really can't explain it. They just are. I like the music, too. It's an entertaining show. The show is designed in a way to make everything look and sound powerful. This ["Malaga"] is distinctively Madison. "I like the rotating company front. It's reminiscent of their older shows. Oh, I love the loud ending. The fleur-de-lis ties them back to their past. "I respect the Scouts. It seems everyone respects them. They've got a lot of history and everyone's enjoyed them for a long time. It was rewardings to finally see them live.