Recently unearthed by drum corps archeologists, this blog by DCI.org columnist Michael Boo chronicling the corps performances at the 2007 DCI World Championship Semifinals is presented as fans start to watch their recently shipped championship DVDs. The DCI World Championship Semifinals was one of the finest shows I've had the pleasure of enjoying. Part of the reason was because I was sitting in the press box with three dedicated fans that agreed to share their impressions of each corps as soon as each performance was over. These fans included Bryant Carter from Boston, Donna O'Toole from Florida, and John Flores from California. Their impressions are presented along with my own of each of the Semifinals corps. Remember that all of these performances can be seen in their entirety as part of the recently released 2007 DCI World Championships DVDs. Learn more about the features offered as part of the three volume DVD set and purchase today.
Rose Bowl Stadium
Blue Devils Michael Boo: I loved how the corps spread across the field and still got a huge sound with the horns stretched from one corner to the furthest corner away. And the drums dared the Kevlar heads to not break. This was a show that truly took no prisoners. And let's not forget the hard-working guard. They should package the program on a DVD, "Sweating to the Devils." It would sell well as a cardio workout routine. Donna O'Toole: Incredibly fast tempo ... and they made it look so easy. The lines in the uniform helped to accentuate the speed. How was it humanly possible to blow your horn and execute those difficult maneuvers? John Flores: The horns stretched end zone to end zone in the beginning was amazing. The way they glide on the field and the strong percussion opener was impressive.
The Cadets Michael Boo: The audience reaction I could hear during Semifinals was quite positive when the corps was introduced, better than it was during Quarterfinals. Not everyone thoroughly enjoyed the approach to the narration, but it seems that more people were giving the corps members their due. Bryant Carter: I think their drill was amazing, their musicianship was great and the color guard was great at what they do. I get the idea of the discussion during the show explaining the different sections and the ideas behind them. I know they're talented enough to perform a show with just music, but it's a great show and it's performed to perfection.
The Cavaliers Michael Boo:The horns falling to the ground and the guard somersaulting over them near the beginning showed off the athleticism of the members, reflecting on the conditioning program the corps has developed over the years. I used to be amazed at the athleticism of color guards. Now I'm surprised by the athletic nature of all sections in this corps. Each year more and more corps stretch their members to the limits of their physical endurance. Bryant Carter: It's amazing how the forms flow from one to another. Sometimes it's like looking through a kaleidoscope. The color guard was the most athletic out there. The stunts they perform, the tosses and the throws they do are amazing. Truly in my opinion they deserve to be in the top three. Donna O'Toole: What can I say about the color guard? They dance as if they were one. When they tossed their flags over the horn line, not one missed and they ended right on the last note of the phrase. The corps executed difficult maneuvers throughout, and I just really enjoyed the show.
Phantom Regiment Michael Boo: I admired the opening mallet effect that sounded like a combination of various amplification techniques, but was totally acoustic. The Philip Glass piece that followed was as daring as the "Harmonium" work the corps did in 2003, increasing the breadth of what fans can expect from the corps. Donna O'Toole: Their brass sound was rich. There's a difference between playing and playing with emotion which is what Phantom Regiment does. The show was beautiful, very moving and brought me to tears. John Flores: What an opener! The soft "Flower Duet' was especially beautiful. The show was solid, and there is no other way to describe it. The horns and percussion were strong, strong, strong! I could watch and listen to the show all night! The "wedge" ending was great.
Santa Clara Vanguard Michael Boo: I was so blown away by the drill and how the forms sometimes came into focus at the very last moment possible. This was especially prevalent when an exclamation mark form came out of nowhere and everyone yelled "Eureka!" This was a show where one didn't want to blink too much, as the visual delights flew by rather fast at times. Bryant Carter: I love the show from beginning to end. It's typical Vanguard with great horn players and drummers. There is no other corps that uses cymbals as a major part of the show like they do. John Flores: They are still one of the crowd favorites. The general effect of the program was solid and I like the playing and movement of the exciting cymbal players. They had the best color guards so far and the corps was class from beginning to end. As for the ending, wow! I expect them to move up a couple spots tonight.
Carolina Crown Michael Boo: The various visual references Carolina Crown makes to horses, such as scuffing their "hooves" on the ground, worked without seeming silly in this "Triple Crown" program. I was constantly reminded that the corps was paying a tribute to our equine friends without feeling it was being pounded into my head. Bryant Carter: That was great. I loved the music. The way the color guard mimicked horse steps such as galloping, trotting and prancing added so much to the whole show. Donna O'Toole: They had great horse nuances throughout the whole show. The guard girls had ponytails for the long manes and the boys wore mohawks for the short manes. I liked their creativity simulating a horse race with a slow motion photo finish, even down to the finale with the winning "horse" getting a wreath.
Bluecoats Michael Boo: It was fun how the corps worked in various police commands throughout this criminal-themed show and how the members reacted to those references. They stopped when they heard, "Freeze!" marched without playing after hearing. "You have the right to remain silent!" and most humorously, dropped their guard rifles when instructed to "Drop your weapons!" Bryant Carter: I love the uniform change they made this year. I like the police theme and it's amazing how they use the color guard to act as the criminal characters. I especially like the part where they use the orange streamers as a security system laser grid and how the guard sneaks through the streamers as if not to break the beam.
Blue Knights Michael Boo: I think I'd be lost if Blue Knights ever came out without their dizzying array of stunning hand-painted flags. And I look forward to their darker shows and unique methods of body movement. While I wouldn't want every corps playing that type of music, I like to see Blue Knights to stick to what works for them. Bryant Carter: I thought this was a great show that kept me interested the whole way. It seemed more symphonic than some of the stuff they've done in the past. John Flores: The corps has been getting stronger and stronger in the last couple of years. What a graceful ballet movements by the horns.
Boston Crusaders Michael Boo: "A Picasso Suite" did a wonderful job capturing the various sonic and visual colors of the artist's variety of artistic periods. The brighter colors in the guard interpreted one period and the darker colors represented his Blue Period (with blue flags as well). Bryant Carter: I'm a little prejudiced because I'm a member of the Boston Board of Directors, but this was their best performance of the year. The show has evolved so much through the season with the easels and the picture frames – everyone can now understand why those things were there. They've worked them in to enhance the drill forms. Donna O'Toole: I thought the props would bother me at first thinking that they would make things too busy. But instead they enhanced the storyline well. At the end, the actual Picasso paintings appeared in the picture frames, seeming to come out of nowhere.
Colts Michael Boo: After so many seasons of being so close to making the World Championship Finals, it's a joy to see the corps doing so well this year. Donna O'Toole: This was a great example where the choices of music, color and choreography tell the story without words. They had absolutely beautiful flags. John Flores: What a beautiful opener with great color and formations. A solid color guard with nice rifle tosses. The drill forms were fun and the drummers seem to glide on the field. Nice musical arrangements.
Glassmen Michael Boo: This program did a great job of capturing the color and flavor of the nomadic gypsies. I was intrigued by how the arrangements of well-known classical works were woven throughout the show, enhancing the ethnic flavor that was inherent in the originals. The guard costumes, while not overly colorful, did look exactly what I would expect from the characters being portrayed. Bryant Carter: I thought the show was well executed. I like the music even though I'm not familiar with it. I liked the gypsy color guard costumes and how the flags for different parts of the show portrayed the music, especially the festive part at the end of the show. John Flores: The performance was very effective. Both the horn players and the drummers nicely interpreted what seemed to be difficult arrangements.
Spirit from JSU Michael Boo: This was not your father's Spirit. (Apologies for anyone who doesn't remember the old Oldsmobile commercials, much less Oldsmobiles.) This program was nothing like the typical Spirit shows we've heard in the past that were closer to the corps' traditional identity. The show held more to the identity the corps wishes to create as it moves into the future, one that is more flexible in order to go off in any direction. I'm kind of fascinated by the effect of the corps' new uniforms. When the corps was spread out on the field, the uniforms looked mostly white. But when they were in tight formation, they looked mostly blue. I wonder if that was an intended effect. Donna O'Toole: The whole show came alive about midway through when the corps came charging out of the end zone. The energy changed the dynamics of the sound and movements. I loved the color guard uniforms.
The Academy Michael Boo:What a joy it was to see this corps make such a nice transition into Division I competition. A couple weeks earlier, they looked like a shoe-in for the Finals, but there was so much parity among so many corps that there could be almost any combination of corps placing in any number of places on any given day. The first thing many others and I noticed about the corps was the intensity and technical brilliance of the horn line. Donna O'Toole: It was a great beautifully choreographed show. You could easily follow the story. The choreography helped portray the music through the use of the characters of the hero, the villain and the woman. John Flores: Wow. What a great corps. Their success was a compliment to their organization. They have a very balanced horn line with solid, great arrangements and a strong drum line. I love the use of pans (steel drums).
Blue Stars Michael Boo:I enjoyed how they re-invented "Firebird Suite." Although there were parts that can be picked out by anyone who's heard the original, there were also substantial segments that would cause anyone who knew it well to think, "Well, that's new and different!" It was interesting to hear two different renditions of the "Firebird" finale from two corps in the Midwest. The source piece is big enough to be shared. Bryant Carter: I love their new uniforms and how they use it to cover the field. I also like how they use traditional drum corps music with their own touch. John Flores: It's a great introduction and a solid horn line. The percussion is not overpowering and the color guard flows with the interchanges of music It's great to see this corps back.
Madison Scouts Michael Boo: I've got to be honest here. When I first saw the scores the Scouts were achieving the first part of the season, I didn't think I'd be seeing them in Semifinals. The fact that the corps members never gave up hope and kept pushing throughout the season shows a great resolve and is evidenced by the corps' continual move up through the ranks. The opening company front build off the starting line was so "old school," it was downright radical. From there until the end, the corps didn't let up and the crowd gave them outstanding responses. This is a corps that truly reinvented themselves as the season progressed. Donna O'Toole: The opening is phenomenal. I love how they drop everyone off as the line moves forward. They just stop on a dime. They're a really entertaining corps.
Crossmen Michael Boo: I remember Crossmen when they brought out those long capes in 1978 and swirled across the field at the very beginning of their show as if they were on roller skates. Seeing that effect return in this show brought back so many memories of the corps over the years, as did the numerous snippets of classic selections that were woven into the fabric of this show. Bryant Carter: I liked the way the flags use the cross at the beginning of the show and then go to the butterfly flags at the end of the show, playing off the program's metamorphosis theme. Donna O'Toole: I wish the pre-show was part of the show and counted toward the score from judges, because that set the mood for the whole show. John Flores: Wow, what a complete show with outstanding drill formations, drum line and color guard. Very impressive.
Pacific Crest Michael Boo:Pacific Crest's program was not the typical show we've come to expect from the corps. Donna O'Toole: One of the things I've found is that even the 17th place corps are getting better and better every year and they're doing more difficult maneuvers. John Flores: Pacific Crest has always been one of my favorites. They're unique, dynamic, and they're in the game as one of the top corps now, and they're going to do really well.