DCI’s “Drums On the Ohio” took place at F.J. Reitz High School this week, overlooking the Ohio River. Situated in the midst of a quaint Evansville neighborhood, the historic Reitz Bowl has been a fixture of the town since 1921.
The stands were packed, and the audience was incredibly responsive to every corps that took the field. The steep stadium bleachers and lack of a track made for an intimate experience for the performers and audience members, something that can be lost in larger venues throughout tour.
FIRST UP - THE RIVER BRASS YOUTH BAND
The local River Brass Youth Band opened the show with a wonderful performance of several classic concert band tunes. The set started with John Philip Sousa’s “The Liberty Bell” march. This group is made up of 7-12th Graders from the community, and put out a professional and polished sound throughout each piece.
MUSIC CITY DRUM & BUGLE CORPS
Music City was the first corps to take the field with their 2019 program “Of Mice and Music.” Evansville marked their first competitive show of the season, and you could feel the excitement coming from the performers as they stepped in front of a DCI crowd for the first time.
Their new uniforms have a sleek, classic look to them, with a subtle nod to the show title in the form of a braided tail on each members jacket.
SPIRIT OF ATLANTA
Following a brief rain delay, Spirit took the field for their first show of 2019 as well. Their 2019 program “Neon Underground” literally picks up where the 2018 show “Knock” left off, with a knock on the door coming from the front ensemble.
While Neon Underground certainly picks up the momentum from last years show and runs with it, it offers something unique as well, especially from a visual standpoint. The full corps goes through 3 looks throughout the program, each more bright and vibrant than the last.
Seeing Phantom Regiment take the field in all black along with their iconic helmets is a bit like stepping into a time machine. It’s a look that hasn’t seen the field since 1999, and today it feels as timeless as ever. The corps ends up in tan halfway through the show, another callback to the corps uniforms of the early 2000’s, this time with a modern and show specific take.
The colorguard costumes compliment both the corps and the show “I Am Joan” perfectly.
Musically, the show sounds like classic Phantom Regiment. “O Fortuna” feels right at home on the drum corps field, and “Fire of Eternal Glory” sounds as beautiful as it did in 1993.
The Crossmen take the field in fashion, adorned as Vikings for their show “Valkyrie.” (Learn more about the show here)
This is a much more character driven show than in years past, and The Crossmen embody that character perfectly. One of the most entertaining moments of this show comes close to the halfway point, as they invite the entire audience to join them in a chant. Its an ambitious idea, though the rhythm is a simple enough “boom boom clap” a-la Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” It should be fun to watch this evolve and unfold throughout the season as audiences become more aware of it.
The Blue Stars answer the “Call of the Wild” in 2019, with one of their most ambitious shows to date. Thematic material aside, there are several moments of incredibly high-velocity and close-quarters drill that Kevin Ford is so well known for.
Though quite different from last seasons Carpenter show, this show is still very much character driven. Every member of the corps from the Colorguard to the Front Ensemble has a chance to personify an explorer. The performers are tasked with conveying a very broad range of emotions, and it really helps drive home the story arc of the show.
Standing in front of the high brass for the opening statement of “Beneath the Surface” proved to be a good decision. In addition the incredible quality of sound the Carolina Crown Hornline has become known for, the volume this year is equally impressive. Seriously, they’re loud.
Though based on the idea of Spiritual Mathematics, this year’s show concept is fairly abstract, with no obvious story or characters to follow throughout. This is one of the things I love about this current era of the Drum Corps activity, the variety in show concepts keeps each event from feeling mundane or repetitive.
Crown presents a number of unique visual themes including transparent boards, which seem to tie-in with some of the translucent uniform elements.
Finishing the night in Evansville with their show “Goliath” was The Boston Crusaders.
The shows Boston has put on the field in recent years have been very accessible from an audience standpoint, and this year is no exception. The corps uniforms are striking, taking on the look of a Philistine soldier, while the guard takes on the role of David.
Props are once again integrated very well, allowing the performers different stages to interact with throughout the show.
One thing to watch for towards the closer is an interplay between the hornline members and sabre line. There is some impressive partner work on display, and it gives the hornline a chance to interact with last years Zingali-winning colorguard in a very unique way.